Final Fantasy Advent Children: Certain
Author's Note 1: Wow! It's been a while since I came onto this site. Blame it on school. But, spring quarter is finally over. Unfortunately, I'm back in school for Summer. I only had a week break. Thank Nursing School for that. But, I am one step closer to graduation. So that's a plus Anyways, I got this idea because I was confused of what I read in the "Case of Tifa," the revised version. There is this one little thing I noticed which is obvious but left for interpretation. I wasn't sure and I had to read it twice because something is irking me. You'll find out what it as you read along. In a sense, it's my take on it. The story takes place after ACC. If the fic doesn't explain it, please read the second author's note at the end of this story. Enjoy! ^_^
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII. It rightfully belongs to Final Fantasy VII
A loud ruckus was heard in 7th Heaven as Barret's voice was loud enough for the whole world to hear. People were laughing, cheering, and toasting just as loudly to celebrate a brand new start. The people of Edge were happier than before. Two days had passed since Geostigma, the dreaded disease that killed so many people, had finally been lifted in Edge. Since then, the people continued to party like there was no tomorrow. During those two days, this little restaurant continuously catered to the people's partying needs until the wee hours of the night. Even the AVALANCHE members partied hard along with the people.
"Cheers…toooo… that hole over theresss!" Cid yelled at a top of his lungs, lifting his beer-filled glass cup to the ceiling. Everyone in the bar, who was too drunk to make any judgment, toasted to the hole on the ceiling.
Behind the bar, Tifa sighed at the sight of her bar. She just cleaned last night and this morning. Already the bar looked like a pig pen. Even the clean floors and tables she laboriously cleaned were once again drowned with dirt marks, broken bottled beer glasses, dirty pile of dishes on the tabletops and counters, napkins littered everywhere, and debris that came from nowhere. It looks like it will be another long night for her.
Despite the fact that she must start over again after this whole fiasco, she was nevertheless happy, knowing that the people of Edge no longer had to suffer. She took a quick glance to the corner of the bar to see the children who had fallen victim to Geostigma. They were playing a game among the noise level of the adults, laughing joyfully as one person lost, groaning. Among the children was Marlene, who was the referee of the game, laughing along with her newfound friends. Beside her was Denzel, who was laughing just hard and loud as everyone else. She never had seen him like this. Now that his Geostigma had been cured, Denzel was a happy kid. She couldn't help but smile at that fact. He no longer had to suffer. He already suffered enough after what happened to him in the past.
Just as she was finished drying a plate and began to work on the cups, she accidentally dropped her cleaning rag. As she leaned towards it, a pain shot from her midsection. She hissed a bit, straightening her back to correct her posture and nullify the pain.
"Looks like it still hurts…" she thought to herself as she straightened her back, touching her midsection graciously with her free hand.
"Oi, Tifa, take a break will ya?" asked a hyperactive Yuffie, who was the only somber person out of all the occupants in this bar aside from the children. Tifa looked at her questioningly. "C'mon, Tif! You're still recovering from that huge blow from that empty-headed Loz. Don't forget that "graceful" fall you managed to do after Bahamut Sin passed that huge fireball at ya. I'll handle the bar."
Tifa frowned. "I…don't know…knowing you…"
"Hey! Can't ya trust me?! The least I could do is help ya out after all that mumbo jumbo stuff goin' on. Now c'mon! Outside! It'll be my my mission to make sure this bar's in one piece!" The younger girl grabbed the clean glass and rag from Tifa's hands and pushed her out of the bar. Tifa relented to the young ninja's demands. There was no way she would change her mind. Once Yuffie, the ninja princess was set on something, no one could change her mind.
"Okay, I'll be back in 30 minutes. If I find the bar burned down to the ground, you're gonna to get it!"
"I got it, I got it! Ninja's honor the place won't look like Don Cornero's mansion!! GO!"
