Black leather, the luminescent green of his eyes, his smouldering touch.
Tifa's eyes flickered to meet the dawn's early morning light, her dreams fading from her mind. She surveyed the room around her, eyes growing wide with confusion. This wasn't where she normally woke. Realization suddenly flooded the young woman and the memory of the previous night streaked across her face in a volley of emotion. Something shifted behind her and a slight pressure pulled at her waist. Twisting her head slightly, Tifa shifted to see Sephiroth's arm wrapped securely across her body, pressing her close to the heat of his own. A small smile lifted the corner of her delicate mouth as she relished in the unfamiliar comfort.
Sephiroth's head rested lightly behind Tifa's shoulder and she twisted further to see him better. She found it mesmerising, just to watch. The steady rise and fall of his chest, the calm serenity of his posture, how peaceful he seemed. Everything seemed so foreign about him. Never had she seen his expression so relaxed, the marbled contours of his face so untroubled with thoughts and plans. He was almost a different being altogether.
A sudden urge washed across the girl and without thought, Tifa pushed her body gently higher and placed a soft kiss to the underside of his jaw.
Sephiroth's eyes glimmered open and stared momentarily at the surroundings before locking to Tifa's wine-red gaze. As she opened her mouth to speak, Sephiroth dipped his head and greeted her with an intimate kiss, drawing it out as she melted against him. She lay still as he parted his lips from hers, only to release a shriek as Sephiroth swung himself into a sitting position, pulling her body easily onto his lap. Her arms locked securely around his waist in shock as he shifted into a comfortable position beneath her. "Sleep well?" Sephiroth's voice was deep and husky, a soothing balm to Tifa's ears. She smiled lightly in response, snuggling closer to him. Her hand found a loose strand of silver hair and began to wind it playfully between her fingers.
"Are you hungry?" Sephiroth asked.
Tifa sat silent, too engrossed in twisting the man's hair into a web. With no answer, Sephiroth scooped his arms beneath the young woman and lifted her away, rising from the couch only to set her in his place. She watched, pouting slightly in annoyance, as the man strode to the black, crumpled heap of clothes where he lifted his leather trousers and slid them up his legs, buckling the straps with practiced ease.
He turned and smiled seductively towards Tifa before quickly leaving the room, leaving the door just slightly ajar.
Tifa sighed contentedly into the couch pillows, her mind calm and untroubled. She listened to the fading footsteps long after they had become inaudible. Light streamed through the small square window across from her, glimmering along her bare skin. A light chill rushed across her body from the doorway and she pulled the blanket closer, breathing deeply as Sephiroth's scent mixed with her own and a feeling of belonging overwhelmed her senses.
When Sephiroth returned; Tifa's breakfast in hand, the young woman had dressed and was sitting patiently as the television hummed the latest news. His mouth tipped up in amusement as he noticed his trench coat draped heavily across her thin shoulders.
He approached and placed the breakfast tray on her knees, before lifting the garment away and, shrugging it over his torso. She smirked stubbornly as he moved away to search the room for his remaining garments.
Flying through the food, Tifa watched with interest as the man lifted one of his boots from the centre of the room then, puzzled, scoured the area for the other.
It wasn't till long after she finished her breakfast that he discovered the missing item under the couch. With an aggravated sigh, Sephiroth wrenched the boot from beneath the furniture and pulled it on, then gazed thoughtfully up to the window.
"I have something I must do today." He said suddenly, then turned to address Tifa directly. "I will need you with me."
Tifa watched him with wondering eyes as he approached her, smiling slightly when he crouched and cupped her face in his hand. But a foreboding sense quickly began to taint her thoughts.
"I want you to watch when I erase the very memory of Cloud Strife from the face of this planet."
Tifa's smile faltered as her heart skipped a beat.
"What is it?" Sephiroth stroked her skin sending butterflies spiralling through Tifa's stomach.
"I…" Something was hammering through Tifa's head, like an alert. She felt like she owed it to Sephiroth, to do as he asked yet why was there such a negative feeling to the idea of Cloud's defeat? "I…can't…"
She was cut off by the force of Sephiroth's mouth and immediately she bent to his will.
"You can." Tifa shivered as the cool sensation of Sephiroth's hand glided across her stomach, easily sliding under her shorts to rest between her legs. He was towering over her now, powerful and dominating. "Why do you refuse me this one simple request?" A tremor racked her body as his fingers pressed into her, his lips curling into a sly grin. She could feel her muscles tighten beneath him, she wanted it, she wanted him, all of him.
