Note: I do not own, or claim to own Final Fantasy VII. Just to let you know.
The night air was cool and comforting as Tifa shifted her body underneath Cloud's weight. It had been a few months since they had finally defeated Sephiroth and saved the planet from eminent doom. As the former members of AVALANCE went off to find a reason to move on, Tifa Lockheart and Cloud Strife found each other.
Tifa lay on her back as she nuzzled her neck against Cloud's to get comfortable. Responding to Tifa's slight movements, Cloud propped his leg up against Tifa's stomach and slung one of his arms around her neck. As romantic as the moment was, Tifa's eyes opened in shock when a sudden urgency spread through her body. Looking down, she sighed as Cloud's knee jammed itself ever so tenderly over her bladder. She carefully placed Cloud's arm beside him and scooted out from under his leg.
She wrapped a nightgown around her body and carefully tiptoed to the bathroom. Pausing at the edge of the bed, she lowered her head to admire the sleeping figure of her childhood love. She planted a soft kiss on his forehead and teased his spiky locks, hoping not to wake him. I wonder what he's dreaming about? She smiled inwardly as she retreated to the restroom.
Cloud opened his eyes to stare back at a blur of colors surrounding him. The subtle scent of flowers filled his nostrils and almost lured him back to sleep. Turning to his side, his eyes shot wide-open after seeing a face he hadn't seen for a long time, a face that had haunted his memories like a beautiful specter. He carefully lifted his hand up to the woman in front of him and gently traced the line of her lips. "Aeris," he whispered.
"Cloud, you're so cute when you sleep, did you know that?" Aeris teased.
"Am I really?" he said somewhat embarrassed.
"Yes, you are. You're especially cute when you're awake," she said as she slowly sat-up.
"Well, aren't I awake now?" Cloud asked curiously.
"No, you're dreaming. That's the only way I can meet you," she giggled.
"Then if this is a dream, I don't ever want to wake-up," he said as he sat-up to wrap his arms around her.
"I wish it could be that way Cloud. But let's not think about those things, ok? Let's just live in the moment we do have," she said lovingly as she titled her head back to let her lips meet his.
They stayed like that almost all night as Cloud kept his arms wrapped around her body as if she were an exotic bird trying to escape. The couple seemed to float on a sea of flowers along an endless field of bright colors. This was the dream that Cloud Strife lived while he slept.
The aromatic smell of bacon and eggs filled his senses with an insatiable hunger. Turning over on his side, he expected to see his girlfriend Tifa next to him, but only saw the ruffled sheets where she slept. Throwing on some clothes, he sauntered downstairs following the call of his stomach. Once he reached the bottom of the stairs, his eyes meet a pair of ruby-red that smiled back at him.
"Morning Cloud! Did you sleep well?" Tifa almost sang.
"Next to you, who wouldn't?" he gave her his old reply as he walked over and kissed her.
"I made you some breakfast," Tifa said sweetly after breaking free from the kiss.
"I know, it woke me up," he laughed while scratching the back of his head.
Tifa lightly punched him in the arm and quickly finished dishing out the bacon and eggs onto two plates. She had already set the table with flatware and two large glasses of juice. Cloud sat down resting his head on both of his arms while he watched his girlfriend busily walk back and forth around the kitchen. Tifa caught her boyfriend's eyes watching her and blushed. He could always find a way to make her feel flustered, it was this certain charm he had.
She finally finished the two plates and placed them neatly on the table where she took her place across from Cloud. "Did you have some nice dreams?"
"I think so," he said quickly before shoving some food into his mouth.
"Oh, really? What did you dream about?" she said carefully chewing on a strip of bacon.
"You know, I really can't remember," Cloud said with a puzzled look on his face. He scratched his head trying desperately to recall the wonderful dream last night. At least he thought it was a wonderful dream. The only thing he could remember was feeling at peace throughout the night.
"Silly," Tifa chuckled. "I hope you won't forget those meetings we have with Reeve and the others for the rebuilding project at Kalm."
