Title: Stay With Me

Rating: M

Warnings: Sex, language, drama, and some angst.

Word Count: 4577

Summary: wasn't supposed to love someone he couldn't have, but that didn't make it any easier to walk away from her.

Prompt: Final Fantasy VII, Cloud/Tifa: Secret sex - An affair to remember

A/N: This fic was written for the Are You Game community(there's a link in my bio page). I really tried, but it was nearly two weeks late, though at least I finished it, right? I want to give a special thanks to ObsessiveCompulsiveValkyrie for beta-ing this story for me, and for being there to answer my excessive questions and offering suggestions. This is a three part fic, and it's complete, so expect quick updates. He'd the rating peeps, please? And also, there's a lot of my signature drama in here so read at your own discretion. That said, please enjoy!

………

It seemed that every time she saw him, it became easier to tear off his uniform and in record time. Her skin seemed to be on fire as his fingers dragged over the bare flesh of her shoulders and down her back to the zip of her silky, expensive dress. She wouldn't have cared if he tore it off, but she had to remind herself that she needed the dress in one piece in order to return to the party.

"Tifa," he breathed when her lips dragged over his neck in a openmouthed kiss, down defined muscles, and over the flat plains of his stomach. Slim, nimble fingers worked his two belts off quickly and, with it, his zipper before slipping a hand inside.

"Cloud, we don't have much time," Tifa whispered, breathless and eager. "My mother, and her husband…"

"I know," he interrupted, grabbing her upper arms and pulling her back to her feet. "I just… since I saw you in that dress," Cloud whispered, pushing the shimmering, champagne hued material down her waist and hips, his hands finding her bare chest.

Tifa's breathing quickened even as her lips quirked into a pleased smile. "I chose it while I was thinking of you."

Blue eyes burned with desire, but he stopped, against his body's protests, to just stare at her. Her pale, beautiful face was flushed, coloring her cheeks in a rosy hue, and her eyes were shining with lust. Her hair was in disarray, but the silky tresses were soft as they brushed against his arm. His other hand moved up to brush against her cheek gently, lovingly. He pressed his forehead against hers, and Tifa moved forward to seal their lips together, her tongue sweeping over his bottom lip.

"It's getting harder and harder to let you walk away from me," he confessed.

Tifa's hands tangled in his hair as she moved in for a deeper kiss. "I feel that way, too. But we knew when we started this that it would eventually have to end."

Cloud buried his face against her neck and hugged her tightly. "Sounds like a bad fairytale. An impossible love," he said, smiling against her skin.

Tifa laughed softly and nodded. "You will always my knight in shining armor. But, Cloud?"

"Yes?"

"I really don't want to talk right now," she whispered into his ear, taking his earlobe between her teeth and biting down gently until he shivered in pleasure.

His pants were still tangled on the tops of his boots as he pushed her up against the cool metal wall of the ShinRa exhibit room he had pulled her into earlier. The room was dark enough for their movements to not be picked up if someone stepped in, but he'd asked for a few favors called in and the cameras had been turned off for at least thirty minutes. They truly didn't have that long before people began to wonder where Tifa had run off to. Hopefully they would assume that she had gotten lost.

"I missed you," Tifa whispered against his lips, taking in his tongue with a long, sweet groan of pleasure.

"Missed you, too," Cloud replied, grabbing one of her thighs and circling his hip with it, spreading her to his assault. "It'll be rough because we have to rush," he warned her.

"I know," she replied, stroking his hardened flesh with practiced ease. Feeling warm liquid coat the pads of her fingers, Tifa squirmed, rubbing her pelvis against his. "Hurry."

He didn't need to be told twice, slipping an arm around her trim waist and lifting her until she was on the tips of her feet, he began to ease in. No matter how caught up he was in the feel and taste of her, he would never allow himself to hurt her, no matter how delirious with pleasure and desire he was for her. Her body welcomed him like a damp, tight glove, pulling him in, tantalizing.

Cloud groaned against her lips as she simply panted for breath, her body adjusting to his invasion. Then he began to move in slow, sure strokes, beginning to build her up. He pulled back to look at her as his hips steadily sped up, delighting in the way her eyes became half-lidded and her lips parted in pleasure. Her fingers dug deeper into his back, bunching over the standard SOLDIER Second Class uniform shirt, and Cloud wished he could've been able to press Tifa's naked skin to his own, but there truly was no time.

