Chapter One: Trading Dolls for Basketballs
A/N: This was a new fic I thought of when I was asleep. Yeah, I dreamt of it and it kinda got stuck in my head, as if wanting to be written. So yet again halting Haunted's progress, I hope you like this new fic. And just what Nicole said, I like criticism so criticize, criticize, criticize (and review?) please. I'd really want to know how I do as a writer.
"Oh dad," Tifa sighed as her father switched channels and finally settled on one he felt watching, "I hate basketball."
"But paper clip," her father said lovingly, "You'd make a great player, you just gotta know the moves... that's all."
"Paper clip again!" Tifa said, putting on a mask of fake annoyance, "Please call me Tifa, dad."
"But I like paper clip!" her father retorted, seemingly enjoying himself, "Oh but if you don't like basketball, I guess I can ask Zack to watch it with me."
"Don't let him get within two inches of our house, dad!" Tifa suddenly cried, "He keeps courting me even if I always turn him down, he's unbelievable!"
"Now Tifa," her father said, suddenly becoming serious, "You know that his father and I are good friends and I don't see anything wrong with the boy. It's probably you who needs a little tweaking."
"Tweaking? I'm not broken!" Tifa rebelled, the tone of her voice rising a bit higher, "He is a freaky guy... he even stalked me once!"
"I think that you should know Tifa," her father calmly said as he took a sip of his wine, "That love can make you do crazy things... and judging by his actions, then he must really love you sincerely... and that's a good thing."
"No!" Tifa exclaimed, "I will never accept his love nor will I learn to love him!"
"That's it!" her father pounded his fist on the table, "You are to go with him and learn a thing or two about basketball!"
"B-but..." Tifa stammered, still not wanting to admit defeat.
"No buts!" his voice was steady and firm, "Now go... or I'm grounding you."
"Why did you have to go," her father sighed, "Ever since you died, Tifa had been very distant to me..."
'This is my life,' Tifa thought bitterly to herself, 'Why can't he understand that I am capable of choosing by myself? I am sixteen now, for pete's sake!'
"Why can't Tifa understand," her father continued, staring out the window, "That I just want to protect her... To find someone who will not do the same mistakes I did to you..."
"Hello?" A cheerful voice answered.
'I knew he was such a freak,' Tifa sighed, the second time today, "Zack, it's me, Tifa."
"Tifa? Oh I'm so happy you called!"
"Yeah, well... you know basketball?"
"I-uh... I'm really good at it! Why?"
"Maybe we can, err, shoot some hoops later?"
"...I'd love to!"
"Fine. See you here in thirty minutes?"
"I'll be there, Tifa-"
"Things are starting to look up," Zack said to himself as he happily put down the phone, "But... wait! I don't know a single thing about basketball..."
"Zack is good at something?" Tifa thought skeptically, "Oh well, at least I can learn a new sport."
Tifa didn't spend much time on getting ready, 'It's just Zack anyway,' she thought as she got a newspaper to keep herself busy.
LOCKHEART'S GOAL WON THE GAME FOR THE MIDGAR WOLVES!
Lately, the headline had always been about her. Ever since she had been accepted in the national team, she had been shocking everyone and proving to them how much a girl could excel in a "man's" sport. Her youth and vigor earned her a place on every fanatic's heart and her team a place on every match.
"Actually, I like martial arts better," she said out loud to herself, "To use it in killing monsters and being in missions... to save the world! Yeah... what a dream..."
"Miss Tifa," the butler's voice rang from just outside her bedroom door, "Zack has come to see you."
Putting down the newspaper, Tifa couldn't help but sigh, again, "It can't be that bad... can it?"
But slowly making her way down the enormous stairway, and getting a first glimpse at Zack, Tifa immediately knew how bad it could be, "This is why I'm hating my father so much now." Because looking at him now, clad in an outift fit for the Olympics, Tifa knew it was just too much. No, it was way, way too much.
"Uhhm, Zack?" she said, her eyes glued on his clothes, "You do know we're just gonna play, right? I mean, just for fun?"
"Of course," he flashes her a wide smile, "That's why I dressed comfortably."
'You still don't get it, do you?' a taunt to humiliate him suddenly flashed in her mind, but she quickly brushed it away, "O-Okay, let's go."
