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[personal profile] sanctum_c
Merry christmas!

I tried and failed to write the following fixc in time for Christmas this year. It's technically complete, but I'm not happy with it and it needs a few more passes. Very much inspired by discussions with Raaj.

Warning: fluff

Tifa woke, instantly alert as she recognised the sound of the Seventh's Heaven front door opening. She held her breath, lying silently and still on the bed waiting for another sound to confirm the presence of an intruder. There; another scuffled downstairs in the bar, the harsh echoing sound of a boot on the floor. She edged as quietly as possible to the edge of her bed and crouched down, listening out once more. There'd been no problems with break-ins to date, but Tifa couldn't shake the habits of her recent years; camping out in the wilderness hoping to avoid a monster attack or living in the Midgar slums ensured she always slept with one ear out. She glanced at the clock, sleep departing as adrenaline surged through her veins and wondered if the would be burglars could have been a little more courteous or at least made their attempt a little earlier or a little closer to her normal wake-up time. Urgh.

She shook her head, dislodging the odd train of thought as a new scuff echoed in the empty bar below. She needed to deal with the intruders before anything serious happened. Trashing the bar she could cope with; it would be frustrating and expensive, but that concern paled into significance at the potential risk to Denzel and Marlene, hopefully still sound asleep. She plucked her leather work-clothes from the dresser, silently slipping them on over her nightwear, taking an extra moment to pull her gloves into place. Taking a deep breath she pulled her door open and looked out into the darkened building beyond. One of the bar's lights had been switched on and she caught the almost inaudible sound of whispered questions and instructions as two distinct presences moved around. Somewhat amateurishly it seemed; sure without the light it would be hard to see anything in here, but with it it only increased the risk of waking up one of the inhabitants.

She was debating whether it would be better to try and scare the intruders off by making a lot of noise or if she should try for stealthy when the decision was made for her. The unmistakable sound of another internal door opening and the footsteps fading to silence gave her no choice. Not there. Now they'd really done it; no choice but for a direct confrontation. She moved barefoot, treading carefully on her toes, quickly, silent, efficiently across the landing and on to the stairs. She barely paused at the turn off to the bar, hearing the hissing conversing between the thieves just ahead of her. She pushed the door straight open, ready to start punching.

"Alright. Breaking into my bar was one thing, but coming... in... here... was..." she trailed off as her eyes widened and her jaw fell slack. Standing in the dim light with her back to her was a girl in a pink dress and a bolero jacket. She had a long braid of brunette hair trailing down her back with a pink ribbon tied around the top. She was smiling as she turned to Tifa, surrounded as she always was in martial artist's memories by flowers.

"Hi Tifa."

"Aeris," the martial artist gulped, frozen to the spot in surprise. The flower girl took the initiative and crossed to her, eneveloping her in a tight hug.

"It's good to see you again!"

Tifa's mind raced with questions, but rapidly dismissed them, luxuriating in the warmth of the other girl's body against her own. After a moment's pause she brought her own arms to encircle the flower girl. There was a gruff cough after a few minutes and Tifa opened her eyes to see Barret looking carefully away from both of them.

"Sorry Barret," Aeris remarked as she took a step back. "And sorry for waking you Tifa. Barret gave me a lift back," she said by way of explanation.

Tifa was still coming down off of the threat of intruders breaking into her home, and more critically intruders breaking into Aeris's flower shop. "No... I mean, you weren't sure if you were going to make it back for Yule at all..."

"Well, that was a little bit of a fib. I wanted to surprise you. Though I did get caught up getting hold of these flowers for the shop." She motioned to the cardboard boxes that lay beside her feet in amongst the carefully arranged and cared for racks of flowers. "The flowers all look well; thank you for looking after them."

"It wasn't just me. Marlene is always looking in on them, Denzel helps occasionally and Cloud tries to whenever he's back."

The flower girl's eyes brightened at his name. "Is he here as well?"

Tifa shook her head. "He's still out on deliveries. Hopefully he'll be back in a day or two."

"I hope so..."

Barret chose this moment to interrupt. "I don't want to intrude on you two catching up, but could we go somewhere warmer? It's freezing in here."

"Oh!" Aeris said turning to look at her companion. "Sorry Barret! I just got carried away. The flowers can wait until morning, so lets head back inside."

