Title: Beautiful Ending
Warning: Allusions to sex, nothing graphic, and possible Dissidia spoilers.
Prompt: Crossover Dissidia/Final Fantasy VII, Cloud/Tifa: Amnesia-- Memory was fickle, gifting him with mere snapshots of recall... but he knew she was important. Necessary. His. (Written for Spring Kink)
Summary: Though he couldn't even remember her name, she was the dream he was fighting for.
A/N: This prompt was the latest Ive ever taken in turning one in, and it was also the reason why I have disappeared from ffnet for a while. Three midterms and a project caught up to me last week, sucking away my precious writing time too, so that'll teach me to not take on prompts due the same day too. I really tried to work the prompt as best I could, but I'm not sure if it came out the way I wanted it to, so apologies if it doesn't work as smoothly as we'd all like and because there's no actual smut in the fic. Also, the fic was inspired by bits of the song of the same name by BarlowGirl. Half of the dialogue are actual things from AC and Dissidia.
Disclaimer: I dont own Final Fantasy VII or Dissidia. No money is being made off of the characters in this fiction.(I had forgotten about this)
A/N: I e-mailed ffnet for a crossover category that had Dissidia and FFVII, but have gotten no response yet. For now, itll be posted up on the Dissidia side, since I'm terribly impatient and can't find it in myself to wait for it. Sorry for any typos and/or grammar errors!... Also, I deleted this story about an hour ago because it came out all jumbled up and I needed to get to school. Now, I've edited here while I'm waiting for my first class to start. Sorry for the inconvenience!
The whisper of hands smoothing over his chest made something in him slowly unwind, become surrounded by peace and safety. He could feel that he was in that state when he wasn't awake, but not completely asleep. He could only feel her touch. Strong, gentle, callous. Hands that healed, and comforted. They were warrior hands, but at the same time, they were the hands of someone who nurtured.
"Is it over?" He felt a sweep of soft lips across his jaw, his neck, and finally his lips.
His eyes opened, and he could only stare at her, at those familiar eyes. "What?" She gave him a patient look.
"Are we finally getting our happy ending?"
He wanted to assure her that it was over. That he could finally, finally move on and make her happy the way she deserved. "I think so." But… he didn't know who she was.
"You don't sound so sure," she murmured playfully, lips pulling into a calm smile.
"Who are you talking to?"
Blue eyes came open and the dream—memory—dissolved like mist in his mind, taking with it that soothing voice and those heart-filled eyes. He rubbed a weary hand across his face and stared up at pale, curious blue eyes. "No one," he replied.
Terra smiled and gave him a shrewd look. "It must've been quite an interesting dream," she commented. "You had a look of relief and contentment on your face."
Cloud let out a sigh and shrugged one shoulder. "Can't remember much of it," he replied simply. Just her sweet voice, her eyes, but her name… why couldn't he remember it?
"Maybe you'll have another one like it," Terra said before walking away and rejoining their companions.
"Yeah, maybe," Cloud muttered to himself. He wanted to know who she was. He wanted to know her, how it was that she had come to mean so much to him when all he had were bits and pieces of a puzzle. Memory was fickle, gifting him with mere snapshots of recall... but he knew she was important. Necessary. His. What little memories he had been returned were enough to convince him that he had held her in a special place in his heart.
On the quest for their crystals, they had managed to stop for a few hours to get some rest, but they needed to move on quickly. Cosmo's was counting on them to set things right, and it wouldn't happen if they deviated from their search for too long. He had been trouble from the start of the journey, because then, all that had been familiar to him had been Sephiroth, and he somehow knew that it had been a premeditated look on behalf of the deity. Thoughts of their home worlds would only lead to distraction, but if their memories were returning anyway, that meant that something was happening to Cosmos' power.
He knew that each one of his companions were slowly regaining bits and pieces of what they had left behind when they had been called into battle, but he didn't know them well enough to ask. He trusted them the way someone in the military trusted his unit, but he didn't truly know them in a personal sense. The only thing that had become clear about their group was that they had all found a dream for the future to fight for. He was the only one… without a clear goal in mind.
