Disclaimer: If I owned the Final Fantasy series, I certainly wouldn't be here, writing fanfics. I'd be there, writing new games and stories! Because how sweet would that be?

To Catch A Fallen Star

That familiar little tune was chirping from his pocket again. Tifa hated it. It reminded her of that horrible man, she had said, and Marlene had agreed with the woman. But he couldn't help liking that melody. It had been the one that would flash through his head at the end of every battle for as long as he could recall; his victory dance, if Cloud was even capable of such a thing. He forgot exactly where he had first heard it, but that didn't matter that much. There was much Cloud didn't remember right.

The cellular phone flipped open into his hand. "Yeah."

"We both know that you have caller ID on that thing," her voice piped from the earpiece, "so you would think I could get a nicer greeting."

Tifa was toying with him again. She did that sometimes, though she never meant anything by it. It was just banter to her. He swallowed his ire and let it slide.

"Sorry," he sighed into the phone. She had told him that saying that word was nothing he should ever be ashamed of. She had told him it meant that people valued him, that they expected things of him; and that meant he wasn't worthless. It also proved that he was human; capable of making mistakes. "What's on your mind?" He asked, knowing that sounded better than 'what do you want'. She wouldn't appreciate that question.

"Their payment came through," Tifa announced, "I just received the new balance on the account. You can come home now, Cloud." She wanted him there, immediately. That much was clear. She hated his long trips. In all honesty he was starting to hate them, too.

"I'm on my way." He slipped his new phone back into its pocket. They never ended their calls with 'I love you' or 'I miss you' or anything so sentimental. It was still strange, this understanding they had reached. He knew that she cared for him, though he didn't understand why.

And as for his heart…

Fenrir's back tire spun in place, kicking up a rooster tail of dirt and gravel when Cloud crushed his grip onto the throttle. He had to make it back in time.


The Seventh Heaven was ablaze of lights and music when he pulled up, shortly before dark the following day. The city of Edge had a new life to it these days, and Tifa's bar seemed to live in the center of that energy. And although the bar was closed to the public this night it was by no means quiet. Laughter and voices muffled through the heavy doors, telling Cloud that he was the last to arrive.

He was tired and sore and covered in road dust, but he had made it. Leather and shocks creaked as he pulled himself from the bike. It would need a good once-over later, he noted of the squeaks absently. But that would have to wait. Cloud climbed the steps and entered the place he was finally able to call 'home'. The noise within died almost immediately.

"See! I told you he'd make it!" Denzel's rascal-shout cut over the music sharply and heads swiveled to the man standing in the door. No one moved from their places at the tables and bar; they just watched him – some smiling, some curious. Cloud tried not to shrink into himself, as reflex would have done by now.

"We were wonderin' if you were gonna need a search party, Spiky." Barret's gruff tone, while cheerful, betrayed the big man's buried annoyance. This Cloud knew how to handle. Barret's tirades had almost become a comfort to him. A least he never had to wonder what the loud man was thinking. Cloud cocked an eyebrow and grunted softly in response as he reached under his travel cloak, his arm protectively wrapped around a large bundle beneath.

"I had to make a stop first." Gloved hands produced a package wrapped in brown paper and twine. The boy's eyes danced eagerly. "Happy birthday, Denzel." A great deal of fuss was made by the kids in the room and Tifa's soft beam told the blonde man that his tardiness was forgiven.

"Can I open it now?"

Cloud shrugged, but let a small smile find his lips. "It's your gift."

Teeth flashed in a lopsided grin and brown paper was torn and deposited on the floor with no care for the mess he was making.

Tifa chuckled at her ward's enthusiasm. "You're cleaning that up when you're done." Yet her played exasperation was lost when the boy opened the box before him. Within lay a child-sized motorcycle helmet, black with a silver wolf emblem, and a miniature set of Cloud's own sunglasses.

"This doesn't mean you're going on the long trips," the blonde explained before Denzel could speak, "but you can come with me on the ones that are close to home. And you can't go all of the time, or Marlene will be miserable." Small hands pulled the helmet reverently from the box, turning the object over for inspection. Across the back 'Denzel' was scrawled in a script that complimented the wolf emblem perfectly.

"You mean it, Cloud?" It was almost a whisper of awe. For so long Denzel had been too sick to accompany Cloud on his deliveries; something he had wanted terribly. But now with the geostigma gone Denzel was finding that the world was opening up to him at last.

