AN: A pairing which I particularly enjoy, and which there isn't enough of! Hope you enjoy it, and don't worry, other updates are being worked on as well! (and happy birthday ShadowHaloedAngel) Any advice would really be welcomed.
Pairing: Tifa and Aerith
Warnings: Femslash, females kissing


Tifa liked wandering around the slums. It was strange. Most people despised it there, with all the squalor and dirt, but she didn't care. When she looked around, she saw resilience and strength, people determined to make a life no matter how harsh the hand they were dealt by life was. It was the opposite of her luxurious upbringing in the village of Niebelheim. As a child she had had money and fresh air and green spaces. The children here had no money, and only pollution and filth to play in. But they still played, and they smiled as they did so. It was inspirational.

As she walked through, she didn't feel frightened. She was more than capable of defending herself, and so she had no reason to worry. She smiled at the scruffy street urchins and the beggars, all dressed in muddy greys and greens and blues. The very air here was stained with dust, and it settled on all the residents. Even Tifa looked a little less than pure here in the slums. It was a total shock therefore to turn the corner and catch a glimpse of a young woman walking away, brown hair and pink dress radiating innocence and happiness. The woman turned, glimpsing over her shoulder and smiled at Tifa, her green eyes sparkling in the morning light, and a basket of flowers on her arm. Tifa felt her breath snatched away in wonder. Someone walked between them and the girl disappeared.

The next day, Tifa walked around the slums, going back to where she had caught a glimpse of that woman. She wasn't sure why she was coming back here, there was almost no chance that the girl would be in the same area, but she really wanted to see her again. She sat down on a low wall in the street that the other woman had been in. She gazed out at the street, feeling more than a little foolish for having returned to try and find someone who she had only glimpsed for a few seconds.

A few hours later, she was wondering if it was a mistake. She would probably be better off to leave now, but before she went, she watched some of the children playing in the street. She smiled as she watched, getting lost in their play, then frowned as someone sat down beside her, their hand resting on her leg. Her initial response was to turn around, with the intention of punching the seedy old man next to her, but she froze when she found herself faced with the feminine girl that she had seen the day before. The girl smiled at her and giggled, lifting her hand up to cradle the flower basket on her lap. She blushed slightly, and Tifa blinked, smiling at her.
"Hello…"

Tifa opened her mouth, trying to work out what to say, but the girl continued.
"I saw ya looking yesterday..." Tifa blushed and nodded, smiling.
"Hello...I'm sorry for staring, but you were so beautiful..." The flower girl blushed shyly.
"Thank you. I'm Aerith by the way." Tifa smiled, holding out her hand, and then kissing the back of Aerith's when it was offered.
"I'm Tifa, it is a pleasure to meet you." The flower girl giggled softly, and Tifa embraced her gently.

Aerith smiled, cuddling her before moving away.
"It's so nice to have someone come and say hi, normally it's just SOLDIER who want a few flowers for their girl." Aerith shrugged slightly. "I don' mind, I mean, the money's good, but I like having people to talk to."

Tifa paused, wanting to support the other, and also to make the other like her more.
"How much for a flowers?"
"For you? Three gil." Tifa pulled out her wallet and paid for the flower. Aerith smiled, selecting a pale blue blossom and sliding it into Tifa's hair, running her fingers through the dark brown hair. The two of them stared at each other with a faint blush.
"I...I'd better go on and sell more, maybe'll see ya soon..." With that she walked off, before Tifa had a chance to stay goodbye. She shouted it after her, and the girl turned back and waved.

***

Tifa hid in the alleyway, behind a pile of boxes and garbage bags. Her arm was cradled against her chest, a bullet lodged within the right arm's skin. She was almost screaming, but she forced herself to stay quiet, not wanting to draw any of ShinRa's troops to her, she knew that her best chance was to stay absolutely quiet. She was out of sight, and feet walked past her without ever acknowledging her presence or the pain she was in. A pink dress moved past her, with small blue shoes. They froze, then returned to her. She was worried that she had been spotted. She looked up, and found Aerith gazing back down on her. She smiled softly, and held out her hand. Tifa had taken it, and Aerith led her further into the alleyway. She sat her down, kneeling beside her.
"You're hurt, aren't you? Can I take a look?" Aerith reached out and placed her hand against the other's arm. Her hand glowed green, and the bullet fell out into her open palm. She closed her eyes, whispering to the lifestream as the energy flowed through her and into Tifa's arm. She smiled, lifting her hands away once she had healed her. "Is that better?"

Tifa nodded, flexing her arm, stunned that this had happened, and not just because of the other's use of magic. She had never believed that a girl like Aerith, someone who actually cared about her, could be found in the dirt of the slums. She smiled up at the flower irl.
"Why don't you come with me for dinner? It's the least I can do after all you've done for me."

Aerith smiled back, and followed Tifa back home to the Seventh Heaven. She had seen the place before, but had never stepped inside. Now she regretted not entering it earlier. It was nice to be here, when it was clean and friendly, and Tifa was so beautiful. Tifa embraced her, stroking the other's hair, and brought her a plate of her best food, closing the pub so that they could spend time alone.

Aerith was touched by that, feeling special. The other was treating her like a delicate flower, and she hadn't eaten for a few days. It wasn't that she hadn't had access to food, but she had ended up giving it away to some of the slum children, and so she ate the meal Tifa gave hungrily.

When the dinner was finished, Tifa took her hand, stroking it gently with calloused fingers.
"Aerith? Do you have anywhere to go tonight?" Aerith shook her head.
"I was planning to go to the church...I normally sleep there."

Tifa looked down, a shy blush on her face.
"Aerith, I... I've got a spare bed in my room. You can sleep there if you would like..." The flower girl nodded, and walked with Tifa up to her room, holding her hand.

The two of them sat down on the edge of Tifa's bed.
"You should sleep here, I'll have the camp bed." Tifa murmured, then blinked at the enthusiasm with which Aerith shook her head.
"I...I couldn't possibly!" Tifa smiled, cuddling her, glancing at her arm. The injury from earlier was entirely gone, thanks to Aerith's care.
"I insist." Tifa said firmly, and Aerith rolled her eyes but gave in to the other's demand.
"If I must..." Aerith wrapped her arms around Tifa's waist, nuzzling her.

Tifa looked down at the beautiful young woman, and was tempted to kiss her. She pushed that thought aside, holding Aerith gently.
"Thank you for your help." Aerith giggled, climbing into her lap, arms around the other's neck.
"I wasn't going to leave you like that..." She smiled, reaching into a pocket and pulling out a partially wilted flower. She brought it to her lips and blew on it, and the flower bloomed again. Aerith slipped it into Tifa's hair, and gazed into her eyes.

As one, they leant together, their lips brushing gently. They kissed with softness, each making sure that they didn't rush the other. Their arms were around each other, holding close, wanting to never be separated.

***

Tifa would never forget that night, or the few precious months that followed it as they worked together to save the world. Eventually, Tifa had been forced to realise that what they had had was always fragile, due to the tenderness and softness of her lover. Aerith had never stood a chance against Sephiroth's aggression and the fierce wound he inflicted with his sword. Though losing her lover had almost destroyed her, she wouldn't have given up a moment of their time together. Whilst it had been going on, their love had been unbreakable, eternal, and they had been truly alive. Tifa wouldn't give up hope though. Aerith was so connected to the lifestream, that Tifa was sure she would be waiting for her.