Disclaimer: The following fan fiction is inspired by and loosely based on canon and characters from the game Final Fantasy VII, the game FFVII: Crisis Core, and the movie FFVII: The Advent Children, copyrights to all three sources of inspiration are owned by Square Enix. I claim no affiliation implied or otherwise.

A/N: I'm a CloTi fan struggling with my inner yaoi fangurl who likes to see Cloud make the rounds among many of the other men in FF7 universe, so I wrote out some of my musings about it and it turned into a story on me, lol. Oh boy now for warnings ... Alternate reality, Citrusy, WAFF, way OOC (as if Cloud would ever say THAT much, lol!), mild humor, implied consensual yaoi in past tense, implied dubious consent yaoi in past tense, implied impending het sex, Rated M for language and blunt conversation about gay sex. I fear this will just offend the hell out of both fellow Cloti's and fellow yaoi fangurls/boys alike but in case there are others like me, I'm taking my chances and posting it anyway. It really isn't intended to offend anyone; so please try not to be. :D TIA ~FM :)

Time: Sometime after end of AC but before DoC

That's The Way I Like It 1/1 by Fidomom

Cloud took a deep breath to shore up his resolve and he approached her, "Tifa?"

She stopped humming to herself as her head jerked up from the bar ledger she'd been working on. Her gasp of surprise quickly became a smile, "Cloud! Hi!"

Encouraged, he smiled back, "I'd like to send the kids away for the weekend."

A puzzled look crept across her face, "Why?"

He sat with his elbows on the table and his hands clasped in front of him as he looked her in the eye, "You and I have some things to sort out and it's best if they aren't here."

Her eyes widened warily, "Is something wrong, Cloud?"

He nodded, "Yes. You know there is. A lot wrong. I'd rather we not get into it until the kids are gone though."

Tifa swallowed hard, fighting worried tears, as she nodded, "I'll make some calls."

He nodded and stood up, "I'm going out. I won't get back until late. I really hope you'll be asleep by then. You work too hard, Tifa. Goodnight."

Now that he'd addressed the fact that there actually was an elephant in the room, making things awkward between them, Cloud was too restless and scared to spend any more time around her. He revved Fenrir and sped off to find monsters to kill, intending to ride outside of their district, if need be. It was the only way he knew to burn off his restless anxiety.

Once he'd worn himself out, he headed back to Seventh Heaven. He let himself in quietly. He saw the folded note taped to his bedroom door and his guts clenched in renewed anxiety. He took the note into his room and shut the door. He sat on the edge of the bed and opened it fully. He steeled himself for an ultimatum and breathed a sigh of relief instead, at the casual yet caring words she'd written, "Cloud, I made some calls. The children are going to stay with Cid and Shera for the weekend. I'll be taking them there after breakfast tomorrow. I'll make enough for you too whether you join us or not but I think it would reassure them if you at least say goodbye to them before they leave. I'll think of something to tell them in case you miss them. Goodnight, T."

He knew his family's routine well, and set an alarm so that he could join them for breakfast later on in the morning. Maybe he'd even get some repairs done around the house while Tifa was dropping them off. He showered quickly and fell into bed naked. Sleep claimed him mere moments after his head hit the pillow. As per usual, however, it was a sleep frought with memory based dreams and nightmares. When his alarm rang, he was relieved to be rescued from them and he bolted out of bed. He dressed and made his way downstairs. He felt his insides lighten as the children's smiles greeted him. He kissed the top of Marlene's head and ruffled Denzel's hair, "Good morning to you, too. Marlene you seem like you're gonna burst if you don't tell me ... something?"

The little girl giggled and blurted excitedly, "We get to see inside Cid's new air ship! Cid might even take us for a ride in it! Oh, I wish you and Tifa would be with us because we're gonna have so much fun, huh, Denzel?"

Denzel grinned around his mouthful of breakfast and nodded vigorously. Cloud caught Tifa's eye and he silently mouthed,
"Thank-you.", over the children's heads.

She nodded back to him and answered Marlene's comment, "Well, you'll just have to tell us all about it when you come back. Cloud and I have work, so we're gonna have to miss out on all the fun this time."

