Twenty-one days to Christmas...
Title:To Seventh Heaven We Go
Summary: The second time is always better.

It was Tifa who heard the crashing noises first. It was around two in the afternoon, and she wasn't doing anything of particular note, just cleaning a few dirty shot glasses that had been left in the sink from the night before. She was only getting round to soaping up the hot-chocolate-residue mugs from breakfast when the first bang resounded back to the bar from the white distance. Tifa paused a moment—silence (had she imagined it?) –and then squeezed a little more dish soap onto her sponge.


Tifa's eyes flicked up to the doorway where she had strung a string of Christmas lights the week before. All she could see was the silent inch of snow outside.


Marlene appeared at the top of the stairs. "Tifa, what's that?"

Before Tifa had time to respond, another noise, this time closer, made the floor vibrate a bit, and Denzel came running from the office as well. "Is the sink disposal backing up again??" he asked with a bit too much enthusiasm to be an innocent question.

Tifa shook her head. "It's from… outside, I think…." She was interrupted by the next noise, ever closer still, and Marlene ran from the stairs to join Tifa where she was now standing to face the door.

By the next ominous noise, Denzel had come to stand with the two girls, and Marlene was hugging Tifa's waist. And then Cloud poked his head in from the tool shed, where he had been oiling Fenrir.

"What's going on?" He asked, his voice slightly hoarse from being out in the cold (and from misuse, of course).

Nobody answered him. Tifa was assuming a slight defensive pose, and Cloud frowned as he saw the tense faces on all three of his family members. Wiping his greasy hands on a graying rag, he closed the side door behind him and walked over to Tifa and the two kids.

For the next moment, all they could hear was silence—and then,vibrations, noise, more vibrations coming from just outside the door.

"What do you think it is?" Marlene whispered, her voice barely steady. She had gotten a lot braver these past few months, but she was used to the security and lull of every-day life at post-apocalyptic Midgar.

"I don't know, Marlene," Tifa said honestly, but she smoothed Marlene's hair reassuringly.

At the next boom, Denzel advised Cloud, "Maybe you should get your buster sword," but Cloud slightly shook his head, eyes narrowed, as a huge shadow suddenly loomed over their door, ominous with glowing eyes and burst the door open and—


And all Tifa could do was stare.

Of course, that was before they all took in the slightly out-of-breath, snow-dusted, black-suit clad foursome with red cheeks—and one, with the ever-blazing red hair as well—that was at their door laden down with a huge, prickly, pine-smelling—was that a Christmas tree?

Marlene screamed, shattering the silence. "You're BACK!!!!"

And before Tifa had time to think of what to even do about it, Marlene and Denzel had detached themselves from her and Cloud and were rushing over to the Turks to tackle them in bone-wrenching hugs.

"Oh my god, Marlene, Denzel, you've gotten so big!!!" One of them—with the blond hair, Elena—was giggling as she sized them up, gasping as she realized Denzel already reached her shoulders. "When did you grow up without me!?"

"We brought you a tree, yo," The redhead—who could forget, Reno—was gasping as he stumbled into the room and flopped onto the couch like he had lived here all along. "A goddamn Christmas tree."

"We see that," Cloud said pointedly, raising a brow.

Reno snickered, lazily raising his knight-stick for good measure and old time's sake. "Good, Strife, you're not dead yet. Gods, I need adrink."

And then Tseng was elbowing his way past Rude—who was left with the task of dragging the tree into the house (of course with lots of help from Denzel) scattering pine needles everywhere—and shaking Cloud's hand, then Tifa's. "My apologies for the short notice," he said, his eyes saying just the contrary. "I wanted to send warning beforehand, but these two," he gestured offhandedly at Reno, who was now twirling Marlene around to excited cries of 'Uncle Reno!!!', and Elena, who was giggling again, "insisted that we make it a surprise."

Reno added, "Yea, we're spending our break here 'stead of down south again. All I have to say is it better be worth it, yo, or I'm gone." (It was a meaningless threat.)

Tifa looked at Tseng bemusedly, still too shocked to do anything except limply shake his hand. "Th-that's okay, Tseng-san, we understa—Oh my—Tseng, is that a ringon your finger!?"

All activity stopped.

"Are you getting married, Tseng-san?" Marlene asked, atop Reno's shoulders. When Tseng didn't answer, she continued gaily, "To who, Tseng, to who?"

"To Rude," Reno answered, "They're really in love… or something."

Marlene started squealing, but Tifa cast a suspicious eye over to Elena, who was abruptly looking very shy and attempting to hide her hand underneath her gloves. She looked up at Tifa and blushed.

"Elena! Tseng!" Tifa scolded. "How could you not tell us?"

"Well, err." Tseng cleared his throat, shaking some black hair out of his eyes. "It was an impulsive decision, really. We don't even know when the wedding will be."

And as Marlene and Denzel started the old chant of 'Tseng and Elena, sitting in a tree,' (they were only children, after all), with Reno soon joining in (he had no excuse, but he was Reno), and Rude and Tseng trying to set up the tree on the stand they had brought along with them, and Elena moving the suitcases from the doorway, Tifa looked around at the scene, the mess already a forewarning of the next month to come, and then at Cloud, who was still standing still with the oily rag in his hands.

"Cloud," Tifa inquired in a low voice, "Are you all right? It's a big surprise, I know,"

She was expecting him to maybe shrug and say it was all right, to brush it off even though he really thought it was a bit of an inconvenience, but he met her gaze instead. "No, I'm fine." And then, like the whimsical, mysterious man he was, Tifa swore she saw his lips curl up in a grin as he continued, "It's funny, really. To be thinking of four people, and to have them suddenly appear at your door."

Tifa smiled. "You're right." After all, wasn't it just a moment ago that she had been reminiscing about these very people—their family—reunited, once again? She put a brief hand on his shoulder before going back to the group. "Who wants hot cocoa?"

The heavens above had a funny way of answering prayers, however unconscious they were.

To be continued...

A/N: And it is with great happiness that I announce that I am back for more! It has been two years since the first 'Tis the Season, and I thought it was appropriate to give my readers another present for the Holidays so the first one doesn't get too recycled. If you didn't read the first 'Tis, it doesn't really matter, but it would make me happy. I expect to be doing updates at least every other day - if not every day - as a sort of countdown, all the way to Christmas. (For people who celebrate, any other Holiday, the only reason I am doing Christmas is because I don't have enough knowledge of the others to not make me look like a fool if I try to write about it.)

I'm soo excited to be back with Reno and the rest of the Turks as they crash Seventh Heaven's holiday season. (And don't you love Cloud:huggles:) I have plenty of scenarios at hand, so there will not be a shortage of inspiration on my part. I can only hope that my readers find this as nice as the first one.

So I wish you all a happy reading as we embark on this cozy journey with Final Fantasy 7 once again.

-belle.nisce, 12.03.2007