Tifa sighed, knowing she would regret assigning Yuffie to be in charge of the bar. Pandemonium always followed her. So, she would expect more broken dishes, holes in the wall, empty bottles of beer all over, and all kinds of things she could think of. Well, there was no turning back now.
Tifa made her way through the crowd, greeting those who approached her with a bright smile. Once she opened the door, she could feel the cool breeze on her face. Relief washed over her as she stepped further outside as the door closed behind her, dulling the noisy bar. In that very moment, she felt like she was in her own world. She definitely needed this after going through a lot.
Carefully, she sank herself down onto the patio, minding the injury in her midsection. She could feel the sudden weariness that she put off for so long. With Denzel and Marlene captured by those remnants of Sephiroth, she couldn't relax until she knew they were safe and sound.
Just as she relaxed her entire body, the sound of a familiar roar broke her train of thought. She looked up to see the familiar single headlight, the familiar sound of its brakes as it made a complete stop in front of her. Her eyes caught onto the silhouette of the precious man she held closely to her heart. "So you finally decided to join us?" Tifa said, a hint of humor in her voice.
His eyes widened a tiny bit before turning away, looking at his bike's handles. For a normal person, they would see no emotion coming from his eyes. But for those who knew him, like her, they could see the little hint of movement in his eyes. She knew he was feeling guilty of something. "A-ah…" he spoke in his own reserved way.
Tifa knew him too well. "Don't feel guilty, Cloud. There's a lot to take in. It happened so quickly. It's understandable that you need some time by yourself to clear your head." Slowly, Tifa started to stand up only to wince as she used her abdominal muscles to help her up.
Cloud reacted instantly as he reached with his arm to help her. But withdrew it back to its original position, settling it onto his handlebar as Tifa was able to regain composure without assistance. He observed her carefully as she slowly straightened her body. He noted a slight bruise in the middle of her stomach and some scratches on the right side of her abdomen that were healing. He also noted faint scraps on her arms that were now completely healed. Instantly, flashbacks of that previous day came to his mind, reminding him instantly of his guilt. This time, it was not about Aerith or Zack. He could still see the image of her lying among the flowers in Aerith's church. He could still see her on the ground in the heart of Edge, trying to get herself up, unaware of the building about to collapse above her. He almost lost her then. He couldn't stop thinking about what would happen if he wasn't there?
"If I hadn't left…then may be…this wouldn't of happened…"
"I'm fine, Cloud. Don't worry," Tifa said with a smile. "I'm alive, right?"
"But you're still hurt…because of me…" he thought bitterly. For some reason, he always had a knack in bad timing.
Tifa leaned against the door as she gazed at the sky. She couldn't see the stars well because of the city lights so she was left with a dark blue sky. Cloud watched her close her eyes as she took in the comfortable moment. He watched the gentle winds lift her medium sized brown hair. She covered her midsection with her right arm as she felt a little chili. His heart started to patter, seeing her like this. The activity of his heart increased even more when he saw the smile on her lips.
"It's been 4 long days," Tifa started. "It feels like it's been forever since I could relax like this."
He could hear the loud noise coming from the bar. He could hear Barret and Cid singing an out-of-tune song in which everyone joined in. Sounds of broken glass were heard among the singing. He could hear Marlene and Denzel yelling, trying to calm down the noise. Yuffie was laughing out loud, not even doing her job.
"And she says she has everything under control. Just my luck," Tifa sighed as she also noted the sounds, placing her hand on her forehead as if she were having a headache. After her thirty minute break, it would take her hours to clean the bar again when she gets back. She would definitely have a word with the young Ninja Princess.
He felt sympathy for his childhood friend. Yuffie was adding more stress into her mind. She didn't need anymore. She truly needed a break. A thought crossed his mind suddenly after he noted Tifa's reaction. "Get on," he suddenly said as he turned on the ignition of his bike.
"Huh?!" Tifa asked, lifting her head to look at Cloud as if he grown a second head.
"Get on," he repeated, pointing to the seat behind him. "Let's get out of here."
