I bring you all a new CloudTifa. This baby was inspired by many many things, but the main two were the song by Staind, which I named this fic after, and stories I read a while back from an awesome author on LJ, knightlineninja. If anyone is curious, I'll put a link in my bio page later on so that you can read the story that inspired this one. I hope you enjoy and that it's a change from all the ZackTifa I've been writing.

Warnings: Just talk and references to sex. Nothing explicit, though I don't know if I'll change the rating in the next chapter.

Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VII or any of the characters used in this fiction. I am making no money off of them. Also, I don't own the song, "Believe," by Staind. I merely used it for inspiration.

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Believe

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The temperature of the water made it feel like various little pin needles hitting his skin all at once. For only a second, it reminded him of those fuzzy moments of being strapped to a table, with a bright light burning his eyes, the sound of crazed laughter and half spat sentences echoing in the background. Cloud shook his head and pushed those memories as far away as he could. He was learning to forget those particular points in his life, and as of that morning, he had a brand new memory to add to the scarce collection.

He really couldn't recall how it had all happened. Maybe they had both had too much to drink, maybe his hormones had been on overdrive, and maybe she had needed someone to be there for her after all the lonely days she had spent without the kids. Marlene and Denzel had been invited to Rocket Town by Shera and they wouldn't return for a few days. Tifa had been even more alone for nearly a week, and the night before, they had shared a few drinks together.

Cloud could remember leaning in to brush her hair away from her eyes and she had turned to look at him with said eyes. That had been the first time in a very long time since he had met her eyes head on and he couldn't think of a more beautiful sight. After that, everything became more fuzzy, but the sensations had been all too clear. The feel of Tifa's soft skin under his rough hands, the taste of her on his lips, and the very familiar and comforting scent of her hair surrounding him, making him feel things he had never felt before. Despite all the good things, he had still managed to be clumsy and inexperienced, and still she hadn't complained.

Though he didn't remember each moment exactly, the sounds were quite clear in his memory. He remembered that hearing Tifa's breathy voice whisper his name had been the best part of the night. It was foolish, because she always said his name under normal circumstances, but it had felt different. The images were making it rather hard to keep his brain in control and he suddenly wished for the water to come down even colder. Sighing to himself, he finished rinsing his hair and then stepped out of the shower to dress and get ready for another day on the delivery job.

Once he was ready to go, he debated with himself on whether or not to leave his room, in fear that he would run right into Tifa just to make a fool of himself. He swallowed hard and worked up his courage. He couldn't believe that after defeating Sephiroth twice and then helping Vincent with Deepground he would be afraid of someone like Tifa.

That wasn't to say that she was frail and un-intimidating. She was strong in her own right, and something to be reckoned with when the people she loved were threatened or in danger. She meant so much to him and he was afraid to consider the fact that maybe she didn't feel for him what he felt for her. But they had to talk about what had happened between them, and it would kill him to learn if she regretted their night together.

Opening the door cautiously, Cloud took the moment to look around, inspecting the hallway and making sure that she was still asleep. As he stepped out and shut the door to his room, he nearly ran into Tifa as she was coming down the stairs, making absolutely no noise. They stared at each other for a long moment, Tifa's cheeks reddening and her mouth opening but with no words coming out. Cloud's eyes were wider than normal and he floundered for a few seconds, trying to find something smart to say to her.

"I should start on breakfast," she said awkwardly, beating him to it as she sidestepped him and moved down the stairs to the kitchen.

Cloud let out a breath he hadn't been aware he was holding and slowly followed her. He prepared his own coffee, since that was about the only thing that he couldn't mess up in the kitchen, and watched Tifa almost absently as she moved around the kitchen with the same grace she used while bartending. Her own hair was damp from a recent shower, and her skin smelled of that powdery, lavender smell. He could remember that quite clearly, as if he was standing right behind her, taking her scent in.

Cloud froze. He was standing behind her, nearly breathing her in with his nose almost pressed to her shoulder. She would probably knock him through a wall if she caught him. Quickly stepping back, Tifa turned and nearly ran into him again. "…Sorry, I was trying to get to the sugar," he muttered, his turn to blush.

Tifa just nodded and moved away to place the scrambled eggs for the both of them on the table. She had almost cooked more than usual out of habit, but had stopped herself in time. She missed the children, but was happy that they were going out and having fun. They deserved it after all the crazy situations that had been thrust upon them. "You'll be gone all day?" she asked casually, not meeting his gaze.