Ten minutes later, they arrived at the local covered court only to find out how many people were there at this time of the day, 'It's four in the afternoon, the perfect time to play,' Tifa groaned at the revelations she made, 'There are more people here to see us.'
Keeping a low profile in her simple shorts and tank top, Tifa managed to avoid the stares of many. Especially when those stares were on Zack.
'I... am... dead!' she told herself nervously, 'If they find me hanging out with that loser I am so dead! I knew it was too much.'
"Tifa, let's start!" Tifa felt blood rushing to her cheeks as Zack called out her name aloud. Aloud.
Nervous about standing and playing basketball with Zack, she knew that this was no time to be chicken. It was late, way too late to do that now. And besides, now that the attention has been focused to her, it would not look good if people saw her cowering out. 'Just do it!' she tells herself, calming a little bit. Like 1 calmer than before groan.
"Okay," she bit her lip, "Uhmm, can you show me a... lay-up?"
"No prob," it was noticeable how he raised his voice so that the people around them can hear, "Anything just for you, Tifa!"
And then, lo and behold! RUNNING from the far end of the court, Zack stood just outside the three-point shot line and shot the ball.
The people started to laugh, and Zack took it all in one big stride. He even laughed along with them but this was only because he thought that they were laughing because he was so good, and he also wondered aloud where Tifa went.
Touching her cheeks which were now so hot from all the blood rushing to it, Tifa could feel herself slowly falling apart. She had the mentality of a famous person, an inappropriate famous one perhaps because all she could think about was of the embarassment. Thankfully, she was able to take immediate recluse inside her car which was now easing its way into their driveway. No way was she ever gonna go out with Zack, not ever now that this has happened.
"That's it!" she cried hopelessly, "I have to get away from everything."
Picking up the telephone and dialling a number, she made arrangements. But arrangements to what, no one knew. It was clear to everyone not to disturb her then as she stayed locked up in her room, busy with something that was nothing but a faint idea, that was hard to comprehend, for everyone else.
"Dad," she said, already eating breakfast the next day and was obviously tired, "I have decided transfer to another school."
"What about your present school?" her father was clearly surprised and he felt no reason to hide his anxiety, "It was one of the best international schools, so why this sudden decision? Did something happen?"
"Please understand dad," her eyes revealed a softness, a plead, that softened her father's heart, "Things change, and right now... I think change would be a good thing for me. Just... please... I can't quite explain it. It's just too-"
"Okay Tifa," he finally said, but in a comforting way, "I trust you."
"Thanks," relaxing a bit, she was relieved, "I hadn't expected it to be this easy."
"You know Tifa," he said as he gently touched her hand, "I just want you to be happy, maybe that's why I can be a little over the top sometimes."
"I understand," she held his hand tighter, "And I've got it all covered."
"Oh," her father was again surprised, as he hadn't expected it to be that fast, "Where?"
"Midgar Academy," she simply stated.
"But that's an exclusive, all-boys boarding school!" he exclaimed.
"Uhmm, actually, no," she lied, "They had just started accepting female enrollees this coming school year."
Suddenly, her father's cellphone rang, "Hello?" was followed by a brief conversation then her father exploding, "What?"
Closing his clam phone shut, her father abruptly stood up from the table, "Sorry paper clip," he muttered dazedly, "But something's up with our gold mines in Seattle, and I just have to check it out. I'll be leaving immediately, who knows when I'll be back? Anyway, I'm really sorry paper clip."
"Why dad?" Tifa asked concernedly, completely ignoring being called by her most despised nickname, "What's the sudden rush about?"
"Mm-pph... Bye!" her father tried(tried?) explaining but his mouth was full, which was because of him finishing his breakfast in one mouthful. "It seems that this is really a serious matter then," Tifa muttered to herself as her father hurriedly went to his room to fix his things.
'Anyway, this is good, no questions asked,' she thought happily to herself, 'This idea might actually work now, now that he's away!'
"Bye daddy!" she cried out as her father unloaded his luggage into the car, "Don't wait too long to come back!"
"I won't paper clip," her father cried back, then disappeared as he closed the car door shut.
"Now that operation one is finish," she muttered to herself as the sight of her father's car began to fade in the distance, "I have to get busy on operation two,"