A/N: I know Christmas was over a week ago, but I'm a slow writer and just had to post this up anyway. Some of you might ask why didn't I wait till next Christmas. Well, i'm impatient that's why.

Basically, this is after ACC, maybe a few months later? You make the call. Oh. And I realise that there probably isn't such a thing as Christmas over there, nor does Santa exist even in their stories, but let's just pretend he does ;) Read and review please. Thanks!

Changed the title, from Hey Santa! To the present one.

Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII and all their characters do not belong to me nor am I making any profit out of this.

"Hey Cloud… You know Christmas is tomorrow right?"

"Oh… Uh. Yeah. Christmas."

Tifa sighed, her hand rubbing her forehead. "Please tell me you remembered to pick up the children's presents."

"Uhh… presents?" he asked, his brow furrowed in confusion. He hadn't remembered Tifa mentioning any of this.

"I told you to pick them up from Yuffie last week."

Crap. She had hadn't she? He was so screwed.

Laughing nervously, he replied "You did didn't you." He had been busy the whole week with Christmas deliveries. It wasn't his fault the presents had slipped his mind.

"So you haven't picked them up yet."

She was crossing her arms now. That wasn't a good sign at all.

"Well… I just thought Yuffie could bring it when she comes for the party tomorrow." Well that was a stroke of genius. He might actually get out of this alive.

"Marlene and Denzel think Santa is going to bring them their gifts. Remember those letters they gave you to "deliver" to him." Tifa arched an eyebrow, obviously not entertained by his feeble excuse.

Damn, how could he have forgotten about that. He had to do something quick, or Tifa would kill him.

"I remembered of course," he replied, turning to look at his maps spread on the table in front of him. She'd back off if he insisted enough. He hoped.

"Oh really? Care to show me the presents then?"

"I just told you. I remembered."

"I need to wrap them Cloud. Just tell me where you hid them."

"Yuffie wrapped them already."

Tifa sighed once again. "Cloud, I called Yuffie just now. She still has the presents. You can give up your little game now." He turned back around, a sheepish little smile across his face.

To see the dangerous glint in her eyes. He needed to run. Now.

"I'll give Yuffie a call. She can bring them tomorrow," he said hastily, turning to head up the stairs.

"Oh no you don't Cloud Strife. You're going to go and get them now. I'll be dammed if the children wake up tomorrow without any presents under the tree," Tifa growled menacingly.

"In this blizzard?" Cloud exclaimed, almost instinctively. He didn't really mind the cold, but to think of driving Fenrir in the raging storm outside? The hours he would have to spend cleaning it up when he got back.

"You can change into this before you leave then," she said, handing him a squarishly wrapped package. "Reeve passed this to me since he isn't going to be able to come tomorrow, being busy with the WRO and all. It's your Christmas present."

He eyed the package dubiously. He was getting a bad vibe from it. The waves of anticipation practically radiating off Tifa, as she waited for him to unwrap it, didn't help either.

Cautiously, he tore off the red and white chequered wrapping paper, lifting the lid of the cardboard box inside.

"What the -"

Cloud walked up the steps to the inn Yuffie was currently residing in, his hands tucked under his armpits, snow swirling violently around him. It was dammed cold. Even his usual riding gloves weren't enough to fully protect him from the cold outside. It had been even worse earlier, speeding through the countryside on Fenrir, the freezing wind biting at his hands. He was mildly surprised they weren't frostbitten already.

Opening the door, he quickly shook off the excess snow covering him and stepped inside, ripping off the unnecessarily flashy ear mufflers nestled on his head. They may have saved his ears, but he wasn't going to walk around looking like a huge pink bunny if he didn't have to.

Not that he didn't look stupid already.

Yuffie would have a field day when she saw him in this. It was disgustingly embarrassing, the "suit" Tifa had forced him to don before leaving the house. He had to admit though, it had kept him relatively warm throughout his journey here.

Standing in the doorway, he shut the door behind him, relishing in the warmth of the inn's main hall. At least there was a heater in here.

"Hello sir, how may I help you?"

He looked down at the young boy speaking to him. He was a bellboy of some sort. Surprising for a firm of such a mediocre size. Yuffie had good taste in this, at the very least.

"Room 207."

"Head up the stairs, the first landing, on your left," the youth said, before hesitantly continuing. "Have a good day sir."

