Yeah well, I had this old, old fanfic for these two...and I recently started getting back into it, and RPing it with a friend. XD And now, the interest has ignited. So I rewrote what I had, changed some stuff, and have a huge whopping of a first chapter for everyone. Don't know if anyone will like it but whatever. I enjoy crack pairings from time to time if done tastefully. XD So enjoy! Please give me some feedback so I can continue this story. x.x and won't lose interest. God FORBID I abandon yet another story.
Disclaimer: I do not own Loz (though I wish I did), Tifa or any characters. Or Final Fantasy VII, its movie Advent Children or anything corresponding to the game/movie/characters. Thank You!
Chapter 1 : The Angel of 7th Heaven
The skies were dreary over the thriving city of Edge. Twice, calamity had struck the unfortunate city and both times the citizens persevered. Those wounded would heal, decimated buildings were rebuilt, and the people then carried on as they always did. The people of Edge were a resilient sort, who didn't let anything dash their hopes and beliefs. One of Edge's best examples was Tifa Lockhart, who never lost her faith in Cloud and always kept up her hopes that better days would come. It was taking some time for things to return to some form of normality, and a few setbacks had occurred. This didn't deter the stubborn, young woman however, and she continued to live her life happily in her bar and take care of Marlene and Denzel.
The bar was empty usually during noon. In a slow time like this, Tifa would be cleaning glasses, bringing up bottles from the cellar and spend time with the children. It gave her joy that after the defeat of those silver haired men and Sephiroth, that things in Edge were finally seeming to calm down. Though, Cloud was becoming distant again. He would disappear for a week or two, but he did always call or check in personally. It was better than nothing Tifa had concluded. She wanted to smother him and let him know she deeply cared, but she als o knew this might drive him away. She always had let him know she cared, but gave him his space when he needed it. What else could she do? Even when Cloud took off for a week or more, Denzel was happier to see that Cloud at least did come back to spend time with them...and with the eradication of Geostigma, things seemed much...much less stressful and forebearing.
"Denzel! Where did Marlene go?" Tifa called to Denzel upstairs. The young boy came running down the stairs, a smile on his face. "I think she went out to play with the kids down the street. It's ok! We go there all the time!" Denzel assured a worried Tifa. The glass Tifa was cleaning was set down as she nodded with a smile, trusting Denzel's reply. Marlene too, she noticed, was happier. The happy family she wished to have given them from the start. This was how things should have been a long time ago. Tifa let Denzel behind the bar to a small fridge for a juice. Once Denzel selected a box of cold apple juice, he stood beside Tifa and looked up to her with questioning eyes. There was a burning, itching question he wanted answered and only she would know...most of the time.
"When's Cloud coming back?" Denzel asked, no longer able to control himself. Tifa paused as she was reaching for a mug to dry off and turned to Denzel. The last she had talked to Cloud was three days ago. He was traveling across the desert surrounding the city to make a delivery. He did say he'd be back in a few days, but she didn't know if that meant two or seven. With him, it was always a guessing game. Tifa mustered the best smile she had to offer to Denzel.
"He said a couple of days. I'm sure he'll stay a few days when he comes back and show you his sword again, " she promised. There was no disappointment on the boy's face cause he knew Cloud would be coming back this time. Cloud had been making his visits frequently so when Tifa told him a couple of days, the young child's eyes lit up and he blindly believed her. It would be a reason for excitement to build up for the next few days.
Everything hurt. From head down to the toes, almost every individual nerve ending was picking up on the body's injuries and damage. Why did he hurt so much? Loz couldn't figure out where he was...was he in the Lifestream? Was being in the Lifestream suppose to hurt this much, to where it was unbearable? The remnant tried to force his finger to lift but that only intensified the pain, and sent stronger surges of agony through his body. Completely immobile...the poor man's mind raced through his last thoughts and memories. There had been a large explosion...he remembered intense heat, the pain as it ripped through his body in a hurricane force. Still, he and Yazoo had the strength enough to get up and avenge their brother, Kadaj. who they saw die in Cloud's arms...if his little brother was going to be taken, then Cloud would be too along with himself and Yazoo. Once he felt himself dissipate, and carried up to the Lifestream, did he finally feel...better. Floating in the Lifestream, void of pain, distress and thought, came a beautiful, angelic voice...Loz...this is not your time yet...but don't take you second chance lightly...Mother is fine. Rest and relax. Be yourself and live your own life, the dreamy voice told him. The silver haired remnant listened peacefully, lulled by the sweet voice. Was it Mother's voice? She sounded so kind and gentle.
