A/N: This is for The Sacred and Profane! PLEASE ENJOY!?! ;D

Disclaimer: By the way, I don't own final fantasy VII.

Differentiation

Oh…I think I'm going to have a heat stroke.

The blaring sun was sending its scorching rays onto Tifa's vulnerable back. She was stuck in the middle of the most desolate part of the Corel desert area.

She couldn't remember exactly how she had gotten that far out there, but at that point, it didn't really even matter anymore. She just wanted to get home.

Right now.

But for some reason, she couldn't move. It was like she was planted into the sand or something. Hmm. That's strange. What a weird sensation.

She could twist her upper body around to see the vast surroundings, but that was obviously pointless if she couldn't move anything else for her escape.

Suddenly, Tifa heard a strange noise. It sounded almost like an animal's cry…? Or maybe it was just the noise the animal was known for making. Hmm. It was a cute little squeak. Tifa's interest was instantly piqued. She was very curious to know where the noise was coming from.

She squinted her eyes in the direction of the horizon, and the silhouette of a moving figure was able to be seen. Is that the thing I heard earlier? It seemed like she was going to find out soon. The animal was making a beeline straight for her.

Now Tifa was able to see it clearly. It had spiked, fire red fur with a black, pudgy nose in the center of its snout. Its yellow eyes had a mischievous sparkle that Tifa couldn't help but giggle at. The creature was very cute with the way it was bounding towards her too, tripping over its over-sized paws every now and then. Each time it fell, though, it would get back up right away.

Tifa admired the determination.

The creature came to a sudden halt right in front of Tifa, accidentally kicking some sand into her face.

"Shoot!" the animal exclaimed. Tifa thought that it sounded like a boy animal, but she wasn't positive. "Sorry 'bout that! Still gotta work on my brakes, I guess." The animal then proceeded to sit on his hind legs so he could scratch away the sand that he had gotten on his face by mistake as well.

"What are you doing all the way out here?" Tifa wondered aloud. Is he here to help me?

"Well, Mr. Boss-Moomba told the rest of us moombas to check the area to see if there were any surviving c-cat…cactuil…CACTUARS!" His eyes widened as he remembered the term. "Yeah, that's what he said to do!"

"Um…I'm a c-cactuar?" Tifa asked timidly. Maybe that would explain why she felt rooted to the spot.

Literally.

"Yup!" He chirped right back with a wolfish smirk on his face. "And I'm here to help!" He pranced even closer to her and squatted down at the base of her lower body.

What on Gaia does he think he's doing!?

Sand started flying behind the moomba as his front limbs started to dig frantically.

Oh! He's digging me out!?

After only a few moments, the moomba popped back into Tifa's line of vision with a proud smile on his face. "Done!" He patted his paws against the ground a few times so he could get some of the wet sand that he had dug up out of his claws. Then, he turned and started to run away from her.

Tifa's face fell when she realized he was leaving her.

Then, to her complete surprise, he turned around to face her with a confused look on his face. "Aren't you coming too? Or would you rather stay out here by yourself!?" He had an amused smirk on his face now.

Tifa couldn't help but smile back at his kindness. "Y-yes! Thank you…uh…" She stopped abruptly when she realized that she didn't know what to call him.

"Name's Reno!" He pounded his chest with his paw in triumph. "Don't forget it!"

She started to move forward and was overjoyed to discover that she could walk again. Ecstasy overflowed within her. "How can I ever repay you for this, Reno!?"

He made the squeaky noise again. Tifa thought maybe it was a cry of excitement or something. Who knows…?

"Oh, you won't have to worry about that!" He waved her off with one of his paws. "You can be my servant…or something!"

Tifa's eyes widened. "W-Wha…?"

"Come on!" He started to run away again. "We're gonna be late!"

"O-Okay, I'm coming!" Tifa started to run after him. She realized as she ran towards the sunset with Reno that she really liked how his spiky, fire-colored fur on the top of his head seemed to light the way for her.

She wouldn't mind getting used to that.

---O---O---O---O---

His head is always in the way!

Tifa tried, unsuccessfully, to see past Reno's bright red hair. This was one of the more important staff meetings at their business, and Tifa always managed to arrive late.

