I would've updated faster had it not been for a certain poetry assignment I was given ... I must've spent at least 8hrs searching for ONE poem -.- Gah. This chappie takes place 2yrs later, so Cloud and Claire are now thirteen and Serah is ten .. ALSO, i was rereading my other chapters and i've found that i keep messing up their ages so I have to go back and rewrite a few things soon. For example, in Chap1 I made Claire I think 10yrs old and Serah 4, so that would make a six year age gap. In the other chapters, Serah is only two years younger, and I messed up Claire's grade too I think -.- Blah.

Anyways, this is kinda just a filler chapter because I realised Cloud would probably find out that Lightning's name is in fact, Claire and that she lied to him about her name. So, for now, I think that I'm going to focus on developing their friendships and personalities that we all know and love when they're in their twenties - I'm already working on getting Lightning there, but I have to get Cloud developing soon... which leads me to another thing that delayed me updating quicker.

So the night after I posted Chap5, I decided to write out my plans for this fic. Then I realised something; did I want this to become an action story or just a love story? I had no idea honestly, since my other fic which is all action is struggling to continue. I really want to finish this story though, so I wrote out both outlines for this fic. I'm still working on the romance one, but I think it might be around 20-25 chapters maybe, and if its action I made it out to be around 30 with a possible sequel - but that's just how I decided to write it at the time, and I don't usually stick to what I plan. So I will be posting a new poll on my profile asking which I should do - please vote please, or leave your vote in a review!

Basically what would happen in the action one is that it'll kind of follow what happens in canon to Claire and Cloud and so they'll both enroll in the military (I have no idea how to write military-related things though, like how they should act, what to call people, etc.) and yah. In the romance version, this fic will follow them through elementry school all the way into college/university and maybe more, so you guys choose! *Note I might just choose whichever I deem easiest and most successful though

Thank you so much for all of your reviews! Enjoy!

The Only Exception
Chapter 6

Three people made their way towards the park in the downtown area of Bodhum. One girl, who seemed to be around the age of eleven was excitedly sprinting towards the park, stopping every once and a while to run back and grab the hand of what seemed to be her reluctant older sister judging by their unique hair color and azure colored eyes. A boy walked in-between the two sisters, expression a little sheepish, though a smile was plastered wide on his face.

'Come on Claire! You walk like a turtle! No wait, you're slower than a turtle!' shouted an annoyed Serah as she tried to pull her thirteen year old sister by the hand, and failing miserably as Claire merely stopped walking and raised an amused pink brow at her.

It had been two years since Claire 'Lightning' Farron and Cloud Strife had become friends. Since then, not much had happened; Kate had landed a successful job as a nurse. Because of this she wasn't around as much as she had used to be, but she still tried her best to be a selfless, loving, albeit annoying and quirky guardian over the two Farron siblings. Claire's new choice of name became known rather fast after a month of Cloud and her being friends, resulting in a number of rumors and such being spread. Of course, the strawberry blonde ignored the murmurs, feeling content when people avoided her a little more than usual, and when they did speak to her, called her 'Lightning'. All except for Serah and occasionally Kate, of course. Cloud had at first been rather confused by the whole Claire-Lightning name switch, but he was respectful enough to continue calling Claire by the name she had told him to call her; Lightning. Besides that, Claire's 'shell' as Kate liked to call it had grown bigger around the time Kate began spending more time at work than at her apartment with the two Farron sisters. The adult felt guilty for it, but was relieved to see that the thirteen year old dropped her shell – even if only partially – around Kate, Serah, and Cloud. She was still a little aloof, but that was okay. Cloud and Serah had also become friends, Serah starting to see him as an older brother since Claire and him hung out so often.

Huffing angrily when her sister didn't move another muscle, Serah rounded on Cloud who instantly froze. He had become familiar with the sibling's short temper. It was one of the many traits they shared, and Cloud couldn't help but wonder if their parents were the same way. He didn't ask of course, after learning the tragic fate of the two adults.

Putting on her best puppy-dog face, Serah pouted. 'Cloud!' she wailed as she tackled the startled boy around the middle and began to fake tears. 'Make Claire move!'