Dragging his leather gloved hand between her breasts, over her flat stomach, and down to where they joined, Tifa shivered and shut her eyes. Those strong, powerful hands had brought her to orgasm so many times that she had lost count. There was just something so appealing about having such a strong man treating her like a delicate crystal.

Tifa let out a surprised moan as Cloud stepped back and tilted her hips, making her back arch away from the wall. He changed his angle and created delicious friction at the same time. She swallowed hard, eyes wide now that she could feel the quick rush that usually came with release. Her breathing was hard and the look in Cloud's bright blue eyes was making her shiver. His own face was contorting in pleasure, teeth grit to keep his noises down, but he was just as close as she was.

"Oh, Cloud, I love you!" she half screamed at that final thrust and sweep of his thumb that pushed her right over the edge. She was only vaguely aware of his own quick breathing and the soft grunt of her name as he followed her, emptying himself inside of her.

Their breathing was quick and loud in the large, silent room, and Cloud wondered if Tifa was able to hear his thundering heartbeat in his chest. It always felt as if he were touching the heavens when he was with Tifa, but afterwards, it was even more painful to crash back to reality. She was only his in secret and if anyone was to find out about it, it would be the end of his career in SOLDIER and probably his life, too. He didn't care about either one, but the last thing he wanted was to cause Tifa grief.

Tifa wrapped her arms around him this time, hugging him as tightly as her slim body could muster. She smelled of cherry blossoms and sex, but above all, her skin had taken on some of his scent as well. "I don't want to go back to that stupid party."

"But your parents are there."

"Old man ShinRa is not my father," Tifa whispered. "He's only the man who married my mother and pulled us out of our peaceful lives in Nibelheim."

Cloud ran his fingers through the smoothness that was her hair and just listened, offering his shoulder and ear. "And if you spoke to your mother about us?"

"She'll just tell me that it's a passing fancy," Tifa said, her voice hardening in her anger. "I just… I don't know how it is that someone so… down-to-earth could've let herself be reeled in because of financial status. She had never been this way when my father had been alive."

"And now you have to live with Rufus ShinRa as your step-brother," Cloud said with a snort.

Tifa smiled. "He's not as bad as he tries to appear."

"I'll take your word for it," Cloud muttered.

"Well, you should," Tifa said haughtily. He broke into a low chuckle that had her body melting even more. She leaned for another kiss, but before she could even touch his lips, they were interrupted.

His phone beeped somewhere in the tangle of his pants, and Cloud ducked to dig through his pockets. 'She's been reported MIA. Get back here now!' The message was from his mentor and best friend, who had graciously offered to keep guard for him and Tifa. If the situation had been different, Cloud would've showed it to Tifa and they would've had a laugh over it, but things were dangerous enough with them being together. Tifa was a princess from a powerful family, and despite Cloud being a Second Class SOLDIER—on his way to becoming a First—he was… a nobody.

He knew that old ShinRa would never allow Tifa to marry someone from an unimportant town and with no actual fortune or power behind his last name. It also didn't matter that Tifa wasn't his daughter, ShinRa would use her to establish ties with only the most important of people.

"We have to go. They're looking for you," Cloud whispered.

Her eyes were luminescent in the darkness, and it hurt him to the core to see tears begin to fill them. "Can't we run away together?"

He almost smiled, but he couldn't bring himself to allow that small fantasy to take root in his mind. "They'd hunt us both down. Not just your step-father, but the whole of ShinRa," Cloud replied, dressing her as if she truly needed the help.

Tifa watched him quietly, feeling something tighten in her chest as he slipped her gown up her legs and hips, diligently returning her back to normal. She had to adjust the bust of her dress herself, since the bra had been built into her dress, but she accepted his help when he turned her around to pull the zipper back up. Tifa smiled when she felt the press of his lips between her shoulder blades, loving and warm.

When she turned around, she wrapped her arms around his neck for a last time. "I need to tell you something," she whispered.

Cloud nodded, but then quickly straightened his own clothes and pulled her deeper into the room, towards the elevators. "I heard someone coming," he whispered as the doors closed and they began to rise. "I wish we could've had more time to spend alone," he said, blue eyes full of longing, even when they had just finished making love only minutes before.

Tifa nodded and smoothed her hands over her dress, hoping that she didn't look too out of sorts. "Cloud… I—"

The door suddenly opened and Tifa was yanked out by her best friend. "Teef, they're looking for you! Let's go to the ladies room before going to see your mom and Mr. ShinRa. You look like you were mauled by a wild animal."

