(A/N) More Cloud/Tifa stuff, woot! :D I had trouble thinking of a title though, and I'm still not quite sure about it. O.o I put it under the friendship genre also, because there's not a whole lot of romance.

This takes place sometime after Advent Children, and like my other oneshot Snowball Effect, this one has a bit of a holiday theme too. ;P It's in Cloud's point of view, because that seems to be both the easiest and most fun way for me to write. :3

Ribbons and Bows

I couldn't tie a proper bow to save my life, and it doesn't help that the present I'm trying to tie it to keeps squirming around and trying to nip at my fingers. Every time I almost get it right, the little bugger twists away from me and it pulls the ribbon apart, forcing me to start all over again. I've been at this for over ten minutes, and success still continues to allude me. Needless to say, it's getting a bit frustrating.

You see, Christmas is less than a week away now, and I've been wracking my brain for the past month trying to figure out what on Gaia I'm going to give Tifa for a present. She keeps saying that I don't have to get her anything, but I know better than to fall into that trap. She's just being polite, but if I don't get her anything, she'd be upset. Women are crafty creatures, but I learn quickly enough to know how to avoid getting in trouble.

Thankfully, I finally figured out what to get her today while I was on my way home from work. The main highway that I usually drive on was closed today for maintenance, so I had to go around the back way through the smaller streets, where I just happened to pass by the animal shelter. That's when the idea hit me. Girls are suckers for little furry animals, and Denzel and Marlene will love it too; it was the perfect idea.

Or at least it would be, if he would just sit still long enough for me to tie the bow around his neck. I'm freezing out here, kneeling down on the icy sidewalk outside of the shelter, and I'd like to get home before I worry Tifa by being late. It's been snowing almost constantly for the past few days here in Edge, but the little thing seems unaffected by the chilly weather; contentedly chasing his tail while I try in vain to get the ribbon tied to him. Who knew something so tiny could have so much energy?

He is awfully cute though, I have to admit. I decided that it was probably best to go with a puppy rather than a kitten, because I really don't feel like getting scratched every time I try to pick it up. I think he must be pretty young, because he's so small that his whole body fits into both of my hands. His fur is a light, sandy yellow color; with perky ears that flop down on the tips and a little curled up tail. I've never seen a dog with blue eyes before, but I think Tifa will like that part, because she's always telling me how much she likes mine.

Finally, while he's sitting down to scratch underneath his chin with his back foot, I'm able to complete the bow. It's nothing extravagant, just a thin red ribbon that the secretary at the shelter gave me. In hindsight, I probably should have asked her to tie it for me. It's fixed now though, tied with two loops like shoe laces, because I figure that since he's going to be a present he should at least have some kind of wrapping, even if it is simple. I'm a man though, so I don't need to know how to tie a fancy bow.

Satisfied with my work, I slip my hand under his belly, lifting him with me as I stand up and walk towards Fenrir. Once I'm settled on my bike, I hold him up to my face, giving him a meaningful look and silently begging him not to pee on me during the ride home. Unaffected by my stare, he leans forward and licks me across my cheek, his little tongue leaving behind a trail of warm saliva. He yips happily, but I can only sigh, deciding that I have no choice but to take the chance.

Zipping my jacket part of the way down, I set him inside gently where he curls up against my stomach; relatively still for once. There's no way I'd be able to hold him while I drive, so at least he can stay there not have the fear of falling out. It doesn't seem like it bothers him to be in there, so I pull the zipper back up and start Fenrir's engine. Snow is starting to fall once again, though not very heavily yet, but I pull on my goggles anyway before starting down the street towards Seventh Heaven.

xXxXx

There's not much traffic today, so I make it home fairly quickly, though by the end of the ride my face is nearly numb from the bits of snow hitting me the whole way. Tifa keeps saying that I need to get a full helmet; maybe I should start listening to her. I park farther down the street than I usually do, so Tifa won't be able to see me if she happens to glance out the window. It would make this whole ordeal meaningless if I ruined the surprise now.

I zip my jacket down a little ways to check on the tiny ball of fur inside, only to find that he's fast asleep. He must have worn himself out with all that playing around and thwarting my bow-tying attempts earlier. This is a good thing though, because now I don't have to worry about him barking and giving me away. Another even better thing would be the fact that he must have emptied his bladder before I decided to take him home, because by some stroke of luck, he didn't pee on me.

