Songs quoted within: "Thank You", by Led Zeppelin
Songs quoted within: "Thank You", by Led Zeppelin
Summer had come early to Midgar, and while the month of May ended up being unseasonably hot, by mid-June, the weather had settled into a pattern of cool mornings, hot afternoons, and slightly less steamy nights. It was one such June morning, early in the day, when Cloud was nervously checking his reflection in the mirror. Today, of all days, he wanted to make sure he looked flawless.
It was his wedding day.
Finally, after everything he and Reno had been through, today would be the happiest day of their lives. At least, Cloud hoped it would be, once he figured out how to put on his tie. He was growing increasingly and ridiculously frustrated with his inability to put on a simple necktie, but Cloud wanted everything to be perfect. Including the stupid tie.
"Tifa!" he cried helplessly into the next room. Tifa would be serving as Cloud's maid of honor that day, and being a superstitious traditionalist, had sequestered herself and Cloud in the apartments over Seventh Heaven, having ordered Rude - Reno's best man - to keep the redhead far, far away from Cloud until the ceremony was about to begin. "But…" Reno had protested, to no avail. He and Cloud hadn't spent one night apart since the ordeal at the Northern Crater, and Reno didn't want to start that practice now – or ever, really. Reno knew that one night apart certainly wouldn't kill either of them, it would just…suck.
"Out," Tifa had ordered the Turk, shutting the door in his stunned face. It was a silly superstition, and Tifa would be the first to admit it; but, she wasn't taking any chances with her best friend's happiness, either. That was last night, the last time Cloud had seen Reno. Ten hours, thirty-two minutes, and five seconds ago. Not that Cloud was counting.
"What is it, Cloud?" Tifa asked him. She walked into the room, a baby in her arms, just shy of a month old. Tifa and Rude's baby - a girl - had been born in May, and was named Ariadne - Ari for short. "She's got your hair, yo," Reno had told Rude, right upon seeing her. The baby was, naturally, bald as a cueball, and Rude had merely grunted at Reno's remark, rolling his eyes.
"I-I can't do this!" Cloud wailed at his reflection. "The tie! Look at it, Teef!"
Tifa sighed, and grinned. "For a second, I thought you meant you couldn't do 'this', meaning the whole getting married to Reno thing," she said, giggling. "Here, hold the baby," Tifa commanded Cloud, handing the infant over. Ari cooed and gurgled, as Cloud shifted the small bundle in his arms. "Please don't spit up on me, Ari," he whispered to the baby, smiling gently down at her.
"That's not even funny, Tifa," Cloud told Tifa. "Don't even joke like that, I've been waiting for this day..."
"All of your life, I know!" Tifa said, completing his sentence for him. "Just teasing, Cloud, you need to relax," she said, fixing his tie for him. She stood back and inspected her handiwork; as she did so, a beam of sunlight shifted, peeking through the window blinds, and highlighted Cloud from the side, making him look almost ethereal in his white tux and tails. "Oh Cloud," she said softly, her bottom lip trembling slightly. "You look...beautiful. Reno's not going to be able to keep his eyes off of you."
"That reminds me," Cloud said nervously, as he gingerly handed Ari back to Tifa, and glanced at the clock on the wall, "shouldn't we get going? I don't want to be late..."
"The bride is always allowed to be late, you know," Tifa said teasingly, as she hoisted Ari onto her hip, and grabbed a diaper bag.
"I am NOT the bride, Tifa!" Cloud retorted stubbornly. "Why does everyone keep saying that!"
"Because...you're wearing all white, for one thing, Cloud," Tifa replied, grinning, as she set Ari into her stroller, buckling the infant in her seat securely.
Cloud sighed, rolling his eyes. "I knew this would happen. I never should have let Reno talk me into wearing all white. I look ridiculous."
Tifa locked up the restaurant, making sure the 'closed' sign was in the window, and glanced back at Cloud. He looks anything but ridiculous, she thought. Only Cloud Strife could make an all-white tux and tails look badass.
