Author's Note: This is my second FFVII fanfic. Now that I've gotten over the initial nerves of posting a fic publicly (yikes!) I wanted to share another. It takes place during Advent Children. This is another pairing I love and it's another first. It's my first Tifa/Loz pairing. There are just not enough stories out there about these two, so I hope you enjoy it! :D
Disclaimer: I own nothing…I just borrow the characters and play with them! Please don't sue me!
Into The Forgotten City
Not one to leave anything to chance, Tifa had to go. It wasn't that she didn't trust Cloud, she reasoned, it was just that he had a lot on his plate at this moment. He didn't trust himself anymore. He thought he was a failure and that could lead to him second guessing himself and getting himself hurt or even killed. She just hoped he would see it that way too and not see it as she didn't trust him.
As she ventured further into the eerie world of iridescent trees, she began to question the brilliance of wandering around an isolated forest alone with three Sephiroth remnants running around. Even though she had faced only one, she knew based on that encounter they would all be dangerous alone, but even more dangerous together.
She shivered as she remembered being thrown around by what she assumed was the muscle of the three. She had known he was going to be tough to beat, but even she had been surprised by how much of beating he could take while still being able to defeat her in the end. She smirked slightly as contemplated who would win in a rematch if he didn't have his weapons. While she preferred to think she would be able to hand his ass to him, as he deserved, she knew it would be a close call.
She shook her head and focused on what had brought her to the Forgotten City in the first place…finding Cloud, Denzel, and Marlene.
Loz wandered around the forest glaring at everything and nothing. He couldn't waste much more time looking for big brother and his friend. He always got stuck doing the searching. Yazoo got to round up the kids and Kadaj got to torment Shinra and his Turks, but he had to find big brother. It was so boring! Searching required patience and that was something he did not have a lot of! He clenched his fists reflexively, itching for another good work out.
He smirked as he remembered the fight he had shared with the woman in the church. He remembered being amused by the fact that she had readily agreed to play his game despite being smaller than him. Initially he had thought she was just trying to distract him so the kid could get away, but when she hit him with her initial blows, he had been stunned to say the least. She must have been a trained fighter and he was disappointed their game had to be ended so quickly. He could have played with her for hours!
But oh no, Kadaj wanted the kid. What did he want her for anyway? Big brother would have come for the other kids even if he hadn't taken the little girl. It was all just a waste of time since all she had done was distract Kadaj by calling out big brother's name right before Kadaj was about to put an end to big brother's meddling. Then all hell had broken loose. Big brother escaped with the help of his friend, the little girl got away, and Kadaj was angry! Well, in Loz's opinion, it was his own damn fault, but he wasn't going to tell him that!
He pulled out his phone and looked at the time displayed there. He could only devote a little more time to searching before he had to leave to meet up with Yazoo and the kids at the monument in the city. He continued along the path he was on, but stopped when he noticed some footprints. He dropped to one knee and looked at them a little more closely. They were too small to belong to big brother or his friend, yet they were too big to belong to the little girl.
Loz stood up and readied his Dual Hound for action as he followed the footprints. He was careful to make as little noise as possible, not wanting to alert the unknown intruder to his presence. He stopped and peered around a tree before smirking slightly. Even though she was facing away from him, he would know her anywhere…it was the woman from the church!
Tifa sighed and shook her head. It was beginning to look like her venture into the deserted forest was a waste of time. Of course Cloud wasn't answering his phone, so why was she worried? He never answered his phone. She was about to start heading back when she heard an ominous click followed by the hum of a weapon charging. She turned quickly and stiffened slightly when the man from the church stepped into the clearing.
Oh, perfect, she thought to herself. I'm still recovering from our last fight!
"Why are you here?" he asked.
"I'm looking for Marlene, the little girl you stole from the church, and the rest of the children that are missing," she said, putting on her fiercest glare.
"They're all gone," he said with a smirk.
"Then I should be leaving," she said pointedly as she moved to leave.
But he moved so he was still in front of her, blocking her escape. "What's the rush? Don't you want to play again?"
She folded her arms across her chest and narrowed her eyes. "I think it's a little too soon for another game since you have your little toys there and I have nothing."
He chuckled and powered down the Dual Hound before releasing the fastenings that kept it in place on his arm. He dropped it to the ground and looked at her again.
"Better?" he asked.
"You still have that gun," she said pointing to the large gun on his left hip.
He pulled it from the holster and dropped it beside the other weapon before returning his gaze to hers. "How about now?"
Tifa raised one eyebrow before slowly pulling on her leather gloves and dropping into a defensive posture.
"Much better," she said with a smirk.
"Good," he said as he ran towards her.
Tifa leaped into the air and managed to escape his initial attack, but he turned quickly and blocked the blow she had planned on hitting him with from behind. He was still very quick in his movements, even when not using his enhanced speed. He seemed to be able to easily keep up with her, so she knew she was going to have hit him with multiple attacks to get through his defenses. She aimed a swipe at his legs, which he easily dodged. What he wasn't prepared for was for her to be right behind him when he turned around. She landed a hard punch against his stomach, temporarily driving the air from his lungs, before grabbing the front of his leather jack and pulling him forward. She used her backward momentum to land on her back, push him up and over with her feet on his stomach, to throw him away from her.
