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Cloud, with Tifa’s full approval, names their first child ‘Zack’. From the dusting of dark hair on that soft infant head, from the stubborn uplift of even those downy strands, he can tell that Zack Lockhart-Strife will have a fair enough resemblance to his namesake. It’s been so long since Cloud’s headstrong, boisterous childhood and he’s become a much quieter man, but he hopes he can raise little Zack to have something of the old Zack’s spirit. ‘Big Zack’ grins from his Lifestream perch, too pleased for words.

Tifa names the next one ‘Brodrik’. The clerk stumbles over the Old Nibel spelling. He’s much like his brother, Brody is, though Cloud likes to think the Lockhart genes have had a taming influence on the hair. The boys are close enough in age to do everything together. If the media had not already made it known otherwise, they could be taken for twins, two peas in a pod.

The pod is getting bigger, making room for a blond. Cloud and Tifa choose ‘Westyn’ by mutual agreement, and Tifa is happy though she had been hoping for a girl. There’s no time to dwell on it. With three young children in the house, a restaurant and bar to run and Denzel occasionally popping home from college, their hands are full.

When Kaydn comes along on the heels of the others, they realize they need to take steps. Tifa puts her foot down. Her body has been through enough. She wants to be able to kick a man’s tailbone into his cranium again. She misses her abs. Cloud spends two months in quiet dread and one afternoon with an ice pack on his groin. When the kids are all old enough to run, when they start recreating his battles with sticks and every high surface, he considers it the smartest thing he’s ever done. He never did like being outnumbered. It’s been years since he last glimpsed Zack Fair in the Lifestream, but Zack is there beside him all the same, promising to have his back.

After years of being the happy aunt, of bouncing the boys on her knee and ‘glowing’ away their scraped knees, Aerith gets her turn. She brings her pale daughter into the world and even Tifa has to admit, the child is cute, although the infant squirms in her arms and refuses to settle down. Maybe something of her old longing for a girl has stirred, but things are what they are. Cloud is surprised how the child quiets in his arms, content with Uncle Cloud as she is with few others.

There are more children to the mix. Aerith’s. Yuffie’s. Cid’s. Marlene has become the big sister that Aerith had been to her and Barret glows with pride at the young woman she’s become. Seventh Heaven gatherings have become family friendly, for all that they used to be a bunch of terrorists. Correction, a bunch of terrorists and one homicidal maniac, who screams ‘Stop smacking your brother’ like all the rest, has unspoken vegetable chopping contests with Tifa and sits in the corner with the cat in his lap until the cat is good and ready to leave.

They go home with plenty of cake after the Cetra twins’ birthday. They have some that night with a bottle of wine. Life is good. Until Tifa complains that her breasts are sore and that she’s suddenly tired all the time and the smell of orange juice is making her stomach turn. They stare at the blue line on the stick and wonder what happened. Seems vasectomies sometimes reverse themselves, given enough time, and Cloud always did heal up pretty well. They name the little one ‘Jessica’ and try to figure out a new plan.
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