Author's Note: It's a little early, but I'm going away for Christmas and I wanted to post it before I left. So, I just couldn't help it! I missed them! It's Christmas in Midgar and Loz is about to enjoy his first Christmas. This is a one shot that takes place after my Changes story. You don't really have to have read it for it to make sense.
And btw, my sister and I really did a Secret Santa draw for them just to make it more fun and random! :D Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I love to play with the FFVII characters, yet sadly, I do not own them. No suing please and thanks!
The Remnant's First Christmas
Tifa sighed and yawned as she bid the last Christmas Eve customer goodbye. The kids were asleep, thank the gods, so she was free to finish wrapping their gifts. Cloud and Loz were both late…typical. Tifa smiled at the thought of them both letting work carry them away. It was times like this that she wondered if Loz was really a remnant of Cloud, not Sephiroth. She shook her head and began cleaning the bar.
Loz frowned slightly as he looked at the numerous display cases brightly lit around the room. Everything was pretty, but he wanted something special for Tifa. They had been living together for almost a year now and he wanted to give her something amazing.
"Still can't decide?" Cloud asked as he moved to stand beside him.
"No," Loz said irritably. "Everything is pretty, but it's all too…"
"Flashy?" Cloud said.
Loz looked at him and nodded. "All of this stuff is so girly and Tifa is not a girly-girl!"
"Are you sure you want to buy her jewelry?" Cloud asked.
Loz nodded again. "Yeah. Do you think she'll be disappointed it's not an engagement ring?"
"Tifa's not the kind of girl who's been dreaming of a white wedding since she was a little girl, Loz," Cloud assured him. "She's happy having a guy in her life that she loves and who loves her too."
"I still don't get the marriage thing," he said as he shook his head. "We already live together, so what's the difference?"
Cloud smiled slightly. "Marriage is a formal commitment people make in front of their friends and family. But not everyone does that. Has Tifa mentioned getting married?"
"No, but Reno keeps asking me when we're getting hitched and having babies," Loz said with a smirk.
"Okay, Reno's an idiot," Cloud said dismissively. "Just ignore him. He likes to annoy people."
"Can I help you…oh, hey Cloud," the sales girl said as she smiled and approached them. "It's been a while."
"Hey, Miki," he said with a smile. "How are you?"
"I'm good," she said. "I miss Tifa and the bar though. How is she?"
"She's good," Cloud said before looking at Loz. "This is Miki. She used to bus tables and wash dishes when Tifa first opened Seventh Heaven. Miki, this is Loz. He works at Axel's Custom Bikes."
He nodded and looked at the girl again. "It's nice to meet you."
She reached out and offered her hand to him. "It's nice to finally meet you. My boyfriend got some work done on his bike at Axel's and he said a silver-haired guy did an amazing job. I take it you're that amazing silver-haired guy."
He smirked and nodded. "That would be me." He was getting used to having people talk to him. Before, everyone seemed to hate him, but ever since Cloud began making it a point to tell people how he actually helped to stop Sephiroth when he returned again, the people in Edge seemed to begin forgiving him for his part in the destruction he and his brothers had created when they had first arrived.
"So what brings you two in?" Miki asked, cutting across his thoughts. "Are you shopping for Tifa?"
"I'm not, but Loz is," Cloud said.
"And what are you looking for?" she asked.
"I want to give her something special," Loz said. "I'd like to give her a ring, but I'm not sure that's a good idea because it's not an engagement ring."
Miki nodded. "Okay. We have a couple of options." She moved to one case, followed by Cloud and Loz. She pulled out a velvet cloth and laid it on the counter before depositing five rings on its surface. "These are called lovers knots. They combine different colored gold bands and tie into a knot. We have yellow and white gold as well as yellow and pink gold combinations, but our most popular combination is the white and pink gold combination. All of them hold at least one larger diamond, but these two incorporate a few smaller diamonds as well."
Loz looked at each of the rings she had laid out. He lifted each one carefully and looked at their detail. He looked up at Miki and frowned slightly. "They're too much like engagement rings. I don't want to pressure her into something that she doesn't want, but I don't want to disappoint her by not being sure if I want to get married."
Miki smiled and nodded as she put the rings back in the case. "You've got some tough criteria to meet, but I am good at my job and I think I have what you're looking for." She moved to the right slightly and opened a case before pulling out one ring and holding it over the black velvet display clothe. "This is just a simple, platinum band, but it's very unique. It was made by a jeweler in Nibelheim and instead of adorning it with jewels, he hand-carved a design commonly seen in ancestral decorations and woodcarvings. It's simple, yet elegant, and it can mean whatever you want it to mean."
Loz took the ring and examined it, smiling slightly. He turned to Cloud. "I really like this one. It was made in her hometown and she doesn't have a lot of stuff from there. But do you think it's a good idea for me of all people to give her something that will remind her of home…after what he did?"
