A/N: I got fed up with waiting for good Cleris fanfics to show up so I obviously started my own. This is a response to the challenge in Ghost in the Mirror's profile. Hope you like it! I also hope some of you Cleris/Clerith fans respond to the challenge as well so I'll have something to read!
Brandon swatted Garret's hand away from the keyboard and slid a disk in. FF7 popped up on the screen. "You're right," Brand told Garret and added, "for once. This game looks pretty neat."
"Damn straight," Garret said. "Look me up on there. I call myself Barret."
"Clever," Brand snorted.
"Hey, shut your mouth," Garret shouted, punching his friend on the shoulder. "Jus' play the damn game."
"What should I could myself?" Brand asked, looking outside. It was stormy out, just the way he liked it.
"What about Skylar?" Garret suggested. "You're always lookin' up at the stupid sky."
"No, that's a girl's name," Brand replied. "How about…Cloud."
"And that's not?" Garret shot back. "Suit yourself."
Cloud logged into the game Final Fantasy, made a new, personalized character, and started a new game. He played for hours, and Garret was long gone before he decided it was about time to quit- for the night. He'd already leveled up his character several times. It was dark out, and the thunder was bad. Just before he was about to log off, a message appeared on his screen. It was from some player named Aeris
"Hi. Are you new to the game?"
Brand paused and scratched his head. He was back to being Cloud again with a whole new personality. "Yeah," was all Cloud said.
"So am I," said Aeris.
"What's your point?" he typed back.
"Jeez," Aeris replied. "Touchy, aren't we? I just want to make a few friends. That's why I got this game, and I haven't made a single one."
"You bought an online fighting game to make friends?"
"What does sound a little strange now that I think about it," she typed back. "Hey, how old are you?"
"That's cool. I'm sixteen."
Brandon flinched. Oh, yeah, that's really cool, he thought sarcastically to himself. She's older than me. He disliked having older friends. It felt like a disadvantage. Then again, his mom did want him with an older girl who could take care of him. Wait, since when did he listen to his mom?
"What's your real name?" she typed when he didn't reply.
"What's with all the questions?" he asked.
"Oh, come on," she typed. "I'm just curious. I'm Laura, by the way."
"My name is Brandon," he replied, "and I have to go now."
The next day, Brand came upon Garret choking on crackers and his friend Tiffany hitting him on the back in his first period class, biology. Their teacher, the strict Ms. Tomb, was probably out giving someone a detention.
"Is there a particular reason you're eating crackers in biology class, Garret?" Brand asked when Garret could breathe.
"He was trying to see how many crackers he could stuff into his mouth," Tiffany said, rolling her eyes. "I heard you got FF7 from a certain braniac over here. How do you like it?"
"It's pretty cool," Brand said, shrugging. "You have it, too?"
"Yeah," Tiffany said. "I'm called Tifa. Garret burned me a copy, too."
Brand sighed. He had such imaginative friends.
"Class!" Ms. Tomb said immediately after the last bell rang. Brand jumped in his seat to Garret's right, who sat before Tiffany. She immediately had everyone else scrambling to their desks with their full attention on her. She was a thin, short woman with long gray hair pulled back in a bun and narrowed, black eyes behind her thick glasses. "We have a new student today. Her name is Lauren Matthews. I hope you will all welcome her with the kindness of young yet mature adults." She looked at them from over her glasses and smiled thinly at their chorused welcome. "Go sit down beside Tiffany Smith, please, dear."
Laura sat beside Tiffany, right behind Brandon. He tried not to stare. Was this Aeris, the girl from FF7? He had to know….
"Today we will be dissecting the rat!" Ms. Tomb said. "On to the lab. Each group can have five members but only one rat!"
Brandon turned around as everyone scrambled to get partners. Lauren smiled brightly at him. "Want to be our partner?" he asked.
"Yes, thanks," she said, still smiling.
"I'm Brandon, by the way," he said, putting a slight emphasis on his name and hoping to get a reaction. Tiffany watched curiously and Garret went to get another partner.
"As in Cloud?" Lauren asked, bringing a smirk to Brandon's face.
"So you're Aeris, then?" he asked.
"You two know each other?" Tiffany asked, not even noticing Garret come back to them with a boy named Red. He was Irish and it showed in his hair and eyes.
"We just met yesterday on FF7," Brand said.
"Bizarre," Tiffany said.
"Hey!" Garret shouted. "Can we get into the lab room? Ms. Tomb is givin' me the evil eye."
They suffered through rat dissection and finally reached the end of that day's lab. The teacher instructed them to stuff all the organs back in, wrap up the rat, and hand them back to her so they could await the next day's dissection. Just as Brandon was about to leave the room, Lauren stopped him. "Hey, get on FF7 at five tonight in the forest region, okay? I'll be at the gate."
Brand knew exactly where that was since he'd spent much time fighting monsters and other newbie fighters in that area. He agreed and went to math class with Garret.
"Hey, my dad bought me this new thing," Garret said, showing Brand a helmet inside his backpack. "You can use it in FF7. It makes it much more realistic."
"That sounds cool," Brandon said, making Garret hide it as the vice principle walked by them down the hallway.
"Yeah," Garret said. "I've been grounded so I can't use it yet, but I'll let you borrow it on one condition."
"What?" Brand asked suspiciously.
"There's this rumor goin' about that I've really wanted to check out," Garret said. "It's about some player. He's really powerful and has never been defeated. Plus, all the people he's defeated end up murdered!"
"What do you want me to do about it?" Brand asked.
"I'm gettin' to that so shut your mouth," Garret said heatedly. "I want you to find out more about him while I'm grounded. Weaknesses, strategy, hangout, anythin'. I plan on takin' him out when I get back on."
"Fine," Brand said. "What's his name?"
A/N: Any feedback, people? I love feedback. Anyways, I hope you liked it…no, loved it. Please review. Good or bad, I don't care.