Okay, so I'm gonna try to have two fics up at the same time, and see how I cope with that.
See if I can work under the pressure.

"Hey! Wait up!"

A brunette girl ran up to a blond boy, pausing for a breath when she finally got up to him. She doubled over, hands on her knees, panting. He stared at her with his deep blue eyes, then looked around the town center. There were many children outside at the time, most of them staring at them, and it surprised him to see that she wanted to be seen with him. He was the town outcast, the rebellious one, and she was the town angel. Everyone loved her, and hated him. That's what made their friendship so strange, and yet, so special.

"Tifa, what will you're dad--"

Her body went rigid, her spine straightening as she stood fully. Her face was in a scowl, her reddish-brown orbs narrowed. "Cloud, I honestly couldn't care what my dad thinks. A year ago, after my accident, he thought a lot of things. When I finally woke up, I still wanted to see you. If I didn't care then, what makes you think I would now?"

Cloud nodded. Tifa was a very mature, and different, nine year old girl. Most of them were wearing pink dresses and hair ribbons, playing with dolls and dress up. Not her. No, she wore blue dresses, but not all the time. She didn't mind being dirty. It was evident; most of the time when she went out to play, she was in a pair of old, faded jeans and one of her dads t-shirts, coming back home with dirt smears on her face and clothes. One of those days was today. Of course, the people of Nibelheim didn't ridicule her. Everyone just said it was a phase--that she would grow out of it. But, the thing Cloud didn't get, was how could you blame someone else for another's phase?

He scanned her over for a brief moment. There wasn't really much evidence left that the accident had even occurred. A few tiny scars on her arms, one across her cheek. She didn't mind. She liked the new look. Said it gave her an edge. He'd told her that she was nine; she didn't know what an edge was. She only shrugged at him and pointed out that he was only a year older than her--did that mean he should know? He couldn't answer her.

This accident happened shortly after her mother died. Tifa and Reania were very close. She was the one who looked after Tifa when her father was away, which was often. Cloud always thought she looked more like her mother than her father. If anything, she had his hair, but that was all he could see. During the winter, she became very sick. The doctor said she couldn't even get out of the bed, let along move very much at all. He'd only seen her once, and that was through the window. His house was right next door to Tifa's and her mother and father's room was upstairs. He sometimes climbed to the rooftop to see Tifa, to talk to her, especially at night. One day, Tifa wasn't in the window, and he could see all the way to the other room.

There on the bed was Reania. She was so pale that Cloud thought she wasn't alive anymore. The only thing that made it clear she lived was her hacking. She coughed violently every few minutes. Seeing her like this scared him. Never had anyone in the town seen Reania like this. She was always so happy, and Tifa took after that very well. Her smile, her eyes. It was all there, just on a younger face. And when she died . . . Tifa was the most distraught thing he'd ever seen.

She wouldn't leave the house for a while, two or three months at the most. Cloud would have to go inside to see her, and he was rarely allowed to do that. Her father would always say, "She's sleeping" or "She's just not feeling well right now" to make him go away. He knew that sometimes Derkus was lying. Most of the time when he said that she was sleeping, he'd climb up to his roof to see. And she would be crying. It was easy for him to manuver his way to her window, which he did, stepping silently into her room. And when she looked up to see him, all she'd do was open her arms to him. He would sit down on the bed beside her, letting her arms wrap around his body. Her head would rest on his shoulder, and that would be that. No one said anything, but they both understood. Reania was never coming back.

Of course, Tifa didn't grasp this concept very easily. Her mother always told her that she would be with her. That she would never leave her. Was she lying? Did she know this would happen? The young girl did not know. All she knew was that, for once in her life, her mother had been wrong about something. Either that, or she really did lie.

So, when stories were beginning to circulate that the spirits of the deceased were resting in the mountains, Tifa took off. No one knew where, which was unsettling. She would never do something like that, they said. Later, people began to notice that several children were missing, and guessed that they went with her. Cloud, being the shadow that he was, slipped away without anyone giving him a second thought.

