Hello, my name is CLOUDxTIFAforever, and welcome to Final Fantasy VII: The Aftermath. Thanks for choosing my story, I promise you won't be disappointed. The only thing I ask of you, the reader, is to leave a review. I want to know what you think, no matter how bad your opinion of the story is. I'll take your fire and your flames, but some praise would also be nice. So for the love of all that is good and Final Fantasy please review!
Summery: This...book? takes place directly after Advent Children. After the defeat of Bahamut SIN and Sephiroth, our heros lives seem as though they will return to normal, but what if they don't? What if Cloud and Tifa finally profess their love for each other, but by doing so they set in motion events that will drastically alter their lives? And in the end, will one of them have to pay the ultimate price?
Dedication and Thanks: I dedicate this story to my friend Sam, who shares my love of fantasy and fiction. And special thanks to the band Paramore, who always helped inspire me when I hit a rough spot.
Disclaimer: I really wish I did own the characters, they're so lovable. But alas...I don't.
Author's Note 1: This story has crossover's from FFVIII and Kingdom Hearts. FFVIII = Squall (Leon) Kingdom Hearts = Sora, Kairi. Also mentions Riku, Donald and Goofy, but they DO NOT have major roles in the story.
Author's Note 2: This story is in script form, I was just starting to write and I made a HUGE mistake by putting it in this format, my other stories are NOT like this, check them out, you'll like them I promise.
Author's Note 3: I want to apologize for the fact that this story TOTALLY skips over the events of Dirge of Cerberus. I realized that nothing is mentioned about it anywhere in here, but I haven't played the game so I really don't know what happens, I'm sorry if this upsets anyone.
Warning: This is the LONGEST chapter in the entire story, please do not let this discourage you from reading the rest of it, I promise the rest chapters are WAY shorter than this one.
CHAPTER 1: BEGINNINGS
The members of AVALANCHE are all gathered in 7th Heaven celebrating their victory over the Bahamut SIN, but also, and more importantly; Sephiroth.
Tifa: All right, who wants' a drink?
Barret: I'll take a tall one, actually better, make it two.
Their voices were dull roars as they all discussed the events of the day, everyone was happy over the victory, but one person wasn't exactly thrilled. A man dressed all in black, the only hint of color being a ribbon tied around his left bicep, sat sulking in a corner.
Cloud: What the hell?
Tifa: What's the matter Cloud?
Asked Tifa as she walked over to where he was sitting.
Cloud: How does he keep coming back? It's impossible.
Cloud: Sephiroth…How did Kadajj do it, how could he have brought him back?
Tifa: I don't know Cloud, but look, everyone is enjoying the victory. Now stop sulking and have some fun.
Cloud: I can't Tifa, there are so many questions I want answered. If he can keep coming back, why can't Zack…Aerith?
Yuffie: CLOUD! What happened with the big nasty? We all want to know.
Tifa: We'll talk later, but right now, let's celebrate.
As Cloud tried to stand, he let out a pained gasp.
Cloud: Ah. Damn.
He whispered as blood started trickling down his arm.
Tifa: What's wrong? CLOUD! What happened?
She exclaimed when she saw the wound.
Cloud: Sephiroth…stabbed me…in the fight…
He toppled to the floor and started slipping in and out of consciousness. Tifa fell to her knees and held him up.
Tifa: Cloud…Cloud stay with me!
Cloud wasn't sure if he was alive or dead. But he could here a soft voice in the distance.
Cloud: Who's there?
It's me, who else?
The voice was soft and soothing.
Aerith: Isn't it always?
Cloud: Why do I keep coming here? Is this normal, or is it just me?
Aerith: I think the reason you keep coming to me is because you still need closure after all these years. Do you still blame yourself for what happened to Zack…to me?
Cloud: Yes, I do. But shouldn't I?
Aerith: It's good to feel guilt, but not to the point to where you can't live.
Cloud: But if I hadn't saved Tifa…You might still be alive.
Aerith: If you had tried to save me instead of Tifa, neither of us would be alive. And you know it.
Cloud: But I promised Zack…
Aerith: You promised Zack nothing Cloud, you weren't yourself that day.
A different voice called his name franticly.
Aerith: She's calling you. You have to go to her. It's where you belong.
Cloud: How do I get back?
Aerith: Just wake up. And Cloud, I never blamed you, not once.
Cloud: I know.
As Cloud slowly woke he could hear Tifa's pleading voice.