"You look wonderful, Cloud," Tifa told him soothingly, as they began walking toward the outskirts of Edge and Midgar. "And I'm not just saying that because I'm your friend. You are drop dead handsome in that, you really are."
"Thanks, Teef," he replied, grinning. "Hey, let's get over to ShinRa. We've got a helicopter to catch." Cloud shoved his hands in his pockets, and walked alongside Tifa, smiling as he felt the rays of the early morning sun warm his face.
It was going to be a good day.
Reno was pacing nervously and checking his watch. He and Rude were standing in what Reno considered to be the most perfect spot on Gaia; and the one place in the world that Cloud had declared the 'only' place he'd want to exchange wedding vows with Reno, the fern grotto in Costa del Sol. Reno had initially protested the idea, feeling that it wouldn't be 'their' place anymore, after inviting all of their friends there to witness the event. Cloud stubbornly refused to back down. "Please, Reno?" he had begged. "That place...is where I found myself again, and I started over. I can't think anywhere else I'd rather be, as we begin our lives together."
Reno could hardly argue with that logic. He talked Cloud into letting him make some of the other major decisions in planning their wedding, including what they'd be wearing, along with the guest list. It was going to be a small and intimate gathering; the guest list was mostly comprised of Cloud's friends, a few business associates, and the Turks.
The Turks. Reno had finally patched things up with Tseng, after several months of awkward silence, mostly on Reno's end. He had even let Tseng talk him into taking on a few random assignments, knowing full well that Tseng was trying to get him to rejoin the group. Finally, about two months before the wedding day, Reno decided he really did miss being a Turk after all, and with Cloud's full support, was reinstated as a Turk. As much as his pride had been wounded before, Reno finally managed to forgive Tseng; and for Tseng's part, he vowed to never keep Reno out of the loop on anything. Ever.
Tseng and Elena would be flying Cloud, Tifa, and Ari out to the wedding site, in the ShinRa helicopter, and Reno kept glancing up at the sky for any sign of their arrival. He was still pacing, and friends were starting to gather at the wedding site. Yuffie and Vincent showed up, holding hands, and grinning. "Looking good, Reno!" Yuffie said, greeting him. Vincent was inclined to agree that Reno had cleaned up rather well. The Turk was decked out in a black tux and tails, his flaming red mane tied into a ponytail, secured by a strip of black leather. "Reno," Vincent said, greeting him. "So happy we're here to share in your day...thank you for inviting us."
"Of course we invited you, idiot," Reno replied, grinning. "We wouldn't want you to miss out on the wedding of the century."
"We'll have to see about that," Yuffie replied, giggling, as she extended her left hand in front of Reno, displaying an engagement ring, cut from Leviathan materia, and set in a white gold band. "Vin and I are next!"
"No shit!" exclaimed Reno, as he examined the ring. "So...you two, huh? Congratulations! Never would have thought it...you two didn't seem like you liked each other very much at first," the Turk commented, grinning.
Vincent raised an eyebrow curiously. "One could say the same about you and Cloud, Reno," he observed, smiling. "As I recall, didn't you and Cloud try to kill each other the first time you both met?"
"Pfft," Reno grunted, waving his hand dismissively. "That's in the past. Way in the past."
Vincent grinned. "Things have certainly changed for many of us…and for the better."
Nodding, Reno said, "Yeah. I'll drink to that!" He suddenly felt around in his pockets for his flask, thinking a nip of good Mideel single malt might steady his nerves, which were getting shakier with each minute that passed. "Rude!" Reno shouted, clearly agitated. "Where the hell's my flask! I can't find it, and I need it—"
"It's right here, Reno," Rude said coolly, smirking as he handed the silver flak over to his partner. "Remember, you gave it to me to hold onto it."
"I did?" Reno said quizzically, as he took a swig of whiskey from the flask. Suddenly, Reno began fumbling around in his pocket frantically. "Oh fuck, Rude! The rings, the fucking rings, I don't have them!" he wailed.