"Mn..." Loz groaned softly, his green, mako eyes slowly opening. Voices echoed inside Loz's head, and could have sworn he heard a scream or two. The surroundings were unusual. Grey concrete and soft, muddy, black dirt surrounded him in the hole he laid in. above him was a slate grey sky with soft swirls of white. Drops of rain fell upon his face as the sky rumbled with thunder. Loz willed himself against all the pain to sit up. This single motion robbed him of the little strength he possessed. He balanced his elbows on his knees and hung his head down, feeling nauseated and lightheaded. He paid no attention to the panicking civilians around him. As he glanced around, he noticed he was the only one of his brothers here. Where was Yazoo and Kadaj? Why was he the only one Mother granted a chance at life again? It wasn't fair. His brothers should have earned the same privilege, or he should have stayed dead just as they were. Loz lifted his head carefully and trained his eyes on an establishment not far from the edge of the ruined street. The sign above the building's door swayed gently, 7th Heaven carved into it. What an odd name for a place...
The ground had quaked and the mugs rattled as both Denzel and Tifa heard a loud crash outside the homely bar. Tifa's demeanor grew more serious as she pulled out her leather gloves and tugged them onto her slender hands. Intuition and personal experience told her this incident would bring catastrophic trouble. The screams that pierced the air only confirmed her worries. Marlene was still out there too...
"Denzel! Get upstairs and stay there!" she ordered. The boy ran upstairs without delay and locked himself into his room. Tifa gathered her courage and approached the bar's closed front door and rested her hand on the handle. She paused. Eyes drew down in concern as she felt her body stop, hesitant to open the door...as if doing so was going to change her life as she knew it. A deep breath calmed her nerves as Tifa opened the door. It could not be so bad. As she opened the door, she was met with a fine cloud of dust hanging in the air. People were scrambling to get away from the crater in the middle of the normally busy street. A figure slowly rose from the hole, stumbling to steady itself. As the dust began to settle, Tifa stared in horror at the man. The leather clad, silver haired man had locked sinister green eyes on her, a truly wicked grin gracing his lips.
"YOU," she growled, crouching down into a defense position, presenting her fists. The man was obviously in pain, but he was intent on engaging in a fight. The metal device on his arm opened, its prongs generating a line of crackling electricity. Loz hadn't expected to see this girl ever again. He truly was in no condition to fight her, but she had been real fun to play with before. It looked as if she wanted a rematch anyway to make up for her loss to him.
"Ready to play again?" he taunted. Part of him told him this was really unwise given his poor condition. Loz felt unsure on his feet, still trying to recover from his fall. He started walking towards her, dirt and broken concrete crunching under his boots. Each step caused Tifa's heart to quicken pace, adrenaline beginning to pump through her veins. Then something unexpected happened. Loz's face cringed and his shaky legs gave out under him. The man collapsed on the sidewalk at Tifa's feet, his breathing heavy and erratic. His fist pounded into the smooth concrete, trying to force himself up. It was becoming clear he did have the strength to fight her. Even his vision was beginning to blur, beginning to think it felt better just to lie there where he was. This was beyond humiliating for the man.
