Disclaimer: I don't own FFVII

A/N: Ack! Sorry it's taking so long! With school, and other stories, and my outside life! Very hectic, and I apologize for the wait! Enjoy!


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She was completely stunned. The joy and happiness that should have been there was surprisingly not. She only felt pity. Deep pity for the man she swore to eternally hate.

Emily had received a call earlier that morning from the Police, stating that Ray Stickler had shot himself in the head. As traumatizing as it was, Yuffie and Tifa could only sit there while Emily, Vincent, Grimoir and Cloud waited for their reaction.

Yuffie was first.

She grabbed Tifa's hand so tight, and vise versa that the two of them thought that they would actually mesh as one big fist.

"Free." She breathed then laughed. "Free! Free! Free!" Her words struck Tifa hard. Freedom was the most beautiful word to her. There was actually no way to describe what the word meant to the two of them.

"I don't want to go back to the Foster homes though!" Yuffie suddenly remembered. Graciously, the Police had seen the living arrangements of the past few weeks and Yuffie was officially in the custody of guardian, Grimoir Valentine.

Tifa, however, was under the custody of Emily Strife.

Supposedly, Ray had shot himself for not wanting to go to trial. Knowing he would end up in Prison. It seemed that in the long two months of darkness, the tunnel had been given a ray of sunshine.

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"Can I have a brownie?" Denzel asked Tifa.

Cloud had taken Marlene and Denzel to the Restaurant while Tifa was serving. She smiled at how cute the blonde looked with the two children. The table next to theirs were of Emi Hanako, Rita Janice and a bunch of other girls, who were crushing on Cloud.

"Of course you can Denzel! And you know what, it's free." She felt her insides turn when she saw the young boy smile with absolute happiness.

She came back and delivered their food, ignoring the whispers from the next table.

"Cloud, are you taking the children home?" Tifa asked.

Gasps were heard from the next table. Along with, "They live together with children?" and, "Who knew Cloud had such horrible taste in his women!".

Tifa bit her tongue, but felt a bit relieved when Cloud gave her a smile, most likely telling her to forget the other girls.

"Yeah, I'll take them after we pay."

"Oh pish posh! You will do no such thing! Family gets a free meal, isn't that right Marlene?" The younger girl giggled and agreed.

Tifa had been told from Barret that since she always came over and spent most of her paycheck for the kids, she didn't need to charge any people she wanted for a meal. But only one meal. He didn't want to go broke now, did he?

"Well, here's your brownie Denzel, and be sure to have Marlene in bed before her father gets home, alright?"

Cloud grinned as Denzel nodded.

"Tifa, I'll be here to pick you up after work."

She frowned slightly. He was always was occupying his time around her and she felt bad about it.

"It's fine Cloud, I can walk home." She saw him frown and put his drink down.

"Don't worry Teef, I don't mind picking you up. Besides, Mom would kill if she found out you walked home." Tifa smiled and rolled her eyes playfully.

"If you're sure, then I guess you can pick me up." He chuckled.

"So you're giving me permission to pick me up?"

Tifa was about to answer when Aeris voice interrupted. "Tifa, table 7 needs you. And make sure you don't get on Elena's bad side. Tseng asked her out the other day, but completely blew her off in front of his friends. What jerks! Hi Cloud, Marlene...and who's this?"

Tifa smiled. "This is Denzel." The boy muttered a shy hello to the green eyed girl.

"Nice to meet you Denzel. Oh dear, table 10 is being such a pain, I gotta go. Oh, and Zack called earlier. He was looking for you." Aeris disappeared to serve, and Tifa sighed then turned back to the three.

"Alright, I have to get back to work. Barret will kill me if he finds out I'm slugging around. Pick me up and 6 alright Cloud?" He nodded and pulled his keys, watching as Tifa said her goodbyes to the children.

Things had been fairly well the last two months. Tifa and Yuffie's spirits had risen due to Ray's death. His funeral had been short and the girls couldn't have been more relieved to see the bastard's body lowered into the Planet.

The people who knew of their abuse, were relieved as well. Cloud also noticed a connection between the four of them: Marlene, Tifa, Denzel and himself. Barret had become even more busy with work, and had been starting to travel to look for oil fields, leaving the children with Emily some days.

Things were starting to look up and hope was an emotion that had begun to spread throughout them.

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Sorry for it being so short! Forgive me!