Back in the main bar, Tifa noted the small pile of luggage that the two had set down when they came in. While she couldn't begrudge Aeris the wonderful surprise of seeing her unexpectedly, she still couldn't quite shake the notion that maybe she should have chosen to come during daylight hours. No matter, she was here now.

"How's Marlene been?"

Tifa glanced at Barret as Aeris surveyed all her flowers once more and locked the adjoining door to her shop. "She's fine Barret. Very excited about seeing you, and I think she's going to love tomorrow morning now you're here."

She watched his lips curl into a smile as he nodded. "I need to come back more often still," he said with a hint of a grimace.

"Don't worry Barret; you're here now. That's the important thing."

"Guess you're right. You got somewhere I can crash for tonight? I'll find a hotel or something tomorrow."

"Don't be silly Barret!" Aeris admonished as she approached the two of them. "You're staying here with the rest of us. You're part of the family after all."

Tifa smirked. "What she said. And tonight at least you can sleep in Cloud's office. He's still got a cot in there."

Aeris looked quizically at the martial artist. "Does he still do that?"

Tifa let out a sigh, though she was smiling. "Yeah. Keeps saying he doesn't want to wake me up if he gets back late. I keep telling him I don't mind... Maybe you can help me convince him?"

"Oh, I think I might be able to help with that..." Aeris replied with a knowing grin.

Barret interjected. "Okay, I don't think I need to hear any of this. Spike's office is the same room, yeah? Well, I'm going to get some sleep." He crept as quietly as he could up the stairs, his heavy tread causing the flooboards to creak noticeably before he collapsed onto the cot.

"So, where am I sleeping tonight? I could make a nest in here, or in the store-room, the bathroom. Oh, I could sleep with my flowers... What?" she asked, all innocent expression at Tifa's increasing exasperation.

"'Where am I sleeping tonight'? Is there some reason why you aren't coming to bed with me right now?"

Aeris couldn't stop her face breaking into a grin at that. "Well, I just wanted to be sure everything was still okay between us..."

"Why wouldn't it be?"

"Well, I've been gone a few months now."

Tifa shook her head vigorously. "I don't care about that. I care about you. And I want you with me tonight."

"How could I turn down that offer... This is one of the best parts of coming home. It'll be even better when Cloud's back as well."

"Mmmm," said Tifa contemplating the idea. "Still, for now, I hope I prove a good bed time companion..."

Aeris smiled. "Lead on, dear Tifa."

While thoughts of a passionate reunion had been floating through her head as soon as bed had been mentioned, Tifa quickly found she was more tired then she would have liked wanted, and any movement felt like too much effort once she and Aeris were in the warmth and seclusion of their room. Stifling a yawn, Tifa quickly shed her working clothes and slid into bed, trying to keep her eyes open as Aeris pulled her own night-wear from the bureau. Freezing cold feet found other freezing cold feet and tried to bunch the blankets thickly around them as they snuggled against each other, arms holding each other tight.

It was hard to fight the drowsy warmth that was building between them, but before she fell asleep there was something Tifa had to tell Aeris.



"Welcome home."

"Glad to be here," she said, her lips brushed Tifa's cheek as she sought her lips and gently kissed her. Tifa found herself smiling in the darkness as Aeris burrowed closer and she let the clutches of sleep ensare her.

Aeris awoke to the sound of running feet and a cry of "Papa!" somewhere beyond the bedroom door. She shifted lazily, stretching out in the intoxicating warmth of the bed, Tifa still dozing quietly beside her. She could just about make out the low bass of Barret's voice as he replied to Marlene, and could pick out the little bursts of excitement from the young girl's voice even if the individual words were obscured by the walls. The bedroom door crashed open, revealing a decidedly happy looking Marlene. From Cloud's office came a shout of protest as Barret tried to persuade his daughter not to disturb anyone, but by then the young girl had crossed the floor and flopped heavily onto the bed beaming up at Aeris.

"You're back too!" she exclaimed as Aeris greeted her with a warm smile and a hug, amused by Tifa's bleary-eyed confusion as the intrusion had jolted her awake.

"I am sweetie. It's good to be home."

"Is Cloud here too?" she asked hopefully, eyes scanning the room having only found two out of three in the bed.

"'Fraid not Marlene," Tifa yawned. "I think he said he'd be back tomorrow, but he promised to definitely be here in time for Yule."

She grinned at this. "Then the entire family will be here!"