She looked at Cloud with a slight frown on her face. What was Cloud thinking?
He regarded the look in her eyes. "I'll take you somewhere. Somewhere quiet," he said as he turned on his engine. The look on his face wouldn't accept no for an answer.
She didn't hesitate because she trusted him. So, she hoped on the seat behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist. Before long, they left 7th Heaven behind.
The familiar place of the wasteland that surrounded Edge and Midgar was in front of her the moment she stepped onto the ledge of the cliff. It was a perfect view of the once booming city. Now, what was left of the city was nothing more than Midgar's remains and the sectors below it. She couldn't see the city of Edge as she was looking at the back of Midgar. Among the lower sectors' debris, she knew Aerith's Church was there, the only structure that remained strong, beautiful, and intact. It was a beautiful view, even though the scenery lacked the lush green grass that she always admired. Tifa let in the comforting sight as she stood there. The place was peaceful and quiet. Cloud was definitely true to his word. She turned around, wanting to thank him for bringing her here when she stopped. She didn't notice it before. There, right in front of her, was the Buster Sword Cloud used. She remembered he held onto that sword as if it were a precious baby. Now, it stood there, embedded onto the dry soil, rusted and dull, its beautiful structure ruined by the elements. All those months, the sword was here. She wondered why.
Cloud stood in front of the sword, gazing at it dazedly. During those two days of thinking, this was his second time here, admiring the sword that saved his life many times. It was the only memory of his departed best friend who offered this Buster Sword, hoping he would continue on his legacy. Cloud never really deserved this sword. It was his best friend's. He only carried out his dying friend's dream. The Buster Sword already served its purpose. It had to go back to its rightful owner. Just thinking of him brought memories back, memories he wanted to take back.
"Cloud…" Tifa suddenly called, causing Cloud to look up. She had that look in her eyes. She was confused. Cloud walked over to her, stopping to stand next to her as he gazed out to the scene in front of him. Tifa's eyes followed him, watching his face observantly, wondering what he was thinking about.
"That sword," he said. "It belonged to Zack."
Tifa's eyes widened as she turned to take another look at the sword. After he mentioned it, she did remember Zack carrying that very sword on his back: The red handle, the gold markings on its handle, the structure of the sword, and its texture. It was the same sword. She turned to Cloud. "This place…it's where he died…"
"So…this is where everything began," she said slowly, her mind flashback to the time she found Cloud at the train station. Cloud simply nodded his head, letting his eyes linger on the trail he took 2 years ago that led to Midgar. He could still see his younger self, dragging himself to Midgar, with nothing on him but his uniform and Zack's Buster Sword.
Tifa shook her head sadly, knowing this would bring pain to Cloud. She had to take him to another place.
Tifa looked up to see him looking at her, holding a small smile on his lips.
"It's not going to bring me down…not anymore…"
Tifa looked at him for a moment before deciding that Cloud was being sincere. When he wasn't, he wouldn't look into her eyes. Sighing, she sat herself near the edge of the cliff comfortably, wrapping her arms around her knees as she gazed at Midgar once more, wincing a bit at the knot on her stomach. Cloud joined her a moment later and gazed at the scenery together in a companionable silence, side-by-side.
Tifa turned to him when he suddenly spoke. "For what?"
"For leaving without saying anything…"
Tifa shook her head. She didn't need an explanation from him. "No…I should be the one apologizing. I shouldn't have said those things to you. I was really harsh to you…"
"But…if it weren't for you…pushing me like you did, Marlene and Denzel wouldn't be here…and you…" Again, he replayed the scene back in the central part of Edge, the collapsing building and all. He couldn't finish.
"You only did what you could do," she reassured.
"That's all I could do…"
"No…that is not all you could do, Cloud. You might not know it but you did a lot more. You went beyond what you could do. You push yourself to try. You did everything in your power to help those you care about. You never failed anyone. That's the you I know…"
Cloud's heart stirred again after hearing her said that.