She wasn't the shortest person around, but when you were behind all the other staff members, especially Reno and his big head, it really didn't help at all.

I can't even hear what Rufus is saying! Tifa started to panic. What if she was about to miss something important?

With a final noise of conclusion, all the people in front of her started to disperse to return to their private work areas.

Well, except for Reno.

He turned around to face her with that trademark smirk plastered all over his pale face. Her eyes drifted to the twin red marks underneath both of his attractive, aquamarine eyes. Tifa always wondered how he got those marks. Were they tattoos? Scars? Whatever they were, Tifa thought they did a great job in making his eyes even more appealing…even sexier---

---I can't think about him that way! He's an entire rank above me! That's makes him my superior…and he never ever lets me forget that.

Tifa sighed. But, he can be such a jerk sometimes.

Reno smirked when he noticed her standoffish posture. "What's wrong, Lockheart? Late for the meeting again? Or did you miss it entirely this time?"

Tifa rolled her eyes. "Oh I was here, all right." She brushed past him as she made her way back to her station. She knew he would follow after her. He always did. So she kept talking. "But as always, you were in the way."

Tifa didn't have to turn around to know that he was probably laughing at her. It wasn't even funny. She could've missed something very important, and all gods knew that he wouldn't be the one to inform her if that was the case.

"You know you enjoy looking at me…no matter what body part it is." At that final statement, Reno crossed his arms and puffed his chest out a little bit to over-exaggerate his point.

Tifa rolled her eyes. "Leave me alone, Reno." She took a seat in her chair, rolling it closer to the desk so she could get started on those reports that needed to be finished by the end of the day. "I have things I need to get finished."

"Say the word and I'll help you out."

Tifa blinked. "What?" She glanced up to see Reno looking at her with a somewhat serious look on his face. It wouldn't be considered serious on other people's standards, but for Reno, it definitely was.

Tifa was shocked.

"You heard me," he stated calmly, not glancing away from her mahogany orbs.

"I…I'll be fine." She broke their eye contact and busied herself by shuffling through the folders, searching for nothing in particular. He's offering to help me? That's…not like Reno to do something like that.

"As you wish," he murmured sarcastically before turning around and walking away from her desk.

Tifa sighed once her heart rate returned to normal. "Did he actually want to help me, or was he just making a point to say that I'm incapable of doing anything on my own…?" The folders fell from her grasp, and she buried her face in her hands.

Should I have accepted the help? I don't know whether or not it was another one of Reno's games…

"I can't believe he gave up so suddenly…" She shook her head one final time before dismissing the redhead from her thoughts so she could get to work on those annoying reports.

"Lockheart," a voice broke her concentration after several minutes. She slowly looked up to see none other than Reno standing there again. Instead of his serious look, he was donning a slightly timid expression on his face. "I could use you for a minute."

"U-Use me?" Tifa sputtered out. What does he mean by that!? Her cheeks started to flush.

Reno smirked, making the seemingly shy attitude he had a second ago completely disappear. "Use your help. You're pretty good with computers, I guess." He pointed behind his shoulder towards his private office. "Mine's…messed up."

"Messed up how?" Tifa dared to ask.

Wrong question to ask, apparently.

"Are you gonna help me or not!?" Reno barked.

Tifa sighed. "Relax." She stood up and walked towards him. "I'll help you…I guess."

He smirked again. Tifa smirked right back.

Only if he helps me finish those stupid reports afterwards.

---O---O---O---O---

"So where's the beer, Teef?" the hyperactive ninja demanded the second after she bounded through the doors of Seventh Heaven. "Turkey and I seriously need some chillaxing time after the day we had today." She groaned to emphasize her frustration. "You wouldn't believe the crap we got when everybody at WRO headquarters finally figured out that we're together."

Reno walked in a moment later with a tired, but pleased look on his face. "No kidding." He wrapped his arm around the ninja's shoulders and pulled her to his chest. "I know we make a pretty sexy couple…but people don't have to stare."

