"I'm kind of surprised you're interested in going to a kid's birthday party," said Aeris as she and Sephiroth drove their buggy through the new road going through Mt. Nibel.
"It's Cid's kid," said Sephiroth, "And Cid and I have been talking about some ideas for a new kind of plane he's been developing. It would be made out of adamantium."
"And while the kids do their thing, you two get to talk shop," Aeris concluded.
"Did you really think I'd put on a party hat and play 'pin the tail on the Nibel Wolf'?" Sephiroth asked her.
"What on earth was I thinking?" Aeris giggled.
"Are we there yet?" six-year-old Keter asked.
"No," said Sephiroth, "And if you ask me that one more time, I'll drive back home and start all over again."
"You're going to drive over the ocean?" Keter asked skeptically.
"Why don't you take a nap like Remi's doing?" Aeris suggested.
Three-and-a-half-year-old Remi was sleeping peacefully in her car seat, next to her one-year-old brother Aleph.
"Remi's only asleep 'cause she threw that tantrum at the gas station and wore herself out!" Keter reminded them, "I'm being the good one!"
"I think you should go to sleep," Sephiroth said.
Keter looked confused for a moment, and then passed out.
"You didn't!" Aeris looked accusingly at her husband.
"Didn't what?" Sephiroth asked innocently.
"You have a materia up your sleeve! Admit it!"
"It's a road trip," Sephiroth argued, "We have to be prepared. That's why Remi got over her tantrum so quickly."
Aeris looked horrified. "You used it on her too?!"
"You know those ill health effect warnings are complete nonsense. They'll be fine."
"I can't believe you…" Aeris stared out of her window, and proceeded to ignore her husband for the rest of the drive.
"Happy birthday, Skylar!" Aeris said as she handed the three-year-old a present.
"Tank-you-sir!" the little girl said politely. She looked up at her mother, "I play now?"
"Yes, go ahead," said Shera.
Skylar ran off with the other kids.
"Very polite," Sephiroth remarked.
"Thank Gaia for recessive genes," Shera sighed, "She picks up on everything, though. For a while, I had to start kicking Cid every time he cursed in front of her. Then she started kicking him whenever he cursed, and I had to scrap that idea...I think it was starting to affect his pride."
"Speaking of which, where is he?" Sephiroth asked.
"Inside the barn, admiring his new metal," said Shera, "I guess you're going to join him?"
"If you'll excuse me," Sephiroth bowed his head politely and left.
"So, when are you due?" Shera asked, pointing to Aeris' enormous belly.
"Next month," said Aeris, "We checked this time. It's another boy."
"Oh, Cid definitely wants to try for one of those. Are you hungry?"
"Stupid question, I suppose. Let's go sit down..."
"Look at it all," said Cid, "And it wouldn't be here if it weren't for you."
Several sheets of the rare metal were stacked in the large barn that Cid had built five years ago.
"The dwarves were pretty generous when we offered them all that mythril in exchange," Sephiroth recalled.
"I still can't believe those folks exist," Cid marveled.
"I still can't believe they were still willing to trade after you addressed their chief as 'little guy'," Sephiroth sighed.
Cid had gone through the portal with Sephiroth to the twin planet for negotiations. Needless to say, the pilot had been suffering from a bit of culture shock.
"I figured they were used to it!" Cid argued.
"They're a fairly solitary race," said Sephiroth, "They're really not used to it. Good thing it wasn't the elves you offended. You might have had an arrow through your head."
"Well, anyway, check out the frame." Cid motioned at the skeleton of the plane he was working on. "It's all set. This one will have a hell of a lot more resistance to firepower. Jessie herself couldn't have built a bomb to damage this."
"If she knew about this, I think she would have," said Sephiroth.
"So, I was hoping I could see how much you can do with your strength on these things," Cid gestured towards the sheets, "I can't seem to bend them at all. Maybe you can help me a bit."
"Sure," said Sephiroth as he headed over to the pile.
"That looks like a fun combination," Shera remarked as she and Aeris sat at a picnic table observing the dozen or so children running amok in the yard.
Aeris was eating chips, dipping them in mayonnaise.
"Let me try," Shera took a chip out of the bag and dipped it in the open jar. She popped it in her mouth and chewed thoughtfully. "You know, that actually tastes good without the cravings,"
"You think?" Aeris looked pleased.
Shera looked at her watch. "I'd better go find Cid. It's almost time for cake,"
"I take it back," panted Sephiroth, "They definitely got back at you…"
The single sheet of adamantium that Sephiroth had been trying for the past half-hour to bend, would not budge.
"Clearly, there's another trick to shaping the metal that the dwarves decided not to tell us," he added.
"I've tried heating it up, I've tried it all," Cid growled, "They got me. And they got me good."
The door opened and Shera came in. She took one look at the sweat-soaked Sephiroth and stared accusingly at her husband.
"What in blazes did you do to this poor man?!" she exclaimed.
"It was the dwarves…" Sephiroth mumbled.
Shera stared at him confusedly, and then shook her head dismissively.
"Time to watch your daughter blow out the candles," she announced, "
"I'll go wash up," Sephiroth said as he headed toward the house.
"Oh, you missed it, Seph!" Aeris scolded her husband as he returned.
"I had to clean up first," Sephiroth explained, "I didn't want to come back reeking of sweat."
"Look at what one of Cid's pilots gave us for the party," Shera pointed ahead.
A piñata shaped like a Bomb hung on a tree branch. Skylar had just finished up her turn at batting it with a large stick.
"My turn!" Remi announced as she took the stick and ran toward the piñata.
"No, Remi, you need to put the blindfold on!" Aeris tried to say.
Remi raised the stick and instantly bashed the Bomb open.
"Wow, she's strong," said Aeris.
"Yes, she is," Sephiroth said proudly.
"I win!" Remi shouted as she ran back and forth. She jumped up and swung the stick into the air, right into Sephiroth's face.
"Oh! Are you alright, Sephy?" Aeris asked.
"Very strong," Sephiroth winced as blood came out of his nose, "That actually hurt..."
"Remi, you have to be careful!" Aeris scolded, "Now you hurt Daddy!"
"I'll kiss it better!" Remi dropped the stick and held up her arms for Sephiroth. Sighing, he picked her up, and she kissed him on the cheek. Instantly, the sour look on his face went away.
"Suck up," Keter said to her.
"THPBLLTTTT!" Remi blew a raspberry at her brother.
Keter blew a raspberry right back.
Aleph began imitating his brother and sister from the hi-chair he sat in.
Aeris ignored her two children squabbling as a concerned look came over her face.
"What is it?" Sephiroth asked as he put Remi down and held up a hand to his bleeding nose.
"If something like that could hurt you by accident, what about everyone else?" Aeris asked worriedly, "What if she accidentally hits another kid? Or worse- on purpose? Thank goodness she got over her biting phase..."
Cid walked over to them. "Maybe we can get your kid to bend that metal."
"Shut up..." Sephiroth muttered.