Cloud swallowed down the eggs and toast in his mouth and nodded, narrowly missing choking on the food. "I'll be back in about two days. I have some packages that need to be taken to Kalm. Then I'll come back and have a long weekend," he said calmly. "Maybe you should ask Yuffie to come and keep you company."

Tifa nodded and sat down at the table without a reply. He finished his food while Tifa was only half-way done with hers. "I gotta go. Call me if anything is out of the ordinary. Take care of yourself," he said with a slight smile before he was out the door.

Cloud revved up his bike and let out a long breath, realizing what a coward he had been. He had literally run out on her and hadn't even allowed her to say much to him. "Coward," he muttered to himself. Still, during the trip he would have time to think and gather the courage to ask Tifa what their night together had meant. Until then, he would just wonder.

Meanwhile, Tifa sighed and then moved over to place the dishes in the sink so that she could enjoy the rest of her coffee in peace, or with as much peace as she could when her mind was running in circles. She hated the fact that it hurt that Cloud hadn't even bothered to look uncomfortable about what they had done the night before. Did he regret it? Had he enjoyed it and wanted a repeat? Not likely. He had run out of their home as if his golden spikes had been on fire.

Shaking her head and wanting to slap herself for having silly, girly dreams, she took a seat at the table, nursing her coffee as if it were a glass of bourbon. But not two minutes after she had sat down again, the back door banged open and in pranced youth, energy, and sunshine wrapped all into a small package.

"Teef! I've got my grocery list done!" Yuffie called.

Tifa smiled at her despite her gloomy thoughts. "Good. We can go after I finish my coffee, and this time Yuffie, you need to lay off of the sweets. Chocolate bars are not appropriate substitutes for breakfast," she said, automatically switching to her mother tone as Yuffie stepped into the kitchen.

"But they do help me keep up in the mornings, especially after waking up with hangovers," Yuffie said brightly.

"Well, at least buy power bars or cereal bars. Those things are a little bit more healthy than a chocolate bar," Tifa said. Yuffie stared at her for a moment and Tifa met her gaze with a bemused frown. "What?" she asked.

Yuffie squinted a little and then her eyes widened. "You had sex!"

"What?!" Tifa yelled, a plate falling from her hands and shattering as it fell back into the sink to hit against a mug. "How can you possibly know that?!"

Yuffie shrugged. "It's a gift. I somehow figured out that Reeve was getting laid a few days ago, and he couldn't deny it. You should've seen the shade of red he turned. It was kinda like yours!" she said cheerfully. "Now, please tell me that it was Cloud!"

Tifa blushed to the point that her cheeks looked as if they were burning. "Who else would it be?" she muttered.

"How did it happen? Who made the first move? Was he truly any good?" Yuffie asked quickly.

"Come on. Grab the grocery list and we can talk while we shop," Tifa said, ushering the young ninja out the door.

"Tell me!" Yuffie nearly yelled once they had been walking for a long moment in silence. The young woman just hadn't be able to hold in her curiosity.

"Well… I can't remember who made the first move. We… were… kinda drunk," Tifa muttered, a blush starting to bloom on her cheeks. "I do remember cleaning the bar, and offering him something to drink, but he wanted me to sit down and drink with him, which was a first." She could still remember how he had been before the Geostigma. He always wanted to be alone.

"And?" Yuffie prompted. Tifa had lapsed into silence that made her eyes look sad. Yuffie could only imagine that the other woman was thinking of the past.

"After that, all I remember is him and me… tearing off clothing in his bedroom," she said quietly.

"Was it good?" Yuffie asked again.

"…Yes." Yuffie smiled so widely, it had to hurt, Tifa mused, but she didn't resist when her friend hugged her. "Still, we were acting awkward with each other this morning, and he ran out of here faster than a hungry chocobo," she said in worry. "I'm just glad the kids weren't here to witness our awkward moment. Marlene senses things and Denzel is just as street-smart as you and I."

"Must be scary to live with kids that smart." Yuffie shrugged. "It's about time they learned about the birds and the bees, Teef," she said, carefree.

Tifa shook her head. "Barret would kill me for talking to Marlene about sex at this age!"

"Hey, at her age, I had found a stash of men's magazines that belonged to the guards of the pagoda back in Wutai. I didn't freak out or get traumatized by it!"