Cloud smiled slightly. "Loz when Tifa looks at that ring, I promise you the last thing she'll be thinking of is him."
He turned back to Miki and smiled. "I'll take it."
Tifa was still wrapping presents when Cloud and Loz entered the living room. She smiled and looked up at them.
"I was beginning to think you two were in a ditch somewhere," she said as she tilted her head up to receive a kiss from Loz.
Cloud smirked slightly. "Well, we would have called, but neither of us could get a signal on our phones in that ditch. And then, once we hauled ourselves out of the ditch we were in, Loz agreed to help me bring my gifts over."
Tifa laughed softly as she watched Cloud crouch down and begin placing his gifts under the tree. Loz watched everything with a quiet curiosity. This was the first Christmas he had actually witnessed in his existence and all the traditions seemed strange.
Tifa noticed his confusion and smiled. "Still confused?"
Loz smiled and shrugged. "A little. But it's kind of exciting too. I've never been given any gifts before."
"Well, I love giving gifts," Tifa said happily. "It's fun to see a loved one get something they've wanted for a long time or even something they never even knew they wanted. And the kids are just too cute! Everything is just so magical to them."
"Yeah, it just so magical that they just have to wake up at the crack of dawn," Cloud said with a laugh. "It's like an internal alarm clock goes off in them and announces it's technically morning and therefore it's time for presents!"
Tifa nodded and laughed as well as she handed Cloud her finished gifts so he could place them under the tree. "At least you can fall asleep during the day! I have to make dinner!"
Loz watched the two friends laughing and teasing each other and realized that he didn't feel jealous anymore. Cloud and Tifa would embrace and smile at each other, but he now knew the difference between the love they shared as friends and the love he and Tifa shared as lovers and partners. It felt good to lose that insecure feeling.
"Loz, do you have any presents you need me to wrap?" Tifa asked cutting across his thoughts.
He shook his head. "Nope. You wrapped the ones to the kids from us already and the gifts I bought for everyone else I had wrapped when I bought them. Unlike you, I do not enjoy wrestling with the paper, ribbons, bows, and tape."
Tifa playfully stuck her tongue out at him. "You are such a party pooper."
Cloud yawned and looked at the clock. "It's after midnight. I'm going to hit the sack. Have a good night you two."
"Good night," Loz said from the couch as he yawned himself.
Tifa got to her feet and hugged Cloud. "Good night, Cloud."
"Sleep while you can Tifa," Cloud said with a teasing smile. "It is T-minus four and a half hours until the Christmas tornado known as Denzel and Marlene awaken!"
Tifa was still laughing when she turned to face Loz. His eyes were closed and his head was resting on the arm of the sofa. "You are practically falling asleep, Loz. Let's head to bed."
He nodded and covered a yawn as he got to his feet. "Are they really going to wake us up at five in the morning?"
Tifa laughed as they entered their bedroom. "Yes."
He groaned slightly as he flopped face first onto the bed. "That's too much like a regular work day!"
Tifa smiled as she moved closer to the bed and straddled his back, resting her behind on the small of his back. She gently massaged his shoulders. "Does this make you feel any better?"
He groaned happily and nodded. "Yes. You should close the bar and do this for a living!"
Tifa laughed and leaned forward, kissing his cheek lightly. "I should. But I would miss all the drunks. Besides, where would Reno go every night?"
Loz chuckled. "True. But I think he would give up booze forever if he could pay you to touch him!"
Tifa giggled at the thought. "Oh gods, I don't want to even think about that!"
Loz turned himself so he she was straddling his torso and pulled her against his chest. "I'm glad I came back and I'm glad I found you."
Tifa smiled and sighed happily as she slid from his chest to the bed beside him. "I'm glad you came back too. I love you."
"I love you too," he murmured against her hair as they both drifted off to sleep.
"Tifa! Loz! It's Christmas morning!" Marlene and Denzel said in unison as they burst into their room.
Loz sat straight up, scared out of a deep sleep by the exuberant children. Before he knew it, the two children in question were climbing on the bed. Denzel was shaking Tifa into consciousness and Marlene had crawled up behind Loz and wrapped her arms around his neck hugging him while trying to urge him to his feet.
"Come on! It's time to open presents!" she said excitedly as she bounced up and down behind him.
Loz finally snapped out of his stupor and smirked as he grabbed Marlene and pulled her down over his shoulder and into his lap before he began tickling her, making her squeal happily.
Tifa sat up and smiled at their Saturday and holiday ritual of waking up with tickles. "Why don't you two go wake up Cloud while we get dressed?"
The two children smiled and happily jumped from the bed before running out of the room towards Cloud's room. Tifa smiled as she heard them open his door and run into the room. She laughed out loud when she heard them exclaim, "Cloud! Get up! It Christmas morning!" Loz smirked and chuckled when they heard Cloud's audible grunt and moan indicating the kids had launched themselves on top of him to facilitate his awakening.