" Not even one fist was raised, and it appears I already won," Tifa stated. She knelt down by him, tilting her head sideways. "Hurt, aren't you?" she asked. Loz wanted to give her a good jolt with his weapon but it felt so heavy strapped on his arm and he couldn't find the strength to even lift it. He only glared at her a moment, finding it insulting she asked if he was hurt...yet, feeling exhaustion overtaking him, he gave in and closed his eyes, falling into unconsciousness. The pitiful performance won some sympathy from Tifa. She began to rationalize what would happen if she left him alone while he was vulnerable. If the Shinra Company ever found out one of the silver haired men returned to them after a month of the incident, they would want retribution...they would take him in, experiment on him, torture him and try and extract uses from him. He'd be just like Jenova was...floating in some test tube in fluids, lifeless. If he was left alone to the surroundings citizens, they'd surely want to put him back in the Lifestream, after what he and his brothers did to their children. The man was the most hated guy in Edge. Tifa eyed the surrounding people acting like a pack of hungry wolves, eying Loz with hatred and fury. Given the few options this man had to him, she sighed and resigned to a decision she really did not want to make.
The ground was hard. The lights were dim. Something was covering him that was soft and keeping him warm. As Loz turned his head against his pillow, he noticed table and chair legs. To the far wall was a dimly lit staircase, and the large room where he was lying on the floor, was filled with chairs and tables. Then he noticed legs that did not appear to be wooden. They were slim, smooth and soft looking. Green eyes drifted up to the woman reading a magazine. Brown eyes drifted over the pages sleepily, nodding off for a moment or two. Mako eyes watched her a moment, taking in the situation. This woman had been his enemy. They had fought in that church and perhaps, had some of the best fun there with her. For how badly he hurt her, he would have expected her to kill him. She'd been helpless as he knelt over her, and she had pain and fury in her chocolate eyes. Now with the roles reversed, instead of finishing him off she was saving him. Why would she want to help him? He never would have helped her. Pain dully ached throughout his body, throbbing in every muscle. He groaned softly as he moved wrongly, and the pain's intensity rocketed. The sound woke Tifa from her reverie and she got off the chair, kneeling at his side. She placed a hand on his broad shoulder and stared at him.
" ...Hey, don't move suddenly like that. You're only going to hurt yourself more," she warned. Loz turned a sharp gaze to her, wondering when this woman decided to be his guardian. He never needed someone to care for him before. Loz pushed himself up carefully into a sitting position, sighing when he completed the small task. There was silence between the two, and Tifa beginning to have doubts about her decision. She found it ironic that he should be dropped off in front of her bar titled 7th Heaven. The fact this one been sent back could have only been Aerith's doing. Aerith knew something about this man to have sent him back to the people. A dangerous man like this one should have been kept away from them all...what was Aerith playing at?
" You think you can walk a little distance? Just to get you into a bed?" she asked. It was hard, forcing herself to be polite and kind to a man who had beaten her down and was about to kill her if Marlene hadn't intervened. Silver brows furrowed as he stared at the floor's hardwood and seemed to be concentrating on the cracks in it. He was determined not to look at her. He muttered a soft reply to her and started to force himself to stand up. A lot of pain that seemed to have only been dormant, woke and set his body aflame in agony. Knees buckled and he almost fell back to the ground if Tifa hadn't dodged under his arm and helped steady him. Now he looked at her, but only briefly before looking away.
"I don't understand. Why didn't you kill me off? I would have if I'd been you," he admitted. Tifa didn't have an answer yet. Maybe it was because she believed Aerith sent him back...or her big heart to be compassionate and help those in need. It also could have been that she believed Aerith sent him to her because no one else would accept this person. Cloud and her friends would kill him, Shinra would experiment on him and then kill him, the citizens would kill him...she was probably the only one with such a good heart that would take him in and not cause him harm if she could help it.
