*warning. Though this chapter claims to be long, it is really just the author's note at the bottom. Apologies!

Beginnings of Friendships

Serah POV

Yuffie continued to pull me down an empty dusty road with Tifa, Nanaki, Cait Sith, Denzel, and Marlene running ahead of us while Cid and Vincent trailed behind us looking around very often, Cid with his lance out and held tightly in his gloved hand, and Vincent with his scarlet red cape swishing around him where his rifle was hidden.

'I have to go back!' I shouted for what was probably the tenth time as I pathetically tried to wrench my hand out of Yuffie's shockingly strong hold.

'No way!' Yuffie exclaimed, tugging on my wrist which nearly resulted in me tripping over my own feet.

'I have to! Claire – she – what if -' I spluttered, tears welling up in my eyes as thoughts and images of a critically wounded Claire sprung to my mind. I tried yanking my wrist out of Yuffie's hand again. I couldn't lose Claire! I couldn't!

I felt Yuffie stop as I bumped into her arm and staggered back a few steps, the other girl's hand still firmly wrapped around my wrist. Blinking tears out of my eyes I raised my head and jumped a little at how close Yuffie's face was to mine.

'Hey, don't you trust us?' she asked in an accusing tone, tilting her head to the side as I regained my balance.

'O-of course,' I replied, still a little teary as I sniffled. I couldn't get the images of Claire injured out of my mind...

'Then stop your worrying!' she chirped, standing up straight, giving me a mischievous grin and a thumbs up with her free hand. 'If you trust us, then you'll trust that Cloud and Barrett will be able to handle them!' Yuffie paused for a second, looking thoughtful. 'Right?'

I looked at Yuffie, smiling slightly. 'Hic, I guess you're right ...' I muttered, watching in amusement as a wide victorious grin spread across the black haired girl's face.

'Hah!' she exclaimed loudly and triumphantly. 'I knew it!'

'OI! Get a move on, will ya?' bellowed Cid angrily.

Yuffie and I blinked, confused when we realised that Cid and Vincent were no longer behind us, but very much in front of us. Yuffie rolled her eyes and waved her hand dismissively at him.

'Yeah, yeah, keep your trousers on.' She said, before grinning back at Serah and breaking into a sprint, waving at me in a mischievous manner.

My jaw dropped as I saw the black haired girl speed away, catching up to Cid and Vincent (who were still running after Tifa and the others) in a few seconds.

'H-hey!' I shouted at them, tears no more. 'W-wait up!' I instantly began to sprint after them, my skinny legs protesting after a few measly seconds where I didn't seem to be making progress. Curse my frail limbs! I thought through gritted teeth as I forced myself to catch up with them.

I managed to catch up to the others after we entered some type of trash yard, where piles of debris and trash towered over them dangerously as a large stone church came into view. When the others began to slow down and walk up to it, I thankfully decreased my running to jogging, and nearly tumbled into an indifferent Vincent.

'Still looks the same,' I heard Tifa breathe before she looked around and ushered everyone inside she turned to face me expectantly, making me realise it was only Tifa and I in the trash yard-like place. 'Ready?' she asked with a soft smile, gesturing with her head to the doors of the church, which appeared to be almost in shambles, one of the doors hanging off by a hinge while chunks of stone wall was missing.

I opened my mouth to reply but found myself still out of breath, before falling to the dirty ground on my rear.

'Ugh ...' I panted, closing my eyes and shaking my head, trying to clear the fatigue. C'mon, get up already! Tifa's going to think you're a wimp! 'Which you are!' a voice in my head shot back in an annoyed tone.

'Serah? Are you alright?' I heard Tifa ask, her concern clear as day to me. I heard her footsteps come closer to me until I could sense her presence beside me.

'Nnn...' was all I could say as I continued to try and catch my breath and looking fixedly at the ground. This was embarrassing.

I heard Tifa chuckle lightly.

'Not used to running this much?' she asked lightly.

A defeated laugh escaped my throat. I could feel Tifa's quizzical gaze on me.

'No,' I finally responded, still staring at the dirt as I shook my head. 'I'm the one who's too weak and skinny to do anything all the time.' I said bitterly, the words escaping my lips before I could stop them.

A warm hand touched my shoulder.

'Don't worry,' said Tifa. I could practically hear the smile in her voice. 'Not everyone is meant to be super strong.'

I thought of Yuffie, and how the girl was probably a little younger than I was, and how much more energy and most likely strength she possessed. Almost as if she had read my mind, Tifa added, 'Yuffie is the daughter of the leader of Wutai. She grew up in a dojo and trained to be a ninja, and I'm assuming you grew up under different circumstances,' I turned to look at Tifa, a little surprised to see her squatted down beside her with a serious expression on her face. 'You don't need to be strong, fast, energetic, or anything like that to live properly. I mean, look at Denzel and Marlene. They're not as strong as Cloud, fast as Ninaki, or energetic as Yuffie -' Tifa frowned at the last part, seeming to be debating about whether or not Yuffie was more energetic than the two younger children. 'But they still accomplish a lot of things!' she finished, smiling proudly.