Tifa pushed herself to her feet and walked into the bathroom. "Come on Loz. It's time to experience your first Christmas!"
The kids were already waiting in the living room by the tree going through their stockings and gifts from Santa when the three adults entered. Marlene got to her feet and happily ran over to Tifa.
"Look Tifa!" she said excitedly. "Santa brought me that doll I asked for!"
"He did? That's great sweetie!" Tifa said as she hugged her.
"And he brought me that remote controlled car I wanted!" Denzel said happily.
"Come on Loz!" Marlene said eagerly as she dragged him over to the sofa. You have to see what Santa brought you!"
Tifa smiled as Cloud appeared and handed her a cup of coffee. "Thanks Cloud."
"No problem," he said as he covered a yawn and dropped to the floor beside Denzel. He reached over and picked up his stocking before leaning over and handing Tifa her stocking.
She took the red stocking covered with sparkles and dropped beside Loz on the couch. She smiled as she spotted him eagerly going through the candies and other treats in his stocking. He was like a kid as he pulled out each item and examined it. Marlene and Denzel grew bored with the treats in the stockings and began pulling out the gifts.
"Cloud, this one is from me and Denzel!" Marlene said happily. "And this one is for you, Tifa, and this one is for you, Loz!"
Cloud opened his first and smiled as he pulled out a pair of riding gloves and goggles. "Thanks you two! I need a new pair of goggles and these riding gloves are perfect!"
"You're welcome Cloud," Marlene smiled as she hugged him.
"We're glad you like them Cloud," Denzel said. "Loz brought us the catalogue from Axel's and there were so many to choose from!"
"Well, you guys picked out the perfect pair," Cloud assured them.
Tifa smiled and opened her gift from the children. She smiled as she unfolded a shimmery gold silk top. It was sleeveless and had a mock cowl neck that elegantly draped in the front. "Oh, you two! This is beautiful!"
"Marlene said you really liked it when you were shopping for Cloud and Loz," Denzel said.
"It's going to look so pretty on you!" Marlene assured her. "Yuffie thinks so too!"
Tifa leaned over and ruffled Denzel's hair and pulled Marlene in closer to give her a kiss on the cheek. "Well I'll wear it at dinner so you can all see how right you were!"
Loz looked at his gift and was excited to see what the children had picked out for him. He unwrapped the box and smiled as he opened it. "It's a picture frame."
Marlene nodded as Denzel got to his feet and sat on the arm of the sofa beside Loz. He pointed to a button on the top and smiled.
"It's a digital picture frame," he said with a smile. "If you push that button, it cycles through the pictures every couple of minutes. If you want to stop on a particular picture, you press that button again."
"We loaded it with lots of different pictures," Marlene added. "There's some with just me and Denzel and a bunch with all of us and some with just you and Tifa, so when you work late you can still see us!"
"Thanks you two," he said with a smile. "This is a great present."
"Now you guys can open the gifts from us," Cloud said as he helped settle the kids with their gifts. He smiled as he watched them happily open sweaters, socks, and chocolates excited for the big finale gift, which always topped the previous year's gift. The kids eagerly looked up when Cloud got to his feet and went to the place he always hid their main presents. First, he approached Denzel. "This one is from all three of us for you, Denzel."
He happily ripped the paper from the medium sized box, his eyes widening as he revealed the gift. "Cool!" he exclaimed as he looked at the newest and best gaming console yet created. "Can we hook this up after breakfast?"
Cloud smiled and nodded before putting a large box in front of Marlene. She happily tore through the paper and laugh happily as she looked at the large dollhouse. She turned towards the three adults.
"You guys are the greatest!" she exclaimed as she ran and hugged each of them happily. "Thank you!"
"You're welcome sweetie," Tifa said with a smile. "Why don't you two take your stuff to your room and get ready for breakfast?"
They both obediently gathered their smaller gifts and ran out of the room. Loz looked up at Tifa and smiled. "This has been a great day so far."
"It gets even better," Cloud promised with a smirk. "We still have to do the Secret Santa exchange with the others. It always leads to some kind of hilarity and with Reno included this year, it's bound to be funny."
Tifa laughed and nodded as she got to her feet. "Well, Reno is Reno. I'm going to start breakfast."
"Let us know if you need any help," Cloud said.
Loz smirked as he got to his feet. "Listen, I know I didn't have to do this, but I got you something."
Cloud smiled slightly. "Yeah, I couldn't resist buying you something too. Do you want to exchange gifts now or do you want to wait?"
Loz shrugged. "We can do it now." He went over to the tree and handed him a present.
Cloud smiled, curious to see what the former remnant had given him. He smiled as he unwrapped it. "A stereo for Fenrir? I've been meaning to pick one of these up!"