Marlene nodded in disappointment but was soon back to being excited at the prospect of spending the weekend with Cid and Shera and the new airship.

Cloud stood on the front stoop, waving at the kids as Tifa drove off in the pickup. When they were out of sight, he went back inside to clear the breakfast mess and get the bar ready for later in the evening. With that done, he checked Strife Delivery Service phone messages and added two new orders to his list for Monday. Then he consulted the family bulletin board to find out what things still needed doing on Tifa's to do list. He picked three that he thought he could get done before she got back. When he'd completed those and crossed them off the list, she still wasn't back so he consulted Tifa's meal plan for the day and started the prep work for the midday meal. He was almost done when he heard the truck pull into the yard. He was nervous again. He continued working until she interrupted, "You fixed the railing and the sign. Thank-you. Looks like you've been busy in here too. Why don't you let me take over with that. Will you have lunch with me?"

He nodded his answer then offered as he stepped aside, "Fixed the bathroom doorknob too - it locks again. I'll try to get to the other repairs in between deliveries in the next few weeks. Bar's ready for tonight, too. How were the kids when you left?"

Tifa chuckled, "Eager for me to go so they could get started with all the fun they expect to have at Cid's. My only real concern for them is the new vocabulary they'll probably learn from Cid. We'll just have to do a bit of damage control when they get home, that's all. Anyway, it's not like they've never heard anyone cuss before, right?"

Cloud nodded and a small smile played around the corners of his mouth, "Right. Thanks for agreeing to this, Tifa. I'll explain why after we eat lunch and do the dishes."

She nodded without entirely losing her smile and she finished making the meal. They ate together, keeping conversation light and limited to talk about friends and the kids. They did the dishes together and Cloud filled her in on what else he had done while she was dropping the kids off and which repairs he was thinking of tackling next. She disagreed with one of them asking him to prioritize the roof leak ahead of the one he'd been considering. He agreed with her reasons and mentally inserted it on the list ahead of replacing the cracked storm window in her room.

As soon as the dishes were done, he took her hand in his, "Come on. Oh. We're leaving our cell phones here and we'll just pick up a disposable on the way. I just don't want to be interrupted by incoming calls. At least we'll still be able to call out if we need to though."

She reluctantly put hers on the table beside his and let herself be led, "Where are we going exactly?"

He smiled almost slyly, "Nowhere, because it's the only place I can think of where nobody will come looking for us. It's taken me a long time to work up my nerve for this and I just don't want anything to get in the way of finally following through."

He mounted Fenrir and indicated she should climb on behind him, so she did. After picking up the disposable phone, he then drove them out into the desert. He kept to the well used travel route for about ten minutes and then veered off it for another twenty or so. Being on Fenrir didn't make conversation feasible, which suited Cloud just fine, as he was trying to decide what to say first. He planned to say it all, he just hadn't decided in what order. Coming to a decision he stopped and parked Fenrir. He helped Tifa dismount and then took her hand again, tugging it lightly as he pointed to a pile of rocks. Understanding it would be a good place to sit and talk, she went with him. They settled upon a rock that was just big enough to accommodate both of them and they sat beside each other with their hips and outer thighs touching. Cloud hadn't let go of her hand and he was starting to show some obvious signs of nerves; only because he was no longer trying to cover that he was nervous. Tifa waited, knowing instinctively that even a small prompt might be too distracting for him at this point.

He looked her in the eye unwaveringly, "I love you, Tifa. I want a future with you but I've been stuck. There are some things that have happened that I never told you because I just don't know what to think about it. I don't know what to think about me. That's no excuse, though, for not being honest with you. Knowing I haven't been honest is what keeps me from doing more about you and me. I keep thinking if you knew, maybe you wouldn't choose me, maybe you wouldn't understand and wouldn't want a life with me after all. That's why I hesitate when you reach for me. I know I'm not making much sense, it's just I want to make sure you understand what you mean to me before I tell you the things you don't know yet.

