Okay, guys. This is my FIRST attempted one shot of CloTi so PLEASE go easy with me. Please? With cherries on top?? Anyway, here's the story.
Rain, Confessions and Love
By Akitsuki Akira
The whole Seventh Heaven was quiet and it seemed that everyone was asleep.
Well, nearly everyone.
It was nearly midnight but Cloud was totally restless. He hadn't even changed his clothes: he was just lying on his bed in the dark and looking at the ceiling. Two thoughts were dueling in his head. Tell her everything and Just keep it to yourself.
At the beginning, when he realized his feelings for Tifa, he had decided to keep them to himself. Their friendship had deepened after the encounter with one of Kadaj's minions and he didn't want to ruin everything, confessing her feelings that she might not return. For all he knew, Tifa considered him a dear childhood friend. And it was enough for him... till now.
His feelings were slowly overcoming him. He had noticed it today when Tifa bumped into him on the stairs. At the beginning, it was all normal: they just talked... well, teased each other, as usual and then, he noticed their closeness.
Cloud decided to return early in Seventh Heaven after a week load of deliveries. It was just what he expected, the kids and Tifa giving him a warm welcome.
"Cloud, your back!", Denzel and Marlene chorused embracing Cloud's knees.
"I bet your tired, Cloud", Tifa said putting her arms on Clouds shoulder. She felt it stiffen, before relaxing on her touch.
"Go and get showered first. Then the kids will have you all to them", she chuckled before Denzel and Marlene cheered. And so, he took a bath and got dressed.
He was about to descend the flight of stairs when he bumped on Tifa who was carrying a towering pile of laundry. Luckily, he just cached her in time, though the laundry was in a messy heap.
"Thanks, Cloud. You saved me back there", was her grateful appreciation. His only answer was a small smile but it was stopped in mid tracks when he noticed how close they were.
'How much was it? 5-10 cm?' he thought, 'I didn't even realize it immediately.'
When he realized it, his heart told him to get closer, hoping that she would understand and maybe, return but his head told him to step back, to keep everything as it was without ruining something so important for him.
'That's what I was thinking?' he thought, 'Is it really worth to ruin everything without a clue or a hint that she could feel something for me? Why am I always so rational? Maybe my attitude as a soldier is influencing my own life. Damn it...'
Cloud sighed again.
He didn't know what to do. His feelings were clear... too bad, he didn't have the courage to risk.
'They're just three words..' he thought, 'Just three simple words... and I don't know how to tell them to her. Oh, God I'll go crazy if I go on brooding over this.'
He got up, walked across the dark room to the window and opened it. Just then, he noticed that it was raining. Cloud leant on the sill, enjoying the cool air on his face. In front of his window, there was a big oak tree, he liked climbing it.
Cloud looked in front of him: the tree's branches were large and near to his window. For a seven year old, it could have been dangerous but a twenty-three year old could have reached it with a jump.
'Well, why not?' he thought.
He checked the time: it was twelve thirty. The others were probably fast asleep. Denzel and Marlene wouldn't have noticed anything but Tifa could. Her room was just next to his.
'It's raining and she will be sleeping.. She'll never notice.'
He opened the window wide, climbed on the sill and jumped on the nearest branch. It took him less than a minute to get to the ground. It was still raining: a light cool rain.
Cloud threw his head back allowing the rain to fall onto his face. He had always loved the rain, not the storms like but this light one. It had a comforting element that he liked: he felt as though the rain could just wash away all his feelings, problems and pains. And when he was little he would run out and stand in it, his arms spread out wide. He had gotten ill on numerous occasions because of this. 'The number of times Mom told me off for that..' he thought with a smile. He put his hands in his pockets and stared at cloudy sky as the light raindrops fell on his face.
The rain didn't have its usual effect on him.
There were still feelings flowing inside him, something so strong that the rain couldn't wash away. His love for Tifa, his guilt towards the death of Zack and Aerith, his worry for his friends but most of all, hidden inside his soul, his insecurity.
That was his main problem: if he solved it, everything else would be easier.
He was the problem.
'If I were more resolute ... if I followed my heart sometimes and if were less rational..' he thought, 'If I had a bit more of self-confidence..
He looked up again, allowing the rain to trickle over his body, as he stood there motionless. It took him a while to realize what the answer to his question was: it was easy and he always knew it.
'I'm scared.' he thought simply, 'My life had changed completely since I joined SOLDIER. I always have to be careful... For my friends, for HER'. Cloud shook his head, showering water all around him. It wansn't the time to have second thoughts. Maybe, he could have pulled himself out the plan months ago but not now.