"Hey, I'd never forget important things like that!" he said faking a hurt look.
They finished the rest of their meal between laughs and sweet exchanges. It was in these small moments that the couple really felt at ease.
"Come on, help me do the dishes," Tifa smiled as she picked up her plate.
Cloud flashed a mischievous grin as he quickly put his plates in the sink. "Hold on, let me get something upstairs really quick," as he gave Tifa a quick peck on the cheek.
Tifa shook her head in confusion over his behavior. She started to scrape off the extra food particles leftover into the garbage disposal and filled the sink up with water and dish soap. She could hear Cloud upstairs rummaging through the room. It sounded like he was stomping around like Barret on one of his usual rants. She finally heard him descending the stairs making his way towards her. Keeping her hands in the sink she turned around to greet him with her usual smile.
She felt two arms wrap around her body as she busily scrubbed the plates and glasses in the sink. "Cloud, you silly, that tickles!"
"I thought you liked it when I tickled you?"
"Yes, but not when I'm doing the dishes!" She felt him unravel his arms around her and rest his chin in the crook of her neck. "So do you mind passing me the pan on the stove so I can wash it?"
Cloud shook his head. "No, don't think I will. But I'll give you this instead," as he pulled out a black velvet box and opened it in front of Tifa. "Will you marry me?"
Cloud could hear her gasp as she saw a beautiful diamond ring dangling in front of her. He wanted to turn her around so he could see her full expression. He knew she would say 'yes,' Tifa had hinted at wanting a future with him and though he pretended that he never heard, he too desired that. She finally turned around and wrapped two soapy, wet arms around Cloud's neck to catch him in a passionate kiss.
"Yes," she whispered as tears of joy made their way down her cheeks.
Cloud found himself back in the endless field of flowers. He finally remembered his dream last night, the dream where he spent the day lying in this very same field with Aeris. "Am I dreaming again?"
"Of course you are!" Aeris' voice rang through his head like the soft chirping of the nightingale.
Cloud turned around to see Aeris' beautiful face smiling back at him. He quickly ran over to her and embraced her. "I'm so glad to see you!"
"I know, I can't wait until this time so we can see each other," she said, letting her left hand gently stroke his face.
He brought his right hand up to meet hers and almost cut himself on a ring that she was wearing. Curious, he brought her hand down and stared at the diamond ring that fit snuggly on her finger, the same diamond ring that he had given Tifa in the morning. "Is that?"
"Yes, it is," she said still smiling.
"But how?" confusion etched on his face.
"Because you're dreaming Cloud. Remember, I told you last night that this was the only way I could meet you. It's also the only way I know how my other friends are doing, because your consciousness tells me."
"So then you know," feeling a bit guilty that he had proposed to Tifa rather than to Aeris.
"Yes, and I'm happy for you both," sensing his twinge of guilt she gently kissed him on his forehead and stroked his face. "Please don't feel that way. It really was for the better that you and Tifa found each other. There was no possible way for me to be there for you like Tifa can."
"That's only because she's still alive. But what I really want is you, Aeris," he pleaded.
"It's impossible for me to be brought back to life, but it's not impossible for me to love you. That's why I'm here, where you and I can be together, but also where you can still live your life with Tifa."
Cloud still looked bewildered by what Aeris was saying. "How can that be possible? I feel so guilty, it's like I'm cheating on both of you."
"Did you remember your dream last night? The one where you said you never wanted to wake-up?" she said stroking his hair.
"When I'm here, I do. But when Tifa asked me about it this morning, I couldn't remember," still uncertain what Aeris meant.
"Do you think you could love both Tifa and I at the same time? Even if I only existed in your dreams?" Aeris asked curiously.
Cloud thought about this question for a long time and realized that it would be impossible for him to love both Tifa and Aeris at the same time; at least, not in the way a man should love a woman. "No, I couldn't."
