Fourteen Years in Love

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my words. The characters and world belong to Square-Enix.

Before there was love, there were strollers in the park. More specifically in the late afternoon shade of May thirtieth in a small park next to a bench, there was a stroller holding a small infant, babbling soundly as its mother bundled the blankets about the babe a little tighter to block out the chill of the wind from the later days of a oddly cold spring day.

Mrs. Rebecca Lockhart smiled softly as she gently hummed her baby girl a lullaby: the child's sparse tuft of dark brown hair blowing slightly in the breeze as she blew lip bubbles to her own great amusement.

"Gah! Gah," the infant declared, smiling a toothless grin while her mother nodded in agreement.

"Very 'gah', in fact, the most 'gah' day we've had so far," she said as she reached out to flatten the messy mop of hair on her baby girl's head. She looked up the little path on the park. The sun was dropping lower in the sky, and sporadic cover a trees in the park was making the air colder by the minute. Suddenly, she heard a soft beat of footsteps coming from behind her and, turning with a slight furrow of curiosity in her brow, was delighted to see her next door neighbor waving shyly as she balanced her own child on her hip.

"Lily," Becca said, grinning. "I didn't expect to see you here! How are you?" She laughed as she watched Lily deal with her own squirming son as he twisted around in her grip. His blues eyes wide with wonder, he stuck out a hand a waved it ecstatically in her face.

"Bye, bye!" he declared. Becca laughed again, bemused by how adorable he was. Lily sighed and shrugged, slightly embarrassed.

"He just learned the word. Now it's his favorite. He said it to at least twenty people on our walk. Or, in his case, our carry. " Her son took a strand of hair and tugged. She winced. "But, never mind that. How are you? I haven't really seen you since you were pregnant! What's her name?" she asked, looking at the stroller where the baby girl was looking at her with very wide, newborn dark blue eyes.

"Tifa," Becca said, and said Tifa turned to her mother and declared another delighted 'gah' at the mention of her name. "And she is almost a month old, aren't you?" She poked the baby girl on the nose and causing her to laugh soft, baby giggles.

"And look at this big boy! You've gotten huge, you little, big man!" Becca smiled and took his still outstretched hand.

"Eight months…he's crawling, mobile, talking, and has made it his personal mission to stick anything and everything into his mouth that even remotely resembles food" Lily murmured.

"Cute mop of hair he has." Becca grinned and pointed to the odd array of blonde spikes shooting in every direction. By now, the baby boy had lost all interest in the two adults and turned his attention to the fussing, squirming bundle in the stroller next to Mrs. Lockhart. Tifa wasn't too keen on her mother paying not attention to her at least once per minute, and her little baby face contorted in a determined scowl.

"Baby!" The two women looked as a chubby, spiky, baby boy pointed his finger at the scowling bunch of blanket and baby below his. He grinned, showing off a fair amount of tiny teeth, obviously pleased with his discovery and his ability to show the world around him.

His mother laughed. Babies make everything want to laugh. "Very good Cloud, she is a baby just like you're a baby."

Cloud decided to emphasis his statement. "Baby," he declared once more.

Becca reached out and lifted her daughter out of the stroller, carefully holding her soft skin of her fragile head and making sure the blankets stayed securely around her little girl. Tifa cooed and wriggled one delicate arm out of the tangle of fuzzy warmth to stretch it as far as she could into the air to try to touch her mothers face.

"You want to see the baby, Cloud?" Becca asked him, rocking the giggling Tifa as she successful caught a strand of her mother's hair in her tiny, pudgy fingers. Lily sat down next to Becca and balanced her still slightly wobbly boy on her knee.

"This is Tifa, sweetie. No touching, okay? She's very little. Little things can get hurt easily," Lily stated firmly.

Cloud paid no attention to the two adults though. He at the newborn in front of him, the clump of dark hair on her head, her little arm batting at her mother's long hair like a kitten does with string, and grinned each time she laughed at her own game. He grinned so wide that the dimples showed in his big cheeks and the crooked baby teeth showed in his pink, pink gums. He reached out a hand while the two mothers settled back into conversation with each other.

He blinked, shocked when the baby girl gripped one of his outstretched fingers and shouted a happy 'gah'.

Lily and Becca noticed their children, and Lily chided him softly. "No, no, Cloud. No, let go."

Cloud looked at him mother, understanding the phrase, and tugged his finger. Tifa scowled and tightened her grip, unwilling to give up her newfound playmate. Cloud tried again, nothing worked. "No! Baby bad! No!" he said and pulled again.

"Tifa, sweetie, no, no. Let go," Becca said and tried to pull her daughters little fingers off the little boy. The little girl's baby face furrowed further into her scowl. Her mother succeeded in pulling her tiny fingers off of Cloud's. Promptly, Tifa started to cry, not at all pleased with the loss of her new friend.

"Oh, dear, someone is tired and fussy. We should go," Becca said, shushing the crying daughter, as Lily nodded in understanding the antics of babies and their mood swings.

"Okay, say 'Bye, bye', Cloud." Lily said, making a move to stand, but not before her little son shouted a very firm, "No!"

And it was then that the two mothers watched as a very pudgy, very young man leaned over with his still developing child muscles, kissed the palm of his small hand, and planted it on the forehead of the screaming infant. "Good baby, nice baby," he said.

Lily smiled, waved goodbye to her neighbor, and started walking back to her home. "My sweet little man," she said and kissed her son on his cheek.

Becca waved too, and looked at her daughter who was no longer crying, just sniveling quietly, red eyed, and reaching out her mother's hair once again.

Before the sharpening edges and leather gloves, shot glasses and mako leaking from the streets, there was something simple and earnest. The world surrounding wasn't tragically beautiful, shrewd, or ignorant, and Tifa's fists were too soft to punch the hell out of a drunken patron. And Cloud's eyes were only blue with no rings of green. Somewhere later, much later, there's love. Fourteen years in love.

To Whom It May Concern: That was horrendously long and dull. Hopefully, I can make the story pick up more as it progresses. Thank you for reading. I hope that it's worth your while. If not, please tell me. I can take the fire.