What was he fighting for?
His encounter with Sephiroth had only left a bitter taste in his mouth, but it had not deterred him from his purpose. The rest of their group knew their reasons to fight, and though Cloud had started the journey lost, he was temporarily sharing a dream with Firion and Terra. He knew that he would eventually figure out his own motivation, but for now it was enough to wish for a world full of wild roses. Flowers. They reminded him of someone else too. But those memories were even vaguer than the ones of his dream woman. The woman with eyes like wine colored jewels, and a smile that had filled his heart with more than just confusion and determination to fight. Maybe she was what he was looking for; his reason for living. Cloud got the feeling that it wasn't the first time that he had been lost without her, but somehow he knew that he had managed to always find his way back to her.
Maybe this time wouldn't be any different. His instincts hadn't failed him so far, and at the moment they were telling him that she was waiting for him back in the world he had left behind. Someone who he would've given anything for. Including his life. That kind of devotion and feelings for someone only came hand in hand with love, didn't it? Seeing her again would become his reason to fight on. This would only get more difficult, but with the clear image of her face in his mind, he knew that he would take care of anything that got in his way. Maybe once everything was over, he would regain the rest of what he had lost and he would know her name, and how she fit into his life. …
Pausing as his companions bickered and teased each other, Cloud stared at the surrounding area. They needed to keep moving, but the memories were coming with more frequency for him since the last few battles. Her voice flowed with the howling wind around him, sometimes full of hope, other times full of disappointment. It killed something inside of him to know that he had caused her even a minimal amount of grief, especially when she seemed to be the one holding them—him—together.
"Don't run. Let's fight it together. We can help each other, I know we can." A pause, and she looked away from him. "I guess that only works for real families."
What had he been running from? Why hadn't she considered them a real family? Cloud hated that all he could receive were snippets, since they usually left him with more questions every single time, but he was glad that the memories were coming in more than one at a time. He didn't… want to see memories of her looking so disappointed and hopeless. She was not meant to be someone who suffered because of him. But… there were other memories after that one, and he just knew that they came after—a long time after when things had gotten better, and he had asked her to marry him…
Laying together, in the warmth of their bed, with only a thin sheet covering a body that he would never tire of touching, Cloud felt an insurmountable amount of love coursing through his body as they watched each other in silence. Their heads were sharing one pillow, and their foreheads were nearly touching. Her cheeks were still flushed from recent exertion, and the long waterfall of her dark silky hair was falling over one of his hands, the strands twisting with his fingers. She smiled and the tips of her fingers brushed across his lips.
"Are you happy, Cloud?" He was. Just the fact that he could lay by her side and not worry about the world coming to an end, or never arriving on time to save her was no longer a burden he carried on his shoulders. Sephiroth was gone, and she was here, now in the circle of his arms, and maybe he could allow himself a sigh of relief. Relief that she was okay, that he had come through for her. She was the reason why he wanted to live and move on.
"If you're here with me, I will always be happy," he replied quietly, drawing her close and into the circle of his arms.
Her breath ghosted over his most recent scars and he could feel her nod, lips brushing over the fading imperfections on his skin. "Me too."
"Then maybe… maybe we should get married," he whispered hesitantly. Her head snapped up and she stared at him in shock. "What?"
"Are you tired, Cloud? Do you need to rest?"
Cloud broke out of his thoughts and turned to Cecil after he realized he had been standing there, staring into space. "No, I'm okay… I was just thinking about something."
The intimate moments kept coming to him, but her name… it was still a big blank and he couldn't figure out why it was so hard for him to recall that if he was able to remember the feel of his hands on her body, of how she arched and called his name, what she tasted like, how she smelled… he needed to stop his line of thoughts unless he wanted to find himself in an embarrassing situation. It was time to move on.
Eventually, his journey to find his crystal put him face to face with the one person that hadn't been erased from his memories. Cloud had speculated with the others that maybe Cosmos had purposely only allowed them to retain the knowledge of their adversaries from their worlds. They needed to be focused on one task and not worrying about everything else they had left behind. Still, if they were regaining memories from their worlds, maybe that meant that something was happening to Cosmos' power.
