Midgar Beach, 04 N.C.E. (New Common Era)

The sand welcomed her bare feet as it swept around them, molding itself to their shape as she set them down. The ocean breeze blew her hair back, and she closed her eyes and smiled as the last rays of a setting sun touched her face, marking the end of another day of seemingly endless bliss. It had taken her years to realize it, but her life was strictly uphill from here. The war was over, she'd overseen the beginning of the reconstruction of civilization, and now, people were actually starting to become happy once again. It was a time that four years ago on this very day, she never thought would come.

She pushed her body off of the rock, and proceeded to walk up the beach, brushing the sand off the back of her shirt as she went. In the distance, she could make out the vauge shape of her car sitting up on the hill where she'd left it that afternoon. It looked incredible with the orange rays hitting it at such an angle, a silver bullet resting in the infinite space above the beach. Or so it seemed, until she produced her key and inserted it into the door lock. It gave its usual accepting "click", and with a smooth gliding noise, it slid open, resting parallel to the hood of the vehicle. She stepped inside the driver's side door, and dropped down into the warm leather seat. Her smooth, yet strong fingers gripped the rubber- insulated steering wheel, as she took a moment to enjoy the sheer thrill she felt before every drive. She loved this car, and the world knew it.

* * *

The car hummed quietly as she maneuvered it into the parking space at the side of the street. With a jerk she locked the brakes, and was up on the pavement, heading toward her destination. The black tinted glass door reflected her full body as she walked over to open them, fixing the section of hair that had blown into her face. Immediately upon her entrance of the building, she was hit with the artificially cool air, and loud, pulsing rhythms of the music emitting from the speakers inside. Making the transferrence from the bright outside world to this pounding abyss, she let the door close gently behind her, and was greeted by a familiar face.

"Hi! Welcome to Seventh Heaven Bar and Club, will you be staying today?" Said the hostess, Tifa Lockheart as she looked at her customer quizzically. Had she ever seen this young woman before? She looked very familiar, yet she couldn't recall quite where. She finally couldn't resist but to ask, "I'm sorry, don't take this the wrong way, but, do I know you from somewhere? Magazine cover, maybe?" The girl laughed.

"Aw, c'mon Teef! You mean you don't remember me?" She removed her dark sunglasses and put them in the front pocket of her short jacket. She giggled as the hostess brought a hand to her open mouth and gasped quietly.

"Yuffie! Oh my god! It's really you!" Tifa dropped her clipboard as she ran toward and embraced the girl tighter than she'd ever before. The two jumped up and down and laughed hysterically, almost as if they couldn't believe this was actually happening. "Oh, wow...there's so much that's much you need to know, Yuffie where have you been all these years?!" She said with tears of joy in her eyes. Yuffie looked down at the floor, blinking a few times.

"I guess there's some stuff you should know too, huh?" She turned her face back up after a moment, her face bright as usual. "But not now. Now I want a drink! A real drink." She said with a cutting edge in her voice, and a sly grin. Noting Tifa's hesitation, she added "I'm twenty, Tifa, it's quite okay to serve me a drink."

"Alright." She replied, softly as she moved over to the bar. "What'll it be?"

"Whatever's good tonight, Teef. Surprise me!" She said, hopping up on a barstool, greeting the man next to her, in her usual carefree, yet somewhat oblivious, way.

"Hey there. Never seen you around here before." He said, turning his eyes toward her. He wasn't bad looking, and his suave manner definietly was attractive. He had brown hair and blue eyes that sparkled with desire for sometihng. Tifa watched him carefully as she cleaned another glass and placed it on the rack. She knew this man, and she also knew not to trust him farther than one could throw him (which, in her case, was quite far.) She decided to attempt to intervene.

"Hey, Yuffie, wanna check out the new dance floor while I make up your drink?" She offered. Yuffie frowned.

"I dunno, maybe later. I'm kinda tired, need to loosen up a bit, ya see?" She replied, picking an olive from the basket on the counter and popping it into her mouth. Tifa huffed as she went back to cleaning the glasses. Her little ritual was broken as the noise of the door opening signaled the arrival of another customer, and she placed the glass on the counter, rushing to their assistance. With her gone, the man turned back to Yuffie.

"So, what are you doing here this time of the week? I didn't think the kids came until Friday nights." He commented, amused. Although it was none of his buisiness, and she knew that quite well, she decided to play along.

"Oh, I dunno. I just felt like getting something to drink, thats all. I had a nice long day." She giggled, the thrill of trying alcohol for the first time was rushing through her head, filling her with anticipation. "What kinda stuff do they serve here nowadays?" She inquired. He laughed.