"I'm proud of you…"
Oddly, Cloud realized he felt comfortable sitting beside her like this, talking to her, listening to her words of encouragement. He couldn't think of a day when he spent some time with her like this. Her presence always seemed to ease his mind. He let his eyes observe her after she was done talking, turning her attention back into the open. Her face was peaceful with a tiny, bright smile on her lips. Her eyes were light with joy whenever she smiles. He noted her hair that cascaded past her shoulders, swaying slightly from the gentle wind. Some of the strands from her bangs would fall onto her face and she would swipe it away. He watched her relax her left arm as she placed it on her side. Her hands were delicate but strong. He then looked at her midsection to see the slight bruise in the middle of her stomach once more.
Tifa turned to Cloud to see him looking at her midsection. She titled her head in wonderment.
"Does it still hurt?" he inquired worriedly.
Tifa's eyebrows shot up. "Hmm?"
She looked down to her midsection. Even though it had been two days since that day, her abdomen still hurt a bit. She did put stress on her abdomen since it was the basic principle in Zangan's martial arts. The abdomen was her central core and must use it for proper posture and balance. Adding Loz's attack, he definitely contributed to the bruising and ache. It would take a few more days for the pain and bruise to disappear without the use of the Cure Materia. She shook her head. "No they don't. It's nothing compared to the other the injuries I had in the past…"
Cloud turned away. "Hm. Liar," he said with a hint of humor in his voice.
Tifa was surprised. "Liar? What about you, Mr. Worry-wart?" she played back, glaring playfully at him.
Cloud frowned at the comment. He wasn't a worry wart. They stared at each other for a while. Then, they started laughing for no reason, letting their moment of joy dampen the quiet atmosphere. After their laughs died down, they became silent again, their eyes now turned upwards to look at the sky.
After everything they had been through, they still were talking as if he hadn't left. It's as if their relationship returned to what it was. It seemed as if all the troubles they had been experiencing were put aside and live for the present.
Cloud did a lot of reflecting during the passed two days. During those times, he felt as if all the guilt he had were lifted out of his being. They were still there. But, he could live through them and embrace them now. He was stronger. He felt all his problems had left him completely.
He looked at Tifa once again.
Well, not all the problems.
"So," Tifa said thoughtfully, breaking the silence. "What happens now…?"
"What…happens now?" he asked himself thoughtfully. There was nothing left now that he was able to fight his inner devils. Sephiroth was defeated, the remnants gone, and the issue of his past set behind him. He knew whatever demons he had to face will return someday. But, he will be prepared for them this time.
The cool breeze came in. He looked at her once again. It was then Cloud began to realize something. Memories flooded through his mind as he remembered that day 2 years ago, before the final fight against Sephiroth. Tifa and him were alone like this, surrounded by nature, looking at the stars above. The words they exchanged on that day were still on his mind.
Tifa stood a bit far away from him, her back turned to him, her hands clasped behind her.
"Hmm... But that's all right, even if no one comes back. As long as I'm with you...as long as you're by my side... I won't give up even if I'm scared."
" No matter how close we are...we were for apart... before this. But when we were in the Lifestream surrounded by all those screams of anguish, I thought I heard your voice..." He watched her duck her head, sniffing, as if she were crying. "…You probably won't remember this... But deep in my heart I heard you calling my name... Or at least I thought I did..."
He looked down. "Yeah... At the time I heard you calling me. You were calling me back from the stream of consciousness in the Lifestream. After all, I promised. That if anything were to ever happen to you, I would come to help."
He watched her lift her head to the stars. "Cloud...? Do you think the stars can hear us? Do you think they see how hard we're fighting for them?"
"I dunno," he responded. "But...whether they are or not, we still have to do what we can. And believe in ourselves... Someday we'll find the answer. Right, Tifa?
That's what I learned from you when I was in the Lifestream."
"Yeah...... that's right..."