I thought for a moment, and then nodded, agreeing with her.

'Great.' Smiled Tifa before standing up again and extending her hand to me. 'Lets get inside before the others start to worry ... though,' Tifa looked around and narrowed her eyes triumphantly at a large plank of wood that was leaning against one of the large towers of debris as I took her hand and she pulled me up. 'I think they already know we're safe.'

I frowned. 'What do you mean?'

Tifa gave me a sideways glance, smiling slightly before snapping, 'Denzel! Marlene! Yuffie! Out!'

I jumped, surprised at how sudden Tifa's voice had raised and then watched with a dumbfounded expression as the three eavesdroppers popped out of their hiding place between the wooden board and the debris.

'Awww, how'd you see us?' demanded Denzel sulkily while Marlene looked guilty at being caught. Yuffie, however looked rather confused as she frowned at us.

'You're upset that you're not like us?' asked Yuffie, cocking her head to the side.

I bit my lip. 'Well, er ...'

'I can train you!' the black haired girl suddenly exclaimed, looking rather triumphant for some reason as she placed her hands on her hips and beamed proudly at me.


'I can train you!' she repeated, still grinning. 'I trained myself, after all! And I'm the Great Ninja Yuffie from Wutai! You can't even think about saying no!'

I blushed slightly, though I felt a smile spread across my face.


'Of course! However, it'll come at a small fee ...' my heart fell.

'I don't have any money though ...' I said sadly as I saw Yuffie's stance falter.

'Materia?' she asked, hopefully.

I shook my head.

'Yuffie, she's not from here, remember?' scowled Tifa.

Yuffie frowned a little. 'Oh. Yeah. Darn. I'll still train you though!' she said, grin plastered back on her face.

'Thank you so much!' I exclaimed, just as the loud screeching of tires on a rough surface filled the yard. Everyone whipped around to see a large black motorcycle speeding towards us, a man with spiky blond hair driving it as a bulky man sat behind him, a woman with pink hair in his arms – I froze.


The motorcycle came to a stop a few meters from me and Tifa, and everyone instantly darted towards them once they spotted my unconscious sister.

'What's wrong with her?' Tifa and I demanded at the same time as the two men dismounted the sleek motorcycle.

'Nothing.' Cloud answered simply, his eyes flashing to Tifa as he pulled his keys out of the engine.

'What Spiky here means to say is, your sis went psycho again and I had to knock her out.' Barrett explained as I approached him a little hesitantly. His arms were the size of me, and his clothing was ripped and torn, looking too small for his frighteningly muscular body.

'What happened?' gasped Marlene as she stood beside Tifa, clutching her apron slightly. At first I thought it was out of fear but I noticed she did without seeming to realise it, meaning it was probably a habit of hers.

'Er, nothin' you need ta know, Marlene.' Barrett replied a little awkwardly as Lightning hung limp in his arms. I took the opportunity to examine her.

Barrett and Cloud seemed to be telling the truth, for the only things out of place on her and her attire was the fact that her hair seemed very tousled, and her clothing had large stains of blood on it. I spotted her beloved gun blade in its holster. My stomach churned a little as I saw drops of blood rolling off of it slowly.

'How'd you knock her out?' I asked the burly man.

Barrett gave me an apologetic look. 'Cloud had to tackle her to the ground to stop her from givin' the last blow to one o' the grunts. They were wrestlin' after I took 'em all out so I kicked her in the head.'

'God damn it!' growled a voice from behind me. I turned in surprise to see Cid glowering at Claire. 'Should've friggen' stayed with 'em ...' he grumbled as he gave Barrett a envious glare before turning and storming back into the church, swearing the whole way.

'Evidentially, he's still very perturbed at Lightning.' Ninaki said after a moment of silence.

'Aye!' agreed Cait Sith, lying down on Ninaki's back lazily.

Tifa stepped around me and extended her arms out to Barrett. 'I'll take Lightning, for now.' She said smiling slightly. 'You go rest up.'

Barrett handed my sister over to Tifa, who carefully held her bridal style but kept Claire's head on her shoulder. I smiled thankfully at the long haired woman.

'No point as those grunts were easy as hell to take out, but will do.' Said Barrett before walking past me and into the church.

'What're we going to do now, Tifa?' Denzel asked as he watched Marlene run after Barrett.

'We're going to rest up a bit here, then we're going to go on a little adventure. Okay?' asked Tifa, smiling down at the young boy.