Loz nodded. "It's pretty cool. It comes with an earpiece so you can hear the music, but the earpiece doubles as a wireless headset for your phone. I remembered you talking about how the long haul deliveries can be so boring and when this came into the shop I thought of you."
"Thanks. I'll bring the bike in and you can install it," Cloud said before handing him a gift. "Here's your gift."
Loz took the package and unwrapped it. He smiled as he looked at the book. "The Complete History of Motorcycles and the Customizations Through the Years? This is perfect!"
"I thought you'd like it," Cloud said as Loz flipped through the pages. "I thought you could get some ideas and improve on them."
Tifa smiled as she listened to the two men. They were so cute. At first Cloud had found it awkward to have another man around picking up the slack where he left off, even becoming jealous of the relationship Loz had been able to form with Denzel. But after a few false starts and fumbles along the way, the two had formed a close friendship, almost like brothers. Her thoughts were interrupted by Denzel reappearing and begging Cloud to hook up his new game console. She smiled as she shook her head and focused on preparing breakfast.
Later in the early afternoon, everyone began to show up. Barret was there first so he could have his gift exchange with Marlene. He brought Tifa money as was his traditional yearly thank you for looking after his daughter, and she tried to refuse as was her annual tradition, but he won…just like he did every year.
Reno and Rude arrived next, followed by Reeve, Vincent, and Yuffie. Cid was last since he had to stop off and pick up Nanaki on his way to Edge. Marlene and Denzel had apparently been reenergized by the arrival of their guests and the gifts they had brought for the children. Cloud smiled as he watched Marlene present Reno with the gift she and Denzel had picked out for him. He unwrapped it like he himself was a child, wrapping paper flying everywhere as he opened his gift.
"A Rubik's Cube? Are you two trying to kill me?" he asked with a smirk.
"Nope," Marlene said with a sweet smile. "We're just trying to force you to think, since it's not a normal past time for you."
"Ah-ha! That's my daughter!" Barret said with a laugh.
Reno made a face at him and pulled Marlene in for a hug. "When you're legal and you want to get back at your dad, give me a call."
Barret stopped laughing and glared at Reno. "That ain't funny, punk!"
"Don't you want me for a son-in-law, pops?" Reno asked with a smirk.
"If it weren't Christmas, I'd kick your ass boy!" Barret snapped.
"Okay, no ass kicking please," Tifa said as she began bringing food to the table. "I know we're in a bar, but tonight it's not a bar so all fights must hit the streets."
"Don't worry daddy," Marlene said happily. "Even at seven I have better taste than to date Reno!"
"Hey!" Reno said as he grabbed his heart dramatically. "I am hurt, kiddo!"
"Don't worry Reno," Marlene assured him. "You're a great guy, but you're too old for me. Plus, you're too much like family!"
Reno smiled when she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him. "Aww. You're a sweet kid, yo!"
"Tifa didn't raise no fool!" Marlene said in her best impersonation of Barret before gathering up her new presents and taking them back to her room.
By the time the food was ready, Tifa still had time to change into the shirt the children had bought her and a new pair of black pants. Once she reappeared in the living room, everyone cheered. Now that she was back, it was time for dinner.
After dinner was finished, the early morning excitement had finally caught up with both Denzel and Marlene. They each muttered their goodnights through yawns before Tifa ushered them up to bed. Barret went with her and tucked Marlene in as he always did when he was around. Both kids were out like a light as soon as their heads hit the pillows. Tifa and Barret both smiled at each other before quietly shutting the door behind them.
"Now we can get to the gifts!" Yuffie said happily when they both reappeared in the living room. Secret Santa was always her favorite part because it was fun to see who got who and what they had bought for their person. "I want to go first! Merry Christmas, Tifa!"
Tifa smiled and took the gift from Yuffie. She unwrapped it and pulled out a sexy black dress she had been eyeing on one of their many shopping trips. "Thanks Yuffie!"
"There's more!" she said with a wink.
Tifa blushed as she discovered the black lingerie under the dress. "Thanks and no, no one else can see it!"
Reno pouted. "Come on babe! If I got underwear, I'd show you!"
"Reno, you'd show any girl your underwear!" Yuffie said with a smirk.
"Not true," he said with his own smirk. "I wouldn't show them to pre-pubescent ninjas such as yourself!"
Yuffie stuck her tongue out at him before turning and nudging Loz in the side. "And you're welcome in advance, man."
He blushed and looked at Tifa who also blushed before clearing her throat. "Okay, it's my turn." She got to her feet and handed Cid a box. "Merry Christmas, Cid."
"Thanks, darlin'," he said with a smile. He opened the package and whistled. "A brand new state of the art compass for my ship! You're amazing, Teef. Thanks a bundle," he said before kissing her on the cheek. "Now Shera can stop worrying about me when I'm away, damn women and their incessant worrying!"
"Too bad she couldn't make it," Yuffie said as she pouted slightly.
