Author's Note: I'm so glad you all are reading this, please review. While I usually detest the idea of trying to make Tifa look like a whore, I thought that giving her a certain trait this way might add some character to this story. If that made any sense. Enjoy!

The lights danced around the room like the northern lights, casting a rosy tint to the club. Old techno music could be heard playing loudly in the background as the dancers continued on with their routines. It was nearing eight o'clock, the busiest time of the night. The performer who was to dance at that time attracted more men than all of the other strippers combined. Extra chairs were added and sometimes a line formed outside for her.

This wasn't what she wanted, however. She stood in the dressing room mentally preparing herself for another night of aggravation. She ran over her routine in her mind, forcing herself to remember all her beats. She closed her eyes and sighed, looking down at herself in her costume, a small white tank top that sunk low into her chest and didn't even cover the bottoms of her breasts, and a black mini skirt that barely covered half of her bottom.

Every night before she was to dance she cried to herself in her personal dressing room. She made more money in tips in one night than most of the other girls made in a week. She wasn't proud of herself, not in the least. She never wanted to strip, it had been the last career she would have ever chosen for herself.

She didn't know what she wanted to do with her life. She knew she wanted to get married, but what man could love a stripper for who she was and not what she did? One day she wanted a family too, but she didn't know how to get out of her business. She had tried to quit many times before, but her boss just looked at her and laughed, saying that her quitting would be like him losing weight, it just wouldn't happen.

When she stomped her foot and pouted, he turned away, counting the money he had just made from her performance. She would follow him around the bar, exclaiming that she would quit. Again he would laugh, saying that if she ever quit he would have to kill her.

That's practically how she had gotten into this business. She was taking a class on martial arts, something she had been training at since she was little. The owner of Sevenstone (A/N: another reference to like, all my other stories.) Club had walked past the gym she was training at and stopped to watch her. She was so flexible and beautiful that he waited until her class was over so that he could approach her. At first she had tried to avoid him, afraid that he was just another horny bastard trying to hit on her. He had convinced her that he was the owner of another martial arts gym, and that he wanted her to teach for him. She gladly accepted her new job, only to find out later what it really was that he wanted her to do.

She first stepped into Sevenstone Club a week after she met with her new boss. Upon entering she noticed the women dancing around poles with hardly any clothes on and she immediately choked and walked out. Her boss caught up with her and told her that they had an agreement. She had told him he was a liar, that she never agreed to strip for him, but he pulled out a contract she had signed without reading.

So here she was now, a stripper. Her beauty and grace had made her very popular with the men but she never grew comfortable exposing herself to them. Every night it was the same thing, she would enter the stage and hear the roar of applause that flooded the room, she would see the line outside the door, the men standing in its frame just trying to get a glimpse of her.

She choked back the tears as she heard her name called. Another night of torture, another night of being objectified, another night of feeling inadequate, unable to be loved for anything more than her body. She looked down at the ground and said a small prayer, hoping that someday she would be able to leave her prison.

"Tifa Lockheart." The voice said and there was a standing ovation as she entered.

She sashayed out to center stage and grasped the pole with her right hand, bringing her knee up to it and wrapping her leg around the golden pillar, sliding down it. She knew that no matter what she did the men would love her, that she could probably trip on stage and they would cheer.

She pressed her back against the pole and slowly sat down, with one leg outstretched and the other crossed over and bent at the knee. She rolled over onto her stomach and shifted her weight, getting up with her bottom raised in the air. She stood up and spread her legs, running her hands along her skin and licking her lips. How she wanted to jump off the stage and run away more than anything.

She wrapped her leg around the pole and jumped up to spin around it sexily, her eyes heavy with anticipation. She crawled towards the crowd and grabbed a mans tie, pulling him just inches away from her face, then letting him fall back into his chair. She stood up as men placed gil in the waistband of her skirt.

She stood tall as she moved to take off her shirt, the applause getting louder with each passing moment. Her breasts now completely exposed she continued to dance, while gil was thrown onto the stage by the handful. She looked at the men teasingly, placing a finger to her lips then running it down her torso to her skirt. She laughed and began to lower her skirt, exposing her g-string. She hugged the pole and let the men linger on her bottom for a while, then whipped around to cast them a devilish glare.

She kneeled down on the stage and waited for more gil. She looked at the men with anger in her heart, praying for a miracle that would release her from her darkest torment. When at last none of her clothes remained on her time was up, and she eagerly returned to her dressing room.

"You were amazing tonight, baby." Her boss congratulated her as she started to get dressed. "You really knocked 'em dead, huh?" He followed her around her dressing room as if they were in a normal meeting.

"Yeah, just like last night, and the night before." Tifa snapped, clasping her bra.

"What do you mean, baby?" Her boss asked, placing his hands on her shoulders and trying to sound sympathetic. Tifa pushed him away and walked to the other side of her room.