Tifa gave her a look that said she clearly didn't believe her. "I want to preserve as much of their innocence as I can," she said quietly.

"Well, wouldn't it be better for them to hear it from you or Barret instead of finding it out from any of their little friends?" Yuffie asked.

Tifa nodded, not entirely convinced. "I guess you're right about that. But I think I'll wait and talk to Barret about it. Now, back to the issue. We were so weird around each other. Do you think he regrets it? Do you think that we probably made a mistake by doing this?"

Yuffie shook her head. "This is probably the best thing that has ever happened to Chocobo-brain. It's awkward because you guys haven't talked about what you feel for each other and what that night meant," said the ninja matter-of-factly.

Tifa thought about it for a moment and nodded. "What if this hurts our friendship and doesn't lead us to anything more?" she asked quietly. "I mean, I love him like a friend, and my crush on him faded since we started living together. He's handsome and very nice to look at, but…"

"You don't… feel anything for him?" asked Yuffie quietly.

Tifa sighed. "I do… but I closed myself off to those feelings a long time ago. I just can't go rushing headfirst into this. Not if there's a big chance that Cloud will view our night together as a mistake."

The ninja sighed. "Well, I can't tell you if what happened will hurt your friendship, but I can tell you that you need to talk to Cloud to about what that night meant. You just can't guess when it comes to this," Yuffie replied.

Tifa nodded and felt her heart drop to her feet at the thought. What if Cloud didn't want them to be more than friends? What if they had crossed a line that couldn't be uncrossed? What if… what if… he broke her heart and they could never be the same again? She couldn't keep thinking about it without giving herself a headache. Yuffie was right. She and Cloud needed to talk. "Why are you buying groceries if you're leaving for Wutai today?"

"Well… the trip needs to be postponed for a few days," said Yuffie.

"Why?"

"Let's just get to it and I'll tell you about some things that I have noticed recently," Yuffie said mysteriously. Tifa's curiosity peaked and she smiled as Yuffie began to talk animatedly about her favorite subject… Vincent Valentine.

………

Pulling off his goggles, Cloud sighed to himself as he secured Fenrir in the garage of the bar and made his way towards the front, where he could spot the usual customers arriving and many already sitting inside, merrily drinking. His eyes automatically swept over to the bar counter and he found his lips pulling into a frown when he saw that Tifa wasn't alone. Sitting in front of her were Reno and Rude and for the first time ever, Cloud could see the bald Turk speaking freely.

Tifa caught his eyes and they had a tense moment before she worked a sweet smile onto her face and waved. Cloud nodded towards her and walked over to grab a beer, silently greeting her as Rude watched. Meeting his eyes, even through the dark shades, Cloud sent him a warning look. Tifa turned with a glass of Corel Sangria in her hand and nearly ran into him. "Sorry," Tifa whispered staring him in the eyes.

"I'll… get out of the way," Cloud muttered, stepping back and allowing her to pass. He watched her go, looking every bit calm as she always did around him. Cloud didn't know why it disturbed him to see her so aloof. Hadn't they slept together? Wasn't that cause for them to be tense or still awkward around each other? Did she even care? He sighed to himself in irritation before making his way towards a table at the corner, near the door. It was his usual spot, and from there he could see the whole bar, including Tifa.

The door pushed open and a familiar flash of red and leather stepped in, silent as the shadows. Vincent took a seat next to him, and seemingly from out of nowhere, Yuffie appeared and handed him a glass of red wine. "Yuffie," he murmured quietly.

"You're welcome, Vince," she said with a bright smile before walking off to join Tifa at the counter.

"What brings you around here?" Cloud asked him after a long moment of silence.

"The wine," Vincent replied with a small smirk.

Cloud let out a very small laugh and nodded, his eyes trailing after Tifa as she moved around the tables and spoke amicably with the customers, old and new. He had never allowed himself the moment to just take her in as the wonderful, beautiful woman that could possibly still care for him. He knew that during their adventure to stop Sephiroth the first time, Tifa had backed away to allow him space and the chance to clear his confused head, but even then he had been able to tell that she felt something for him. He had always taken her for granted though, and had he not been so damn unstable, maybe they could've been together for years now.