His suspicions were confirmed. As he climbed higher and higher into the mountain, he could hear a small voice. It sounded so familiar to him. Another couple hundred feet up, and he saw Tifa, along with three other children.

"She's got to be up here! My mom said she wouldn't leave me. I knew she wouldn't."

They kept going, Cloud keeping to himself, never revealing his position behind them, the other kids slowly slinking away. One by one, they left, two of them seeing Cloud. They glowered at him, but made a run for it. If this kid was here, then it was sure to be a disaster.

At the wooden bridge, Tifa turned around to see . . . nothing. No one was following her anymore, as far as she could tell. Cloud noticed, from behind a boulder, one fat tear roll down her face. Her eyes protrayed everything he had asked himself before: If they were such good friends, why would they leave her?

He bit his lip and stepped out, startling her. She stumbled backwards, making the bridge rickety. They both heard the snap of the rope, and Cloud rushed forward. He grabbed at Tifa, but only ended up with a handful of her scarf instead. She disappeared into the thick snow, her screams the only thing he remembered. Leaning over, he lost his balance, and toppled over into the gorge as well.

He woke up a few hours later in his bed, and was amazed to see that he was fine. A couple bruises here and there, and his knees were all scraped up, but it was something he could manage. If he got out this well, he wondered just how Tifa would be!

But, knocking on their door was a big mistake.

"How could you! Why did you let her go up there?! Did you push her over?! Huh? Or did she just miraculously fall from a ledge or something? Do you know that she has several broken ribs and a fractured arm? This is all your fault!"

Cloud thought it was a bit childish to blame a kid on something he had no control over, but said nothing.

And now, a year later, she was just fine. Scars now, from the past. Tifa accepted the fact that her mother was long gone, and could live with it. She did get upset every now and then, and he was always there to comfort her. But, other than that, everything was fine.

"Where were you going?"

He raised an eyebrow. "I'm going over to the river. Outside of town. Sure your dad won't mind?"

"He will, but oh well."

"He said you were sick when I knocked."

She laughed. "You had enough courage to knock?" He scowled at her.

"You're not answering me."

She shrugged. "I didn't know you asked me a question."

He could do nothing but roll his eyes as she giggled at him again.

They sat along the bank of the stream, their feet immersed in the cool water. Tifa was sitting, and Cloud was laying down. She let her head back and sighed, then became distracted a sound. It was almost like wheels of big feet against the dirt and grass terrain. She turned her head, seeing in the distance, what looked like a chocobo.

"Hey Cloud! Look!"

He sat up, staring in the general direction of where her finger was pointing. There about a mile away, was a green chocobo. He smiled. "You rarely see those around here. I heard there's a farm or something near the Floating City."



They watched it for a few more moments, before seeing something immediately behind it. It looked like a wagon. They assumed it was a moving chocobo.

Cloud squinted. "Who in the world would want to move here? There's not much to see."

Tifa shrugged saying, "The water's nice," then splashed some on him. He returned the favor, earning him a laugh.

They watched the chocobo and the wagon for a while longer, right up until it passed by them. In the back of the wagon, was a boy that looked about their age. He had black hair as dark as midnight, and bright red eyes. They had never seen someone with red eyes before, and it fascinated them. The only thing that made them think twice was the bored look on the boy's face. He was almost as if he didn't want to be there.

"Think he'll like it here?" she asked when the buggy disappeared into the town. "He seemed pretty upset to me."

The blond looked on nonchalantly. "If he doesn't like it, the why is he here?"

"Maybe his parents made him."

"I guess. You wanna go see him or something?" Sarcasm layered his voice thick.

She smiled an evil grin. "Sure Cloud. Let's go see the new kid."

"I didn't mean that you know."

But she was already up, grabbing her shoes. "Race you!" she yelled, darting off toward the village. He went after her.

Curiosity and mischief were going to see mystery.

I've never done an AU, and I really hope that this turns out okay.
Press, click, etc the button. You know you want to...
It's sooooo tempting...