An Alternate Universe

By: Final Serenity

---- A Daughters Love ----

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Epilogue: A Daughter's Love.


The morning greeted them yet again on top of this barren hill except for its unexpected visitors that still slept, save for one who had awoken earlier than the others.

Her eyes were rested upon a young boy who had a drooling smile sprawled out against a large red fur-ball. Red in his own interest seemed to like sleeping into the day but his head was positioned so that if he were to awaken, the first he would see was Tifa. She wondered if he was being more cautious around her since that terrible even two days ago. It was an odd feeling and it seemed a dream but the days passed and the little nightmare that had played itself out was gone and forgotten.

Tifa smiled as she saw one eye of the tiger peek open and gaze at her before closing again, Tifa imagined that Red liked to check up on her and make sure she wasn't in any danger. Last night was proof as he would constantly come over and circle her a few times before taking off in an unparallel speed to once again play with Billy junior.

Though her thoughts were really preoccupied and it wasn't by any of the above she had just given her mind too…no it was burning with the epic memory of the night, as she and Cloud had danced.

"Tifa?" Billy groaned as he scratched his grumbling stomach. "I'm hungry but I don't really want that stuff we had last night…"

"You should be grateful we had anything." Cloud stated, apparently he was fully awake though he was very still in the position of lying on his side propped up with one arm his eyes closed.

"I am grateful!" Billy blushed as he tried to correct himself on Cloud's condensation. Though he could not keep his 'adult' attitude as his stomach gurgled again and he whined. "I want eggs and bacon and potatoes, bread with butter and cheese and,"

Tifa felt her own stomach churn as he spoke of the delightful food spread, it seemed as if ages had passed since a real meal was decently eaten or prepared. She couldn't help but feel yet again responsible for their impossible situation and let her head hang slightly. Cloud sat up and kicked the small ashen wood; the firewood was out even though he'd gone for a second trip before they'd rested. His eyes shifted to the base of the hill, and just as he did Red immediately jumped to his feet with a low growl humming from him. Billy junior fell back, as now his backrest was getting ready for whatever may be on its way.

"Finally!" Cloud let out a relieved sigh as he went to grab his small pouches and strap them around his waist, the coat he'd had was currently draped on Tifa so he finished up with tugging his gloves tighter.

Tifa shifted herself so she could see it more easily though it was hardly to be missed. The foggy atmosphere did nothing to shield the ostentatious carriage that was bounding its way up the hill led by a team of two chocobo, and a man that Tifa recognized as Vincent sitting atop the driver's bench.

Cloud had vaguely spoken of what the carriage was like; though Tifa had her thoughts she never imagined it to be so…elegant. It was black based carriage, that she could believe after all it was his favorite color, it had silver linings with emblems on the doors, the wheels were powerful made of thick wood and a shining metal plating. Billy was just in as much awe at the sight, even in town there wasn't a carriage like it, a flag too sat on top on the front corner on the right with the same emblem that was on the door. Vincent stepped down.

"Forgive me my lord," he spoke in hushed ghostly whisper as he bowed, Tifa wondered if he was compelled to bow as low as he did because he was terribly late… "I was distracted and unaware of the time when I realized I should return."

Cloud for a moment kept to himself before folding his arm, his face had contorted into an annoyed angered expression as he tapped his foot. "Vincent I don't suppose you got drunk again and found yourself in debt at the local Tavern,"

"My lord I," he tried to interrupt.

But Cloud would not hear it. "Where you ran up a hefty debt and then tried to seduce the daughter of the man you lost your money too,"

Vincent scratched his head. "It wasn't too hefty…"

"Whereas the man found out and you suddenly found yourself running for your life and you wound up in the stables,"

"It was an awful smell in there really they should have someone cleaning those everyday as in Midgar," he remarked thoughtfully.

"This is when you remembered that we were here waiting for you to return." Cloud finished while giving a thoughtful face before nodding his conclusion.

Vincent sighed in defeat and apologized several times, he was forgiven quickly only on the condition he get them home quickly and update him on the events when he returned to town.

The settled themselves easily in the carriage, Red and Billy took up the front half while Cloud and Tifa sat next to each other on the other end. Vincent started them off and since it was a slow ride he began to express the details of the events that transpired when he returned. Biggs and Wedge as instructed were taken home, though Vincent admitted that the parents of the boys had found out about their criminal acts and were less than pleased. He assumed the worst for the boys. Rude was taken into custody by the town's law and he'd not seen Reno anywhere, the races were postponed for the lack of the event holder was missing, and lastly Billy senior was waiting anxiously for their return.