"I believe you were given a second chance at life...the Lifestream sent you back here. There must be something about you that it decided to give you a second chance...who am I to interfere with that, and kill you after only a few minutes of being alive again?" she concluded to him. Confusion crossed the man's young features and he decided to stay silent. Tifa put an arm around his waist and guided him up the stairs at a sluggish pace, not wanting him to lose his strength halfway and they both go tumbling down the steps. Night still dominated the sky at this time and normally the bar would be open. Tifa had closed it since she took Loz in, and informed the surrounding town folk that everything would be fine as she dragged his heavy body into the bar. She'd been up ever since and the clock in the hallway already read three-thirty in the morning. As they came to a closed door, Tifa reached out and opened it with her free hand and helped Loz in. The room was filled with just enough moonlight for him to make out objects. A table against the wall under the window, a bed, a nightstand with a glass lamp, and a chair. a large, looming chest was on the left side of the wall, a bit harder to make out since it was not in the direct moonlight. Tifa guided Loz to the bed and he collapsed onto it with a groan of pain. Tifa turned the small knob on the lamp and with two clicks, a soft, peach light filled the room. Tifa tugged down the covers of the bed for him as he watched, hands finding their way to his boots and unzipping them. He just wanted to get these clothes off and lie in a clean, soft bed. This woman who probably hated him was being so nice to him, and he was completely dumbfounded. As he meditated upon his past actions, he tried to think of what to say to her. He felt he owed her for taking him in like this and providing for him. He threw the leather jacket onto the boots that lay on the floor. They were dirty, scuffed and in need of a good cleaning. Loz felt he should discard the pants on the pile too, but as his fingers went to the button, Tifa's hand stopped him.
"Don't...worry about that," she said gently. "Just one moment...don't move," she instructed and she disappeared from the room. Loz stared at the doorway, blinking and wondering what she was up to. In moments, she returned with fabric in her hands. She unfolded it to reveal softer, baggy looking pants...but they were clean. "You take those off, and put these on," she instructed. With a nod, Loz was stripping off the leather ones, not caring much if Tifa saw anything. He was not used to the idea of modesty. Tifa blushed and threw the pants on the bed for him, turning around and allowing him privacy. It was obvious he wasn't taught what manners and decency was...she gave him a few minutes to dress and peeked around to see him clad in the looser fitting pants. They were Cloud's, and they came a bit short at the ankles, but otherwise it was a good fit. Loz then looked at her and wondered what would be done about his leather outfit. He had noticed she taken his weapons away...and if he was ever allowed time, he might hunt around to find them. As he laid in the bed and pulled the covers around him, Tifa knelt to pick up the outfit. Loz looked down at her and opened his mouth to say something, but all that came out was was a short, "ah" sound. Tifa glanced up at him, seeing his features wrinkled in confusion.
" Yes?" she asked him, trying to get him to say what he wanted. "The...fight. At the church. I...just wanted to play...and...I...then my brothers called...and told me to take the kid...and..." he rambled. There was something he wanted to say and he didn't know how to say it. Tifa stood there with the leather clothes in hand, tilting her head as he talked. She had an idea what he was trying to say.
"Just a sorry is ok. That's what you say when you feel bad about something, " she told him. He nodded and the same look stayed on his face.
"Hn...And what about when you feel you owe someone for being nice?" Tifa smiled at him, the first smile she ever had for him since dragging him inside her bar.
"When you feel you should say something to someone for being nice, you say thank you," she said. Loz digested this slowly then looked to her with his mako orbs. The features of his face went back to the normal, smoothed skin as he spoke now.
"Well...I'm sorry...and thank you for being nice to me," he finished. Tifa nodded and kept her smile at him, which was warm and kind.
"I'm Tifa," she said suddenly when Loz looked away. The remnant's head turned back around to face her as he decided that they should exchange names. If she was to be taking care of him, she should know what to call him.
"I'm Loz," he said simply. It's true he didn't know how he got that name, but when he did come into existence the first time with his brothers, it seemed they all knew their names. That's what Kadaj and Yazoo called him. Tifa walked to the doorway with his clothes and boots, and paused to turn around to face him.
"Good night, Loz," she said and closed the door for him. The privacy allowed Loz to sigh deeply and close his eyes to be left alone to his own thoughts. Maybe he shouldn't be treating her like an enemy. She had many opportunities to kill him and she didn't. Instead, she dragged him into her place and let him sleep on some blankets and pillows. She helped him upstairs to a bed and gave him a new change of clothing...which he was learning he liked the feeling of cotton. Even her gentle smile set him at ease. Still, the memory of their fight warned him to not misjudge her, because she could still pack a punch when she was cornered. Loz laid carefully on his back, preferring this softer, comfy bed to the hardwood floor downstairs. Tired eyes slid shut as he slipped off into the realm of dreams and nightmares.
