A.N. Yes, an update!! xD I can't believe it either. Now that school is over I thought a chapter was due. I've also been having a huge issue with my Microsoft, but now that it's been resolved I decided to post this. I know it's not much, but I had to give you guys something. D:

Warning: This is more of a rough draft chapter. It's still a little coarse and needs to be fixed up, so I will be adding more to it. Just keep that in mind!

Disclaimer: Blaaaah.

Final Note: I know it's hard to believe that people can actually be as homophobic as I make out Rinoa and Selphie, but take my word for it--they can. I have had personal experience with people who think that all gays should die. So I know Rinoa and Selphie are rather harsh--maybe in an unbelievable way, but people can actually be that cruel and vindictive.

Now, on with the story! xD

Tifa was very eager for the upcoming dance, though not quite for the same reason as her giggly young peers. She waited with a sort of anxious anticipation, the dance never straying far from her mind. Aerith's face never strayed too far either.

Though to Aerith it was probably just a simple dance, to Tifa it was a night where Aerith would need her protection. Cloud, able to sense what was on her mind, called Tifa overprotective.

Tifa had scoffed and told him that he was still going with her and let the comment pass, but it was still there in her mind, challenging what Tifa had called a valiant fight to preserve Aerith's innocence as something more. Yet still, she cringed at the idea.

…Overprotective? Tifa tried to brush it off, but the thought plagued her right until the night of the dance.

"Tif, yeh ready yet?" Barret called from the kitchen.

"Not yet," Tifa answered back in an even voice that didn't betray her frantic nervousness. It wasn't the dress. It wasn't the makeup, or the hair, or the ride to the school.

It was Aerith.

Tifa chewed on her nail, tense as she sat on her bed.

Aerith and Zack.

A brief memory of Zack's cool expression and superior smirk flashed across her face, and she directed her anger into a mere expression of displeasure. With a sigh, she stood up and held her resolve, walking out of her room and into the kitchen to greet Barret and Cloud dressed in a respectable white dress shirt and slacks. He looked extremely uncomfortable but Tifa smiled at him, appreciating his effort.

Tifa exchanged a few words with Barret that mostly constituted what time Tifa would be home, and how she and Cloud were going to be responsible while they were out. After the short, worried lecture, Tifa and Cloud left in his silver Toyota for the dance.

"Er…Tifa…"Cloud began. His cheeks were pink, and he was struggling for words as he drove. Tifa laughed.

"It's okay, Cloud. I know you want to say how great and beautiful I look, but you're just too socially retarded to be able to say it." Tifa gave him a big grin as his cheeks heated up to something akin to a cherry and he shouted indignantly at her about his social awkwardness.

When they finally arrived at the school, it was packed full of girls dressed in tight, low cut dresses moving sensually against their partners to the throbbing beat of the music. Tifa's mouth quirked into a frown at the promiscuity of her peers, but her mind quickly drifted to the thought of finding Aerith and Zack. While Aerith was conscientious about responsible behavior, Tifa didn't know what Zack was capable of coercing Aerith into doing.

After moments of anxious fretting and pacing, and Cloud standing awkwardly by Tifa's side like he didn't know what to do with her, Aerith appeared. As soon as Tifa caught a glance of her beautiful green eyes, she was the only thing Tifa could see. She wore a long, flowing red dress and her hair, free of the constraints of her braid, bounced around her lithe face and framed her in an image of gentle innocence. The pink bow, constantly visible, complimented her red dress. Tifa stared at Aerith, and so did Cloud.

Aerith's face was bare of makeup, but rather than painting her face to accentuate her fine facial structure, it only gave her a more natural and pure look. Her small mouth was turned upwards in a small smile, as if she held a secret that she would never tell. Zack was by her side, a dazzling grin across his face and a smart-looking tuxedo complimenting his masculine form.

"Aerith!" Tifa called, waving over the brunette. Aerith stopped and looked around, and upon noticing Tifa a grin broke across her delicate face. She mouthed something to Zack who looked slightly annoyed before she awkwardly jogged towards Tifa and Cloud, unable to run because of the high red heels she wore.

"Tifa," Aerith greeted a familiar twinkle in her eyes, "you look stunning!" Next to Aerith's natural beauty, Tifa felt overdone in her thick mascara and shining pink lipgloss. She shrugged it off.

"Aerith…" Tifa began quietly. Now she felt the overwhelming need to whisk Aerith from the school, from the promiscuity, from the leering glances of her peers, from the subtle wooing of Zack, and from everything that would taint her innocence. Her mouth set into a resolved line. She was about to speak when Aerith giggled and danced over to Cloud.

"Now look at you! Doesn't he look wonderful, Tifa? Look at him in that suit." Aerith smiled and leaned in to see Cloud's face, which he bowed in embarrassment. "Don't be bashful, you look wonderful," Aerith laughed. Tifa couldn't help a smile spread across her face at the gentle teasing.

