(A/N) Another story in Cloud's point of view, because I love him. :3 This one takes place a little bit after Advent Children. It only took me a few hours to write, but I'm really pleased with it. Hopefully somebody else will enjoy it too. :D
After fighting with the lock on the front door for a minute, it finally decides to cooperate with my key, and the door swings open with a low creak. I stumble through the doorway, half asleep but somehow still on my feet. It's dark in the house, but I don't bother flipping on any of the lights. My eyes are adjusting quickly enough, even without the aid of the mako anymore.
Pulling the door shut behind me, I make my way slowly over to the bar; barely able to lift my arm high enough to place my keys and cell phone on the edge of the counter. I glance towards the kitchen, suddenly thankful that I decided to eat before I started home, because I'm just too tired to deal with hunger right now.
A big yawn overtakes my lungs as I move towards the stairs, and I rub my eyes groggily, fighting against my heavy eyelids. My vision is blurred slightly from being so tired, so I take the stairs one at a time, trying to focus on each one so I don't end up tripping and falling on my face.
I've been gone for a few days on a delivery to Corel, and I was supposed to be gone for the rest of the week to make a side trip to Junon. My client canceled though, so I decided to surprise Tifa and the kids by coming home a few days early. I really should have stayed the night in Kalm before trying to make it all the way back home, but I chose to bypass it, which in hindsight was a big mistake.
It was just my luck that the main highway from Kalm to Edge was closed off for repairs this week, so I had to take the detour, which is an out of the way, bumpy dirt road. It took twice as long to get home going that way, so now I've gotten home in the very early hours of the morning. It was freezing outside tonight too, and the bitter wind whipping against my face didn't make the long ride very pleasant.
Needless to say, I'm exhausted.
I finally reach the top of the stairs, leaning my shoulder against the wall to keep my balance. I decide despite my desperate need for sleep that I should go check on Marlene and Denzel before going to bed, so I creep down the hall slowly, trying to be as quiet as possible so I don't wake anyone up. When I reach the door to their room I crack it open slightly, peering in. Both of them are sound asleep, curled up under the covers, and I can hear them both breathing evenly.
Satisfied, I pull their door shut, continuing back down the hall towards my room. I almost consider checking on Tifa, but she's a lighter sleeper than the kids are, so I'm afraid I'll wake her up. I really should have left her a note to let her know that I'm home early, because I'll probably scare her in the morning, but I'm just too tired to try and make it down the stairs and then back up again before I collapse.
I always feel bad when I'm gone for a long time on a delivery, because I'm worried that it reminds Tifa of when I left before; when I had Geostigma. It's only been a few months since I came back, so the memory is probably still fresh in her mind. I hate knowing that I've hurt her, even if she does forgive me for it.
We've been spending a lot of time together since I came home though, and we're a lot closer than we used to be. Not that we really go anywhere special together or do anything differently, but we do talk a lot more, and the silence is comfortable even when there aren't any words. She understands me better than anyone else, and she's always been there for me, no matter what I put her through. I couldn't ask for a better friend.
When I finally get to my room I enter quietly, trying to close my door smoothly so I don't wake Tifa in the next room. I pull off my pants as I walk over to the bed, and kick off my boots after I'm sitting on the edge of the mattress. I yawn hugely, yanking the covers back and getting ready to slide under them. I freeze suddenly though, when a small sound comes from directly behind me.
A jolt of adrenaline wakes me up a bit, and I quickly reach for the lamp sitting on the table by my bed. As the light clicks on, I turn to look for the cause of the noise, only to be greeted by the sight of Tifa. She's curled up on her side, fast asleep beside me on the bed, though she's lying on top of the covers. My mind falters for a moment and I blink several times, trying to figure out if I'm hallucinating because of my lack of sleep.
I wonder vaguely if I didn't accidentally wander into her room by mistake. A quick glance around though, confirms that this is in fact my room. My desk is against one wall, the phone and our family photos surrounded by scattered notes and delivery receipt slips. A spare tire for Fenrir is sitting in the corner, and most of the wall space is covered in pictures I've taken while out on deliveries to various places.
The only difference is that Tifa just happens to be here sleeping on my bed. She looks peaceful enough, albeit a little cold. It's mid winter, and it gets pretty chilly at night in Edge, even when it doesn't snow. She's wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt, her toes protected by socks, but there are still goosebumps across her arms. Her dark hair is fanned out across one of my pillows, falling across her face messily. Impulsively, I almost reach down to brush it away, but I stop myself.
I gaze down at her for awhile, uncertain of what I should do. I don't have much time to think about it though, because she moves suddenly, blinking rapidly and bringing a hand up to pull her hair away from her eyes; I must have woken her up with the light. She stares up at me silently for a moment, looking completely bewildered. I'm at a loss for words, so I wait for her to say something.
"Cloud?" she asks in a whisper. "What are you doing here?"
"I came home early," I state simply, too tired to give her the full explanation.
"Oh," she says, her voice almost inaudible. She continues to study me, still looking confused. "Why are you in my bed?"
A small smile starts to form on my face, because I'm amused by how disoriented she is.
"You're in my bed, Tifa," I clarify quietly.
She sits up immediately, gasping in surprise and realization of where she is. Her cheeks flush slightly, giving her pale skin a rosy tint, visible even in the dim light. I smirk at her, because her reaction is almost comical.
"I-I'm sorry I…I was putting away your laundry and…" she breaks off, seeming to put her thoughts together, and looks back at me sheepishly. "I must have fallen asleep here. I'm sorry."
I smile at her reassuringly, shaking my head. "I don't mind."
She nods slightly, glancing away from me. "I'll um…go back to my room, I guess," she says hesitantly; clearly as awkward and unsure of this situation as I am.
I quickly realize that, for some reason I can't comprehend, I don't want her to leave. She starts to move away from me, but I speak up before she has time to climb out of the bed.
"It's okay, Tifa," I say softly. "Go back to sleep."
Yawning once again, I don't wait for her answer. Instead I reach over and turn the switch on the light; the darkness blinding both of us for a moment before our eyes adjust. I sit still until her features come into focus again, the same puzzled look still fixed on her face.
She continues to stare at me as tug the covers back next to her; inviting her to join me as I pull them across myself, letting my head fall into my pillow. Her eyes follow me curiously for a minute before she finally gives in, sliding underneath the sheets beside me. I shift over to the far side of my narrow bed, trying to give her enough room so she's not uncomfortable. To my surprise, though, as she lies down she chooses to ignore the other pillow and rest her cheek against my chest.
"Welcome home, Cloud," she whispers sleepily.
I sigh heavily, relaxing into the feeling of her body lying alongside mine. She's warm and soft, and with her head tucked under my chin the sweet scent of her hair is wafting into my nose. She hugs me around the waist, probably already drifting off to sleep, and I wrap one arm around her shoulders. I can feel her heart beating steadily against me, and the sound of her quiet breathing is causing my eyelids to drift closed.
Now this is what I want to come home to every night.
(A/N) Just a quick little oneshot with some good-old-fashioned Cloud/Tifa fluff. ;P This is the first of several other FFVII stories that I'm working on, so be on the look out for the others! My profile is usually up to date with what I'm writing too. :D On a random note, I can't type the word "yawn" without it making me yawn. XD
Leave me a review if you liked it, won't you? They make me smile. :3