He allowed his eyes to trail over her smooth skin, her sweet smile, the dark shine of her hair, and the way her eyes seemed to sparkle a dark red when light hit them from a certain angle. Somehow he could still taste her skin and feel her breath against his own. A throat cleared to his right and Cloud blinked and looked at Vincent, his cheeks coloring a little. Cloud realized that he had been holding his beer bottle half-way to his mouth and had just stopped to stare. The dark gunman merely raised an eyebrow but didn't question what he had just witnessed.

"Have I… missed something?" Vincent asked a moment later.

Cloud shook his head. "No," he said evenly.

"Tifa is a beautiful woman," said Vincent.

Blue eyes snapped to his and they weren't exactly friendly. "I know," Cloud said in a low tone. At the sight of Vincent's smirk, Cloud deflated a little and realized that the other man had been testing him.

"Maybe you should tell her that, instead of just watching her every move like a stalker," said the other man lightly.

Cloud shook his head and noticed that Tifa had gone back to talk to Rude and Yuffie was now talking animatedly to Reno. "I don't think I can."

"It can't be so hard to talk to a woman who lives with you. Just gather your courage. After all, you and Tifa are not impossible," he said, and this time, his crimson eyes were focused on the young ninja as she clinked glasses with the red-head Turk and then downed a drink.

Cloud's eyebrows scrunched together as the most wild idea crossed his mind. But then again, his brain had a history of failing him at some of the most crucial moments of his life. Vincent and Yuffie? No. Not possible. But the look on Vincent's face as he watched Yuffie, just the same way he himself had been watching Tifa, gave Cloud something to think about. "Yeah, well, it seems impossible," he muttered.

Vincent took up his empty glass and walked towards the back of the bar, where the stairs leading towards the apartment were. Cloud's curious gaze then followed Yuffie as she whispered something into Tifa's ear and then slipped up the stairs herself. A moment later, when Vincent didn't return, Cloud stood and made his way over, wary of what he would find. Maybe Vincent had murdered the energetic ninja for annoying him or setting fire to his cloak?

His eyes widened when he came face to face with something he hadn't ever expected to see in this or any lifetime. Pressed against the landing between the first and second floor was Yuffie. All he could see of her were her hands clutching red fabric and her boots. The rest of her was obscured by Vincent's tall form. Biting his lip to keep from making a sound, Cloud moved away from the obviously intimate moment of Vincent kissing Yuffie and made his way over to Tifa, who was chatting with an old, bearded man. So much for impossible, Cloud thought in surprise.

"And you, young man, you should be thankful of the woman you have here. She's a rare treasure. One in a million and any man would kill to have such a beautiful soul in his life," said the man to Cloud.

Tifa was blushing from his compliments and Cloud couldn't stop the slight smile on his face. "I am thankful. Though I may not show it too often," he said quietly, watching Tifa's mahogany eyes dart to his.

"You should go home to your wife, Mikey. I'm sure she's missing you," Tifa said gently, turning back to the man.

"I am, I am," said the old man before standing and paying. "Keep the change, sweetheart. It's been a pleasure, like always," he said before walking out the door.

"Yuffie is supposed to be helping me, but apparently she has something better to do," Tifa murmured, pouring a few more beers for the men at the bar counter. Cloud had a very uncomfortable flashback and shook his head. "Did I see Vincent come in? He didn't even say hello," she said conversationally.

I don't think he'll be saying hello any time soon with Yuffie stuck to his mouth that way, he mused silently. "I'll help, if you'd like," Cloud offered, watching her grateful smile. At the sight of it, her smile never failed to make his heart beat faster and caused thoughts to start running rampant in his mind. Did the smile mean anything? Was he imagining things? His eyes narrowed when he caught Reno and Rude smirking in amusement at him.

"Make a move, Strife," said Reno when Tifa stepped away to take care of the customers at tables. "Not a lot of men will care that you and her have a history. Make a move now before it's too late."

"You are offering me relationship advice? Seriously?" Cloud asked him sardonically.

Reno smirked and shrugged. "It's one of my best pieces of advice, actually. So be thankful," he replied.

Cloud merely ignored him and began to wipe off the counter. The day when a Turk offered him girl advice was the day when the earth would implode. Dramatic much? he thought silently to himself. Yeah, he was being dramatic, but he didn't need anyone to tell him what he needed to do. He knew it and he wasn't as clueless as other people thought him to be. He was just a big stinking coward. How was he going to look her in the eyes and ask her what it meant that they had slept together?