Tifa: My love, please don't leave me, come back to me Cloud.
Cloud: What did you call me?
Tifa: It doesn't matter. Did you know that you are a pain in the ass?
Cloud: No, that's news to me, may I ask why?
Tifa: Why didn't you tell anyone you were hurt?
Cloud: I sort of forgot. I got kind of sidetracked.
Tifa: Uh huh. Is this going to be a regular occurrence?
Cloud looked over at his bandaged shoulder.
Cloud: What do you mean?
Tifa: Gee Cloud, I don't know; leaving for weeks on end, this wound…the geostigma.
Tifa: No, Cloud. Like or not, you have people who care about you…I care about you.
Cloud: I know, I know.
Tifa: Then why won't you let anyone help you? Or even get close to you?
Cloud: Because every time I do, they get hurt, Zack, Aerith…you.
Cloud: Yeah you. What do you call that fight with Loz? What were you doing at the church anyway?
Tifa: Looking for you, you hadn't called in days.
Cloud: See? If you hadn't cared enough to come looking for me that wouldn't have happened.
Tifa: That's a bad example.
Cloud: No it's not Tifa. You almost died…and I don't know what I would have done if…
Tifa: If what Cloud?
Cloud: If I had lost you…I…
Tifa: You what Cloud? Would have never forgiven yourself? Just like with Aerith and Zack? I know you feel guilty, but you have to let it go.
She turned to leave the room.
Cloud: Yes that's exactly it, but there's a difference.
Tifa: How can there be a difference Cloud? It's the same damn thing over and over again.
He crossed the room to stand behind her, to reach for her, to hold her in his arms. But she left and slammed the door behind her.
Cloud: The difference is that I think I'm in love with you.
He whispered at the door. He returned to the bed and laid his face in his hands.
The next day was uneventful until it became time to open the bar. Cloud took a seat in a dark corner of the room and watched Tifa the whole night, something he had never done before. He watched numerous men enter and sit down at the long bar, each of them watched her hungrily as she served them their drinks. One man became too drunk and started bothering Tifa.
Drunk: Give me a kiss…
Tifa: Sir you need to leave, you've a little too much to drink and I'm cutting you off.
Drunk: There's no need to do that. Come on, we can go back to my place…
Tifa: No thank you.
Cloud drifted from his seat closer to the bar, keeping to the shadows, ready to jump in and defend her at a moments notice.
Drunk: Come on beautiful, I'm a nice guy; I'll treat you real good…
Tifa: I said no.
She turned to walk away from him but he grabbed her wrist and swung her around to face him.
Drunk: Hey! No one says no to me and gets away with it!
Cloud ran forward and grabbed the man's shoulder.
Cloud: Let. Her. Go.
The drunk threw Tifa to the floor, her head smacked it and she lay there dazed.
Cloud: You shouldn't have done that.
Drunk: Oh yeah? What are you going to do about it Blondie?
Cloud punched him hard in the face and blood poured out his nose and mouth. Cloud then grabbed him by the back of his shirt and belt, dragged him to the door, flung it open and threw out into the street.
Cloud: I don't want to see you here again.
His voice was quiet and monotone. He clutched his bad shoulder and walked back into the bar; Tifa was standing now but she was holding the side of her head and leaning against the counter for support.
Cloud: Are you alright?
He tried to make his voice as consoling as possible.
Tifa: Why did you do that?
Cloud: I…I was only trying to help Tifa…
Tifa: I've never needed your help and I sure as hell don't need it now!
She pounded her fist on the bar as tears of anger ran down her cheeks, she tried to hide them but to no avail. She ran from the bar and thundered up the stairs. Cloud turned to face the room full of customers.
Cloud: Uh…the bar will be closing early tonight, so please finish your drinks and come back another time.
After the bar was empty Cloud began to clean up for Tifa. Her final words to him burned through his mind over and over again, the pain of them increasing every time. When he finished he retreated upstairs. Back up in the small apartment he found that the kids had already been put to bed and Tifa was nowhere in sight. He climbed the second set of stairs and walked down the short corridor to her room, he knocked on the door gently.
There was no answer, but he could hear her faint sobs coming through the door.
Cloud: Tifa, please, let's talk; I don't want to leave things like this.
Tifa: Cloud, just go away, I want to be alone for awhile.