He nodded at the boy, who seemed no older then sixteen, and proceeded to head up the stairs.

If he had anyone to blame for this mess he was in, he was gonna blame it on Yuffie. He couldn't blame it on Tifa – she would kill him - and it obviously wasn't his fault, so it had to be Yuffie's fault. She was the one who had insisted Tifa and her do their Christmas shopping together anyway. Why they had decided to leave Marlene and Denzel's presents with Yuffie though, he had no idea.

What he knew for sure though, was that he was going to kill that short, wannabe ninja when he saw her.

He came to a stop outside the room, checking once more, that he had really arrived at the correct room - a habit he had cultivated after a few bad experiences while on deliveries - before loudly rapping on the door. He heard a thud, followed by the scrambling of feet, before the door burst open, Yuffie bouncing out, dressed in a bright red and green, looking like one of Santa's elves on a sugar rush. "Hey Cloud! Finally here I see. Those presents were starting to get a little lonely."

"Just give me the presents," he growled. Yuffie's outfit pissed him off. He bet it had something to do with the call Tifa had received right before he left.

"Aww. Brighten up Cloudy boy. Stay a little while. It's Christmas Eve!"

What did she just call him?

"Everybody loves Christmas Eve don't they? All those delicious roasted turkeys and ooo all that alcohol."

It was her fault he was missing out on Tifa's delicious Christmas Eve dinner.

His stomach rumbled. Curse his stupid stomach. Of all times to complain. "Ahh. It seems like you haven't had your dinner yet. Or was all that snow outside not enough for you."

The little brat was seriously pushing it.

"Well don't you worry that pretty little face of yours. I got something that'll cheer you right up!" Without waiting for a response, she whipped out a bright red, cone-shaped hat, an evil grin upon her face.

He stared, wide-eyed, as she darted towards him, planting the fluffy monstrosity atop his golden spikes, flattening them in the process. "Hmm, not quite there yet." And she was gone, dashing back into the room to grab an unknown item.

He stood there, mouth still slightly agape, still not quite believing what had happened. Had she just rammed a… a Santa hat onto his head? Tentatively, he reached up, cautiously prodding the offending object on his head. It was all cotton and rough, with a furry ball attached to the top.

Grabbing it, he proceeded to tug, only to stop when he felt a sharp pain on his scalp. Just what had Yuffie done to that hat. He gave it another experimental tug, and experienced the same sharp pain as before. His eyes widened, once again, in horror, upon realising its implications.

The hat was stuck.

And it wasn't just any hat. It was a Santa hat of all things. That outfit which Tifa had forced upon him – which looked disturbingly like Santa's red and white suit – had already been bad enough. He did not need another variation to his usual black ensemble.

"Here we go!" Yuffie yelled, rushing back towards him, this time, a pile of white in hand.

His eyes narrowed and he shifted his stance, readying both hands to capture the hyperactive, teenaged brat. He wasn't going to let her catch him off guard again. Just wait till he got hold of her, all the things he would do.

Yuffie leaped straight towards him, hand outstretched, reaching for his face. Only to be snatched right out of the air. With the reflexes of a trained swordsman, he had grabbed both her outstretched arm and a leg, dangling her in midair.

A triumphant grin broke out on his face. He had caught her and he wasn't letting go. Not until he got his –

He stiffened, his face transforming into one of shock. With an evil cackle, Yuffie twisted out of his grip, landing on the floor with a thud. Using the flexibility only a thieving ninja like her had – she used it to get through all those tight gaps - Yuffie had reached up, using her free hand, and slapped the white fluff onto his face.

He reached up with both hands, scrambling to rid himself of what he had now identified as a scruffy white beard. It was stuck fast though, just as he had dreaded.

"Off. Now." His voice dangerously low. This time, she had taken it too far.

"Impossible, once it dries, it ain't coming off," Yuffie said, grinning like a maniac.

He hauled her up - the idiot was still lying on the floor - grabbing a fistful of her shirt, her feet above the ground. "I don't care what it takes. You better get rid of this or I'll – "

"Mummy! Look! It's Santa and his helper!"

He jerked, dropping her back onto the ground, ignoring her yelp of pain, as a small object crashed into his leg. Looking down, he realised that it was a little girl. "Hey Santa! You're too early. Isn't Christmas tomorrow?"

