There is no good reason I can give any of you for not updating this story sooner. I could say life got carried away. Things bled into one another and to top it off my laptop practically died on me. I am here for the conclusion of this story that so many of you have deemed enjoyable. This will be the last chapter and though I am sad to see it end also, all good things must end. So here it is. And I will try to make it as long as possible for you. I love you all and thanks so much for liking my story!
Disclaimer: Square Enix unfortunately wouldn't sell me the rights to their characters. Not even for a large pack of Pochy.. What is the world coming too?
= Chapter Thirteen: The Beginning =
To say that after a magical night spent with the man of her dreams wasn't truly beautiful would be an understatement. She couldn't even remember how many times she'd lay awake wondering if there was any chance at all that he would love her back. Often at times, she would feel as though she was watching him through a window. Seeing everything he was, but never being able to touch it. But now she caressed his flaws and good qualities with vigor.
Well except for the fact that he had just made love to her in the bathroom early in the morning. While Yuffie and Reno were sleeping. And somehow after all the love and love making, they ended up falling asleep on the cold tile ground. Cloud was hunched up against the wall. His head resting on the edge of the tub. Tifa was sprawled out over him. Laying face down and her head resting on his chest. She knew she would have a sore neck the second she moved. But this, this seemed worth it to her.
Before Tifa could even begin to move, Cloud was already stirring beneath her. She didn't really want to move. Both from the pain she would soon feel from the way she slept and from the feeling of being in his arms and knowing she wasn't dreaming. Taking a deep breath she picked her head up and looked deep into his eyes. And just like that she felt her heart racing. Funny how just the deep gaze of his eyes could do that to her. She supposed that this was what it was like. To be in love.
"Morning, beautiful." She heard him say to her. She paused for a moment and looked at him. Wait a second. His lips didn't even move. Her eyes widened for a minute. What the heck was going on? Cloud must have sensed her hysteria because he took her face in his hand and kissed her lips lightly. She responded but only lightly to keep the kiss short and soft not wanting to cloud her thoughts with his desirable kisses. She knew if they began they were probably not going to stop. And she was still feeling a little bit of panic. After the kiss ended they pulled away and she took a deep breath.
Am I going crazy? She thought to herself.
"No Tifa, you aren't going crazy." She heard Cloud say. This time his mouth moved. Only she was pretty positive her own lips didn't move at all. This time Tifa pushed herself off of Cloud and sat back on her own backside. So the floor was cool and her body was extremely warm. She barely noticed as it seemed her head began to race once more. What the hell was happening?
Cloud knew he made a mistake. One he'd made before but Tifa had brushed it off then. Now..This was different now. What the heck was he supposed to say?
"Teef, I need to tell you something." She heard Cloud begin. Tifa wasn't sure if she wanted to listen. She was a bit shaken up and it was still early in the morning for her. Having not gotten much sleep, she was sure her brain was still in sleep mode. She rose from the ground and pulled the complimentary robe off the hook from behind the bathroom door and pulled it on violently.
Tifa then turned to Cloud with her arms crossed. "Tell me what Cloud?"
She heard him taking a deep breath. She could tell he seemed somewhat nervous. What was he going to say? She concentrated on standing there and continued to look at him intently.
"I..Tifa, I can hear your..ah thoughts.." He said simply. She could see his face and shoulders drop in regret after he spoke. Not in regret for telling her. But in regret for not saying something sooner.
"You..what? Cloud, that's crazy. You can't hear my thoughts. I've known you forever.." An image of her first day in Nibelheim and meeting Cloud flashed into her thoughts.
"Tifa, you just thought about the first day we met. You know, the day you moved to Nibelheim."
If Tifa could see herself, she imagined her jaw probably having fallen on the ground. How did he do that? She raised an eyebrow and thought about something completely random. Laundry, that she had left in the dryer at home.
"Was it my clothes or yours?" He asked sheepishly still not looking at her.
Tifa brought her hand to her mouth. "How..how long?"
Cloud inhaled sharply."Since I got back from Mideel. The day after."
Tifa was stricken. He had heard almost everything then, hadn't he? All her thoughts about him, her dreams, her..fantasies. He had heard her pathetic cries for him to love her. In that short time, Cloud Strife had seen her stripped naked, mentally. She took a deep shaky breath. "How, did this happen?"
Cloud rubbed the back of his neck absently. "That guy I delivered flowers to, the one with the daughter's wedding," Tifa nodded. "Well he gave me some sort of wish tonic." He watched her eyebrows raise. "I know I thought he was pulling my leg. But that night at the bar, I tried some of it. And I wished for something. Actually I must have worded it wrong." He stepped forward and grabbed her hand. "Honestly Tifa, I just wanted the courage to tell you how I felt about you."
She shook him off of her. "What did you wish?"
