Hello! How is everyone doing on this fine day? I know that I have another story that is supposed to be a multi-chapter, and that a Reeve/Yuffie was next, but I just couldn't resist. That fic is in progress right now too, so expect it soon. It's just that I've had this chapter and story started for a while now and I wanted to know what you all thought.

I have wanted to write a Zack/Tifa fic for so long, and I have this one more or less figured out, unlike my other fic. Let me start out by letting you know that it's a major AU, most of the main characters are in the same age group, since they went to high school together, Aerith and Cloud are married, Denzel is his and Tifa's biological son, and Lucrecia is not the mother of Sephiroth. There are other tidbits that will come out as the story progress, but I can't tell you guys about them just yet. So I hope that you enjoy the read!

Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VII or any of the characters used in this piece of fiction. I am making no money off of them!

Warnings: Some language probably, and adult situations in later chapters…

Turn The Page

Smooth Talker


"What the fu—"

"Finish that sentence at your own peril," said a stern voice from above him.

Blue eyes snapped open and long, thin hands pushed at the soaking wet hair over his eyes. "What the—mom!" the young man whined. "You just threw freezing cold water on me!" he exclaimed.

"I've been calling you downstairs for the last ten minutes. This is your first day of a new school year and I don't want you to be late," she said, walking over to what was left of the alarm clock he had knocked over when it had buzzed loudly. "I'm getting sick and tired of buying you new alarm clocks. I don't know Denzel, maybe you want to move in with your father, since he does lives closer to your school than we do. You can wake up later than you do here," she said in an irritated voice.

Denzel scoffed. "You really want to send me to live with dad and his 'new wife?' Come on ma, I know that she may act all sweet, but there's something about her that I don't like," he muttered.

"She's not so bad, sweetheart. She's nice and she has a beautiful garden," she said almost absently. "I don't hate her."

"But you don't like her either," Denzel muttered. "All that pink is creepy."

His mother looked at him sternly. "Denz…" she trailed off, not arguing.

"Maybe it's the fact that he basically left us for her?" he stated more than questioned. "Don't give me that look, Tifa," he said sarcastically, trying to get her to smile.

She scowled instead. "That's mother, or ma'am to you, buster," she said with a smile afterwards.

Denzel stood to his full height and hugged her, his wet hair dripping onto her shoulder. She shoved him back playfully. "I love you ma," he said, walking into his bathroom without a second glance.

"I love you too, baby," Tifa said softly, walking out of his room to finish getting breakfast ready. Truth was, that boy was her life. All she ever did was think of him and try her best to give him everything he needed. They had been on their own for about four years now. She and Denzel's father had divorced and though it had ended on good terms, it still hurt to know that he had married another woman soon after the divorce had been settled.

Aerith. They had been friends back in high school, and Aerith had dated Cloud, Denzel's father, for the majority of their high school years. Then in senior year they had broken up. Cloud had been the love of Tifa's life since they had been children, and she had made a move. He had easily accepted her, and Tifa had found out that though he had felt something deep for Aerith, he had also felt something similar for her. A few days after graduation, Tifa had found out that she was pregnant. They had gotten married, and things seemed to be positive, even though her friendship with Aerith had disintegrated. But Tifa knew, deep in her heart, that Cloud still felt something for Aerith, despite being married to her and having a son with her.

Four years ago, he had talked to her about things not being comfortable anymore; she had felt it as well, but her heart had still belonged to him. But she knew they weren't happy anymore. Even Denzel had noticed it, and had taken it so much better than any other teenager would have. The divorce had been settled and she had kept the house while Cloud moved out and in with another woman. He had married her about two months after their divorce. Denzel had been so angry those first few months and he was still distant, sometimes cynical. At other times he refused to speak to his father at all. It was only recently that he was spending more time with Cloud, still reluctantly.