Vincent had the decency to at least stop in and inform the man of the events that had transpired and told him to wait, and not make a scene. It was vastly hard to keep both men at bay, as Cid tried to tackle him from behind and force him to tell him everything though he was half drunk…and Vincent commented that he smelled intolerably.

"It seems as if I caused too much trouble for everyone," Tifa stated at the conclusion of Vincent's reports, her eyes shifted towards the window. "I hope I can make it up somehow."

"Hey it wasn't your fault Tifa!" Billy revoked the idea that she had any pain or even thought in the slightest that it was her fault. "I'm really stupid I shouldn't have listened to those dumb guys!"

Cloud snorted as he rolled his eyes. "You're right about that."

Billy sneered while sticking his tongue out. "You shouldn't be saying anything grandpa."

"G-grandpa!?" Cloud stuttered as those impossible words came from his mouth, was this kid serious?

"That's right, you're an old fogy!" Billy stuck his nose up into the air, folded his arm and refused to speak any more.

Tifa covered her mouth as she tried truly hard to keep at bay the laughter that bubbled beneath her, Cloud looked nothing like a grandpa; in fact he was only a few years older than Billy but that boy…he used everything as an insult. She smiled when her eyes glanced over to Cloud who had a slight pout on his face, his arms folded as well, it was odd to see him so lively…but it was incredibly wonderful.

"What will you do?" Billy junior suddenly asked, his question directed to Tifa. "I mean…what's going to happen now?"

Tifa had been wondering the same thing since this morning mixed with the jumble of feelings from last night she wasn't entirely sure…but one thing was clear. She couldn't stay any longer. Her eyes looked over her smaller companion this boy was a wonderful example of pure joy, though the sadness that looms over him he perseveres and somehow…keeps smiling. Billy senior, Cid even Biggs and Wedge were here…but her family

Cloud too seemed deeply interested in this topic and rightly so, everyone who was currently in the carriage was inkling to hear the outcome…

"I…can't stay here." She spoke softly and tried to use her words carefully. "My family is probably really worried…a letter isn't enough…I have to go to them."

Billy was already in tears; his sleeves were soaking as he tried to wipe them away quickly so that no one would notice…it was obvious though. Cloud had not lost his interest but his eyes had turned away from her, the bittersweet knowledge of how she even arrived in this place irked him and placed a great irritation upon his shoulders. Tifa's hands rolled around her lap as she twiddled her fingers, when she felt a small almost impossible droplet hit the back of her hand. Instantly she brought them to her face and felt it too, the unstoppable tears that once had loomed but spilled over.

Another hand came to her face to assist in the effort of removing the tears.

"I can't stand it…" he said quietly, the depressed look that he made as he spoke. "When you cry…it bothers me."

"S-sorry!" she quickly tried to stop as she swiped at the tears as fast as she could to make them disappear.

Cloud laughed momentarily before gripping her wrist and without thought pulled her next to him, he looked so serious when he made his fingers intertwine with hers and his face enclosed the space between them.

"My lord, don't do anything to rash in there," Vincent spoke up as his head quickly removed itself from hovering out the window. "I'm terribly afraid it would be inconvenient if an heir to the Strife family appeared before we arrived back to town."

"E-Excuse me!?" Cloud barked out horrified as he blushed and pushed himself away, as far away as the carriage would allow. His ears burned red as he grumbled something about how Vincent wasn't supposed to be so…so talkative.

Tifa giggled slightly but the words Vincent had spoken did take her by surprise though she knew she shouldn't take them seriously…it would be nice, to be with Cloud in all aspects. She let another happy giggle escape her as she amused herself with future thoughts of the two of them together happily as a family.

For Tifa, the next few hours were a complete blur.

To begin to even sum up the events she had to recollect her thoughts as she stroked Cloud's feathers, the golden chocobo had been extraordinarily epically overly excited and created quite the ruckus upon her return.

Though she was relieved that they had retrieved him from the mountainside, but it was nothing to the commotion that Cid caused. The catastrophic and embarrassing tears that poured out from this adult man were as if a flood released, he fell to his knees a lot and begged everyone to forgive him. After a while he was completely ignored because his rambling started to make no sense whatsoever, and once it started getting more out of hand when he wanted to sing his apology Vincent knocked him out with a bottle of liquor that had no label.

Tifa almost wanted to ask what it was, but as she gazed at Cid who was laying unconscious half-way on the large sofa she decided against it.