Tifa plastered a fake smile on. "What were you two doing to make people stare?" Her hands were shaky as she pulled out a few empty bottles for the three of them to drink. Do I even want to know?

Reno shook his head slowly with that trademark smirk on his face. "Nothing that you'd want to hear about."

Yuffie laughed animatedly and hopped on to one of the barstools on the other side of the counter that Tifa was working behind. "So how are you, Teef? You seem kinda…tense."

Tifa shrugged, still staring at the empty bottles she was fiddling with. "N-Nothing's wrong."

Then why do I feel this way?

She snuck a glance at the pair, now wrapped in each others' arms while sitting on the barstools. Her stomach plummeted to her feet painfully.

Like…I'm missing something.

She topped off the beers and slid them over to her friends. "Drink up." She forced another smile on her face.

"Thanks, Teef!" Yuffie shrieked excitedly, reaching out to take her mug.

"Yeah," Reno agreed happily before gulping down a large portion of the beer.

Tifa's eyes went downcast. "No prob," she murmured.

"Oh shit!" Yuffie suddenly screeched. "I forgot to meet up with my friend from work!" She jumped off the barstool and ran for the door. "I'm already late for dinner! Catch ya back at the apartment, Reno!"

She was already out the door before Reno said anything to her in reply. He laughed at his girlfriend's abrupt nature. "Yuffie…" He shook his head slowly with a laugh.

He finished the rest of his beer with a sigh. "Well, I guess I should probably leave soon, huh. I wouldn't want to bother you anymore than usual." He laughed again. The sound of it sent pleasant tingles down Tifa's spine. She loved his laugh. "The bar's opening soon, right?"

Tifa blinked out of her daze. "Uh, yeah. You don't have to leave, though, Reno!" She bit her lip. "You could stay…if you want. It's just me here for another hour or so."

Reno furrowed his eyebrows in thought. "Hmm, well I probably could…but I shouldn't."

Tifa tilted her head to the side in confusion. "You shouldn't?" She crossed her arms. "What do you mean by that?" He wasn't making any sense to her at all.

Reno shook his head with another sigh. "Don't play stupid, Teef. You and I both know…" He turned around to approach the door. Once he got there, he slowly turned around to face Tifa again. "It would only take a few minutes alone with you to screw everything else up."

"I…I screw things up?" Tifa stammered in disbelief. What is he saying?

Reno groaned. "That's not what I meant!" He rubbed his eyelids with his thumb and forefinger. "I mean… I'm not strong enough to resist someone like you, Tifa."

"But we're friends, nothing else." She shook her head. "You're with Yuffie. I know that. You know that." She walked around the bar counter and over to Reno. "We're friends," she repeated, but this time with more emphasis.

"That makes it even easier to screw up…" Reno murmured. Tifa stopped right in front of him and they were now face to face. Reno was looking more anxious by the second. "I'm sorry, Teef. I need to leave." He pushed open the main doors and left the bar without a second glance.

Tifa just stood there, awestruck. He knows he can't…resist me? "If I knew that from the start…would things have been different…?" Her heart was hammering violently against her chest. I feel like I just lost something.

Something really important to me.

She rushed through the main doors. "Reno, wait!"

---O---O---O---O---

"Wait up, would ya!" a tired, but amused voice yelled into the harsh crosswind. "I know we're professionals at this, but we don't have to practice every single day!"

"Reno, if we're going to get better, we need to challenge ourselves to the fullest extent!" she explained calmly.

Wark!

Tifa reached down to scratch the yellow feathers of her chocobo's neck in a loving gesture. "Good job, Choo! Keep it up!"

Reno finally caught up to her. "The big race isn't for another two months!" He gasped out between breaths. His white chocobo was starting to look as tired as his rider felt. "If not for me, can we please stop for Glacier? He's dying on me here!"

Tifa glanced down at the white chocobo and let out a huge sigh. "I guess so." She gently pulled back the reins of her chocobo, allowing it to come to a smooth and steady stop. Reno and Glacier did the same thing next to her.

"Thanks, Teef!" Reno smiled as he dismounted the chocobo. "I really needed a break." He stretched out dramatically. "You did too. Stop pushing yourself so hard, okay?" He took a seat on a particularly grassy part of the fields they were practicing on.