"We'll start slow and see how you like it." A child's body hurtled at him, the boy's face buried in his ribs while the helmet pounded roughly against his back; forgotten in Denzel's grasp. The man's gloved hand rested atop tousled brown hair and for a moment Tifa could have sworn that Cloud had never known a life of pain and uncertainty.

"Remember, Cloud said you can't go all the time," Marlene's words rang clear that she didn't like this, but the kind-hearted girl would never ask her friend to not go at all. She knew how badly Denzel wanted to be with Cloud. The quiet man was the closest thing the boy had to a father.

"I know, I won't." But those words didn't stop the boy from pulling the helmet down over his head and pushing the sunglasses onto the bridge of his nose. "How do I look?" Marlene smiled playfully.

"You look really cool!"

"Wow, Denzel, maybe you should be driving Fenrir instead of Cloud!" Yuffie's chipper comment earned a sharp look from the boy's guardian.

"I don't think he's quite ready for that," Tifa said by way of a dismissal and quickly reached for the next gift before Denzel could argue with her. "Here, this one is from Red."


She found him sitting on the front steps, gazing up at the stars after the party. He did that a lot lately. He didn't go off on his own physically anymore, but he still went off and left her, if only in his mind. She knew that he didn't realize he was doing it. In his opinion he was there with them. She tried not to push him too fast. He still had a lot of things to work through, she understood.

"Cid's thinking of building another rocket." Her boots echoed hollowly against the planks and she took a place at his side, drawing her knees up to her chest. "I'm sure he'll take us if we asked."

"I think I'm going to stay closer to home for a while." And then there was silence. The jukebox had been off for hours. The kids were asleep; their comrades set up in guest rooms or ventured off to find other accommodations, including Barrett, who had gone off to bed in the room set aside for him for whenever he made it back to the city. He'd be leaving again tomorrow afternoon, a fact which was thoroughly irritating a certain little girl.

Tifa relished these quiet moments with Cloud. They used to hurt; his silences. She had always thought that they meant he would rather be somewhere else. Or with someone else. But now she took them as Cloud feeling comfortable. If he had wanted to leave he would have gone already.

She took a chance and shimmied closer to him.

"Denzel's expecting you to take him for a ride tomorrow." The warmth of his body radiated from him, tingling at the bare skin of her arm. He nodded once.

"Hmm. Guess I should have seen that one coming." His chin tucked against his chest, and he turned his head slightly, watching her feet as though they were fascinating.

She loved that he was so shy, and hated it all at once. It was flattering to her, that she could have such an effect on such a powerful man. Yet sometimes she just wanted him to be able to hold her without having to ask him for it. But Cloud was Cloud, and there were still things he had trouble with. She slid a hand across the deck towards him and then ignored the appendage, leaving the silent invitation open for him. Words would only make things harder, she knew.

Another companionable silence and his arm found its way around her waist, pulling her against his side. She sighed and rested her head on his shoulder. This was all she ever wanted in the world; to be sitting at her bar, her kids safe and healthy and the arms of this man wrapped around her.

"How long were you planning on buying that for him?"

The helmet. She could feel his mental shrug, even if his body didn't echo the response. "I saw some in the window of this shop the last time I was over by Junon. I figured he'd need one anyway, so I had one ordered for him." Her fingers covered his at her stomach and she raised her chin.

"Most adults would have just bought him a toy. You gave him more than just a helmet. You made a promise to him. I haven't seen him so excited in a while." She butted her shoulder to his playfully before letting him turn his attention back to the stars.

Her fingers trailed up his other arm lazily before coming to rest on a thin strip of cloth. A pink ribbon. Their tribute.

Marlene had started the tradition with the long ribbon she wore in her hair. Despite her great care for their lost friend and the guilt that weighed heavily on her, Tifa had struggled with her jealously once more when Cloud was the next of them to don the memento.

And then he had come to her, after the fight with Kadaj and Sephiroth; after the geostigma had been washed away and a great deal of her worries with it. Cloud had approached her late one night as she closed up the bar and asked her if she would forgive him. Could she ever forgive him for the time he had wasted pushing her away?

What could she say to that question? The courage he had mustered to speak such simple words deserved no other answer than the one she had given him. And like peeling away the layers of an onion, another dark shadow was lifted away from those bright aqua eyes, and Tifa never felt that pang of old jealousy again.

She had asked him if he could do something for her. She had asked him to forgive himself.

