Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Final Fantasy 7 characters.

The first time Cloud met Tifa he thought she was an angel.

He was five years old and had just moved into a new house with his mom. "Look, sweetie," she had said, pointing out the window of their car as they followed the moving truck to their new home, "There's a park you can play at! It looks like there are a lot of kids your age in the neighborhood!"

He had been excited about that, at first. But soon it became evident that the shy little blonde boy who didn't have a dad wasn't welcome to join playtime. "We don't play with bastards," one of the older boys had sneered. Cloud didn't know what that meant. When he asked his mother later her eyes narrowed and she flushed angrily, but didn't answer his question. She just pulled him into a crushing hug and told him it didn't matter.

She didn't take him to the park again after that. Cloud didn't mind as much as he thought he would.

They had been living in their new house for a week when his mom decided she wanted to paint the kitchen. She deposited him outside with a box of his toys and told him to play until she had finished, which was perfectly fine with Cloud. He was soon lost in a world of action figures and racecars, and was only vaguely aware of the sound of a door opening and steps racing towards him.

At least, until the dog jumped on his back.

Then he was very, very aware.

He didn't even have time to yell before someone yanked the dog away, scolding it in a voice too sweet to be very effective. He opened his eyes and saw a girl holding the dog by its collar, shaking her finger at it menacingly. Her hair was dark and straight, contrastingly perfectly against the prim white dress she wore. She was the prettiest girl Cloud had ever seen, and he was almost disappointed when he realized she didn't have a halo or wings like angels were supposed to.

Maybe she was in disguise?

"Sorry about Red," she told him after her dog was properly chastised, "He's still a puppy, and doesn't have very good manners." Cloud eyed the dog warily. His tale was wagging and his tongue was lolling out of his mouth, but his teeth looked sharp and his head easily came up to Cloud's shoulder.

"He's the biggest puppy I've ever seen," Cloud mumbled, and was surprised when the girl giggled. It was a pleasant sound; he wondered what he would have to do to hear it again. "I'm Cloud," he said, remembering his mother's lecture about good manners, "I just moved here." The girl smiled.

"I'm Tifa!" she said cheerily, "I just moved next door." Her eyes slid over the toys that littered the ground. "Can I play with you?" she asked. Cloud nodded emphatically, eager to have a playmate.

"Sure!" he said. She dragged Red back to her house with surprising strength and came back with a few of her own toys. Barbies.

"So what are we playing?" she asked, kneeling on the ground next to him. Cloud scrunched his nose up in thought.

"Well, since you brought your girl dolls, we can play heroes and villains!" he decided, picking up his G.I. Joe and a Mr. Potato Head that was missing an eye. Tifa frowned.

"Why is Mr. Potato Head the bad guy?" she asked, confused. Cloud rolled his eyes.

"It's because he's a vegetable!" Tifa giggled.

Playing was more fun with two people, Cloud realized quickly, even when Tifa bullied him into playing the damsel in distress while she made G.I. Joe save the day. He got to play the voice of Mr. Potato Head, though, so it was okay. The laughed and played until Ms. Strife walked outside, looking immensely surprised to see two children in her backyard when she had left only one.

"This is Tifa," Cloud announced proudly, "She lives next door and is my new friend." Ms. Strife smiled in spite of herself.

"It's nice to meet you, Tifa," she told the girl, "But it's getting late. I think I should take you home before your parents worry."

Turns out her parents hadn't worried; they hadn't even noticed she was gone. Her father opened the door to find his daughter holding hands with the boy next door, both of them muddy and sporting grass-stained clothes, Cloud's mother standing behind them with a sheepish expression. He spoke to them in the overly polite, controlled tone that said he was not happy about the situation and would do his best to make sure it never happened again. Cloud wilted.

Tifa, however, remained unaware, and threw her arms around Cloud's neck in a tight hug. "Thanks for letting me play the hero!" she chirped, oblivious to the dark look her father sent her new playmate, "None of the other boys ever let me. Next time you will for sure, okay? I promise!" Then her father pulled her inside, closing the door on his two neighbors with a decisive slam.

Cloud knew he probably wouldn't get to play with Tifa again for a long time, if her father had anything to do with it. But he also knew she was the prettiest girl he'd ever met and the only one who wanted to play with him, and that she definitely didn't have cooties. He hoped.

He made his mom check him later that night, though, just to be sure.

He still didn't know why she laughed so hard.