"I know. I also couldn't put Tifa through more pain than she already had to endure. She waited a long time for you, longer than I've ever known you. It just wouldn't be fair to her if you remembered your dreams about me--about us," softly voicing her reasons. "Tifa was the closest friend I ever had when I was alive. She's like a sister to me."
Cloud finally understood what Aeris meant. He was saddened she couldn't be revived so he could have her completely, but he was content that he could be with her, if only during these precious moments. He gazed into her vivid green eyes and nodded, "I understand."
Aeris tenderly rested her head on Cloud's chest and smiled. "Thank you for understanding, you don't know how much that means to me," she said barely above a whisper.
He let his hands rest on her soft hair, holding her as if she were going to disappear at any moment. He wanted to show her his undying love, to give her the world if she ever asked for it. He gently took her left hand in his and carefully traced the hard edges of the diamond ring she wore. This ring symbolized their engagement with each other, but Cloud felt like something was missing. Realizing what it was, he carefully started to pull the ring off of Aeris' finger.
Aeris raised her head up in shock to the removal of the ring and stared at Cloud with a pained expression. She thought that he didn't want her to love him anymore, even if it was only in his dreams. Doubt slowly welled up inside her as Cloud finally removed the ring completely off her finger, but it was all soon vanquished as she saw Cloud slowly kneel down on one knee and stare straight up into her eyes.
"Aeris, I've always wanted to ask you this question, but never had the chance when we were traveling the world fighting for the planet," Cloud paused to collect his thoughts. "But now I find myself with all the time in the world and the most beautiful woman I have ever known right here by my side."
Doubt had been replaced with joy as she felt tears form in the corner of her eyes. She wanted to say 'yes' before he even asked the question, but didn't want to stop him.
Cloud positioned the ring right over her finger in anticipation of her answer as he took one last deep breath before asking her the most important question of his life. "Aeris, will you do me the honor of being my wife?"
"Yes," she gasped, as Cloud put the ring back onto its rightful place.
Cloud nervously wrangled his fingers as he stood next to Vincent. He tugged at the collar to his tux to try and cool his body off. He had never enjoyed dressing up, especially in something as uncomfortable as a tuxedo. His eyes darted back and forth from Vincent to the double doors in the back. He could almost feel his heart leaping out of his chest as he stood and waited.
Music soon flooded the room and Cloud stiffened as he watched his bride-to-be walk slowly down the aisle. She looked like an angel who had been sent down to Earth. Tifa's face was partly covered by her veil, but her inspiring smile could still be seen under the thin fabric. Her dress almost melted onto her body, accentuating her small frame. Barret looked like a giant as he escorted her down the aisle until they finally made their way to the altar.
Tifa blinked back a few tears as she let Cloud lift her veil and locked eyes with her husband-to-be. Time seemed to stand still as the young couple grasped each other's hands and listened to the droning of the minister marrying them. Their friends sat in the crowd and cried as they watched the romantic moment. The couple emitted their own aura as they finally joined in a deep kiss to seal their pact.
They had to shield their faces as a salvo of rice was thrown at them. Cloud and Tifa ran to their limo that would take them to the airport and eventually, Mideel. There they were to spend their honeymoon and take some time to thank the kind nurse and doctor who aided in Cloud's recovery of mako poisoning. After all, they were the ones who made him realize how much Tifa truly cared for him.
Cloud and Tifa were about to jump into the limo before Tifa turned around to toss her bouquet out into the crowd. She didn't look to see who caught it as she hurried to take her place next to her husband in the limo. But that question would be answered shortly as she looked at the crowd to see Yuffie jumping up and down with excitement as she waved the bouquet over her head triumphantly. Tifa smiled as she leaned back and met Cloud's chest. She felt soft butterfly kissed slowly trailing down her neck.
"How do you feel, Mrs. Strife?" he whispered into her ear.
"Like I'm in heaven," she sighed.
"No, I should be saying that. Cause you're my angel," he said lovingly while pushing back a stray hair.
"Cloud," Tifa said as she turned around to face her husband. "I love you."
"I love you, too," he said as they embraced for a kiss.
