Whoa… I found this on my desktop as I was going through some old files… I cleaned it up and decided to post it here!

I don't own Final Fantasy or the Cat Returns.

Tifa gave a broken hearted sniff. Cloud had left again, the moment he had his Geostigma cured in Aerith's water, he was gone and out her door, this time for good. This time he wasn't coming back. He had stopped coming home, not even coming by to say hello anymore. It was as if he wanted her to forget he was there at all. She couldn't do that. She loved him too much for that. She didn't even know how he got it in his head that she didn't want him around. Immediately afterwards she felt the desire to escape her stifling nightmare of sallow walls and shadowy callous specters. So she fled. She had to get away, far, far away. She couldn't stay there in that bar any longer. She walked as quickly and as firmly as she could. She didn't even know where she was walking to but she was just walking to get away, to escape the nightmare that had become her life but no amount of running would stop her pain.

She walked down the streets with a broken heart. Barret was taking care of Denzel and Marlene so she could get out. She didn't start crying until she was down the street and the Seventh Heaven was out of sight. She didn't need everyone worrying over her the way they were. The only one she wanted attention from was Cloud but he was too far engulfed in his own misery to notice everyone else's and he was never there to notice her pain or her anyways. He was still grieving over Aerith and Zack, even when they said they forgave him. Tifa hurt so much inside that it probably would have hurt less if he had decided to take a knife to her heart and cut it out. His actions then crushed the still bleeding heart in his palm. He didn't seem to know how much of an affect that he had on her. She didn't want to feel bitter but she still felt that way.

"It's just not fair," She muttered softly.

She cursed herself for the quiver in her voice, for the hurt in her chest and most of all for the tears in her eyes. She felt she had the right to be sad, after all, she couldn't be entirely happy all the time and when she was rejected once again it was just one time too many for her heart to bear. She kept walking, ignoring the other people on street. The people here, they didn't move out of your way like in Junon or Kalm. Here they bumped into you and then yelled at you, like it was somehow your fault, for their carelessness. They liked to pass the blame, taking it out on others. The young woman kept her head down, not wanting anyone to see the fear or redness of her eyes. Somehow she knew showing weakness would be a bad idea in this kind of place. Others would merely exploit her for it. And the last thing she wanted was to be seen as weak.

She found a small rusty table and chair set outside an abandoned shop. There was a white cushion on one of them but she ignored it and sat down at one of the other chairs. She rested her elbows on the table top and pressed her palms to her hands. Tears leaked through her fingers. She couldn't let anyone see her like that, not Yuffie, not Vincent, not Cloud or Cid. Barret, Marlene and Denzel wouldn't be able to comfort her. And although she hired Reno's girlfriend – Taiya – as a waitress and had become good friends with the young woman she couldn't go to the Turks for comfort. No one could help her. Cloud should have realized that his actions not only affected him but her as well. They had been together as friends at least for as long as she could remember. They depended on one another. She could hardly imagine doing something without him. He should have realized that by now and yet here he stood yanking the last firm anchor out from beneath her feet. He knew she had nothing left.

"Why does he continue to do this to himself?" She asked herself, "Why can't he see I love him?"

She sat there, crying, feeling like she didn't have a friend in the world. No one she knew would understand. She couldn't let anyone. She had been the one they could go to with their problems. If they saw her weak and crying they wouldn't feel like they could talk to her since they would be afraid that their problems would be too much for her. She bit her tongue, trying her best not to sob like she felt like doing. Her heart was aching as she tried her best not to wail. She recalled from childhood that she used to refer to crying as being soul sick, that it was the sadness attacking the heart and making it weep and ache with pain that she hated. Ame laughed bitterly as she sobbed. She was not only soul sick, she was confused and sad and angry all at once in such a whirlwind of despairing fury that she thought she'd spontaneously combust. She wouldn't have minded, at least then she'd be free.

"Stop crying," a stiff voice said, "You're giving me a headache."