He looked at Tifa momentarily, nervousness in his eyes. "Hey Tifa...... I...... There are a lot of things I wanted to talk to you about. But now that we're together like this, I don't know what I really wanted to say... I guess nothing's changed at all... Kind of makes you want to laugh..."
"Cloud," she said. "Words aren't the only thing that tell people what you're thinking..."
"Cloud, you're smiling."
"It all starts now. A new…"Cloud looked for the right words. "A new life. I'm going to live. I think that's the only way I can be forgiven. All sorts of things… happened."
"But when I think about how many times I've thought about how I was going to start a new life, it's funny."
"Because I've always failed everything."
"That's not funny."
"After this … I think I'll be okay."
Cloud was silent for a long time before he spoke again. "Because I have you this time."
Tifa laughed at the notion, shaking her head. "You've always had me."
"What I mean is kind of different," Cloud answered with another smile.
They were at Forgotten City, visiting the place where there dearly departed friend had been laid to rest. Tifa leaned against the edges of the water, her eyes overflowed with tears. "I'm sorry…I'm really sorry…"
Cloud placed his hand on her shoulder firmly, as if he didn't want her to go anywhere.
"For now, I'll just let myself cry as much as I want. I'll leave the rest in his hands. I just didn't know what I should do," she thought.
When Tifa and Cloud were alone, Cloud said, "It's not like you to be troubled by your thoughts."
"It's… Just the way I am."
"No. You're much more cheerful and strong. If you've forgotten the way you were then, I'll be there to remind you."
"You really will?"
"Probably," Cloud said blushing.
"And you're wrong, Cloud."
Cloud was perplexed as he looked at Tifa.
"Aerith didn't bring Denzel to you."
"Ahh, I only thought that….."
"I didn't mean it that way."
"Aerith brought Denzel to our home."
Cloud gazed at Tifa and finally smiled.
Memories of the past went through his mind as he continued to glance at her, like he always did. Just thinking back, they had been through a lot during these passing months. The many paths they took were confusing ones. After the defeat of Sephiroth, the world was peaceful. With this peacefulness, though, whatever sins they committed, whatever memories that they were trying to lock finally came out into the open. It took them months to find their place in the world, trying to live with their guilt. But, through thick and thin, they were always together, supporting each other through the hard times. He felt guilty for bringing her grief during the last few weeks, but everything turned out right in the end.
He looked down to see Tifa's free hand lying gently on the ground, noting the wolf ring on her finger.
He was always hesitant when he noticed things change. Uncertainty always played in his mind, weighing the pros and cons, preventing him from doing anything. Even if he decided on a course of action, he was still hesitating, thinking of the consequences. But, when he looked at Tifa, just like that, the uncertainty just disappeared.
"I swore to myself that I'll protect her…"
Cloud remembered his promise to protect her, to Marlene, to Denzel, to Tifa, and most of all, to himself, no matter where he was. He knew he let her down a couple of times, but she never hold it against him. She knew he was trying.
He wanted to be the one to cheer her up when she was not being her cheerful self. He wanted to be there to take away her pain. He wanted to be there for her because he cares for her greatly. Her words from the past still affect him today. It truly made him feel whole.
Just thinking of her made him smile genuinely. Maybe it was time to start over again. He hadn't dwelled on it that much in the past. Or rather, he did not know how to react or how to come about it. But now, he was certain.
Courageously, he slowly reached for her hand.
"…it's time for change…"
Tifa's eyes widened, gasping inwardly, as she felt his hand clasped over hers. She looked down to see his bare hands over hers, warm and soft. She wanted a good explanation and automatically looked into his eyes. He was smiling shyly at her, with such tenderness in his eyes she never seen before. It was shocking to see him look at her in such a loving way. Without a second thought, she intertwined her hands with his, not breaking her gaze. Before she could say anything else, soft, warm lips were over hers.
For a while, they stayed like that, basking into their newfound step of their relationship they neglected for so long. Slowly, he pulled away. He did not stop looking at her as he watched her open her eyes. They stare at each other for a moment, not knowing what to do.
