Chapter XII: Promise

All was silent as she awoke from her deep slumber. She was dazed for a moment, trying to get her eyes adjusted to the darkness and getting her mind out of her heavy sleep mode. She was tired as her weary eyes stared blankly above at the ceiling above her, trying to figure out where she was. She soon realized she was not in her familiar room, but someone else's – His. Immediately, her once droopy eyes flashed open and she was wide awake.

Cloud!

"Cloud!" She echoed, as she shifted her body up to look around. She could only see the normal plainness of the room: a basic desk, a small book shelf, the simple closet, the plain door left open. And no Cloud. Like how it used to be.

Quickly she glanced next to her, with the smallest hope that he would be there lying peacefully next to her lost within a dream. But, with no surprise, there was no man sleeping peacefully beside her. In fact there was no man at all…just empty air filling in the once occupied spot. But he was there. He was. She remembered. He was there.

Tifa leaned back against the headboard of the bed, sighing in utter disappointment and betrayal. Her warm brown eyes darkened as they boiled with anger and frustration. Why? Why would Cloud so such a thing to her? After all that time…was it all a lie? Fake? Just to make her feel better for a couple of months or so?

God.

What the hell is wrong, Cloud?

What the hell is it?

I should have never…

I shouldn't have let it go…

I knew. I knew.

Yes, she was never oblivious of Cloud's bizarre behavior at times. She knew that something was going on with him, but she always pretended and played along. And she knew why she did it too.

Because I wanted to be with him…

I wanted to try and make life normal.

For him. For me.

Tifa sighed and placed her face into her open palms. She didn't know how in the world she was going to break it to the children and to everyone else that he had left again and was probably not coming back for quite some time. Marlene would ask the basic, tough questions of why, and if did Cloud really love her and everyone else and so on. Barret and the others would give her the usual lecture and tell her how they would support her…and all that fancy jazz bull shit. She was getting pretty sick and tired of it. And getting pretty sick and tired of herself. Always having hope and always holding on and waiting for him. For loving him.

For that little piece of pathetic shit.

Always thinking about him…

Loving him…

She looked up from her palms, feeling even more exhausted and stressed out.

"I need to clean. Or something. I need to do something." Tifa muttered to herself. "I can't just sit here. I just can't."

As she placed her warm feet on the floorboard ready to get out of bed, she glanced at the digital clock running on the nightstand that had a small navy blue box with a piece of small white paper underneath it.

7:03 A.M.

"Ughhh. It's all ready seven? Dear lord…" The brunette grumbled. She was about to get up when she glanced back at the nightstand. There it sat the small box with note underneath it. The box was square-shaped, much like the common box for a small piece of jewelry. She cocked her head. She didn't ever recall seeing this within his room. Maybe it was his ring box? Did he wear any rings? Or maybe it's for his earring…

Curiously, Tifa picked up the box, leaving the small note where it was and slowly opened it. Inside was a ring with a face of the wolf on Cloud's pauldron. It had fine craftsmanship, everything finely detailed all around. It looked as if it were made with some of the finest metals. The wolf had a ring held tightly within its clenching jaws and brilliant blue colored eyes, looking as if made up of blue materia. They glittered within the fading morning darkness, reminding her of someone who has such familiar eyes.

Just like Cloud's.

Cloud's blue eyes…

She gazed at the piece of fine jewelry for a few moments longer before trying it on for size. She slipped it on her right ring finger, finding the ring fitting perfectly on her slender finger. She held up her hand, letting the rising sun catch the eyes of the wolf, making the materia shimmer in beauty. She loved it. She absolutely adored it. It gave her almost a comforting sensation as she gazed into the wolf's eyes.

Placing the ring box down on the nightstand, she took the small note that was folded underneath it. She opened it finding it written in Cloud's small, neat handwriting in black ink. It was a simple note with only a few lines that meant the world to her.

Tifa,

I'll come back to you.

I promise.

– Cloud

She looked at the note with small smile as she kept rereading the last line to his note.

"I promise."

A promise is a promise, Cloud.

And I'm gonna hold you to it.

It was then when she heard a familiar revving engine of a motorcycle just outside of the bar. Instantly, Tifa got up and ran over to the window to look. There, was a dark figure of a man revving up his bike's engine ready to head off into the day. He adjusted his mirrors and placed his goggles on his handsomely structured visage quickly before placing his foot on the gas pedal. Tifa, mouth agape, desperately fought with the window locks as she tried to unlock them to get the man's attention. But her fingers just worked clumsily. And by the time she had the window open and called out his name, the warrior was already racing down the quiet street taking one last glance over his shoulder at the young woman.

I'll come back.

~ Fin.