She had gone to college when Denzel had been about five, and had a degree in teaching and English. She—much to Denzel's chagrin—taught senior year at his school, and had been teaching for almost seven years now. He was sixteen and about to start his junior year in high school, and he would turn seventeen before he became a senior. Tifa was proud to say that he was her son and had one of the highest GPA's in his year, though Denzel had asked her not to baby him in front of his friends, or the girls that were always surrounding him. Unfortunately for them both, Cloud also worked there. He was the History teacher and he taught freshmen and sophomores, so Denzel had had to deal with him the year before.

As she placed some scrambled eggs on a plate, followed by some bacon and sausage, Denzel walked down, fresh from a quick shower and dressed in the new clothes they had bought just a few days ago. He grinned and sat down at the table, taking in all the wonderful smells. "This looks great, but you shouldn't do this everyday. I can have cereal or a cereal bar and juice and that's it," he commented before taking a bite of his toast.

"Nonsense," Tifa replied. "The only day I won't cook breakfast for us is if we're late—which hopefully won't happen often—or if I'm too sick for it. Then you'll have to cook for me," she said with a smile.

Denzel gave her a horrified look. "You want me to come near your stove?" he asked.

"It's not like you've never cooked. All you need is some practice and you'll be as good as me, maybe better," she replied. "I know you like to keep things clean, but you need to learn how to cook too. Imagine you find yourself a nice girl who can't cook. How will you two survive if neither of you can cook?"

Denzel gave a snort of amusement. "Women who can't cook wouldn't interest me. I mean, you need to at least know the basics," he said sarcastically. "I'll learn to cook, I agree with you in that, but a girl has to know how to cook too."

Tifa smiled. Now that was her boy. "Hurry up, or we'll be late for real," she said, standing and placing her dish in the sink. She'd take care of those after school. She grabbed her bag with all the lesson plans for her English class and made for the door with a cup of coffee in her hand.

Denzel placed his dishes in the sink as well and grabbed a bottle of juice from the refrigerator before following his mother. He grabbed his backpack on the way and shut and lock the door of their home. She was starting her car, which so happened to be new and one he was expecting to borrow once he got his driver's license. They had a good life. The money wasn't scarce, but they weren't super rich either. Truth was, his mom was paid well at the school, and she gave him everything he wanted when he deserved it. Her house was bigger than his dad's anyway, and that made him feel smug for some reason. There were days that he hated his dad and couldn't help it, but he was working on that. He didn't like the fact that his dad looked like someone killed his puppy every time Denzel gave a snide remark or completely ignored him.

"There's something I have to tell you," Tifa said as they drove to the school.

Denzel gave her a curious look. "What?"

"The principal told me that there was a big chance that I would teach eleventh grade this year. They couldn't find a teacher for the junior's this year and they need an extra class. I'll still have my seniors, but I'll probably have one or two junior classes," she said as they drove.

"You think that one of those classes will be mine?" he asked nonchalantly.

Tifa shrugged. "Would that be so bad?" she asked, giving him a brief glance.

"No," he shook his head. "But we should lay down some ground rules first," he said seriously.

Tifa swallowed a laugh and only nodded. "Okay."

"First of all, don't call me honey or sweetheart, or any of those names like you do at home. It'll only embarrass me in front of my classmates. Second, don't show favoritism, I'll probably get beat up because of that. Third, I won't treat you like a stranger, but let's just keep a bit of distance. Is that okay with you?"

Tifa smiled despite all he had said. She understood what he meant, she had been a teenager a few years back as well and she remembered what it had been like. "Sure. Just know that you'll get the same assignments and deadlines as the rest of the class and just because you're my kid doesn't mean that you will have special privileges. I expect you to behave the way you're supposed to with all your teachers and I want you to do your best. Okay?"

"Yes, Mrs. Lockhart," he replied with a laugh.

"That's Professor Lockhart to you," she said with a grin. "After all, I do have the degree to be called that."