Tifa stiffened and straightened up. She looked around, tears streaked down her face making her face damp. There was no one around, no one could have said that to her. She tried to rub the tears away but she couldn't stop crying. The tears just kept coming. It felt like they would never stop. She gave a sniff as she struggled to keep the emotion out of her eyes. She disliked being seen as weak when she was with someone. She was withdrawing so deeply into herself that everything melted away and it felt as if there were no other people in the world. She had been lost in thought but about what was a mystery that no one had solved yet. It seemed that no one intended to find out. She was on her own, drowning in the oceans of her misery. She swallowed hard trying to get herself to calm down so she didn't annoy this person further.

"What has you so down?" the voice asked.

Tifa looked around, trying to find the source of the voice. But there was still no one there. The part of the street that she was on was desolate. There was no one there. It was the reason why she had gone there since she couldn't really go to Aerith's church anymore. Cloud was there now and he was alone there as far as she knew. She couldn't go there anymore, not without him noticing. It left her on edge. It was unnerving to talk to someone she couldn't see. But she did it too, but he did it in a way that made her ache, as if he actually believed that Aerith was still alive. She knew that the woman was there, but she was in the lifestream. The way Cloud spoke to her was as if he actually saw her there in front of him, with a body and a being and a voice of her own, instead of acting from the lifestream like she had during their battle with Sephiroth's Remnants.

"The man I loved doesn't love me in return…" Tifa told them, "And I'm sick and tired of being rejected…"

She wasn't sure why she was telling the voice that. She couldn't tell anyone else and perhaps it was better to tell a stranger than to speak to a friend about her heartache. She wanted to seek solace in someone even if it was just the comfort of venting to someone. It would make her feel better in the end. She couldn't simply ask Barret to watch over the bar once more. She had a business to run and a family to keep together. But now she was just so hurt. There were times where she wanted to drown out everything around her and became a blank slate, incapable of feeling any emotional pain. A heart was a very heavy burden. Sometimes she didn't want to bear it. There were times where she just wanted to give up and lie there instead of swallowing all of her emotions, venting only when someone made her angry enough. It wasn't healthy.

"There are plenty of other guys," the voice countered.

She shook her head in disagreement, almost violently. Her heart was set on Cloud. It always had been and it always would be. She had dated plenty of men before, almost every man she knew. None of them could compare to Cloud. They couldn't even come close. She had dated Rude, Reno and even a man named Matthew. She didn't want a cheap imitation of the real thing, although, it was hard to live in the shadows of another man. She put her honor before her own desires and goals. He found it stupid, obviously, but he knew stubborn Tifa had practiced mind over matter so long that her wishes waned to the wishes of those around her. But the one time she wanted something, Cloud wouldn't even go to her to tell her he wasn't interested in her. She would have been okay if he at least said it to her face instead of avoiding her the way he was.

"I love him…" she protested.

The voice didn't respond for a moment as she gave another sniff. The tears were coming more slowly now. She had finally calmed down enough so that she was no longer hysteric. There was still no one around and she had yet to find out where the voice was, although it was nice to seek comfort in a stranger. Strangers never judged and because you never saw them again, you could never feel any embarrassment about admitting something. She even found that if a person with a new eye looked at a situation it may help make things clearer and they may have good advice that she never even would have thought of if it hadn't been for them. It still left her on edge, since she couldn't see him. If she couldn't see him it meant she could possibly be attacked at any moment. The mere thought made her tense and she itched to put on her leather gloves.

"You got it bad, chicky?" the voice asked.

"Yeah…" she sniffed.

The voice sighed deeply, almost in exasperation. She looked around, trying to find the person. It was obviously male since it was deep, rough and almost bored as he spoke to her. Instead her eyes fell on the white cushion on the chair next to her. It moved. She eyed it suspiciously, wondering if it wasn't Reeve messing around with a new robot that had followed her because if it was she was going to smash the robot and maybe even punch Reeve for tricking her into spilling her guts to him. Suddenly she was staring at a cat that was staring at her with beady dispassionate eyes. She swallowed. Unsure if it was indeed the voice that had been speaking to her the entire time. It had to be a regular cat. Reeve's robots usually held a sort of characteristic cartoonish humor about them that she didn't find in the creature before her.

