Disclaimer: Don't own the characters.
Christmas Eve and the house was a mess.
Well, mess was more of an understatement. It was a miracle that he managed to finish all the deliveries he had scheduled. He rose extra early in the morning just to gather enough time to get the job done and rush back to the bar.
Yup. A Christmas miracle he guessed.
After parking Fenrir in the garage, he opened the door and was assaulted with the thick aroma of cookies. Most likely Tifa had helped the kids bake a few pans to leave for Santa. A few tables had been moved together to form one long table and on it were leftover strands of wrapping paper, discarded price tags and stickers, a few empty tape dispensers and a pair of scissors.
He dropped his bag on one of the empty tables near the door as a rustling sound emanated from the back room near the stairs. He walked past the bar top scanning it for some cookies that might have accidentally been left out. He hit pay dirt when he found a whole plateful stacked with them.
"Those are for Santa." A sweetly amused voice said. Cloud turned to see Tifa standing in the doorway, her head leaning against the molding with a smile swept across her face. Good thing she didn't have a camera. The picture she could've taken of him like that – eyes wide open and half a cookie sticking out of his mouth – he'd never hear the end of it from Cid and Barret if that picture got out.
Instead of standing there feeling like an idiot, he opted to pull the rest of the cookie out of his mouth and try to play it cool. "That's okay." Tifa giggled. He thought it was an opportune time to quickly chew what was left in his mouth and swallow. Except he didn't chew too well and almost choked on the mushy remains. He managed a little cough to help it slide down his throat. "I don't think they'll notice that one is missing." She said as she straightened her frame and gave a yawn.
"It's late." Is all he could manage to squeak out. Nerves? More like that evil cookie that just tired to kill him.
"Yeah I know, but I'm almost done wrapping all the gifts." She said with a hint of weak determination.
"That many?" Cloud replied while dusting his hands free from cookie crumbs.
"Yup. I got gifts for everyone else too." Her face brightened. "I just hope they like them. It's not easy picking the right things when you're shopping at the last minute." She said seemingly to herself.
The pause that followed made him a bit uneasy as he stared at her staring at the floor deep in thought. "Tifa?" His voice shot through the silence.
Her head shot up at her name, "Sorry, I was wandering off." She said suppressing another yawn.
"You should get some sleep." He said eying her carefully.
"But I'm almost done!" She perked up again. "C'mon, you can help me. That way it'll get done faster." She said waving him over into the room.
It was just as messy as the bar. Actually, a little more, but that could've been because the room was smaller. "Here," She said as she sat down on the floor in front of the couch and handed him a roll of wrapping paper. He took the roll as he stepped over a pile of neatly stacked and wrapped presents. "You can start off with this box right here." She said patting the cube that was next to her.
"Um, Tifa," He began weakly, "I'm not very good at gift wrapping." He watched as she placed a small package in the center of a piece of wrapping paper, then lean back to asses if it was center enough.
"That's okay," She said nonchalantly, "I'm sure no one will mind. It's the thought that counts the most." At his silence, she looked up to see a defeated expression on his face, still holding the roll of paper. "Oh Cloud," She laughed, "it's not that bad!" As if realizing how funny he looked, he quickly regained his composure. "Come on, sit by me," She said scooting over to give him room, "I'll teach you."
He sat down and awkwardly tried to tuck his legs out of the way of their working space. "Okay, first off," She said scooting her package and paper a bit to the left, "Set out your stuff like I have mine." She instructed. After a brief second of analyzing, Cloud copied Tifa's setup. "Good, except," She leaned over and fixed his box. He caught a whiff of shampoo and fresh soap. She must have just taken a shower, "your box was a bit crooked."
"What?" He said hazily. She glanced at him and burst into laughter. "Sorry." He blushed. Hopefully she wouldn't see the faint color creeping onto his cheeks. The lighting was pretty dim in here too.
"Guess I'm not the only one who needs to get some sleep." She said through the last of her laughter.
Cloud just ran a hand through his hair.
"Wanna know what I got you for Christmas?" She asked as she picked up the scissors and leaned forward to cut the paper. He watched as she carefully cut along an invisible line on the paper, slowly leaning forward more and more as she got to the far end. He couldn't help noticing how short her shorts that she was wearing were and how they rode up the back of her thighs as she leaned farther and farther. "Too bad," Her voice shook him from his dream state. She sat back in her normal position, "It's a secret."
Oh. Right. Presents, he was learning how to wrap presents.
"Cloud? Are you blushing?"
Dammit. He pretended not to hear her and instead fiddled with a corner of paper.
"Okay, next you fold and tape." She said as if nothing happened.
An hour and a half later the gifts were done and stacked in a neat geometric pile. Although Cloud's could be easily distinguished from Tifa's by the crumpled and uneven ends with too many pieces of tape.
"There, that wasn't so bad was it?" Tifa asked as she stretched out her legs. Cloud forced himself not to look, fearing another onset of blushing would occur. "I'm glad you made it back," she added with a smile, "and safe too."
It was an automatic response. One that just happened and he had no time to think about or question. He just watched as his arm draped over her shoulders. Fear set in and he did his best to compose himself, but his insides were exploding. To his surprise, Tifa didn't put up a fight, she relaxed into him, even leaned on him a little. "I'm glad too." Whoa. He must be extremely sleep deprived. He felt her give a long sigh. He could say more, a lot more. How he left extra early just to make sure he got home in time to hopefully catch her still awake, and how glad he was when she was still up, and how good the cookies were and....
"Cloud?" She pulled away and sat up straight facing him. She nervously brushed some bangs behind her ear, "Merry Christmas." She looked right at him.
This time however, he reacted on his own. He knew perfectly well what he wanted to do and he did it. He leaned forward and caught her lips in his. But fear crept back in again making him end the kiss rather quickly. He couldn't look at her, so he adjusted his seating and stretched his legs out from under him. A fuzzy, sharp pain shot through his right leg though.
"You okay?" Tifa asked quietly. He must've made a face from the pain.
"My leg fell asleep." He said desperately trying not to move his hindered appendage.
Her bright laughter rang out unexpectedly. "Oh Cloud, you are something else." She said as she leaned in for another kiss. This time it lasted longer, a lot longer, and managed to make him completely forget about his leg.
Yup. A Christmas miracle.
A/N: My first Cloti! Because I do support the pair off and on, and sometimes my school-girl crush on Cloud needs to fed. Inspired by the Pointer Sisters song of the same name, but with some added Holiday flare.