'I, er …' Cloud blinked and looked at the older Farron who had a smirk playing around the corner of her lips, eye brow still raised. 'Please?' he mouthed to Claire, gasping for air as Serah proceeded to hug him tighter effectively cutting off his air supply. Who would've thought a nine year old could be so strong?

'Tch.' Claire snorted as she began to walk towards the park again. Serah instantly released Cloud, fake tears long gone as she skipped towards her destination as if nothing had happened. The spiky haired boy merely stood there looking rather startled, a light blush on his cheeks as he quickly followed after the two Farron sisters afterwards.

A few dozen steps later, the three friends reached their destination. Serah instantly took off towards the swings as Claire stopped near a tree, ducking into its shade; today was a hot day with a temperature of forty degrees Celsius, and as a result there wasn't as many people outside as their usually was – not that Claire could really complain though. As of late, the older Farron sibling dressed in loose or baggy clothes. Reason? Puberty. As much as she resented feeling weak and awkward as she did, she couldn't help but become overwhelmed with those feelings as her body began to develop and change, so to make herself feel a bit more comfortable, she wore baggy shirts and loose shorts. Her odd taste in clothing had also begun to develop, and the young teen began taking to wearing sleeveless clothing and layers with lots of zippers, pockets, buttons, etc. Today she wore a black tank top that hugged her body comfortably beneath a light green baggy t-shirt that looked like an over sized tank top thanks to the fact that Claire had chopped the sleeves off of it. The shirt lacked the usual buttons, zippers and buttons that were usually associated with her clothing, but she didn't seem to mind. She also wore a pair of black cotton fingerless gloves and jean shorts that were a bit tattered. Serah had been relieved to see her sister wear what she called 'sensible' clothes today. Serah herself was dressed in shorts akin to her sister's, though they were a bright florescent pink and a white tank top. Cloud had on a dark green tank top that hung very loosely on him and baggy dark blue jeans that he seemed to be sweltering evident through the beads of sweat that were beginning to appear and his face grew more flushed.

The spiky haired blond eagerly followed his friend into the tree's shade, practically collapsing to the cool grass moments later, blue eyes closing in relief as he made contact.

Claire rolled her eyes at her friend. When he had called her that morning to ask if she could come over or not, she had told him she couldn't since she had to take Serah to the park since Kate would be at her new job. Of course, Cloud being Cloud, he had instantly asked if he could come with them, and of course, Claire responded with a yes and waited for the boy to get a ride from his mother. He had arrived five minutes later dressed in his current attire which the pink haired twelve year old instantly chastised him about – jeans were never a good thing to wear when it was hot out, but Cloud brushed it off saying he'd be fine.

Heh, not so fine now, are you? Thought Claire as she took a seat beside her sweating friend, sharp azure eyes never leaving her younger sister on the swings. They stayed like that for a few minutes until Cloud seemed to recover from the heat enough to prop himself up on his elbows and look around, eyes lingering on Claire for a little bit before watching Serah with her.

'Hey, Lightning?' he asked in his usual husky voice, sounding a little thoughtful.


'You're still going to Bodhum High for grade nine, right?'

Claire frowned as she tore her gaze from her sister to look at her friend. 'Yeah, we talked about this a few days ago. Why?'

Cloud scratched the back of his head, his face becoming a little flushed again as he cleared his throat and looked in the opposite direction.

'Er, no reason.' He lied.

The pinkette rolled her eyes. 'You're a horrible liar,' she snorted as she leaned back on her hands. 'What's up?'

'Er … I'm probably going to sound pathetic, but ...' Cloud cleared his throat again as he directed his gaze to the ground. 'I … we'll still be friends in high school, right?' he asked as he chanced a glance at his friend.

Claire's brows furrowed, about to ask him why he was asking such a question when he interrupted her and shook his head.

'I know, I know, we're friends – but, it's just …' Cloud turned to face Claire fully, worried dark blue orbs staring into confused azure ones. He sighed. 'High school's a year away, Lightning, and well, I'm kinda just worried we might … you know, drift …'

Claire raised an eyebrow at him, but didn't interrupt his nervous explanation.