Denzel seemed a little curious, but nodded and chased after Marlene.

I looked around, realising that Yuffie and Cloud were no longer in sight, and neither were Ninaki and Cait Sith. As Tifa began to walk towards the church with Claire still in her arms, I asked, 'How far are you guys going to follow me and Claire for?'

Tifa kept walking, and just as she reached the large doors to the church, I heard her call back, 'Until you're both safe.' And then she disappeared into the church.

I stared at where the older woman had been a second longer before jogging after her.

We'll never be safe. We're l'Cie, after all. I thought sadly.

Meh, this was kind of just a filler chapter, I suppose. I wanted to write what Serah thought her weaknesses were whilst beginning to build the foundation of Serah's relationships with the others - after all, she's much more trusting than her sister, who will probably take forever to bond with the others. Anyways, I wanted to update this quickly, just because I haven't done so for ages. Was everyone too OOC here? Sheez, I went to read a million fics last night FF13 based, and started to remember how to portray everyone ... and then the only FF13 character I actively include is Serah. And the fics I read last night weren't even about her, because all I could find was Farroncest and nothing I could really use for her and the FF7 characters.

Did I write Tifa too friendly? Barrett too weirdly? Yuffie too ... I don't even know ? Blah. And there was so much dialogue in this one too ;_; *sigh*. I'm hoping the next chapter will be back in Gran Pulse, but maybe not since that's what got my writers block to kick in about a year ago. Chapter 8 was supposed to be on Gran Pulse I think and then I had to change it back to Claire and Serah cause I couldn't think of anything -.-


And I will take this time to do something rare for me. REPLY! This will now be a very long note.


BiJane; Chapter 7:

To be 100% honest, I don't know if I PM-ed you a reply, or even what I wrote in Chapter 7. I know all the major details, like Lightning goes beserk (I think?) and ... wait, nevermind. I just typed a dozen things then deleted them second-guessing myself. I have to re-read my own story D: I shall try to answer these though.

1. Yep, I actually may change their parentage, since I only chose them based on their personalities, appearence, and last second thinking. i.e Ashe kind of looks like Light and Serah, ever so slightly. Plus she's spunky and a rebel and all things similar to Lightning. Auron is distant, also similar to Lightning. ...Thinking back, I pretty much based them on Lightning. Oh well.

2. Cloud saw Lightning's brand? ...I have to think now. Didn't he see Serah's brand when the cloth fell off of her arm? I. AM. SO. CLUELESS. THis is terrible. Ugh.

I know the answer to this one!
Cloud knows not of GC, for his and Lightning's worlds have never really crossed, right? But Lightning and Serah managed to pass through it. Same with the Lindblum or whatever its called. Hmmm *ponders that* I know I worded that weirdly, but that is how my brain works ... unfortunately.

Yes! Matchmaking Serah. Baha, yes, I wonder who I got it from. Hm.

Thank you, I was worried I wrote her too preppy, but then I remembered she was always preppy ... in a rebellious way. Did I really? Fantastic. I always think I over-describe people in my stories.

Darn it, I'm notcing I miss a lot of ltters -that was on purpose.

& baha, you should be scared :)

And I wasn't expecitng this reply to be so long ... gah

Scarecrow Sasaki Doom; Chapter 7:

Really? I kind of like Lightning's, though Serah's is a bit better I think ... I just went full circle. Wow.

Thanks, I see it in a ton of other fics, so I decided to use it too ... argh! I keep thinking it's with an 'i' ... blah. Time to go and re-write a ton of stuff.

Phoenixian Stardust; Chapter 7:

For spoiler purposes, I am forced to say: (: You shall find out in time. THat is, if you're still into FFXIII and this story.

True, but when you think about it, how would Light know? Fang aside, I just thought she might be shocked it worked - new place, new situatio, new faces, strange pains, faded l'Cie brand-then suddenly something familiar appears (besides Serah) and that is her magic. I dunno, maybe it's just me.

I will, it must be terribly confusing not knowing what's going on right now ... yeck. Lucky me xD & I think that shall happen soon ...

Tsuki Rae; Chapter 7:

Ahhhdfsafjfljdsfljs. I keep getting 'Nanaki' and 'Ninaki' confused. So. Peeved. I get them mixed up :l

And if you're still into FFXIII and this story, you shall see the new updates PLUS this reply. Two wins!

yukihikari99; Chapter 7:

Blah. My wording is weird sometimes xD And thank you!

HiddenChaser; Chapter 7:

Thank you, and if you're still in to FFXIII and this fic then you shall see the update and this reply ..

Azalie-Kauriru; Chapter 7:

Fantastic! Thank you :) Hopefully you're still into FFXIII and this fic!