It was a few years before he actually got to speak to Tifa again. He'd seen her, of course- it would've been hard not to, what with her living next door- but she'd always been with her father, which made it impossible to do anything other than smile and wave and pretend he didn't notice the dark looks the older man sent him. The smiles Tifa shot back at him were worth it, though; they were bright and radiant and seemed to be just for him, and he wondered if it would be possible to save Tifa's smiles in a piggybank the way he did with the spare change he found between the couch cushions.

He was eight years old when his mother came into his room one night and sat on his bed next to him, her eyes sad and brimming with unshed tears. "Mrs. Lockhart passed away today," she told him, stroking his hair lightly, "We're going to the funeral. Alright?"

Cloud nodded blankly and she sighed, walking out of the room and closing his door with a snap. He shot out of bed and went to peer out his window, which had the perfect view of Tifa's house. He saw her sitting on the floor of the living room, Red pressed tightly to her side, and she looked so small and lonely that he wanted nothing more than to march over to her house and hug her until she realized she wasn't alone.

But then her father walked by the window, a phone pressed to his ear, and he realized that it was impossible. So instead he stayed by his window, watching her as she sat slumped hopelessly on the floor, determined to be with her even though she couldn't see him. He fought sleep for the next hour, only crawling back into bed when Mr. Lockhart picked Tifa up and carried her out of view, the light clicking off as they disappeared.

Cloud had never been to a funeral before. He didn't like it; his dress clothes were too itchy and the ceremony was somber and boring, but he didn't complain because he knew that Tifa was sad. He sat through the funeral without fidgeting too much and was relieved when they drove home.

"Don't get out of your clothes yet," Ms. Strife told him as he began to race up the stairs, "We still have to go to the wake."

Cloud didn't really know what a wake was, and didn't really care, but he did know that it meant they would go over to Tifa's house and that was important. So he ran upstairs quickly and grabbed something off of his dresser, stuffing it into his pocket while his mom yelled at him to hurry up.

There were a lot of people at Tifa's house, most unrecognizable and all wearing black. Everyone talked in an odd, hushed tone, as if anything louder than a whisper would be a violation of some secret rule. Cloud's mother left him in the kitchen to pay her respects to Mr. Lockhart, and Cloud knew this was his chance. He searched through all the downstairs rooms, but there was no sign of Tifa anywhere. He frowned.

Then he had an idea.

It wasn't too hard for him to sneak upstairs; after all, nobody was paying attention to the small blonde boy who barely came up to their waists. He scampered up quickly and did a little victory dance when he reached the top. No one saw him.

He had been worried about finding Tifa's room but it turned out that was no problem. There was a small plaque on her door with her name written in curly pink letters, and Cloud couldn't help but frown at it. Tifa wasn't a girly-girl. Didn't her parents (parent, he corrected in his mind with a guilty wince) know that?

He heard sniffling from inside the room and he knocked carefully, listening as the sound stopped abruptly. "G-go away, daddy," he heard her say weakly.

"It's Cloud," he told the door. There was silence from inside the room and for a moment he wondered if she was just going to leave him standing in the hallway and if he should maybe head back downstairs when the door opened. Tifa peered at him with eyes swollen from crying and a shockingly pale face, her inky hair pulled back in a messy ponytail. She looked miserable.

She was still the prettiest girl Cloud had ever seen.

She let him into her room and closed the door behind him. Red was sprawled out on her bed, completely at home on the pink comforter, and his tail started to wag wildly when he saw Cloud. The dog's ears perked up and Cloud wondered if nearly mauling him was a pleasant memory.

He turned to see Tifa staring at him with a lost expression. He shuffled from foot to foot awkwardly, wanting to make her feel better but clueless on how to do it. He cleared his throat.

"Um," he said finally, "I'm really sorry about your mom." She didn't say anything. "I know there's nothing I can do to make you feel better, but, uh, here!" He pulled his G.I. Joe out of his pocket and shoved it into her hands. Her eyebrows rose in confusion, the first expression he'd seen her make all day.

"It's stupid, but…" he ran a hand through his already wild hair, "Maybe he can watch over you while your mom can't? Isn't that what heroes do?" She stared at him incredulously and his face flushed hotly, and he felt like an idiot, giving her that stupid toy like it would actually mean something-

But then she threw her arms around his neck and began sobbing into his chest, deep, heart-wrenching cries that were easily the worst sound he had ever heard. He put his arms around her awkwardly, not sure what to do, but it must have been right because she clutched him tighter, the hand not holding the action figure clutching his shirt desperately.