He went to his room and took the keys to the Fenrir off his small desk and then went outside. He jumped on the bike, inserted the keys and rode off into the night. He took one last look in his rear-view mirror; Tifa had run out of the bar and stood out in the road, her hand stretched toward him as though beckoning him back. He drove out of Edge to a small outcropping of rock, where a sword of huge proportions was stuck firmly in the ground. He killed the engine and got off; he sunk to the ground with his back leaning against the magnificent sword. From here he could see most of Edge, included 7th Heaven's flashing neon sign. He laid his head back against the blade and ran his fingers through his hair. His mind was filled with whirling questions and his chest felt a little funny, almost as though someone was pulling back toward the city.
Cloud: I can't get involved with her, I couldn't stand if she got hurt because of me, and it would be too much to bear. And I can never give her everything she deserves; I'm just a delivery boy, and she deserves so much better than me but I can't help but feel this way. But what if we could make it work? What if she loves me back? I already know she does but it would still be nice to hear her say it.
He sat there until the sun rose over the horizon; he closed his eyes because of the brilliant glare. He had finally made his decision.
Cloud: I'm going to ask her out, these feelings are becoming too much to ignore.
He stood up, stretching his stiff back. He laid his hand on the hilt of Zack's sword.
Cloud: Wish me luck.
A lone wolf howled in the distance as Cloud mounted the Fenrir once again. When he reached the bar he left the bike parked outside the front door and he rushed inside and up to Tifa's room, and pounded on the door. He could hear water running in the sink of her bathroom; she must have just woken up.
Cloud: Tifa, open up, I need to talk to you!
Tifa: Go away Cloud, I still don't want to talk to you.
He pounded on the door again, he felt one of the boards give way a little under his fist.
Tifa flung open the door and put her face right up to his. He felt her hot, sweet breath run over his face, he inhaled deeply, enjoying it.
Tifa: What the hell do you want Cloud?
Cloud could almost feel the words catch in his throat and his voice felt weak.
Cloud: I love you!
He blurted the words out, the shock of them caused her to back up a little, and she searched his face for what seemed like hours. Her mouth hung slightly open shock, she blinked her eyes rapidly.
She stammered her voice just above a murmur.
Cloud: I love you.
He felt more confidence when he answered her and his voice felt stronger.
Tifa: You have no idea how long I have waited to hear you say that.
She threw her arms around him and pressed herself against his chest; he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tightly to him, ignoring the burning pain in his right shoulder. He kissed the top of her head and ran his fingers through her soft dark hair. They stood there a long time.
Tifa: How long?
Cloud: How long what?
Tifa: How long have you loved me?
Cloud: The day I found you in the church.
Tifa: That long huh?
Her voice had a hint of sarcasm.
Cloud: I think I've always loved you, but seeing you lying there, is what it took for me to realize it.
Tifa: Why that moment?
Cloud: Because I thought you were dead, in the seconds it took me to run to your side, I saw what life would have been like for me and you. And I liked it. At that moment, I swore that if you woke up, I would make you mine. I didn't know how, I didn't know when, but I knew I had to. And when you did wake up, I just needed the right place, the right time and right words. I've been thinking about it ever since.
Tifa: I know for a fact I've always loved you. But you were always with Aerith, I didn't dare tell you how I felt.
Cloud: Why not?
Tifa: Because of what you might have said or done. I was afraid that you would be angry.
Cloud: I think I know how I would have reacted.
Tifa: Are you about to share your feelings with me? I'm surprised.
Cloud: Let me get this out. When you came back into my life, I wasn't sure of my feelings towards Aerith. Towards the end, I think I started to realize I wasn't really in love with her; I had started to notice you more and more every day but…
Tifa: I wish we would have said something to one another, we could have had years.
Cloud: Yeah, but better late then never, right?
Marlene stood just behind Cloud in the hallway, gently rubbing sleep out of her eyes.
Tifa: Yes Marlene?
Marlene: What was all that banging?
Tifa: Cloud was knocking on my door Marlene, that's all.
Marlene: Alright. Does your arm still hurt Cloud?
Cloud: It still stings a little, but Tifa made it better.
He looked up at Tifa and smiled.
Cloud: Where's Denzel?
Tifa: Out with his friends, I think.
Cloud: Marlene, how about you go and find him? I want to ask you both something.
Marlene: Okay Cloud.
She smiled and ran out of the room. Tifa sat down on the bed with a suspicious look on her face.
Tifa: What are you up to?