''Cause, you know, we've both told each other we were each other's first friends and all but – I dunno. I guess I'm just paranoid. Hehe. Forget I said anything.' The spiky haired blond shook his head and directed his attention back to Serah in front of them, the two of them sitting in a tense silence for few minutes, Cloud rigid as a board while Claire frowned at the ground a little.

Finally, after a few more stiff moments, Claire looked up from the ground at the back of her friend's head. 'Cloud,' she began, 'You know we'll stay friends in high school. I promise we will, don't worry about it.'

Cloud turned to look at her as Serah jumped off of the swings and darted towards the slides, laughing loudly as she twirled in circles along the way, a butterfly following her.

'Really?' he asked, eyes brightening as his expression became hopeful.

Claire nodded once, giving him one of smiles that only he, Kate, and Serah had the privilege to see. Cloud suddenly lunged forwards and hugged his friend tightly, startling her a little at the unexpected contact and grinned widely.

A year ago, when the two friends had become close enough to tell each other a few of their secrets, Cloud had found out how Claire's parents died, as well as the confusing topic that was her birth name versus her adopted name, while Claire discovered more about Cloud's life and how his dad had left he and his mother when he died in battle in his job as a SOLDIER – a special elite force in the military. She found out that she wasn't exactly Cloud's first friend, and that he had two other friends before her; Zack Fair and Tifa Lockhart. He told her that the two of them still lived in Nibelheim, and he hadn't seen them since he moved. By the end of the two's deep conversation, they had both told the other how much their friendship meant to them, and – albeit rather awkwardly – told the other how neither of them wanted their friendship to die. It was special. Not to mention nearly sacred to Claire.

The smile on Claire's face disappeared for a moment before returning a little softer than it had been before as she hugged her friend back.

'Thanks, Light,' muttered Cloud as he let go of her with a small grin. 'It means a lot.'

Claire's brows furrowed slightly at the sudden new nickname for her. ''Light'?' she repeated in a confused tone.

Cloud's small grin instantly grew at this.

'Yeah! Well – you told me last year how you came across 'Lightning',' he said a little hurriedly as he looked down a little awkwardly. 'And well, like you said – 'Lightning can't protect, it only destroys'. Well, I think that's not exactly suitable for you …'

Claire's frown only deepened further with confusion, which Cloud chuckled at.

'Well, see, light's a lot warmer and friendlier than lightning is – it can save people for one thing,' he said thoughtfully, 'and it can make people happy … so, you're more like 'light' more than anything, Lightning.'

The pink haired girl considered his words for a few moments before cocking her head a little and cracking a smile. 'If you say so.' She said as she lay backwards so that she was staring upwards at the tree's leaves and branches above her as Cloud smiled and continued to stay where he was as Serah let out a burst of laughter and slid down a slide.

The pink haired thirteen year old had to admit, she did like the sound of it, her new nickname. Light.

*Little Tidbit of Info - I would've updated earlier, but the version of this chapter I was writing at the time didn't work out to well so I had to delete everything and change it completely. If you wanted to know, it started off with Claire and Cloud in Grade 7, not 8 and in Claire's kitchen as they tried to make cookies with Serah. It involved Claire getting covered in flour and the three of them having an epic flour fight resulting in Kate's kitchen becoming completely white and powder-covered, and then Kate comes home and busts them .. well, that's what it started off as, until I remembered I don't even know how to make cookies or cook so it didn't end up working out. Hehe n_n'

Also, as you could see here, Claire's beginning to develop that colder, more withdrawn side of her - should I leave Cloud as he is or should something traumatic happen to him as well? Cause, sure, they'd be more in character and all but, I think that this more outgoing, not withdrawn Cloud is better with Claire for the moment. After all, he is what got Claire outta her shell, right? (:

Were they OOC? Was it Good? Bad? Leave a review and tell me your opinion! ALSO, don't forget to vote! Romance or Action?

Till we meet again!

-Lightning Catastrophe