Denzel rolled his eyes as they arrived at the school and Tifa parked her car in her designated spot. Many students were already arriving and on their way to get their schedules. She had to go see the vice principal in order to know what her schedule would be like this year. As she and Denzel were stepping out of the car, she almost dropped the books in her hand when she saw who was getting out of his own vehicle a few spots away. "Great, and my morning had begun so well," grumbled Denzel from beside her as they walked towards the entrance of the main building.

"Despite the whole cold water episode?" Tifa asked with a grin. He just let out a snort and shook his head as they approached his father and his step-mother.

"Morning," Cloud said in that quiet, somber voice of his.

"Good morning," Tifa and Denzel said almost automatically. They stared at Aerith and smiled slightly. "What brings you around here?" Tifa asked her politely.

"I'm the new biology teacher," she said with a soft smile.

Tifa had to refrain from sighing in irritation. Yippee, now she'd get to see more of the woman who had married her ex-husband and who had once been her friend. Tifa had never seen her involvement with Cloud as a betrayal of Aerith. She'd talked to her and asked her what she thought, and Aerith had told her that she hadn't cared what Cloud did, because their relationship had been over. She had even started to date again, soon after she had broken up with Cloud. But still, the news that Tifa had become pregnant of Cloud and had married him, had not sat well with the other woman. She had stopped calling and visiting with the excuse that she was busy with college and work. Tifa nodded at Cloud and Aerith and bade her goodbye before moving towards the school entrance again. Denzel turned to follow her, but Cloud stopped him with a hand on his elbow.

"I have to get my schedule," Denzel said, trying not to sound irritated.

Cloud looked him over and smiled slightly. "You've grown at least another inch. Pretty soon you'll be taller than me," he said, patting the boy's shoulder.

"Yeah," said Denzel, inching away from his touch. "I'll see you later," he said before turning and walking away.

"Give him time," Aerith said from behind him.

Cloud turned to her with a heavy sigh. "It's been four years since we married. How can he still be angry at me?"

"In his eyes, you left him and his mother to be with me, regardless of how you explain things. He'll understand in time. Don't worry," she said gently, taking his arm and walking with him slowly.

Tifa frowned when she saw Denzel catch up with her. "Did he say something to get you angry?" she asked as they entered the main building.

He shook his head. "No, but I'm just not in the mood to play the part of the happy son for him. He left us, that's all I know, despite the fact that you have said that the divorce was mutual. Let him have his own kids with that lady so that he can worry about them."

His mother shook her head. "You'll understand someday, Denz, until then just try to be nice to your father. Even with all that has happened, he's a good man and he loves you. If you get out of school before I do, call me so that I can let you know if I'm going to get held back for some reason," she said.

"If you want I can just walk home. I don't mind the exercise," he quipped.

Tifa smiled and had to refrain from ruffling his hair and kissing his forehead the way she usually did. "Call me first and then we'll see. Behave and make me proud," she said before they split up and went their separate ways.

Denzel sighed to himself and approached the desk with the schedules. A woman was handing them out as the students gave their last names. He was stepping into line when suddenly a girl bumped into him rather roughly. "Oh, sorry! I wasn't watching where I was going," she said quickly.

Denzel stared at her. It was all he could manage to do at the moment. She was… she was amazing. She had long brown hair, light brown eyes, and light freckles over her nose. Her cheeks were pink and she was nearly his height, though it appeared she wouldn't get any taller than that. "It's okay," he mumbled, trying not to blush after staring at her for a few seconds.

"I'm Marlene, and you?" she asked cheerfully.

"I'm Denzel. Are you new here? I haven't seen you before," he commented.

Marlene nodded and smiled. "I just transferred here this year. My father and I moved down here from Midgar. He opened a new store here and is planning on staying here permanently," she blurted, then blushed. God, she couldn't believe she had just said all that to a strange boy.

"Name?" asked the woman at the table as they reached the front.

