This now has its own prequel, and Forevermare suggested that I write e equal… maybe I will. I need to sit and look at a blank page for a while to decide whether or not anything will come out!
She sometimes dreamt of him, though he was never a clear figure. He stood dark, his outline hazy, still and silent. And it fanned the fire of her curiosity. Why was he there?
She would wake, raising a hand to rub her eyes and drag her fingers through her hair, frustrated. She had to know. What was her dream trying to tell her?
Then it became more frequent. She could guarantee it almost every night. It would be more vivid too, if she had recently visited him, when his imprint was fresh in her mind.
He lived close by, only a short walk across town, and through the park. It was October, and getting cold. People she passed wore heavy coats and scarves, and she too had dug out her winter coat from the back of her wardrobe to protect her from the harsh wind. The blustery weather was picking up the dried leaves that had fallen, sending them swirling in the air in a spectrum of oranges, reds and yellows. She found herself smiling a little, as she kicked through piles in her boots; it felt good, and free.
His door was inauspicious, much like the others in his neighbourhood. Brown wood, brass knocker, marbled glass panels that distorted the interior. She watched his black shape on the other side, unlocking the door. He raised his eyebrows at seeing her, immediately stepping to one side to allow her to enter.
"Good afternoon," He said, closing the door to the cold and offering to take her coat. She thanked him, giving him her usual kiss on the cheek, and then passing him to enter his kitchen.
She came here a few times a week at least, to have tea with him, chat about their day. She saw him as a friend, someone she found immense solace in. Her flat mate Aime was never at home; she was always at work, or out with her boyfriend. They rarely talked these days, unless perchance they crossed in the hall. Tifa accepted her tea from him mumbling her thanks, wrapping her cold hands around the hot mug. He lowered himself into the chair opposite her with a slight grunt, glancing up at her as she cleared her throat.
"How is Aime?" He inquired as usual, to which she would usually respond; 'fine', or a 'not seen her'.
"She is on vacation," She said this time. "With Phillip." Phillip being her boyfriend.
"I see. Is there an occasion?"
"It's their anniversary," She paused, licked her lips. "I think… Aime might move out soon." Tifa swallowed.
"To live with Phillip?" His eyes flicked upwards for a fraction of a second.
"Yes. I guess then I'll have to find another lodger or… move out. I won't manage the rent on my own." She dared not even look hopeful. Vincent liked his own space. Perpetually being in her presence would be his idea of a nightmare.
"And also, Cloud called," She stated, running a hand through her long hair. She should cut it really; it was to her waist again, getting too much to handle.
"Oh." Vincent raised a perfect eyebrow, staring at the knots in the wooden surface of his table. "Are you-"
"Alright? I'm fine." Her response was a little too curt. "Well, not so angry if that's what you were referring to."
"Is he well?"
"I think so. It's best for him to keep his distance."
"I suppose that is what he has always done." If you knew the irony of your words, Vincent.
Tifa smiled gently, sipping at her tea, surveying him carefully over her cup. He was so beautiful, Vincent. His dark hair had recently been cut on her suggestion, and it framed his face nicely. That damned cloak had long been forgotten, and she enjoyed still, the sight of his sensitive mouth. The amber of his eyes was startling, especially now in the autumn sunshine, burning in through his kitchen window.
"He asked about you," She added thoughtfully after a moment.
"He did?" Genuine surprise.
"He wanted to know if you and I were… well. Anything."
"And you said?"
Tifa licked her lips. "I said what we are: Friends."
"I see." Vincent's expression seemed to give nothing away, though in the years she had known him, and gotten to understand what the subtle changed in his demeanour meant, she noticed the slightest thing that gave him away. The lowering of his eyes, the least trace of a sigh, meant disappointment. The tightening of his lips meant displeasure.
"That bothers you?"
"Vincent…" She shifted her chair closer. His lips stretched a little thinner, his eyebrows moving a little closer together. He clenched his fingers. Discomfort. She raised her hand to his face, taking his chin between her index finger and thumb, turning his averted face towards her. "You know I value you as my friend."
"You infuriate me, at times, though. I know you better than you think I do."
"Is that so?" That downward glance again, wider eyes. Fear.
"I think you have something to say."
"I think you are wrong." He turned his gaze away.
It was her turn to get angry, though her expression was more blatant. "Vincent, you stubborn bastard. You know I care about you,"
His expression softened, though that troubled veneer behind his eyes never went away. "Yes. I know," He said softly.
