He arrived back home from his regular routine. A few of their friends had remained all in Midgar. All but Vincent who was somewhere, in the forest, seeking for something of what none of them knew. Reno and Yuffie settled down not too far away from their Seventh Heaven Bar. A couple of turns and twists of the roads of Midgar and there it was, their house.

Barret had decided too of settling down. He mentioned something about being 'old' and not being able to keep up with everything. Marlene was happy to hear about her 'adopted' father being so close to them. She had soon moved out of Seventh Heaven and into his house. The house which he lived in wasn't far from Seventh Heaven. In fact a minute or two of a walk and there it was. Cid took off with his Serria and went traveling somewhere, which was what he always loved; spending time with his 'ship' or so 'mistress' in other words. Cait Sith and Red had settled down with the 'Strife' family. Deciding that it was best, since they had gotten a little bit too attached to the boy. Denzel.

Cloud and Tifa, they remained in their bar. With Denzel and another adopted child of theirs that Cait Sith had found when scavenging around the city a month or two ago. It was a little boy, no more than three years of age. He was small, almost boney like. Skinny and always quiet. Tifa had named him Benji which he happily took on. It took him at least a couple of weeks or two, before his silence was replaced with some words that Cloud had thought him. His bone like self soon too edged away with the good tasting food made by Tifa.

Tifa was due any day know. She had her ups and had her downs. But in the end, she always seemed to work it out with her other half. Cloud. Sometimes, things annoyed her but then again, so did herself. It was ironic, how you'd think that everything and everyone was annoying, but in the end, you yourself are annoying too.

Cloud was patient, easily taking on the role as the to-be-father. He took things as they came, and accepted when her moods roared and when they lowered. Though either way, he still loved her, even if she scolded him countless times for nothing in particular. Sometimes it was those spur of the moment hormones that'll peek up in her and suddenly cause her to speak out in rage. Then again, he'd let her do whatever she wanted to him, if it made her feel better. Which she did, most of the time.

Denzel hadn't changed much, besides the more errands he took by the command of Tifa. He too was patient, and welcoming to the new addition of the family. Red and Cait Sith too helped out a lot with seeking shelter for the boy's when Tifa had her hormonal out breaks. But overall, he was happy. He had a father and mother like figure, a little brother which he could look out for. Life is pretty good now, though his heart missed Marlene. Her company was quite unique and irreplaceable.

"Cloud!" Benji's eyes widen and lighted up with a glow as he saw Cloud.

The man of blue eyes smiled and stepped back a bit, after the force of the little creature's tight embrace around his leg.

Benji had hazel eyes, that weren't much like Tifa's. They were different, more sharper and bolder.

"I wasn't gone that long," Cloud added as he picked up the child in his arms. Half an hour was all the time that he spent away from this home to drop Marlene off and at the same time have a fairly lengthy conversation with Barret.

The boy didn't say anything else but instead perked his head up higher when he heard Tifa talking in the kitchen. Her voice was different this time, it wasn't soft and gentle, but instead hard and aggressive.

Cloud winced, he was in for another hormonal argument again. As he entered the kitchen, his eyes widen and his heart came to a halt. He swore, if it wasn't for the table at his side, Benji would have fallen out of his hands. He placed Benji down quickly, and hurried over to her side.

She was sitting, with back against the cupboard with Denzel holding her hand. There was water surrounding her. If one didn't notice, they would have fallen and most probably broken something.

"Are you okay?" was his first words to her.

Before she could even answer the pain surged through her body again. Childbirth wasn't exactly the greatest feeling in the world. If only men would feel it too then they wouldn't be so harsh about the whole thing. Well not all men, there were some who had a bigger heart to actually feel the pain spiritually.

Tifa's face grimaced as she fought the urge to cry out in pain. Denzel was thankful when Cloud took over.

"I'll call Barret," Denzel said quickly and rushed to the other corner of the kitchen.

Benji stood there blankly, not understanding exactly what was going on.

"Benji get me some towels from the toilet," Cloud instructed.

Easy enough. The boy ran the fastest his little legs could go. After he was clear out of sight, Cloud swung his eyes back to her and began to brush the hair away from her face.

"Tifa I'm so sorry," he winced as she crunched up her face in pain again.

She shook her head, "No, it's okay. You came in time anyway," she whispered as she shut her eyes and leaned her head back against the cupboard.

She winced again as pain struck her once more. The things a mother did for her child was simply irreplaceable.

"Hurts," she choked out to him.

