Hello, and welcome to Broken Hearts and Twisted Minds.

Summery: Cloud is leaving again for unknown reasons. Tifa, realizing that there is no way to make him stay, makes the decision show him the way she truly feels before she loses him forever, little does she know that the long term effects of that decision will change her life forever...

Author's Note: Yet another story influenced by the amazing band Paramore. (Have you realized that I'm obsessed with them yet?) But unlike my other story Throwing Punches, his story is inspired by their latest album Brand New Eyes, where as Throwing Punches takes ideas from all the albums, including some of the unreleased demo tracks and cover songs. I got the title from some lyrics of "Misguided Ghosts", which is also the song that chapter 2 will be based off of.

Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII or any songs used in the making of this fan fiction. I'm simply borrowing them.

"I've got a tight grip on reality, but I can't let go of what's in front of me here. I know you're leaving in the morning when you wake up. Leave me with some kind of proof it's not a dream." - The Only Exception, Paramore

The Only Exception

He's leaving again.

I know because he's acting the same way he did before, so silent and withdrawn, and spending most of his time at home in his room or office. He's almost never around me or the kids, and even when he does spend time with us, he seems so distracted, always staring off into blank space, his mind wandering and never fully grounded in our reality.

He's leaving in the morning, I saw the bag in his room today. Most of his clothes were packed inside, and his room and office are the cleanest I have ever seen them.

He's in his room now, probably sleeping because of the lateness of the hour. It's almost one o'clock, and the bar's been closed for almost an hour. I had retreated to my own room after closing up and I've been lying in bed ever since, fully clothed, the sheets draped lightly over my midriff, and staring at the ceiling...thinking of him.

I realized earlier today that there is no way to make him stay, if he feels that he has to leave, he'll leave. And there is very little that can change his mind once it's been made up.

After all, Cloud is Cloud.

But I just can't let him walk away again, I can't just watch him run from whatever problems he may still be facing. I have no idea what it is that could still be haunting him...I was so sure that he had finally found the forgiveness that he was so desperately searching for...

I guess he didn't...

There is, however, one thing that I am absolutely sure of. I can't let him leave without telling him how I feel, without showing him just how much I love him. I've lived like this for far too long, and thinking back on it, I've always lived like this, always trying to hide my true feelings for him and keeping a comfortable distance between us. And up until tonight I had always sworn to myself that I was content with just having him close by...having him as my best friend. Because telling him that I love him would just scare him away, push him even farther away from the kids and I...telling him just to relieve my pain isn't worth the risk of losing him.

But now...things have changed.

So if I'm going to be forced to live in loneliness, if I have to make it alone...to keep a straight and smiling face for Denzel and Marlene while my heart is secretly dying...I'm going to do it with no regrets, and that means that there is only one thing left to do...

To tell him...to show him...everything.

I sit up slowly, throwing off the covers and swinging my legs over the side of the bed, the soles of my shoes clicking lightly as they make contact with the wood floor.

I walk toward my dresser, pulling my shirt off along the way. My pants are next, they fall lightly around my ankles, causing my skin to prickle against the sudden draft. I begin to rummage through the drawers, pulling out a tank top and an old pair of sweatpants. I pull them on quickly, and once I'm redressed I gather up my discarded clothes and walk out of my room and into the hallway, dropping the clothes into the hamper sitting beside my door as I exit.

I pause for a moment, trying to calm my suddenly racing heart. What I'm about to do should be one of the easiest things that I've ever done, I shouldn't be this nervous...but then again, finally making love to the only man I've ever loved is a very...exciting...matter.

Breathing deeply, I begin to walk toward the end of the hall, where Cloud's room is located, my breathing becoming more and more rapid with every step.

His door is open slightly, allowing a tiny sliver of moonlight to slip out into the hall. I reach out and push the door open the rest of the way, my eyes searching the darkness for any trace of him, any proof that he hasn't already left.

He hasn't. He lying on his back in bed, on top of the covers and one arm draped lightly across his bare chest. I enter the room cautiously, closing and locking the door behind me. I walk toward him slowly, staring at his almost angelic features, the lines and contours of his chest, all illuminated by the pale moonlight streaming in though the window.

Once I reach the bed I immediately clamor onto it and kneel over Cloud's sleeping form, straddling him with my knees and breathing a sigh of relief when he doesn't wake. In the past, he would have woken up the second I had entered the room, but now that his life has returned to normal, now that there is nothing and no one left to fight, he can sleep peacefully through the night...the only exception being a few nightmares here and there.

I lean in closer to him, holding back my hair as I gently press my lips to his. When I pull away I remain close to him, just far enough away so that I can look into his eyes. The light kiss is enough to make him stir, and he opens his eyes slowly, blinking them several times, trying to focus.

"Tifa...what are you...?" he stammers, his voice weighted with sleep.

"You know...it's been said that no one knows what tomorrow will bring." I whisper gently, cutting him off. "The pain or the joy that it may contain...yet I have been blessed and cursed with such an insight. I know you're leaving in the morning, but I don't know the reason why. And to tell you the truth, it doesn't bother me, not knowing. The only thing that upsets me is that you were going to leave again without a proper explanation. I don't need an explanation Cloud, I don't even want one. All I want is for you to give me the chance to say good-bye to you, to let you go. Because from tomorrow on that's exactly what I'll be doing, learning to let you go and live my life without you...or loving only you until the day that the cold hand of death carries me off to the Lifestream...and even then I'm not so sure that my love for you will end."


