Disclaimer: I own nothing in affiliation with Final Fantasy VII. If I did, Cloud and Tifa would be the official pairing (not that there is one...)! For now, though, we have to write fanfiction.

A/N: This story is kind of AU. The same things happened in the game, except I've set the time back a couple of years (Yuffie's age is the same, though). Cloud is 18, Tifa is 17, Yuffie is 16, and so on. The characters have been placed into high school, making this for a somewhat contemporary piece. Please note that this is set before Advent Children.

A HUGE THANK YOU goes to Bruna Lopes for reading through my entire outline before I even began writing the chapters out. She volunteered a bunch of her time and kindness in doing so. For that, I'm eternally grateful. You are awesome :)

To Bruna Lopes again, Ash Ai, and Angelprinczess: you all are great inspiration. :D

"...a star falls. An angel may rise, but a star will fall, soaring down and away from the familiar. Though we reach for it, tracing it with our eyes, it masterfully descends, unaffected by wishes made upon it."

Always In My Heart

Chapter One:

Etched Into The Sky


There he stood, his beautiful blond hair standing at all ends. His eyes shined like sapphires in the night, staring right at her. She could feel her cheeks turn red with girlish excitement. Somehow, she wished she could make time stop, just so she could relish in the moment of being his center of attention instead of focusing on playing dodgeball.

Suddenly, his eyes got big, and he stood higher on his feet. Noting the surprised look on his face, she began to turn and look as well. But it seemed as if she was already too late.

"Watch out!" a fellow classmate across the gym warned as an overly-competitive player threw a high-speed ball right for her face.

And the red ball slammed hard off of her nose and bounced far, far away, just enough that she couldn't kick it for revenge. She smiled and laughed, though, trying hard to play off her embarrassment by appearing amused. So, she looked back over to her handsome classmate, hoping to find compassion in his gorgeous eyes, but he wasn't even there. She looked around in each direction to no avail.

Meanwhile, every other person in the gym was laughing hysterically at the sound the ball made when it smashed into her now red face. Acknowledging defeat, she began walking off the gym floor. However, everyone knew that they could not attack her without fear of their life, or at least their faces. And she kicked the ball as hard as she could toward the laughing face of her assailant.

Needless to say, he didn't try to hit her unexpectedly again. He was down and out for the count. She took a courteous bow and headed for the bleachers in victorious defeat.

-- --

She met up with her friend Yuffie after class. Yuffie was still trying to get her arms into her shirt sleeves when she approached her, her hair wet from a quick shower. Yuffie stopped mid-way to offer her a kind smile and began talking despite her awkward position.

"Hey, toots. Nice kick today, huh? Just to let you know, I wasn't laughing. I pelted Reno with dodge balls while he was unconscious, didn't you see?"

Distracted by her mental image of the beautiful stranger she saw earlier, she found herself unable to concentrate on Yuffie's words. The high school senior stared blankly forward, appearing focused on her locker. Is he...who I think he is? she wondered, the familiar blush crossing her cheeks yet again.

"Hello!? Are you listening to me, Tifa?"

"Y-yeah," the brunette replied, her voice dreamlike.

"Then what was the last thing I said, hmm?"

Tifa thought back to what Yuffie typically talked about. "Something about Vincent...right...?" Tifa was as unsure of her answer as she was her grade point average. Her hopes were bleak.

Yuffie stuck an arm out of her shirt sleeve, pulling her shirt down with her other hand. She shook her head in disappointment. "No, no, noo! That was last week. There's a newnew kid this week! You know what the best part is?"

Tifa clearly didn't know what the best part was. It was odd but characteristically Yuffie to expect her to know. "No. What?"

"You know him. We all know him."

There are plenty of people that "we" all know, Tifa thought. Yuffie's enthusiasm still managed to maintain Tifa's curiosity, however. "Oh, really?" Tifa half-droned. "And who might he be?"

Yuffie closed her locker loudly, garnering attention from the changing females around her. Picking up her gym bag, Yuffie winked at Tifa playfully.

"Come on, Tifa. I saw you gawking at him, you big goober."

Tifa retrieved her shoes from her locker, shutting it as she dropped her shoes to the floor. "You mean...?"

Yuffie nodded, sensing Tifa's growing excitement. "Uh-huh! Cloud's back!"

-- --

Two years before, the world had been saved from Sephiroth and Meteor's wrath.

Two years before, Aeris had died.

Two years before, Cloud left, leaving Tifa to live alone.

Though Cloud and Tifa were young, they were orphans. Tifa lived from paycheck to paycheck, though the paychecks weren't earned by Tifa herself. Her old teacher, Zangan, dropped checks by every two weeks or so, having taken blame for her father's death. The money he earned as a newly famous teacher helped Tifa pay off an entire house, the electric bill, the gas bill, the water bill, and furniture. The money she earned on the side from working at her restaurant helped her pay for toiletries, food, and simple luxuries.

Cloud, however, took blame for something else: Aeris' death. Though he had never promised her safety, he felt inadequate after her untimely death. He knew that she had been the girlfriend of a dear friend of his, and so he felt doubly guilty for being present when she was killed. He had nearly done the deed himself; just realizing that brings him to his knees in regret.

Thereafter, Cloud sunk into a period of grief. His depression led him to strain contact with others and spend his time wrapped up in his thoughts.

Cloud's change affected Tifa greatly. Her once lively crimson eyes often fell to the ground, its gaze focusing on nothing in particular. She knew that he ached inside for having lost a member of their group, but Tifa had become convinced that she had lost first place in his heart. Her fears were reinstated by his quiet demeanor and the fact that he didn't approach her at all, despite having recognized her in the gym.

Shrugging it off, Cloud went about his life, living it the way he saw fit. Though he knew he hurt others by his actions, he found it impossible to backtrack enough in his life to fix everything he had long since broken. Hearts, spirits, and smiles alike...Cloud had thoughtlessly shattered them. But did he care? Hardly enough to mention. At least for now. Soon, though, Cloud would be drowned in regret. However, as life always manages, his epiphany would come...just a little too late.

As for the beautiful brunette fighter, we all know her heart could never go on. Like a fairy tale, once love struck it was forever. Like tragedy, her smile faded with sadness, but her eyes remained open and alive...if only just for him.

This is a tale of love, regret, and learning. Lives are etched into the sky in constellations of youth and age, each bright star reflecting a beautiful experience. But when lives are tragically affected by uncontrollable issues...a star falls. An angel may rise, but a star will fall, soaring down and away from the familiar. Though we reach for it, tracing it with our eyes, it masterfully descends, unaffected by wishes made upon it.

You'll never know

How much it kills me

To see you suffering

Because I never had the courage

To tell you what I felt deep inside.


Now that it's too late,

The words come pouring out.

My sobbing,

It echoes like rain,

But you'll never know.


In this beautiful place,

My eyes, back and forth, dart.

Sadly, I know you're no longer here...

But you'll always be in my heart.

A/N: Thank you for reading. This is my very first venture in the Final Fantasy VII category, so I hope I didn't disappoint anyone. In order to keep my morale high, though, I plead that you leave me some love and review! If I don't feel confident about my FFVII writing skills, I may still yet switch this story to another category.

Again, leave me some love and review, please :) I value and respect all of your individual opinions, both negative and positive. Have a great day!