Both Aeris and Tifa smiled at the comment, and then Barret interrupted from the doorway, intentionally not looking into the room but calling Marlene to help him sort out some breakfast for the two of them. She hurried out and at her father's prompting apologised for bursting into the room without knocking, pulling the door shut behind her. Tifa sighed with a smile on her face. "Honestly; its like he was expecting us to be up to something in here."

"'Up to something'" her companion echoed. "Why Miss Lockhart, whatever did you have in mind?"

"I didn't have anything in mind." Tifa gave her a look out the side of her eye. "You know very well what kind of thing I mean."

"I do? Something like this maybe?" The flower girl asked as she rolled Tifa onto her back, leaning over her, her lips scarcely away from her partner's. Tifa's voice caught in her throat as she replied.

"Something, like that, yeah."

Aeris smiled. "Well, since we're alone again."

Just as their lips touched there was a knock on the door, and Aeris froze. She pulled away with a sigh and flopped back down onto her back as Tifa called out. "Yes?"

The door was cautiously pushed inwards revealing Denzel looking more than a little nervous. "I just wanted to say welcome home, Aeris."

"Thank you, Denzel." She smiled at the orphan, pleased to see his lips quirk in response. She watched him dither for a moment before he spoke up again.

"Cloud is going to be back tomorrow isn't he?"

"Of course he is sweetie. Right, Tifa?"

Tifa nodded vigorously. "He will be. And if not, we're all going out to drag him back here."

"Then he needs to be punished somehow for trying to run away," Various innocent and not so innocent ideas circulating through Aeris's mind. Tifa threw a wary glance at Denzel.

"I'm not sure I wany to know."

"Hmm? Oh! Nothing like that! I was going to suggest Cloud wear something green and spend an hour in place of the tree."

Tifa smirked at that and Denzel seemed mollified. "I'm going to get breakfast. Do either of you want anything?"

Tifa shook her head. "Don't worry about us, we'll be down in a minute."

Denzel nodded and pulled the door behind him.

"Aww, a minute? Do we have to?" Aeris moaned as Denzel's footsteps faded downstairs.

Tifa sighed in exaggerated exasperation. "Yes. While spending the rest of the day in bed with you is more than a little appealing," Aeris grinned at that, "It doesn't feel the best idea when we have the two younger children awake and charging around the house."

Aeris nodded along to her words and then tilted her head to one side. "So, if they're all in bed and asleep..."

"Maybe then! But I've got loads to sort out and a bar to run. You have flowers to sell."

"I suppose you're right," Aeris conceded, flinging the covers aside and pushing herself out of bed. "But let me know if you need a hand with anything."

"I might just take you up on that offer."

Breakfast in the Seventh Heaven couldn't have been this hectic for some time as far as Aeris could figure. Once she and Tifa made it down to the kitchen, they found Barret sitting at the table as his daughter busily arranged cereal and toast on a tray as Denzel hovered nearby waiting to use the toaster. What would it be like when Cloud was home or on Yule morning? They'd cope though; it seemed far more fun to have so many people here, even if there would be another influx a few days later as the rest of Avalanche and their various loved ones descended upon the establishment.

Tifa tried to get away with just a glass of juice for breakfast, but Aeris quickly put a stop to that, forcing Tifa to sit beside Barret as she also prepared a breakfast. She caught a few amused glances between the friends as she prepared a similar meal to Marlene's, adding a few more slices of bed for her own hunger. A vague plan for the day formed over the meal; Tifa was to run the bar as always, Aeris could take stock of the flower shop and maybe sell some of the wreaths that were popular this time of year, while Barret was going shopping with Denzel and Marlene.

The former miner tried vainly to suggest that maybe the kids would be better accompanied by Tifa while he looked after the bar, but his daughter tried to whisper the very important detail that she wanted to go buy presents for Tifa and Aeris so he had to go with them. With a minimal amount of moaning, Barret pushed himself up from the table and was quickly dragged away by Marlene. Aeris left Tifa sorting out the main bar with a quick kiss as she entered her section of the building.

Despite the automatic heaters scattered through the room to stop everything freezing if the weather outside took a dramatic turn for the worse, it was cold in the shop. Aeris took solace in the fact that it was still warmer than outside, but it had been so long since she had manned the shop in this kind of weather. She hastily retrieved a thick coat from the rack near the kitchen. Better equipped she re-entered the shop and set the shipments of plants she'd brought with her on the counter before wandering the shop again with the aid of cloudy daylight.