"I have those as well," Rude replied, smirking. "Maybe you should have that flask refilled."
"We should have brought the whole fucking bottle, yo," Reno complained, tipping his head back as he drained the flask. "Well, that's the rest of it. Now how am I going to get through the rest of the day?" Reno cocked his ear as he heard the familiar sound of chopper blades rotating. Tseng was landing the chopper somewhere nearby; Reno looked skyward for a sign, but there was none. Tseng must have brought the chopper down fairly quickly.
"Oh gods, Rude, they're here. He's here," Reno prattled on nervously to a slightly amused Rude. Rude had never seen Reno this nervous and shaken up before, and he was finding it quite interesting, to say the least.
"And?" Rude commented, smirking. "Did you think Cloud wouldn't show up?"
"No," Reno replied, his eyes darting around, trying to see if Cloud was somewhere nearby, perhaps coming through the stand of trees nearby. "No,' he continued, "I mean…I knew Cloud show up of course, it's just that…"
Rude raised an eyebrow behind his dark sunglasses and regarded Reno curiously. "Are you…getting cold feet, Reno?" he asked seriously.
"I'm not," Reno insisted, shaking his head. "I just…I have never been this fucking nervous in my life. This is huge, Rude!"
Chuckling, Rude retorted, "Tifa and I had a kid. That's pretty huge too, and…obviously, I lived to tell the tale. So get over it, Turk. Suck it up, princess, you're getting married today."
"Oh, fuck you, Rude!" Reno said cheerfully, clapping Rude on the shoulder. "Hey," he said seriously. "Thanks, man. I wouldn't want to have anyone else being my best man, yo."
Rude coughed, and adjusted his ever-present sunglasses. "Reno, you're like a brother to me," he said quietly. "I wouldn't dream of being anywhere else today."
"Don't make me cry, you bastard," Reno mumbled, sniffling. Suddenly, Barret, Nanaki, and Cid approached. "Hey, Reno, we just got here," Cid began. "This guy," he said, pointing irritably at Barret, made us late."
"Shaddup, Cid!" Barret snapped. "Anyway, uh…congratulations, y'all. We just saw Cloud on our way in, so…I guess this'll be starting soon, right?" he remarked, smiling.
"He's…here?" Reno said breathlessly, turning pale. "I think I might faint, yo."
"Don't you fucking dare," ordered Rude, as he grabbed Reno by the arm. "Come on. Let's go stand over there and wait for them." He led Reno over to where the officiant, a Justice of the Peace from Costa del Sol, was standing.
Reno took a deep breath, trying to steady his nerves a bit more, and stood in front of the officiant, Rude by his side. He saw Tifa poke her head out through a thicket of bamboo stalks toward the rear of the grotto; she smiled and waved at everyone, indicating she'd be back in a moment.
"This is it, Cloud," she whispered to her best friend, who was still concealed by the bamboo thicket. "Are you ready?"
"Yeah," he replied, smiling. "I think I am." Tseng and Elena were also standing behind Cloud, and Elena was holding baby Ari. "I'll come and get her right after the ceremony's done, Elena," Tifa whispered. "Thanks for minding her."
"She's no trouble at all," Elena replied, grinning at the baby, who was napping peacefully in her arms, having just been fed and changed.
Tseng, who had been by standing silently the whole time, cleared his throat. "Cloud?" he began hesitantly. "I, uh…I know you will, but I just want to say something before you and Reno pledge your lives to each other…"
"What is it, Tseng?" Cloud inquired, cocking his head as he regarded Tseng with interest.
"Reno…well, he's family to me, really," Tseng continued. "Just promise me…you'll take care of him. Take care of each other. I know you will, too," he concluded, smiling.
Cloud grinned. "Thank you, Tseng," he replied, extending his hand. Tseng grasped Cloud's hand firmly, and shook it. "Very happy for you both," the Wutaian said.
"Thanks," Cloud replied. "So…let's do this. I'm ready."