Taeninaea; Chapter 7:

Why thank you. :)

fujingodofwind; Chapter 8:

I have, at long last! Hopefully you'll see this upate!

Poruporu; Chapter 7:

Hiya! Bahaha, thank you very much :)That boosts my self-esteem in the writing world.

Yes it is! Which was the whole point obviously, but yesh! Haha, yes she does do the 'fight/bully' thing in 13, but not to this extent which makes you worry - usually it would've been a nice, good, Lightning beating, but this was uncontrollable and had murder intent. Same here! Well, in 13 at least. I have to say my overall favourite FF character is none other than Tifa Lockheart.

Farroncest? Meh, I don't mind it, FLight is one of my favourites in the world of XIII. But this story won't become a Farroncest, but merely a strong bond between two sisters :)

Welp, I hope you're still into FFXIII and this fic then! It has been updated as you can see _

Harteramo; Chapter 8:

Brilliant! Thank you! :) Hopefully you're still into FFXIII and this story, because I plan on updating more!

Greykeys; Chapter 7:

I almost decided to abandon this story. But then I purchased FF Dissidia 012 and it got me back into FF! I forgot how awesome the characters and plot are. *sigh*

Meh, I was going to do a CloudxLightning, but decided against it as you most probably read, though this won't be a Farroncest either.

I shall message you now, actually, and make you aware of the fact this fic has started up again :)

Nessa671; Chapter 7:

Working on it! Though, since you reviewed last there's been 2new chapters ,,... :)

Stef; Chapter 7:

Thank you! And I have and hopefully wil continue to do so!

ziel101; Chapter 7:

Haha, really? That's brilliant! Thank you! Baha, I'm actually good with Light being paired with anyone ... as long as it's reasonable. OH. And not with Sazh. Ugh, ew, gag.

Hopefully I shall stay on task this time around :) & thanks! I personally think its too unorganised and descriptive, but, as long as you enjoy it!

Noiz; Chapter 7:

Thank you! Baha, don't worry, there wont be one more chapter then BAM. Finis. Nah, this will probably be very. very. very. long *starts to cry* I'm kidding :p

Bahaha, though I don't mind Farroncest, this story won't have any. I can read incest and feel fine, but writing it ... eh. I dunno really. Everyone's perspective is different :) especially when you change the plot almost 100%.

Really? Thanks!

HiddenChaser; Chapter 8:

Nyaeh Guilt attack. Hopefully I'll be able to update more often!

Poroporu; Chapter 8:

Gah, your welcome!

Same here actually. Originally I was just making the story up as I went along, but I've planned things out -slightly- now, meaning there hopefully won't be year-long delays anymore!

Haha, oh the glorious notifications :p Must've been shocking when you saw THE WAR OF L'CIE, SHINRA, AND SANCTUM NEW CHAPTER+ appear in your inbox. Gah, guilt attack! x,x

BiJane; Chapter 8:

Yay, another Yuffie lover :D People tend to dislike her for some reason ... :l Darn, I really need some feedback on their OOC or non-OOC personas right now. Mhm, I think Yuffie is the only one I portrayed perfectly in the last chap ... oh well. And yep! She's going to be the comedy relief in this, I reckon. Her and maybe Cid. Yup, Cid. Cid and his hatred towards Lightning. Maybe.

Yeah I re-read 8 and thought I over described that .. .unfortunately i was on mobile and could do nothing.

Still? That doesn't deserve an '-.-' but an ':D'! I still have my old readers. Yay. And thank you :)

GazerBlitz; Chapter 8:

Hullo there! Unfortunately, I cannot tell you due to spoilers and the fact that I don't exactly know yet ... -.- I make the story as I go along usually. Though I have ideas. And new readers are always welcomed :) So welcome!

Bwahaha, thank you! And you got your wish ... an update AND a reply! (last part wasnt in your wish but oh well. ..)

Serah; Chapter 7:

Fantastic! Thank you :)

Meh, I know. Probably over did that part a smidge. Oh well. And true, Cloud's more closed off, distant, guilt-ridden, and hesitant while Light's very confident and all ... but they're both quiet, reserved ... and that's all I can think of at the current moment.

I think they do look kinda alike. Search on Google Images and see if you can pull up a comparison ... they look pretty similar to me. Oh wells.


Anyways, if I didn't reply to you it's not cause I don't like you or anything like that, but I decided to go with the more current ones. And a page and a half of reviews seemed like a good amount to reply to.

Again, I apologise for the delay and I'm probably going to have to message everyone that reviewed back so that they'll know this was updated - I have changed my pen name multiple times, after all.

R&R Please! Anything is welcomed!

-Lightning OUT.

P.S Should Tifa or Yuffie be closest to Serah besides Light? They both have their advantages and all. I dunno.