"Come with me."

"I-you talk?"

It didn't necessarily surprise her. Nanaki spoke and was rather intelligent. Cait Sith spoke as well and that didn't scare her. A talking cat wasn't that bad, compared to other things that had spoken to her. But without responding the cat got to his feet and started running. Desiring an answer Tifa got to her feet and ran after him. She wasn't going to loose him and with all of the obstacles she had faced over the years it was easy to keep up. But that didn't change the fact that he was fast for a cat as large as he was. Since he was large it meant he had a good family, one that could take care of him and supply for him. He was clean so that meant he was taken care of but Tifa wondered who owned him, for he wore no collar around his neck. Then there was the fact that cats were hard to find in Midgar – or anywhere else for that matter. All domestic animals had gone wild and free the moment the Weapons attacked many of the populated areas.

Tifa followed him to a small enclosed pavilion. Her eyes widened as she saw a circle of small houses and in the center of the pavilion was a cracked pillar with a perfectly kept stone crow. The small area had been so well kept, as if a spell had been cast to protect it from the Weapons, fallen rubble in the city around it and the attack the Lifestream had placed upon the Planet. Seeing this small enclosure perfectly intact made tears well up in her eyes. It was beautiful. She had never seen a place like it and she was pretty sure she never would. But the sight became even more breath taking as light fell upon the pavilion. One by one the lights shone on a single house. She turned to face the house. A light went on inside after the lightshow stopped. The door opened. Tifa wanted to pinch herself when a small figure stepped out, walking firmly over to her. She had to look down to see him.

He looked human enough, save the fact he was about as big as her hand was long, at least a good six inches, give or take, and the fact that he had a cat's figure in a human body. He was surprisingly good looking for a cat in a suit, though he did remind her of Puss in Boots. Marlene would have liked to have met the cat. Though, keeping the girl from hugging the life out of him may have posed to be a bit of a challenge. He was, after all, rather dashing in his little suit. And surprisingly enough just by seeing him she wasn't crying as hard as she had been earlier. In fact, she felt a little better. Perhaps talking to him would be better than talking to the other white cat, who as she glanced over was now lounging in an easy chair, reading a newspaper. The white cat was nice for bringing her there but his conversation skills reminded her of Barret, very gruff and very little emotions attached unless it was anger or annoyance.

"Baron Humbert Von Gikkingen, at your service."

She smiled as he took off his hat and bowed politely to her. He offered her his hand to shake hers. Tifa slowly extended a single finger, afraid that if she offered her whole hand she would crush him. Regardless, he took her finger and shook it. He seemed to be okay with their size difference and the fact that she loomed over him like an enormous giant would. He smiled up at her kindly. She was already more fragile than she wanted to be and at that moment she found she was more susceptible to self loathing, Tifa couldn't help but think that Baron was only being kind because she was a woman who was in pain, not the physical kind but the emotional kind. After all, men never really did know what to do with a weeping woman but she was just fed up and tired of being hurt all the time. She had reached her limits.

"T-Tifa Lockheart."

He pulled a handkerchief out of his breast pocket with a quick flick of the wrist. Tifa had to admit that she was rather impressed. There was a stylized B monogrammed in the corner with a red rose on the white embroidered cloth. He pressed it towards Tifa's finger and she could feel just how soft the fabric of the cloth was even if it was smaller than she was usually accustomed to. She was sure that if they had been the same size he would have forced her fingers to curl around it and take it, like a true gentleman would have. Baron seemed to strike her as that type of man, though she was using the term man lightly. But she did take it from him, though fearfully. It was large enough to be considered a small swatch for her but a good sized kerchief for him. She thought the dainty cloth to be cute and charming but also endearing at the same time. It was very nice of Baron to even offer her such a token.