The leather was not hard to clean, nor did it require a washer and dryer to be cleaned. Tifa was in the back of the bar where the large fridge and makeshift kitchen was. the large sink basin was filled with hot water and a small amount of detergent with the leather outfit soaking in it. She swirled it around in the water a bit and let it soak. The boots sat on the counter atop a few dishtowels. Bits of dirt and rock littered the towels as Tifa took some hot water and smudge of normal dish soap to it. A scrub brush was worked over the leather boots, cleaning away the debris and filth. By time she was done washing them down with a wet rag to clean away the suds, and dried, then shined they were glossy and appeared brand new. The boots were set down and she wondered why she was working so hard to help this one out. The leather jacket was taken out and hung up, a dry towel taken to it to wipe it down and dry it. As she went on tending to the clothing, she got herself lost in thought. Loz was not sent here by accident, she concluded that. Staying with her was the best alternative to all his other options. That was already apparent. Maybe Aerith knew all along that she would take him in and try with him. She was just finished hanging the pants up and drying them when she heard something break upstairs. All doubts and shard of trust in Loz was erased. Tifa's mind went into defense as she ran upstairs to Loz, a sick feeling heavy in her stomach. Would he harm the children? Was it all just a ploy? Was Aerith even responsible for him coming back or some other unknown force?
As she rushed to Denzel's room, she saw the door was closed. The door creaked open and both Marlene and Denzel was sitting up in their beds, rubbing their eyes. They looked to Tifa innocently, wondering what was happening. Assured they were safe, a relieved sigh escaped her lips as she smiled to them and closed their door so they could sleep...but now it seemed it was only Loz who was cause to be concerned for. She went to the room she had Loz in and cracked the door open slightly and peeped in. The room was dark, and moonlight glittered off the broken pieces of glass. The lamp had been smashed on the floor, and the nightstand pushed away from the bed's side. No movement came from the lump under the covers and she assessed he had a nightmare and struck out at whatever enemy was in those dreams. She closed the door to let him sleep and returned downstairs to tend to the clothes.
Loz woke, feeling groggy. Sunlight poured into his room and he looked for a clock. It appeared in the middle of the night he broke the lamp and clock that had been on the nightstand, the remains scattered upon the floor. Eyes rested on the table and chair at the window. His clothes were hung on the chair and his boots on the floor. The light shone off them and they were as black as obsidian. He walked to them and ran his fingers over the fabric, feeling the clean leather once again. He grimaced though. Part of him said it didn't want to put these nice, cleaned clothes back on when he didn't feel clean either. Landing in the street and laying in a hole of dirt and concrete covered him in filth. After sleeping too, and developing the body's natural oils on his skin he felt rather disgusted. He needed a shower. Loz ventured into the hallway and down the stairs, in search of his caretaker. Where was...what was her name...Tifa. That was it. He saw the woman's body sitting at a table, hunched over and her head lying on her arms. His approach was hesitant, not sure if she was sleeping or would be startled with him walking up to her while she was off guard. He stood there and waited for a few minutes, getting impatient. She wasn't moving. He grabbed her shoulder and shook her gently. "Hey you...wake up...hey,wake up!" he said loudly.
It had brought Tifa out of her slumber as she jerked awake, the dream still fresh in memory. It had been pleasant enough. Cloud was in her dreams, and Barrett, and the children...and even Loz. Then the last person was Aerith. The woman was standing there, her gentle lips moving but Tifa could not hear anything she was saying. She moved closer to hear the other, and yet it was as if someone muted her ears. A pleasant smile graced Aerith's lips and Tifa felt a heavy hand on her shoulder, pulling her back. She didn't bother to turn around to see who was leading her away from Aerith, but someone was. The dream began to blur, and everything was melting away into darkness. Loz's voice...the smell of wood cleaner. A hand on her shoulder shaking her gently. Tifa's head snapped up suddenly, her brown eyes blinking away the sleep and looking to Loz. He was standing there in those pants she lent him, looking at her. Her hands rubbed her face as she sighed and faced him again.