He stood and crossed to the front of her, and got down on one knee.
Tifa: What are you doing?
Cloud: Something I should have done years ago.
He took her small hand in his larger one and gently rubbed his thumb alone the back of hers.
Cloud: Tifa Lockhart will you marry me?
She pulled her hand away from him and walked to the window. After a few minutes she crossed her arms over stomach and turned to face him, small tears were glistening in her eyes.
Tifa: Cloud, could we even make it work?
Cloud: Yes Tifa we can, I know we can. Think about it Tifa, we already live together, and we bicker all the time, we're practically married anyway.
Tifa: I think you need to lay down, I don't think being in love agrees with you.
She cracked a smile.
Cloud: No Tifa I'm serious, don't you see? Being in love has made me realize that I've been living me life all wrong. I need to stop living in the past and think about my future. And all I see in my future…is you.
Cloud: Tifa, say yes…please just say yes. I can't give you everything, but I can give my undying love.
Tifa: That is all I could ever ask for. So yes Cloud, yes I will marry you.
Cloud: HA! HA!
He pulled her into a powerful hug that made her wince; he cupped her face in his hands, pulling her closer to him. He gazed into her dazzling eyes, leaning in to kiss her, but he hesitated. He stared into her beautiful face; he was so close he could smell the sweetness of her skin and how soft it felt beneath his rough palms. He screamed at himself inside his head.
Kiss her…you've wanted to do this for years…do it now!
Confidence started to course through him as his courage began to build; he started to move closer…
Denzel: Hey Cloud; Marlene said you had something to ask us?
Cloud closed his eyes in frustration and gritted his teeth together.
Denzel: What are you doing?
Cloud jumped away from Tifa with blinding speed.
Denzel: Marlene said you wanted to talk to us?
Cloud: Oh right. How would you both feel if I moved in…permanently?
Denzel and Marlene: Yeah, great!
Denzel: We'll be just like a real family.
Cloud: Yeah Denzel, I guess we will.
Denzel ran forward and hugged Cloud around his waist, Cloud rested his hands on Denzel's shoulders.
Cloud: It's late, you two should get to bed.
After the children left the room Tifa threw her arms around Cloud's neck, she rested her forehead against his. He could think straight while she touching him this way, her body so warm and perfect against his. He closed his eyes and he felt himself shudder, but she didn't seem to notice.
Tifa: Do you know how happy you just made them? Or how happy you made me?
Cloud: I have…a pretty good idea.
Tifa: But do you know what would make me even happier?
She slid her face across his and whispered in his ear.
Tifa: I want you to kiss me Cloud Strife.
She pulled away from him, her eyes expectant. He rested his hands on her cheeks and gently pressed her lips to his. Immense pleasure and satisfaction rushed through him. He felt Tifa's body shake as he let the kiss become more passionate and heated. When they broke apart they both were breathless.
Tifa: That was better than I ever imagined.
Cloud: Same here.
Cloud lay in bed later that night, his hands resting behind in head. He felt like he could run a hundred miles, he had finally told Tifa how he felt; better than that he'd kissed her. Could life get any better than this? His answer came to him in a dream.
Aerith: Cloud? Are you here?
Cloud: Yes. But I thought these weren't going to happen anymore?
Aerith: They won't. But I brought you here; I have something I need to tell you.
Cloud: Oh? What about?
Aerith: Do you remember Sora?
Cloud: Yeah I remember Sora. He gave me quite a beating, but it made realize that light is stronger than darkness.
Aerith: Well, he needs your help.
Cloud: My help? Why?
Aerith: Sephiroth is coming back.
Aerith: Yes, I'm afraid it's true
Cloud: How? When? Where? Why?
Aerith: I don't know any of those Cloud, except for where. He will appear in Hollow Bastion.
Cloud: Your hometown?
Cloud: Why can't Sora just kill Sephiroth? He seems more than capable.
Aerith: He is, but there will be other problems he has to face, things only he can take care of. That's why you have to help him, to defeat Sephiroth. Because he is your enemy, the dark side of you that has to be vanquished, this in something only you can fix.
Cloud: But Tifa…
Aerith: She'll understand; she always has.
Cloud: On any other day maybe, but after what I did today…
Aerith: What did you do?
Cloud: You don't know? I thought dead people were supposed to know everything?
Aerith: I'm not a god Cloud, but what's up?
Cloud: I asked Tifa to marry me.