"Now now, Aerith, don't give him an ego," Tifa joined in. She would've liked nothing more than to be amused by seeing if Cloud could go any deeper shade of red, but the sight of Zack hesitantly approaching caught her attention. He looked slightly uncomfortable, but his eyes held a curious gaze with all traces of annoyance gone. Tifa returned his glance with a guarded one of her own, as if he were a nuisance. Zack, noticing her vehement glare, licked his lips and turned away.

"Hey, I'll see you guys in the gym, alright?" Aerith spoke, snapping Tifa out of her defensive stare-down. She lightly pushed Tifa and gave her a knowing smirk as Tifa's eyes flitted back towards Zack. "Do I see lust in those distant brown eyes of yours, Miss Lockheart?" Aerith laughed, referring to the death-glare she was giving to her partner. Tifa rolled her eyes good-naturedly.

"Yes, Aerith. I am absolutely smitten ." Tifa replied in a humoring voice. She gave Aerith a short wave before she and Cloud turned for the gym where loud music beat and teens danced.

Aerith giggled to herself, enjoying the playful banter she had shared with Tifa. There was something different about the brunette, though she couldn't quite place her finger on it. Aerith shrugged it off and made her way over to Zack with something of a forced smile.

"Alright. You ready to go in?" Aerith asked. Over the past weeks Aerith had known Zack, she had developed a mildly fond bond with the boy. He had a sort of puppy-like personality, and was a very entertaining and optimistic youth. She was able to overlook what he had done to get her to go to the dance with him and value the gentlemanly way he treated her.

Zack paused before he responded.

"What did you say?" He asked in a distracted manner, turning his gaze to meet Aerith's. His mouth was turned downwards and he had a troubled look, though he tried desperately to check his emotions. Aerith sighed.

"What's wrong?" She asked, moving over to sit on a nearby bench. She patted a seat next to her, beckoning Zack forward. He shifted his gaze to the ground and made to sit..

"It's just…" He started, taking the offered seat, "It's Tifa." Aerith's eyes widened as she stared at Zack's downcast gaze. His dark blue eyes met Aerith's before he looked down again.

"What is this about?" Aerith began suspiciously, desperately hoping that he wouldn't start the malicious talk he'd had upon their meeting. Zack paused before slowly raising his gaze to meet Aerith's.

"…I never see you smile like that for anyone but Tifa." Zack looked like a pouting puppy, but despite the endearing expression Aerith couldn't help the explosion of surprise that came from his words. She had held herself in a guarded posture, expecting him to say something callous about her friend as he had done that one day, but there was no malice in his words.

"I always smile, Zack. I don't smile exclusively for her," Aerith spoke in an exasperated tone. Zack looked down at the ground and rolled a small rock with the sole of his shoe as if it were an entertainment that rivaled the wildest amusement parks.

"I know you always smile—and you have a great smile, too, by the way—" Zack let his raging hormones take control for a moment before continuing, "but you do. You have this special smile all for her. I never see you look like that for anyone else." Zack let his words sink in, hurt and slightly jealous, before abruptly standing up. "It doesn't matter. Let's go dance." He flashed her a dazzling, celebrity-like grin before offering his hand.

"May I take your hand, m'lady?" Aerith grinned and took it, letting him pull her up. She half expected Zack to wrap an arm loosely around her shoulder, a habit he had grown into as of late, but much to her surprise he never did.

The rest of the night passed by in a flash.

Tifa tried to make Cloud dance, but he clung to the beverage table and screamed that she couldn't make him do it. Zack and Aerith shared a few dances together, and Zack kept moving his hand from the small of Aerith's back lower and lower in a teasing manner until she had to smack his hand and place it on her back again. That went on for a while until Aerith decided to assist Tifa and the two grabbed Cloud's hand, dragging him onto the dance floor to the amused expressions of their classmates. Tifa tried to make Cloud dance in vain until Aerith stepped in, forcing Cloud's arms around her and leading him for a few brief seconds until he pulled away, running to the safety of his cousin Quistis and her date. Tifa and Aerith shared a moment of laughter until they decided to dance obscenely together to a romantic-sounding waltz. Zack took the company of Scarlet's friends, Reno and Rude.

By the time Tifa and Cloud were in the car driving home, it felt like the dance had only been a few seconds rather than a few hours. Even Cloud, who greatly disliked having to socialize, had a relaxed expression on his face. Tifa grinned to herself.

She had thought that the night would be full of stress and panic in her efforts to keep Aerith safe, but much to Tifa's surprise Zack had behaved—mostly. It was a night Tifa would hold fondly in her memories. The moments she had shared with Aerith were priceless, even if it involved tormenting a certain socially retarded blond. She thought of the elegant way Aerith had danced, and how easily she laughed as they fooled around on the floor together. Tifa closed her eyes, replaying the events in her mind with a soft smile.

Cloud also had his thoughts trained on a certain brunette.

A.N. I know it's short, but I had to post this. It was killing me to think I hadn't updated in almost five months. I promise the next chapter will be long, exciting, and dramatic.

And Cloud. Yes. Yes. He's starting to develop a little infatuation for Aerith. -Laughs evilly!- I can't WAIT for you guys to see how this is going to turn out. :3 Next update should be sometime this month, I swear on my life. xD