Cloud could still feel the constriction of his bowtie and struggled to loosen it. He finally undid the knot and breathed freely as he inhaled the scents of fragrant flowers. He gasped in awe as his eyes fell upon the most beautiful flower in the field.
"Aeris!" Cloud exclaimed as he ran towards her.
Aeris smiled coyly as she twirled around in an elegantly flowing wedding gown. "How do I look?"
"Like a goddess," he said as he lifted up her veil.
"Flatterer," she teased as they embraced for a deep kiss.
The couple felt soft petals tickle their feet as they danced and frolicked along the endless field of flowers. Aeris ran up ahead of Cloud, laughing at her newlywed husband as he tried to chase after her. Cloud eventually caught up to his wife and tackled her to the ground while smothering her with passionate kisses.
"I don't want this day to ever end," Aeris sighed.
"It doesn't have to," he said while kissing her cheek.
Aeris closed her eyes and pursed her lips together as she felt Cloud's warm kisses tenderly brushing against her face. "But it does Cloud."
Cloud stopped his gentle petting to look seriously in her emerald eyes to see if she was joking, but she wasn't and his heart fell. "Why? What do you mean?"
"The lifestream is letting me come back. I'm being reincarnated, Cloud. I have to leave," she said softly, afraid that each syllable was like a knife jabbing his heart.
Cloud felt torn. He had finally been able to find Aeris through his dreams and share the most blissful moments of his life with her. Those are things that can't be easily given up, but he knew that it would make her happy to let her go without an argument. He wrapped his powerful arms around her waist and pulled her body closer to his. "Go then. Just know that you are the single-most important thing to me in the world," he whispered.
"Cloud," Aeris sobbed as small streams of tears slowly trailed down her face: tears mixed with happiness and dread. "I wish that things could be different for us, that I could meet you in reality, rather than through your dreams. I wish for so many things, but the one thing I wish for the most is your happiness. Please promise me that you'll be happy."
"I will. I've been able to keep all my promises, even the one for Tifa," Cloud said as he wiped the tears away from her face. "I know for a fact I'll be able to keep yours."
They embraced for the last time, grabbing onto those precious fleeting moments that were slowly ebbing away. Cloud Strife would never remember his nights spent with his lost love, but his heart would never forget.
"Cloud, wake-up!" Tifa gently nudged her husband.
Cloud groggily rubbed his eyes as he stretched his arms out in a large yawn. "Are we there yet?"
"Yep, the plane just landed," she said as she kissed his forehead. "You slept the entire flight."
"The better to stay up late my dear," he said as he cocked an eyebrow.
"Cloud Strife, you get your butt out of that seat and help me with the luggage!" Tifa playfully punched him in the arm. She tried to look peeved, but her laughter gave her away.
Before Tifa could strike again, Cloud scooped her up into his arms and started to carry her off the plane. "I've already got all the luggage I need right here," he teased.
"But, what about the luggage?" she protested, trying to hide her flustered face from all the other passengers.
Before Cloud could respond, one of the stewardesses had already started to pick-up some of the lighter bags. "Don't worry Mr. and Mrs. Strife, we'll handle getting your luggage to your hotel," she said politely.
Cloud nodded his head and continued to carry Tifa out the plane and through the airport. There were still a few perks to being the saviors of the planet, especially two who were now married to each other. Pedestrians all turned to stare at the strange couple, but smiled once they recognized the newlyweds. News of their union had spread quickly around the world thanks to all their friends.
Cloud finally reached the hotel, still carrying Tifa in his arms. Tifa fumbled with the keys to their room and opened the door to let her husband carry her over the threshold. Amazingly, their luggage had already been taken to their room as it sat next to the bed. Cloud carefully lay Tifa on the bed and shook his arms out from exhaustion. He had been carrying her since he first picked her up on the plane.
Tifa sat-up and hooked her arms around his neck to catch him in a deep kiss. "I'm going to go freshen up a bit," she said seductively into his ear.