"If you don't care for me, why don't you ever say? I could get over you, move on to someone else who-"
"Tifa!" She knew he wouldn't like that. His pupils dilate a little. He is always afraid that one day, she won't come knocking on his door, enter his house and fill his kitchen with her warmth, and her slightly more invasive questions. "Please. I just…"
"What is it? Is there something wrong with me?"
"No it's not that-"
"Cloud thinks we should be together... I… I don't want him dictating my decision."
"So even if you wanted to be with me, you wouldn't?"
"If the answer to that is yes, then I promise I won't bother you with my presence again!" She stood quickly, knocking the table in her haste. The tea sloshed over the side of her mug. Striding into the hall and grabbing her coat as she went, she reached for the door handle. As her fingers closed around the cold of the doorknob, he took her roughly by the upper arm, pulling himself around her, blocking her exit.
His chest was heaving; fear, desperation, a little anger were all etched into his body language, and his face, his beautiful, saddened face. He waited a moment before speaking.
"Tifa." His hand remained tightly on the door handle. "Please… you know that that is not what I want. If you really mean it, then I will let you go."
"You know what you don't want, but not what you do. That's messed up Vincent. And you know it's not what I want. But I need an answer. It's driving me crazy."
"I know you have been angry with me for some time now. I just wish I knew what I have done to displease you." His eyes were voidless, full of regret, and pain.
The anger abated somewhat, replaced by guilt. "It's… I can't really explain it."
"Please try." He moved away from the door a little, gesturing towards his living room. She heaved a sigh, though obliged him, landing heavily on the sofa, hands folded in her lap.
"Recently, I have been having these dreams…"
"I see you. You are stood over me, but I can't quite make you out, and you never talk, you never move. It's just you: Just there. Sometimes I see you, and you smile at me, and…" she blushed before continuing. "Sometimes I dream you are about to kiss me. But it never happens. I always wake up."
He said nothing, instead standing and crossing to the window. The street was lined with vast trees, barren of their leaves. From where she sat, she could see the leaves swirling past, the sunlight setting everything on fire. Then he left the room, opening the front door.
"Vincent?" She followed him, jogging to catch up. He walked ahead of her, towards the park. "Hey! Where are we going?"
"To your house."
She struggled with her lock, propping the door open with her foot to allow him to pass her into her hallway. He didn't visit her house often, and she assumed there was some kind of significance in his desire to visit. He gestured to the stairs, and frowning, she followed him. He was leading her to her bedroom.
"I have seen this room many a time." He said after a while. Her pale curtains were drawn still, though the hazy red sun filtered through. He pulled them open, the light hitting his pale skin. So beautiful.
"You have never been in my room before."
"I know. But I… I also dream." He stared, unseeing, out of the window. "I dream that we are… but I can never hope to replace Cloud-" She placed her hand on his chest, sighing heavily at his words.
"Vincent. Cloud and I never had anything. He never allowed it. Just like you won't allow it."
"I'm totally unlike you. I like solitude, silence… I'm… I'm not good enough for you, Tifa. You need-"
"I need you. Don't you understand how much it hurts? Everyday, I wake up from the same fucking dream. It's not just about sex, Vincent, believe me, that's not so hard to find. I just want to be with you. You are my closest friend, and I understand that by me doing this, I could risk losing you. But you have to understand, I need to try. Because it's killing me."
"Fuck him! We made a choice, years ago, to go our separate ways. And what about Lucrecia? You think that hasn't bothered me?" His jaw tightened. "You listen to me, you sometimes laugh with me, when you forget about being so uptight. We have fun don't we?"
He nodded curtly. It had been almost two since She and Cloud had separated, agreed to remain friends; though distantly. And it had worked well. The occasional phone call, meeting at the holidays a few times a year until it had gotten easy, and all her doubts and remaining sadness had been quashed, only to be replaced by more doubt and sadness; because Vincent just didn't seem to see her.
She had actually taken the chance in confiding in Cloud, who had given her some insight. For that she was grateful, and from it, she had become a little more forgiving of Cloud. He may not have loved her, but he still cared.
"I'm getting closer to thirty Vincent. I am- no we- we are too old to be beating about the bush like this. Just tell me straight. I can handle it. I have done it once before, I can do it again."
"I would never upset you, like Cloud did." His tone was hurt. Of course, he knew how broken she had been; he had been there for her, treat her with kindness, listened to her. From then on, they had become firm friends, enjoying the detached silences they could share. She knew he wasn't the most outward person. And he knew she would respect that. At that moment though, she needed to lose that patience, the respect for his introverted personality.
