Title: Forget Me
Rating: T(to be safe)
A/N: I was getting rusty when it came to FFVII semi-canon stuff, so this plot bunny came along while I was listening to a particular song. To any of you readers who speak Spanish, it was 'Alejate de Mi' by Camila, which could translate directly to 'stay away from me,' or 'get away from me' in a romantic way. I can't translate all of the lyrics, but the guy pretty much wants the girl to go because he's hurting her and he will keep hurting her. Also, this is another post-ACC fic, and really short compared to my usual fics, but I hope everyone enjoys it anyway.
Dedicated to ObsessiveCompulsiveValkyrie, because she's an amazing friend and she's been patient with me and my issues with Bleach and FFVII pairings. Go read her fics, peeps!
Disclaimer: (I think I've forgotten this the last couple of fics…)I don't own Final Fantasy VII or any of the characters used in this piece of fiction. I am making no money off of them!
In a moment of clarity he had realized that he needed to let her go if he wanted her to be happy. The church had cleared out of people and their friends, and everyone was heading back to the bar except for Tifa and himself.
The healing water was still dripping from his hair, dampening his clothes, but it felt amazing to be alive again. Most of the credit for that feat went to both Aerith and Zack, but he couldn't delude himself into thinking that seeing Tifa again had been a major factor as well.
But when he'd come back and he had found himself alone with her after weeks of loneliness, of thoughts of death and love, and regrets for having left her and the children, he knew he couldn't continue to be selfish. She deserved to be happy. He had put that shadow of doubt into those beautiful chocolate eyes, and Tifa had never been meant to be anything other than happy.
He couldn't give her that happiness without causing her heartbreak.
"There's still time," he said quietly, swallowing hard when the full force of those eyes turned to him.
She looked confused. "Time for what?" Tifa asked, cocking her head to the side.
"For you to forget me."
Her face and gaze were guarded, and Cloud realized that he couldn't read her anymore. There was such a wide chasm between them, now. He wanted her to move on. She deserved that much and he had no right to take anything from her anymore.
"Forget me," he repeated, relief and anguish battling in his heart.
He may have been a hero in the eyes of thousands, but he had been nothing but a curse on the people he had sworn he would protect, on the people who had done nothing but love him. How could he be a hero if he had failed them so horribly?
But he was lying to himself now. Though he wanted to let her go, she was his reason for living. What would he do if Tifa did move on and found a man worthy of her? Would he be able to stand by and watch her from afar? His breath nearly choked him, but Cloud shook his head once to clear his thoughts.
Her footsteps echoed in the silence of the church as she closed the distance between them. "You're asking me to walk out of your life? Now, after so many years spent fighting for each other?"
Blue eyes looked away and focused on her hands, on the ring still on her finger. "I can't expect you to forgive me."
"You haven't asked me to forgive you," she said smartly.
He looked up at her, but still her face was beautifully blank. "I can't ask that of you."
Finally, her lips curved into a familiar smile, though it lacked some of its usual warmth. "Is it your pride that won't let you?"
Cloud shook his head once.
"Do you want to know why I wouldn't forgive you?" she asked, voice soft and melodic.
His fingers twitched, wanting so much to touch her but unable to bring himself to soil her anymore with his dirty hands. He had let go of the guilt that went hand in hand with the deaths of his friends, but the guilt that came with leaving Tifa and the children to fend for themselves was so much more painful. Tifa could've died in her battle against Loz; Marlene and Denzel could've been hurt at the hands of Kadaj…
It shouldn't matter at this point because they're all safe.
Cloud ignored the voices of his dead friends drifting with the ripples of the water in the pool. "Why?" he asked, his heart thudding painfully in his chest.
Her eyes finally betrayed her emotions, and hope seemed to shine through. As long as he had known her, Tifa had never lost her hope.
"You have to earn that forgiveness, Cloud."
"I'm giving you an out. Why won't you take it?" he asked, watching the sliver of skin between shorts and shirt as she closed the distance between them completely.
"I've never been one to give up so easily. You know that," she said, her smile widening a bit more.
His eyes closed and his breath shuddered out when a warm hand slid across his damp cheek. "Stubborn."
Her laugh made something in him unwind completely, and he knew then that he wouldn't be capable of staying away, even if she had said she would never forgive him.
"I know," Tifa whispered, her lips brushing his with her words.
Cloud could feel his resolve crumbling around him. "Why?" Why won't you go? Why won't you stay away from someone who has done nothing but hurt you?
"Do you really not know?" Tifa whispered.
His eyes opened a sliver, mako blue shining through to find her so close. Pale, smooth skin, big, sweet eyes, and tantalizing lips. How long had it been since he had last tasted her lips?
He knew why; of course he knew. It was the same reason why he couldn't move away now, in spite of his words. He should've seen this from the start. This was an argument he would never win against Tifa and his very own heart.
The hand on his cheek slid into his soggy spikes, pulling him down even as his heart felt as if it would burst right from his chest at the first contact of their lips. He couldn't help himself as his arms slid around her waist, pressing their bodies close and leaving no space between them.
This was how it should've been from the start. No distance, no painful silences, and no doubts.
Fingers dug into her shoulder while his other hand slid through the silk of her hair. He knew that even if Tifa could forget him, he would never forget her. How could he when she was his heart?
Drawing away for breath, he didn't release her and only held her tighter against his chest as she curled her arms around his neck.
"I would never forget someone like you," Tifa murmured against his neck, eyes closed as she breathed him in.
He hummed in agreement. He had almost forgotten her once, but even then his heart had remembered her when his mind hadn't. He'd been such a fool then, and an even bigger one now. "You'd be happier without me."
Tifa shook her head. "I tried it once, remember?" Of course he did. "It didn't work out at all. All it did was make me see how lonely my life would be without you."
"Your life was still lonely with me in it, for a time."
Tifa nodded and hugged him a little tighter, to the point where they were both having a little trouble breathing. "Make me another promise."
"Anything," Cloud said into her shoulder.
"Don't ever ask me again to forget you."
Cloud drew back to look into her eyes and nodded, feeling relief flood him when her smile reached her eyes and no tears fell. "I promise," he said, solemn.
"Good," Tifa whispered before leaning in for another kiss. She knew that if he tried that little stunt again, she wouldn't hesitate to rough him up a bit to set him straight—and maybe she'd get Yuffie to help her.
The conversation hadn't gone the way he had intended it to, but Cloud knew that he wouldn't be able to win any arguments against Tifa—though he never had before. He couldn't even bring himself to mind at the moment.
Sighing to himself, Cloud allowed his heart to beat strong and sure, and just for her.