By the time the bar closed, Tifa was half-dead on her feet, Cloud could tell. He tried his best to help her clean, but he was exhausted from the drive back and he found himself sweeping halfheartedly. Tifa noticed and managed a smile. "I think that I can take care of the rest tomorrow morning. We're both tired and we need sleep," she said, taking a seat on a stool and taking a look at her hands.

Cloud realized that she expected him to just go to his room and leave her alone, but he sat with her and remained silent. He finally worked up the courage to look at her and met her gaze head on. "I… I think we need to talk," he finally managed.

Tifa bit her lip and nodded once, her gaze leaving his as she grabbed a bottle of lotion from behind the counter and poured some into her palm. "I guess we do," she said lightly, beginning to rub her hands.

Cloud watched the motions and found his hands rising without his permission and taking hers. Even though she had been a fighter for years, and they had both lived in a rocky, mountainous part of Gaia all their childhood, Tifa had managed to keep her hands soft and smooth. Unlike his own hands. Despite the gloves that he wore, his skin was rougher than hers and though not callused, his hands weren't his best feature. He concentrated on massaging each finger, her knuckles, and the space between pointer finger and thumb.

She watched him in slight awe and then smiled, her gaze softening the way it did when she was watching the children. She hadn't eve been aware of how close they were sitting, their shoulders touching lightly as his hands rubbed over her own. Tifa swallowed hard when she noticed Cloud's face inching towards hers. Her lips parted and her breathing began to come in quick little spurts before his touched hers gently.

His kiss was nothing like the rough, desperate ones from a few nights before, mostly because they weren't being hindered by a haze of alcohol. His hands were holding hers tightly now, and Cloud couldn't believe that he had found the courage to actually kiss her without her permission and after ignoring the fact that he had wanted to talk about what had happened between them. But when she had smiled at him and looked at him that way… all common sense had flown out the window.

Tifa broke away from the kiss first and frowned to herself, confusion and elation bubbling in her chest. "I thought you wanted to talk," she said quietly, drawing her hands from his.

Cloud sighed and nodded. "I did. I mean, I do, but…" he trailed off, not able to voice his thoughts. Really, when had he ever been able to hold a true conversation with her without looking like an idiot? He ran a hand through his spikes in agitation and stood to pace. "I don't want what happened to ruin our friendship," he said lightly.

Tifa closed her eyes and swallowed back a bitter laugh without turning. She merely nodded. "Yeah. I know what you mean," she said, turning on the stool and finally looking at him. "…and the kiss?"

Cloud smiled ruefully. "I don't know," he admitted.

Tifa stood and paused in front of him, her eyes meeting his. "I wouldn't let anything ruin our friendship," she said with a smile. "Not even this. I think… we just needed comfort and… we were there." She paused and laughed lightly. "I'm not making any sense, am I?"

Cloud didn't know how to react to her words and just shook his head. "You're saying that we were just conveniently there for each other?"

She sighed. "Kind of. But… we're okay, right? We're not going to be awkward and weird around each other?"

He managed a smirk and nodded reassuringly. "You don't have to worry about me," he said lightly. "We should get to bed." At her widening eyes he gave her an embarrassed look. "You know what I mean," he said, looking away from her.

Tifa smiled at his embarrassment and nodded. "Goodnight, Cloud," she said quietly. When he gave her a quiet reply, she walked towards the stairs and to her room. Once inside, Tifa gave a sad sigh and knew that she shouldn't have gotten her hopes up. Really, why had she thought that her and Cloud having drunken sex would change anything? Tifa began to pull off her vest and shirt in order to take a quick shower before bed and nearly shrieked when there was a knock and the door opened.

"Cloud!" she yelled at him, crossing her arms over her chest as best she could. Even with her bra on, she felt naked. Damn it! This was a moment when she cursed her ample bosom more than ever!

Cloud's eyes were wide and his mouth opened for an apology, but nothing came out but a small, choked sound. Instead of stepping out and shutting the door though, he stepped into her room and then closed the door. His thoughts were once again running in his head, wondering if he was being stupid and was assuming too much. But she had kissed him right back with more than just the thought of them being friends on her mind.

"Cloud!" Tifa exclaimed. "What are you doing?! I need to shower," she snapped, standing there, topless and blushing all the way down her neck. Her heart was racing at the look he was giving her as she stood there half-naked was bringing back pleasant memories from a few nights before.

"I… I think I was wrong about being weird around each other," he said, his eyes roaming.