Santa? Did she just call him Santa? But why would she call him that?

"Did you bring my presents? Mummy said you'd bring them tonight, but you can give them to me now since you're here already."

"I'm so sorry. She just dashed off before I noticed anything." A woman, probably her mother, apologised, dragging the now wailing little girl, off his leg.

He wasn't listening though. Sure there was that stupid hat on his head, and now a beard attached to his chin, but it wasn't like he was wearing a red suit or something, now was he?

Oh shit.

He rushed into Yuffie's open room, leaping over her, as she complained about the "harsh treatment", and dashed into the bathroom, switching the lights on as he entered.

Oh god. The little girl had been right. He looked like a young, fit and blonde Santa right now. Sure it wouldn't fool anyone older than six, but he was still going to look ridiculous throughout his journey back home.

He could practically imagine the newspaper headlines tomorrow. "Motorcycle Over Sleigh, Santa Goes Modern".

"Hey Mr. Claus, watcha doing in there," sang Yuffie, leaning on the bathroom doorframe. "You gotta admit, you actually look good in that."

He glared at Yuffie, shutting her up. This was all her fault. First with the presents, now with this. He really was going to have to get her back soon.

"You created this problem, so fix it."

"What? No can do. I went through all that trouble to set this up, you think I'm gonna let you go so easily?"

"I can always tell Tifa about that time..." She was going to fix it one way or another. He'd seen her in the midst of numerous pranks before. Just because he hadn't told on her then, didn't mean he wouldn't rat her out if he had to.

He knew he had won when her eyes went wide. "You can't prove that it was me. Somebody else could have taken those whisky bottles. Especially such expensive ones. It's your fault for leaving them around."

"Wait. You took those?" Hohoho – maybe he really was turning into Santa - there was no way Tifa would let that go if she found out. "You are so screwed when Tifa finds out."

"Damm. Can't believe I got played, and by you of all people." Her eyes stared back at him now though, calculating. He had got her attention, and that was all he needed.

"You'll probanly be uninvited from the Christmas party there tomorrow, for that."

Yuffie paled considerably, her eyes still probing his, as if trying to discern the truth be his words.

"All those presents. Gone."

Heh. Was that a drop of sweat he just saw?

"She'll ban you from the bar."

Only a little more till she cracked.

"And that means no more free alcohol from Tifa. Ever."

"Okay, okay. I'll help, you blackmailing bastard." He didn't really care what she called him at this point of time, as long as she got rid all those Christmas additions.

Argh. Yuffie and her warped idea of fun. Really. He didn't get how ruining someone's Christmas had fun anywhere in it. Unless you were the Grinch of course. She was like a little Grinch though. The Yuffie Who Stole Christmas. Hah. That would be a laugh.

He rolled Fenrir into the garage. At least he was home. It was kind of late now though, he would have to clean Fenrir tomorrow instead. He needed to get up to the bathroom and shave off the dumb beard.

Yeah. You would have thought Yuffie would have had some prepared some solutions against her prank in case it back-fired. For such a scheming brat, she really was a little daft sometimes.

Yuffie was going to bring the "unstick" mixture when she came tomorrow. For now, all he could do was wait. And maybe try to shave off as much of the beard as he could. It was really starting to itch.

He flipped open his phone, checking the time. Midnight. Tifa should have closed the bar and put the children to sleep by now. Sure it was Christmas Eve, and there would have been much cash flowing in had the bar stayed open longer. But Santa wouldn't be able to deliver any presents if the bar was still open though. Or so Marlene had said. Why Tifa had given in to the child, he wasn't really sure. Maybe it was because it was their first Christmas together. As a family.


He had been gone so long, he was surprised they still considered him part of them. He was slowly getting used to it though. Waking up to the smell of breakfastcooking. Coming home to spend time with the children. It was quite mundane, really. Nothing compared to the days when they chased Sephiroth around.

But there was that warm feeling when he went to bed every night, no matter how late. That content happiness, like everything was just right. He liked it that way. He preferred it that way.

Things weren't perfect of course. There was always that consistent worry over the bills – you would think saviours of the world would at least get utilities free – or those long, boring deliveries, but it was worth it though. It was worth all that trouble, to come back to a home, where there were people waiting for him.