All the plants were blooming, still growing nicely even in her absence. The soil was moist, and she could feel the little flickers of energy where the Lifestream curled far below her. Those at the Seventh Heaven had taken good care of the shop in her absence. She apologised to the flowers for being gone so long, but now promised them some new friends. With a last pleased look around the interior, she unlocked the door and flipped the sign to open before returning behind the counter to catalogue and sort her new aquisitions.

An increasing number of her regulars stopped in pleased to see her return to her shop. Many wanted traditional seasonal wreaths, but a pleasing number wanted to buy some of her new flowers as gifts for loved ones. This project had gotten harder she reflected, originally she wanted to make Midgar green and colourful, but now she had one deserted city to reclaim and a whole second occupied settlement to brighten up. In between customers, she set her new plants into position, watered those that needed watering, checked that she had all the sundry material she needed to run the shop and found herself speculating about visiting her original gardens.

Maybe not this side of Yule she decided, unless Cloud could be persuaded to run her over there on Fenrir. As much as she adored all the flowers in her shop, the first two gardens she'd created; the church and Elmyra's house were special in a way the other flowers sadly couldn't touch. Well, except for maybe two. Behind the counter and resolutely not for sale were two very special flowers, procured by her two lovers on visits abroad. Cloud's had come from somewhere near the Chocobo Farm, while Tifa's had originated from the mountainous slopes of Mount Nibel when she took several members of Avalanche to ensure that the Mako reactor that once contained Jenova was not about to produce a new unpleasant surprise for the world.

The reactor had been fortunately inert and silent, all the experiments long dead from power loss and the Mako drain. Tif had found the flower as they trekked back down to the fake town, earning some choice words from Cid apparently at the length of time her 'Just a minute' had by now occupied. Aeris found herself smiling at both flowers, no matter how unusual their trips to her had been.

Around lunch she shut the store temporarily, heading back to the main, warmer building in search of food. She found the lunch-time rush in full swing, Tifa darting backwards and forwards with food and drink. Aeris chose to help, letting Tifa slow down a little as she tried to tend bar and cook at the same time. Barret and the kids turned up just as everything was really beginning to calm down again, both Denzel and Marlene hurrying upstairs with bags held behind their backs. From the scrapes and bangs audible through the ceiling, both were ensuring no nosey adults could possibly find them in the mean-time.

Marlene tugged on her dress a few minutes later, whispering to her that she wanted Aeris to take them shopping tomorrow; Barret needed a present as well. The flower girl smiled at that, making a mental note to ask Tifa what kind of thing might best suit Marlene's father. She asked the young girl if that was all that they still needed to get and she nodded emphatically; Cloud's had been sorted days before. Aeris wondered faintly if Tifa had had a chance to buy presents yet; all hers had been sorted last month well before she started heading home.

The day wore on and the family of friends sat down to another meal together. It was lovely, it was cozy, it was intimate, but it wasn't quite right. Not yet; they were still one person missing. Tifa offered to let Aeris join her in her daily call to him later, but she demured, saying she'd like to surprise him on his return. The idea made Tifa smile. She was home, but life went on as normal; there was a bar to clean and the flower shop to tidy for the day. Barret took charge of the cleaning, enlisting the grudging Denzel and Marlene in the efforts.

The evening flew by as the group played a few games and watched some TV, the flower girl and martial artist nestled together on one end of the sofa as they watched. They made the move to bed once Marlene's head started nodding, and the long process of sharing the bathroom began as first the kids and then Barret made use of the facilities before Aeris and Tifa. Once the lights were out, Aeris settled into bed beside Tifa as she dialled Cloud's number. She watched with interest at the animation in Tifa's face and the change in the tone of her voice as she conversed. She stayed resolutely quiet as Tifa talked, resisting the urge to tease with touch or visual stimulii.

It wasn't a long conversation and Aeris couldn't help checking on when Cloud was expected; late tomorrow was the answer.

"So..." she began idly. "Do I get you all to myself tonight?"

"Cheeky," Tifa smirked at her as she laid a head on her shoulder.

"That's not a no," observed Aeris as Tifa lay back and she leant over her reclining lover.

"Indeed it isn't," Tifa replied with a smile a second before Aeris brought their lips together.