He promised to try.

"What is it?" Tifa blinked at the sound of his voice and realized that those Mako eyes were staring into hers, puzzled. More to the point, she had been staring at him without even knowing it. Tifa smiled playfully and struck her shoulder against his again.

"You watch the stars when you think. I guess I watch you when I think." Though his expression did not change, she knew him well enough to know that there was a smirk just waiting to twist those pale lips, and she wanted so much to see it just then. "Maybe it's the pale, pointy hair. I get fooled into thinking I'm star watching, too." A single breathy chuckle and that smirk broke free at her intentionally poor joke. She rested her head against his shoulder again and enjoyed the quiet.

He took a breath after a while, as though he was about to say something, held it and then released it in a rueful sigh.

"Cloud?" He had something on his mind. She decided she wanted to know what.

"You were thinking something…" he said uncertainly, unable to come out and directly ask for her thoughts. Now it was time for Tifa to sigh.

"I was thinking," she said slowly, carefully, "how nice it is, to be here like this. And I was also thinking…" her voice trailed off, unable to say the words out loud.

"Did… did I do something wrong?" His words were soft, his chin tucked against his chest again. Tifa cursed to herself.

"No! Of course not. I promised too, remember?" When Cloud had made his promise, she had made one in turn. She had promised to be patient with him. It was hard to be patient with someone you had been waiting for since childhood, but Tifa was at last able to see an end to the waiting. He had given her that much. So if he made a mistake along the way she would tell him – gently – because if he could make the effort than so could she.

Give and take; that makes a relationship work. Right?

"I was just thinking, that… I wish I could know what you're feeling. I wish I could step into your mind again and see…"

He didn't shy away from her. At one time he would have; anyone who tried to get too close to him was instinctually pushed away. But Tifa had already breached that line. She had entered his thoughts to save him, though he had fought her through most of it. He had struggled to hide the secrets and lies from her that lived within his heart. But she had pushed, had seen it all, and then had accepted him for who he was. Broken. Tormented. Human. Beautiful.

Beside her Cloud shrugged. "Not much has changed."

"Are you sure?" She asked. "Because I think you're wrong. I think a lot has changed. I think you're healing."

His gaze focused down at her from the corner of his eyes as he watched her watching him.

"I… hope so." They weren't just words to him. There was something in his voice, in his eyes. Something that told Tifa he wasn't doing this just because she had asked. He was ready to heal, finally, after years of punishing himself for sins that were never his.

It occurred to her that Cloud was no longer looking her in the eyes, but watching her teeth worry her bottom lip absently. She'd been subject to his scrutiny before, but never like this. It was a quiet observance, intimate and… something else. Waiting? "Cloud?" Her breath was catching in her lungs, and she absently suspected his heightened senses could hear it. "Would you kiss me?"

What? What had she just blurted? Had she just made a huge and completely inappropriate mistake? Her heart skipped and stuttered in her chest, suddenly worried she had overstepped their tenuous agreement. What was she thinking? He could barely hold her hand without invitation! What part of her suddenly decided it was acceptable to throw herself at him without warning? She was still admonishing herself when his free hand slowly reached up and took a lock of her hair between his fingers, winding it around his index finger. His attention now focused entirely on those dark strands, gently tangled within his fingers. He was stalling, even she could see that.

"I'm sorry Cloud," she whispered, "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable." His eyes closed, sorrow twisting his features.

"I just…" he breathed, opening his eyes to look at her imploringly, "no one's ever asked me that before; not me. I wanted to make it one of my memories."

Tifa's eyes widened. She couldn't believe it; he wanted this. He actually wanted this.

The fingers holding her hair moved to cup the back of her neck. Holding her as he would a butterfly, Cloud tilted his head to place his lips to hers, and at that first reverent touch Tifa felt something within her chest break in the most exquisite way.

Her wait had ended.

His kiss was soft, gentle. Feathered touches and warm breath against her face; fingers at her neck touching but not holding. Enfolded in his arms, she had the impression of being drawn into him once more, only now there was no pain, no sorrow. Only wonder. The barrier that he kept firmly in place had dissipated; she felt that if she looked into his eyes at that moment she would see straight into his soul.

They parted slowly, only to reconnect when empty space came between them, with Cloud closing the distance as eagerly as she did. Tifa's kiss slowly became more insistent, and Cloud response was everything she could have hoped for. His lips embraced hers, drawing her to him, asking for more without words. It was a plea she eagerly obliged.