"It'll get dirty," Tifa whispered quietly.

"Then it'll get dirty," Baron told her.

He felt the corners of his lips quirking upwards. He looked her over with a critical eye for a moment before sighing to himself. As he wanted her to, she dabbed her eyes with the small cloth. Her tears slowly stopped and she managed a small, weak smile for Baron. Baron was treating her well, considering he just met her and was already making it so that she had to smile. Most people didn't care to help the people they passed in the streets who were crying. Their problems were much more important than the problems of another person's. It was just the way that people treated one another. But this Baron was different. He motioned for her to sit down and so she did, resting her full weight on her knees rather than get her clothes completely dirty. She would have to explain it to the others if she did. A small part of her wanted to keep that pavilion a secret, to keep it safe from outside interference.

"I would invite you inside for some tea but I'm afraid that you are larger than the last guest I encountered," Baron admitted.

Baron smiled lightly at this. She considered the difference in their size. She probably was bigger than his last guest, whoever they could have been. The house he walked out of was no bigger than the doll house that she had bought for Marlene for her last birthday. Tifa did note that Baron's house was in much better shape than the doll house, even when it was brand new, or so the store claimed. Tifa was pretty sure they got ripped off but it was too late now. Marlene was in love with the doll house and nothing was going to take it away from her. She would have to try to tell Marlene about this pavilion later, but make it so that it was a make believe place or else the young girl might try and evict Baron of his home so she had a better doll house, though Marlene would never do such a thing a few of her friends would.

"You don't have to-"

"I'll bring the tea out to you instead," Baron insisted, "And perhaps a slice of chocolate cheesecake…"

"I don't want to impose…"

Tifa's protests were being lost to Baron's honest sense of chivalry and the manners of being a host. She wondered how old he was because no one she knew anymore, aside from Vincent but he was a different case entirely, acted the way he did. Her eyes fell on Baron. His emerald eyes seemed to stare straight into her soul, as if he knew what she was thinking at that moment. It made her a little edgy but okay as well. He smiled faintly at her and shook his head. His hand found his cane again and he gripped it tightly, though he didn't really need it to walk. It was just that sort of old fashioned sort of thing to do. It was something Vincent would never do. The idea of any of her friends being as formal and as old fashioned as Baron was laughable. She even cracked a smile at the thought of Cid in a suit and a hat like Baron.

"Nonsense," Baron dismissed, "I would be a bad host should I turn you away without offering you something."

Baron disappeared inside. Moments later he and the white cat came back, though the white cat came back grudgingly. Both were carrying trays. The white cat had the one with tea on it, two tea pots, three tea cups and a bowl, though Tifa didn't know why. Baron had one with the cake on it. Muta was eyeing it so it wasn't hard for the bar maid to deduce that Muta would have eaten it without a second thought. 'It must be why he is as portly as he is…' Tifa mused to herself with a small smile. He was a very healthy happy cat, she could tell, and she felt better. When she first saw him she feared that she was going to have to catch him and take him to an animal shelter so he was taken care of but Baron took good care of his guests so Muta was probably in the pavilion more often than not because of good food and perhaps good company.

"Don't see why you have to offer boiled grass to every guest…" the white cat groused.

"It's only proper, Muta…" Baron chided.

Tifa soon found herself with what seemed to be a small glass bowl, acting as a tea cup on a platter – the equivalence of a tea cup and a small plate. Regardless, of her protests it didn't stop Baron from going and making some tea for the two of three of them. She had stopped crying by the time Baron poured the tea into her slightly chipped bowl with warm, sweet-smelling tea. And because her cup was so much bigger than everyone else's, Baron seemed to have made her, her own pot of tea just to fill one of her makeshift cup. He expertly poured her a cup of the steaming liquid then waited for her approval. Clasping her arms around the cup for the warmth, she breathed in the steam with a contented sigh. It smelled rather good. She wondered what his secret was because she could never make tea that smelled that good.

