Author: drinktea PM
They lighten others' loads with melodies and their own brand of special chemistry. They smile. TifaZack. AU. One-shot.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Tifa L. & Zack F. - Words: 2,256 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-23-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2591275
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII is a infinitely amazing tale with crazy heros, crazy backstories and crazy awesome. It does not belong to me.
Andwhoamygod thank you T. Pirate for reminding me about disclaiming Love Lift Us Up, the song I use in this story.
Sakura-Angel: Ahhhhh. Sakura ventures into the not-so-explored world of AU Tifa x Zack. Don't know why I chose them, considering I've never written Zack (which I actually do regret) it just seemed so natural, for some strange, inexplicable reason. Anyway, enough schpiel. Read now, and do review if you feel so inclined.
Come along, no reason to be shy. Just follow me if you want to see something.
I know, how old is this? This perfect-stranger-leads-you-somewhere-extraordinary bit. Well, I don't know about extraordinary, or groundbreaking, or revolutionary or anymore of those big words people use to confuse you, but trust me. I'm the kinda guy who knows when something is just... good for you, you know? And not in the carrots-help-your-eyes kinda way. This, I think, is one of those things.
You think I'm making this up, don't you? Well -- watch the drains, your heels might get caught -- I guess I can't blame you. Some people need to see to believe, while some need to believe to see. Not hard to find in a city like this, huh? But then, proper lighting is everything, you know.
You're one of the skeptics, I can tell, so don't deny it. Well you'll see. Just watch your step now. And hey, I hate to sound cheesy, but here we are, in a place where music, chemistry, and an extra little something come together.
And it's good, believe me.
"Dry martini for the older gentleman at table four. Get to it, Marina!"
A waitress in very convincing cubic zirconia balanced a round tray above her head with amazing poise. She manouvered her way through the tables to number four, setting it before the gentleman.
"Thank you miss," a baritone voice said warmly.
"Absolutely no problem, sir."
Her presence was then completely forgotten as another woman entered the room, holding not only a microphone but the attention of everyone in the room.
It was not so much that she commanded attention, no, not at all. It was that she gave it. And every man wanted so much as a glance from her because it was all they needed to feel like the world was not so bad after all.
You might think it was her beauty that drew their eyes and made them stay there, but it wasn't. She had full lips and a normal nose and a good sized forehead. It was the combination of the qualities that made people think her beautiful, but she knew otherwise. Genuine beauty was short these days, and women were made up to impersonate it, but she didn't try. It was part of her allure.
No, it wasn't that you'd look at her and be struck dumbfounded. It was her presence. It was simply, utterly irresistable...
"Thank you, thank you," she said humbly, used to clapping even before performances. It was easy to see - they were completely taken with her, charmed.
"I'd like to thank my good friend, Mr. Strife over here," she came up to his table, heels clicking cleanly on the floor. She looped her arm arond him, squeezing lightly, "For this wonderful little number." She let go, leaving him smiling, and gestured towards the glittering blue dress she wore, studs shining again and again as she made her way back towards a raised platform. "You didn't have to, but I'm glad you did." She let the microphone drop, silver bracelet sliding down her forearm. She turned to the man seated at the piano, drowning him in a sea of red.
As used to her as he was, wonder still slipped over him at how she managed to make him want her with so little as a look. It was a strange desire, flaring up occasionally until he supressed it, convincing himself that they were good enough friends and a friendship was all he needed. And when he went in for a rebuttal against himself that the desire for her was different than others, he'd ignore himself and keep on pounding the piano keys. Which was what he did now.
She took his cue, lifting her microphone reluctantly to her lips. She'd wanted to talk to him, but she didn't let her disappointment show. "Who knows what tomorrows brings," she looked right at him. "In a world where few hearts survive..."
He lifted his head, drawing in a breath. "All I want," he sang into the mike attached to the piano casing, "Is the way I feel." He avoided her gaze. "When it's real, I keep it alive." He tried not to analyze the meaning of the words.
She looked at him not looking at her. She searched his handsome face for any sign of anything that might be wrong, and he was sealed off. That alone was enough to make her worry, he was usually expressive. He sung soulfully, he played with easy, delighted grace. He was ever-charming and he always smiled like he meant it. It was why he'd become so popular so quickly, and she couldn't say she thought he wouldn't.
"The road... is long," he seemed to sigh into the microphone, eyes closed. "There are moutains... in our way, but we climb a stairway everyday..."
"Love lift us up where we belong, where the eagles cry on a mountain high..." they sung as one, the words blending and carrying a stranger weight than they ever had before. "Love lift us up where we belong, far from the world we know where the clear wind blows..."
He refused to look at her, she refused to look away. They were both amazingly stubborn. They were also both on the edge of something not quite fathomable, but they could sense it would bring about change. The problem was that she longed for it and he ran from it.
It was funny almost. Once upon a time, it would've been her drawing back and him plunging in. They were both acting against their instincts, but standing there on the stage, Tifa felt bare. She felt like this wasn't her, they could see it, they were judging her. A tiger should not change its stripes. She looked away.