The thing beneath her breast which had just broken free now melted, smoldered, and then started to burn with a life of its own. Her breath quickened, her limbs ached to cling tighter, and with great reluctance, Tifa decided to pull back.

"I think," She breathed, "we have to stop. Or I'm going to want more than you're ready to give."

She waited for him to agree, to pull back, to acknowledge in some way that he wasn't ready for more. "What if," Cloud spoke slowly, his words carefully chosen, "what if I'm not ready to stop?" Tifa's heart leapt at the admission and she was tempted to crush herself against his mouth, though she held firmly to her self control. She'd lost control once this evening already. She didn't want to tempt fate into ruining the joy she had just discovered in Cloud's lips.

She nodded solemnly. "Then we won't. Not until you say we've gone far enough." Cloud frowned.

"What about you? What if you don't want-"

"I already told you," Tifa placed a finger over his mouth, silencing his concerns. "I'll want more. But if I decide I've had enough I'll tell you." Fat chance, she thought to herself. She'd take all that he was willing to give, because there was no such thing as 'enough' when it came to being with this man. When her hand came away, Cloud's mouth covered hers once more, a level of restraint stripped away.

This isn't real. Not real. Just a dream; a wonderful, vivid, impossible dream.

When Tifa's tongue grazed his upper lip, Cloud groaned into her mouth deliciously.

The burning within her chest exploded, consuming Tifa until she forgot to be so cautious with him; forgot to worry that this might be too much for someone so new to experiencing life. Fingers curled in his hair, locking him to her possessively. Tifa rose up onto her knees, with a fair amount of shifting, in order to gain a different approach at kissing the broken god beneath her hands. The arms around her body released her and strong hands gripped her sides, lifting her so that she straddled his lap. Then those lithe arms returned, crushing her to his stone-chiseled torso. Slick warmth caressed her lower lip in turn and Tifa marveled at the experience of Cloud's tongue as it sought out hers.

Tifa moaned his name against his mouth, realizing he had heard her when his lips retreated to her jaw, and then her throat. Through her thin leather top, Tifa felt his heart beating madly against his ribs.

Cloud's hands reached up to tug at her hair gently, pulling her head back to afford him more room to tend to her throat. Damp trails traced along her pulse points as he moved over her, pulling and tasting her skin.

She wanted to sob with the joy of this moment. It was possible she had already, she couldn't tell with all of the noises coming from her. He was here, really here, doing to her what she had once doubted would ever be possible. Taking initiative. Loving her without regret, away from the memories she had thought he would never leave behind.

His lips pulled away harshly, and his fists released her tresses. Within her mind Tifa could have cursed herself for dooming this moment with her incredulous thoughts, had she not been mourning the feel of cool air where there had just been lips and searing breath.

"Tifa," her name was a throaty grunt in something that could have once passed for Cloud's voice, "we have to move."

"What?" She blinked in a daze. "Why?" She looked down at him, at his lips that were blushed dark from friction.

"The kids," he croaked, "or anyone else." His eyes were trained to her mouth, as he frowned in intense concentration. He craved her kiss; it was obvious even to her. It made her reel to see that he wanted her. But he wouldn't give in to that desire. She couldn't understand why.

As if in answer, a gentle breeze ruffled her hair. She gazed about, remembering where they were. The front steps of the Seventh Heaven, just below the windows to the kids' rooms and in front of a street that could have traffic pass through at any hour of day and night.

And he had said 'move', not 'stop'. A pause; only a pause. She swallowed. "Where?"

Cloud craned his neck up to the windows above them. It was a packed house tonight with the kids sharing Marleen's room, Barret and Cid bunked in Barret's room, Yuffie in Denzel's, and Red stretched out downstairs. Tifa's and Cloud's rooms would both make poor choices, having a slumbering party member or child beyond at least one of the thin walls.

A snap of his head and Cloud stood, pulling Tifa to her feet and down the steps. She didn't understand it, not until he pulled Fenrir's keys from his pocket and hoisted her to the bike's leather seat. There was a sidecar behind the bar that he used for passengers occasionally, but it required more time and patience to connect that they were willing to afford at the moment. Instead he mounted the bike in front of Tifa, kicking it into gear and tearing a path down the road while perched upon the foot pegs.