Hefting the sack over his back, he left the garage, entering the house through its front door at the bar. This was probably another one of Yuffie's practical jokes. Putting the presents into such a large sack. It was a good thing it was so dark outside. He didn't want any odd rumours spreading around the neighbourhood.

The lights were switched on in the living room though. Maybe carelessness on Tifa's part? That was unlikely though. She was always so meticulous.

Walking into the room, he sighed, seeing the figure slumped over in the chair, sleeping soundly. She had been waiting up for him again, even after all those times he had told her not to. She was understandably worried though. The round trip to the inn Yuffie had been staying in, and back, shouldn't have taken so long. The fiasco there had delayed him, causing him to arrive back home hours after he had been expected.

He dumped the sack unceremoniously onto the sofa and walked over to the still sleeping Tifa. She looked so peaceful as she slept now. He knew she sometimes had nightmares. He would wake up in the dead of the night at times, to hear faint shouts coming from her room.

The first time round, he had burst into her room, sword bared, only to find that the enemy tormenting Tifa, was not one he could cut, even with the sharpest sword.

He was helpless. How could he help her, when he couldn't even rid himself of his own inner demons. He would cut down, slay any attacker who posed a threat to his family, but could not even ease the pain of a nightmare. He couldn't be her hero. Not like this.

Subconsciously, he leaned down, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ears. He wouldn't run though. Not this time. He was a diffenent man now. There were people depending on him, just as he depended on them. He knew that now.

And maybe, just maybe, he had found a way to be her hero once more.

Sneezing, Tifa woke up, her body jerking upright, head colliding with his. He recoiled clutching his head in pain, while Tifa did the same, leaning back into the chair and groaning.

"Sorry. Didn't mean to wake you." Honestly, he had been intending to carry her up to her bed without her ever even knowing. Stupid beard had to tickle her awake.

"It's okay. I was about to go upstairs soon anyway." Tifa got off the chair, covering her mouth as a yawn overcame her.

Shrugging, he dug through the sack, searching for Marlene and Denzel's presents to put under the Christmas tree. It was obvious she had been waiting up, but he wasn't going to call her out on it. She was tired enough already as it was.

"I'm guessing Yuffie held you up?"

He grunted, answering her question, as he finally freed the packages from the sack. He really didn't want to talk about Yuffie. He had half a mind to spill her secrets right now. Too bad he needed that mixture to rid himself off the glue. He'd save his revenge for later.

A stiffled giggle caught his attention and he turned to face Tifa as he placed the presents under the tree. Her face was slightly flushed and she looked like she was trying hard not to laugh.

"What?" It was more of a reflex than an actual question. He knew why she was laughing. It wasn't fair though, seeing as it had been partially her fault.

Her laughter finally subsided enough for her to dare speak again. "You know, you actually look kinda cute in that. It's a nice change from all that black."

A faint red appeared on his face. She did not just call him cute. He was strong, and brave, and manly. How was that cute in any way? He was a man and men did not get called cute.

"Santa! Santa! You're here! I knew you would come even though you didn't come last year."

"Marlene! Come back here!"

He whipped around, forgetting his earlier embarrassment, to see an excited Marlene bouncing towards him, and Denzel standing awkardly by the stairs. How did all these kids manage to see him as Santa? He wasn't aware Santa had any abs. Just a big, round, pot belly.

"You got the letters we sent you? I wasn't sure if Cloud had manged to get those letters to the Great Glacier although he said he did." He balked a little upon hearing this. Did the kids really have that little faith in him?

"Where's your chocobo sleigh Santa? I've never seen a flying chocobo before. What colour are they? Can I please touch yours?" Marlene bombarded him with question after question, now clinging to his shirt, while Denzel had moved closer now, but still stood by the side, looking unsure of the situation.

"Umm..." He had no idea how to answer these questions. He didn't want to be the one to destroy Santa for them, but what was he supposed to do when he barely even knew what Santa was supposed to look like. He hadn't even been aware Santa owned any chocobos, and flying ones at that. He turned his head back, looking at Tifa, his face practically begging for help.

She grinned at him, amused by his predicament."That's what you get for forgetting the presents," she whispered into his ear.

What? Hadn't he suffered enough already? All that drama earlier had been more than enough punishment for such a small mistake.

