Chapter 1


"…And Cloud Strife comes up to the plate. He looks sharp and takes his stance like an eagle hunting his poor, defenseless prey. The pitcher throws the ball and-"

"Tidus, just pitch the ball already!" I yelled at him.

Tidus grunted, brushing a piece of dirty blonde hair out of his blue eyes. "Come on, I was only trying to set the mood!" He complained. His mood went from annoyed to serious in a split second. He drew back his hand and the baseball came flying at me.

The only thing I heard was the crack of the bat before I took off running. I saw a blur of white the ball flew threw the sky and Tseng went running to try to catch it, but failed. I stopped briefly at first and the ball was still way out there. I took off running to second base and Tseng threw the ball to Reno. Reno missed and Rude caught it as I tried to make the home stretch. I couldn't get out after I'd made it this far. I tripped over my feet and slid as Zack threw the ball. Dust kicked up and got into my eyes, during everything a dusty shade of yellow. When everything cleared, my foot rested on home and everyone on the field was dead silent.

"Safe!" Genisis called.

A chorus of cheers erupted from the girls and my team. Squall pulled me to my feet and high-fived me as Zack slapped me on my back, yelling out complements. I couldn't help but blush at the attention everyone was giving me. I smiled to myself as Tifa jumped off the bleachers and threw her arms around my neck.

"Nice job, Cloud," She whispered.

"Hey! What about us?" Tidus complained. "We almost won!"

"Thank you Tidus for…setting the mood and ALMOST wining," Rikku put ephisis on almost. "And nice epic win, Cloud." She high-fived me.

Before we begin, I bet you're wondering how I got so popular. Short answer: I didn't. It started off as me asking Zack if he wanted to play baseball with Squall, Reno, Rude, Tseng, Genisis, Angeal, and me. Genisis invited Sephiroth to join us, and then Zack invited his friend Tidus. Tidus decided to take along his girlfriend Yuna, who took her cousin, Rikku. Tseng felt bad, so he invited Elena to come join us, who brought along Tifa and Aerith. Whew, that was confusing. All you need to know is that it was a chain reaction.

After pretty much everyone cleared out, Zack, Tifa, Aerith, and I were walking through town with our usual chatter. The sun was setting on the last day of Thanksgiving break. It was unusually warm today for late fall, which was why we decided to play baseball. Not had changed since we became juniors, there was a rumor going around about the school getting some transfer students. I sure hope they aren't a bunch of jerky morons like the last groups of transfer students were. You guys remember Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo, right? Those were the jerky transfer students.

"Hey, Cloud. Where are you?" Tifa asked me.

I snapped out of my thoughts. "Nowhere, just bummed there isn't going to be nice weather for the next couple moths." I replied.

"And my garden is going to die." Aerith added with a sigh.

"Why are you guys such pessimists?" Zack complained. "Look on the bright side! Snowboarding's gonna start again and we'll have our annual snowball fights! And Tifa will join us!" Zack exclaimed.

"You're right on that one." I agreed.

We all fell silent after that. What else was there to say? As we walked down the gold-bathed sidewalk, crickets began to sing their beautiful song. By the time we reached my house, Aerith and Zack were already home. As the sun fell, bellow the horizon, turning the sky from gold, to purple, and then pitch black except for the glittering stars that shone above us. Tifa's beautiful eyes stared into mine for a brief second before she pecked a quick kiss on my lips.

"Nice job at bat today." She complemented.

"Thanks." I smiled at her.

"See ya tomorrow!" She called as she ran to her house across the street.

I watched her run into her house before I jogged into mine. I threw off my dirty clothes on threw on an over-sized Bon Jovi t-shirt and baggy pants. I climbed into bed and tried to fall asleep, but I couldn't help but wonder who these transfer students were. I usually wouldn't worry over something like this, but my gut was trying to tell me something. I had a feeling something good was going to happen but it was going to turn into something bad. Weird feeling, eh?

On Monday, everyone was up to their "How was Thanksgiving?" chatter. It was a pretty normal morning until I saw Aerith walk into the principal's office. I raised an eyebrow in confusion. What did she do wrong? Wait, what COULD she do wrong? I put off the thought and headed to first period.

It was the same, boring class until Aerith walked in almost twenty minutes late. The teacher almost started chewing her out, but then another girl walked in behind her. A couple of the pervy guys jokingly whistled as Aerith exchanged a few words with the teacher. The girl growled under her breath.

The girl was tall and had long slightly wavy pink hair that spiked in the front and blue eyes that shone the color of ice in the sunlight. She was wearing a red t-shirt under a white vest, black arm warmers, a pair of demin Capris, and black combat boots. A black zigzag armband was wrapped around her right arm and she figeted with her necklace. I guess you could call her pretty, in a fierce, army girl kind of way. The teacher scanned the room, trying to find a seat for her; I guess she was the new transfer student.

"Take a seat next to Mr. Strife, the spiky blonde one. Do you want to introduce yourself first, miss…?" He looked at the sheet of paper Aerith had given him. "Farron?"

"Just call me Lightning," She said firmly before she quickly walked to her seat to avoid embarrassment, like I would've.

Lighting, odd name for a girl. I assumed it was a nickname. The teacher continued to drone on about what the Nazi's did to the different races, as much I'd like to hear about torture, I would rather be in Spanish. I found myself glancing at Lighting every few seconds. I made it through first period by glancing at her basically every five minutes.