Baron's manners reminded her of her Vincent's manners. The man was old fashioned in everything he did and enjoyed tea greatly. Yuffie may have made fun of him but she never said no when he offered her to go out for tea. Tifa could just see the chemistry between the two of them. She just hoped that one day they could see it too. Whenever Tifa went to Vincent as upset as she was he always came back to her with tea and then he wanted to talk about what it was that had upset her in the first place, though he never voiced it. He just waited for her to start talking. . But sometimes he came to her upset, though his posture never revealed that, and she would know to make tea to make him talk to her about his problem or whatever it was that was bothering him. She watched the amber liquid instead of the small cats in front of her. The steam curls up from the dark liquid and Tifa wrapped her hands around the small bowl as she avoided eye contact.

"It's my own personal blend," Baron cautioned, "So I can't guarantee the taste…"

Tifa smiled. There was a clock inside the house that Tifa could hear as if it were outside, mostly because she was constantly on guard, as she had been when she and AVALANCHE fought to save the world. It ticked tirelessly in the empty room with the only other sound being a clink of china as Baron reached for his tea and Muta helping himself to some of the cake. Tifa jumped in surprise as a crow flew past her shoulder and joined Muta. It started chattering though she didn't pay attention to its words. It was arguing with Muta, calling him names and Muta did the same. She smiled. The two of them were just like Barret and Cait. She looked down at Baron once more. The cat drank at the warm liquid absentmindedly as watched his two friends bickering with a sort of contended smile, as though he were reliving a happy childhood memory.

"I'm sure it will be fine," she soothed.

Baron nodded. Tifa dared to take a sip of the tea. It tasted better than it smelled. At first drink, she closed her eyes in pure bliss, letting the complex of flavors wash over her tongue. The most pronounced was vanilla, and a small hint of mint. The chamomile was smelt more then tasted, but it was there, smooth and relaxing. The other two flavors he couldn't place, and never could, even after she went back home to the bar. She hummed in sheer delight. It had to have been the best drink she ever had. It had a warmer affect than vodka did, minus the burning sensation down her throat. She never drank the liquor from her bar but she did have the occasional glass of wine, which seemed to have nothing on the tea in her hands.

"It's very good, Baron…"

"Then you are lucky."

They fell into a silence. It wasn't an awkward one but it still made Tifa shift in discomfort but at the same time, if it made any sense at all, she felt comfortable, very much relaxed. This was nice. She felt her shoulders relax almost a quarter of an inch and she nearly grinned. It had been a while since she had the time to really relax. Not that Tifa actually knew the meaning of relaxation since she had so much to take care of – the bar, Marlene, Denzel, Cloud, her friends, and lastly herself. She was a busy body. It was common fact in Midgar that she was constantly giving herself work, though no one really knew that she only worked as much as she did in order to stop herself from thinking because in her opinion being left alone with her thoughts was the most terrifying experience for her. Being left alone with her thoughts made her think and reflect on everything she had done or had not done and that's when she started regretting things.

"He must've been something special to make you cry like that," Baron began.

Tifa looked up to see him sipping from his teacup, with a sort of poise and grace that she had only seen in her grandfather before the man passed away that was. Baron seemed to understand that he was going to have to be the one to start their conversation. Tifa wasn't going to be the one to offer information. She guessed that Muta had already relayed what she had told him. She was grateful. She doubted she would have been able to reiterate a second time with a rational head. She had been pushed to her limits a little more than she would have liked.

"But that doesn't give him the rights to make you cry."

"It's not his fault…" Tifa argued, "He's just trying to move on with his life…"

"And that means its okay for him to simply cut you out of it?" Baron asked.

Tifa nodded and pressed her fingers into the warmth of the teacup. She loved Cloud. If he wanted to move on and forget her then she would let him. But she would always remember him and she would always love him, no matter who she tried to date in order to forget him. And she felt bad for making such dates. The shoes the men had to fill were far too large, or should she say small because Cloud was smaller than most men she dated? But never the less, no one had managed to be exactly like Cloud without being Cloud himself. She stared into her cup of tea with a blank expression. The rolling emotions in her chest were anything but indifference however. The sadness was a dominant one, confusion and the need to break something accompanied it. Underneath all that was something she hadn't felt in a long time.