He wasn't sure how long they stood there, with her crying and him holding her, but after what felt like forever the tears began to stop. His shirt was soaked and he neck was starting to ache from her holding on so tightly but he forgot his discomfort as she looked up at him with a tear-stained face, her eyes meeting his solemnly.

"Thank you," she whispered. Not sure what else to do, he just nodded.

"You're welcome," he whispered back. There was nothing else to really say.

Cloud had just started the sixth grade when his mother decided to sign him up for baseball. "You're a boy!" she exclaimed, throwing her hands up into the air, "You're supposed to be rowdy and wild!"

He wasn't, though. Cloud was a shy kid, who preferred sitting at home reading to any type of rough-housing, and the thought of a team sport where he actually had to socialize was kind of terrifying.

It was then he got his mother's point and decided to try it, just for a little while. So he wouldn't end up being a total hermit by the time he started high school.

The team was coached by a gruff man named Cid, who's vocabulary consisted mostly of words Cloud had never heard before. At least in the context Cid used them. After a few practices it soon became obvious that Cloud was terrible at baseball, so the other boys began a game of, "Who can peg Cloud with a baseball the hardest," whenever Cid wasn't paying attention. They came up with a point system and everything; Ten for the torso, twenty for the head, fifty for the groin…

Cloud spent most of his practice running away from his teammates and dodging baseballs. After one particularly brutal practice during which Cid had left the field to have a cigarette break he sported a variety of new bruises and winced as he began the long walk home. At least no one had hit him in the groin…

"Hey!" Someone tapped him on the shoulder and Cloud whirled around. The boy standing there was a little taller than him, with messy dark hair and a wide grin. Cloud met his eyes uneasily; he wasn't one of the boys from the team.

"I'm Zack," the boy said, oblivious to Cloud's discomfort, "And I couldn't help but notice that you're insanely fast." Cloud's eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

"Uh, thank you?" he said. The boy laughed.

"Look, I've been training to go out for the track team when I go to high school, and I haven't been able to find a good training partner. It's easier to run when there's competition, you know? And since it didn't look like you were really enjoying baseball…" His lips quirked. Cloud nodded in understanding.

"You want me to run with you," he clarified. Zack nodded emphatically. Cloud thought about it for a moment. He really wasn't having much fun playing (being beat up during) baseball, and he was pretty fast…. "Okay," he decided, "I'll do it."

Zack beamed at him. "Great!" he said excitedly, pumping his fist into the air, "Man, this is gonna be awesome! By the time we go to high school we'll be the fastest kids on the team for sure!" He grinned at Cloud.

Cloud smiled back.

While Ms. Strife wasn't too pleased with her son's decision to quite baseball ("I already bought you the equipment!" she lamented), she was happy he had made a fast friend in Zack. The older boy was rambunctious and cheerful, and she hoped he would rub off a bit on Cloud. Her son needed some adventure in his life.

"Here's the route we're going to take," Zack told him one morning, spreading a map out on Cloud's kitchen table, "It's only about a mile, but since you're a newbie we'll keep it short. At least, until you build up more stamina." Cloud nodded, putting on a nonchalant front, but inwardly gulped.

A mile was short?

"So we can run twice a week together and practice on our own," Zack continued. He glanced at the younger boy. "That cool with you?" Cloud nodded. "Awesome! So let's get going!"

The run didn't take very long- in fact, Cloud distinctly heard Zack mutter something about it being a "warm-up" as he put away the map- but by the time they had made it back to Cloud's house his muscles were screaming and his lungs felt like they were about to explode. His legs felt like jelly; he barely managed to make it to his lawn before collapsing on the grass, taking loud gasping breaths for air.

Zack barely looked winded, and though he laughed at Cloud's behavior his eyes held a glimmer of pride. "That was pretty good for a newbie," he praised, kicking Cloud's leg lightly, "You actually kept up with me the whole time. You're going to be a speed demon when you work up your endurance." Cloud couldn't do much more than nod; even that simple motion made his body ache.


The sound of Tifa's voice made him attempt to shoot up off of the grass, but his muscles burned at the sudden movement so he collapsed back onto the grass with a groan. He saw Zack look down at him with raised eyebrows and suddenly his neighbor came into his line of vision, peering down at him with a concerned look before whirling onto the other boy.