Snow began falling around Cloud as he drove along the rough tracks that linked Edge and Kalm to the rest of the continent. Reluctantly he slowed Fenrir down; it would take him longer to get home like this, but on the other hand he did actually want to survive getting home. Yule was one time of year when he could guarantee his extended and unusual family would all be gathered in one place; the Seventh Heaven family for the day, and the rest of Avalanche a few days later as the year changed.

The thought of coming home to Tifa and the kids was enjoyable enough, but he was so very eager to see Aeris again; her wanderlust was still in full effect and she was often gone for months at a time. He couldn't begrudge her that though; she seemed determined to make up for the first twenty-two years of her life and the restrictions placed on her and her movements by Shinra. Even after they had travelled nearly the length and breadth of the Planet three years ago, it wasn't quite enough, the flower girl insistent on seeking out new samples for her shop, and as such he and Tifa often went months without seeing her.

But despite missing her during that time, and knowing full well that Tifa missed her too, the times when she returned and the three of them could be together was nothing short of wonderful, and while it was a wrench for them to be away, reuniting was so fulfilling. Thinking of Aeris prompted another thought in his memory; he would need to detour out to Kalm in a few days to bring Elmyra over to stay as well, though now he was getting distracted with thoughts of the large shared bed, and his two bed-mates. No, he had to concentrate; it wouldn't do to skid now and not make it home for Yule. They were all hopefully waiting for him.

It was a few hours before he reached the Seventh Heaven, smiling as he noted the wreath now hanging from the front door. He wheeled Fenrir around to the back of the building past the flower shop. He peered in on reflex even though he knew it was likely she wasn't back yet. Everything was as expected; the shop stood empty and dark though he still felt a prickle of disappointment at the sight. He sighed and let himself into the garage, closing the door behind him as he powered the bike off completely. He noted an absence of the kids as he made his way through into the bar where Tifa was busily serving.

"Cloud!" She said smiling as she passed one of the regulars his drink. "I thought you were due back a little later."

"I was, but one delivery got cancelled so I was able to get back early." He glanced around again. "Are the kids around?" The smile that appeared on Tifa's face was slightly confusing and he wondered just what was making her smile like that.

"No, not right now. I think they're shopping."

"Good, I need to hide their presents somewhere before they get back."

She turned to him then, lowering her voice and mindful of those around them in the bar. "Cloud! I thought we decided we'd done all the shopping together."

He looked a little sheepish. "I know. But then I saw something for Marlene in Junon, and while getting that I found something for Denzel. Then I saw something for Aeris, then you..."

She blinked and broke into a grin. "You got me another present?"

"I did."

"Hmmm." She considered him for a few moments. "Well, I think I might be persuaded to let you off. Depends what it is. Of course I might have to talk that over with my partner."

Cloud blinked before realization crashed in. "Oh. Aeris. You mean if she makes it back in time."

"Quite." She laid a commisatory hand on his arm. "Don't worry. She's made it back every other year. And for your birthday."

"I know, I know. Just usually she doesn't leave it quite this late to come back. Think I should call her? Maybe see if I can give her a lift back?"

Tifa pursed her lips and seemed to be thinking it over. "You can try at least. I'm sure she'll be grateful for the thought."

Making the effort to help the flower girl always lifted Cloud's spirits and he headed upstairs first to hide the gifts and then to make his phone call. Aeris picked up after two rings.

"Cloud! It's good to hear from you again! You should really call more often you know."

"I would, but you keep going out of areas with decent reception."

"Well, they tend to be the places with the best flowers."

Cloud sighed. "Whereabouts are you?"

"Oh? Worried I'm not going to get back in time?"

"...a little."

"And you'd like to give me a lift to make sure I'm back?"

"...something like that."

"Awww- no! Shush!"

Cloud frowned. "Are you okay?"

"I'm just fine," she giggled. "And don't worry about dragging yourself out to meet me. I guarantee you I'll be back in time for Yule."

"You're sure?"

"Positive." There was something muffled in the background.

"I don't mind you know. I still need to pick up your mom tomorrow."

"Thank you for the offer Cloud, but really. Don't worry. I'll see you as soon as possible."

"Okay. See you soon."

Cloud switched the phone off and sighed again. Tifa had been right; Aeris had never once failed to make it back in time for a time of celebration. Unless that occasion was her own birthday. Cloud always imagined that she spent most of that day wading through plant-life with a huge grin as she hunted down some new flower or took in another vista in her meandering and electic trips around the Planet.

Well, he'd take her at her word. He wandered back downstairs to see if there was anything Tifa needed help with.