The sight of Cloud standing atop Fenrir liquefied Tifa's insides. Did he know how gorgeous he was? Did he know what the sight of him did to her? The roaring vibrations of the motorcycle beneath her bottom succeeded only in frustrating her more. Wherever Cloud was taking them, she prayed they would get there fast.

Cloud drove like a lunatic, which wasn't saying much for Cloud. He always rode his bike like he had a death wish when the passenger car was not attached. So it didn't surprise Tifa when only a couple of minutes later signs popped up announcing their departure from Edge and wishing them a safe return. Following a bare dirt road until it became little more than a path, Tifa finally caught site of something gleaming in the moonlit distance. At first she couldn't make it out, but as they drew closer she recognized it instantly.

It was the rusted blade of Cloud's Buster Sword, impaled in the hills overlooking Edge; a sentinel of distant past.

So that's where it went.

Cloud whipped the bike around, using the wind resistance caused by Fenrir's massive flank to stop as much as the handbrakes. The bike came to a perfect stop beside the Buster Sword, testifying that this was not the first time he had sent the bike careening in lieu of slowing down before applying the brakes. The kickstand clicked down as the stoic man killed the engine and stepped off of the pegs in an instant, flinging open the cargo bins at the back and digging around until he found what he had been searching for.

A road-worn bedroll.

Mako eyes rose questioningly to her, the blanket clutched tightly to his chest. It had been less than ten minutes since they had broken from that kiss, and she could see he was already wondering if she would change her mind.

Tifa dismounted from the leather seat and took the bundle from his hands, untying the straps and flicking the blanket open onto the ground with a whipping motion. The breeze it dispersed smelled of Cloud and soil and a hint of detergent despite having been rolled out onto the ground recently. The scent of him on the blanket, made her long to be back in his arms.

She turned to the man who stood silently; watching her. Away from the shadows of city walls and darkened buildings, the moonlight illuminated him perfectly, coloring his pale hair and skin white, while leaving his eyes that unsettling blue that made him look almost ethereal.

By the planet, or spirits, or whatever you were supposed to pray to nowadays, he was beautiful.

"Did I hear you say stop yet?" She asked quietly. Cloud barely shook his head.


She took another step forward, easily within arms' reach though not actually touching. "Do you want to say it?"

"No." A little firmer, but still a whisper.

She gave him a faint smile.

"Then what are you doing over there?"

He took a step into her, not trying to touch her, but well within her invisible circle of personal space.

Tifa reached up to wrap her arms loosely around his neck, feeling him pull her back into that embrace she had not wanted to part from. Though he was not much taller than her, Tifa still had to stretch to meet his lips once more.

Purposefully, Tifa took a step back and he followed, unconsciously trying to draw closer to her. Another step back yielded the same results. After repeating the action a few more times Cloud's eyes opened and rose to a space beyond her shoulder.

The bedroll.

She was slowly, gently pulling them in that direction. His breath caught against her face and she stopped mid-step, her greedy lips stilling against his. A heavy lidded, cinnamon stare met his gaze and she drew back slightly, anticipating his admission that he was done.

The worry died when she was quickly crushed to his frame and lifted a couple of inches off of the ground, as Cloud closed the distance to the bedroll in three long strides. When her feet touched the ground once more she let her knees give way and slid to the soft blanket beneath her, pulling him down as well.

Kneeling before him upon the bedroll, Tifa took a breath.

Until he says stop.

She crept closer until her knees once again straddled his. His lips parted wordlessly; watching her with great interest. Fingertips barely skimmed her sides as he slowly drew his hands up; wanting to touch her. Her hands came to rest upon his shoulders.

"Come back to me?"

Clouds lips came down upon hers instantly, and the fire that had roiled within her on the steps of the Seventh Heaven reignited explosively.

Tifa sighed and slid her fingers into that mass of pale gold hair, feeling Cloud's arms pull her tightly against him, his mouth crushing hers sweetly. His breathing was ragged when they parted for the sake of air. His fingers skimmed her shirt, seeking out the bare strap of skin between the hem and her shorts and splaying across the skin of her back to hold her close. It was clear those brief moments atop Fenrir had done as little to quell his desire as it had hers.

Tifa's hands clutched at his back, bunching fabric into her fists as they kissed and pulling his shirt free of his belt awkwardly. With a jerk Cloud pulled back and roughly yanked the garment from his body, returning to her mouth as though it was his sole source of oxygen. His skin was hot against her arms, pale with only a few faint scars despite the countless battles they had fought together. A small round scar above his heart was mirrored on his back; a bullet wound that had killed him, if only for a little while.

