Note: If you've seen this story before, don't worry. I'm not copying "lolitaxox". That was my old account, but I forgot the password so I made a new one. Anyway, this is the new edited version. Chapter two will be up soon after I revise it and stuff. Thanks for understanding. Ciao :)

: : : : : : : :

FFVII : Advent Aftermath
By murder kaori

~A sequel to FFVII: Advent Children

: : : : : : : :

Chapter I

Cloud yawned, leaning back on Fenrir. It was getting late. Where the heck was Tifa? She said she'd only be a second. But seconds turned to minutes, which turned into to an hour. Okay, maybe he was over-exaggerating. A little. Forty-five minutes tops. But still, it was probably somewhere in the midnight hour and she was nowhere to be found.

By the time Aeris and Zack left the church earlier that day, all the geostigma was just about healed. Cloud returned his attention back to all the kids surrounding and cheering for him, and smiled. Then he looked at his friends. Tifa, Barret, Yuffie, Cid, Red XII, Cait Sith and Vincent. Up until that moment, he'd thought of them just as associates. Well not Tifa. Tifa had been his best friend for years and nothing could ever change that. But he'd realized that the others really were his friends, and really did care. They'd been through a lot together.

Cloud felt a soft touch on his shoulder, then a familiar voice say, "Sorry, Cloud." He yawned again. Tifa leapt over Fenrir so that she and Cloud were side by side leaning on it. "I got a little caught up."

"You did, huh?" Cloud didn't look at her, but he knew she was about to speak again. "Yeah. I can't find one of the kids.." Tifa's voice was slightly troubled. "You remember that girl with the moogle doll?" Her spiky-haired friend didn't respond. "The one with the pigtails, Cloud."

Cloud thought for a moment. Moogle doll. Pigtails. He vaguely remembered a little brunette girl talking to him just before he saw Aeris and Zack.

"Oh, her." He finally said.

Tifa looked at him, frowning a little. "I can't find her. I'm scared."

"Are you sure you didn't already take her home, Tifa?" Cloud looked back at her. Her wine-colored eyes were starting to water. She shook her head. "All the kids that didn't get home with their parents were orphans, but they're at the orphanage." She paused. "Her name was…Nadine."

Cloud nodded. He reached into his pocket and retrieved his phone to check the time. 12:34am. He yawned. What was the big deal? She probably was staying somewhere. But Tifa just had to be so compassionate…

"If you're so tired, you can go home." Tifa muttered, rather coldly. She noticed how annoyed Cloud was becoming by her persistence, and it mildly hurt her feelings.

Cloud crossed his arms. "How will you get home?"

"I'll call Barret to come pick me up."

Tifa bit her lip and slowly glanced in the blond's direction. He looked the way he always looked: unconcerned. She could tell he probably didn't care less about Nadine's whereabouts. But what he said next surprised her.

"No, I'll stay." Cloud said, smiling gently at her. "I'd be pissed if of something happened to you." He boarded Fenrir. Returning the smile, Tifa got on behind him and gripped his waist.

As he drove down the headlight-lit road, he turned back to Tifa. "Any places you haven't looked yet Tifa?" Tifa giggled lightly against his neck. He blushed. "I think I looked just about everywhere.." she said. And she was right; she'd practically turned Edge upside down. No Nadine. Then she did again with Cloud. Still no Nadine.

It was two in the morning when they returned home—empty-handed of course. Tifa had fallen asleep against Cloud's back, and the feeling of her chest heaving against him was making him blush the whole ride home.

Cloud parked Fenrir and looked over his shoulder. He'd almost accidentally caught Tifa's lips with his own; he hadn't realized she was that close.

"Hey…" He whispered to her, "We're home."

Slowly, Tifa began to open her eyes. She blinked a couple of times to fully wake herself and then sat up straight from her leaning position. "Already?" She asked through a yawn. Cloud just nodded and let Tifa get off before he did the same. Together they made their ways to the basement entrance to Seventh Heaven.

The first thing Cloud noticed when they entered was Denzel and Marlene slumped down on the counter, fast asleep. He heard Tifa let out a small gasp of surprise. She turned to him. "Do you think they tried to wait up for us?"

Cloud nodded. "Probably." He stood awkwardly by the door while Tifa moved to wake the two children. His eyes drifted to the pink bow in Marlene's hair. Aeris…

No. He wasn't going through this again. Aeris had already promised him that everything was alright. Nothing was ever going to go wrong again, and he needed to get over her. Well…not get over her, but learn to accept her death.

"Cloud," Tifa whimpered slightly and beckoned him over. Denzel rubbed his eyes, hopping down from the barstool. He let out a small yawn, which caused Tifa to do the same. "You're finally home! Where were you guys?"

The brunette woman smiled and placed a finger over her lips to signal the boy to talk a little quieter. Marlene was still sleeping. "We had to take care of a few things. I'm sorry you two had to wait up." Denzel just shook his head and yanwed again. "No, no. It's fine. I just wanted to see you and Cloud again before I went to bed." With a tired smile, the boy tilted his head. "And now that I did, goodnight Tifa."

"Goodnight, Denzel." The brunette leaned down and kissed the orphan's forehead lovingly, then gave him a little tug on the cheek. "I'll be up to tuck you in when I get Marlene." She smiled and made soft circles around Marlene's back, who was still asleep.

Cloud blushed when Denzel said goodnight to him. He managed to mutter a quick 'sleep well,' knowing the kid probably wanted more than that. But that was really all he could give him right now. He had other things on his mind.

"She must've really strained herself to stay awake." Tifa frowned and looked to her childhood friend. "Cloud, can you carry Marlene upstairs? I don't want to wake her up."

The blonde let out an inaudible sigh, but found the young girl in his arms nonetheless. He felt her breathing against his chest. It was a little…soothing.

After laying Marlene on her bed and watching Tifa wrap the quilts over each of the children, then kissing their foreheads, Cloud walked into his room. It was a little foreign at first—he was rarely ever in it—but his bed was neatly made and the room was clean. Tifa must've made her rounds in here, because Cloud noted that he couldn't locate a speck of dust anywhere.

Eventually Cloud found himself a black t-shirt and gray sweatpants. He threw them on and climbed into his slightly hard bed. He figured the springs weren't used to his weight; he was always sleeping in the pews in Aeris's church.

The sound of dishing clanking together down in the bar and the light conversations between Yuffie and Tifa was what Cloud heard the last few minutes before he let sleep come and seize him.

: : : : : : : :

Note: If you enjoyed it please review. I wrote this story back in '08, so old fans, please tell me how you like the new and improved version.