The battle was a fierce one, and with each clash of his sword, and each hit from Sephiroth, the memories began to resurface with more urgency. A moment under an airship, despair at the thought of dying and not being able to protect her—their family, a moment of rest… of dying. That last one had been a shocker, but he couldn't have imagined what she would've gone through if he had died. The woman with the flowers and the man with eyes like an endless sky had brought him back to life, had offered him a second chance and he had taken full advantage of it. He had returned to his dream woman, had made it up to her, had made her his, and had begged for her forgiveness in his head every time he touched her, kissed her, but he found his absolution every time he was inside her. She always welcomed him with open arms, and Cloud wanted to return to that.
He wanted to go home and he knew that it was only a matter of time. He'd found his reason for fighting. His own words to Sephiroth still echoed in his head as a testament of how serious he was. "What I want most-- I'll find myself." He would find a way home.
"All we have to do is focus on saving this world. This is the center of everything. If we can restore balance here, the other worlds will come back too. We'll all go home, just how it was. Maybe better."
He'd said he had been lying when he said it, but inside he believed and hoped that it wasn't so far off from the truth. After every battle fought, as the end of the world grew closer, the more his memories solidified and he felt more reassurance that everything would go back to normal. They just needed to succeed, and Chaos needed to be defeated. Shutting his eyes to momentarily rest them, with his companions spread about all around him, Cloud felt his body relax as much as he would allow. There was no letting your guard down while everything was in chaos and discord.
They had found refuge in the ruins of The Old Chaos Shrine, and would rest before continuing on their journey. Her face was becoming clearer in the fog of his dreams. The girl—woman—who had been haunting him since the battle to triumph over Chaos had begun. With eyes that glittered in the dark like the most precious rubies, and the curve of a smile, the brief images of her were what he had begun to look forward to every time he closed his eyes.
"Cloud." Her sweet voice echoed in his head.
He made a noise of inquiry, but he didn't look up from the maps spread out in front of him.
"I need to tell you something important."
"What is it?"
"I haven't been feeling well these last few days," she said, setting down the glass she had been drying and approaching him.
Cloud looked up, worry clouding his features. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm okay, but I received some interesting news…" she trailed off and wrung her hands nervously.
"What is it Tifa?"
Cloud broke out of his doze the same way he always had since being pulled into that world. It was abrupt, and too soon. "Damn it," he muttered to himself, rubbing a tired hand across his face.
Cloud started and his eyes settled on Squall, who had been the closest one to Cloud and had been awakened by his mumbling.
"I heard you say her name in your sleep," said Squall, his ever present frown on his face. "Is she someone important to you?"
"I… Tifa," Cloud whispered in wonder. Tifa. Tifa. I love you, Tifa.
"I remembered Rinoa only recently as well," Squall said, a small look of relief on his face.
Cloud could just smirk and inclined his head. "Special girl?"
"My wife," Squall replied, leaning back against the rubble.
"Any kids?" Squall's eyes softened a fraction and he nodded.
"One. Her name is Raine."
Cloud grunted. "Hopefully she'll take after her mother."
"She does," Squall said, leaning his head back against a fraction of wall, thinking of his wife and toddler back home. "You?"
Cloud sighed. "I don't know. I don't think I've remembered everything from home."
"The closer we get, the more of ourselves we remember. We just need some time," said the other man.
The blond just nodded and leaned his head back as well, trying to decipher his latest memory. He was getting close to discovering something important. But at least he knew her name now. Tifa. His Tifa. He just hoped that during his absence, her faith in him hadn't fallen low once more. A woman like her deserved to be happy, and he would make sure that she never again shed a tear of sadness over him.
It was all over.
They had all been transported together to a lush, green world, with a bright blue sky, green grass, and beautiful wild flowers… but this wasn't his world. His friends—because he could consider them all friends now—began to bid their goodbyes. First Tidus, and then Zidane. Cloud began to feel the pull of his world… of the rest of his memories calling to him. Maybe it was best if they all didn't say goodbye. He stepped towards the field flowers and allowed himself a small smile. Aerith, Zack… he could remember them quite clearly now.