Apparently, Tifa though so too, after seeing his face turn even more desperate. "Okay children. Up to bed now. You're supposed to be asleep. Santa doesn't deliver presents to naughty children."

"But he's delivered them to us already," Marlene pleaded. Was that a hint of a smirk on her face? Note to self: Never trust Marlene again.

Tifa had been expecting this though. "And he can take them back. So unless you don't want any presents for Christmas, you're going back to bed."

The threat of a presentless Christmas was apparently an effecitve one, and Marlene gave in, finally letting go of his shirt.

"Can we at least say good night to Mr. Santa?"

Tifa nodded her assent and Marlene gestured for him to lower himself. He crouched down, so he could look her in the eye, vaguely amused that she hadn't yet realised who he was, as Marlene gave him a goodnight kiss, hugging him tight for good measure.

"Thank you for the presents Mr. Santa!" Marlene called once again, dashing back up the stairs.

Now, it was Denzel's turn, and he moved forward to whisper in his ear. "That's you isn't it Cloud." His eyes widened in surprise as he Denzel smirked at him, before wishing him goodnight as well and heading up the stairs. Well, Denzel was older than Marlene and would have been more likely to see through his "disguise". Not that he had expected Marlene to actually believe he was Santa Claus in the first place. At least not with that blonde hair of his.

He heard the slam of the door as the children finally returned to their room and he sighed. Just how much drama could one day consist of? He really needed to get to bed. And shave that beard off.

"Hey, what's this?" He turned around, to see Tifa holding a small rectangular box. Oh crap. He had forgotten he had put it into the sack as well.

"Who's this for?" Well, it was her present and he was going to give it to her sooner or later, so why not now.

"Umm… It's yours." He scratched the back of his head awkwardly. He had never really given a girl a present before, much less Tifa, so as far as he was concerned, he was in uncharted territory.

"Can I open it?"

He nodded, his face showing no hint of the anxiety which was building within. What if she didn't like it? Maybe she'd have preferred something more practical. What if she thought he was weird for giving her such a strange gift?


Oh god. Stop being so vague woman! He needed a sign. Was it good? Was it bad? Was she going to laugh at him now?

"Did you… Did you make this yourself?" She lifted the ornament from the box, holding it up in front of her eyes, as she stared at it in wonder. "It's beautiful…"

He averted his gaze to the ground as he felt his face heat up. She liked it! She liked it didn't she? She wouldn't have said it was beautiful if she didn't like it. She liked it!

"How do I… use this?"

"It's a dreamcatcher*."

"Oh. Yuffie told me about these. She actually gave me one for my birthday. It's supposed to "catch" nightmares apparently. I'm not too sure whether it works though."

"Oh…" Great. Yuffie again. She just had to ruin everything didn't she. And he had thought it had been the perfect gift. She already had one. Probably a much better made one as well. There was no way his gift would make her happy. Not in the slightest.

Christmas sucked. Big time.

"I prefer this one though."

He looked up at her, his face void of emotion. She was probably just comforting him though. Trying to make sure he didn't feel so bad.

But she was smiling at him. And it wasn't a fake smile, or even one of those "I'm so sorry" smiles. It was a smile which reached her eyes and lit up her whole face. She was genuinely happy, but he couldn't fathom why.

"Stop looking so confused Cloud. Why wouldn't I prefer this one? It's the first gift I've ever received from you… And you made it yourself."

He was definitely blushing now. He couldn't help it though. It was embarrassing to hear things like that said out loud.

"Thank you Cloud, for the present," she said, moving to stand directly in front of him.

His heart stopped beating for a moment, as she leaned in, to plant a chaste kiss on his cheek. "Merry Christmas, Cloud," she whispered, before she left, quickly skipping up the steps.

He was stunned, his face so very red. He had no idea how this was going to change things between them, or even how it would affect things tomorrow. One thing was for sure though, he sure as hell couldn't wait for it.

Maybe... maybe Christmas wasn't so bad after all.

A/N: If you're wondering what Denzel and Marlene's presents were, I don't know myself, so you decide ;) And Tifa's gonna give him his present later on in the day. Just saying.

*A dreamcatcher is this ornament thingy which you're supposed to hang above your bed or something. It gets rid of the bad dreams, retains the good ones, encourages ideas. This is just reference in case you don't know what it is. My friend didn't and I was like :O