"I said, 'I wish I knew what Tifa thinks about me.' And the next morning I could hear your thoughts."
Tifa blushed trying to remember. "What..um what was I thinking?"
Cloud returned her blush and in a soft voice he said, " 'Harder Cloud'. I actually didn't know that it had come from you at first. Somehow I heard your thoughts through the bathroom wall and I wasn't even standing that close."
Tifa was unsure of just how to respond to this whole thing. She wanted to be accepting but there was something she just couldn't get passed. Did Cloud love Tifa because he loved her? Or was it because he knew she loved him and thought that since no one else did maybe he should just settle for her.
Of course Tifa was being highly irrational. But she couldn't think straight. He lied to her. OK maybe not lied, but he kept something from her. What if he used it against her? Her mind was reeling into overdrive. She couldn't keep her thoughts from molding together. Without thinking she thought to herself, 'He never loved me did he?' Cloud's eyes widened but before he could speak, Tifa wrapped a towel around her frame and stormed out of the bathroom.
Tears clouded her eyes but she kept moving until she was in her bedroom. She locked the door behind her for good measure. Already knowing if Cloud wanted to he could tear the door off its hinges.
Cloud only sat there a minute or so after Tifa left. He couldn't believe what he had just heard. Did she really think that way? Why? Why didn't she just trust him? He ran a hand through his hair and sighed deeply. What went wrong? He leaned back against the bathtub. The cool ceramic barely registered as he began to think deeply.
He knew she would want to be left alone. She needed time to cool off. He was rational enough not to chance going after her. Both in fear that she would hit him and that she would reject him. She hadn't said she didn't want him anymore. And it was that hope that he desperately clung to.
Cloud got up and pulled on his boxers. He needed time to think. He left the bathroom and walked right by Reno who yelled something to him. Not caring, Cloud headed for the small path behind the cabin that led to the beach.
It was early morning still. Not many people out and about. Cloud took a deep breath and dropped onto the sand pathetically. He needed to fix things. But how was he supposed to do that when she didn't even want to see him?
"Give her time man.." came a voice above him. Cloud looked up and his vision was full of a male body clothed in a navy blue SOLIDER suit. Zack?
Cloud's eyes widened. "Zack?"
The dark haired male smirked and pulled Cloud up. The two were facing one another. They both came to the same height, though Zack was maybe an inch taller. Zack continued to smirk as he spoke again. "Hey Cloud."
Cloud frowned. Why was Zack here? And why did it seem like he was taunting him with that smirk? "How...why?"
Zack sighed. "Doesn't matter. Look man, you love Tifa right?" Cloud stared at him for a moment and then nodded in agreement. "Then you just have to let her calm down. It was stupid of you to keep it from her. But you guys have to move passed this." He frowned hard. "I'm getting sick of watching the two of you almost make it only for something else to disrupt it. It's like watching a freaking Soap Opera!"
Cloud couldn't stop the smile that was on his face. Neither could he stop the laugh that burst from him as he thought about what Zack had said. "You..watch Soap Operas?"
Zack's eyebrows narrowed. "That isn't the point."
Cloud continued to laugh. He eventually calmed down enough to speak although a little out of breath from laughing. "Does Aerith have something to do with this?" He asked suspiciously.
Zack grinned. "Oh you know her. She likes to play matchmaker. OW!" He cried out as he felt a slap behind him. Both males turned to find Aerith standing there scolding the two of them like two children caught doing something bad.
"Zack, you've done all you can." She shouted at him and then turned to Cloud even madder. "You! Open your eyes. Tifa loves you. She is just confused because she doesn't realize how much you love her or what you've done to prove that. So tell her!" Aerith's anger melted away and she smiled brightly. "You can fix this Cloud. You just have to try." She placed her hand on his shoulder and kissed his cheek. "Goodbye..."
When Cloud opened his eyes, he saw the two were gone. He shook his head. What the hell just happened? Shrugging off the visits from ghosts he turned back to the cabin already planning what to do and where to go next.
When he entered the cabin he was punched in the face. Not necessarily how he wanted things to go. But regardless he opened the door and was socked in the face. And hard too. He stumbled back and looked up to see Reno standing there with a cocky grin on his face. Cloud reeled and slammed his own fist into Reno's knocking the smile right off of it. Reno stumbled. "What the hell?" Cloud said once he had calmed a bit. His eye throbbed but he tightened his fist again.
Reno smirked. "You hurt her you know."
Cloud stopped and looked up. "What's it to you?"
Reno shrugged. "Now she won't think so highly of you. Maybe she will finally agree to go on a date with me. Now that you aren't going to be her knight in shining armor anymore." He grinned.
Cloud stepped forward and punched Reno in the gut sending the Turk backward into the wall. "Don't even try it Reno. Tifa is mine." He growled and went to the bedroom door. He knocked on it as gently as he could.