"Perhaps we can go on a mission together again." He heard Squall say, before he began to vanish.
Turning to look at the vast fields of yellow blooms, Cloud replied. "Not interested." He just wanted to go home to Tifa. As much as his companions had come to mean to him, all he wanted was to get back home and live the rest of his days by Tifa's side. Closing his eyes, Cloud felt himself being pulled, and then the momentary feeling of weightlessness before he was standing in front of Seventh Heaven. His home. He was home.
He looked down at his clothes and found that he was out of his SOLDIER uniform and back to his normal attire, and that the city was just as he last saw it. How he had been taken, and from where, was a blank, and he had a feeling that it always would be a mystery. Stepping through the back door, he walked through the small hall that led him towards the kitchen, and paused when he heard the sound of dishes being washed at the sink.
He turned the corner slowly, his eyes greedily taking her in. Her back was to him, and her long dark hair was the same length he remembered it being. His hands were itching with the desire to touch her, hug her, and reassure her that he hadn't disappeared on her again.
"Tifa?" Her name fell from his lips before he could stop it, but it had felt like drinking water after a long journey through the dessert, under scorching sun. He really hadn't realized how much he had needed her until that moment.
The sound of shattering glass on the floor at her feet made him wince, as did the look on her face as she turned around to look at him. She stared incredulously for the space of five seconds before Cloud found himself with his arms and senses full of her. "Cloud?" she asked shakily, eyes taking him in greedily, her hands touching his face to assure herself that he was real and not just a figment of her imagination.
"It's me," he reassured her, hugging her to him tightly. She shuddered against him and Cloud frowned, hoping that he hadn't made her cry. He had hoped that she would've been happy to see him, not that she would be in tears at his return. When she drew back, there were standing tears in her eyes and he only had a chance to stare at them for a few moments before pain exploded against his jaw. Oh, that was right. He had forgotten that she was a martial arts expert.
"Ow!" he exclaimed, unable to keep his surprise to himself. She had punched him right in the face!
With a withering glare that made something in him freeze, she turned and moved over to pick up the broken glass sitting on her kitchen floor. Cloud rubbed at his face and watched the set of her shoulders, her shaking hands as they handled the glass and he could tell that she was beginning to cry. "How long was I gone?" Cloud asked softly.
The glass made a loud clatter in the sink when she released it abruptly and stiffened. "You disappeared for a week," she said flatly.
Cloud expelled a small breath. It had been so much longer than that where he had been, but he supposed that time had been slowed for Tifa and their world, and accelerated for them in Cosmos' realm. "I'm sorry… I didn't know," he said, unable to think up anything better to say. "Tifa, I was taken away from here. To another world." It sounded ludicrous, even to his own ears, but what else could he say?
Tifa turned to look at him suspiciously. "That's a pretty lame excuse," she said, matter-of-fact.
His spikes seemed to droop with him. "I know," he muttered dejectedly. "I can tell you the story, if you'll listen."
Tifa walked over to stand in front of him again and crossed her arms over her chest. "You're serious."
Cloud nodded. "We had to save more than one world. We were Cosmos' warriors." He offered her his hand. "Please, I've been away from you for so long."
Her expression smoothed into one full of love and the forgiveness that only Tifa had ever been capable of.
"First, I want something else from you."
Blue eyes were bright in his handsome face. "Anything."
She smiled and leaned forward to meet his lips with hers.
She tasted and felt even better than he remembered, Cloud mused, smoothing his hands over familiar curves and sensitive skin in the afterglow of their lovemaking. His lips trailed over her shoulder and shoulder blade as she lay with her back to him. He wrapped his arms tightly around her and held her close. When she let out a long sigh, Cloud frowned. "You don't believe my story," he said quietly.
"It's not that," Tifa said, turning around in his arms and wrapping her own around Cloud's chest. "It's just that this is the second time that… you've forgotten me," she said quietly.