Cloud just smirked as he watched Tifa grab one of her bags and saunter to the bathroom. He lay back onto the bed and closed his eyes briefly. Ever since he woke up on the plane, he felt like something had been lifted from his body. It was hard to explain since he wasn't even quite sure what it was, but Cloud had this feeling that something had changed. I guess getting married does change you. His thoughts were interrupted when he heard the door to the bathroom crack open.
Tifa stepped out of the bathroom wearing a silk nightgown that plunged dangerously low, almost revealing her bosom. The cream-colored slip stopped just shy of her knees and was held on her body by two thin straps that rested on her shoulders. Cloud's eyes shot-open in surprise, but that surprise was soon replaced by longing as he slowly got-up and walked over to his wife.
"Like what you see?" Tifa said coyly.
"Yes, very much so," as Cloud walked up to her. He traced her body with his fingers as they made their way to the two straps that were holding the slip. He bent his head forward to catch her lips in a passionate kiss before letting his fingers slide the silky fabric off her body and land silently on the ground. He took a step back to admire her naked body before finally turning the lights off to their room and letting their bodies take over.
Cloud paced nervously in the drab white room while Barret tried to calm him down. Cid was busy chewing a whole pack of gum, frustrated that he couldn't smoke inside the hospital. Vincent and Nanaki were in the corner of the room talking amongst themselves.
"Don't worry your head off, she'll be fine in there!" Cid said to try and ease the tension in the room. "When Shera had Junior there were no problems, and that's saying a lot about that little terror."
"Yeah, Cloud. Ya got ta calm down. There's nuthin' to be worried about," Barret added. "I know when Elmyra dun gave birth ta our new daughter Aeris, she said it wuz like heaven or sumptin'."
"I'm not worried, just excited. I mean, this is our first kid! I'm going to be a father!" Cloud waved around excitedly to hide his nervousness.
Suddenly, a very ecstatic Yuffie ran through the double doors and screamed at the top of her lungs, "It's a girl!"
Cloud didn't even need any more prompting as he bolted past Yuffie towards the maternity ward. A nurse met him half-way as she led him to the room where Tifa and his newborn daughter were resting. The first thing he saw when he entered the room was an exhausted Tifa holding a preciously bundled package.
Tifa saw Cloud walking carefully towards her and smiled as she positioned the newborn so he could see her. "She has your eyes," Tifa said sweetly.
Cloud looked at his young daughter and caught a glimpse of her blue-green eyes as she opened and closed them every so often. Her eyes were like a mix of sapphire and emerald melded together in a beautiful spiral. A small tuff of brown hair adorned her head as she stretched her tiny arms. "She has your beauty," Cloud said while admiring both his wife and daughter.
Tifa blushed at his comment. "Would you like to hold her?"
"Ok," Cloud said nervously, uncertain of what to do. Luckily, there was a nurse nearby to make sure that he was holding the newborn correctly.
Cloud sat on the end of the bed Tifa was resting on and held his infant daughter for the first time. Tifa put her hand on his shoulder and gently rubbed her thumb along his back. "She's our little angel."
"Yes, she is," Cloud sat content as he watched his daughter. "Let's name her Angel."
"That's a beautiful name, Cloud. Angel Strife it is," Tifa smiled as she let her head rest against his shoulder and their little daughter seemed to smile too. "I think she likes her new name."
"Yes, I think she does," Cloud sighed as he turned his head to give his wife a kiss. A memory of promising someone to be happy flashed into Cloud's mind. He didn't remember making that promise to anyone, but he knew that right now he was fulfilling it. Cloud Strife sat with the two most important women in the world right there beside him. But little did he know that his little Angel was smiling not because of her new name, but because she also knew that Cloud was fulfilling that promise: a promise to a certain flower-girl who loved him even after her death.
A/N: I hoped you liked it! I'm a firm believer that if Aeris couldn't be brought back to life she would want Cloud and Tifa to be happy together. But this is the first in a series of FFVII fics I'll be writing.