"Aerith," Tifa said in relief, turning apologetic eyes to Cloud. "I'll see you at the party?"

Cloud nodded and watched her rush off with the green-eyed brunette. As Cloud rounded the corner that led towards the room that had been transformed for the party at ShinRa headquarters, he nearly ran into his own best friend. "Zack…"

"That was close. Where's Tifa and where the hell were you?" Zack asked urgently. "I don't understand why you didn't want to tell me!"

"I was showing her the exhibit hall," Cloud muttered with a shrug.

His friend's blue eyes narrowed in speculation. "A personal tour, huh?"

Cloud's cheeks colored in embarrassment, but he offered no comment to his friend as they stepped back into the party. He followed Zack over to where ShinRa was talking to his wife heatedly, and narrowed his eyes when he saw the worried look on her face.

Zack put on a happy grin on his face and cleared his throat. "Mr. and Mrs. ShinRa, I just saw Tifa with my girlfriend Aerith. They were both heading to the ladies room. They said something about girl talk and that was why they disappeared."

"You know how the girls are," Tifa's mother said with a smile, looking at old ShinRa.

"Well, go and get her. We will be making the announcement shortly, and she will be present," he said, turning and walking away without addressing the two other men.

Cloud frowned, but he and Zack excused themselves from Tifa's mother before walking towards the bar. "Hey man, you know you're my best friend, right?" Zack asked.

Cloud nodded once. "What are you getting at?"

"Well, this thing with Tifa is going to end bad. If you had a chance to get away with it, I wouldn't worry, but I don't want ShinRa to take care of you," Zack said quietly. "It's dangerous to be involved with Tifa."

"I know that," Cloud bit out, taking a glass of dark, amber liquid with ice. "I just… can't bring myself to leave her. She's the one, Zack."

Zack sighed heavily and offered no other comment. He had been honest with his best friend and that was all that he could do. If Cloud decided to keep on this affair with Tifa, he would either end up with a broken heart, stripped from his SOLDIER rank, or worse, dead. He sent a half-hearted wave towards his own former mentor as Angeal stepped in with Genesis, and then watched as Sephiroth walked over to old man ShinRa.

Cloud stood and let the bitter alcohol wash over him, his eyes trained on the main door of the party hall. His eyes zeroed in on Tifa as she finally stepped back in, Aerith by her side and her mother behind her. She looked just as beautiful as she had before their interlude, and not a hair on her head was out of place. All three women walked over to where Sephiroth was standing, and Cloud felt a burn of jealousy begin right in his gut when the General pressed a kiss to Tifa's hand. He felt his ego surge when he remembered that those hands had been on specific parts of his anatomy only minutes ago.

ShinRa summoned a waiter over with glasses of sparkly—and expensive—champagne, handing them over to his wife, Tifa, Sephiroth, and Aerith; the latter giving Tifa a confused look. Tifa's eyes were trained on her feet and she looked pale. ShinRa called the attention of the whole room and raised his glass. "I would like to welcome everyone this evening, and tell you that my wife and I appreciate you coming out to celebrate our ten-year anniversary. I want to toast to my wife, and to our children, because they are our children," he said, looking at Tifa pointedly. "And to more years to come."

Tifa clanked glasses with those closest to her, but she was beyond irritated over ShinRa's words. He had never even been a good father to either Rufus or his older brother Lazard, much less her. Everything was always a farce with her step-father.

"That is not the only reason why we are celebrating," he continued, his thick face curling into a serpentine smile.

Tifa felt her breath leave her in a choked gasp, and her eyes darted up to look at Sephiroth. He stared down at her uncomfortably, but offered no comment. She turned back to her step-father and felt dread fill her chest when she saw Cloud standing behind the old man in the distance, near the bar. I'm sorry, Cloud, she thought inwardly, bracing herself for what was coming. This was not supposed to happen. Sephiroth could not have possibly gone behind her back and asked old ShinRa for her hand in marriage.

"I would like to officially announce the engagement between my beautiful daughter and the honorable General Sephiroth!" ShinRa said in a booming voice.

Clapping and cheers broke out all around them, but Tifa's gaze could not leave Cloud. It didn't leave him when he asked for another drink and downed it in one gulp, nor when he stormed out of the room, Zack going with him.

