"We really need to discuss this..."
Sephiroth and Aeris stared at the broken dinner table, which had been split in half down the middle. Aeris glanced at her husband expectantly, waiting for him to say something...anything.
"She really has a temper, doesn't she?" Sephiroth sighed.
Aeris shook her head in disagreement. "Anyone would be mad if their father used materia to discipline them."
"It's not as if I set them on fire," Sephiroth argued, "I simply did what I had to do to get those two to stop fighting."
Aeris shook her head again, her disapproval evident. "Kids squabble. Especially when they're close in age. Casting 'Silence' on them isn't going to teach them not to fight."
Remi had been sitting at the kitchen table doing her homework. Five-year-old Aleph had decided that was the perfect time to start bugging his sister. The two siblings quickly escalated the situation into a shouting match. Sephiroth had quickly intervened with a "Silence" spell on both of them. Remi had become so frustrated given that Aleph had started the argument, that she took her frustrations out on the table. She had slammed her small but powerful fists down, breaking the fine mahogany and sending her the contents sliding down, creating a mess. Sephiroth had simply given Remi "the look" which sent her scuttling off to her room to hide.
Aeris had come back from the library in time to hear Sephiroth ordering Remi to stay in her room until further notice.
"I should have cast 'Sleepel' instead," Sephiroth muttered.
"Their bodies' clocks are already screwed up by those spells," Aeris scolded her husband, "Stop casting magic! I've told you this for a long time now! It just gets them even more riled up when the effects wear off...which I get to deal with. You just zap them with a spell and go skipping merrily off to work."
"And your methods of stopping fights are better? Using a hose outside, and a high-powered water gun inside to spray the kids with when they start scrapping?" Sephiroth countered, "I can't tell you how many times I've slipped on those puddles you leave behind. And I do not skip," he added irritably.
"Hey! If I were to try and physically break up a fight, I'd lose a limb!" Aeris reminded him, "You know how strong those kids are! Remember when Remi was three and actually drew blood when she accidentally hit you with that stick? They don't publish books on how to deal with kids like ours."
"We do not need some stupid book to tell us how to raise our kids."
"I was making a point, Seph," Aeris huffed, exasperated.
"So, how do we deal with Remi's temper? That comes from your side of the family, just so you know. Both your mother and kid sister can be frightening at times."
"But she's even more underhanded than you."
"There was nothing underhanded about her pounding the table until it split."
"I mean the rest of the time. Especially with the way she's always tricking Mal. He's so fast, she can't catch him and pummel him like she does with Al, and even Keter."
"Ugh…Keter…" Sephiroth muttered, ashamed that his eldest son was taking beatings from his younger sister.
"It's not Keter's fault that Remi's that much stronger than him."
"So your idea is to hose down our daughter whenever she gets too rowdy? The child is eight now and she refuses to take showers. I'm sure that's no coincidence. You've traumatized her. Baths take much longer, and the members of this family already take a long time to get clean, given that six of us all have long hair."
"Maybe you should get a buzz-cut," Aeris quipped.
Sephiroth immediately poked his wife in the ribs.
Aeris squealed and shot back about five feet.
"Jerk!" she exclaimed, reaching for the Leviathan Water Cannon 1000 that lay in the corner of the dining room.
"Really, my dear?" Sephiroth remarked dryly, "You're going to use that thing on me, now?"
"If you're going to resort to tickling me, then you're darn right, I am."
"You're acting even more immature than Yuffie...or Reno."
Aeris shot at Sephiroth, soaking his face.
"That was a warning shot," Aeris told him.
"Okay, we're taking this outside," Sephiroth said calmly as he reached over and picked Aeris up off her feet, heading out the dining room and straight for the front door.
"What the-?! You don't have to carry me like a football!" Aeris complained loudly as she still clutched the water cannon, "Can't you take a joke?!"
"Pay no attention to your mother," Sephiroth said calmly to Keter, who had been in the living room watching TV. The eleven-year-old was now gawking at the spectacle before him.
"Oh good grief- is Mom pregnant again?!" Keter exclaimed, "Is she sleepwalking?"
"No, she is not pregnant again!" Sephiroth shot back.
"Not when your father will be sleeping on the roof for the next month if he doesn't put me down!" Aeris yelled as the door closed behind them.
Raziel, who was in his cradle nearby, began to fuss.
"They're not fooling me," Keter said to the baby, "The last time Mom lost her temper with Dad, you came along exactly nine months later. Once you figure out how gross those two are, you'll really have something to cry about…"
"There," Sephiroth stated as he put Aeris down in the back yard, where the two could argue somewhat more privately.