"I mean, Dan, that I'm sick of this job, and I don't want to work here anymore, but its not like I ever did anyway." She snarled, hoping he would just get angry and fire her for her insolence.

"Ouch, babe, you cut me real deep." Dan said placing his hand over his heart.

Tifa rolled her eyes and walked away again, with Dan close at her heels. He grabbed her again and spun her around to face him, trying to force her to look at him.

"You can't leave, and you know that. Where will you go? What will you do? You never finished school and who would hire a stripper? Plus, might I remind you that if you leave that I can have hitmen after you just like that?" He said, snapping his fingers.

Tifa again rolled her eyes and glared at him.

"How can you threaten me like that? I bring in more money than all those other girls combined!" Tifa declared, stamping her foot.

"Without you this place would be ruined! No one wants to see those other girls, they're just...mediocre, but you, kid, you got it." Tifa glared at him coldly.

"Do you think I care about your stupid business? You've ruined my life! I never wanted to strip and you knew that, but you said if I worked for you for a little while you'd help me get into the University of Midgar. But you never did!" She screamed, nearly jumping up and down from her anger.

Dan tried to put his arm around her to comfort her but she pushed him into the wall. He got up and grabbed her wrist, slapping her in the face and sending her reeling to the ground. Tears streamed down her cheek as she stood up, rubbing her face.

"Don't you EVER hit me again, wench!" He screamed, throwing her to the ground again.

Tifa stood up and cried openly, having never been a weak person, she suddenly found herself very vulnerable. Dan saw her tears and drew her to him, wrapping his arms around her thin frame and stroking her hair with his hand.

"I'm sorry, darling, I didn't mean to lose my temper. And I promise that I'm working on getting you into that college, my cousin over there, see, he's real busy and its hard for me to get a word to him, but I'm trying, I really am." He pulled away from her and wiped the tears from her eyes with his thumbs, smiling. "Now smile, I don't like seeing my best girl upset." She laughed at that and tried to smile.

She didn't trust him at all, but at least he apologized for hitting her. It had been over a year since she started dancing for him and she hadn't heard so much as a word from Midgar U. She wanted to leave more than anything on earth, but she knew that Dan would hurt her if she did, and if he was, indeed, trying to get her into Midgar U, she would lose her opportunity.

"Now why don't you go home early and take a nice hot bath, treat yourself real nice." Dan offered, trying to cheer her up. Tifa looked up at him and smiled.

"Really?" Dan nodded. "Thank you." Tifa said, hugging him softly, then turning to leave.

When she walked out the door Dan rubbed his forehead in agony. He didn't know how much longer he could keep up this charade. He felt that soon she would give up on him and leave, and he wouldn't have that, he couldn't lose his best act. But he knew that he didn't have a cousin who worked at Midgar U, that was most definitely a lie, but he couldn't let Tifa slip away.

Midgar had grown this night, the wind felt icy against her bare legs as Tifa hugged her jacket close to her body for warmth. She had wanted to quit so badly that night, but she just couldn't. She had given up everything in life on a hunch that someone could help her into the college of her dreams, but she was shattered now, lost in a labyrinth of lies.

She opened the creaky old door to her small, damp apartment in the slums, and flicked on a light switch. A hum of electricity loomed in the air as the light flickered a few times before fully turning on. Tifa removed her coat and tossed it on her couch as she made her way to the tiny kitchen. She made herself a bowl of hot soup and sat down on the couch to watch the news, flipping through channels until she found her favorite broadcast.

"Midgar University will soon go under a massive spending spree as it opens up a new wing dedicated to the soon-to-be owner, Cloud Strife. Cloud Strife is of course the son of gillionaire Thaddeus Strife, who inherited the campus from his father, and so on." The news anchor announced.

Tifa leaned back in her chair and flipped of the television before a picture of the famed heir was flashed across the screen. She didn't need to know who he was, she didn't really care. In the pit of her stomach was a twist of jealousy. She was working hard in a job she hated just to be able to afford her apartment and yet, there were people in the world born into luxury. She really hated him for that. She assumed that Cloud didn't know the meaning of the word 'labor'.

Angered, she placed her empty bowl in the sink and headed for the bathroom. She placed a hand on either side of her pillar sink and stared at herself in the mirror, as she did every night.

"What have I become?" She would ask herself.

She looked down as tears began to form in the corner of her eyes. She looked up again and glared at her reflection. She hated who she was, or what she had become. When she moved to Midgar with the promise of getting into a great college, she thought that her life would be terrific. But after being forced into working for a lying boss and not getting anywhere closer to her dream, she realized that she was only fooling herself. She had ruined herself, it was nobody's fault but her own and she needed to accept it.

She had no friends in the city. Men would hit on her in the street but she would never trust them. Women looked down their nose at her for looking the way she did, something she could not have controlled. Her fellow strippers were all jealous of the money and attention she got and wanted nothing to do with her.