Cloud squeezed her tighter to him and kissed her forehead. "I was forced to forget. All our focus had to be on defeating Chaos in order to bring balance back to the world. But, despite that, I began to remember bits and pieces about you. "
Tifa nodded and hummed against his chest. "Promise me you won't forget me again." She knew that it was highly unlikely that it would happen again, but she needed his reassurance.
"Never again," he said quietly.
Satisfied, she dozed off in his arms, content and relieved that he was home. Cloud watched her in the near darkness, feeling his heart skip a beat in his chest. How could he have ever forgotten someone as amazing as Tifa? She meant the world to him, and though she was finally back in his life, his memories, and his arms, Cloud had a feeling that he was still forgetting something. Faint noise coming from the bedroom next to theirs had Cloud settling Tifa gently down and getting to his feet. After pulling on a pair of boxers, pajama pants, and a t-shirt, he crept out into the hallway, listening intently. His senses were still sharp from the journey, and he could tell that there was someone moving around in the bedroom. He opened the door slowly and the last bit of memory he hadn't been aware was missing returned. He slowly padded closer to the source of the noise and smiled in recognition.
Cooing drifted to his ears and Cloud reached into the expensive white crib—a gift from uncle Reeve—to pick up the tiny thing that had taken up residence in his heart. "I didn't want to forget you either," he whispered against the soft skin of his son's cheek. "Sorry you were the last one I remembered, Zack."
Dark, sweet smelling spikes drifted under his nose and Cloud squeezed the baby to him, amazed that the boy so resembled Tifa. The only thing Zack had of him was his nose and the color of his eyes. A tiny hand rose to touch roughly at his face, and Cloud sighed pleasantly. He could remember now how difficult he had started parenthood with a baby—Marlene and Denzel had come at a late age, and with different sets of complications—but he had found that he wouldn't give up spending time with his son for anything in the world.
"He missed you," Tifa said from the doorway.
Cloud turned to her and nodded. "I missed the both of you too." Even if he hadn't known it. Tifa approached them and smiled when her baby began to reach for her. Instead of taking him, she wrapped her arms around both Cloud and Zack, pressing gentle kisses to the both of them. "You were my reason to fight, and to get through it all," he said seriously.
She wrapped her hand around one of his and nodded. "I'm glad you're back, Cloud. I guess the universe isn't ready to give up a hero," Tifa said, squeezing Zack's cheek gently and feeling her heart warm when the boy curled against Cloud.
"All I ever wanted was to be average, and to have a normal life," Cloud said, cradling his son as the baby lay quietly against his chest. "Instead I've been thrown into fights one too many times, and I've nearly lost you even more times than that. I want peace, Tifa, and I want to make you happy."
Tifa stretched slightly to press a kiss to his cheek, then to his lips. "I am happy. I have you, and the kids. A successful business, great friends, a good life. But what's more important to me is that you're here, doing the best you can. You love your family, and you spend every moment you can with us. You didn't know anything about babies when Zack was born, but you learned."
Cloud felt a small grin tugging at his lips. "Learned from Marlene, you mean?"
Tifa giggled and nodded. "She's going to be an excellent mother some day."
"Well," Cloud started, shifting the baby in his arms. "She did learn from the best."
"You're back, and that's all that matters, Cloud," Tifa said, pressing her forehead against his shoulder. "I'll go get started on dinner. The kids should be back with Yuffie in about an hour. You'll watch Zack?"
"Yeah," Cloud said quickly. He watched her walk away and raised his eyebrows when she stopped at the doorway and turned back to look at them.
"I love you, Cloud," she said before leaving the room.
Cloud couldn't contain the wide smile on his face and pressed a kiss to his son's temple. "I love her too, you know." His only response was a hand with baby spit hitting his nose. "And you."
Grabbing a stuffed gray wolf, Zack's favorite, Cloud wrapped a baby blanket around his son and carried him downstairs so that they could check on Fenrir. There really wasn't any reason that the whole father/son bonding couldn't begin early, and over a motorcycle engine. He paused at the foot of the stairs and listened to Tifa's quiet voice as she hummed Zack's favorite lullaby. The baby made an impatient noise and bounced in his arms, making Cloud chuckle.
He was home, and Tifa had given him a beautiful ending.