Aerith: That's great Cloud, I'm glad you are finally moving on.
Cloud: Thanks Aerith, that means a lot. Well wish me luck, I'm going to go and break the news to her, she'll probably hit me. Good-bye Aerith.
Aerith: Good-bye Cloud.
When Cloud woke up and glanced at the clock, it read 5:00 am. He jumped out of bed and wasted no time in going to see Tifa. He walked into Tifa's room and lay down next to her, she stirred.
Cloud: It's me.
Tifa: What's wrong?
She flipped over to face him.
Cloud: Nothing, you can relax, but we need to talk.
Cloud paused, searching for the right words, Tifa waited patiently.
Cloud: I need to leave, Tifa.
She sat up, her eyes blazing.
Tifa: What do you mean you have to leave? Why?
Cloud: There's this kid named Sora. He's an old…acquaintance of mine, and he needs my help.
Tifa: Why does he need your help? Can't someone else do it? I mean, I've never heard of him and you just want to take off to god knows where and help him? How do you even know he needs you?
Cloud: Aerith has been coming to me in my dreams, she told me about Sora. And she also told me the reason he needs help is because…Sephiroth is coming back.
Tifa: WHAT! NO! You are not going to fight him again! What if you don't win this time? He'll kill you!
Cloud: Tifa, I have to do this, no one else can.
Tifa: Then let me come with you, I want to help.
He stood up and started to pace the floor.
Tifa: No Cloud.
She stood up as well.
Tifa: If I'm going to be your wife, your battles have to become my battles.
Cloud: You're right, but Sephiroth is different, he will use you against me.
Tifa: Maybe, but I'm willing to take that risk.
Cloud: I'm not though, if he hurt you…
Tifa: You would never forgive yourself, I get it.
She cracked a smile.
Cloud: You think this is funny? Is that all this is, a joke?
She burst out laughing.
Cloud: What's so funny?
He asked, sounding angered, but laughing a little himself.
Tifa: You're just so funny when you care.
Cloud: Oh yeah? I'll show you caring.
He reached for her but before he knew it he was flipping through the air and landing on the bed.
Cloud: What the…?
Tifa: You are not laying a hand on me Cloud Strife, not until after the wedding.
Cloud: That wasn't fair, you caught me off guard, and my arm is in a sling.
Tifa: Really? Maybe I'm just better at hand to hand combat.
Cloud: Really? Is that what you think? I say we settle this right now, come on.
Tifa: Cloud, you're hurt, I don't want to embarrass you.
Cloud: I'm fine, really.
He extended his arm and winced.
Cloud: Okay maybe not. But I can still beat you.
Tifa: Oh yeah?
She swung at him, but he caught her hand. She tried to counter with the other one but he dodged it. He released her hand and, ducking down, tripped her. He kneeled over her.
Cloud: Do I win?
Tifa: No, not yet.
She kicked up on his chest, which sent him flying. But he landed lightly on his feet and charged her, grabbed her in a one-arm embrace, and looked into her eyes. They stood there for a long time, gazing into one another's eyes, as though they could not get enough.
Tifa: You can let go now.
Cloud: I don't want to, not yet.
They stood there in tight embrace until the sun rose over the horizon.
Cloud: I don't want to go, you know that right?
Tifa: I know, but I still don't like it.
She buried her face into his chest.
Cloud: If it was anything else, I would ignore it, but its Sephiroth, Tifa. I have to stop him.
They looked at each other, and for the first time, Cloud saw fear in Tifa's eyes.
Tifa: Come back to me.
Cloud: I will.
Cloud: Promise. I promise that this is my last adventure, my last…anything. After this, I will come back and I will make you my wife.
Tifa: I know you will. When do you have to leave?
Cloud: Right now, it's a long ride.
Tifa: What am I telling Denzel and Marlene?
Cloud: Just tell them…I had to go play hero one more time.
Tifa tried very hard not to laugh, but she couldn't help it.
Tifa: Alright I'll tell them, now get going.
Cloud: I love you Tifa, so much.
Tifa: I love you too.
He hugged her one last time and left the room. As he made his way outside, he looked up at Tifa's bedroom window; she watched as he mounted his bike, checked his gear, and made sure all his swords were in the right places. He gave her one last look, put on his sunglasses and kicked the Fenrir into life, and then he was off. He took one final glance back at the window, it was dark.
Sorry about the length. Anyway, professions of love, but no nookie...darn.