"Well, chocobo pox ain't pleasant to look at," Cid said with a smirk. "But she sends her love. Now it's my turn. Merry Christmas, Reeve."
Reeve smiled and took the cloth bag Cid offered him and smiled when he pulled out a bottle of wine. "Thank you Cid. This is one of my favorites."
"I figured ya'd need some booze working with that little ball of energy over there," Cid said as he jerked his thumb towards Yuffie, who in turn stuck her tongue out at him.
Reeve smiled and nodded. "Though, sometimes, she's the least of my worries." He leaned over and picked up his gift. "Merry Christmas, Loz."
Loz happily took his gift from Reeve and opened it, revealing a new ratchet set. "Thank you. I've been meaning to buy a new set. The one I have is missing bits and this one has an angled head attachment!"
"Tifa mentioned you were hoping to find a new set but you were having trouble finding one that came with that attachment," Reeve said.
Loz nodded and thanked him again before getting up and smirking at Reno. "Merry Christmas, Reno."
Reno smiled and happily tore through the wrapping paper before opening the box revealing a huge, almost novelty sized bottle of whiskey. "Aw, Sideburns! You are the best!" he exclaimed before jumping to his feet and hugging him. "This is the best gift ever! I'll need every drop if I'm ever going to solve that Rubik's Cube the kids gave me!" He leaned over and picked up his gift. "Merry Christmas, Nanaki."
Nanaki opened his gift and smiled slightly. "Monogrammed towels?"
"I thought they would class up your place…den…wherever you live," Reno said with smile.
"He don't need towels ya moron!" Cid said as he rolled his eyes.
"I had already committed to the towels!" Reno protested. "It was a one in ten chance I was going to get the dog!"
"He ain't a dog," Cid growled.
"Okay, it was a one in ten chance I was going to get the non-human, okay?" Reno said defensively. He turned and smiled sheepishly at Nanaki. "Sorry about the lame gift, yo."
Nanaki smiled and shook his head. "It's fine…so long as you don't ever call me a dog ever again."
Reno smiled and nodded. "You got it, yo!"
Nanaki shook his head and got to his feet. "Merry Christmas, Rude."
Rude took the gift that Yuffie handed him for Nanaki and smiled slightly. "Designer shades? These are great. Now that I don't have Reno stepping on or otherwise destroying every other pair, I can finally have nice things. Thank you, Nanaki."
"Whatever man, you miss me," Reno said petulantly.
"I miss you," Rude conceded. "But I don't miss replacing my sunglasses. Merry Christmas, Vincent."
Vincent inclined his head and accepted the box from Rude. He was curious as to the contents when he saw a few strange holes lining the box. He lifted the lid and raised an eyebrow before looking at Rude. "A kitten?"
Yuffie nearly tripped over herself hurrying over to get a better look as Vincent lifted a small calico kitten from the box. "Oh gods, she is cute!"
Everyone looked at the cat snuggling up to Vincent. He sat stiffly as the kitten sniffed his hands and climbed up his arm to sniff and nuzzle against his cheek before curling up and resting on his shoulder. Once the kitten had settled, everyone turned collectively to look at Rude. He shrugged nonchalantly.
"We're the strong silent type," he said to Vincent. "But even we get lonely. Cats provide company without all the conversation. Trust me, Fluffy changed my life when Elena gave her to me for my birthday."
"Thank you, Rude," Vincent said as he absently stroked the top of the purring kitten's head. He leaned over and handed a gift to Yuffie, who was sitting on the arm of the chair he was sitting in stroking the kitten's back.
"Yay!" she said as she dropped to the floor and ripped through the paper like a kid. She gasped and looked up at Vincent. "You are so thoughtful! A display case for all my materia! And it has a lock and everything! Thanks, Vincent!"
Vincent blushed slightly as she kissed him on the cheek. "You're welcome, Yuffie."
"That must mean Cloud and Barret got each other," Yuffie said.
"Merry Christmas, Spiky," Barret said as he tossed Cloud his present.
"Merry Christmas, Barret," Cloud said as he too tossed his present to Barret.
"Alright, man! A phone with a texting keyboard that is compatible with my gun arm!" Barret said with a smile. "Thanks Spiky! I hate texting with my left hand!"
"No problem," Cloud said as he unwrapped his present. "It's that book of poems and sonnets I wanted." He blushed and looked up when he saw everyone looking at him kind of strangely. "What? Poetry is complex and enjoyable to read and sonnets…okay, I officially hate all of you right now."
They all laughed and Tifa leaned over and gave him a hug while he blushed at his secret love of poetry becoming common knowledge.
"Cloud, you're awesome," Yuffie said as she too leaned over and hugged him. She sat up suddenly and looked at Tifa. "Hey, what did Sideburns give you for Christmas?"