I have loved you for almost half my life. I love our life together, I love being partners and co-parents for the kids. I love the kids like they were really ours. When I go to bed at night, if I don't make a point to wear myself ragged first, I lie awake for hours aching for you. I want you. I want us. Tifa, I'm probably going to be in love with you until the day I die, no matter what else you might think, once you know everything. This is so much harder than I thought it would be and I was plenty prepared for it to be difficult. When Zack was alive, Tifa, he and I, we were closer than just best friends, like intimate close. We were lovers, Tifa. I wish I could say it was just him but it wasn't. At least with Zack it was mutual love and respect even if I never had the chance to tell him that. With the other three though it wasn't even love. Yeah that's right, there have been three others since Zack."

Tifa's hand gripped his encouragingly, "Do you want me to know who the other three were?"

He nodded as a blush heated his cheeks, "After you helped me get my real memories sorted out, Zack's death hit me hard. I hadn't had a chance to grieve for him yet and I missed him so much, Tifa. I was wallowing in my grief one night and went on a bender. One of the Turks happened to be in the mood to console me. Maybe if it had just been a one night thing, in a moment of weakness I could get past it but it went on for almost six months before he ended things. You see? He ended it, not me. Rude found out and told him that since you didn't know, and we were technically still on opposing sides at the time that it wasn't right. He threatened to stay mad at Reno if he continued. They're partners; they gotta trust their lives to each other. Reno wasn't willing to risk his life over a fling. That's what he called it, maybe just to piss me off so I'd get over him quicker; it's hard to say with Reno. By the time he broke it off with me I definitely had feelings for him but I knew he wasn't interested in hearing about it, even if I could have spoken them out loud. As if banging a Turk wasn't bad enough, it's the remaining two that will be hardest to talk about, especially with you because you know my history with him, well with both of *him* sort of.

First it was Kadaj and later it was the real reason I was drawn to him at all; Sephiroth himself. I never got over my boyhood fascination with Sephiroth, but what used to be positive feelings, became the hate that everyone knows I feel for him. How could I not despise the man who killed my Mom, hurt you so bad you nearly died, burned down our hometown, and killed Aerith besides? Yet even now, the terrible things he did still mix me up inside because of the good memories I still have of him. Kadaj was part of him and I think I must have known it immediately, if only subconsciously, but he was just different enough from him that I deluded myself into thinking it wasn't about Sephiroth at all. I quickly had to face facts that it was everything to do with Sephiroth.

Kadaj and I didn't have a relationship exactly; it was, I guess, two one night stands, just about a week apart. Then when Reno summoned me to Healen Lodge, Rufus filled me in about who Kadaj really was. I was shocked by the news to say the least. Vincent told me even more about Kadaj and his brothers when I went to find Marlene and Denzel and it sickened me to think Kadaj had so easily seduced and duped me not just once but twice and with me none the wiser. Then there was the battle itself. I wanted to stop the Reunion. I thought I was going to succeed and then in an instant everything changed. In the middle of battling Kadaj, suddenly Kadaj wasn't Kadaj anymore. It was him, Tifa; it was Sephiroth.

He was looking at me and smiling because he knew immediately about Kadaj and I. Even worse, he knew that he was the real reason why. I was more than freaked out by then. I've never fought so hard to defeat him as I did that day, just for the fact of him knowing what he knew. I just needed him to disappear. At least, I thought that's what I wanted. Something else happened that day between Sephiroth and I. He didn't just ravage me with Masamune, he took me. To put it bluntly he fucked me until I saw my life flash before my eyes and then he taunted me with how much I enjoyed it. Worst of all, he was right. Being taken by Sephiroth that way, was an unacknowledged, long held fantasy; unacknowledged until it was actually happening. In that moment I really didn't want it to stop. I think I didn't defeat him, Tifa, I think he bowed out; I think he threw the battle because he'd already won my true surrender. He let me land those final blows. I don't know if he'll ever find a way to come back again. He made it sound like he would but for all I know, he was just fucking my mind again the same way he'd just fucked my body.

