Title: All The Time In The World
Summary: When Tifa finds out shes sick, how will she deal with the news? And how will Cloud [CloTi
Disclaimer: The characters and places all belong to FF VII and Square Enix.
"I'm afraid that you have cancer Miss Lockhart."
I stare at the doctor, not quite taking in what he is saying. Cancer? I came in for a check-up. I've been feeling quite tired lately. But cancer?
"Miss Lockhart, do you understand what I'm telling you?" I give a small nod.
"But … there are cures, aren't there?" The doctor gives a heavy sigh. Not good.
"From the looks of your results, its quite an advanced case. There is a chance you may not survive. However, I wish to run some further tests, the results of which will give us a better idea. In the meantime you may wish to set you affairs in order. Just in case.
I'm standing behind the bar, washing glasses. Cloud is sitting on the table in front of me, working on his maps. He doesn't know the news yet. No one does. When I arrived home from the doctors, I had lied to both Cloud and the children, telling them I'd just gone for a walk. I don't even know how to begin to tell them, so I have resigned myself to the fact that I will get better, and they will never have to worry, never have to know.
"You're staring." Cloud says without looking up from his maps. Caught off guard by the fact he had even been aware of me watching him, I jump. He glances up now and looks at me.
"Something's wrong." Its not a question, but a statement. I try to look confused.
"No, it's nothing. I was just thinking sorry."
"Tifa… what's the matter?"
"Nothing's the matter Cloud." I reply shortly, nervously. He stands from the table, his chair scraping across the floor as he walks over to me. I feel his blue eyes pierce me as I turn away. I can't look into those eyes. I feel his firm hand rest on my shoulder, gently pulling me back to face him. He knows too that I can't lie to those eyes.
"Please talk to me Teef." he pleads. I bite my lip, he's trying so hard. Trying so hard to be the man I wanted him to be. The man I had begged him to be not so long ago. And now, I wish he would go back to his old self. It would be easier to hide the truth from the old Cloud.
"I know something's wrong Tifa. You wouldn't be crying if there wasn't." I gasp, my hand leaping up to my cheek, and feel it wet with tears. I hadn't even realised that I'd been crying. So my eyes have betrayed me, and my emotions. Through my wine coloured, watery eyes, I see glowing blue ones looking at me with concern.
"I'm worried about Marlene and Denzel." I blurt out the first thing that comes mind. Its not completely a lie. Just not something worth crying over. Cloud cocks an eyebrow. "I'm worried I won't be a good enough parent. I don't want to fail them."
Cloud opens his mouth as though to say something, perhaps to console me, tell me I'm a brilliant mother to them. But he stops. He senses something is wrong. Instead, he speaks, his voice laced with both anger, and deep disappointment.
"You're a bad liar Tifa Lockhart." And with that, he returns to the table, scooping up his maps and heading upstairs, leaving me downstairs, consumed with guilt.
You're better off not knowing Cloud. I'm sorry.
The next few days were almost unbearable. Cloud barely spoke to me, only saying the occasional thank you if I passed him his breakfast or relayed his messages. As a consequence of our 'argument', Cloud also stayed out much later, not returning home from deliveries until late at night.
Denzel and Marlene didn't understand his sudden change in behaviour. Especially after he had been making such progress, and it broke my heart. I had to act.
"By all means, hurt me, but Denzel and Marlene did nothing to deserve this." I say one night as Cloud enters the house late. He freezes, caught off guard. I know he hadn't expected me to be waiting up for him.
"I wasn't trying to hurt you." he mumbles quietly. I feel a wave of sympathy for him.
You've been trying so hard, I know. I'm sorry.
"I just.. I can't bear it Teef. I know something's wrong. I wish you'd let me help. I want to be able to help."
"You can't help." I say, a little too quickly. He cocks his head curiously.
"So there is something."
"No I mean…. Cloud please, you know, if it was truly important, I'd tell you."
"But Teef, if something's bothering you, then it is truly important." I feel tears springing to my eyes again, although for different reasons altogether. Cloud is at my side in an instant, his hand cupping my cheek, softly stroking tears away with his thumb.
"You've tried so hard." I say. "I'm so proud of you." And I was.
"Be proud of yourself. I couldn't have done it without you Tifa. I've realised something since I've changed. You've always been there for me. Whenever I needed you, you where there. And know I want to be there for you. I want to show you how grateful I am. Will you let me show you?"
I look into his blue eyes, filled with sincerity, and nod. Cloud Strife leans forward and kisses me. The sensation seems to spread through my body, and I suddenly feel like I've been healed. I wrap my arms around his neck, and allow him to carry me upstairs.
Waking up in Cloud's arms had meant that for the rest of the week I had been practically floating around. Everything seemed right again. The kids were much happier now Cloud was getting home early, my patrons seemed to revel in my new happy mood. Even the weather seemed better.
As I made my way to the doctors, I didn't feel remotely worried. Everything would be fine. I knew that now. I skipped into the surgery, humming a tune as I leafed through magazines while I was waiting.
"Miss Lockhart. Good to see you again."
I smiled and sat down, watching as the Doctor's eyes scanned over a chart he was holding. His face was unreadable, neither smiling nor frowning. I took it as a good sign. You can't be reading bad news without frowning right?
"Miss Lockhart, I'm sorry. The cancer has progressed beyond recovery."
"I… But… What?" I look at him perplexed. I can't be hearing him right.
"I'm very sorry Miss Lockhart. Your cancer is terminal."
He's sorry, he tells me. The doctor is sorry, I laugh bitterly to myself. I don't understand. Terminal cancer just can't show up overnight. It just can't appear out of nowhere.
"How long do I have?" I ask quietly, my voice barely audible.
"At my best guess…. I'd say about two weeks."
A/N: How did I do? I usually one do one parters so this is weird for me writing chapters. Anyway I hope you liked it, I'll try and update soon!