Yanking my zipper back up, I slide off of Fenrir and head towards the front door to the bar. It's a Sunday today, Tifa's day off, so the door isn't unlocked like it is on business days and I have to use my key. Today would have been my day off too, if I wasn't so overwhelmed with all of the extra holiday deliveries. That's alright though, because we're going to need the extra gil to take care of the new, furry addition to our family.

The lock gives way easily, and the scent of something delicious hits my nose as soon as I push the door open. After locking it behind me, I wander into the house, instinctively seeking out the smell. Sure enough, as soon as I round the corner into the kitchen I catch sight of Tifa, and she's pulling a tray of freshly baked cinnamon rolls out of the oven. I love this time of year, even if I do get overworked and snow-blasted while I'm driving, because it always puts her in the mood to bake sweet stuff.

My stomach growls loudly in response to the mouth-watering smell, and I think Tifa might have actually heard it, because that's when she turns to look over at me. She gives me a small smile in greeting as she pulls off her oven mitts, setting them aside on the counter and reaching for the bowl of sugary icing that she'll pour over the rolls.

"Welcome home," she says brightly, and I can't help but return her smile.

Something suddenly moves inside of my jacket, probably roused from his sleep by her voice, and I remember that I have to give Tifa her gift.

"I got you a Christmas present," I tell her simply.

Tifa frowns in response, her eyebrows pulling together underneath her bangs. "I told you that you didn't have to get my anything," she scolds me lightheartedly.

I roll my eyes at her, and she quickly changes tactics.

"It's not Christmas yet," she argues, setting down the bowl and putting her hands on her hips.

"You get to open this one early," I say with a sly grin.

She watches me curiously as I unzip my jacket, and then her eyes go wide when I pull out the small fuzzy creature. Tifa gasps in surprise, her hand flying up to cover her mouth. The little puppy seems thrilled to see her too, as he's wagging his tail rapidly and yapping with enthusiasm. I hold him out to her, and Tifa takes him from my hands carefully, cradling him against her chest and giggling when he licks her face.

"Oh Cloud, he's adorable!" she exclaims while she's petting the top of his head. "Look at his eyes, they're so pretty," she says softly.

I smile, glad that she likes the one I picked out for her. He seems to like her, too; licking her wherever he can reach.

She continues to stare down at him for a moment before looking back up at me, her smile never fading. "This is my present?" she asks, sounding incredulous though it doesn't taint her excitement.

I give her a quick nod in agreement, and she smiles even wider than before. Shifting the puppy in her arms, she takes a few steps over to where I'm standing and touches my cheek. I comply easily, knowing what she wants and allowing her bring my face down to hers. Our lips only meet for a few seconds, but it doesn't lessen the immensely pleasant feeling of the contact. She smiles against my mouth, and it's still in place when she pulls back from me.

"Thank you," she says earnestly. "This is the best Christmas present I've ever been given."

I didn't think it was possible, but her smile gets even brighter as she looks up at me. It lights up her whole face, and makes her dark eyes sparkle with delight. The puppy moves in her arms then, vying for more attention, and she looks back down at him. He seems to enjoy it when she scratches behind his ear, because his leg starts kicking in time with her movements, which only makes her laugh lightly. I grin while I watch her, because seeing her happy is what always seems to make me happy.

You know, despite getting chewed on, having dog slobber on my face, freezing my butt off while I tried to tie a stupid bow and having to drive home with the threat of getting peed on, it was all completely worth it. I'd do it again too, just to see that look on her face.

The End

(A/N) In case you were wondering, the type of dog that I had in mind while I was writing this was a shiba inu. They're completely adorable, and some really do have blue eyes! :D I had one just like I described in my Nintendogs game, and I named him Cloud. XD

I wanted to post something in between updates on my other story To Have Loved and Lost, and when this idea hit me I knew it would work perfectly for a quick little oneshot. These kinds of stories are so much fun to write, so you can bet that this won't be the last. You can always check my profile for news. ;P

Take a moment to leave a review if you enjoyed it, won't you? :3

-punkiemonkie