All I know is that when he was finally gone, I was just so damn relieved. For three days straight, after that battle, when the world seemed nearly perfect, I couldn't stop smiling. Geostigma was gone, I thought I had faced all my demons and that I had finally gotten over all of them. I mean I knew I'd always miss Zack because he really was my best friend and not just because he'd been my first male lover. I still felt an attraction and some residual gratitude for Reno, as well, for comforting me and helping me through a really tough time but the other feelings I'd had for him had faded surprisingly fast, a long time ago. I felt sad and guilty about Kadaj; for using him, even though he'd played me because the memories didn't flow from Sephiroth to him, only from him to Sephiroth. Kadaj had no real clue about my history with Sephiroth.

Now that Sephiroth is gone, maybe for good this time, I can't figure out how I feel about it. I know I felt sad when Kadaj went into the Lifestream so quickly after Sephiroth had released him, but I'm unclear if it was delayed, messed up sadness over Sephiroth being gone again or if it was sincerely for Kadaj that time. My point is that my demons are not gone, after all, Tifa. They still visit me in my dreams every night.

The only bright spot in all of this turmoil has been you and our life together. The one emotion that I've consistently experienced through all of this, and especially right now, is the love I feel for you. It's not tainted by demons. It's never wavered, no matter what hell I've lived through mentally or physically. Still, it's never been acceptable to me that I've kept so much from you; for purely selfish reasons. All to avoid losing you because the mere idea really and truly frightened me, more than demons, more than monsters, more than confusing feelings I've had for Sephiroth, a Remnant and a Turk. If it's too much information and way too late I will understand. I feel strong enough now, and ironically that's largely thanks to you and I do love you enough to face my worst fear and let you go if that's what is best for you; if that's your choice. I just wanted you to be able to make an informed one, finally, after all this time. I can give you time and space to process everything, unless maybe you've already decided?"

He couldn't look at her through most of what he'd said and so he was surprised to feel her hand on his face prompting him to do so, then. She smiled sadly into his eyes, "I don't like some of what you've said. It is a lot to take in. I feel hurt, confused, angry, and even a bit jealous, but Cloud, I could never not love you. I could never choose a life that doesn't include you no matter what you've done, even if you didn't love me in the same way that I love you. Maybe that makes me a fool but I couldn't give up our life together even if this was you saying you wanted every part of it except for being with me. Platonic has always been better than not ever seeing you or not being near you. I'm more relieved than you know to hear you say that all my feelings for you are not so unrequited as I'd begun to think, after all. I do believe you meant it, too, not just because it's everything I've ever wanted to hear but because I know you; I can tell that you're raw and that your defenses are down. Now, do I get to ask you questions about all of this?"

He nodded feeling a flutter of hope but trying not to count on anything just yet. She looked down at her feet and kicked her toe into the loose dirt, "Were you top or bottom?"

He was taken aback by that particular question. He hadn't seen it coming and part of him was flattered that she didn't automatically assume on her own. He bit his lip self-consciously, "Bottom with everyone except Reno. We switched places as often as not. Guess that's part of what made it exciting for me and part of what helped to heal my self-esteem. Reno was unpredictable and open to anything."

Tifa nodded and without looking at him continued with her line of questioning, "Do you still get urges to umm receive?"

Cloud sighed heavily, suddenly certain she was about to take back all of her previous assurances, "Yes. I like it up the ass, Tifa. A lot. Doesn't mean I ever have to act on it again. I wouldn't do that to you. Especially, not now that you know how I feel about you. I've verbally committed myself to us and our future and I mean to honor that commitment with my fidelity. That is, if you'll let me."

She looked up suddenly and rushed to reassure him, "I know that, Cloud! Those times before, you hadn't made any romantic promises to me - I wasn't technically your girlfriend even if we did both have unspoken feelings for each other. I had no expectation of fidelity then. I mean it still hurts to know you had all those sexual relationships, without me so much as suspecting but I had no real claim on you beyond friendship, the bar, the kids and the delivery business, and I do accept that. I just still have a few more questions. Will you answer me if I ask them?"

He nodded, "Yes. Even if it makes me uncomfortable, I'll answer you. As honestly as I can. Ha, that's rich, me even saying that word in your presence has got to be laughable to you, at best."

She afforded him a look of compassion, "Cloud. Your timing may be off but at least I'm hearing it from you. I still trust you. You say you love me and well you made it sound like you want me but can you be more specific? What do you love about me? Have I ever umm turned you on? And if I did well ... okay to put it bluntly what does turn you on, about me I mean? I'm sorry to press this but I really want to know, no I need to know."