"Denzel Lock—Strife. Denzel Strife," he muttered again. The woman handed over the schedule and moved on to Marlene.

"Marlene Wallace," she stated with a sweet smile. The woman smiled back and handed over the schedule as well. "Denzel Lock-Strife?" Marlene asked with a grin as they started to walk down the hall, side by side.

"My mom's last name is Lockhart, but I keep forgetting that I'm Strife because of my dad. I used to like his last name, but when he divorced my mom, I wanted to keep her last name but she wouldn't let me. I call myself Lockhart just to spite my dad," he explained dryly.

"Well, that's not very nice," Marlene said as they compared their classes. "Look, we have all our classes together! Isn't that great?" she asked, smiling brightly.

Perfect. Denzel grinned to himself and nodded. "What about you? Any issues with your dad or mom?" he asked her.

Marlene shook her head. "No. My dad is great, and he's always tried to be the best dad, even more so after my real parents died."

"Sorry," Denzel said, feeling bad at having brought up her parents.

"It's okay. It happened when I was a little, so I'm okay now. I still miss them all the time, but I know that they're watching over me from the Lifestream. I know it hurts to lose someone you love, but we need to move on. He's not happy and I believe that if he finds the right person, he'll be happy again," she said softly. "The same goes for my uncle. He married this woman and she cheated on him. His divorce barely came out a few weeks ago. I think he needs to find some who is worth it. I never knew what he saw in that girl."

"I'm kinda having the same problem with my mom," Denzel said. "She hasn't dated anyone in four years, since the divorce. But she's young and she's pretty. She says that she will be ready when she's ready, which makes no sense to me. But I guess she hasn't found the guy who deserves her. We have her for English, by the way," he said flatly.

Marlene looked at him with wide eyes. "She's a teacher here?"

Denzel nodded. "Yeah. She usually teaches seniors, but she said this year she would have one or two junior classes. We should get to homeroom," he said as the first bell rang, which meant that they had ten minutes to get to class before the tardy bell rang and security would start to hand out detention for tardiness.

"Well, at least I won't sit alone on my first day at a new school," she said with a pretty smile.

Denzel tried not to blush as he stared again. "Wait until you meet my friends. I think you'll like them and they'll like you," he said with a grin.

"Morning, Teef."

Tifa looked up from the paperwork she was signing and smiled at her best friend. "Morning, Yuffie. Ready for a new school year?" she asked as the small woman walked over to stand at her side.

"As ready as can be. I hope the juniors are better than last year's seniors. Though it's amazing to see the level of stupidity in seventeen year old boys, they build some awesome stink bombs. I remember building the ultimate stink bomb during biology when we were in high school," she said with a laugh.

Tifa remembered that episode too. "You were suspended for two days weren't you?"

Yuffie nodded. "Because the smell wouldn't go away and it stayed for more than two days I think. Anyway, I think I'm going to be teaching our kids this year as well. I'm going to make Denzel and Oren's lives a living hell," she said with an evil smirk.

"Hmm, and here I thought that you did that on a regular basis," Tifa replied with a grin. "Leave them be, Yuffie. Our son's are sixteen and at the age where girls will start to notice them more. You can't embarrass Oren. Denzel and I have come to an agreement as well. We'll have a solely professional relationship while at school. I can't call him sweetheart or kiss his cheek, and he'll be a good student."

"Umm, Tifa? Have you seen Oren recently? Girls have been noticing him since his voice deepened, which was a while ago. They know he's my son and they know that if I don't approve them, they need to sniff out some other guy. It doesn't matter if his mother embarrasses him, he's got his looks on his side. That goes for Denzel as well."

Tifa grinned as they began to walk out of the office with their classroom rosters. Yuffie was right. Her sixteen-year-old son had grown into the spitting image of his father. Which meant that he was a wildly attractive boy who had hordes of girls chasing after him. He was tall, thin and with a very handsome face and intriguing crimson colored eyes. It was interesting enough that he didn't use his looks to his advantage. He was a shy boy, nothing like his mother. But when teamed up with Denzel and with Pauline Highwind and Danielle Shinra, they were a group of troublemakers.