"What did you do to him?" she asked, and Cloud had the sudden image of her scolding Zack the same way she would Red. It was a funny visual, but he bit back a laugh; he was too sore. Zack grinned at her.

"Ah, nothing he won't recover from," he joked, rolling his eyes when Tifa glared at him, "Joking, joking! He's my new running partner, and today was his first day. He's gonna be sore until he gets used to it." Tifa blinked down at the blonde in surprise.

"That's… really cool, Cloud," she smiled at him and he felt his face flush hotly, "I just started taking a martial arts class. It's funny that we both started around the same time." Zack snorted.

"So you'll be able to beat him up," he said with a smirk. Cloud rolled his eyes and began to push himself up off the ground.

"No, because I'll be too fast for her to catch me," he retorted, wincing as he got to his feet, "Eventually." Tifa giggled, and Cloud decided the sound was worth the aching muscles. She hadn't been the same since her mother died; she needed whatever laughter she could get.

"I bet you'll be great," Tifa said decisively, "The star of the track team." She sounded so sure that he almost believed it, but the moment was cut short when her father's voice rang through the air, calling her inside. She made a face. "That's my cue. I'll see you later!" Cloud watched her walk back inside with a wistful expression. When she made it inside he turned to see Zack shaking his head with a sympathetic look.

"Man," he said, still shaking his head, "You've got it bad." Cloud sighed.

"I know," he said sadly. Zack just patted him on the shoulder.

It seemed like one moment Cloud was still in the sixth grade and the next he was starting his first year of high school. It was disconcerting, in a way; he half-expected to see the small, skinny boy he'd been staring back at him when he looked in the mirror. Instead, he saw… someone else.

He'd grown a lot in the past few years. Now, instead of having to crane his neck to look up at everyone, he towered over them. He'd gone from being a thin boy with knobby knees and too-long limbs to a slim teenager who was lightly muscled from running. His growth spurt hadn't done much to help his confidence though, much to his mother's dismay.

"Dude," Zack said at lunch about a week after school started. Zack was a year older and already a member of the varsity track team; Cloud was about to start try-outs. "You're hot now. Not as hot as me, of course, but relatively attractive. You could probably get any girl you want." Cloud grimaced.

"Not any girl," he said glumly, stabbing his baked potato with unnecessary force. Zack rolled his eyes.

"Yes, yes, I know, you've still got your monster crush on Tifa," he said, poking his friend in the side, "But you'll never actually get anywhere with her if you're afraid to talk to her."

"I'm not afraid!" Cloud protested, "Just… respectful. Yeah."

Zack suddenly brightened. He grinned at Cloud dangerously, his eyes glinted in the way they only did when he had a very bad, and usually embarrassing, idea. "Want to test it out?" he asked quietly, leaning forward so they wouldn't be overheard.

"Test what out?" Cloud asked in confusion. Zack smirked and pointed to someone across the lunchroom.

It was a girl, which didn't really surprise him, but was unexpected was how… wholesome she looked. Zack normally went for girls with killer bodies (and probably would have set his sights on Tifa if he didn't already know that Cloud was crazy about her), but this girl was different… Sweet looking. She was wearing a pink sundress and brown boots, her long chestnut hair pulled back in a neat braid. Cloud watched her as she got up from her seat to throw away her tray. She had a hop in her step that made her look like she was skipping.

She was very pretty, Cloud decided, but she wasn't his type. In fact, he didn't have a type. He had a person. He shifted his gaze longingly to where Tifa was sitting with her friends. She was laughing at something someone had said, and he wished that he was close enough to hear the sound.

"Sorry, Zack," he said, not feeling sorry at all, "It wouldn't be fair to her. I don't want to ask someone out when I wouldn't be able to fully commit." Zack snorted.

"Chill, Cloud," he said, "Just trust me, okay?" He stood up suddenly. "Heeey, Aeris!" he shouted, much to Cloud's mortification. The girl looked up in surprise, frowning slightly when she saw who was calling her. She walked towards their table with slow, even steps, and Cloud felt his face flush in embarrassment.

"My name is Aerith," she said when she reached their table, sitting in the seat next to Cloud primly, "Did you need something?" Zack shot her his most charming grin.

"Why yes, we do!" he said. He pointed at Cloud, whose face was resembling the color of a lobster. "See this young man here? Well, he has been in love with his next door neighbor for practically his whole life, but doesn't think he's good enough for her. He's got self-esteem issues, you see." He clapped Cloud on the shoulder. "I was wondering, since you seem like such a sweet girl and all, if you could kind of tell him he doesn't need to worry. I think a girl's point of view would help him more than mine."

