Disclaimer: The characters, items, places etc of Final Fantasy VII are property of Squaresoft Ltd. These objects are used without permission for entertainment only, not for making money. No infringement is intended.

"You spend all your time waiting,
For that second chance,
For a break that would make it okay,
There's always some reason,
To feel not good enough,
And it's hard at the end of the day,
I need some distraction,
Oh, beautiful release,
Memory seeps from my veins,
Let me by empty,
Well, weightlessness and maybe,
I'll find some peace here tonight."
Sarah McLachlen, Angel

by Nanaki Lioness

Soft light emanated from the street lamps, through the peach curtains that had been drawn across the window. A lamp gave a little extra light to the occupant of the room, and although it was late at night, she didn't notice. The clock ticked by, unknowingly to her, as she was in her own world.

Tifa Lockheart was reading a book, a romance novel, and she was enthralled. It seemed as though the writer had taken her, and wrote her into it. She read, eyes scanning the words carefully, not taking notice to the world around her.

This is just like me, she thought. Exactly like me. Too afraid to tell the man she loves the way she feels, but unable to keep her feelings inside. She has to tell him, or else she'll go crazy, but she can't. She doesn't know how.

And she's afraid of rejection. Just like me.

She reached the point in the book where the girl in the story had finally plucked up the courage to talk to her secret love. She was stumbling with her words, unable to say the right thing, unable to find the words to say 'I love you'. Tifa kept reading, wanting to know, if and how the girl succeeded.

There was a soft knock at the door.

Tifa ignored it until she heard it again. She placed the book down, putting a bookmark in-between the pages. She'd have to find out after the visitor had left.

"Come in," she called.

The door opened and Tifa smiled as she saw who entered.

"I wanted to say goodnight, Aunt Tifa," Marlene said, running to the lady and jumping up on her bed. Barret entered just behind her, smiling at Tifa as she gathered the young girl into her arms.

"Shouldn't you be in bed already?" She questioned. "It's gone eleven."

"Daddy let me stay up for a while," the girl told her. "And I didn't fall asleep!"

Tifa laughed at how proud the girl sounded. However, her features were drawn and her eyes tired.

"Maybe you should go now then," she suggested. "You've got a long journey back to Corel tomorrow."

"But I'm not tired!" Marlene protested. Tifa laughed, along with Barret.

"Come on Marlene," the man said, lifting her up. "Let's get you to bed."

"'Night Aunt Tifa," Marlene muttered wearily, leaning against her father's shoulder.

"Good night Marlene." Tifa smiled up at Barret. "You too Barret."

Barret nodded and took Marlene to the door, smiling at Cloud who was approaching the doorway. Cloud smiled back, wishing his friend goodnight as he walked out into the hallway. Then he stepped into Tifa's bedroom.

"Can I speak to you for a moment?" He asked Tifa gently.

"Sure," the women answered. Cloud nodded and pulled the door closed, sitting where she had indicated.

He had gone to live with Tifa in Kalm after Meteor, neither of them having a home to go back to. Barret and Marlene had come to visit, since they had gone back to Corel. Tifa often wondered to herself how she ever stopped from saying exactly how she felt about Cloud, since they lived together. But now…it seemed like he had something on his mind.

"There a problem Cloud?" She asked, concern sparkling in her rusty eyes. Cloud looked up at her, meeting her gaze.

"It's just…" he began, not quite knowing what to say, or how. "I…I just feel like I'm never gonna meet someone," he said slowly.

"You want to meet someone to love," Tifa stated, her voice low, voicing what he couldn't. Cloud nodded, his ice blue eyes fixed on the floor.

"Having Marlene around has been fun," he admitted.

"You are pretty good with her," Tifa commented.

"I never realised how much I like kids," Cloud continued, as if she hadn't spoken. "Until now." He closed his eyes. "What if I never meet anybody?" He said. "What if…"

Before he could continue, Tifa leant forward and embraced him, bringing him back to sit against the wall like she had. She kept an arm round him, her heart beginning to beat fast. Cloud never let her this close without shying away.

"You'll meet someone," she said, smiling. "Of course you will."

You have someone right here willing to be with you.

"What if I'm being blind?" Cloud stated. "What if love's right here, staring me in the face, and I can't see it?"

Love's not staring you in the face, Cloud. It's sitting beside you.

Tifa refrained from voicing her thoughts, simply holding him a little closer.

"What about you?" Cloud asked suddenly, turning to her. Tifa's heart leapt to her throat.

What about me, what?! Being with you? She held her breath, waiting for him to speak. The seconds seemed like hours.

"Do you have your eye on anyone?"

Yes. You.

"Yes…" Tifa breathed gently. "Actually, I do."

"Who?" Cloud asked, seemingly a little surprised.

Jealous? No, couldn't be…

"A great guy…" Tifa began. "He's so wonderful, Cloud. He has these beautiful blue eyes, and soft blond hair. And his smile…" she leant against him, and he placed an arm round her. "He has a beautiful smile."

"Looks a little like me, from the sound of it," Cloud said good-naturedly. Tifa smiled.

"He looks a lot like you…"

He is you.

"…whenever I'm with him, I just feel like nothing matters, that there's no problems. Everything is perfect."

You are perfect.

"Sounds like a great guy. Do I know him?"

Not all that well, Cloud. You don't know yourself that well. If you did, you could see it's you I mean.

"Not very well."

"So I've met him a coupla times, yeah?"

"Something like that."

"So what's his name?"

Cloud Strife.

"Name?" Tifa stuttered.

It's now or never. Either you say his name, or you hide from your feelings again.

"It…it doesn't matter…" she faltered. "He'd probably never want to be with someone like me anyway…"

"And why's that, Tifa?" He said. "You're a wonderful women. Beautiful, smart, funny…you're everything a man could ever desire."

Then why don't you desire me Cloud?

"That's why…why…" Cloud turned to her and ran a hand through her silky hair, smiling slightly. "I love you, Tifa. I didn't know how to say it, but when you started describing the man you like…I just knew I couldn't keep it inside. I couldn't bear to see you with anyone else."

He wants to be with me??

Tifa smiled.

He wants to be with me.

Slowly, she reached a hand out, running it through his spikes before drawing her face towards him. She pressed her lips to his, content in bliss, and happier than she had ever been.

This is a dream. This can't be happening. But it is. Cloud loves me.

She pulled away, eager now to say the words that she had struggled with for years.

"I love you too Cloud." Cloud looked a little confused.

"But what about the other guy…?" He began. Tifa laughed, kissing him again. She felt complete at last, her love that had burned brightly for so many years hadn't been wasted. There was light at the end of the tunnel after all.

"I was talking about you, Cloud," she said softly, tracing his cheek with her delicate fingers. "You."

"Me?" Cloud stuttered. "But…you mean you…" Tifa silenced him with a finger to his lips.

"It doesn't matter," she said. "I'm here now, Cloud. And I'm not going anywhere again unless you're by my side."