After the first half of the day was over, I headed to the usual spot where my group eats lunch. Yuffie was hanging of a tree branch upside down, Squall was chattering with Rude, Reno was attempting to flirt with Tifa, who looked extremely bored, and Aerith was sitting next to Lighting.

"Hey guys," I greeted as I sat between Reno and Tifa, mush to her delight.

"Wait! How about your eyes shine like a burning heart?" Reno asked, trying to sound attractive.

"You're about as funny as my friend, Snow, who's as funny as a dead pigeon," Lightning told him, looking annoyed to no end.

"Snow Villiers? The new transfer kid? He's in my History class!" Yuffie exclaimed. "Are you two from the same school?" She asked Lightning.

"Yeah, we're all from the city of Cocoon. Snow is a friend of mine, Serah Farron is my younger sister, and Hope Esteim is another friend. Serah and Hope are freshman and Snow is a junior along with Fang and I," She explained briefly.

"Fang? Who names their son Fang?" Reno raised an eyebrow.

"Fang's a girl, and don't say that to her face. She'll beat into a bloody pulp if you do." Lightning replied.

Silence fell over us as we nibbled on our lunch. Not very much worth mentioning happened for the rest of the period, except that Zidane Tribal paid us a visit and now I have the feeling I'm missing something. If there was a world-class stealing contest, Zidane would easily win…but such a thing doesn't exist so I'm going to safely assume he'll be working as a spy for the FBI when he's older. At the end of lunch, I gathered up my stuff and headed to calculus with Tifa.

The other half of the day carried on with little activity. The only that happened in Science was Professor Hojo nearly blew up the science lab. Now THAT was funny! We were experimenting with how chemicals react with each other and he accidentally mixed to dangerous ones together and wha-la, his desk burst into flames. But thankfully, Tidus was nearest to the fire extinguisher and put out the fire, and covered Hojo in white. But I guess he forgave him, only because the lab would've burnt down if he hadn't grabbed it.

After school, I headed to fencing practice. The team has actually grown pretty large since last year. Now we had Zidane and Rufus along with everyone else. Angeal and Sephiroth graduated, so that left Genisis in charge of the team. The team carried out with its usual practice, until Lightning and another girl walked in. She had long, messy black hair and green eyes with purple claw-shaped earrings dangling from her ears. She was wearing a black tank top under a dark blue V-neck tank top, black Capris with a dark blue bandana tied around her hip, and black sandals.

"Hey Lightning," I greeted as I took off my fencing helmet. "What's up?"

"Is it too late to join the fencing team?" She asked as she pulled out and Epee, I didn't see that coming.

"…But you guys are just girls, you'll crush the school's self esteem if another school sees girls during a tournament," Reno signed.

Lightning's friend stamped over to Reno, grabbed him by the shirt collar and pulled his face to her's. "What did you just say?" She demanded. "Is that a challenge?" She growled, her voice having an Austrian-sounding accent to it.

Reno backed up and pulled out his Epee. "Yeah, one-on-one, you and me," Oh crap, this going to be a sword fight and not a fencing match.

The rest of us sat down on the bleachers as Lightning handed her friend the Epee. She whispered something in her ear before the black-haired girl stood facing Reno. Genisis sighed in annoyance as he glanced at the two competitors, this could get either really amusing or really dangerous. I'm placing my money on Reno, this girl's probably all bark but no bite.

"Begin!" Genisis cried taking a couple steps back.

Reno took a few steps towards the girl but she backed up as well. Reno grinned and tried to swing his Epee at her, but she back up just in time. The girl inched forward before she swung at Reno, but he blocked it again. The girl tried to slash her Epee at him, but Reno jumped back just in time. Reno attempted to slash at her, but she blocked it and countered with a swing. Reno jumped back again his grin fading as he saw this girl's ability.

The girl tried to jab at Reno but he blocked and attempted to jab at her. She jumped back and almost succeeded in jabbing Reno but he jumped back and tried to jab at her. She ducked for a second before she swung her Epee at Reno, who easily dodged. Reno growled under his breath and jabbed at her again, but she sidestepped and swung her Epee at him but he dodged swiftly again. Man, for a girl she's pretty good. I wondered if Lightning was just as good or possibly even better.

Reno attempted to jab at her once last time, but the girl jumped back. Reno was defiantly mad at this girl now, he swung his Epee at her but she blocked it. The girl pushed against Reno's Epee, causing him to lose his grip on it and it clattered to the floor. The girl lightly jabbed at his chest and smirked, obviously satisfied with herself. Genisis looked a little surprised himself; she was better than he thought she was too.

"Am I on the team or what?" The girl asked Genisis.

Genisis pulled out his notebook and a pencil. "And what's your name and your friend's name?"

"I'm Fang, Fang Oerba and my friend is Lightning Farron," The girl replied.

Genisis raised an eyebrow. "…Can you spell that for me?" He wondered.

Fang nodded and the rest of practice continued. Reno just sulked in the corner for the rest of practice, I guess his pride was locked in a freezer, thrown off a cliff, and eaten by sharks…poor guy. After practice, I headed home with Tifa walking beside me. We didn't really have much to talk about, but Tifa met another one of the transfer students after school. Her name was…Vanilla or something like that.

"Her name's not Vanilla! It's VANILLE! E not A!" She corrected, laughing to herself.

I laughed too. "Well, I'll see you tomorrow. Bye!"