Tifa still held her arms over herself, but swallowed hard at the look he was giving her. Biting her lip, she worked up the courage to possibly do something stupid and reckless. She didn't know if this would make things worse or would make Cloud get a clue, but she slowly, almost stiffly, lowered her arms from herself and stood still.

Cloud stared, taking in the curves and the rounded skin covered by a dark navy lace bra. She was wearing his color, he realized with a light shiver. He looked into her eyes and realized that she was waiting for him to make a move. He still had thousands of doubts circling his head, followed closely by a fear of failing to… to do it right.

Tifa took a step forward and stared into his eyes from under lowered lashes. Cloud found his breath hitching as this time Tifa was the one to initiate the kiss. Her lips moved like a butterfly's caress against his and Cloud found his eyes closing at the sensation as her lips moved over his cheek and jaw, towards his neck. She closed her eyes in order to not meet his gaze, afraid of what she would see, or what he would see in hers.

Their movements were soft and hesitant, as if they had never been with anyone else and that moment was their first time. His hands glided over her skin gently, as if he were trying to memorize the feel of her. Feeling him move inside her and hearing the noises coming from his throat was almost surreal, but oh very pleasurable. Tifa's eyes remained closed until that last moment, when Cloud's hand cupped her cheek and she felt him pause. "Tifa?" he murmured.

"Yeah?" she asked breathlessly.

"This isn't weird," he nearly whispered.

Tifa smiled, her eyes holding his as she strained to kiss him before everything broke and her eyes slid closed in bliss. She didn't think she had ever felt so complete in her life as she did in that moment.

……

When the sun finally rose, Tifa was the first to wake up. At first she had felt a content, warm feeling when she had felt his arms around her, her face pressed to his smooth chest. Then little niggling feelings of doubt had invaded her. They had slept together for a second time. What did Cloud have to say about that? Would they pursue some sort of relationship or was it all just a physical thing?

Tifa frowned to herself and found that her fingers had been unconsciously running over the scar in the middle of his torso. Masamune had pierced the skin there for the first time. She had known from a recount of Cloud's memories once he had been himself and no longer acting out Zack's part of the story. The story of Nibleheim's death had been one he had spoken about only to her and with a note of detachment in his voice. Tifa's heart had broken again that night, after Cloud had defeated Sephiroth for a second time. She had gone to bed in a sort of haze, unable to believe that Cloud had actually opened up to her that way.

She let out a sigh that traveled over Cloud's bare chest and he twitched a little in his sleep, making Tifa smile. "What are we doing?" she murmured to herself, unaware that Cloud had awoken at the feel of her hand on his scar.

"I don't know," he admitted, feeling Tifa jump slightly.

Tifa clutched the sheet to her front and sat up to look at him, her dark hair mussed and tumbling down her back. Cloud's hand slid through the tangled strands gently, pulling out the knots as Tifa looking at him out of the corner of her eye, red tinting her cheeks. "I don't… are we…" she paused twice, not knowing how to voice her question without effectively freaking Cloud out.

He gave her a questioning look and sat up, the sheet pooling at his waist. Cloud brushed his own fingers over the scar that Masamune had left when it had run her through. Tifa's back twitched and she folded her knees up to lean against them. "I want to be with you," he finally admitted.

"Because we slept together?" Tifa asked softly.

"No," he said with a frown. It was now or never. "Because I care about you and I have for a long time," he said just as quietly.

Tifa didn't look convinced. "Why didn't you attempt for us to be together before that drunken night if you cared so much?" she asked, her voice taking on a bitter note.

Cloud didn't know what she was getting at. He truly wanted to be with her, but he had never been too good at using his words to express himself. Didn't she know that by now? "Tifa, I—"

She shook her head. "Don't Cloud. I don't want you to rush into anything," she said, smiling slightly. "Think about what you want and then make a decision. I'll be here," Tifa said, looking at him with her sparkling, wine colored eyes.

He was still frowning at her, watching her in confusion as she pulled one of his blankets around her nude body and stood. Tifa sighed and then leaned forward and brushed her lips against his in a chaste kiss. Then she gathered her clothing and walked out, leaving him there mulling things over and wondering why it was that Tifa had shot him down.