Tifa smiled, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye. She linked arms with Cloud, and they made their way down the center path, heading toward the grotto – and Reno.
Reno had ceased his pacing when Tifa had announced that they were ready to proceed, and would be out soon. He decided to stare at the clouds, but then, this only reminded him of his Cloud, and started to make him nervous all over again. I could use some weed right about now, he thought woefully, regretting that he had not brought Cloud's stash with him, as he stared down at his shoes.
When Reno raised his head again, he saw Cloud, arm in arm with Tifa. The very sight of him made Reno gasp; Cloud looked resplendent in his head-to-toe white tux. The Turk stood there with his mouth hanging open stupidly, half grinning, as Cloud and Tifa walked toward him.
"Oh gods," Cloud whispered, as he caught sight of Reno in his black tux and tails. "Look at him, Tifa, he looks…he looks…"
"He looks as handsome as you do," Tifa whispered back, smiling, and patting Cloud's arm. "You both do…you're a good looking pair, you know."
They finally reached their destination; Cloud and Reno stood facing each other, just staring, and unable to speak. Reno grinned widely, and took Cloud by the hand, leading him over to where the justice of the peace was standing.
"Shall we begin?" the justice murmured. With a nod from both Reno and Cloud, he began his opening remarks. Neither Cloud nor Reno heard much of what the justice of the peace was saying; all they could manage to do, was gaze longingly at each other as they held hands, grinning stupidly.
They both floated back down to reality when they saw Rude searching in his pocket for the rings. Time for the official part, Reno thought, as his nerves started to get the best of him again. Cloud's vision went starry, and he feared he might faint, so he held onto Reno's hand even tighter. "Steady," Reno whispered to him, grinning. "We're almost there."
Rude handed Reno's ring over to Cloud, as the justice of the peace began to speak. "Cloud and Reno will be exchanging rings, and reciting their vows now," he commented.
Cloud smiled through tears as he slid the ring over Reno's finger. "Reno," he said hoarsely. "You're my everything…the beginning, the end, and everything in between. We've been to hell and back together, and now, we're about to start our lives together. There's no one else I'd rather spend eternity with, than you. I love you, Reno."
If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you.
when mountains crumble to the sea, there would still be you and me.
Sniffling, Reno smiled at Cloud, and looked down at the ring now sitting on his finger. Taking a deep breath, he took Cloud's ring from Rude, and tried once again to steady his nerves by taking shallower breaths.
"Cloud," he began, praying he wouldn't trip over his words, "today you and I stand on the edge of forever, and that's a long time. We carried each other through some of our darkest days, and somehow managed to survive them, together." Reno touched his hand to his chest briefly, feeling the scar over his heart through the fabric of his shirt, as if to remind himself of one of those dark days. "Cloud…I loved you the moment I laid eyes on you, and I'll love you for the rest of our days." He blinked back a tear as he slid Cloud's ring onto his finger.
"We did it," Cloud whispered, smiling through tears.
"Yeah," Reno said, grinning. "We did."
The justice of the peace then pronounced them legally wed, and the minute Reno and Cloud were given the go-ahead to seal it with a kiss, Reno practically pounced on Cloud, kissing him fervently, as Cloud returned the kiss, embracing him tightly. "You're all mine," Cloud murmured in Reno's ear. "My husband."
Reno laughed. "I was always yours, Cloud," he said seriously. "Always. Now it's just...legal and shit." Reno kissed Cloud again, and then looked thoughtfully at his spouse.
"Hey, Cloud?" he asked.
"Yeah?" Cloud replied, still embracing Reno, and not wanting to let go.
"Can we just skip the reception and go straight to the honeymoon, yo?" he asked, grinning. Cloud laughed, as their friends all started to file forward to congratulate the newlyweds.
And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles,
Thanks to you it will be done, for you to me are the only one.
And that's really the end, kids. *sniff* But...I'm going to begin writing a sequel to this fairly soon, so stay tuned!