Billy senior had excitedly greeted us with hugs, kisses, and lots of scolding. He nearly barked their ears off and even started ranting at Cloud about this and that, but as he suddenly came to realize his old man rambling was getting off track he stopped.

Hours passed as the group settled themselves into the home again; Billy senior and Vincent went on a quick trip to town to pick up some food for a feast that Tifa insisted on cooking. Billy junior was keeping an eye on Red and golden chocobo, for it seemed they took a great disliking to one another. Cloud stayed inside with Tifa to help clean up messes around the house to bide time before starting getting ready for the feast.

What a feast it was. Tifa couldn't remember a time that she'd ever been this stuffed ever in her life. Her eyes glanced around at the equally happy faces that were dining with them; Billy senior had surprisingly invited Biggs and Wedge to dinner when he went into town. Though she had it on good suspicion that he wanted to give them a scolding as well…Vincent and Cloud were discussing this and that lowly over the table while Billy junior ate outside with Red as well.

"HEY!" the door swung wide open Billy junior dashed inside panting and heaving. "T-they're…c-can't…s-stop…R-Red…C-Cloud!"

For a moment the group inside the hand-built home gain a curious expression as they gazed at Cloud, who in was just a stupor as they were.

"O-outside quick!" he huffed while grabbing the closest person's hand, which happened to be Vincent, and pulling him towards the door.

The group at the table jumped from their seats to dash out the door and saw exactly what the younger boy was trying to say. Red the tiger and Cloud the chocobo were at odds, they'd been eyeing one another since they first met and now they were finally putting their powers to the test…

By racing.

"Whoo look at that tiger go!" Billy senior cheered as he saw the hefty beast with his powerful hind legs keeping at good pace with his prized chocobo.

"That tiger won't win," Cloud said as if he were condemning Red for other reasons. "He's too annoying, besides that chocobo looks like it was built for speed."

"I bet you…ten Gil that the little critter wins!" Billy senior amused as he slapped Cloud on the back.

Vincent disappeared as soon as the bet was mentioned, Cloud on the other hand smiled. "Billy senior I'll take that bet…and raise you ten thousand Gil."

For a moment Billy senior laughed at the supposed joke…only to find that the face on Cloud was all too serious. "Lad, you can't be serious."

Cloud smiled. "I think you and I should talk, you see I'm…"

Tifa was oblivious to the conversation as she had ran to the fence and started cheering for both of the participants her stomach no longer ached of the fullness but bubbled with excitement. Biggs and Wedge had shyly joined her but as soon as they did they too were quarreling over who the victor would be. Only the younger Billy seemed distracted by a new figure that he didn't recognize walking towards them. A bag was slung on his shoulder and he was moving quite slowly but he still…wondered…

"Hey, hey Tifa," Billy junior tugged on Tifa's collared shirt while pointing in the direction of the road. "Who's that man?"

Tifa did not look right away engulfed in the race she quickly gave a side glance but returned her sight to the race only to freeze.

Time had halted for that moment.

Disbelief ran through her as she turned her head again, this time slowly making sure not to suddenly move.

"…P…Papa!?" she cried, it was a deafening scream.

That was the only words spoke between the two, Tifa had immediately jumped from the fence posts and dashed to the man, his body had fallen to the ground he was on his knees as she rammed into him. His arms cradled her as she let her body completely sink into him. Tifa cried, she sobbed, her body shuddered and nearly let it fall apart but somehow she managed to keep from breaking apart.

Cloud clutched his chest as a pang of guilt, sadness and memories flooded to him all at once. Everything would change from this moment forward, nothing would be the same.

But…this was supposed to be the happy ending right?

You would think so would you?

Billy junior tugged on his grandfather's shirt. "Grandpa…that man is Tifa's father?"

"It would seem so." He said softly, his wrinkled leather face seemed to break slightly.

"But what's wrong with him…why is he so..." Billy didn't know how to put it into words.

"Billy that's…that's the power of it." Billy senior stated.

"Power…of what?"

"A daughter's love."


Authors Note:

AH! Forgive me. I know it's inexcusable but really I got distracted...marriage and all does that to you :D Now. Don't you dare go thinking this is the end, perhaps to this story but there will be a,

SEQUEL.

It's already in progress as should be added soon...What I really want to say is thank you! For everything and what not, I apprciate everything you've all done and if you're disappointed in the ending, then the next story will utterly make up for it.

I promise! Until then *kiss* *kiss* *hug* *hug* and keep an eye out for the sequel.

A Daughter's Love: The Lord's Love.