Another hand clasping the back of her neck, gently coaxing her away from him and into the firm arms behind her. Hot breath accompanied soft kisses at her throat, her collar bones, trailing down to her tank top. Tifa's head swam dizzily. It was all so fast, and that cynical part of her consciousness told her to act quickly, for it wouldn't last.

Too far beyond rational thought to remember caution or restraint, Tifa's fingers caught the zipper of her top and she pulled the fastener down, a white undershirt beneath still blocking the path of his kiss.

Tifa growled, and the sound was accompanied by the rip of fabric as she tore the thin shirt from her torso. The ruined garment was quickly forgotten when Cloud's mouth returned to her collarbone, and then dared to move lower.

His hands dug into the skin of her back; which now rested upon the bedroll by some action she had failed to notice. His lips dared to flutter over the round swell of her cleavage. Tifa arched her back further, unable to control the reaction her body demanded. He paused only for a moment before cooperating, drawing one sensitive peak into his mouth with tender pulls.

Tifa moaned and shuddered. This was happening. This was real. Clothing. There was still too much clothing separating them. From beneath his continued attention, she reached for his belt with fumbling fingers.

"Cloud," she panted, "I need…"

His lips pulled away and she groaned in protest, but the sound of metal and leather caught her attention. Her eyes opened to find Cloud perched above her; his fingers flipping catches of belt and trousers to remove the articles from his body as quickly as possible.

She couldn't wait anymore. With the promise of finally having what she had waited so long for, the years suddenly weighed heavily, burdening her heart like never before. Since they were children in Nibelheim; since she had found him at the train station in Midgar; since he had awoke in Mideel. She had lost him and found him again so many times; always wondering if this time it would be different. Maybe this time he would be ready. Maybe this time he would accept her.

And now he was here; wanting her as she had always dreamed.

Cloud held back from her just long enough to cast aside boots, belt and pants before covering her once more with his frame; the crushing burden of time on her heart replaced by the gentle press of his body atop hers.

With his weight once more upon her, she could breathe again, and caught a ragged gasp when his lips returned to her jaw line; his hands knotting in her hair. Muscular legs tangled with hers; bare to the toes that were currently kicking her shoes away. One larger hand snaked between their stomachs, and she heard the ripping of a zipper as he released her from her shorts.

She no longer had to coax him; no longer had to worry if she was pushing him too quickly, or asking too much of him. He was acting on his own, doing what he wanted, what they wanted.

Leather slid down the length of her legs, the last vestment between them stripped away. Cloud's breath huffed in her ear.

"You won't have to ask," he breathed, "I won't say 'when'."

Tifa chuckled, though she really wanted to let loose an insane giggle. Part of her might have gone a little crazy – it was to be expected when the impossible was suddenly real and pressing very naked skin against hers. "I see that."

Pushing away for a moment, Cloud rose above her to peer down at her seriously.

"I meant after this." His voice was soft; at contrast with the intensity that always seemed to be present in his stare. "After tonight, I'm not going to say 'when'. I… I want more." It was a question. He wasn't telling her he wanted more from their relationship, he was asking for it.

"Cloud..." she hadn't been prepared for that. It had been too much to hope for; to hear him say this so soon. Perhaps later down the road, maybe, but now? She hadn't even dared to imagine what it would be like.

With reverent fingers, Tifa reached up and touched his cheek. "I'll take whatever you can give, Cloud." His eyes clenched shut tightly and he turned his face from her.

"Don't say it like that." He whispered. "You deserve better. You've always deserved better." Her fingers still against his cheek, Tifa pulled him back to face her.

"No regrets," she soothed. "We're here now."

"You're here," he breathed, his eyes trailing down to her kiss-swollen lips again; his thoughts clear to her.

"With you," she added, and lifted her head enough to press those lips to his. She watched as his eyes rolled closed, surrendering to the bliss that her heart and body echoed.

Beneath the press of his body she couldn't keep still. The feel of his skin rubbing pleasurably against hers was too much to deny, and her limbs moved over him, bringing about more of the sweet friction. Her hands explored his arms, back and hips. Her legs ran up and down the length of his. And all the while her body was explored in turn, fingers, lips and tongue tracing over her skin, eliciting shivers and moans and whimpers that sometimes sent him careening back to her mouth to drink greedily of the noises she emitted.