Also in their group were two other boys. Gavin was the son of her old friend Reno, and like his father, he was the class flirt, though he was hopelessly in love with Pauline. It didn't cease to amaze Tifa that Reno was a single father and had raised a smart boy who loved science and tutored other students when he had the chance. Dorian was the son of her cousin, Tseng and his wife Elena. He got along great with Denzel, even though they sometimes had a sort of rivalry thing going on about everything. If Denzel did something, Dorian had to do it better, or at least just as well. They hadn't ever fought over anything seriously, but there were times when they tried to one-up each other and stopped talking for a few days.

"Did you see who is going to start teaching this year?" Yuffie asked softly.

Tifa sighed heavily and nodded. "Denzel and I saw them in the parking lot. Don't worry about me, Yuf. It doesn't hurt as much as it used to," she said with a slight smile. "What about you and Reno?"

Yuffie shrugged and pushed her short hair behind her ear. "It's fun, but I don't see him as husband material or anything more serious than an occasional fuck," she whispered so that no one overheard. "Don't get me wrong, he's done a fine job raising Gavin without a mother for him, even though I think that it's Rude's doing more than Reno's, but I'm not looking for something serious Tifa. Oren's father made sure to ruin that in me. I can't commit."

Tifa only nodded and offered no comment. Yuffie was like a sister to her, and they had known each other since their first day of high school. She had been with her through everything and Tifa loved her with all her heart because Yuffie was an amazing human being. She had been dating a guy that had been dark and mysterious—and unattainable to many girls—in high school. Tifa had often wondered how Yuffie had accomplished getting his attention because she had been a tom-boyish klutz who had talked too much. Oren's father had been the silent brooding type who had spent much of his time alone. Strangely enough, he had been Cloud's best friend.

At graduation, he had broken up with Yuffie because he had been about to leave the country. She had been devastated, but she had taken it like no other girl would have. She hadn't cried, kicked, or screamed at him. She had merely nodded and walked away from him, not even bothering to demand any type of explanation as to why and where he was going. Yuffie had known that she wouldn't have received any type of answer. Only Tifa knew how Yuffie had been those first few days after graduation. A few weeks later, she had found out that she was pregnant, almost at around the time that Tifa had found out that Denzel had been on his way as well.

Yuffie hadn't seen Oren's father since their break-up, and the man had no idea that he had left behind a son and a woman who would never be able to commit to another man. With Tifa's help, Yuffie had also gone to school to get a teaching degree and taught different grades of math. She had always been good for numbers, and had neglected her math classes in high school as a result, but she had passed with flying colors when she had taken her exit exams.

"Why is it that the men we loved once ruined us for any type of relationship?" Tifa murmured as they rounded a corner and she ran into a brick wall. The arms of the said wall wrapped around her and Tifa realized that she had slammed into a tall, handsome man that looked nothing like a brick wall. He was looking down at her with amused, blue blue eyes from under spiky hair even darker than hers, a really deep black.

"Hmm, and here I was thinking that my morning couldn't get any better when an angel was pushed into my arms," he said with a charming smile.

Yuffie stifled a giggle and noticed the red flush on Tifa's face as she pushed out of the man's arms. Tifa smoothed a hand over her clothes and pushed back her hair. "Sorry about that," she said uncomfortably, taking back the papers she had dropped from the man who had bent to pick them up.

"No apology is necessary," said the guy. "I meant what I said."

Tifa had to stop the glare from reaching her eyes. "Right," she muttered. "Excuse me, but we have to go," she said moving away from the handsome man, who was still eyeing her as if she were the most beautiful thing he had ever encountered. She almost dragged Yuffie with her down the hall, feeling the man's eyes on her back before they turned another corner that lead to their classrooms.