Tifa shrugged. "I don't know. Cloud, Loz, and I didn't exchange gifts yet." She got to her feet and slid the presents she had purchased for the to two men out from under the tree and handed them to each of them. "Merry Christmas guys."
Cloud opened his first and smiled as he pulled out a copy of the latest novel in a series of books he collected. "Thanks Tifa. I don't have this one yet."
"Next year I'll buy you poetry, chocobo head!" she said with a wink.
"Shut up," he said with a smirk before handing her his present.
She opened the paper and smiled as she pulled out a new pair of fighting gloves. "Cloud, you little trickster! You told me you didn't go back to that store! They fit like a dream. Thank you."
He hugged her and smiled. "You're welcome Teef."
She turned and looked at Loz. "I hope you like it."
He smiled and began unwrapping the gift in his hands. He smiled when he saw the expensive watch he had been eyeing during one of the many times they had been shopping for Christmas. "Tifa, this must have cost you a month's wages."
She smiled and shrugged. "It's a good thing I live with a man that makes good money, but don't tell him I'm using him for his gil! It's a secret."
He smirked and rolled his eyes. "Surprise! He already knows that!"
Tifa laughed. "So…where's my gift?"
He slid from the couch and joined her on the floor. "I hope you like it, Tifa."
She looked at the small box and noticed everyone watching with curious, yet excited eyes as she slowly unwrapped it. As she turned it around to open it, everyone was practically on the edge of their seats. She smiled and shook her head before popping open the lid. Her smile faded as tears formed in her eyes.
"Oh, Loz! It's beautiful!" she said as she smiled once more and threw her arms around him. "Did you go to Nibelheim to get this?"
He shook his head. "I bought from a jewelry store in Midgar. Do you like it?"
"I love it!" she said as she took it out of the box and slipped it over her finger.
"Why'd you think he bought it Nibelheim?" Yuffie asked as she scooped up Vincent's kitten and sat on the floor with her.
Tifa held her hand out and showed it to Yuffie. "These carvings are usually seen in artwork of our ancestors. My mother and father had some beautiful sculptures and other pieces of artwork that had been in their families for years, but everything had been destroyed when Sephiroth burned the town to the ground." She turned and smiled up at Loz. "Thank you so much."
He accepted her embrace and returned it happily. "You're welcome, Tifa."
"Well, this has been a pretty kick-ass Christmas folks!" Reno said happily. "Thanks for including me and Rude. You former terrorists are alright, yo!"
"You're not so bad yourself, ex-Turkey," Yuffie said as she plopped herself down beside Reno and kissed his cheek. He smiled and dropped an arm around her shoulders.
"Thanks for havin' us, Tifa," Cid said as he got to his feet. "You always know how to do Christmas right! I gotta head out though to check on Shera."
Tifa got to her feet and hugged Cid. "Tell her we missed her and make sure she eats those leftovers!"
"Are ya kiddin'? Nothin' will stop her from enjoying your turkey, missy," he assured her.
"I'll be leaving with Cid," Nanaki said. "Thank you for having me. I really enjoyed seeing everyone again."
"Enjoy those towels, yo!" Reno called with a wink.
Nanaki smiled. "I'm sure I will. Thank you Reno."
"No problem, man!"
"I will take my leave of you as well," Reeve said as he hugged Tifa and kissed her on the cheek. "I have an early morning tomorrow, but I promise to stop in more often."
"See that you do," Tifa mockingly threatened before smiling.
"I'll be seeing you around, Tifa," Rude said as he followed the others towards the stairs leading down to the bar. "I have an early morning too. Enjoy your kitten Vincent."
"I will," he said as the kitten curled itself around the top of his head, leaning against the high back of the chair.
"Thanks again Tifa," Rude said with a small hint of a smile.
She hugged him and nodded. "You're welcome Rude. I'll see you all out."
"So are you spending the night?" Yuffie asked as she turned and looked up at Reno.
"Why? Are you looking for a bed mate?" he said with a smirk.
She rolled her eyes. "No, I'm just wondering if I need to watch out for perverted ex-Turks peeping on me, that's all."
"Are you including Big Red in that ex-Turk comment?" Reno asked dryly.
"Don't call me Big Red, Reno," Vincent said quietly.
"You're the only pervert here," Yuffie countered.
"You know you love me," Reno said with a smirk before looking at Loz. "Do you guys have any room for me?"
Loz nodded. "The kids are in Cloud's old room, so their beds are available and the couch is available. I think Tifa mentioned a couple of air mattresses were around too."
"Nice job on the ring," Yuffie said with a smile. "But where's the big proposal?"
"Yeah, why not go all the way?" Reno asked. "The thing looks like a frickin' wedding band."
"Not all commitments need a ceremony," Vincent interjected. "That ring shows his commitment to her and for him to pick something that is tied to her past, a past the man he was created from stole from her, shows how much he trusts her. His gift to her was perfect in so many ways."
