It was always so dark in Midgar. Longingly, I would find myself tilting my head back, and expecting the eager embrace of a starry night sky, yet I was always disappointed when a cold plate of gray scoffed at me, and I realized it was merely a fantasy. I could close my eyes, though, and envision how the night skies sparkled with specks of hope on the outside.
It wasn't only the bleak dimness of Midgar that got to me. Stenches of machinery and rust were heavy enough to choke you, and the constant whirring and buzzing of inefficient vehicles was deafening. The neighborhoods were stricken by harsh poverty, and with every other step you took, a pickpocket would be on your heels. I never blamed them, though; in fact, I often willingly gave them as much gil as I could part with, and I prayed that someday they would be able to escape the fruitless land of Midgar.
Despite all of its shortcomings, there were reasons that I wanted to stay in Midgar. One of them was Avalanche, a coalition formed with some of my closest friends. They audaciously cried out against Shinra and their technologies, and the group's pleas and actions were for the rescue of the Planet. I would often think to myself about how hefty a desire the saving of the Planet was, yet I know now that it is indeed possible. Avalanche was the stepping stone to the Planet's rescue, and they bound me to the hopelessness of the caliginous city.
Another reason for my reluctance to leave Midgar was my bar; I took so much pride in my running of it, and having friendly, regular customers brought me hope that perhaps I could help change the forsaken land. I wanted to give the residents of Sector 7 a reason to smile.
Even though Midgar was rotting and unkempt, it was my home. I would trade all of the stars in the sky to be with my friends, and to bring a glimmer of joy into a slum dweller's heart.
But in all honesty, I think I could sense that I would be pulled away from the rusted pizza, especially on the day that I found him.
It was a day that seemed colder and darker than most when I fatefully walked past the train station. I noticed a guard tending to a young man who was disoriented beyond words, and I decided to see if I could help. I walked over to him, and I was slightly frightened by his appearance. The man was disheveled, dressed in a Shinra uniform and wielding a large sword, and his head was covered in spikes of blond.
Those blond spikes elicited a faint memory within me, but I couldn't quite place it.
The man managed to come to his senses upon seeing me, and he tentatively whispered, "Tifa?"
I was startled as I looked into his radiant blue eyes, and the puzzle pieces of my memory quickly sorted and interlocked as I recognized the man.
"Oh, Cloud!" I spoke, my statement escaping me as a surprised gasp.
The lost figure of my past rose to his feet, and he smiled to me jauntily, yet I could feel underlying anxiety in his appearance. There was something about the way he stood and spoke that alarmed me, but I continued to talk to him.
"How long has it been?" I spoke meekly, nervously running my fingers through my hair. I looked to him expectantly as a pained expression crossed his face with the recalling of a memory.
"Five years." His words were spoken bluntly and assuredly, and responsively, my eyes darted to the ground.
I hadn't believed him. It had been seven years since his teenaged self left our village of Nibelheim with plentiful determination to make it as a top-notch Soldier. It had been seven years since I looked into his blue eyes, yet they now possessed a peculiar glow that sent shivers down my back.
It had been seven years since the young, blond boy asked me to meet him at the well in the center of our hometown. His request was unexpected, but I went anyway, and I was met with his yearning tale of becoming a Soldier.
It was a gorgeous night; the sky was filled brilliant stars that never got to share their stories with Midgar.
It was that moment beneath the starry canvas of the night sky that he made a promise to me that he would save me if I was ever in trouble. His demure words made me feel protected, and that childhood promise remained with me in my heart even years after he left the gates of Nibelheim.
I really hadn't noticed Cloud much until he headed for Shinra. From that night forward, I followed numerous newspapers, desperately hoping to see the boy's name that promised to rescue me. Each day, however, I was left with one less gil in my pocket and shattered expectations.
But at that moment at the train station, I was reunited with my childhood acquaintance after years of waiting; it wasn't the reunion I had hoped for, however, and thoughts gusted tumultuously within my mind, and I was not sure how to react to the man.
I tried my best to look cheerful despite the wrathful confusion I was experiencing.
Cloud soon told me that he was a mercenary, and I decided to tell him about Avalanche and their need for another member. My suggestion wasn't as much for the benefit of the faction, but instead so I could keep an eye on Cloud to make sure he was okay.
I suppose I came to his rescue that time.
I remained by his side as he struggled with his identity, and it was during his times of vulnerability that I fell in love with him.
We left the smothering world of Midgar together, and I was not reluctant after my bar had been destroyed. With him, I was able to see the night skies again. The same stars that watched over us in Nibelheim years before greeted us as we continued on our journey against Sephiroth. We walked together in near-wordless companionship, and I was with him at every moment; I felt as compelled as I had been that day at the train station that I was going to help him sort out his muddled thoughts and feelings.
We continued battling together with our comrades, and at times, I felt hopeless. It was as if the true Cloud was hidden away, and the man beside me was continually drifting farther away.
This was especially true when our dear friend Aeris died; it seemed as if the stars I longed for so desperately for years had lost their desire to shine, as did Cloud.
Yet perhaps this tragedy helped lead to his self-discovery. As we sank into Lifestream together, I was able to help him find his true self, and in doing so, I grew to love him more. His collection of precious memories affected me in ways I could not describe, and I was almost in tears realizing how much my opinions affected him. After our ordeal in Lifestream, I felt more reassurance knowing that I was not just loving a shell of the man named Cloud; it was actually Cloud himself, with all of his memories correct and intact.
Despite the affection I felt for him, I could not share my feelings with him. I actually think I'd rather live in a world of 'what if' than face the possibility of rejection by the person I care for most. In my position now, I'm able to focus on all of the amazing things we've been through together with a positive outlook. I don't wish to ruin the great friendship we've created after spending years with each other.
Sometimes I feel as if the stars above me want me to tell him, but I only smile sadly in response, and I continue to indulge in the friendship I currently share with Cloud.
We're happy now, and that's all that matters.