"Well, it aint as hardcore as it used to be, but Tiff makes a pretty good drink..." He started. She interrupted quickly.

"Um, its pronounced 'Teef'."


"It's 'Teef', you said 'Tiff' as in Tiffany." He smiled, sort of sarcastically, but was interrupted once again when Tifa called from behind them.

"Hey Yuffie! C'mere! Look who it is!" She shouted with enthusiasm. Both customers turned and noticed the slightly tall man with short blonde hair and a leather jacket standing with the hostess at the door. Possibly his most noticable features were his eyepatch (from a recently damaged cornea) and the fact that he still smoked cigars, when most people at this time had switched to cigarettes.

"Cid! Hey!" Yuffie shouted across the bar, jumping off her seat, and running up into his arms as he swept her up in a bear hug and kissed her on the cheek.

"Aw, kid! Where ya been? It's been so long! I haven't seen you since...damn...a few days after the war ended!" He exclaimed, setting her down on the floor. Her smile was as huge as ever, and it seemed to light up the entire room with a golden aura, despite its flashing red and blue lights. "So how old are you now, no, wait, don't tell me! I'll are...fifteen! Right?" He shouted, trying to keep a straight face.

"Cid!" She said, pushing him playfully, "I'm twenty! I'm actually and "adult" now, whatever that means." His eye widened.

"Twenty, eh? Well then, lets see your drivers liscence, ma'am." She grinned over her shoulder as she walked back to the bar.

"In a minute, Cid. I won't be long, just need to finish my drink!" Cid's face darkenened.

"Did she say 'drink'?"

Tifa nodded, slowly.

"Aw, shit."

* * *

One hour later

Yuffie Kisaragi almost fell out of her chair laughing for the twentieth time that night, as the man told her another sidesplitting joke. Or perhaps she just thought they were sidesplitting, as, in her current condition, the countertop was hilarious if one looked at it correctly.

"So then I says to the guy, 'Now there's an eleventh floor'." He smiled as he achieved another round of roaring laughter from the young woman. She caught her breath, and said to him.

", you are too funny! I gotta come back here more often." His eyes narrowed slightly, and he smiled a little wider.

"'ve had quite few there, you sure you can get home okay?" He leaned in close to her, examening her beauty. This girl was absolutely gorgeous, and he was going to do all he could to ensure that they would have some "time alone" later on.

"Sure, sure..I'm fine, just fine." She laughed, trying to pass of her drunkenness. He remained persistent.

"You sure? I'd hate to see this pretty face get banged up in a car accident..." He brought a hand to her face, running it down the side of her cheek. Not five seconds later, his hand was jerked away by someone behind them. Again, they turned and saw none other than Cid Highwind, glaring down at the man beside Yuffie.

"Okay, I think its time for me to take her back home. Thanks for your help, Mick." He added, sarcastically. Mick stood up.

"Now you wait just one minute, I believe girl wants to come home with me, not Cid the pirate. Yardy harr har." He mocked Cid's eyepatch. The pilot clenched his fists tightly, trying to restrain himself.

"Let's go, Yuffie." He said, reaching to take her by the arm. He was stopped as the man known as Mick stepped between them.

"Does this have to get ugly?" He threatened. Cid smirked and grabbed Mick by the collar, slamming his fist into his left eye. A dazed Mick slid down the counter, and messily clattered to the floor.

"I believe it already has." Cid said, teasing the man below him. With some effort, Mick helped himself up again, blinking furiously, and squared off against Cid.

"Okay, fine, we'll have it your way." He put up his fists, almost causing the pilot to burst out laughing at his faulty stance. Cid decided to play along, as Mick took a few erratic swings at him, each missing miserably. With a sweeping motion, Cid's arm flew around the back of the other man's neck, jerking his body down and putting him in a headlock. In between landing punishing blows to Mick's face, Cid walked him over to the exit of the bar.

"Arr, ya little bitchass! Yarrdy har harr!" He released his hold on Mick's neck, and pushed him almost through the glass doors. Mick desperately tried to find a handle to help him stay vertical, but Cid took the honor of pushing the door open. With one last shot, he nailed the man directly in the nose, snapping his head back and throwing his body to the pavement outside, nose exuding a steady stream of blood. "Arr, and don't ye ever show yer carcass 'round these parts again! Arr!" He shouted, victoriously as he turned back into the bar. He was greeted with the cheers of its patrons, and a pat on the back from its hostess.

"Thanks a lot," She whispered to him, "I was getting kinda worried for Yuffie, but wasn't sure what to do. I'm glad you did." She giggled. "Oh, Cid, I can always count on you to be direct!" He smiled, but then noticed that the only wallflower at the celebration was Yuffie, who was sitting at the bar, hanging her head down.

