Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy or its characters.
Author's Note: I'm tired and it's three AM in the morning here. Well… two-thirty. This takes place sometime before Advent Children, yet they have Denzel. This is before Cloud got his head straight and stuff. Actually… this is kind of AU. 'Cept not really.
Spoilers: Spoiler for the end of CD one. Not really any Advent Children spoilers.
Warnings: None that I can think of at the moment. Except for angst. Maybe in a later chapter… I dunno.
There are some things I wish I knew. Things like… how to raise kids, or… how to be in a romantic relationship. How to help others instead of causing ruin. Smiling. I would like that one the most. Learning how to smile. I don't mean in that oddly forced fashion, either. I mean… really being able to smile. I know that's something I have to learn. But… this time… I don't want to learn it on my own. There's people now that want to help me. Barret, Marlene, Denzel… Tifa. I don't think I could do anything without Tifa.
Tifa is the only reason I'm not dead yet. That's what I think at least. With the help of Marlene and Denzel, she's the only reason I go home at all. I know without a doubt that I would have let misery swallow me in an instant if it wasn't for Tifa. I never understood how she could smile after Aeris died, but she did. And… with her help… I'm learning how to do it, too. If only I knew, though. I know that she isn't a simple childhood friend anymore, but… what is she to me, then? Are we like family? Is she like a sister to me? Mother of my kids? Or… am I in love?
Oh, if only I knew. I don't understand love quite yet. I know that it's an emotion of high affection towards someone. I know I still have a lot to learn, but… how long is it going to take me to learn it? I didn't know how long it would take until Tifa showed me. I cursed myself for being so… oblivious… but what's done is done. It wasn't until that day that I truly knew what was going on in my head. For once.
--One month ago…--
Cloud stared blankly at the mirror like he didn't know what he was supposed to do with it. The reflection just didn't feel right. Was his hair too spiky this morning? Or maybe it was the tired look on his face from waking up early as usual. No… it was probably the fact that Cloud saw another day of trying to figure out just who he was ahead of him. Yes… that was it. Cloud turned away from the mirror with a frown and headed downstairs, ready for the day's deliveries.
"Cloud," a quiet voice stopped him before he got to the door. He should have known. "You were just going to leave? Without saying goodbye?"
Cloud turned his head and cobalt eyes stared into deep brown. Tifa had a way of knowing exactly when he was going to run off, even if he tried to head out earlier than he thought she'd be awake. At least she never bothered to wake the kids. That would only be a pain and that was the last thing Cloud needed at the moment. As if his job wasn't already hard enough, even if he was just trying to turn the doorknob…
"Cloud," Tifa stated firmly. "You were, weren't you? … I see." She sighed and started to get up from her seat at the bar where she'd been wiping a glass clean. Didn't she ever manage to get them all clean at once?
"…Goodbyes… were never easy for me," Cloud said slowly. What else was he to say? 'Sorry, Tifa, I didn't want to say goodbye because I hate seeing the face you make when I do.' No. that would definitely not work. She'd only get mad.
"They're not easy for anyone, Cloud." Oh great. Tifa was giving him one of those looks. The look that said, 'I can't believe you're just going to walk out on me again and leave me like I'm nothing to you at all.' If only she knew just how much those words weren't true. "But yet you still expect me to be okay with it?"
"I have to go, Tifa," Cloud interrupted. "I have deliveries--"
"They can wait!" Cloud snapped his attention to Tifa by turning his head and staring at her with his eyes a little wider than usual. She seemed to be a lot more upset than usual. Why…? "What do you have to deliver that can be more important than m--" Tifa stopped herself and looked away quickly. "I thought that maybe today you could eat breakfast with everyone… Maybe today you'd say goodbye… Maybe, maybe, maybe… Is that all it ever is with you, Cloud?"
Cloud turned his head back so that he was staring at the door. Her words might have rung true, but that didn't stop them from hurting. When did she learn to be so venomous with her tongue?
"I don't know about anything that has to do with me anymore, Tifa," Cloud stated quietly. He then stepped forward and yanked the door open. He said, "Goodbye," as he closed the door behind him. Tifa heard the roar of his bike as he pulled away from her again.
"I'll never get things right," she said sadly to herself. "I'll only ever keep pushing him away like this." Tifa then got up and went upstairs, already calling to the kids. "Marlene… Denzel… it's time to wake up."
As she approached the door, Tifa heard giggling. Curious, she opened the door to find both kids awake, dressed, and energetic. What could have done this, especially at this hour? That's when Denzel ran up to Tifa and grabbed her hand, pulling her towards the window where Marlene sat.
"Tifa… Tifa! Look, look! Cloud left us a present!"
Author's Note: Okay, so… Now it's up to your reviews. Your enthusiasm will inspire me. Please keep me going! If you CloTi fans are up to it, I might throw in a nice chapter or maybe a nice side story. :3 Just, please… PLEASE send a review. You don't have to write anything! Just add it to your favorites or subscribe so that you can read the whole thing! For me?