Tifa rolled her eyes and dismounted her chocobo as well. "You nag too much." She sauntered over to sit down next to Reno. "There's no such thing as pushing yourself too hard!"

Reno stared at her incredulously. "Yeah, there is."

"No, there's not."

"Yeah-huh!"

"Nope."

"Um, yes. Actually, there is."

Tifa sighed. "No, there is not. Drop it!"

"Teef, please listen t-"

"Reno!" She cut him off with a final glare. He immediately closed his mouth. "I'm not trying to be overbearing or too intense about all of this…but I just really need to win that trophy. It's something that I need to prove to myself."

"And prove to your old man?" Reno asked quietly.

Tifa nodded solemnly. "When he was still alive, Father was the greatest chocobo rider this planet had ever known." She laid down on the grass behind her and stared up at the passing clouds. "All I've ever wanted to do was be worthy in his eyes."

"You don't need to win anything to be worthy, Tifa." Reno was still sitting up, but his gaze was locked on something faraway from either of them. "You're perfect just the way you are…" he murmured.

If Tifa hadn't been listening carefully, she wouldn't have even caught the last thing Reno had said. They had always been extremely close to one another, but nothing he had said to her before that point had ever made her face heat up the way it was right now. "R-Reno?"

He sent his smoldering gaze in her direction. "Please, just promise me that you won't let this obsession take away who you really are. You don't need to change anything for someone that isn't even around anymore."

She sat up suddenly. "Hey, just because my father is dead-"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" He shook his hands out in front of him in a panic. "That didn't come out right!" He scratched the back of his head in hesitance. "I just, uh…what I meant to say was…uh-"

"Spit it out, Reno!" Tifa fake-admonished. She couldn't bite back the amused smile that was soon gracing her features.

Reno laughed. "Fine. What I was going to say was that I promise to stick with you everyday for practices and whatever else you might need help with…if," he paused for a moment, "you promise to let me protect you."

"P-Protect me?" Tifa sputtered out. "From what!?" She almost laughed at the unnecessary intensity of Reno's words.

Something tells me he was going to say something else.

Reno shook his head. "Just promise me."

Tifa shrugged, still fighting back the laughter. "Okay. I promise."

Reno nodded with a pleased sigh. Then, he leaned back to gaze at the clouds drifting by. Tifa went back to her previous position as well.

"So then it's all settled," Reno smiled.

"Great," Tifa laughed, glancing at a cloud that look remarkably like Reno's head. "Now I'm stuck with you until I win the race."

Reno gave her an appalled look. "Hey, you can't get rid of me that easily!"

---O---O---O---O---

She let the white carnations slip through her fingers and onto the dark, smoothed-over soil. They landed in a delicate pile, unharmed, with all its petals in place.

If only Tifa could feel the same way as those flowers.

Beautiful.

Unhurt.

Structured.

And Invincible.

The only person that could make her feel all of those things…was gone. Even after he promised never to leave her side.

He promised!

She stared at the gravesite with tired eyes. She didn't have the willpower to shed anymore tears. She didn't think there were any tears left inside her.

For what she was gazing at was the evidence of his broken promise. The one promise that meant the most to her.

To them.

How could he do this to us!?

Reno chose to partake in a particularly dangerous mission for Neo-Shinra, knowing full-well that his wife would be worried sick about him the entire time he was gone.

He wanted to go on the mission to prove to Tifa that he could protect her.

He went on the mission to protect her. And he never got the chance to come back.

She breathed in and out shakily.

Tifa didn't want to learn all the details of the outcome, but she knew that he was killed without a second thought by the same men they were trying to save.

I told him not to go and he still went. He told me I was worried over nothing.

Well…I wasn't. I was right.

She rested her hands on her considerably swollen midsection, rubbing small circles to ease the pain inside. "I'm sorry he left us. We're o-on our own n-now."

Her shoulders started to shake. She couldn't hold it in any longer. The pain was too much to bear.

So she let it all out. And it felt good to let out all the pain, the sorrow, the anger…but most importantly, the hopelessness of losing the one person that she loved most in this world.