He landed with one knee on the ground before spinning quickly to see her jumping to her feet and running towards him. Loz got to his feet and quickly spun, reaching out his left arm. He caught her by the throat and threw her to the side. She hit the hard ground with a thud and moaned as the air rush from her lungs on impact. He slowly moved over to stand above her.
"You're really fun to play with, Tifa," he said with a smirk.
She looked up at him surprised he knew her name. "How did you…?"
"Isn't that what the kid called you?" Loz asked as he raised one eyebrow questioningly.
She nodded dumbly. "Well, yeah. I just didn't think you'd remember."
He chuckled as he dropped to one knee so he was practically straddling her abdomen. "I'll never forget the first time I met you. Someone finally wanted to play!"
Her eyebrows drew together. She stared up into his catlike eyes, shivering as she recognized them as the eyes of the man who had killed her father and taken everything from her, but behind their familiar cat-like appearance was the soul of a child. He was more interested in playing than doing anything else. To him, their fights were just games. She envied his ability retain the childish joy of being carefree and playing, yet being able to conduct the very adult business he and his brothers had planned.
"You're not like anyone else I have ever met," she whispered.
His brows drew together. "Is that bad?" He was used to his brothers mocking him, but he didn't think she was the type to engage in such a mean activity.
She shook her head. "No, it's just…I'm surprised."
He smiled brightly. He still wasn't sure if it was a compliment, but it didn't sound like she was trying to be mean. "Then let's play!"
Tifa gasped when he got to his feet and pulled her to hers in one fluid movement. He gripped the front of her shirt and tossed him away from him. She recovered from her initial surprise enough to land on her feet. Knowing that it really was just his idea of fun, she smirked and wholeheartedly threw herself into the game. They traded blows and easily matched each other's attacks. As she had figured earlier, neither of them was the clear favorite to win and they were becoming more exhausted by the minute.
They were both breathing heavily as they simultaneously blocked matching blows and pushed against each other's body, their eyes meeting and holding each other's gaze. Loz smirked as he enjoyed watching her eyes darken with determination while Tifa smiled at the excitement that sparkled in his eerily green eyes. They each managed to push the other away, but both hit the ground from the force of the other's push.
Tifa sighed as she struggled to catch her breath. "You're really good."
He chuckled and nodded. "So are you."
They looked at each other as their breath became more regular. She couldn't place her finger on it, but she found him oddly good looking…despite his frightening eyes. He was very muscular, but lean at the same time. Maybe it was the hair? She noticed him eyeing her in a similar way and she blushed slightly. He moved closer to her as he ran his eyes over her from head to toe.
"You're pretty," he said quietly. He hesitantly reached out a hand to touch her cheek, but stopped as though he knew he shouldn't touch her.
Caught up in the moment, she gently reached out and touched his face. He seemed surprised by her touch. He then watched as though mesmerized when she lifted his hand and pulled off the leather glove covering it. She lifted his hand and laid it against her cheek. Once he was over his initial shock, he touched her face eagerly before pulling her closer to him.
"You're more than just pretty," he said quietly. "You're beautiful."
She didn't stop him when he kissed her. In fact, she eagerly accepted his kisses and even pressed her body against his. And almost as soon as it had started, it was over as he pulled away from her.
He groaned as his phone rang insistently. He pulled it out and flipped it open, glaring at the device before lifting it to his ear. "What? I know I have to be there. He's gone. I'm not crying. Fine. No, I got it! I'll be there soon."
Tifa smiled slightly as she listened to his end of the conversation. She raised her eyebrows when he irritably snapped the phone shut with a growl.
"You have to go?" she asked quietly.
He turned away and nodded. "Yeah."
She pushed herself to her feet. "Me too. You know I'll have to help my friends stop you, right?"
He nodded again. "I know. And I will have to help my brothers make our reunion with Mother happen."
"I know," she said as she watched him retrieve his weapons.
He started to walk away, but stopped so he could turn to face her again. "I don't want to hurt kids you know."
She nodded. "I know."
He nodded and walked away again, stopping when she made a small noise in protest. He looked over his shoulder at her. "Yeah?"
"What's your name?" she asked.
"Loz," he answered. "Why?"
"You knew my name so I wanted to know yours," she answered. "Thanks for the workout, Loz."
He smirked and inclined his head before disappearing into the forest. Once she was sure she was alone again, she began to find her own way out. As she walked, she knew she would probably never see him again. Her rational mind said it was in everyone's best interest that none of Sephiroth's remnants lived. But she knew she would miss at least one of them. Loz, the man with the heart of a child, had given her the one thing she needed, yet had never even known was missing. He gave her back her fighting spirit. For that she would be grateful and she would miss knowing there was at least one man out there that could make her stop and play, even if just for one moment.