"What? What's the matter? The creep's gone!" He said, walking over to her. She still frowned.

"He wasn't so bad..." She looked like she might cry, and Cid rolled his eyes.

"Come on, kid, you're drunk. Let's take you home, okay?"

"I am not swear! I drunk!" She tried to insist. The bar laughed as Cid took her arm and guided her stumbling body out the door and into her car. The funny thing was, she didn't even notice him taking her keys.

"Say, now this is a mighty nice tub ya got here. Musta cost an arm and a leg." He marveled as the doors slid open, and he helped Yuffie inside.

Almost through the whole ride to the Midgar Hotel, Yuffie said nothing. She just sat in her seat and crossed her arms, like a scolded child. Cid turned to her.

"Come on, kid, you know as well as I do that things were getting a little crazy back there. Don't go making a fool of yourself like that again. And stay off the funny stuff, it'll get to you after a while, I know from very personal experience." He said, trying to reach something in her clouded mind. She finally spoke.

"I just think it's wrong that whenever I meet a guy, you wanna protect me from him, like you're my dad or something. I just was having a little fun!" This angered Cid as he stopped the car in front of the hotel's entrance.

"Look, kid, that guy's no good, ya hear me? No good. You stay away from him and his kind for your own welfare, ya see?" He demanded. His rage lightened as he saw little tears form in her eyes, and she turned away. "Aw, listen, kid. I know you're all young and crazy, but don't go getting yourself into trouble like that. There are plenty of guys in this world that aren't bums like Mick, and are yours for the taking. You just haven't looked in the right places." He assured her, and they walked out of the car, and into the hotel lobby. "Room for one please?" Cid inquired of the man at the desk. He eyed them suspiciously. "I'm just dropping her off." He added, annoyed.

"343, third floor right wing." The man said, throwing Cid a key. Deciding to take the elevator up, he continued to lead a very out-of-it Yuffie to her room, where he opened the door.

The room was nice, simple, yet elegant. While Cid was admiring the decor, Yuffie only cared about one thing: the bed across the room. She stripped off her black jacket, removed her shoes, and dropped straight down onto the mattress. Cid followed after, draping a blanket across her body, and shutting off the light.

"I live a few blocks down, and I'll leave my number by the phone. Call me in the morning when you're ready to leave." He opened the door and stepped out of it, "G'night, ya little party animal." He said to her quietly. She smiled and closed her eyes as her mind became lost in the white sheets that enveloped her, and she drifted off to sleep.

- -

"Haha, yes! I'll have three orders of pancakes and a ham and cheese omlette with orange juice delivered to room 343, please. And no, I honsetly don't care what time it is. I would like breakfast delivered, thank you." She spoke into the phone, as she sat on her bed, legs crossed, her left foot bouncing at the ankle. "Thanks a bunch! I'll be waiting." She hung up the phone and gazed over at the clock. It was three in the afternoon, and she had just fully woken up from a terrible hangover, which it took her all night and morning to sleep off. However, now all she could think about was how hungry she was, and the fact that she hadn't eaten in almost an entire day.

When the knock at the door came, she jumped up to answer it, almost tripping over her jacket which she'd left in the middle of the floor. Regaining her bearings, she smoothed out her hair, and opened the door, welcoming in her oddly large order of food. Not caring what kind of mess she made, she set the tray down on the bed, and set to work, rotating between each meal as she went. By the time she had reached her third order of pancakes, the phone rang.

"Hwmpho?" she said, her mouth full of food.

"Kid? Is that you?" The voice of her friend eminated from the other end of the line. Yuffie giggled and swallowed her food, picking up the phone again.

"Hiiii Ciiiiiid!" She said cheerily into the phone.

"Where the hell were you? It's almost four o' clock! I told you to call me as soon as you woke up, and I've been waiting by the phone since seven this morning!" He yelled into the reciever. She snickered.

"Well, I wasn't feeling so good this morning, so I slept it off, and here I am, only now I'm eating breakfast."

"Alright, well, just finish up. I'll be right down." He grumbled. As she polished off the last of her orange juice, there came a second knock at the door. Approaching it, she inquired,

"Who is it?"

"Arr, its Highwind the scourge, come ter make ye walk the plank!" Cid joked from the outside. Yuffie opened it, and tossed her head back, laughing. "Well, its good to see you back to normal, now c'mon down. There's a surprise for ya waiting outside." He turned and headed downstairs as she got dressed and washed her face. Fifteen minutes later, she left the suite, and took the elevator down to the ground floor. When she arrived at the front desk, she said to the clerk,

"Kisaragi, room 343 for checkout?" The man at the desk strolled his eyes down the list, and found her name. He looked up at her.