"I need to know, Vincent." His guard was lowered; she moved closer, her palms flat to his chest. Gazing up into his eyes, she saw his pupils dilate wider, darting around her face. Never stayed too close for long. It hurt her to do so, sometimes. But oh god, he was warm, he smelt clean and fresh, of shampoo, of faint cologne, and of the crisp autumn air outside.
"I am way past thirty now. Does my age not bother you?"
"No. What's the next excuse?"
"Tifa… What if it… what if it doesn't work out between us? I also fear to lose you… as a friend."
She smiled gently, toying with a loose thread in his shirt. "Oh Vincent… I think we shouldn't worry about that. I don't intend on letting you go."
He returned her smile weakly, relaxing a little, touching his fingers to her face. She closes her eyes at the contact, and he enjoyed the effect of his touch on her, moving her hair aside. It felt good to be honest with her for once, to not have to maintain a distance. It was tiring to stay away from her, when all he wanted was to make what he dreamt a reality.
He took the moment that her eyes were closed to lean in and kiss her softly. She gasps at the contact, pulling him closer with fistfuls of his shirt, their bodies now flush against each other. She returned the kiss hungrily, though there was an air of uncertainty hanging between them- who would take it further, if it indeed was going to go further? For Vincent, lowering his guard, allowing her so close after wanting her for so long was driving him crazy. He became conscious of her sharp hip bones pressing against him, of her cold fingers touching his neck, his shoulders, trailing tantalisingly under the confines of the fabric of his shirt, until his state of mind was sure to become apparent to her. She pulled back for a moment, hot breath caressing his cheek, her half lidded eyes watching him carefully. He grit his teeth and let a slow breath out of his nose. So she had noticed.
"I'm sorry," -came his flustered apology, his cheeks heating. "I shouldn't-" She pressed her finger to his lips, smiling gently, pulling herself closer to him. He groaned involuntarily at the pressure against him. God, how much he had wanted this. His dreams never even came this close…
"There is nothing to be ashamed of," She whispered, standing on her tip toes to allow her lips to brush his ear, her fingers slipping down past his belt, his pants and-
"Tifa-" He suppressed his shiver. "A-are you su-sure? You said you d-didn't want…"
"I said it wasn't just the sex-" His belt came free easily, fell with a heavy clunk on the floor. Taking his face in her hands she teased his lips apart, her tongue slipping past them to brush softly against his. He moaned against her, holding her, wanting her more than he had ever wanted anything in his life.
He lifted her off her feet, effortlessly manoeuvring to her bed and laying her on her back. She made quick work of his shirt, tearing it from his shoulders. He removed her clothes, and she almost cried at how good it felt to feel his mouth moving over his skin; her throat, jaw, breasts, stomach, hips and…
He returned to kiss her mouth, her fingers working their way into his hair, gripping it tightly, tightly holding him to her with her thighs. "Vincent," She moaned breathlessly, as his mouth moved along her jaw line to her ear.
"Yes?" He paused to look at her. "Is something wrong? Am I- Do you want to stop?"
She laughed, shaking her head. "No, you idiot. Just… I've been ready for months."
He kissed her forehead, gripping her fingers tightly in his, her arms pinned above her head, as he slowly entered her. She winced a little, her pleasure tinged with the pain; it had been too long, too long had she wanted this, too long had she been without the stupid physical things. They lost meaning, until she knew how much she wanted Vincent. Until she knew this.
They were chest to chest, cheek to cheek, moving together in a slow, gentle rhythm. After years of nothing, years of want, of dreaming about this moment, she found herself overwhelmed, sobbing a little through her moans, her fingers tightly gripping his skin.
She came to her climax after what felt like too short a time; she didn't want it to be over, didn't want to re-open the distance between them. She whispered his name with each breath, kissing his shoulder, as he groaned out his release, her spasming muscles crashing down around him too much to bear any longer.
He pushed himself up onto his elbows, kissing her face gently, wiping away her tears with his thumb. Her brown eyes reflected the red of the dying autumn sun, gazing up at him, the warmth of her body almost too wonderful to be true. He pressed his lips to hers firmly, the aftershock of his orgasm dying away. "I love you, Tif. You know that don't you?"
"Yes. I do." She smiled serenely, brushing back his hair. "Make no mistake, I have always loved you."
The sun went down over the crests of the trees and houses in the neighbourhood surrendering at last, to rise again on the other side of the horizon hours later, on a new day. A new, fresh autumn sun.
Minor edit took place on 06/11/2012