"You shouldn't blame yourself," Baron ordered.

"I should have moved on by now but…"

Baron frowned. She shook her head, showing just how much she disagreed with his logic. Baron realizing she had seen more of the dark side of human nature than the kindness. She gave a dry laugh. She looked down. She hadn't taken a sip of her tea but she was taking solace in the heat from the cup. Tifa fell silent for a moment, not wanting to break the silence. The place was so serene and almost close to being a haven from the chaos of the outside world. She wouldn't mind coming here to unwind, having the endless sky and the pure Earth as her little secret, should Baron actually feel the need to invite her back. She was being rather depressing after all but after five years of waiting anyone would be past that point of their limitations.

"He was always there… He always… paid attention to me, even if I didn't quite want it but I love him, even if he doesn't feel the same."

She gave a weak laugh at some of the memories. Some times caring for something meant letting go, even when you wanted to hang on tighter. If Cloud was happy in leaving then she was too. Even if it meant sealing up her heart, locking it away, she would do it. She would just miss him. She knew that the others revered him as some god-like being. She didn't exactly think they saw him as human with the same intensity as she did. To them, he was probably the incredible person they had never expected to befriend them. He was the mature, mysterious, and infallible man who always made them look just as cool as he was. He was made for better things than the normal house chores, mundane mistakes, odd habits and the childish, nonsensical impulse that may strike the average teen. Tifa saw a boy who had never got to live out his childhood, someone who was force to grow up quickly in order to live in a small village where everyone hated him. She didn't think it was fair.

"Then I shall pay attention to you, Miss Tifa," Baron says quietly.

Tifa's mouth opened and shut a few times. She felt like she was gaping like a fish. Baron didn't even know her and yet he was offering to give her company and solace from problems that she wouldn't even breathe word of to him or anyone else. It made her feel slightly guilty. He was being so good to her when she was being rather standoffish and untrusting. Granted, with her background she had the right to be untrusting of him. She had dealt with too many spies and enemies posing as good guys, considering that two of them - if Cait was to be considered a being - were her friends. She had nothing against Reeve or Cait but she might have had more trust for them in the beginning if they hadn't been acting as a double agent for Shin-Ra when they were trying to stop Sephiroth and Shin-Ra and protect the planet from the WEAPONS. Tifa could look back at those times and laugh now but they were very serious then.


"I will be here should you need me," Baron told her.

He smiled at her before lifting the teacup to his lips before drinking. Then he set the teacup down. There are a lot of things Tifa could say now but none of them came to mind. She had to have been the biggest fool in the entire world. All of the men lusted over her once she reached a certain age and they were no longer gangly teenagers getting over the awkwardness of those beginning kisses. They had offered her things in acts of trying to woo her only to dump her should she refuse to take the relationship further. No matter how many men she dated, how many men she tried desperately to fall in love with, he haunted her dreams, her thoughts, and her very consciousness. And sadly enough, she had told herself time and time again that she had not fallen in love with him. It was the biggest lie she had ever told.

"But I shan't be the only one… Isn't that right, Cloud?"

Tifa's eyes widened. She almost spluttered, this statement having been made mid drink, but swallowed the liquid first. She looked up to see Cloud standing at the opening to the pavilion. Her heart did a little giddy flip inside at the mere sight of the blond. A funny feeling – warm and fluttery – ran through her when his sapphire eyes stared into hers. It was like butterflies were fluttering in her stomach. But at the same time she felt like going weak at the knees and collapsing, had she not already been on the ground, of which she was very much thankful for because she didn't have to worry about crushing Baron or Muta should she have fallen. But at the same time as that she felt like the tallest, most important person in the world. It was the strangest mix of heat and cold, running through her veins and leaving the most unusual aftertaste behind that made her shiver slightly.