'Get a grip, Strife.' he lectured himself.
He took a deep breath and smiled to himself.
'If I had this same self-confidence on my feelings, I could have confessed her when we were still teens in Nibelhelm...' he thought.
"Cloud Strife, you're the world biggest fool." he said loudly.
Cloud quickly turned around as he recognized the voice.
"Tifa?" he asked, "What are you doing here?"
Tifa was standing by the tree, holding an umbrella and she was looking at him with a half amused and half worried expression.
Cloud approached her and stood under the tree, leaning on the trunk.
"What are you doing here?" he asked again, "I thought you were asleep."
Tifa glanced at him.
"I couldn't sleep" she replied simply, "So I read a book"
"Ok, but how did you know I was here?"
"I heard you jump on the branch. Even though it's raining, there isn't a breath of wind. At the beginning, I thought it was somebody spying us but then I noticed that your window was open, so I guessed it was you."
She giggled as she saw the red lines on his face. She closed her umbrella and went under the tree that was quite a good shelter since it didn't let the rain through.
"By the way, what were you doing?" she asked, "You jumped on the tree from your window and climbed down because..."
"Ehm... I just wanted to think." he replied.
"Oh sure, you were thinking under the rain... after having jumped on a tree from your window." she remarked, "It was obvious."
Tifa turned to him.
"Do I hear a hint of amusement in your words?" he asked.
"Yes and I'm also starting to think that you're going insane." Tifa replied, laughing.
"Why? Just because I was standing under the rain?"
"Well, I have a difficulty in understanding why a normal person would like to think under pouring rain instead of being comfortably in his own room."
"I just wanted to think freely and have a breath of fresh air. As for the rain... well, I've always liked to stand under it. You should try once: it's relieving. It makes you forget all your problems as thought they were washed away."
Tifa was slightly surprised by his words.
'He talks as if he had many problems and thoughts in his mind..' she thought, 'Why though?
She turned to look at him: even though it was raining lightly, he was soaked. His hair and his shirt were wet and clung to his body. Small raindrops fell from the tips of his bangs.
Tifa couldn't help thinking that he looked cute even in this version.
Cloud, in the meantime, was looking at the rain fall in front of him but he was actually trying to be calm. His heart was beating at a speed he didn't think was possible.
'Calm down, Strife.' he kept saying himself, 'Oh God, I've been thinking of her the whole night, wondering how to tell her my feelings and when I try to clear my ideas, she appears!'
He closed his eyes for a moment, not knowing that Tifa was observing him, and took a deep breath. Since they were there, he could try to talk to her.
But Tifa was faster.
"Cloud? Is there something wrong?" she asked.
Cloud turned and saw her staring at him. Feeling his cheeks turn red, he managed to smile, making her heart skip a beat.
"Well, it's nothing. I was just thinking of a few things that I have to sort out." he replied.
"You look worried."
"Ehm... Let's say that these... Things are a bit difficult to sort out."
"Is it about the deliveries?"
"That's the only thing I've really sorted out." he replied without thinking. He then saw her surprised face. "I was a bit unsure of myself. Scared, to tell the truth. But I got over it and got a bit of self- confidence thanks to this... Midnight shower."
"So, the rain had some good effects on you." she said with a small smile.
"I've told you." he remarked.
But still, she could see that there was something else. There was something that was troubling him. 'Could it be Aerith?' she thought.
"Well, what else?" she asked.
"You said that you had a few things to sort out. The deliveries is just one."
Cloud swallowed. Was it really time to tell her? He was still thinking how to start when Tifa said something that surprised him.
"Do your problems have something to do with Aerith?". Cloud almost laughed.
"Then what is your problem?", Tifa asked slightly annoyed on her childhood friend.
'It's now or never.' he thought, 'I can't draw back this time. I have to tell her. For once in your life, risk Strife, risk.' He took a deep breath and went on.
"It's that… It's that I can't tell a certain girl how much I love her", he said while Tifa's eyes went wide. 'He loves someone? Another girl? Not Aerith?' she thought, 'Who is she?'
She quickly thought of the few people she knew here: it couldn't be Yuffie wouldn't it? Who then?
She didn't even think of herself. She didn't believe it could be possible. It would be too good to be true.
She looked up and saw that he was glancing at her. Feeling a surge of heat attacking her face, she looked back down.
"Why didn't you do this before?" Tifa asked, "Why haven't you still told her?
"I'm afraid. Her friendship is important for me and I don't want to ruin everything.."