"Hello, Cloud."

He whirled at the bottom of the stairs to find Aeris, Denzel and Marlene waiting for him, as Aeris closed her phone with a snap.

Aeris was still smiling later that evening as Cloud helped Barret put the kids to bed.

"It's not that big of a joke," Cloud commented as he entered the bedroom to find Aeris and Tifa curled up in bed together.

"I know. But I really did appreciate the offer of you coming to collect me," she commented wriggling over a bit more in the bed to give Cloud room.

"Well, it's only natural you know," he replied as he leaned in to peck her lips.

"Don't mind her Cloud, she turned up out of the blue the other day in the middle of the night. I thought we were being burgaled."

"I told you I didn't want to wake up anyone else..." she protested.

"Well next time, don't come back with Barret. I'm not sure he's capable of stealth." Tifa buried a kiss on the nape of Aeris's neck.

"Anyway; would you like to come with me to pick up your mom tomorrow?" Cloud asked.

"Oh, I'd love to. Wait; how are we both going to get back. We can't all fit on your bike. Can we...?"

"Cloud finally got a side-car made up for his bike. He doesn't like leaving it on though," Tifa spoke up.


Cloud frowned slightly. "It slows everything down. And I don't really need it on deliveries."

"But couldn't you use it for some big items?"

Cloud didn't have anything resembling an excuse for that and so lapsed into silence. Aeris sighed.

"Oh, don't worry. I'm only teasing. Now; I would quite like both of you to keep me warm tonight," she said with a sly grin as her hands gripped both Cloud and Tifa's nightwear and pulled them both down onto the matress with her, both needing no further prompting to curl themselves around the girl lying in the middle of the bed.

Aeris was seriously regretting accepting Cloud's offer to go with him the next day as Fenrir roared out of Edge and across the wasteland. On the plus side getting to see Mom a little earlier was always welcome and she enjoyed taking rides on the bike with Cloud. On the painfully apparent negative side was the unpleasant sensation of freezing wind rushing past both of them as the bike sped along. Winter was definitely not her season; a comment that amused both her partners whenever she mentioned it, knowing as they did exactly what kind of temperature the place of her bith had. Aeris always insisted that her constant desire for warmth in later life as a direct result.

"Did anything interesting happen at all while I was away?" she said to Cloud as they raced along.

"It's been much the same as always I'm afraid. Deliveries, helping out at the bar, spending time with the kids. Nothing terribly exciting."

"So, you and Tifa haven't discovered any new fetishes I should be aware of while I'm back?"

Fenrir wobbled slightly. "No!"

"Well, I do like to know these things in advance." She couldn't help her grin, even though Cloud couldn't see it.

"You know we'd tell you if we did."

"I know, though I can't imagine you coming right out and saying it over the phone. You'd try to allude to it and wind up confusing me," she replied settling against his back a little more.

"We haven't had that many chances to be together," the driver admitted after a pause. "We're just so tired." His reply caused a smile to tug at her mouth.

"Well, sounds like I need to hang around and help you two out so we can all benefit. And here I thought you and Tifa would be knocking boots at every opportunity."

They drove a little longer in silence before Cloud spoke again. "Where did you go this time?"

"I spent a lot of time in the Corel mountains actually. The reactor over there is almost completely overgrown now. I was tempted to go to the Gold Saucer too you know."

"Why didn't you?" Cloud asked still facing forwards.

Her hand tapped his shoulder lightly. "Much for fun with you and Tifa. And Denzel and Marlene as well."

"Well, we can probably go for your birthday. Again."

"Oh, Cloud. It's like you read my mind." She entertained herself with thoughts of the still-improving theme park, back in operation after some shakey problems in the aftermath of Meteorfall. Once they reached Kalm, Aeris jumped striaght off the bike and ran to her mother's door, surprising her mother with a forceful hug. Elmyra was initially glad to see her daughter sooner than expected, but then concenred about just how she was going to get back to Edge with the two of them. See looked distrustfully at the sidecar for some moments, but quickly relented when Aeris pointed out otherwise she'd need to hang on behind Cloud. They were soon zipping back across the wasteland to Edge, Mother and daughter chatting happily after so long apart.