"I did not believe he would do this," Sephiroth murmured.

Tifa just nodded, averting her eyes from him and taking the champagne like water. "Did you ask him for my hand in marriage, without me there?" she asked quietly.

Sephiroth gave her a blank look. "I mentioned marriage to him and he was very much ready to part with you. I did not tell him I wanted to become engaged now. We don't know each other."

Tifa felt a surge of gratitude towards the man she had once believed was an egotistical war machine. His frequent visits to her home and family had showed her that he was a grounded human being with feelings. She had started to consider him a friend, but nothing more. She wanted to cry and scream, but instead she took another glass of champagne from a waiter and decided to drown her sorrows for this whole situation another way.

………

She had pretty much forgotten how long she had been pacing. She was agitated, hurt, but more importantly worried that Cloud was blowing her off because he wanted to end things between them. Tifa hadn't spoken to him since the night of the party and that ridiculous announcement that she and General Sephiroth were engaged, and that had been over a week ago. Cloud hadn't answered her calls, or any of her messages, and mysteriously, Zack had made himself scarce, even for his own girlfriend.

Tifa had gotten wind that a group of Second and Third Class SOLDIERs would be arriving back from a mission, and it was almost a certain thing that Cloud had been one of the most important SOLDIERs with them. She had found out by overhearing Rufus talking to his Turks about it, and she would've thanked her step-brother if it wouldn't have given her relationship with Cloud away.

She had successfully broken into Cloud's apartment and had been waiting for him long enough to have had a chance to toe off her sneakers and pull off her jacket. She'd have even snooped around in his kitchen to discover that the man knew nothing about good nutrition. All he'd had in his refrigerator was a box of old take-out, flat mineral water, and some molding bread.

She'd had no trouble with invading his privacy since they had been lovers for quite some time now, but she felt out of place in the silence and emptiness without him. There were no personal pictures, though Tifa knew that he kept a picture of her in a frame in his bedroom.

The jingle of keys alerted her to his presence as she sat in the dark, her legs tucked under her, and with her facing the door as it opened. He didn't click on the light, but he closed the door with very little noise, a tired sigh reaching Tifa's ears. She watched him from the dark side of his living room, the moonlight streaming in from his windows making his hair look almost white. As he moved towards his bedroom, he paused and looked in her direction.

"How did you get in?" he asked, only a sliver of surprise making it into his tone.

Tifa shrugged, aware that he could see her quite clearly in the dark. "I have my ways." The silence between them was thick, but Cloud made no move to walk away or to tell her to leave. She sighed; it was going to be up to her. "You've been gone for a week. And you haven't answered my phone calls."

He grunted and finally moved into his bedroom, turning on the light there. Tifa nearly growled angrily, but she stood and followed him. "I get that you're mad, but you have to give me a chance to explain what happened!"

"There's nothing to explain," he replied, sitting on his bed to unlace his boots and pull them off. "You're engaged to General Sephiroth. I mean, why else would your step-father announce that unless you had already accepted?"

Tifa watched his face, his features, blank, but his movements spoke of quite fury as he jerked off his uniform belts and pauldrons with near violence. "Do you honestly believe that I would accept a man my step-father wants me to marry? Especially after all of the times I reassured you that I love only you?"

Cloud stopped the violent removal of his uniform and turned to look at her with eyes only slightly wide. "You didn't accept to marry him?"

She tried to keep up a strong front, but his lack of trust in her was something painful. Tifa shook her head and bit her lip. "Of course I didn't," she replied darkly, forcing the tears back.

"Why didn't Sephiroth stop him? It's obvious that he believes that you accepted to marry him."

Tifa shook her head and forced herself to not slap Cloud for what he was saying. "ShinRa has had him over a few times, but I didn't think—I didn't know why," she said, eyes filling with angry tears. "He never asked me to marry him, and I never accepted. My step-father just handed me over without my consent."

Cloud was angled away from her, his shoulders taut and hands clenched. "You've being seeing him and you didn't think to tell me? Well, shit, Tifa! I know that you only search me out for sex, but I at least expect us to be honest with each other!"

She was in front of him faster than he would've thought, and then he felt the stinging pain of her fist against his jaw. He only stumbled back a step, his body built tough, even against a martial arts expert like Tifa. When he straightened to look back at her, the tears had broken free and were trailing down her cheeks.