'Just like my feelings towards you..' she thought sadly, 'I can't believe I'm going to tell him this but as a friend, I have to help him.'
"Well, you'll never know unless you tell her." she said softly, "And even if she doesn't return your feelings, if she really cares for your friendship, it won't end so easily."
Cloud looked at her. His mako blue eyes were fixed on her.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yes." Tifa replied, feeling as though she was tearing her heart into bits with her own hands.
He thought this over for a moment. Tifa, on the other hand, just looked down, unable to see his face. The only noise came from the light raindrops on the leaves.
"Well, here I go then..."
Tifa looked up in surprise and saw that he was facing her.
'What?' she thought, 'No... it's impossible..'
"All right, Tifa", Cloud started and blushed.
After a few seconds, he stepped closer to her and bent down a little till their eyes were on the same level. Tifa felt as though someone had just ignited something inside her body as he looked straight in her eyes from that brief distance. She couldn't do anything but stare back.
'Now or never..' he thought.
"Tifa... I.. love you." he said softly and, nearly without realizing it, he kissed her lightly on the lips. "Please, don't hate me..." he whispered as he drew back and waited.
He waited for an answer or for any reaction. He just wanted to know... He looked at her but he just saw surprise on her face. Or was it shock?
'What have I done?' he cursed himself.
For the first time in her life, Tifa didn't know what to do: she was completely lost.
Cloud's confession first and his kiss later, especially the latter, seemed to have turned off all her senses and her reasoning ability. Slowly, her mind cleared out.
'Tifa... I... love you.'
He really told me this: it's not a dream or a hallucination. He… Cloud... loves... me. Me instead of Aerith. He chose me. I don't know what... I was never so...'
A mixture of different feelings surged inside her. Joy, happiness mixed with a bit of incredulity. But most of all, she loved and was loved back. And as she thought this, she also realized that he was probably waiting an answer from her.
She looked up and saw that Cloud was still staring at her. Just then, she noticed a gleam of sadness mixed with pain flash in his eyes. One look at his face and she realized that he had misunderstood her long silence.
"Ehm..." she started, "Cloud...I..."
"Don't worry." he said, cutting through her sentence, "I understand... It.. it doesn't matter."
Tifa's eyes widened as his words sank in.
'He thinks I don't...'
"No, wait..." she retorted, "You don't.."
But once again, she couldn't finish.
"Don't worry." he said again, "I'm just sorry. I didn't mean to offend you in any way."
Even though his voice was even, she could sense the pain hidden behind it.
He was suffering and it was her fault.
Cloud looked at her and smiled slightly. He had hoped that his feelings would be returned but, even though, it was painful for him, he could still count on her friendship.
"I think it's nearly one o'clock." he said, "It's better if we go back to sleep: we have to go out tomorrow. Well, goodnight."
He slowly walked towards the front door. Tifa just stood there trying to sort out the mixed feelings brewing inside her and struggling to bring them out.
Then, she turned around and ran after Cloud, not bothering of the rain. She grabbed his hand and stopped him. Cloud turned around and looked at her with a slightly quizzical expression.
"Yes...?" he asked uncertainly.
Tifa looked at him.
Embarrassment was slowly surging inside her… Then, she stepped closer to him, their hands still together. They both blushed furiously as they were a few inches away from each other.
"Cl… Cloud...." she whispered softly in his ear, "I can't hate you... Because..."
He looked down at her as a spark of hope appeared in his eyes. Tifa gathered all her courage: she stood on her tiptoes and kissed him. A sweet, tender kiss on the lips.
".. Because I love you, too." she finished when they broke apart, "From a long time."
Cloud just looked at her.
After the initial shock wore off, he felt as though some kind of explosion was taking place inside his heart: the bitterness and the sadness that he had been feeling less than five minutes ago, had vanished and a warm joyful sensation washed through him.
Not knowing what to say, he smiled at her and brought her closer to him with one arm. Tifa just let him do and found herself in his arms, enjoying his warm touch for the first time.
They stayed in this position for a while until Cloud bent down to her, touching her forehead with his and stroking her cheek with his hand.
"Sorry." he said.
"What for?" she asked, looking up.
"I soaked you more." he said, flashing his smile.
Tifa looked down at herself and then back to him and smiled sincerely.
"It doesn't matter." she said, "It was worth it."
Holy carrapo... I think my nose are bleeding.... TO MUCH FLUFF!! You want a sequel? If you do, review and tell me!! I enjoyed making this fic!
But most of all, HOPE YOU ENJOYED!!!!