"Go away." He heard Yuffie say.
Cloud spoke. "Yuffie, I'm coming in. Whether you like it or not."
"Go away Cloud." Yuffie yelled through the door.
"I'm coming in. I suggest you and Tifa step away from the door." He moved back and slammed against it with his shoulder. The door burst open and he stumbled inwards. Once he regained his footing he looked up. Tifa was on the bed in shorts and a t shirt. Yuffie beside the girl rubbing her back as tears came from Tifa's eyes.
"Yuffie. Leave." He said softly. Yuffie looked at Tifa curiously. The brunette looked back at her then at Cloud. She sniffled and nodded. Yuffie got up and left the room shooting Cloud a look of venom. Cloud came over and sat beside her on the bed. Tifa pulled back a bit.
"Tifa. Get dressed." He said in a gentle and loving tone. She looked up at him with swollen eyes. She was about to tell him off when he continued. "We need to talk and I am not doing it here. With them in the other room." He stood up and held out his hand. "Please Tifa. Just allow me to explain." He watched her for a minute as she appeared to be in thought. She was thinking it over carefully.
After some time, Tifa wiped her eyes and stood up. Without his assistance. She went to her luggage and pulled out some sweat pants. Cloud frowned. "Tifa, just put on something nice." She shot him a look and he cringed. "Please, just do this and then we'll go." He left the room.
He sat down on the couch and put his feet up. his heart was beating erratically. Take one step at a time. He thought over and over. He waited for five minutes until the bedroom door opened and Tifa stepped out. She was dressed in her black skirt and signature white top. Her boots and arm gloves in tact. Cloud sighed. She was being her defiant self.
Cloud walked to her and nodded. "Alright? Let's get going."
"What about our stuff?" She let out in a somewhat hoarse whisper.
Cloud stiffened. Her voice had gotten sore because of him. "We will come back for them. Let's go." He said softly.
They went out the front and he stopped at Fenrir. The two got on and Cloud sped off in the direction of Nibelheim. Tifa took note of this and wondered what this man was planning.
They arrive at the entrance to Nibelheim, but Cloud still didn't stop. He kept going until he came to the mountains. The beginning of the mountains stared them in the face. A place where so many memories were born. He turned off Fenrir and dismounted. Tifa pushed herself off without allowing him the opportunity to help.
She walked around a bit. Just taking in the sights. Before long, she spoke. "You remember that day when I came to the mountains? When we were younger?"
He nodded. Of course he did. That was the whole reason for everything.
She continued. "I was so scared. And sad. I really thought perhaps my mother had come here when she died." She paused and took a deep breath. "That day, even though you don't think so, was the day that I fell in love with you. You tried so hard to save me. The others had abandoned me and proved just how good of friends they were."
"We both got hurt though Teef."
Tifa smirked. "Thought you only got scraped knees?" She teased. Cloud smiled and she continued. "Either way Cloud, you wanted to save me and you tried really hard. I remember that."
Cloud nodded and walked over to her. He ran his hand through her hair and wrapped his hand beneath her chin gently. "Did you know I was in love with you?"
He watched as she looked up at him with wide eyes. He just kept going. All the while staring into her eyes. "I watched you with the others. Always so beautiful and happy. And you weren't cruel. You were sweet and likable. Everyone liked you.."
Tifa blushed and licked her lips.
"I thought my heart stopped when you began to fall off the bridge. I didn't know what to do. After wards I realized that I wasn't strong enough to save you. I needed to be stronger. So I went and joined SOLDIER."
"For me." It wasn't a question. Just a realization." Cloud nodded and Tifa felt new tears sliding down her face. Joyful tears. "You loved me for so long."
He shook his head. "No Teef, I still love you. I always have. Maybe since we met that day. But there has never been another. I have never wanted to be with, to touch, to laugh with, or to hold more than you Tifa Lockheart." He brushed her tears away and kissed her lips deeply.
When the kiss broke Tifa shivered in his arms. "I am so sorry for not believing you Cloud. I just didn't want to feel my heart breaking..."
Cloud smiled. "I will never let that happen. In fact, maybe I'll just marry you to prove that I would never leave you."
Tifa stopped and looked up at him. "Wh..what? Cloud did you just ask me to marry you?"
He grinned even bigger now and kissed her lips lightly. "Yes. So what is your answer then, Ms, Lockheart?"
Tifa bit her bottom lip and then smiled. "I think you should start calling me Mrs. Strife." She replied and pulled him against her. They kissed deeply and passionately. Neither one backing down as they continued to see who's love had more willpower behind it. In the end, neither one won. They both became caught up in one another as they began a new life. Together.
A/N: Cheesy ending? Pft I happen to like it. Once again apologies for making you all wait so long. But this is the end, actually, this is the beginning. For Cloud and Tifa. Love you all. And take care.
Ja Ne. Xoxox