Alright, this took a little longer to write than I thought, but here it is, the re-write. This version of this chapter is considerably longer than the first one. Almost 6 pages long in Microsoft Word whereas the original was barely 4 1/2. I added a lot to it, took very little out, and I'm very pleased with it. So, please enjoy the re-write, maybe leave a review.
Author's Note: The original version of this chapter was posted on Augest 11, which is Cloud's birthday, which is why his birthday is part of the story line. Also, I got the title to this story from a Cher song of the same name, but this chapter is not based on the song in anyway.
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, or Cher's A Different Kind Of Love Song.
A Different Kind Of Love Song
"Finally…" I mutter to myself as I collapse down onto my bed, my body sinking into its more than welcome comfort.
It had been another one of those hard nights in the bar, a fight breaking out every few hours, men who never seemed to miss a chance to grab some part of me as I moved from table to table serving drinks…and on top of it all, Cloud is several hours late in getting home from his deliveries…
So by closing time I had been too exhausted, too stressed, and too worried about Cloud to clean the bar, so now a sink full of dirty dishes and grimy counter tops and tables awaits me in the morning.
I heave a heavy sigh as I roll over onto my back, feeling the weight of the pressing midnight blackness of my room looming over me.
Being not quite ready for sleep, I reach over and turn on the small lamp sitting on my bedside table, its sudden and brilliant light illuminating the room and beating back the imposing darkness.
As I retract my hand I knock over a picture that had been sitting next to the lamp. It falls against the wood surface of the table with a loud clatter, causing me to flinch slightly.
I listen intently for a few moments, making sure that the noise hadn't woken Denzel or Marlene, and it's only after I'm certain that they're both still asleep that I carefully pick the picture up.
I run my fingers along the gilded frame, smiling as I gaze at the image, wondering when it had been taken. It must have been that first day, the day the city had been healed with the curing of the Geostigma, the day he had finally been relieved of his guilt and told me that he loved me.
Yuffie must have taken this picture right after the group photo that's now sitting on the desk in Cloud's office. Cloud and I had detached ourselves from the celebration, tired of being the center of attention after our all too public display of affection.
Our search for solitude led us to the front of the church, somewhere near the open doorway, and standing in the intense glow of the afternoon sun. We didn't speak then, we just simply stood, hand in hand, staring longingly into each other's eyes, letting hundreds of unsaid words and suppressed, hidden emotions pass silently between us.
That's all the photo is, Cloud and I staring at each other, our faces close, his expression as hard as ever…and yet…I had never seen his eyes so peaceful, so clear as they were then.
I have no better memories than those of that first day, of our first embrace, our first kiss. I remember how perfectly his arms seemed to fit around me, the sense of safety and security that came with them; how in the instant our lips met I knew that he was never leaving me again.
I never knew my life could change as much as it did that day. It was almost like a rebirth, like I had been wandering aimlessly through my life surrounded by some absolute darkness. But now, now that darkness has been beaten back by his light, a light he never knew he had…
I smile widely as memories from the last few months that Cloud and I have spent together begin to drift though my mind, thinking about how every second, every minute, every hour and every day have been something of a blessing, a sacred gift sent by some higher being.
These glorious recollections are soon interrupted by the insistent buzzing vibration of my phone, rudely jerking me back to reality. I quickly reach into my pocket and retrieve it. I flip it open without checking to see who it is, I already have an idea of who it might be…
"Cloud? Where are you? You were supposed to be home hours ago." I say quietly, unable to keep a worried tone out of my voice.
"I know." he says tiredly. "Something came up, and I don't think I'll make it home tonight. I'm sorry, Tifa."
"You don't have to apologize, Cloud. I understand. Just hurry back, okay? And please be careful…"
"I will." he says, laughing slightly. "Goodnight, Tifa. I love you."
"I love you too, Cloud." I whisper back softly.
There's a faint click as Cloud snaps his phone shut, and then the line goes dead. I close my phone as well, glancing at the time before placing it next to the lamp on the bedside table.
My eyes widen in horror and I snatch the phone back up off the table. I stare down at the small front screen, but its not the time I'm worried about, it's the date.
Tues, Aug 11…it's Cloud's birthday? How could I have forgotten?