"A Mr. Highwind has already paid your fee, miss. Have a nice day." She smiled and ran outside.

"Aww, Cid! You shouldn't ha..."

"Yuffie!" Someone shouted, barreling into her, knocking her flat on her back, and squeezing her harder than anyone had previously. She looked up and saw the kind face and spiky blonde hair of her former friend, Cloud Strife.

"Cloud! Hey! Wow, I'm just so popular around here, aren't I?" She chuckled. He helped her up, and apologized for knocking her over. "Ah, thats okay. I can take it. Hey, who's this?" She asked pointing at the little boy on the sidewalk. He looked no more than three years old, his brown hair blew in the wind, and his hazel eyes stared up at her. He wore a blue outfit, similar to the one she remembered Cloud wearing back in the wartime.

"Yuffie," Cloud said proudly, "I'd like you to meet our son, Truss." Yuffie looked as if she'd been struck by lightning, and Tifa burst out laughing as she draped her arms around Cloud's shoulders. It was only now that Yuffie noticed the ring on her finger.

"Oh my god! No way! guys are...oh my god!" She babbled. Cloud led her back into her car, with Cid in the driver's seat.

"Hi, Miss Kissergee." Truss greeted her, trying to pronouince her name. Everyone laughed.

"Hey there, Mr. Streef." She retorted, playfully. The five friends laughed and chatted the whole way home, upon which Cid called to them through the window.

"I'm gonna take this back to my place, clean it up a bit for ya. I'll take it back here as this is probably where you'll be staying for a while. See ya later, kids!" He shouted, driving away. The gang turned back toward the house. Yuffie gasped.

"It''s so beautiful! Guys, how did you get this place?" The huge mansion was settled cozily on a green hill, with trees and shrubbery placed artfully around it.

"You like?" Cloud asked, relishing in the moment of her astonishment. She nodded weakly. "Come on inside! There's lots more to see."

- -

"So you still into your ninja stuff there, Yuffs?" Tifa asked her as she plucked a flower from the back garden. Truss' happy shouts could be heard from farther out in the woods as Cloud chased after him, pretending not to be able to catch up to him.

"Yes I am. I've gotten even more serious about it." She said back to Tifa, who nodded in approval.

"Same here, I've become a more dedicated martial artist. We should share techniques sometime." Yuffie giggled.

"Well, Ninjitsu is quite different from your scope of martial arts, but I'm willing to try." Tifa placed the flower on a wooden outdoor table.

"Oh, really. Is that so?" She said, standing with her arms akimbo. "Then teach me, o great ninja mistress Kisaragi."

"Nah, you wouldn't get it. Ninjitsu is a way of life, not a sport." Her curt reply more than just tested Tifa' patience.

"Okay, then show me your 'way of life', grasshopper." She mocked Yuffie, still keeping a friendly undertone in her voice.

"As you wish, Bakatare." Yuffie said, her palms facing outward, and her forearms crossed in front of her chest. A slight smile emerged on her lips as she wondered how far this silly contest would go.

"What was that?" Tifa asked putting up her fists. The two began to encircle each other, but stopped when they heard Cloud's voice come from the left. "Hey! What are you guys doing here?" Tifa demanded of Cloud and Truss.

"Nothing, we just don't wanna miss the fun. Now Truss, this is what we call 'quality entertainment.' Very rare, but worth the wait." He grinned. Yuffie chortled, and then began roaring in laughter as she took an outside view of the spectacle. "Anyway, come on inside the house, it looks like a pretty bad storm to me." Cloud requested, leading his son back to the mansion. The two girls looked back at each other.

"I'll get you later." They stated, simultaneously.

Trudging back up the hill, Yuffie's eyes caught the quick flash of lightning followed by a deafening clap of thunder that almost felled her to her knees. Turning around to gaze up at the sky, she saw the dark clouds gathering in the sky, and the drops of rain beginning to spill over from their residences. Soon the rain was flooding down in all directions, leaving Yuffie standing still, only a few feet from the house.

"Yuffie!" Tifa yelled from inside. "Come on! What are you doing out there?" Reluctantly, Yuffie reversed her direction and headed back into the house. Her hair was dripping, and her clothes were plastered down to her body. "What's up? Why were you standing out there?"

"I dunno...there's something weird about that storm." Yuffie replied, as she went to put on some dry clothes. She left Tifa staring our the glass sliding door, wondering.

What's so weird about it? It's just rain...just...rain...


part two