Disclaimer: Finding new ways to say how much I *don't* own FFVII gets kinda old…
AN: My third prompt-challenge of the summer! For those of you who don't know, my best friend, Le Requiem, and I are doing this fun little prompt-experiment/challenge/exercise for the whole summer. Each week for the whole summer we're going to be sending each other a prompt, taking one week to write up something for that prompt, sending it to each other for initial comments, and then posting it here. For prompt #3, I wrote two pieces; this is the first one.
Prompt: "Oh, you like sleeping? Me too! We should do it together sometime."
If Marlene had known what meeting Denzel would lead to, she never would've tried to befriend him. After all, one friendship is only worth so much shame, embarrassment and general emotional scarring.
The day had started off so well, too.
It was sunny, the buildings glistening in the light and the air thick, bright and warm. Marlene had been feeling rather chipper. After all, Tifa had promised that they could go to Aeris's church later to get some fresh flowers for around the bar, and maybe even get some ice cream after that. There's was no reason for her to think the day would devolve into anything less than a fabulous time.
She'd been behind the bar, cleaning up the mess Tifa had left after rushing out like Sephiroth was back (and wasn't that ironic, since those creepy triplets would be showing up in a few months anyway), humming to herself and wondering what could've called Tifa away so quickly. Still, she wasn't about to let anything get her down, because later they were going to get flowers and ice c—
"Marlene!" Tifa called, peering cautiously around the front door. "Can you come here for a minute? We need your help." And Marlene, like the dutiful pseudo-daughter she was, scampered around the bar, skidding to attention as Tifa finally entered, followed by Cloud (which was exciting enough in and of itself) who was carrying…
"Oh gosh, is he okay?"
Tifa smiled softly. "He'll be fine, sweetie, but we need your help. Cloud and I are going to start getting him fixed up down here, but could you get one of the extra beds set up for him upstairs?"
With a firm nod, Marlene was off, putting all the attention and energy into the task at hand that her six year old self could muster. She would set up the room so good, it would be like Tifa had done it herself! After all, she wasn't gonna slack on any job she was given, especially not one that had come from the graceful barmaid downstairs.
A little later, once they'd gotten the unconscious boy settled in upstairs, Tifa explained everything to her. The strange phone call, the Geostigma, Cloud finding him.
"He was barely awake when Cloud found him, so we don't really know anything about him, yet… but it would seem that he doesn't have any family left."
Marlene had just smiled brightly at that. "That's okay! We'll be his new family!"
"You can't always replace someone's real family, Marlene… but you can be his friend. I'm expecting you to, okay? We've all been through tough times, but we've been lucky enough to have friends to help us through them. I'm not sure he's had that same support."
So from that moment on, Marlene was determined. She would be the boy's friend. She would give him that support that he needed. If only he would wake up so she could start getting to know him better.
It was the next afternoon, and Marlene was in her room putting away some clean laundry, when she heard him stirring next door. Immediately dropping whatever article of clothing she had been holding, she hurried in to the other room to see the boy sitting up and glancing around blearily.
"Hi!" she chirped, the picture of youthful innocence. "How are you feeling?"
"O-okay… I guess…?" He had a nice voice, she thought. A little husky, but not dripping with indifference like Cloud's so often was.
"That's great! Tifa will be happy to hear that. I'm Marlene, by the way. This is Tifa's bar; she's…friends with the guy who found you." Marlene frowned a bit at that. Tifa and Cloud were so weird. "His name's Cloud, just so you know."
The boy blinked at her slowly. "…I'm Denzel."
The younger girl smiled wide. "That's a nice name! I've never met a Denzel before. Hey, now that you're awake is there anything I can get for you? Or… maybe something in particular you wanna do?" She needed to discover his interests, she reasoned. After all, friends had to have some things in common, or at least activities that they liked to do together. That was what strengthened the bonds of friendship!
"Actually… I think I just want to go back to sleep."
Marlene's expression dimmed a bit at this, before brightening again. She could work with this!
"Oh, you like sleeping?" At his tiny, half-smile and nod, Marlene clapped her hands. "Me too! We should do it together sometime!"
Seeing as her suggestion had come from a place of friendship and the desire to bond with Denzel over shared interests, Marlene was incredibly confused when his face turned bright red and he started choking on air. Was he having a Geostigma attack?
And then Tifa burst into the room, having apparently been eavesdropping, and dragged Marlene out by her arm, babbling away about getting Cloud to come talk to the bedridden boy. The girl then found herself plopped down on her bed, staring as Tifa slammed the door and came to sit next to her, face a mixture of embarrassment, concern and ironic humor.
"Marlene, I think we need to have a talk."