Waves of guilt and panic threaten to overwhelm me as I silently berate myself for forgetting…but there's nothing I can do about it tonight, I'll have to close the bar early tomorrow so the kids and I can get him a gift…
"You forgot his birthday?!" exclaims Yuffie just before draining a glass of beer she's supposed to be serving to a customer.
Yuffie often comes in on the weekends, which of course, are the busiest business days. But today she's been more of a burden than a help.
"Yes, I did." I answer a hint of annoyance in my voice as take the now empty glass out of her hand.
"Where is Spiky anyway? I thought he was supposed to have the day off?"
"He was, but he got a call early this morning just as he was getting home. The guy who called was willing to pay Cloud twice the normal fee if he could get a package to Rocket Town before noon. Cloud couldn't pass up that kind of money…let alone the challenge."
"Have you figured out what you're going to get him for his birthday yet?" asks Yuffie as she grabs yet another glass of alcohol.
"No, I haven't. I've been thinking about it all day, and still nothing."
I grab a rag out from behind the bar and begin to wipe down the countertop, trying to relieve some of my frustration. I quickly become lost in the task, focusing on the wide circular movements of my hand.
"You know…you could always just give him…yourself…I mean, considering you haven't already done that…" says Yuffie after a few moments of silence, her words quiet and almost cautious.
"What are you talking about, Yuffie? I laugh lightly, keeping my focus on the counter. "He already has me, what else is left to give?"
"What I'm talking about is…you, like all of you."
I look up at her then, and I feel my face flush with embarrassment as I realize what she had meant. I can only stare at her for several seconds, is it really that obvious that we haven't done that yet, and crossed that last divide? I would have to guess that it is that obvious, otherwise Yuffie wouldn't have mentioned it…
Would he even want that? He's never pressured me for that, even after all these months that we've been together, its never really crossed my mind…I've been too caught up in just being with him to even think of anything deeper, of anything more intimate…
But now that its been brought up, the possibility of us being something more, being one…its something that I want to give him…
Fear and nervousness suddenly grip at my chest, would I even be ready to give him that?
Yuffie's hand waving frantically in front of my face breaks through my train of thought. I swat her hand away, and take a deep breath, trying in vain to calm my suddenly pounding heart.
"I'm sorry, Yuffie. I was thinking about…about what that would be like…if I'm even ready to give that to him…"
"Well it shouldn't be too hard of a decision, you love him. Anyway, it's getting late…and I'm pretty sure you and Spiky will want some…alone time."
She takes another long drink of beer, smiles at me widely, and practically runs to the door, bouncing a little with each step.
"Yuffie!" I call after, laughing. "Its not even two o'clock yet, stay while."
"I'll pick the kids up from school, they can stay the night with me." she yells back, ignoring me. "Make sure to call and give me details!" She slams the door behind her and takes off at a quick pace down the sidewalk, laughing hysterically to herself.
I decide to close the bar early due to a lull in customers, but not early enough to go out and buy Cloud a gift, not that I knew what to get him anyway…Once the bar is cleaned, I retreat upstairs to the small living area located just at the top of the staircase.
I lay down on the couch, and after settling into a comfortable position, I close my eyes. Despite the early hour of the evening, I find myself unusually tired, which could be because of the very little sleep I received last night…
"Tifa…Tifa, wake up."
The gentle touch of his hand, the soft caress of his lips against mine, the soothing sound of his voice…such wonderful things to be awakened by…
"Tifa, wake up, there's something I want to show you," says Cloud quietly, but unable to contain the obvious excitement in his voice.
"What is it?" I mutter, trying to open my eyes and yawning widely.
"It's a surprise." he whispers.
Before I can bring myself to sit up he pulls me up into his arms and cradles me gently against his chest. I wrap my arms around his neck, holding onto him tightly…maybe even a little tighter than I have to.
I nuzzle my face into his neck, taking in his scent as he walks down the stairs leading to the bar. When we reach the last step he stops suddenly, and I look up at him questioningly.
"You have to close your eyes." he says, smiling.
"Cloud…" I try to protest, my voice still laced with sleep.
"Please, Tifa. It's my birthday."
I roll my eyes before closing them, and he kisses me quickly before he descends the last stair carries me into the bar.
"Keep them closed." he whispers excitedly as he gently helps me regain my feet. He positions me in front of him, his hands lying firmly on my hips, holding me against him.
"Okay, you can open them." he says in a low tone, his lips gently brushing my ear.