"Don't say anything." I say quickly, pressing my lips to his once again. "Just let me say good-bye..."

He stares up at me for several seconds, the realization of my intentions slowly filling is glowing eyes.

"Cloud...I love you, and I don't mean the 'best friend' kind of love...I've wanted to do this for so long...to just give everything to you...please, just let me say good-bye...

My lips descend on his once again. He doesn't fight, he doesn't pull away, we simply fall together into the throws of pleasure, completely submerged in the release of feelings and emotions that were ignored for far too long.

We switch positions, and he hovers over me, his hands traveling all over my body, slowly removing every article of clothing. Before long, we lie before each other, naked and exposed, bearing all of our secrets and our scars. His gaze lingers on my chest, his eyes sweeping the length of the long and hideous scar that mars my skin, the mark of Sephiroth's blade...

He reaches out a hand and begins to trace the scar's raised surface with his index finger, starting on my left shoulder and trailing down between my breasts, finally stopping on the right side of my abdomen. I arch slightly against his touch, and his lips find mine again.

"Are you ready?" he asks, gently stroking my cheek.

"I always have been." I reply quietly, looking up into his eyes and placing my hand over his on my cheek.

"I'll go slowly..." he whispers softly, gently kissing me again and resting his forehead against mine. "Tell me if it starts hurting too much..."

"Okay..." I breathe as he trails light kisses down the length of my scar. He brings his eyes to mine again, watching me intently, his expression one of worry. He positions himself at my entrance and I bite my lower lip, whimpering slightly with anticipation as I try and steel myself for the pain that is about to come.

He eases himself in slowly, and I feel discomfort almost immediately. Finally, when I seem stretched to my limit, he meets the last barrier...the final resistance that stands between he and I becoming one. With one swift movement, he tears through my maidenhood, and I cry out in pain. His lips descend down and capture mine, just in time to muffle the sound. He begins to move slowly, his lips crushing against mine again and again, keeping perfect time with each of his gentle thrusts, and each movement brings a new and even more intense wave of ecstasy crashing over me.

Our lips, our hips move in unison, matching our heavy breathing and our soft and passionate moans...all to create a symphony of sounds that I had never imagined to hear, composing emotions and sensations I had never thought I would experience...

I become lost it in, this our sinful act, both of us now condemned by God until we repent for our unholy and lustful actions. But, even though I do believe in eternal damnation, I could never apologize to anyone, not even God, for making love to Cloud...even if it meant the surrender of my soul. Because without Cloud...it feels as though I have no soul to condemn...

The heat and the sensations continue to grow, soon becoming almost unbearable. Each time he enters me I can't help but to moan quietly or gently whisper his name under my breath, urging him to continue. And continue he does, his pace quickening, his entrance deepening, throwing me to even greater heights of pleasure. Everything begins to fall away, there is no pain, there is no sadness. There is only he and I, two worn and battered souls, taking part in one of the most beautiful and passionate blessings of life for the first time, sharing in it together...

And, with only a low grunt as a warning, he climaxes. The rush of him inside me is enough to bring me as well, and I cry out as my climax crashes over me, my muscles jumping as he enters me the last time, riding out the waves.

He collapses against me and we lay there for a moment, our bodies still joined, our chests heaving, each of us gasping for air. It takes several minutes for us to regain control of our breathing, and once we do, he pushes himself off of me, coming to rest immediately beside me. I roll onto my side, facing him and pulling the sheets tightly around me. He moves closer to me, and he conforms his body to mine, fitting us together like the pieces of a puzzle.

He traces invisible lines all over my exposed skin, traveling over my arms and shoulders, down to the small of my back then back up to the crook of my neck...my jawline to my cheek. He kisses my hair softly, letting his face linger there, quietly inhaling the scent of my hair...

"Why me?" he asks quietly. "Of all the men in this world...you could have any one..."

"Then I guess you would be the only exception to that...I can't have you." I reply coldly.

Silence consumes us. It holds a certain weight over us, yet we swim though it gracefully and uncaring. The feeling of being pressed against him is mesmerizing, distracting...and I'm unable to hold onto any coherent thoughts...I can only stare at him, watching, studying and memorizing everything about him...after all, I don't know when...or if...I'll be seeing him again...

"I love you." he whispers tentively, trailing his index finger across my lower lip.

"I know..." I whisper back, lightly tracing the length of the scar on his right shoulder...the latest edition made to his body by Sephiroth... "And I love you too...but it doesn't change anything, does it? You're still leaving...I've accepted that reality...embraced it...but I still can't let you go. Could...could you just promise me one thing?"

"Anything..." he breathes, gently stroking my cheek with the tips of his fingers.

"Leave with some kind of proof that this wasn't a dream..."

So, how was it? I know the ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, and I'm really sorry about that. I thought the story was starting to drag a bit, and really the only way to continue it was going to be with more dialogue...which I didn't want too much of in this particular chapter. There is more to this story, at least one or two more chapters. Chapter 2 will be titled, and based off of, Misguided Ghosts and it shouldn't be too long before it's posted. There are, however, no concrete ideas for chapter 3.

And for those of you awaiting the next chapter of Throwing Punches, please be patient. I got so caught up in this story that I've sort of neglected it, I'm sorry.

~With much love, CLOUDxTIFAforever