"Reno, I need you." She looked down at her oversized belly, causing more tears to break the surface. "I…I d-don't think I can do this alone."

Am I alone?

It's okay, Teef. I'm here.

Tifa looked up, blinking away her tears. "W-What!?"

Tifa, please. It's okay.

"No, it's not okay!" She screamed into the skies, balling her fists together tightly. "You're gone, Reno!"

Shh. I'm right here.

Tifa blinked, suddenly disoriented. It felt like her world was spinning. "Wait…where is…here? Where am I?" She looked around in a frenzy. "Where are you, Reno!?"

I'm with you. Don't worry.

OOO-OOO-OOO-OOO

"Please, wake up." That voice sounded familiar. "Teef, please."

Tifa complied, slowly cracking her eyes open to greet the owner of the voice. When her eyes were completely open, she couldn't hold back her shocked gasp. "Reno!" She tackled him into a fierce hug, murmuring into his chest and kissing every part of him that she could. It wasn't until she pulled away and Reno gently wiped underneath her eyes with his thumbs that she realized she was crying her heart out.

"Tifa, tell me what's wrong," he whispered soothingly before pulling her into another hug. "You scared me."

"I…I had some really strange dreams. That's all," she said quietly. "It just felt so real. The emotions must've been so intense in that last dream…that I actually started to cry while I was sleeping."

"You scared me," Reno repeated again, a serious look on his face.

Tifa smiled softly. "I'm sorry." She placed both her hands on his shoulders and leaned in for a tender kiss-

"Mommy?"

Tifa and Reno both snapped their heads in the direction of the bedroom door. "Yes, honey?" Tifa answered sweetly.

Their daughter was standing in the doorway, rubbing her tired eyes and yawning. Her dark ebony hair was going in every direction imaginable: the tell-tale sign of a child that just woke up from the best night's sleep. After she was done stretching out her tired arms, she blinked a few times, her aquamarine orbs finally registering what she was seeing. "I hungee!"

Tifa smiled and Reno laughed softly to himself. He jumped out of bed and cornered their innocent daughter. "You want breakfast, Milah?" Reno asked quietly.

Milah nodded vigorously.

"Well, then you're gonna have to…" Reno reached over and pulled his daughter into his arms before throwing her next to Tifa on the bed, "…try really hard not to laugh!"

Milah looked at her parents in confusion before they pounced, tickling the poor child and causing her to go into hysteria with her laughter. "No, Mommy! Daddy-hehheh!" Milah couldn't get a sentence out through her laughter. And her smiles and giggles were starting to get contagious too.

Before they knew it, both Tifa and Reno had collapsed on the bed next to Milah, laughing uncontrollably. With one final sigh to calm himself, Reno slowly asked, "Now what was it you were asking for, Milah?"

She looked up at him innocently, a lingering smile gracing her cherubic face. "Busfas?"

"Breakfast?" Tifa laughed. She leaned over and kissed her daughter's forehead. "What's the magic word, Milah?"

The child furrowed her eyebrows for a few seconds, obviously deep in thought. Suddenly, her bright blue eyes sparkled joyously, and she shouted out, "Peeeas!?"

"Close enough," Reno laughed before sweeping Milah over his shoulders and onto his back. "You like piggy-back rides, right?"

Their daughter nodded happily. "Yaay!" She made a move to clap her hands together, but she soon realized that if she let go of her father's neck, she might fall backwards.

"Hold on tight, Milah!" Tifa laughed. Her daughter burrowed her head into the nape of Reno's neck as they made their way downstairs and into the kitchen.

Tifa never felt luckier than she did at that moment. Her dreams had been strange…and oddly realistic, but they made her realize that she should cherish what she had here and now, no matter what.

She reached over and grabbed Reno's hand. "I love you," she whispered.

He nodded. No words were necessary for her to know how he felt about her. Whether it was in her dreams or in her realities, Reno and Tifa were always meant to be together…

And in love.

A/N:

Thanks for reading!!!! XD

Buuut…I'm kinda worried about how this turned out…

So feedback would be great!? Please and Thanks!! ;)

-koalababay