She looked confused, but actually seemed to think about it, her beautiful green eyes regarding Cloud thoughtfully. "Well, you certainly are good-looking," she finally said, causing the blonde to flush, "And I don't really know you, but you seem like a nice guy. I think you have as good a shot with this girl as anyone does." Zack beamed at her.

"See!" he said excitedly, "A real living, breathing girl agrees with me! You've got a shot, man. All you need to do is take it!" Cloud shook his head hopelessly.

"It's not that simple," he said quietly before getting up and leaving the lunch room. Zack saw Tifa's head perk up as he walked by her table; she watched him until he was out of sight.

"I wish he would just ask Tifa out already," Zack groaned, "Even if she turned him down he would finally be able to move on." Aerith looked at him in surprise.

"Tifa is the girl he's in love with?" she asked. When Zack nodded an odd look crossed her face, a scheming smirk that seemed out of place on her sweet features. "Well, that changes everything."

"It does?" Zack asked. She just grinned at him, then stood up to walk away with a confident sway in her hips that his eyes couldn't help but follow.

He was already half in love with her by the time she reached the door.

And judging by the way she turned around to smile at him, she knew it too.

Cloud was eighteen years old and had just graduated high school.

His mother had cried all throughout the ceremony and was completely inconsolable by the time it was over, rushing over to hug her son with mascara running down her face. Zack followed her more sedately, clapping his friend over the shoulder after Ms. Strife finally let him go. Zack had already graduated and had just finished his first year at university, but had come with Ms. Strife for two reasons.

One was to make fun of Cloud in his cap and gown.

The other was Aerith.

It didn't really surprise Cloud when they started dating; Aerith was kind and sweet and feminine, which was just the type of girl Zack had never gone for but Cloud had thought he needed. They kept each other on their toes.

"I'm going to go to dinner with Aerith's family tonight," Zack said happily, putting an arm around his girlfriend's shoulder, "So I'll hang with you tomorrow, okay? Your mom already told me that she'd make something special for us after our run." Cloud grinned and waved the two off.

Ms. Strife sniffed and stuck her arm through her son's. "I can't believe my baby is all grown up and graduated from high school," she said wetly as they started to walk towards their car. Cloud rolled his eyes dramatically.

"I'm not in college yet, mom," he said, his voice faux-weary, "You'll have me for the rest of the summer. And I'll visit all the time." She smiled.

"Really?" she asked hopefully. He nodded solemnly.

"Of course," he told her seriously, "I mean, I'll need someone to do my laundry." She laughed and playfully smacked him on the arm.

It was just when he was getting into the car that he noticed Tifa. She was still in her cap and gown, standing a little off to the side of the group of people. Cloud smiled, not at all surprised that she managed to make the embarrassing outfit look beautiful. His smile faded when he noticed the stiff way she held herself as she talked to her father. He was frowning and talking to her angrily, and she finally brushed him off and stormed away, ignoring his yells after her. Her eyes, brimming with tears, met Cloud's for a brief moment- and then they drove away.

Cloud leaned back into the seat with a groan. He was eager to go to college, but there was one thing that he knew school wouldn't have.

Even if he met a girl at school, she would have nothing on the pretty girl next door.

It was around midnight when Cloud stepped into his backyard. He felt too energized and nervous to fall asleep, and the stars were comforting in their twinkling way. He sat at the edge of the porch and let his legs dangle over the edge, his bare feet digging into the slightly damp grass.

The sky was amazingly clear for once, the stars like white pinpricks in the sky. The nearly full moon gave everything a silvery glow, it's light washing over everything and making it seem softer, somehow. It was a night full of potential, full of magic, so Cloud almost wasn't surprised when he saw Tifa step out onto her porch and walk through the grass until she stood before him.

She was wearing a hoodie and a pair of sweatpants and had her hair pulled pack into a haphazardous ponytail. She wasn't wearing make-up, but Cloud was still struck by just how utterly beautiful she was standing there doused in moonlight, her eyes meeting his with a warm look that made his heart quicken and his breath catch.

"Mind if I sit?" she asked, and Cloud scooted over quickly to make room for her. She shot him a smile and plopped down in the space next to him. Their shoulders brushed. "It's weird, isn't it? That we graduated?"