She couldn't help it that people hated her. She had never been a cruel person and done nothing to anger the other women. She had been told that they were jealous, but when rumors would surface that she was fake, it really hurt her. True, her breasts were large, but she had never gotten implants, they were totally natural. But other women would never accept that.

She removed her clothes as she turned the water on, waiting for the tub to fill. She looked down at her body, wishing that she could look differently. Wishing that maybe tomorrow she would wake up and be ugly, and that she would be fired for no longer being able to bring in customers. She had prayed for that every night for the past year, but with each morning brought her nowhere closer to anything less than beautiful.

She stepped into the scalding water, hoping to burn away her beauty. She was not suicidal, and she never hurt herself, but times were getting hard and she was just hoping to somehow start over her life. Maybe one day a knight in shining armor would come and whisk her away from this dreadful place. He wouldn't care that she was a stripper, but he would help her change her life.

She leaned back in the tub and closed her eyes, dreaming of her perfect man. She nearly fell asleep but was awakened by the sudden feeling of nausea. She immediately got out of the tub and drained the water, toweling herself dry. She wrapped a robe around her body and walked into her bedroom.

She walked to her dresser and opened her top drawer, removing her pajamas. She dressed and walked over to her vanity to brush her hair. It was long and dark brown, reaching down to her thighs. She had wanted to cut it, but Dan had ordered her not to, he said it gave her another edge. God how she hated her life. She looked at her reflection and thought to herself, what if I did end it all?

She shook her head to dismiss the thought. She was being silly, one day her dreams would come true. She knew it. She got up and went to her bed to lie down, closing her eyes and thinking of what her life could have been.

Then she thought about what would happen if she weren't there. It pained her to realize that nothing would change if she weren't alive. Sure, Dan's business might have to shut down, but other than that the world would remain as it always had.

She could have tried to get into college on her own. She didn't know why she had trusted someone else to help her. If she had applied herself, she might have already been accepted and enrolled. But now she was trapped. All she could do now was hope that Dan would come through for her, or that she would meet her hero.

She turned on her side and smiled, thinking of her hero. He would come and save her from her pitiful existence. He would love her for who she was, her wit, her charm, and her intelligence. He would lay next to her each night, holding her and breathing in her sweet scent, happy just to be near her.

She fell asleep peacefully that night, dreaming of her beloved. She wished that she could sleep all day, when she was dreaming, nothing bad could happen to her, unless it was a nightmare. As long as she was asleep, she wouldn't have to wake up and go to work, she could live in her dream world forever.

The morning dawn should have peered in through the window to wake her up, but under the upper plate of Midgar no light could ever be seen. Tifa woke up at around noon each day, not having to go to work until seven at night. She was obviously treated differently from the other girls, not having to go to work until later and being able to leave earlier, which made them jealous.

She had once even gotten into a fight with one of the other workers. The girl, Larissa, had shoved her one-day, screaming at her, claiming that she thought she was better than everyone else. Tifa tried to avoid the fight by stating that she didn't think she was better than anyone. It was not enough for Larissa, however, as she threw a punch into Tifa's jaw. Tifa retaliated, and it was Larissa who would lose the fight. Larissa was soon fired for trying to hurt Dan's prized dancer, which infuriated her.

Tifa got out of bed and opened up her closet. She pulled out a pair of tight blue jean hip-huggers, and a white tank top that showed her midriff. She laced up her skate shoes and brushed her hair, ready to run her errands for the day.

She left her apartment and walked down the street, a fake heat hovering over the lower city. She did not own a car, even though she could afford it. She had great money savvy, and saved most of her paycheck in a savings account. She took just enough to get by and would save the rest for her college tuition. With the money she had in the bank she could buy a larger house and a car, but she chose not to. She was getting by fine with what she used.

She could see men stare at her as she walked down the street, but pretended not to notice. She didn't know who came to watch her at the club or who didn't. In her opinion, all men were greasy, tainted with the want of sex. She walked into the grocery store to buy a few things. She stopped in front of the alcohol to contemplate trying to buy some. She knew that she was too young, but perhaps the cashier wouldn't card her. She was only nineteen, just two more years until she could drown her sorrows in the despicable liquid.

After paying for her groceries she walked back home to get ready for work. She still had several hours until she needed to arrive, but she had chores to do around the apartment as well. She entered her dank pit and hung up her coat from the night before. Being unsatisfied with her life, she had developed an obsessive-compulsive disorder, and needed her home to be emaculate. She washed her bowl from the night before and cleaned off the kitchen counter. She vacuumed and cleaned her bathroom from top to bottom, and by the time she finished it was time to really get ready for work.

She sighed as she cleaned herself up. She put on her stage makeup at home so she could meditate before her performance. She changed her clothes and left for the club, hoping that somehow, tonight would be different.