Tifa sidestepped him and hurried towards the door, the hurt far superior than her anger. Before she could fully step out of his room though, he had grabbed her wrist and whirled her around and into his arms. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry…" he whispered, pulling her stiff body against his chest.

"You know—you know that it's not just sex," Tifa breathed into his shoulder, voice muffled.

"I do. I'm just fucking tired of this situation and of not being enough for you."

She pulled away from him at his words and shook her head. "The only one who things he's not enough is you. You already know that I would leave everything behind for you."

"I won't ask you to do that," Cloud replied, cleaning away her tears, blue eyes sad.

"Cloud, I'm not going to roll over and accept this farce of a marriage between me and Sephiroth. I don't love him. My step-father cannot control my life the way he is controlling this city!" Tifa said, exasperated.

Cloud pulled off his gloves and dropped them onto the pile where his belt and boots were resting. He ran his knuckles across her cheek and didn't push her away when she stepped closer, her lips slanting against his and her tongue slipping into his mouth in a wet caress.

It was always the same, and it had been since the beginning. Tifa wasn't a woman who took no for an answer, and she always got her way. They had known each other as children, and she had been the one who had left first when her mother had remarried. He had subconsciously followed her, using SOLDIER as an excuse to be in the same city as her, but to his surprise, he had risen in rank quickly with the help of his best friend, Zack, and his mentor, Angeal.

He had run into Tifa one afternoon, at the ShinRa building when he had been required to remain there to teach other cadets the basics of sword combat. She had been walking with her step-brother, both flanked by Turks, and she had been as surprised as he to see him. He had uttered a quiet hello before walking into the elevator. She had searched him out after that day, and she had found him. After countless lunch dates at the small deli down the street, their attraction had reached a boiling point. And now, here they were, unable to go out in public and with him deciding every week that it was the best course of action to end their hidden relationship.

Cloud pressed his forehead against hers, his breathing quick. Tifa's eyes met his and held, her hands squeezing his shoulders before pulling him into a hug. "I don't want to be married to anyone but you," she said quietly.

"Maybe it'll be better if you marry this guy. He'll be able to offer you more than I ever could," he said seriously.

Tifa pulled back and shook her head. "You can't be serious." Cloud remained silent. "You would seriously be okay with watching me walk down the aisle to marry another man! Because I'll make you watch, Cloud!" she nearly yelled.

Cloud stepped back and shook his head. "You're not that heartless."

"Then how can you honestly believe that I'll be happy with marrying another man?" she asked, voice choked.

Cloud couldn't understand why he was so intent on pushing her away. It wasn't for himself, because he obviously didn't care whether he ruined his life for being with her. Then why? His thoughts froze when her lips pressed to his again, her hands beginning to play his body the way only Tifa knew how to do. And as always, he responded in kind and without any resistance. Her mouth felt heavenly on his body, and when it was his turn to explore her, he did so like a thirsty man finding an oasis.

She was everything he needed in his life to survive.

Laying on her side, facing away from Cloud and towards the wall, Tifa remained silent a long moment after they had fallen away from their passionate embrace. Cloud had yet to say something to her about their previous argument, but Tifa had no doubt that it wasn't over yet.

Even though it was shattering a part of her to even say the words, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "I'll marry him if you can honestly tell me that it's what you want."

Cloud sucked in a breath as if he had been punched right in the stomach. "How can you ask me if it's something I truly want?"

"I already told you that I'd leave everything for you. Why isn't it enough?" Tifa asked, his hot breath tickling the back of her neck.

"I can't offer you all that you have gotten used to in the last ten years with your step-father. I want… I need to do better to be with you," he whispered.

Tifa sat up and began to pull on her clothing in a rush before she turned around and hit him again. "Have you forgotten that I grew up as a country girl? Cloud, you seriously need to take a look at my room at the ShinRa mansion. I only have what's necessary and I only accepted for my step-father to pay for my education because my mother nearly begged for me to do it!"

"Tifa," Cloud said, getting to his feet and searching out his boxers.

"I'm not asking for luxuries, Cloud. I'll even run a bar if I have to, but I'm convinced that we can make it if we're together," she said, turning pleading eyes towards him.

When he remained silent, staring at her with sorrowful eyes, she let out a laugh that was half sob. She finished pulling her top over her head and raced out of the room, grabbing her shoes and escaping as fast as she possibly could.

Cloud didn't follow her.