"C-Cloud…" she gasped.

Cloud walked over to her. Tifa quickly stood, minding her feet so she didn't step on Muta, the crow or Baron. His body moved on its own accord. She saw him swallow, his Adam's apple bobbed in his throat before resting once again. She didn't dare move a step forward or back from him. His hands cupped either side of her face. His fingers gently brushed the hair out of her face. He wiped the straggling hairs away with the pads of his thumbs, smiling tenderly at her. Skye felt her heart ache at the look he was giving her. Almost shyly he leaned forward to kiss her. It was tender and innocent, the way all first kisses are. She could hear the smattering of applause as she pulled away and in the back of her mind she knew it was Muta because it was a sort of sarcastic clap, as if saying 'took you long enough, idiots'. Cloud's hand moved to her face.

"I… love you too," Cloud said.

Tifa stiffened at the words. For a moment she thought that she had misheard him but Cloud was staring at her too intently for it to be some mistake in his words. He really truly meant what he said. She knew just how hard saying that had to have been for him He laced their fingers together, squeezing the petite hand into his own. This was a small gesture he used in the past with her. It showed he was there. She had doubts still, for sure. After all, what could guarantee that Cloud would keep his word, other than the fact that Cloud was just too noble not to do so? But for now, those doubts were settling down, leaving her mind in peace for the moment. Cloud kept that same gentle smile on his features, making his sapphire gems of eyes glitter reassuringly. He held Tifa's hand once more and it was his turn to give it a tiny squeeze of reassurance.

"I love you too…" she whispered.

"A good thing too," Baron said, "Unreturned love is a terrible waste if you ask me."

Cloud smirked. Tifa was left speechless for once in her life. But she knew, too well, that love was a double-edge sword. It was as dangerous as it was wonderful. She had seen love turn boys into drooling monkeys and kicked dogs. It could instantly turn girls into crumbling piles of tears and begging and screaming for their boyfriends to take them back and make them whole again, make them 'easy'. She had watched people fawn over their current squeeze like he or she was their entire world. She watched her happily ever after vanish time and time again. She didn't want this to happen again. She would have been okay if she never fell in love. She would have been perfectly fine with having Yami as her best friend but she simply didn't love him. She knew what love did to people. She knew how girls put up with boys who treated them like shit. She had been one. She knew how boys wasted their time, money and lives supporting their girlfriends with gifts and compliments.

She had seen them. Even in happy marriages and true loves one spouse would do anything to please the other, or followed them around like lovesick puppies. It was like a new form of control except it wasn't forced. One spouse was perfectly willing to do anything to please their lover. They obeyed without question, worked, suffered and gave their 'love' everything from time to money to business to their lives. People fell into the habit of sacrificing to feel this 'love' all because they relied on someone else to make them happy. Skye wanted nothing part of it. The dependency on another to be happy was the main thing she wanted to avoid. It was devotion at its fullest and that's not what she wanted in a relationship with anyone, which tended to happen with everyone except for Cloud. He knew that she could take care of herself so he wouldn't make her compromise her freedom.

"Let's… go home…" Cloud told her.

He touched the other side of her face, holding her in place to look at him. Her eyes widened to impossible proportions as her heartbeat started increasing until it felt like her heart was trying to pound a hole through her chest. Her lungs had decided to stop working. Her brain went though a temporary shut down and restart. Her emotions were all mingling and mixing and blending into one huge unrecognizable jumbled mess. One moment she was happy, and then confused, or outraged, comforted, ecstatic, annoyed. But a brilliant million-watt smile broke out across her face and she knew that it was okay now. She didn't need to shed anymore useless tears. Things were going to get better from that moment on. She could just tell it would.

"Yeah," she agreed.

My friend Haiomi pressured me to get this done today, for Valentine's Day… The holiday also known as Single's Awareness Day, so this one's to you Haiomi.