"If I get your name next year, I'm buying you a book of poetry man," Reno said as he rolled his eyes. "Vomit!"
Tifa smiled as she reappeared. "So, do all of you need accommodations?"
Reno nodded. "Yes! I want to put a dent in this sweet bottle of whisky your boy toy gave me!"
"Let's make him sleep in the shed," Cloud suggested with a smirk.
"Reno, the couch is yours," Tifa said with a smile. "Who wants the two air mattresses in Cloud's old room?"
"I do," Cloud said as he stretched. "I promised the kids I'd stay with them tonight."
"I'm with Spiky," Barret said with a smile. "Those little hooligans convinced us to sleep in there with them!"
Tifa turned and looked at Vincent. "Is it okay for you and Yuffie to share the kids' room?"
Vincent nodded. "That is fine with me."
"Me too," Yuffie said, a blush spreading across her cheeks.
"Are you two doing it or something?" Reno asked as he smirked down at Yuffie.
"I'm not hearing this," Cloud said as he rolled his eyes and got to his feet. He stopped beside Tifa and hugged her before kissing her on the cheek. "Good night, Tifa. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, Cloud," she said before hugging and kissing Barret on the cheek. "Merry Christmas, Barret."
"Merry Christmas, mama," he said with a smile.
Reno straightened suddenly and poked Loz on the shoulder. "Hey, Sideburns. Do you wanna play that new racing game Denzel got?" Reno asked excitedly.
"Oh, hell yeah," Loz said with a smirk. "Apparently the cars have weapons and we can shoot at other drivers!"
"That's some cool shit!" Reno said with a smile. "Come on Vinnie! Get your old man vampire ass over here and play!"
Vincent got to his feet and handed his kitten to Yuffie for safekeeping. "Do you know what I hate more than you calling me Big Red?"
Reno frowned and looked at Loz, who shrugged, before they both turned and looked at Vincent. "No. What?"
"I hate it when you call me Vinnie," he said as he sat on the couch facing the television.
Yuffie giggled and got to her feet. "Okay, this is officially the man cave. Let's do some serious girl talk!"
Tifa nodded and led Yuffie and the kitten to the kids' empty room. "What's on your mind, Yuffie?"
"Sideburns gave you a ring," she said as she dropped onto Marlene's bed. "Are you two ever gonna get married or what?"
Tifa smiled and shrugged. "Maybe. Right now we're happy. And that's enough for both of us."
"I guess," Yuffie said thoughtfully. "You know, the more I get to know Loz, the less I see him as…well, you know."
"Sephiroth?" Tifa supplied. "Yuffie, he's dead. Saying his name isn't going to make him magically appear!"
"I know," she said defensively. "I just don't like thinking about him! And at first, that's all I could see when I looked at your silver-haired lover boy. But he is so good with those kids! And now he got you that thoughtful ring. It's all very romantic!"
Tifa laughed and nodded as she stretched out on her side on Denzel's bed looking at Yuffie. "Yeah, who would have thought that inside the heart of the man who tossed me around the church like a rag doll, hid the soul of a romantic?"
"Maybe that was just his foreplay," Yuffie suggested with a wink.
Tifa covered her eyes and laughed as she blushed. "Yuffie! Seriously?"
"Ah, that blush says I'm on to something!" she teased as she avoided the pillow Tifa tossed at her.
"Shut up," Tifa said with a smile. "Enough about me…tell me about all the blushing you've been doing this evening. Are you crushing on our resident vampire?"
Yuffie smiled and blushed even more. "A little."
Tifa smiled. "Alright, spill your guts, kid!"
Yuffie smiled. "Well, Vincent was helping Reeve with something one night and I was working late. He was leaving at the same time and I casually asked him to grab a bite with me. I totally expected him to say no since he's not the kind of guy who hangs out this his friends. But he said yes."
Tifa raised her eyebrows. "Really? That's one hell of an accomplishment. What happened?"
"Well, it was all silent and stuff and you know how much I hate silence!" Yuffie said as she made a face. "So of course my motor mouth kicked into high gear and I was sure it would be the last time he ever agreed to go for dinner with anyone, but he just listened and I could tell he was paying attention because he never stopped looking at me."
"Wow," Tifa said.
"I know, crazy huh?" Yuffie said as she took a breath. "Anyway, he walked me back to the apartment I stay at when I'm here on WRO business and when I said I had a good time, he said he had too and then he kissed me!"
"What?" Tifa squealed as she sat up and covered her mouth. "Wow, that was really loud. What happened?"
"Nothing," Yuffie said, a little deflated. "We haven't talked since that night, so I'm kind of hoping we'll get a chance once we're alone tonight."
"Aww! That is so cute!" Tifa said with a smile. "You are going to have to tell me what happens!"
"I will, trust me!" Yuffie said as she looked down at the kitten sleeping beside her. "I can't believe Rude got Vincent a cat!"