"That is exactly why people write stupid stories about us," Aeris sulked as she readied the water cannon, "You have to manhandle me like that!"
"I didn't harm a single hair on your head, my dear," Sephiroth argued calmly, "You, however, drenched my face. Turnabout is fair play."
He held up a purple materia orb, and inserted it into the metal cuff he wore on his left hand.
"Nope!" Aeris said in an overly-cheerful voice as she shot the water cannon again, this time, hitting Sephiroth's arm.
"I believe you're feeling a bit confused right now," Sephiroth said pointedly as he shook his arm dry.
Aeris stumbled back as the confusion spell hit her. She raised an eyebrow, curiously looking down the barrel of the water cannon.
Sephiroth couldn't help but chuckle as he knew what would happen next.
Aeris then shot herself with the Leviathan 1000, and quickly dropped it, spitting water and yelling in frustration.
"Make it two months of roofing on the sleep!" Aeris yelled at a large tree.
"I'm over here, Aeris," Sephiroth told her.
Aeris pounced on Sephiroth, climbing onto his back.
"I'm messing up your hair!" Aeris said as she tousled her husband's carefully brushed locks, "I'm messing up your hair!"
"Get off of my back, you crazy woman!" Sephiroth growled as he silently canceled the spell.
"That's what you get for casting a confusion spell on your own wife!" Aeris snapped as she continued to rub Sephiroth's head maniacally.
The swordsman reached behind him, trying to find his wife's ribs, or any of her tickle spots, but she managed to kick his hands away every time. And on top of that, he thought, she was wearing those damned boots.
Finally, he was able to twist around and grab Aeris' arm and pull her around. However, he tripped over a rock, sending both of them rolling down the hill.
"I don't see Mom and Dad getting back up…" Aleph said worriedly as he, Keter, and Malkut watched the spectacle from the kitchen window, "You think they're okay?"
"I remember the last time they fought like that," said Keter, "Zack was there and went to check on them. When he came back, he had a really funny look on his face. Well, you remember, don't you? He took us all out for ice cream."
"Can we get ice cream now?" asked Malkut.
"It's been five minutes," Keter pointed out, "They'll be back soon."
"That solved…absolutely nothing," Sephiroth panted over an hour later as he and Aeris lay in the tall grass, their bodies sweaty, and their clothes strewn all over the place.
"Why does this happen whenever we have a huge argument?" Aeris asked, also out of breath.
"Good question," Sephiroth mused as he rolled over and pulled Aeris close to him, "You were in fine form, by the way..."
"Where are we?" Aeris asked, trying to look around. The sun had recently set.
"About twenty-five feet from the driveway," her husband answered, "The grass is rather soft. We should keep it in mind for future romps."
"Not this close to where someone could see us," Aeris pointed out, worried, "What if our friends drop by unexpectedly? Or the kids come looking for us?! Like Mal? Do you really want to explain this to a four-year-old?"
"With her luck and ours, it would probably be Yuffie," Sephiroth joked.
"She's only heard us up until now."
"Heard you," Sephiroth chuckled, "My little mage gets rather loud when she's experiencing rapture."
"Which makes my one-winged angel very cocky," Aeris replied pointedly.
"Was that supposed to be a pun?"
"We still haven't figured out what to do about the kids," Aeris pointed out, changing the subject.
"We distract them," Sephiroth realized.
"We were suitably distracted when we got angry at one another. Perhaps if we found a similar, but more age-appropriate technique for our five little monsters, they might not be so aggressive with one another."
"I see what you're saying," said Aeris, "You know…Tifa said something interesting the other day. She said that her teacher's philosophy was that martial arts was a paradox of sorts. In studying how to fight, the urge to fight, and the need to fight, was ideally eliminated. I told her that made sense, considering how much I dislike violence. Yet, I've made a routine of practicing the sword and staff every day for years."
"Keter already uses a bow and arrow," Sephiroth remarked.
"He's a peaceful kid," said Aeris, "Let's concentrate on Remi. I think Al and Mal are too young for weapons, but they're not as bad as Remi, so they can wait."
"We'll get her a durable wooden sword and-"
"Sword? Why not a good staff?"
"What's wrong with swords?"
Aeris sighed. "Why is she so violent in the first place? Do you think it was a mistake letting her watch all your training sessions with everyone from Neo-Avalanche?"
"We live in a violent society where we have to defend ourselves using violence," Sephiroth admitted, "It may be possible we're teaching her the wrong values. What we adults know as self-defense might be misconstrued as 'might-makes-right' to a child."