He noticed immediately. How could he not? It was all heat, intensity, eternity... and then nothing. Or maybe all of those things were only on his side. Maybe she was simply looking, waiting for his usual reaction. Their on-stage chemistry was famous after all. A look here, a brush there... it was all they needed to be convincing, at least according to the reaction from the crowd. They would smile in that way, delighted but sly, thinking the same thing. He never understood it much, why something like a raised eyebrow paired with a playful flick to the forehead would make the crowd burst out, grinning. Oh, don't get him wrong, he could read into the actions of most people and understand. But this... this made no sense.
"Some," he started again. "Hang on the used to be, live their lives looking behind..."
"All we have..." She was focused on the crowd. It felt strange to her. "Is here and now, all our lives out there to find..."
"The road... is long," he sung, feeling a little empty without her there. By now, she'd usually be seated next to him at the piano, watching his fingers move across the keys. She'd mouth little comments to him about the crowd that night, how good a certain movie she'd seen recently was, or the next song she wanted to play because damn him if he kept the piano away from her for any longer, and he'd stop himself from laughing lest he interrupt the lyrics.
"There are mountains in our way, but we climb a sta--"
"Damn right there are mountains in your way!"
What? He almost yelled at the man. He had stopped playing by now. What the hell was he talking about?
"What's with you two tonight?" An older patron stood, addressing both performers on the stage. "There's not the usual spark."
They both opened their mouths to speak, but shut them, words dying before they had a chance to manifest. She looked down at the wood of the floor, and he tilted his head up to look at the ceiling. He almost, almost looked at her then, but with the crowd watching them with a different interest, it felt like he was bearing all for them to see.
"Go talk, you two," the older gentleman said, managing to stay between respectful and commanding.
The crowd began agreeing, some even toasting the idea with those smiles on their faces. Knowing, amused.
He saw her give her blonde friend a borderline pleading look, but he smiled that smile and waved her off, adding some comment he didn't catch and a wink he couldn't help but catch. They'd always been closer than he could understand.
Neither wanted to leave their place on the stage. Or rather to be the first to leave. Having the other person walk behind them was something they'd both like to avoid, but for what reason, neither could understand.
"Well, go!" said he, the twisted cupid of an old man, forcing them to finally move.
They started tentatively to walk towards the steps that led off the stage. Click, clack, click went her shoes. She felt incredibly self-concious of herself because of the noise her shoes made. She then felt incredibly stupid for feeling that way, and before she knew it she was at the stairs, in front of him.
He bowed his head humbly - God, he was handsome - for her to go, still not looking her in the eye. She wanted to just sink into the floor. She took a step forward.
Click clack click down the stairs, and nearly silent but heavy breathing led them to the room behind the drink counter. They'd never called it a bar for some reason, even though it greatly resembled one. She wanted to wonder about that, but his presence was incredibly distracting.
"So," he said, sounding tired. She looked up from her shoes to see his mouth twitch between tense and normal, corners of his lips turned down.
"So," she said, trying to lift this veil she felt she had placed herself over the two of them. Her eyes were watering suddenly, and her throat tightened and resisted against what she said next. "What's... up?"
What did a person say to something like that? He almost felt his heart bottom out at that, which was strange because it wasn't particularly devastating, but then he had a hard time understanding himself lately. And then, just like that, he realized he was fooling himself. He knew exactly what he wanted to say. "I think... I ruined something. Up there. Am I-- am I right?" And then he looked at her straight on, ready to meet eyes. Only hers were turned down.
"No..." she was very quiet. There were no shifts, only in her lips. "You didn't."
His breath caught. What... did she mean? "Then..."
"Zack..." she closed her eyes, not afraid of squeezing tears out anymore. "We're both... so stupid."
And just like that, the space between them was filled. Her arms were around him and his were around her. And that moment of understanding came. It took less than a second, but it was then that he knew that everything that was complicated was now simple, because she was with him and he was with her and that was all that mattered.
They pulled apart at the same time, not shocked in the least that they were so in synch with each other. Even in denial they were; look there, look now, look away. But that didn't matter anymore now, did it?
He took her hand and walked by her side out of the room, smiling the most fragile and yet, strongest smile she'd ever seen him wear. She produced, not surprisingly, a smile to match.
He understood now, those grins they'd grin, because they had known all along what neither of them could see. And as they walked out onto the stage, hand-in-hand, each and every single person smiled.
They might encounter problems in the future because they weren't perfect, no one was. They were friends for so long they might not be able to get the relationship off the ground, it might die and sputter they second they try. But it could also be the thing they both needed indefinitely, and for that, it was worth everything they had and would pay. Love, they say, is worth everything.
And you just know already. Somewhere in the midst of it all is a singing duo. One has a lilting laugh and a pretty smile and the other has a cheeky grin and an arm around her waist. And you can see them performing and loving every second of the lift they give another's spirit.