"I can't believe Rude owns a cat," Tifa said with a smile. "Or that he named it Fluffy! I wonder what Vincent will name her."
Yuffie made a face and blew her bangs out of her face. "Probably something stupid like, Dark Terror or Depressive Mourning!"
Tifa laughed and shook her head. "Gods I hope he picks something less scary than that!"
The two girls continued chatting until Vincent entered the room a couple of hours later. They both looked up and smiled at him.
"I hope I'm not interrupting anything," he said quietly.
"No way," Yuffie said with a smile. "We were just gossiping and guessing what kind of name you were going to give your little kitty friend here."
"Any thoughts?" he asked.
"Darkness, Demona, Hellfire, you know, depressing vampire type names," Tifa said teasingly.
He nodded contemplatively. "Those are all good names, but I was thinking Sophie."
"That's so…normal!" Yuffie blurted out before covering her mouth. "Sorry, Vincent. I'm always yapping without thinking. I'm sorry."
As he looked at the young ninja, a small smile quirked the corners of his lips. "It's alright, Yuffie. Your honesty is one of the things I like most about you."
Yuffie blushed even more and Tifa smiled. "So, Sophie it is. If you want, Yuffie, the kids, and I can pick up all the supplies you'll need for her tomorrow."
"I would appreciate that immensely, Tifa," he said as he inclined his head.
"I'm heading to bed," Loz said as he stepped into the room slightly.
"How was the game?" Tifa asked.
"Vincent owned our asses," Loz said with a smirk before he turned and walked towards the room he shared with Tifa.
"Yeah," Reno said as he passed the room on his way to the bathroom. "We were his bitches, that's for sure."
Vincent smirked. "They didn't think an old man like me could handle them."
Tifa pushed herself to her feet and smiled. "Ah, we young folk…always so arrogant! Good night, Yuffie!"
Yuffie jumped to her feet and hugged Tifa. "Night, Teef! Merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas Yuffie," she said before turning and kissing Vincent on the cheek. "Merry Christmas, Vincent. I'm glad you came."
"I am glad I came as well, Tifa," he said with a small smile.
"Now get out of here and put that lingerie I gave you to good use!" Yuffie said with a smirk.
Tifa rolled her eyes and closed the door behind her. She smiled as Reno came out of the bathroom and smiled at her.
"Let me know if you need anything, Reno," Tifa said.
"Thanks babe," he said with a smirk. As she turned to move past him, he reached out and lightly grabbed her hand. "I mean it Tifa. Thanks for having me tonight and every other night and for…forgiving me. I sure as hell don't deserve it, but I'm thankful to have it."
She smiled and hugged Reno. "Thank you for always making me laugh and I will never forget what you did for Marlene and Denzel. The remnants nearly killed Tseng and Elena, but you and Rude still went searching for my kids despite the danger to you two. You're a good guy Reno…even if you were a Turk!"
He smiled and kissed her cheek. "Merry Christmas Tifa. You are one of a kind."
"Merry Christmas Reno," she said before they both turned in opposite directions. Tifa couldn't help but laugh when she heard Reno knock on the door where Yuffie and Vincent were.
"I don't wanna hear you two getting your freak on, got it?" he called through the door.
"Just like we don't want to hear you wanking off in the living room," Yuffie called through the door.
Tifa shut the door to her room and smiled when she saw Loz looking through the book Cloud had given him. She made her way into the small ensuite bathroom and began getting dressed for bed. She returned shortly and was belting her robe when Loz looked at her.
"Is Christmas always like this?" he asked with a smile.
She sat on the bed facing him and smiled. "It is with this bunch. Did you have fun?"
He smiled and nodded. "Your friends are so nice. They all welcomed me into this celebration, and even though I don't know Reeve very well at all, he was very thoughtful with his gift."
"That's what Christmas is all about," Tifa said with a smile. "Making your friends and family happy. Speaking of which, thank you for the ring."
He smiled. "Cloud and the sales girl really helped. Her name was Miki. She used to work with you?"
"Oh yeah! She was such a sweetie!" Tifa said with a smile.
"Are you disappointed it wasn't an engagement ring?" he asked.
"Loz you make me happy as it is," Tifa said as she kissed his cheek. "I know that we're both committed to each other, heart and soul. Maybe one day we'll get married. But I am already so happy. And this ring is so beautiful. I love it and I love you! Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas," he said before kissing her on the lips.
She pulled away and smirked sexily. "Now, I want your opinion." She got to her feet and flung off her robe revealing the barely-there lace lingerie Yuffie had given her earlier. "Does this make me look sexy?"
Loz's eyes widened and he nodded. "Yeah."
"Good!" she said before sliding under the covers beside him and starting kissing his neck.
He sighed happily as he she kissed a path up to his lips. "I love Christmas!"
Merry Christmas everyone! :D