The long day before Yule slowly drew to a close, both the public and private sides of the Seventh Heaven near bustling with the assorted guests. Cloud spent his time off from his deliveries assisting in the packed kitchen and living area as he carefully followed Elmyra's directions while Barret did his best to keep both kids occupied. Aeris and Tifa slowly wound down their respective businesses, welcoming the slowly dwindling number of customers urgently searching for a last minute gift, having strayed as far as the Seventh Heaven in utter desperation. Gifts of flowers and liquor are all they can really provide, but they seem enough as the flustered Edge citizens rush back onto the snow-covered streets.

After closing, once the lights are off in both Aeris's flower shop and the Seventh Heaven bar, Tifa quietly tugged Cloud's hand and drew him away from the crowded living area, intent on persisting with a deeply personal tradition. The swordsman nodded to the other adults who in turn continued to play games and generally wear the excitable kids out before ibedtime. For all Denzel's pretenses at maturity, he could never hide hide the increasing excitement of tomorrow. Just what the various members of his family have bought him has remained a mystery; his guardians surprisingly good at hiding the packaged gifts away. His and Marlene's own contributions sat under the tree, joined by the neatly wrapped contributions from Elmyra.

Leaving quietly, the pair walked quickly through the freezing, darkened streets looking for anyone sleeping rough' especially children. There are still too many orphans in Edge, too many without homes, and Tifa found herself unable to sleep once she realized the situation. That first year she'd had to rouse Cloud in the middle of the night to check, and shortly afterward ushered five near frozen youths into hastily constructed camping beds in the bar. Cloud never objected, not even that first time when roused from a comfortable bed and the bodily warmth of Aeris Gainsborough

Edge was far too big to fully patrol, so Cloud and Tifa were forced to minimise their checking; they focused mostly on construction sites and lesser used buildings outside the centre. Tifa was relieved to not find any children out in the cold; though they still try to encourage the drunks and the homeless huddled in the freezing cold towards the nearest WRO centre. Tifa made a mental note to send something to the staff; the building is open twenty-four hours a day, and that is especially draining at this time of year.

Chilled to the bone, the two of them headed for home. They stamped the snow from their boots before thankfully reaching the blazing warmth of their home. Tifa smiles as she sees the kids have become drowzy in their absence and both are pratically asleep. They briefly discussed just who would take the kids up to bed; the lone parent and three guardians of the children seems overly excessive; in the end it is Tifa and Barret who coax the sleepy children up the stairs and into bed while Elmyra, Cloud and Aeris busy themselves with tidying up downstairs and retrieving presents from convenient hiding places. Tifa tried to impress on both kids that they would really prefer not to be woken before 7 am, but she doubted that either of them heard anything before drifting to sleep.

The temptation to just crawl into bed and await her partners was quite powerful, but Tifa resisted; there was a significant amount of work still to be done. She and Barret tip-toed downstairs to continue with the clean-up and finish off the remaining preparations for the next day. Barret retrieved his own presents and added them to the growing mass under the tree.

Eventually everything was done, and they had nothing more to do but call it a night. Elmyra and Barret retreated to their individual rooms, leaving the three lovers alone at last. They crawled hastily into bed, curling around each other and fidgeting for comfort; tired, warm and happy.

Date: 2013-12-25 06:15 (UTC)
raaj: (kittens)
From: [personal profile] raaj
I like this! It's really sweet and definitely deserves the warning for fluff, haha. It does seem a bit unfocused somehow, or maybe it just runs a little longer than I'd usually expect a purely fluffy piece to.

But...I'm definitely laughing now at the "eerily close" bit of your tumblr message! At first I thought you meant just the general idea of Tifa happily reuniting with Aerith--which is cute in how you did it, but definitely different with Tifa thinking she was a burglar. And there are some similarities in concerns about the reception/Aerith having been away for quite a while, but they make sense with the world set-up and the fact that we have been talking back and forth about hypothetical Aerith lives scenarios... It was only on a second readthrough I realized that both pieces have Cloud calling Aerith on the impression that she's far away when she's actually in/near Seventh Heaven. LOL! That probably does deserve the "eerie", I have no idea how we both wrote that except sheer odd coincidence. (I remember when writing my little ficbit it was actually a last-minute toss in; I kept thinking Tifa would just step back, come out again and see Aerith standing there with Cloud turned away, and then it was like 'no wait he's really worried too he'd want to try calling again' and it let me do ringtone silliness because I found the idea of Aerith realizing Cloud likes a really upbeat song and immediately setting it as his ringtone on her phone to be too cute.)

Barret's attitude around Aerith and Tifa and threesome talk was definitely amusing.


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