"He was hot," Yuffie commented. "And he was looking at you like… like a man who fell in love at first sight."

Tifa scoffed. "Please, Yuffie, you're being melodramatic. There's no such thing as love at first sight."

"That's not true," Yuffie said as she unlocked the door of her classroom, which happened to be the one in front of her friends' and had been for the past five years. "It was love at first sight with Oren's father. At least for me."

Tifa smirked as she opened her own door and hit the lights. "I don't think you can count an obsession of a fifteen year old girl as love at first sight," she said just before the bell for homeroom rang.

"Yeah, well, I have no comment to that," Yuffie said as the students began fill the hall. "Good luck on your first day of a new year."

"You too," said Tifa with a smile. "And don't humiliate our sons. That's the last thing they need right now," she said before stepping into her class and watching the students walk in and take their seats before they started to chat with their friends. Her mind drifted to the man she had run into and the way his eyes had seemed to shine on her.

She could honestly admit that he was the most handsome man she had seen in a while. Cloud didn't count, and neither did Reno or Rude. Rufus Shinra was an eyeful, but he was too cocky for her tastes. No, this man she was thinking about had to be the hottest—as Yuffie said—she had seen in a while. The tardy bell rang just as a few other students filed in and she smiled at the new faces. She didn't have the time to think of tall, handsome men who were incredibly exaggerated with their words.

"Hey Seph."

"Fair. How many times must I ask you to call me by my given name?" asked the serious man, not looking up from his paperwork.

"Well, when you stop calling me Fair and call me by my given name, I'll call you Sephiroth," muttered his friend as he sat in the chair on the other side of Sephiroth's desk. "Your kid is starting his junior year, isn't he?"

Sephiroth nodded and finally looked up at his old friend, green eyes narrowed. "He's taken to defying everything I order him to do. He's got a rebellious streak in him that oddly enough reminds me of you, Zack," he said with near vehemence.

The dark haired man grinned. "Don't blame me for that. He's a teenager, and teenagers are crazy. We all go through that phase."

"It seems to me you haven't left that phase in ten years," Sephiroth put in. "I can't imagine how you became the career counselor if it took you so long to know what you wanted to do."

Zack smirked and ran a hand through his thick spikes of black hair. "I'm a sponge. I absorb everything I learn quickly. I was able to get my degrees in half the time anyone else could've. That, my friend, is why I got this job. I know everything there is to know about all the universities and what they can offer the little larvas that attend this school," he said with an easy smile.

Sephiroth merely rolled his eyes and placed some papers into a folder. "What, may I ask, are you doing here, pestering me so early?"

Zack stared off into space with a dreamy look on his face. "Seph, I think I fell in love at first sight."

"With what? Your own reflection?" came the jibe from his old friend.

Zack snorted and shook his head. "I was on my way over here when this beautiful little thing slammed into me. I swear, she had the most stunning eyes I have ever seen, and her hair……" he trailed off.

"I always knew you had some type of sick fetish with hair," Sephiroth commented. "I'm telling you, Fair, you need to see a shrink because trying to feel on my hair is not normal."

The dark haired man grinned. "Your hair is so damned long it wacked me in the face that time because of the wind and I had a rough time trying to push it away. I was not feeling your hair. But that's beside the point. She was this pale beauty with long, brunette hair, and eyes that were brown with red flecks in them."

That sounded like someone Sephiroth knew. "Was she walking with a small woman with short hair and strange clothing?"

"I think so."

"Well then my friend, you've just met Tifa. She is the most loved English professor at this school," Sephiroth said as he stood and walked over to place the folder into a cabinet.

"I can see why," muttered Zack with a sigh. "She's beautiful. Is she married?"

"Divorced. Her son is a junior as well."

"No joke?" Zack asked, shocked to know that such a young, gorgeous woman had a son that age. "Is she taken?"

