A/N: Well, I was in a Tifa/Cloud kinda mood. And then Damien Rice and rain happened, so I got into a Tifa/Cloud angsty mood.I had no idea how I wanted to approach it, so I went to the lovely and used their word of the day to create this little one-shot.Hope you all enjoy!

Disclaimer: All profitable material from FFVII is propety of Square-Enix.

Hardscrabble

adj. : Earning a bare subsistence, as on the land; marginal: the sharecropper's hardscrabble life.

000

Tifa cannot stand the fact that he sits at the window every morning, staring out longingly towards the sunrise.

---

He proposed after two years of living together at the kitchen table one morning, a box of chocolate and dark red roses in hand. She loves lilies and Cloud, so she accepts. He tells her that he will take her out for dinner that night and she buys bright red shoes because red is her color.

Cloud agrees and buys bright red ribbons to match, calling off from work as he ties her lustfully to the bedpost.

---

Their wedding is beautiful and Tifa walks down the aisle in a ruffled off-white dress. Her hair is curled and pinned to her head in ringlets, and her bosom curves tastefully under the expert tailoring of the dress. She holds a bouquet of roses and white lilies: the roses for herself and the lilies for her fallen best friend.

She smiles brilliantly at her husband-to-be as she makes her way down the aisle, ruby eyes sparkling in the unfiltered sunlight of the last Cetra's church, but finds that Cloud is too busy staring out the window to notice.

---

He calls out her name longingly in the dark, clinging to Tifa as if she were an anchor against his dreams.

Tifa decides to dye her hair a lighter shade of brown.

---

They walk hand-in-hand through the market, discussing the color of the new baby's room. Tifa likes that he's so excited, but she cannot help but frown when he picks out an all-pink outfit, complete with a red over jacket and hair ribbon.

She tells him that it's a boy.

---

Cloud leaves the window to grab breakfast for his craving-mother-to-be and Tifa creeps silently to the baby's room. She rips at the curtains that he holds in his hand every morning, and later chews at her doughnuts satisfied, ignoring his angry glances.

---

Yuffie stops by with chocolate and a movie, kicking Cloud out to a bar with her boyfriend Reno. Tifa giggles happily at the girl's antics and almost wishes that-

-she tells Yuffie she isn't feeling well and goes upstairs to sleep.

---

She awakens blearily to his image, the moonlight encasing his features as he fumbles with the buckle of his belt. There's alcohol on his breath and his hands roam in familiar places, coaxing monotonous moans to slip from her lips. Her breathing hitches as he prods, pushes, and knocks her off the edge, bruised by his need and hurt by his callousness.

Tifa writhes and gasps and groans, but she can taste the flower girl on his lips, can feel her in his arms as he falls, exhausted, into her arms, both cradling and suffocating her.

---

The baby is born with bright green eyes and Cloud embraces it tenderly by his window. He insists on an all pink-room since it is turns out to be a girl and presses soft kisses to the newborn's face.

Tifa watches jealously from the doorframe, arms crossed weakly.

---

The doctor calls her back for a post-delivery checkup and asks how she's been feeling.

Tifa blinks at the suddenness of the question and shakes her head weakly.

I'm okay, she insists through tears shielded by long eyelashes, and adds that the baby and Cloud are getting along great.

---

Barret sends them flowers: daisies, roses, tulips; a token of congratulations for the new addition to the family. He sends a card of colorful jokes, but the main focuses of both the new parents are the flowers.

Cloud wonders aloud why Barret left out lilies, and Tifa flinches as he fingers a rose with disgust.

---

He leaves on a two-day delivery, pressing an emotionless kiss to his wife's cheek. He holds the baby tight, his eyes misting at the thought of leaving his child. Bright green eyes blink up at him innocently, and his motorcycle roars into life and down the road a minute later.

Tifa stares at the child as he leaves before setting it resolutely on the couch.

---

She enters the baby's room, eyes scanning it sadly. She strides purposefully to the window and tears away the bright pink curtains, stuffing them into her mouth as she screams.

000

- End -

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