"Maybe I should work harder to teach the kids how to negotiate," Aeris said as she leaned her head against Sephiroth's chest and heaved a sigh. "I'm so out of touch, what with all of my research with the guild. I'm turning into my father. The absent-minded professor's daughter: the absent-minded white mage."
"Wait a minute." Sephiroth held up a hand.
"What's wrong?" Aeris asked.
Sephiroth's eyes widened in alarm. "I hear a car pulling onto our property."
"Yeah, just pull up past the crab apple trees," Keter said over the phone to the pizza delivery driver, "…Uh…what do you mean 'next to the big grey dome'?"
"How long can you make that barrier last?" Aeris whispered.
"A few minutes," Sephiroth replied softly.
"We really did screw up this time," said Aeris, "Leaving the kids to fend for themselves. Should have known Keter wouldn't be patient enough to wait for me to cook dinner."
"I can hear the driver talking to Keter," Sephiroth said as he made the barrier disappear, "Follow me."
The grass rustled as Sephiroth and Aeris quietly crawled behind a large rock.
"Found your pants," Aeris said as she held up a pair of black leggings.
"I have your sock," Sephiroth offered, "I think I can see your bra behind that sapling over there…"
He held out his hand, and the undergarment shot into his palm.
"Oh no!" Aeris panicked as she finished dressing herself with what little clothes she had.
"Remi's been in her room for over two hours!" Aeris realized, "We were too busy fooling around to let her out!"
Remi absently scratched her tiny white wing as she lay on her bed. How long had she been stuck in her room? Were her parents going to let her out any time soon? She could smell pizza.
The door opened, and Keter walked in carrying a couple slices of pizza on a plate.
"Where's Mom and Dad?" Remi demanded to know.
"They're in crazy mode again," Keter answered as he set down the plate on Remi's dresser.
"Awww, man…!" Remi groaned as she got up.
"Yep. You shoulda seen it. Dad picked up Mom and carried her outside, and then I could see her blasting him with the water cannon. Then, he hit her with a spell and she started yelling at a tree. I think they were trying to punish each other, like they do to us. It was the weirdest I'd ever seen them. Then, they disappeared and I haven't seen them since, so I took Mom's credit card and ordered pizza."
"They're gonna come back though…right?" the brash eight-year-old suddenly looked vulnerable and frightened.
"If they don't come back by bedtime, we'll go see Grandma and Grandpa," said Keter.
"Which ones?" Remi asked.
"We're back!" Aeris called out from the entryway.
"Mom, I have to go to the bathroom now!" Remi begged loudly.
"Go ahead," Aeris said as she and Sephiroth went up to Remi's bedroom door, "But you need to control your temper in the future. Do you understand me?"
"Yes…" Remi said, looking appropriately chastised.
"Go do what you need to do, and remember to wash your hands when you finish," Sephiroth told her, "Keter, bring that pizza back to the table."
"The table's broken," Keter reminded him as everyone left Remi's room, "I dragged the coffee table into the dining room, and put the food there. I got Raz's baby food out, and Balthazar's been fed."
"Looks like we've got a very responsible son," Aeris said to Sephiroth.
"I have to be when I have parents who occasionally lose their minds," Keter said pointedly, "Oh, and here's the bill."
He handed Sephiroth the receipt.
"Eighty-one gil?" Sephiroth exclaimed, "What in Odin's name did you order?!"
"Two party-sized pizzas, one plain, one pepperoni, an extra-large order of cockatrice wings, two helpings of cheesy bread, a 2-liter bottle of Crusader Cola, and a 2-liter bottle of Phantom Orange," Keter answered easily, "And I tipped the guy fifty percent like I'm supposed to."
"It's fifteen percent!" Aeris groaned, "Oh Keter…!"
"Keter, thirty-five gil could have easily fed all of us," Sephiroth said to his son, "At this rate, we'll be eating the leftovers for the next two days."
"Cool!" Keter exclaimed.
Aeris groaned again, knowing that she and Sephiroth only had themselves to blame.
In the end, it was decided that Remi should have an outlet for her vigor and temper. Sephiroth and Aeris took the eight-year-old to look at weapons. Remi had seen a naginata with a black iron blade and had fallen in love with it. Her parents instead selected a wooden Jo staff for her to practice with.
"Use it on your brothers, and it's getting pawned," Sephiroth sternly warned his daughter.
Remi nodded, seeing that her father was dead serious.
She began using the small staff to release her energy and frustrations. Aeris spent time teaching the little girl to block, and Remi was gradually becoming much less aggressive.
This was just as well, as nine months after Aeris and Sephiroth's showdown, baby Samek was born.