Henrika- Ginger Ninja gave me a prompt and this came out as her gift fic! Therefore this is dedicated to her! Hooray! Enjoy and review everyone!
"I'm home." Tifa called out softly as she entered Seventh Heaven. Juggling her bags, she shut the door quietly with her foot; mindful of the fact that is was well past Marlene and Denzel's bedtime. She set her burdens down in the entryway, the results of a "girl's day out" in Midgar with Yuffie and Shera. The pair had shown up on her doorstep that morning and dragged her away, waving goodbye to a bewildered Cloud as they did so. The older women had managed to keep Yuffie from monopolizing the entire day with materia shops and they had had an excellent time roaming around the steadily rebuilding city.
And Tifa hadn't really minded being pulled from her home after her friends had helped her pick out an extremely sexy cerulean dress that just happened to match Cloud's eyes.
"Cloud?" She whispered into the dark, wondering if he was already in bed.
She stepped into the kitchen and only her honed reflexes kept her from slipping on something wet. Tifa caught herself on the counter and pulled herself up, groping for the light switch as she did so. Brushing the knob with her fingers she flicked it upwards, flooding the kitchen with light.
Tifa thought she might have screamed if her breath hadn't been taken away in shock. She numbly thought that her kitchen looked like Bahamut had been summoned there. If Bahamut attacked with cookie batter and chocolate chips that was. There was batter everywhere she looked. Smears of it over the counter, globs of it on the floor, and even a spattering of it on the ceiling. Chocolate chips were sprinkled liberally throughout the disaster area.
Tifa wandered through her kitchen in a daze, finally coming upon a small plate with a single cookie. There was small piece of paper next to it with a big crayon arrow and her name. She smiled faintly and resisted the urge to faint as she munched her cookie and moved on into the children's playroom.
The moment she stepped into the room she felt a sense of foreboding. She heard a soft clinking noise and a yo-yo rolled by her foot. It was the only warning she got before an avalanche of toys started rolling towards her. She ran for the door, barely managing to shut it behind her before the deluge of playthings slammed against the wood.
"Oh Cloud…" Tifa sang softly. "I'm going to have to murder you."
She searched the rest of the downstairs rooms, finding similar disasters in all of them. Crayons and paints decorated one room. Another was graced with the pieces of every board game they had. And still another was stuffed with puppets and costumes. She had felt compelled to try to put some sort of order to that room and started folding some of the costumes. Tifa's hand glided over the green silk of the princess costume that Marlene usually made her wear when they played dress-up and did plays. She wondered why it was out of the box since there were already two small knight costumes strewn over the floor.
A smile spread over her face as she realized what the kids must have conned Cloud into doing. She remembered his stint as "Ms. Cloud" and wondered if Marlene or Denzel had had the sense to grab a camera. Not that that would redeem them. They were all in deep trouble, Cloud even more so. He was so going to pay for this.
Finally giving up the mess as a lost cause for the evening, she set off in search of those who had caused it.
The living room was her last stop and it was here that she found all three culprits spread out on the couch, sound asleep.
She leaned against the doorframe, crossing her arms over her chest as she took in the homey little scene. Denzel was draped over Cloud's legs, his head pillowed comfortably between his arms and Cloud's stomach. Marlene had wormed her way to the inside of the couch and was curled up quite cozily by Cloud's chest, her lips still bearing a trace of chocolate. A toned, muscled arm was wrapped around Marlene while a callused hand rested on Denzel's head.
But it was Cloud who really caught her attention out of the little picture presented before her. He was smiling in his sleep and sleeping peacefully as that. It was such a rarity for her to see him like that. Nightmares of Nibelheim and their quest to stop Meteor from destroying the Planet haunted both of their sleep, but Tifa had a feeling that his were so much worse. She saw it in his eyes every day, a weariness and traces of guilt that couldn't be forgiven by anyone but himself. But that smile, the one he gave her and the children sometimes, the one he was wearing now, gave her hope that someday those traces would all disappear. She moved closer, kneeling down by the couch, drinking the sight in.
And barely managing to stifle her giggle when she realized he was wearing mascara. So they did make him into a princess! She thought gleefully.
Unfortunately, her giggle was heard. Mako-blue eyes opened slowly, blinking at her until they flashed in recognition.
"I couldn't stop them!" He whispered fervently. "We'd start to do something and then they'd decide we needed to do something else. I couldn't convince them otherwise!" Tifa mock-glared at him, but he took the gesture seriously. "I'll clean it all up! I swear! Just don't hurt me!"
Tifa laughed, not able to help herself. "We'll all clean up. Tomorrow though. Come on, let's get them to bed." As Cloud breathed a sigh of relief she extricated a sleepy Marlene and he scooped Denzel up.
They walked quietly up the stairs until Cloud almost shyly asked, "Did you like the cookie?"
Tifa giggled. "Yes. It was very good. Maybe we can scrape some batter off the ceiling and make more."
Cloud smiled as well; and Tifa swore she saw some of that pain in his eyes melt away. "Yeah, we can try that tomorrow."
And after they had gotten the children tucked in and parted to their separate rooms Tifa reflected that the day had turned out rather well. She wasn't looking forward to cleaning all of tomorrow, but spending the time with her little "family" would be well worth the soapy hands and tired knees.
And, Tifa reflected, if there are more tomorrows, which it sounds like Cloud is planning on…She thought of how Yuffie and Shera had dragged her off that morning and decided that they most definitely owed her for the mess incurred in her absence, then I have two babysitters, a gorgeous dress, and a handsome baker who I need to repay.
She smiled to herself as she tumbled into her bed. She was definitely looking forward to those tomorrows.
Henrika-This was pretty fun to write.I kept thinkingof what they could possibly mess up The other two gift ficsare still in planning, but never fear! Work on them and "Wings of an Angel" will continue!