Cloud breathed a sigh of relief and actually smirked, "I thought you were gonna ask me something really difficult. I love your no nonsense approach to life. I love your compassion, your wit, your strength both inner and outer, your gentle way with the kids and with me, your optimism, the way you hum to yourself when you're doing chores, the way you always try to make life easier for everyone else especially the kids and me. I love that you're not afraid to get your hands dirty or defend and protect the people who matter to you. I love the sound of your laugh though I haven't heard it much lately; granted with good reason. Hopefully that will soon change. I love your unwavering loyalty to me even when I haven't deserved it. I love the way you look at me when I feel shaky, telling me without words that you have faith in me when I don't even have faith in myself. I love you for being the best reason for me to never stop trying to overcome challenges I face, even if it feels like the odds are stacked against me. As for wanting you? Tifa, have you looked in a mirror lately? You're the most beautiful woman I've ever known, not just on the inside, your face, your eyes, your hair, your smile and well your body, too. Yes, you turn me on, just looking at you does it sometimes but there's other things you do, too, that do it for me. A lot of people wouldn't understand this but sometimes when you're giving me a lec ... or rather a pep talk, I get distracted just watching your face, your mouth. I've come to the realization that maybe sometimes I slack off just so I'll get a pep talk out of you. I believe the going phrase is pussy whipped. That's me. I like the roles we fall into. Everyone knows you wear the pants, so to speak, and that's the way I like it. That's what turns me on. You turn me on just by being your naturally bossy self. I trust your decisions more than my own, most times anyway."

Tifa's puzzled look changed into one of incredulity, "Cloud, are you telling me that you like it better when I'm aggressive with you?"

He nodded, smiled and shrugged, "Hell yeah."

Tifa leaned forward with her forehead to her palm and groaned loudly, "I really wish I had figured out at least that much about you, without you having to spell it out for me! Here I've been trying so hard not to push you, thinking you'd go in the opposite direction and now you're telling me that to push you harder is to reel you in closer?"

Cloud chuckled, "Never thought of it like that but yeah I guess that about sums it up. Guess I'm just weird like that. From what I read online about it, it's called having a submissive nature. That's me except for when I'm bullied into defending myself or the people who matter to me or the planet itself apparently. Thanks for that by the way."

Tifa laughed in surprised delight, "I guess you're welcome, then."

They looked at each other, smiling together for a long time and then Tifa leaned in and kissed Cloud. Her lips on his were tentative at first until she felt his eager response. She straddled his lap to deepen their kiss and was rewarded by his groan of surrender as his arms tightened around her. Tifa let out a little gasp of pleased surprise into his mouth as she felt his cock harden against her inner thigh. She ground her hips downward against his arousal and he thrust into it with another groan of ecstasy as his tongue ravished the inside of her mouth. Tifa pulled back from the kiss and narrowed her eyes at him in warning, "You are not going to make love to me out here in the middle of nowhere, Cloud Strife! You are taking me home right now and you're going to romance me and seduce me properly! The bar is hereby closed for the weekend, because we won't be leaving my bedroom; or rather our bedroom to open it. Any objections?"

Cloud closed his eyes and let out a happy sigh, smiling as he buried his face in the crook of her neck, "Uhn-uh. Mmmmmm, you feel so damn good. Gaia, I love you. Let's go home, Tifa. I have a lot of lost time to make up to you."

Tifa smiled smugly, "You most certainly do and I intend to make sure we never lose another minute. You're finally all mine and I'm going to make you very, very glad about that, you'll find out."

Cloud grinned and kissed her lips once more, "I'm counting on it, bossy lady."

Her eyes gleamed and she smiled suggestively before leaning to whisper an idea into his ear. He gasped and his cheeks turned pink. He searched her dancing eyes imploringly, "You mean it? You'd really be willing to do that?"

She nodded with more confidence than she felt and he rewarded her with a look of such pure adoration and eagerness that she knew she would follow through. Wearing a strap-on for him would totally be worth it to her, if solely to see that self-same look on his face again.

THE END