"Yeah," he said, trying to keep his breathing even, "It seems like only yesterday you were stealing my toys and forcing me to play with Barbies. That was demeaning, you know." She snorted, bumping her shoulder with his good-naturedly.

"You didn't mind," she teased. He smiled faintly, wondering if she knew that with very little encouragment on her part he would do pretty much anything. Probably not.

Hopefully not.

"Not really," he conceded. She smiled victoriously. They sat in a companiable silence for a few moments before she spoke.

"Hey Cloud?" she said. He looked at her curiously as she fidgeted with the hem of her sweatshirt. "Do you know what you want to do yet?" He smirked at her in amusement.

"Are you asking me what I want to be when I grow up?" he asked. She blushed lightly, much to his surprise.

"I guess," she mumbled in embarrassment. He leaned a little closer to her.

"I haven't really thought about it yet," he admitted, running a hand through his already wild hair, "But I do know that I'm going to get a motorcycle."

"A motorcycle," Tifa said flatly, though her eyes betrayed her amusement, "Really."

"Yep," he said, "I figure it will make me look like a badass. What do you think?" She looked him over appraisingly, her eyes sweeping over him in a way that made his stomach flip pleasantly.

"I think you definitely have some badass potential," she said, a little breathless. He grinned.

"So, what do you want to do?" he asked her. She frowned.

"My father wants me to be a lawyer," she said dully, "Or go to med school. Or be a housewife to some rich old guy." She made a face and Cloud laughed.

"Good thing it's not your father's decision," he said, "But really, in ten years what do you picture yourself doing?" She thought for a moment.

"I kind of want to open a bar," she admitted. Cloud's eyebrows rose in surprise. "But like, a family-friendly one, you know? So I guess it would be more of a bar and grill." Cloud nodded.

"That sounds nice," he said, "I can see you doing that." She smiled at him, pleased. He swallowed suddenly and tried to keep his voice nonchalant. "So, say in ten years, when you've got your bar and grill up and running… Maybe I could swing by on my motorcycle and take you out to dinner after you close. I'm sure there will be something that's open all night." He kept his eyes staring straight ahead as he talked, trying not to look at her reaction.

She was quiet, and he finally risked a glance at her. She was smiling at him with a look that was half exhasperated and half pleased. "Cloud Strife," she said, and he shivered pleasantly at the sound of his name being said with her voice, "Are you asking me for a date in ten years?" He blushed.

"Maybe," he said, attempting to be casual but failing miserably, "I was talking about a hypothetical situation." She raised an eyebrow and he gulped. "Uh, but hypothetically speaking… Would you say yes?" She rolled her eyes.

"You're an idiot," she told him bluntly. He flinched slightly, and could almost hear the cracking sound of his heart breaking. Rejection was always a bitch, but even more so when it was coming from the girl you'd been in love with for most of your life.

Tifa leaned closer to him, forcing him to meet her eyes. She reached her hand up to touch his cheek. "I wasn't saying no," she told him softly, "All I meant was… Why wait ten years when we could just go on a date now?" His eyes widened.

"Really?!" he asked, too excited to even care about his voice cracking on the word. She laughed.

"Really!" she said, "I mean, I've been in love with you since we were eight years old. I don't think I could wait another ten years to go on a date with you." Cloud gaped at her.

"You love me?" he asked. She nodded, her cheeks covered in a blush. "Good," he said, "That makes me a lot more secure about saying that I've loved you since we were four." She laughed happily and threw her arms around him.

He hugged her for a long moment, relishing how perfect she felt in his arms and the way she hugged him back with equal fervor. It was the perfect moment.

"Cloud?" Tifa murmured. He hummed into hair. "You know, you also don't have to wait ten years to finally kiss me. Just in case you were wondering." He felt his heart race as he pulled away to smile down at her.

"Thanks for clarifying," he whispered before capturing her lips with his own.

She was still the prettiest girl he had ever seen.

A/N: Whoooa, so that is totally the fluffiest thing I've ever written. And probably will ever write. I guess I just needed to get it out of my system. Anyways, I've been reading a lot of pre-Final Fantasy VII stories lately, and I kind of fell in love with the idea of Awkward!Cloud. I just think the idea of him being in love with Tifa for practically his whole life was cute, so I made this little AU so that I write it out. It's my first Final Fantasy fic so if the characters are a little OOC I'm sorry... I'll work on it.

Please please PLEASE review! Pleeeeease!