"I was really hoping the Barret would be the one to have to talk to you about this but… well… I guess that's not going to be the case." The older brunette looked skyward for a brief moment, and Marlene thought she might've heard her mutter a prayer.
Concern set in. "Tifa, is everything okay? I mean, Denzel really wasn't looking too good back there, are you sure he's okay? What is he's having a stigma episode? Someone should be there to—"
"He's fine, Marlene… I think he's maybe just a little embarrassed."
"Well… we need to talk about what you said. About sleeping together? Um… well, when you get older, Marlene… that sort of, starts to mean something different." Tifa took a deep breath, as if to steady herself. "You see, when a man and a woman love each other and… um… when they're married and want to have children, they… well… it's called having sex."
"Is that like when the drunk guys in the bar call you sexy when you're not around?"
Tifa coughed slightly, her cheeks turning a fun, pink color. "No! No, those are two very different things, and you should never think about having sex when you're drunk, understand?"
Marlene just shook her head. "…I don't get it."
"Okay… well, you know boys and girls are different, right?"
"Duh! Boys are all gross and dirty and stuff. And girls are pretty."
"Exactly… uh, sort of. Anyway, you know how most girls have longer hair than boys?"
"Yeah! Except for Aunt Yuffie and Uncle Vinnie…. But she says that's 'cause he's a vampire, so he's basically a girly-man." Marlene nodded proudly as she spouted this bit of information.
Tifa pinched the bridge of her nose, squeezing her eyes together, and Marlene figured she should probably stop interrupting so much, because obviously whatever this whole 'sex' thing they were talking about was, it was making Tifa pretty anxious.
"Okay, so the hair thing isn't always the case. But there are differences between boys and girls that are always true. Like…" Tifa's face was turning an interesting shade of red as she gestured vaguely. "These are breasts, which all girls eventually get, but boys don't."
"I knew that! That's obvious just from looking at you and Cloud! Although, again… Aunt Yuffie and Uncle Vinnie…" Marlene trailed off, mentally comparing the ninja with the barmaid next to her, and coming up confused.
"Okay, well… there's one other important difference, too." Again, Tifa was doing the whole vague gesturing thing. Marlene looked down to where Tifa was generally waving, brow furrowed.
"Oh… I think I knew about that, too."
"Well, boys and girls are designed to be different like that so that… when they're old and married and only when they want kids, they can… fit together and make a baby."
Marlene was still rather confused, but it was beginning to dawn on her. "So… sex is how you make a baby?"
"And… to have sex, a man and a woman have to…"
Tifa groaned slightly. "The man puts his… man part into the woman's woman part. Down there. And once he does that… ugh, I'm doing this all wrong."
Marlene pattered her knee supportively. "It's okay, Tifa. Take your time."
The martial artist shook her head, laughing shortly before continuing. "Inside a woman, she has eggs, okay? Those eggs are what turn into babies. And so when she has an egg that's ready to become a baby, she and her husband…fit together, like I told you about, and he…uh, fertilizes it."
Marlene was beginning to get a vague grasp on what Tifa was explaining to her. After all, she'd seen Elmyra fertilize Aeris's flowers quite a few times. But to imagine fertilizer coming out from down there… "Oh…. Ewwwww. Why would anyone ever want to do that? I think I'd just adopt, like Papa did for me after… my real parents died." Then, something struck her. "But wait! What does this have to do with what I said to Denzel?"
"Well… 'Sleeping together' is another phrase for 'having sex'."
"OH, GROSS!" Tifa smirked a little at her reaction, before seemingly getting herself under control again.
"So, you see why you shouldn't suggest that to people, especially not to boys. It's just… call it 'having a sleepover,' okay?"
Marlene jumped up, disgust scrunching her face. "Ugh! I won't be having any sleepovers with boys, ever! There will be no fertilizing! That's just disgusting!" And with that she ran from the room to get away from Tifa's carefully understanding face.
Her papa was obviously WAY off when he told her that babies were delivered by a fluffy, white chocobo. Now that she knew the truth, she was gonna have nightmares for the rest of her life, she was sure of it.
And how the heck was she gonna be able to look Denzel in the eye, ever again?
Back in Marlene's room, Tifa sighed. "Barret's gonna kill me…"
Fun Fact: According to Wiki, Marlene is six during the events of AC. I got the talk when I was seven (my older brother made a sex joke in front of me and I wouldn't leave my mom alone until she explained everything), so this idea didn't seem too far off from reality. Although, it was difficult remembering what I did and didn't know when I was six -_-;;
Anyway, please review if you enjoyed this! Or even if you didn't, you can tell me how much you hated it. That works too. 'Til next week!