One well toned arm slipped lower, and a cool palm rested against the fevered skin of her inner thigh, its gentle nudge requesting access to places yet unexplored. From behind closed lids, Tifa's eyes rolled back and she shifted her legs. Cloud's weight slid between her thighs, as a pressure she did not have to see to identify made itself known against her.

"Yes." It was a hiss, a whisper, a prayer. He was her personal star; her broken god. Who better to pray to than him?

The palm at her thigh moved to cup her mound, one finger carefully pushing into her folds; searching amidst the tender flesh. At her ear his breath was ragged and uneven. His touch left trails of electric tingles in its wake and when at last he found her access she pressed her hand against his, pushing the investigating digit into her, showing him the way.

A broken gasp was drawn at her ear, and his fingers pushed against her ardently, trying to help gain him access to the deepest parts of her core. The throbbing pressure at her hip reacted in turn, becoming uncomfortably rigid between their bodies. Cloud's hips pushed against her, driving the hardness against her painfully.

The hand atop Cloud's slid over to the source of her discomfort, thick and hot against her palm. The breath at her ear stopped completely, and the occupied hand was removed from her womanhood obediently. Slender fingers took hold of him, guiding the him towards the place that ached to have him delve and claim-

"Tifa," her name was that same throaty croak it had been on the steps of the Seventh Heaven, only now it did not command, it pleaded. For as long as she lived, no matter what happened tomorrow or after, Tifa would never forget the way her name sounded on Cloud's lips this night.

She placed the velvety tip at her entrance and Cloud groaned, his lips pulling at the skin beneath her ear, his tongue stroking the fragile skin as it had her lip.

Tifa moved her hands to his flanks and spread her thighs wide, making it clear that nothing held him back from her but his own restraint.

"Tifa," he whispered and she opened her eyes to see his face above hers. Cerulean orbs dazzled her from their alabaster frame. His expression was open, unguarded and tender.

Forever hers.

The firmness at her entrance bore down, and Tifa felt her insides stretch and fill; a place hidden deep within her thrumming wildly when his manhood struck it fully. Tifa cried out and watched Cloud's eyes glaze and his lips part slightly; it was clear that whatever place had just struck such an accord with Tifa had an equally powerful effect on him as well.

Cloud's hips began to move, driving himself deep into her with slow, rhythmic movements, finding with each stroke that place within her that had them both panting and holding tightly to one another. Cloud's mouth returned to hers, claiming her tongue with a sweep of his own.

Battle roughened hands burrowed beneath her body, gripping her bottom and pulling it to him with every thrust of his hips. Tifa bucked her hips into him in kind. She needed to have him completely. She needed him to be as far within her as possible. Her hand pressed down on the back of his neck, deepening their kiss into something needful and covetous; a far cry from the first kiss they had shared earlier that evening.

The speed of their combined efforts steadily increased, until Cloud was gasping and Tifa whimpering from beneath their bruised and battered lips. No longer gentle or cautions, he drove himself into her desperately, moaning her name between other inarticulate sounds.

Tifa's lips moved from her lover's kiss to his throat, drawing flesh gently between her teeth and leaving red blotches in her wake. The hiss above her, and the hand that reached up to cradle her head only encouraged her boldness. She allowed her teeth to play a little harder against his skin, hearing Cloud moan his appreciation, and earning an increase to the urgency of his thrusts.

Her sensitivity only increasing at the friction of their actions, Tifa's insides tightened around him, drawing the wellspring of pleasure closer and closer to the surface. She could feel it swelling within her, like a bomb ready to self destruct. Her mouth ceased to travel along the shaft of his throat, his skin forgotten between her teeth until her walls constricted around his hardness in a forceful spasm and she was tossing her head back, crying out her ecstasy to the heavens above.

And Cloud surged within her, his release heating her inner walls in wave after wave as he bruised her back and buttock beneath a steel-trap grip. The force of his final thrust impaled that sensitive place within her almost painfully, Cloud's voice breaking from his throat as he lost himself to the passion that consumed him completely.

Tifa's body grew limp and heavy, and it took an enormous effort to enfold her lover's shoulders within her arms. Cloud's body rested atop her completely, trembling, his head nestled against her ear. Slowly, Tifa lifted a hand to his head, drawing her fingers through locks of starlight-colored silk. The head beneath her hand turned slightly, lips brushed that place beneath her ear – her new favorite place to be kissed, Cloud had taught her tonight. Fingers cupped the other side of her head, tangling into her hair lazily.