"I'm awake...so...what do you want to eat?" she asked. Loz stared at her a moment and then looked away. He didn't know what to eat...he and his brothers, he remembered they ate some things...but...they hardly did. It was more of a luxury they could eat rather than a necessity.
"Anything you decide...would be ok...actually. Could I shower?" he asked hopefully. Yes, he was feeling a little too filthy for his own standards and he wanted to be cleansed and refreshed. The woman nodded to him and stood, leading him back up the stairs. It seemed Loz was behaving himself. Without his brothers influencing him, he didn't seem all too bad. The one that talked a lot and fought Cloud, Kadaj if she remembered, he seemed to have the most persuasive sway over the other two. Loz may have been built stronger than Kadaj had been, but his mind...was much different. Almost like a child's. They came to a door and she opened it for him, showing him to a large bathroom with a shower in a bath, a toilet and large sink. Loz walked in and looked around, staring at the shower knobs and reaching for them. He turned it on after tinkering with it and figuring out how it worked. After adjusting it to the right temperature, he turned to Tifa and smiled. While he had been figuring out the shower, she had gotten a towel and wash rag for him. Tifa set it on the sink for him.
"...Um...What was that word...yeah. Thank you," he said. This seemed to be the right thing to say because she smiled and then said something he wasn't familiar with.
"You're welcome," she said in response. Welcome. He knew that meant someone was free to another's hospitality. It made him conclude that if he ever decided to do something nice to someone, he would have to say they are welcome as well. Loz began tugging the pants off and kicked them aside, in which case Tifa blushed and turned around. He found this so peculiar. Loz stood there without a stitch on and asked her curiously, unaware that being naked in front of a stranger was indecent.
"Why do you turn around like that? I could attack you, you know," he said, feeling hurt that Tifa couldn't act normal like she was a second ago. It was a cause for some minor frustration, thinking maybe she was still mad at him for their fighting in the church and him abducting the girl who Tifa was fond of.
"Well. I don't know how you and your brothers were raised...or taught but...undressing and being naked in front of someone you don't know well, well...it's...indecent," she finished with an unsure voice, her back still to him. Why was she still standing there explaining this to him?
" ...Because I'm filthy?" Loz asked, with genuine innocence. Tifa stifled a laugh. Apparently, she had a lot to teach him. Loz didn't seem to grasp the mannerisms that humans had.
" No...because...well. Our customs, throughout the world, is a man should not see a woman naked that he is not...involved with. And a woman should not see a man naked either," she explained. Hopefully he could understand this. There was some silence and she turned to leave the room, not turning to see Loz. Loz pondered why their customs were so strange. What was so weird about being naked? He looked himself over and didn't think he looked wrong. He did smell some and was filthy. Which he was going to fix quite soon.
"Ok...so...I will not undress in front of you again. Um...what's the word...with the S...Sorry, Tifa," he finished. She nodded and closed the door for him. Loz then looked to the falling water in the shower and already felt somewhat better. Everything was still sore, but it was a far cry from the pain he first met when he woke in the broken street. Loz stepped into the shower and pulled the curtain around, not wanting water to get on the floors. He stood there under the hot water and let the dirt, bits of rock and concrete, and oils wash away from his flesh, closing his eyes and enjoying the feeling. Thoughts occurred in his head and he opened his eyes slowly, wondering if he was alive, maybe his brothers were. Perhaps...he should search for them. If Tifa was so nice to him after nearly killing her, maybe she could be nice to them too and help them out. Mother wanted me to live my own life. How do I do that? What do I need to do? I want to find my brothers...and Cloud. This woman, Tifa, she's his friend. What would he say about her being nice to me? Mother, guide me, please...