"Should I just give you back to Cloud? We can forget any of this ever happened." His voice was a dark seduction, pulling her in. "Is that what you want Tifa?" She shook her head quickly as he pushed in harder, a deep chuckle of amusement rumbling from his throat. "Then let's not waste anymore time."
Tifa nodded lightly as he pulled away and silently lifted her onto her feet.
The feeling of devotion to him was almost overwhelming and the thought of breaking it was unbearable. Without another word, Sephiroth guided the young woman from the room, the last remaining attachments of her past life disappearing without regret.
Cloud's body tensed noticeably as the airship came to a halt. Rain buffeted the weather worn metal as the door began to descend, touching the ground with a low tremor. Mako-blue eyes scanned the dark sky that matched the deep oppression that was now flooding through his mind. It had begun not that many hours earlier; he knew what it meant. Immediately he had left, not knowing where to go, only that wherever this feeling of misery was strongest, he would find him.
The emotion was aggravatingly strong, but the thought of Tifa pushed Cloud forward, giving him a renewed hope. As he stepped onto the gangway, a firm grip caught his shoulder and he turned to see Vincent, an expression of concern placed firmly across his face.
"Cloud, are you certain you want to do this?" The dark haired man's grip tightened slightly.
Cloud stared, unmoving, back at his friend. He knew he had to do this alone and, after hours of arguing with the others, he wasn't changing his mind now.
Vincent's hand fell to his side as Cloud pulled away.
"If you need us, don't wait."
Cloud's mouth lifted into a brief smile as he moved away, disappearing into the shadows as soon as his feet left the platform.
The night engulfed him, the wind whipping around his body, pulling him in. Cloud followed willingly, allowing it to lead him, all the while the thought of Tifa, safe again in his arms urging him faster.
Less than fifteen minutes later, he knew he had arrived. He stood in a large, bare canyon, walled in by tall cliffs that loomed high in the darkness. The oppression was so strong now it was maddening, and the malicious laughter that echoed from the rocky barricades sent tremors of anger rocketing across his pale features.
"You finally made it. I was getting worried." The mock amusement of Sephiroth's voice was sickening to the blond and he watched with gritted teeth as the tall silhouette of his enemy emerged from within the cliff face.
"What have you done with Tifa?"
Sephiroth smirked. "She's safe. For the moment. Although I must admit, I do believe she had a rather pleasant time without you Cloud."
"Shut up. You can't mess with my head anymore Sephiroth."
"I'm only being honest with you Cloud."
"Oh don't worry, Tifa took good care of that while you where gone."
Cloud seemed to freeze as Sephiroth's face turned up in a sadistic grin.
"Where is she?" Cloud spat.
Sephiroth stared silently before turning to the cliff wall and outstretched his hand.
Cloud's heart leapt with joy then stuttered to a stop as he watched the petite figure of Tifa appear from the shadows and practically throw herself into Sephiroth's grasp.
For a moment he didn't believe it could actually be her, but the bright wine-red eyes and flowing dark hair were unmistakeable.
The young woman lifted her head towards the blond and stared blankly, causing a slicing pain to burn through Cloud's heart.
"What….what have you done to her?" He choked.
"Everything you see before you Cloud is of her own choice. She chose me over you. But in honesty, I'm not surprised. After all, compared to me, you're nothing."
"You never could admit to the truth-"
"SICK BASTARD!" Fuelled on a new-found anger, Cloud drove forward.
Smirking, Sephiroth pushed Tifa back to the wall and lifted his blade to meet the attack. The sound of metal striking metal seemed to resonate throughout the entire gorge.
Regaining balance, Tifa pushed herself round to see the two men bound further into the canyon; vaulting at each other from every angle as their weapons sent sparks flying in all directions. The young woman's breath caught in her throat as she watched their dark figures quickly disappear from sight. Seconds dragged by and she soon found her feet moving slowly forward, following the sound of their battle.
She was oblivious to all else around her, only the thought of Sephiroth kept her going on.
A sudden shower of pebbles and a loud explosion was her only warning.
Glancing up, Tifa stared, alarmed as smoke reeled from the cliff face and boulders collided to earth. In panic the young woman kicked away from the rock but not before something cracked heavily against her skull and she was sent tumbling to the floor.
Pain throbbed across her head as her vision blurred. As she drifted into unconsciousness, she was certain she could hear the sound of faint voices, mumbling far off in the distance, but she never had enough time to recognise them before her mind blacked out completely.
The smell of fresh cotton and the feeling of soft bed clothes where the first things Tifa met on awakening, and when she opened her eyes, she was greeted by the sight of a very familiar room. It was her room. She was home.