"Why don't you ask her all this yourself?" Sephiroth asked in irritation.

"I think I will," Zack said as he stood.

"You can't do it now, you fool," his friend snapped. "It's the first day of school and the first class of the day."

"Fine, fine. We'll have lunch today?" Zack asked.

Sephiroth tried to reign in his annoyance. Though he had known Zack since high school, the man knew how to irritate him to death. They had been best friends, and had both been stars for the football team. Though there were days when Zack was a bit too much to handle, he was always there. He'd always been his brother. So naturally Sephiroth hated many things that came out of Zack's often obnoxious mouth, especially when concerning women, but he was the little brother he had never had. Also, lunch was code name for, 'what did you bring for me to free-load off of you?' He sighed. "I stopped by the deli near my home before I got here. I'm having a turkey sandwich." Which was code name for, 'I bought you one too.'

"Do you know Tifa?" Zack asked with a grin.

Sephiroth sighed. "I am not going to introduce you two. You'll have to do this all on your own. You just need to know that her ex-husband is a teacher here as well. He remarried four years ago and the kid hates him half of the time."

Zack smiled evilly. "So you do know her. It doesn't matter, you're right. I can introduce myself and get a date from her on my own. I'll see you later, Seph," he said almost absently before standing and walking out of the dean's office.

Sephiroth watched his friend go and released the long, irritated breath he had been pushing away. Leave it to Zack to always fall for the most problematic women. And though Tifa just so happened to be an old friend of his, he knew that she wasn't looking for anyone to date at the moment. He just hoped that she shot Zack down nicely.

"How were your first two classes?" Tifa asked Yuffie as she sat down with her at a table at the teacher's lounge.

"They were pretty normal. Oren and Denzel were good students. Are you aware that Denz has a new friend? A pretty girl with brown hair and sweet eyes. I think he has a crush on her," said Yuffie as she handed Tifa a container with steamed rice and some type of reddish chicken.

Tifa smiled and handed Yuffie a container of her famous potato salad. "How could you possibly know if he has a crush on her? They just met!" she said with a giggle.

Yuffie's eyes widened and then she grinned slowly. "Hot guy at twelve o'clock. He's looking at you and he's standing next to another hot guy with long, silver hair."

"Aren't you a little too old to be saying the word 'hot' when referring to a man?" asked Tifa in irritation. But she looked over against her better judgment. She smiled at the silver haired man and looked away when the dark haired one gave her a shining smile as well. "That's the dean, Sephiroth, but I don't know who the one with black hair is," she admitted.

"Why don't you ask? He seems interested enough. It's time for you to start dating again. It's been four years. Move on. Get laid," said Yuffie dryly.

Tifa almost choked on the rice she had started to swallow. She took a sip of her water and shook her head. "I know you did not just say that to me," she said with a nervous laugh.

"Whatever," Yuffie muttered, gazing covertly at the men, who had taken their seats on a table by the door. "The dean? With hair like that, he should be a male model or something."

"You should see his eyes up close," Tifa admitted. "And he's a nice guy. Do I hear a note of interest in your voice?"

Yuffie shook her head. "He's hot but that's it. I'll stick with Reno when I need someone to scratch my itch. There's something disturbing and dangerous about the dean."

Tifa just shook her head and found her eyes sliding over to look at Sephiroth and his friend. He was talking animatedly to silver-haired man, who looked annoyed and about ready to throttle him. She smiled to herself and turned back to her lunch, but not before meeting his blue eyes and receiving a wink that made her feel flustered.

The day had gone on smoother than Tifa had anticipated. The seniors this year were just as rebellious as last years, but they weren't too much for her to handle. Her juniors were just as bad, but she wasn't cowed by them. Being an authority figure had always come easy to her, but her students liked her and didn't cause her much problems. Besides, it felt better to be the nice type of authority figure. Kill them with kindness and all that stuff.