I open my eyes slowly and search the dimly lit bar for anything that may be out of place, for any clue as to what his surprise may be.
Finally, I see it. Standing against the far wall, a piano, very old and battered with age, yet so beautiful with its dark mahogany wood and still pearl white keys…
I fall back against Cloud's chest, and wrapping his arms around me, he places a kiss lightly on my cheek.
"Cloud…its wonderful…thank-you…" I turn around to face him. I lace my arms around his neck, kissing him. "But…you do know that people are supposed to give you gifts on your birthday…not the other way around?"
"I could take it back if you'd like." he suggests jokingly, with a sly, mischievous smile.
"No, please, don't do that. I love it." I say quietly. "But I forgot to get you something, I'm sorry."
I stare down at his chest, unable to look at him, afraid to see the disappointment I'd been dreading the last two days. I feel one of his arms leave my waist, and the one that remains there tightens around me. He lifts my chin up with the index finger of his now free hand.
"I already have everything I could ever want…but…you could play something for me, I haven't heard you play since we were kids."
"Alright…" I kiss him once more before pulling away. I walk forward to the piano, gently running my fingers over the smooth surface of the keys. I steal a chair from one of the nearby tables and sit down, plucking a few of the keys, trying to familiarize myself with the sound of the piano.
As I'm trying to think of something to play, the sound of Cloud's heavy boots treading across the wooden floor of the bar stirs up a certain memory.
I lay there in the church, surrounded by sweet smelling flowers. Hurt, barely able to move, barely awake, my consciousness fading more and more as the minutes tick by.
And that sound, the loud click of boot heels, his boot heels, so measured and precise, against the decaying wooden floor.
In all my life, no sound had ever been more welcome than that. Even more welcome was his sharp intake of breath as he runs over to where I'm lying and kneels down next to me, picking me up and holding me tightly against him…
I realized how much he cared for me then, when I heard the worry in his voice. While I hated being the reason for such worry, I couldn't help but feel relieved. Ever since he had left me, I had been trying to get over him, trying to hate him for what he had done, trying to convince myself that he would never feel for me what I felt for him…but the tone in his voice, it made me feel hopeful again, there were feelings for me there.
At that moment, my once fading heart began to beat again, seemingly faster and more alive than ever, yet slow and tranquil, a quiet and gentle song…
I barely notice my fingers moving as I focus on the memories of that day, the day that followed it, and every day after that, of every kiss, of every embrace…
The notes that follow are slow, almost simple, carrying all the power of everything that I feel for him in my heart. (A/N)
"What is this? I've never heard it before" he says as he moves to stand behind me, resting his hands on my shoulders.
"It's the way my heart sounds whenever I'm with you." I say quietly looking up at him.
A smile flashes across his face as he leans in over me, his face so close to mine, his warm breath caressing my cheeks, his eyes locked with mine.
"Thank-you, Tifa." he whispers.
"No Cloud, thank-you." I stop playing, let my arms lie loosely at my sides, and rest my head against his chest.
"For what?" he asks, his expression somewhat confused.
"For everything, for everyday…for you, I love you so much."
He says nothing; he just remains quiet as he leans in even closer, closing the gap between our lips.
For a moment, I'm lost in the all too new sensation of kissing him upside down like this, but I soon become used to the idea. When we part we're both slightly out of breath and his eyes meet mine again, glowing in the dim light of the bar.
"I love you, too. And thank-you again for the song…I had no idea that you felt that way." he says as he begins to gently stroke my cheek with one of his gloved hands.
I catch his hand in mine and hold it against my cheek, reveling in its warmth, despite the cool leather that guards his hand from my skin.
"That's not all I wanted to give you…" I breathe as I take his hand away from my face and place it on my breast.
His gaze clouds for a moment, but when he realizes my intention, his expression turns to one of concern.
"Are you sure, Tifa?"
I nod slowly, bringing his lips to mine again.
"I've never been so sure of anything in my life, I love you."
Yeah I know, its a bit of a cliffhanger. But there's more to the story...I just have to figure out how to continue it. I have a few ideas, its just a matter of deciding on one to use. While I'm trying to continue this, I'll be focusing my attention back to "Throwning Punches", see my profile for more info.
(A/N): The song that Tifa plays for Cloud is her theme, the whole point of this chapter was that it was my own meaning behind Tifa's Theme.
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