Had he gone too far? He remembered her words, how words are not the only thing that could tell a person's emotions. He couldn't articulate his overwhelming feelings for her. He was novice when it comes to relationships. After all, he did spend most of his teenage life in a test tube. Maybe he was being too forward.
What if Tifa rejected him? What if she was mad at him and would never speak to him again? He didn't know what to do. He didn't want to lose the friendship they shared. Their relationship means a lot to him, far more precious than life itself. He didn't want to lose her.
Tifa could see the apprehension in his eyes. He was just nervous as she was. She didn't want to tread on it before because she was hesitant too. She didn't want to push Cloud and make him push her away.
Slowly, without hesitation, a shy smile appeared on her face as her eyes brightened, cheeks blushing.
Cloud's eyes widened. Seeing her smile like that meant one thing to Cloud. She had no idea how relieved he was. Gently, he released the hold on her hand and gently wrapped his arms around her shoulders, pulling her close to him. She let her head settle comfortably on his shoulder.
"Is this…okay?" Cloud asked. He had to make sure.
"Mm," she murmured approvingly as she leaned more into him.
The only sound that came across the two was the sounds of their breathing.
"You know," Tifa said suddenly. "This is my first time…"
"In a relationship…"
Cloud smiled at that. He was also oddly relieved. "Hm…this is the first time for me too…"
"You know this will change things between us," she noted as she looked at him. "Aren't…you worried if things don't work out for us?"
Cloud did not answer for a moment. What if things don't work out? Slowly, he looked at her squarely in her eyes with a determined look glowing in his eyes. There was no turning back now.
"I'm tired of worrying." He placed his forehead onto hers.
"This…I'm sure of." He knew he shocked her beyond belief with his intense look. Nonetheless, this was what he truly wanted. Slowly, a smile appeared on her face as she nodded her head, accepting his answer wholeheartedly.
"I'm sure too…"
With a small smile on his lips, he leaned in and kissed her once more.
Author's Note: Well, there you have it. The excerpts you find italized in this story is the actual quote(s) from the game (the last night before the final showdown) and the Case of Tifa, which both rightfully belongs Square Enix, by the way. I decided to put these quotes in to show the dynamics of their relationship, in a sense. Again, the idea of this story began after reading the revised version of "Case of Tifa." Honestly, I'm confused where their relationship is at. Though there are some hints. Well, this how I see it. They're probably together, it's just that they don't know how to come about it. After all, this is their first time in a relationship. It's very subtle, so I'm not too sure. But, I decided to write out my take on it and how they will come about it. I had some problems with the time slot. I wanted to give them time but decided that two days should be enough. I decided that Tifa's injuries still remain, even after the two day duration. I just wanted to add it in just to showcase how protective Cloud is over her. Cloud does come home during those two days, just that he was doing deliveries and thinking, you know since a lot of things did happen during ACC. So, it will take a while for everyone to take in, especially Cloud who is the boarding guru. As for the cliff scenario, I think Cloud never mentioned to Tifa that Zack died there. After all, in the game, when they went to Nibeilheim again, after Cloud recovers from the mako poisoning, it looked like the flashback was for his eyes only. But I might be wrong. I haven't played the game for a while, so my mind's pretty fuzzy on that part. I decided to have them on the cliff because I felt like it. Well, mainly because I just wanted to show Cloud moved on from his past and that they're relationship is a new start of their journey, similar to how Cloud started off his journey in Final Fantasy VII.
I had to go reread this fic ten times to make sure it sounds right. The ending wasn't too good either because again, I didn't know how to end it. So forgive me for that.
As you can tell in some parts of the story, I finally got my hands on Final Fantasy VII ACC. Loved it! So I added some stuff in there. Any opinions or some feedback anyone can give me to wipe away this confusion? Let me know. Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed this story. Until next time, see ya! ^_^