Denzel had told her that Danielle Shinra would give him and Oren a ride home, since Tifa and Yuffie would be staying at the school for another hour, attending a faculty meeting. The dreadfully boring meeting was now over and all the teachers were filing out of the room. The new members of the faculty had been introduced to everyone, and she had found out that her mystery admirer was one of the school counselors and would be helping the children in their plans for college and their careers. His name was Zack Fair. She remembered Sephiroth mentioning him a long time ago.

She sighed to herself and stepped out the door when Cloud stopped her. It seemed Aerith had gone ahead to their car. "I need to get home to my son," she said, sounding tired.

Cloud smiled bitterly. "I'm trying, Tifa. I don't know what else to do to get close to him. He ignores me and doesn't even make an effort to let me be a father to him," he said as they walked down the hall together.

Tifa just shook her head. "I can't do anything about that, Cloud, even though I want to. I've tried talking to him; I've tried telling him that we parted out of mutual accord, but he thinks differently, and I can't change the way his thoughts go. He's a teenager and he's going through that phase in life where he hates anything that he can't understand. Having your parents divorced is not a pleasant thing. Just give him time," she said calmly.

"Ask him if he wants to spend the weekend at my place. I don't want to force him, but I want to see Denzel. He's my son too," Cloud said with a defeated sigh. "I'll see you tomorrow, Teef."

Tifa just nodded and slowed her step as Cloud moved ahead. Parenting had never been easy, and she was viciously pleased that Cloud was finally understanding that. It was petty, yes, but she couldn't help the way she thought either.

"Gil for your thoughts?" asked a deep voice from beside her.

She looked over and smiled slightly. "I don't think I know you enough to tell you."

Zack grinned and offered his hand. "Zack Fair. Pleasure to meet you."

Tifa took his hand and felt her mood lift considerably. "Tifa Lockhart. It's nice to meet you too. Officially."

"Well, as for you not knowing me enough, we can easily remedy that," he said as they stepped into the parking lot and walked towards her car. "How about I take you out on a date?"

"Isn't it against the school's rules?" she asked with a lift of a perfectly arched eyebrow.

He shrugged his wide shoulders. "Are you going to tell anyone? And it's not like you'll get fired or something. They don't recommend faculty dating because of the conflicts caused by break-ups and all that. If you'd like, we can go out as friends only," he offered.

Tifa gave him a shy look and was about to turn him down when she looked up and saw that Cloud was watching her from where he was standing at his car, putting away his things. Yuffie was right. It was time to move on. Get laid… er, she did not just think that! She was going to kill Yuffie for putting those thoughts in her head. She smiled at the man next to her and stopped at her car. "Okay. We'll go out, but… just as friends, okay?"

Zack smiled and took her hand in his, placing a kiss on her knuckles. "That's fine by me," he said smoothly. Though he was sure he would be able to con another date out of her by the end of the night.

He wasn't even aware of the pair of blue eyes narrowed and focused on them a small distance away.

How was that for a start, hmm? Pretty long, but I least I got my intro's across the way I wanted them. I just love the Zack and Tifa pairing, even though my favorites are Vincent/Yuffie, and Tifa/Cloud. I hope I didn't go too OOC on you guys, but it's and AU, so bear with me, ok? Anyway, Cloud and Tifa are divorced, Denzel hates his dad, Yuffie is a single mother, Vincent is MIA, Sephiroth is a single father, and Zack basically fell in love at first sight with Tifa. Can he possibly win Tifa over after she hasn't dated in so long? And how cute are Marlene and Denzel?

Stay tuned for the next chapter! I hope everyone enjoyed this start and if you have the time, drop me a line to let me know if I should sack this fic and continue with Vince/Yuffie and Cloud/Tifa!



P.S. Expect my Reeve/Yuffie soon. It's going to be called, Suffocate. Though it's not a tragedy or anything, so don't get scared of the title.