It didn't feel entirely like a rejection, because she was basically telling him that she wanted him to be sure about being with her, but… he realized that he had been waiting for her to just accept him automatically. That had been quite foolish on his part, he knew, but he still happened to be quite clueless when it came to relationships. Muttering about being an idiot, he stood and walked off to take a shower. He just hoped that what had happened between them once more hadn't pushed Tifa away from him. It was the last thing he wanted.

……

"You said no?" Yuffie asked in horror.

Tifa frowned and nodded, playing idly with the straw in her milkshake. She and Yuffie had gone away from the bar to a restaurant for lunch in order to be able to talk without any eavesdroppers. "Well, I couldn't say yes! We'd just… been together," she said, blushing. "What if he's just asking me to be with him because he thinks it's what I expect after what happened? That is not how I want to start things with Cloud!"

Yuffie sipped her thick milkshake and sighed. "I don't think he asked you to be with him because you guys slept together," she murmured. "Cloud has a hard time expressing himself, so maybe he didn't say things the way he wanted to," she defended.

Tifa knew Yuffie was probably right, but she hadn't wanted Cloud to be with her out of obligation. "I just… gave him the chance to decide what it is that he wants. Not what he thinks I expect from him," she said with a sigh.

The ninja understood that. "But what are you going to do in the mean time? Continue to have a solely physical thing going on? Won't that confuse the kids when they return?"

Tifa shook her head. "I don't even know where we stand anymore." She put her face in her hands and groaned. "This is so confusing!"

"No, confusing is not knowing what it means that Vincent kissed me yesterday," Yuffie muttered.

"What?" Tifa asked, looking up at her in surprise. The ninja shrugged. "How did that happen?"

"I don't know. Why are the men around us so complicated?" Yuffie asked, shaking her head. "I mean, he goes all, 'I didn't know that you and Reno were friends.' And I'm like, 'Yeah, what's the big deal?' Next thing I know, he's kissing me! We've been playing this silent flirting game, little touches here, a couple of glances there. I thought he wasn't serious and then he's kissing me!" Yuffie said, throwing her hands up in annoyance.

Tifa smiled. "So he made the first move and kissed you," she said with a grin.

Yuffie blushed and nodded. "And I'm confused too. With Vincent, we don't really talk about anything. I know he can carry on conversations, I've seen him talking to Reeve and to Tseng. He just doesn't talk to me!" she said with a huff.

"Maybe he doesn't know what to say to you either," Tifa offered.

Yuffie smirked. "We had to pick the two men with the worst communication skills," she said with a laugh.

Tifa joined her and nodded. "You know, I hadn't even considered the fact that Cloud felt anything for me. I always thought it was one-sided on my part. That's why I eventually convinced myself that it was best to get over him."

"But you didn't, right?" asked Yuffie curiously.

"I think a part of me didn't, but another part resigned itself to the fact that it wouldn't happen," Tifa said, nibbling a fry.

Yuffie sighed and they lapsed into silence for a few minutes, each thinking of the enigmas that were Cloud Strife and Vincent Valentine. "Maybe we should just get over them," Yuffie said with an annoyed sigh.

"Do you honestly think that it's possible?" Tifa asked with a little grin.

Yuffie slumped against the table and laid her head against her crossed arms. "You're right. We're never going to get over those blockheads," she said, ignoring Tifa's giggles.

"Maybe we're not meant to get over them. Maybe… we're the only two people who have ever truly believed in them. We have to hang on."

The ninja looked up at her and gave her a sunny smile. "I like the way you think, Miss Lockhart," said Yuffie.

Tifa smiled and nodded. "The question is, how long will we have to wait?"

Yuffie slumped a little again. "Maybe we should help things along," she said evilly.

"How?" asked Tifa, noticing the devious grin on the young woman's face.

"Just leave it up to me, Teef. Oh, and clear your Saturday night because the plan will take effect then."

Tifa sipped from her shake and wondered what Yuffie was up to. Hopefully her plan wouldn't backfire on them.

Goodness, I can't seem to write a proper oneshot these days. It always turns into a short story or a two-part, but I've had this one on my mind for a while. I really wanted to write a CloudTifa fic so here it is. It's more on the angst-fluffy side, so don't worry too much about this chapter. I hope everyone enjoyed and that I haven't lost my touch when it comes to Cloud and Tifa as a couple. Up next, Cloud and Vincent talk and the Turks and Rufus make trouble, and Yuffie has a plan. Have an awesome and safe spring break and I'll try to have the ending for this fic as soon as possible.

Joey