Her heart thudded erratically in her ears but as she tried to push herself up, a wave of dizziness flooded through her and she felt her body tip towards the edge.
"Easy." A familiar voice whispered and a hand grabbed her arm, yanking her back into a sitting position. The room spun momentarily and it took her a few seconds to refocus. When she did, she turned slowly to see the face of Vincent staring curiously back at her. "How are you feeling?"
She didn't answer. Thoughts of her last minutes conscious were finally fitting into place, but the final outcome never did and she had to know. "Vincent…" She whispered hoarsely, "What happened?"
The man looked steadily at her before placing a hand on her shoulder and gently attempted to push her back down. "You need to rest-"
"No…I need to know what happened…How did I get here? What happened to…" She broke off nervously but waited for Vincent's reply.
It took him several sceptical minutes but eventually he spoke. "When we found you, you were lying unconscious at the bottom of a landslide. You're lucky to be alive." He stopped momentarily but Tifa's urgent stare forced him to continue.
"Yuffie took you back to the airship. The rest of us went after Cloud. We joined him less than several hundred metres away from where you lay and combined forces against Sephiroth."
Tifa's eyes became distant. If she was here, then that must mean…
"Vincent…" Tifa's voice was becoming lower and more broken. "Is he…is Sephiroth…" She couldn't finish.
"No." Vincent's reply was blunt. To his surprise, Tifa's head lifted and a light seemed to spark in her eyes. Despite this he continued. "He escaped when he realised we had gotten the upper hand. Tifa..?"
Tifa wasn't listening anymore; her mind was preoccupied on other matters.
There was an abrupt shout from outside the door, followed by a yell of protest before the doorway flew inward and Cloud, half bandaged and bleeding burst into the room. His eyes seemed to glisten as his gaze fell on Tifa. Without a word, the man leapt toward her and wrapped his arms around her body in a tight embrace.
Immediately the young woman felt nauseous; her mind and stomach heaving in protest. She could see Vincent leave the room, pulling Yuffie; arms full of bandages behind him and it only made her feel more helpless.
Cloud's grip loosened as he turned to look at her, eyes wide with joy but they turned confused when he saw Tifa's own eyes glisten with tears. "Teefs, it's ok, I'm here now, everything's fine." He stroked a hair behind her ear but recoiled as the girl pushed him away. "...What is it?"
She mumbled something he couldn't hear and he leaned in to place a kiss across her lips. Her fists collided with his chest, forcing him away.
"GET OUT NOW!"
Shocked, Cloud moved away. "Tifa, what-"
Shocked but compliant, Cloud hastily removed himself, reluctantly pulling the door shut behind him, only to be faced by the confused expressions of the AVALANCHE members. He looked helplessly at them, his heart breaking as the shuddering sobs of Tifa drifted out from the room.
The sound of glasses knocking wood and the endless sobs were all that had been known to the AVALANCHE members for the last three days. Cloud was taking it especially hard, sitting in the corner alone while his friends exchanged worried glances about him.
Stockholm syndrome was what Vincent had called it. It was the only explanation they could come up with and it took all the control Cloud could muster to keep himself from going in and holding Tifa close to him. Listening to her misery was driving him insane but he couldn't comfort her lest he make the situation worse. His helplessness was pushing him over the edge.
He thought he had beaten Sephiroth at his own game, but now…it seemed as if the man had triumphed before Cloud had even begun.
Upstairs, Tifa lay huddled in the corner, her bed sheets wrapped tightly around her body. She felt broken, almost lost. She wanted to feel him again, his touch, hear his voice. Even if it was for just one last time. She tried to think back, think of life before any of this had ever happened. But there was none. There was only Sephiroth. Miserably she pushed herself up the wall and shuffled across the room to her mirror. She looked at herself with disdain, shoving her hair messily from her eyes with a shaking hand. She could see the rain splashing down her window while the distinct shadows of leaves whipped passed the glass…but one, darker than the others seemed to hover, unmoving. Curious she walked towards it, opening the window with a bang as the wind blasted in, carrying the object into her room. She re-shut the glass panel and with slow, disbelief, lifted the black feather from her floor. It twirled lightly between her fingers and a sudden feeling of warmth pooled in her abdomen. Was it possible he still wanted her? She brushed the feather across her cheek and felt a shiver travel down her spine as she set herself onto the bed, her head pulled instinctively to her pillow.
Like a lullaby, Sephiroth's voice seemed to echo into her head, soothing her to sleep while her lips curled into a smile as she realised meeting him again was surely possible. In fact, it was a dead certainty.