Cloud's trembling soon passed and Tifa's eyes grew too tired to keep open.

Under a sky twinkling with a million stars that could never compare to the one atop her now, Tifa allowed herself to drift off.


When next she opened her eyes, it was to a sky, chalked with countless different hues of pinks and purples; golds and reds. And between her and the coming sunrise, Cloud sat not five feet away watching the sky change, clad in only his trousers, his bare torso almost glowing in the dawn's golden light.

Tifa rose, wrapped the blanket around her and joined him in his study of the morning sky. She moved gingerly, her body a mass of tender places that would not appreciate it if she plopped down carelessly. For a time they sat in silence watching the horizon shift from its prismatic display to yellow-gold as the first sliver of the rising sun came into view.

They would have to go back soon, she knew. Barret and the others were there to take care of Marlene and Denzel if necessary, but Tifa didn't know how they'd explain their absence or appearances to the kids if they had to. The memory of her ruined white shirt only reinforced that concern, and she began to fret about how she would sneak in with only her black leather tank top, which barely covered her breasts.

And then Cloud threw her entire train of thought from the tracks.

"I don't have anything to give you," he whispered in that familiar melancholy. Tifa frowned, puzzled.

"What? Where did that come from?"

Cloud's shoulders slumped. "I have nothing to offer you. No family; no home; not even a ring…"

Tifa's throat clenched.

"A… a ring?" She whispered incredulously.

"The house and the ring I could afford after a few high-risk jobs, I suppose," he mulled on obliviously, "but the name I carry means nothing – it belongs to a shadow. How can I expect you to-"

"I don't care!" She cried out, suddenly aware of what he meant. "I don't want some important name, or big house, or a chunk of metal for my finger. I just want you – exactly as you are. None of those other things matter to me Cloud." Dejected features lightened as met here gaze.

"Are… you sure?" He asked carefully.

"I wouldn't have spent last night with you if I wasn't." She replied, a little defensively. Cloud's anxiety dissipated and he reached out to wrap an arm around her waist and pull her close.

"No," he said softly, "I guess you wouldn't have." Tifa held to her frown, though she felt her irritation retreating quickly.

"You guess?" At this Cloud smiled, his nose pushing aside her hair to kiss her favorite spot. Tifa closed her eyes and sighed.

"Will you at least let me buy you a ring?" He whispered against her skin.

Tifa instantly felt giddy. Illogically, incurably giddy. She couldn't remember ever feeling this euphoric. She had no idea how this was happening; she couldn't believe he was here, talking about giving her his name and a ring. Maybe they had wiped out on Fenrir last night and this was Heaven. It was the only thing that made sense; not that she cared at this particular moment. She smiled and leaned into his lips a little more.

"Hmmm, that depends," she murmured.

"I'm listening."

The cell phone at his side began to chirp his victory dance and Tifa snatched it up, taking notice of Barret's picture and name upon the ID screen. No doubt trying to hunt them down, she mused. The ringtone even sounded annoyed.

Nope. Not Heaven. The knowledge of that only compounded her exhilaration.

"Well, for starters you could change your ringtone," she said, and felt Cloud's smile broaden into something more lighthearted beneath her earlobe.

"I think that might be a deal-breaker," he said. Tifa chuckled and tossed the bleating phone aside. Suddenly clean clothes and mussed hair didn't seem so important.

And the kids could show Barret where to find the cereal, she decided. They had all morning before Barret had to be to his train.

Plenty of time.

"Alright then," she murmured, ducking her chin low to capture his lips in hers. "How about this one; I've got this blanket here…"

Cloud's arms encircled her possessively.

"Go on." He whispered.

And so she did.



Do you know how long Tifa and Cloud sat on the front steps of the Seventh Heaven? Three years! That's how long this has sat in limbo – and that's the part of the story where I just stalled out. Got bored. Ran out of steam. Whatever you want to call it. Then, last week, after my computer took a dive and I had to dump everything and reload all my crap I found this buried in a dusty broom closet at the back of my back-up hard drive and realized – hey – this could make a great smut fest! Three years ago that never would have happened – I was way too cowardly to post anything as risqué as a sex scene. Today, though, I got Tifa and Cloud off of the steps and into some naughty time!

Think next I'll do a fight scene for something. Been feeling a little angsty lately… ;o)