He nodded, and felt his tears coming to his eyes. His lover was in pain and there was nothing he could do about it.

"I know," he pressed a kiss to her sweaty cheek.

"Here," Benji came running into the door with his outstretched hands holding out the towels.

Cloud took them and moped up the floor with them using his free hand. Denzel hung up the phone and came to them.

"Okay, Barret's coming and so is Yuffie," he said to them.

Cloud winced again as she squeezed his hand. "Just hold on okay Tifa," he negotiated with her.

She smiled with a sigh after the pain seeped away again. She whispered something but he couldn't hear.

He moved in and let the tip of her mouth touch his ear. "I wish.." she began with puffs of air, "that there was.." she paused again, "some way that we could.. take turns with bearing the pain.." she laughed softly.

He smiled and drew back, leaving his hand to rest at her cheek. "I love you Tifa, okay and if there was a way, you know I'd do it."

She nodded. "Barret better hurry up," she began to get angry. "This really hurts," she grimaced again and the hold on his hand tightened.

Barret came not too long later followed by Yuffie. She had instructed all the men certain tasks. She had studied the routine with Tifa not too long ago and it was time to take on the practical part of her studies. She smiled. This would be the very first child she'd deliver. It was a special one.

"Cloud!" Yuffie hushed, "Get her to the bed immediately."

He nodded and shifted his arms under her, "Just hang on okay Tifa," he hushed.

She didn't protest but leaned in further into his side as he carried her up the steps.

He was gentle as he placed her down. He turned to Benji and Denzel who stood at the door, "Get some pillows and more towels."

They nodded.

Yuffie entered the room with a smile on her face. "lets begin."

She looked worn out, almost near dead but thankfully wasn't. Childbirth was one memorable experience, for the both of them. It wasn't just her who suffered, his poor hand did too. She had squeezed it the hardest she ever did.

He stood beside the bed, holding the sleeping infant in his arms. They were officially parents now. With their new prize and joy sleeping soundly. She ran her hand down across the circle of the child's small head. It was so small, considering it looked so huge when inside her a day or so ago.

Cloud smiled and passed their child over to her. "He's perfect Tifa," he said softly.

Head to head they stared down at their child. "Yeah he is," she replied. "Can't believe you met him first though."

He laughed softly, "Nah.." he trailed on. "You've been with him the whole time."

She smiled and nodded, "That's true."

His laughter and happiness soon edged away when he turned to her. "I'm sorry that I you went through all this pain," he began. "I mean, this is all my fault.."

She took her free hand away from the child and stroked his cheek, "Let this be our little life changing mistake, one that I never want to learn how to fix."

"Me neither," he mumbled.

"I was right about one thing," he added and gently held the hand of their baby.

She tilted her head, "About what?"

"He looks like you. Just the way he looked when I saw him in the lifestream," he answered.

She smiled, "How can you tell? I thought you said when you saw him, he was at least 5 or 6."

"Because he's perfect," he answered. "Just like you."There was only hope.


A/N: Wow weeee.. It's been a long ride guys. And finally, the tale comes to an end. Then again, what I always say, 'The end is the beginning to the real story.' I would like to thank, okay, a lot of people. I've made quite a number of friends, from this story. Ironic Ending for one :) nice guy. Go read his FFVIII stories, he's an awesome writer. Kinda like a hopeless romantic like me, hehe. As well as a few others

There are a few loyal readers, who i would like to thank. Hmm.. I know there was a Prozacfairy, Hypathia, Rend, IronicEnding, bookwormzes, RockAngel14, Desi-pride101, The-Dark-Spirit-182... and if I didn't name any of you loyal readers, don't flame me lol.. email me and I'll add u to the list. that is if you have evidence that you are a loyal reader lol.

Ahh and the long anticipated wait for the announcement of a part 2. Hmm.. I don't know yet, but it seems from reading all the reviews of chapter 21, almost everyone wants part 2 no wait, not almost everyone, EVERYONE lol. But one thing that strikes me is coming up with a plot and all again. So, I'm gonna say, lets think about it first.. I have done part 2's to stories before, and they never turn out right and I just don't want the same thing to happen to the part 2 of Hope. I dunno, I'll think about it. But in the mean time, thank you again! and review away.

Oh ya, and also, lol this authors note is so long drawn. This story, the review total is my current highest record.. weeeee yay! Thanks everyone. Its been a pleasure to write such a wonderful fanfiction.

Hope by Ashley