Disclaimer: Definitely not mine; always returned to Square Enix after they've been thoroughly perturbed.
A/N: Kitsune13/Tam Lin snuck a Dissidia 012 bunny into the Hutch, and this is the result. This ficlet is pure wild speculation, based on trailers, still images, previews on sites like IGN as well as Japanese game-play footage (of Tifa fighting Cloud) posted on the 'net plus a large dose of wishful thinking. However, never let it be said that anything like common sense stops me whilst in pursuit of a bunny!
Cloud is being his snarky, arrogant, Original Game self, and some aspects of Dissidia's apparent plot are being referenced. Also, for those not familiar with the franchise, the characters have had their memories wiped at the beginning, so they don't recognize each other.
Warnings: UST and WAFF.
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Dissidia 012: Dissonance
Chapter One: Markings
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"Sure you want to pick this fight?"
"It's my duty."
"It's your funeral," he shrugged. "Since it's your fists against my sword."
"I have to… because you're a soldier of Chaos," she murmured as she squared up, her sweetly determined expression hauntingly familiar.
Reaching up over his shoulder, he released his blade, not letting on that her choice of words was as unsettling as was her appearance. 'Soldier'? That's not right - I'm a warrior of Chaos. But… why does 'soldier' sound so familiar…?
Then she charged, energy coiling around her fists.
His head rocking back from her first punch, he barely blocked her second, but the powerful impact of both staggered him and he dropped his blade. Dark hair scribing a fluid arc, she spun and lashed out with an armoured boot, catching him full in the chest and sending him crashing to the ground.
His skull bounced off the stony earth, dazing him for a split-second, and she was on him, straddling his waist, pinning his wrists to the ground. Baring his teeth, he bucked and twisted, attempting to throw her off so he could grab his sword and end this, but she effortlessly restrained him, intently examining him with those vivid eyes that seemed so damn familiar.
There was an ache in his chest that had nothing to do with her devastating kick.
His gut knew he could take her down, but from the moment they confronted each other, his heart wasn't in it. It was something in her stance, the way she boldly faced him full on instead of angling her body to present him with the smallest possible target. It was in the way she lowered her chin and bit her lip while she assessed him, and in those beautiful eyes…. He told himself that it was her spectacular, highly distracting curves that put him at a disadvantage, even as they tugged on a corner of his mind. As he tried to catch his breath, glaring up at the woman whose slim thighs were currently bracketing his ribs, he couldn't even dredge up enough annoyance to make a snide comment about their suggestive position.
"Why does it feel like I know you?" she murmured. The tail of her long hair tickled his elbow.
"Bet you say that to all the boys," he growled, trying to ignore the tiny voice in his mind insisting that he knew what that silky length felt like running through his fingers. Stung, she flinched and ducked her head. Instead of taking advantage of the opening, a guilty lump rose in his throat and before he could decode his reaction, he blurted out, "S-sorry."
"I-It's okay. We're on opposite sides," she mumbled, her eyes downcast.
Disconcerted by a desire to comfort the young woman, he hardened his tone. "Whatever. Are you gonna get off me so we can continue, or what?"
Her grip on his wrists tightened, but it wasn't a preventative move; more like a pleading for understanding. "I don't want to fight you."
"Right. That explains the black eye you just gave me. Is that a 'hi, nice to meet ya' greeting from your world?" he sneered, attempting to distance himself. She didn't say anything, just gave him a pensive look; he sighed heavily. "Look, either finish the job or finish me off, okay? My back's getting sore – you're not exactly a dainty little thing, y'know."
"I'm really sorry about this." She bent down and planted a fleeting kiss on the rapidly purpling mark surrounding his eye before gracefully leaping away. Staring at the sky for a long moment, mesmerized by the subtle fragrance of her hair, he slowly sat up. He half-expected her to be crouched in a fighting stance, but instead, she was quietly watching him from a distance that wouldn't be safe once he had his sword. However, he'd lost his taste for the battle, if he'd ever truly had any; heaving himself to his feet, he carelessly asked, "Hey - what's your name?"
"Tifa," she shyly answered. "Tifa Lockhart."
Tifa. The name flowed smoothly over his tongue and curled around his heart; he felt oddly breathless. An overpowering impulse to wrap himself around her and defend her against all comers – to hell with Chaos and Cosmos and the rest of them – surged up from somewhere deep inside and he barely stopped himself from acting on it. Instead, he retrieved his blade and leaned on it, more to disguise his shaking hands than anything else.
"I want to help you."
"You're gonna change sides?" he demanded, strangely not at all opposed to the idea, although definitely not keen on her being in close contact with some of the more aggressive members of Chaos' chosen.
"No… I believe in what my friends and I are fighting for." She bit her lip again, and he really, really wanted to soothe away that sign of worry. "You… you're my friend, too." Lifting her chin, she added, "I'll be there for you."
"Suit yourself." Twirling his sword before slapping it into place on his back, he made an effort at remaining detached by adding, "It's not my problem if you get hurt."
"Understood." Then she was in front of him, inside his zone, close enough that he could easily take her out with a well-placed punch… or stoop to kiss her. She looked up at him, her eyes bright and hopeful, her fingers lightly brushing the material of his sweater. "Tell me your name?"
Wondering if her lips were as soft as they looked, he answered, "Cloud Strife." He glimpsed the exact moment of recognition, when something clicked inside her head, because those beautiful eyes widened and she blinked rapidly. Then she breathed his name, all soft and throaty and yearning, like he was a lover being welcomed home after a long absence.
His arm moved without permission of his brain and he swept her against him. "You do know me." It was a statement, not a question, but she nodded anyways. Pulling her closer, he dipped his head to nuzzle the crook of her neck and she trustingly tipped her head to give him better access. Breathing deeply of her warm skin-scent, aware of the familiar way she fitted against him – like his body remembered something that he didn't - he directed a frustrated curse at the veil obscuring his memories before he impulsively bit down on her tender flesh. He was already releasing her when she squeaked in pain and surprise.
"Wh-what?" Her hand covered the reddened spot as she backed up, hurt and confusion writ large on her face.
He smirked. "You left your mark on me," he said, gesturing at his blackened eye. "Now we're even." As he turned away, he continued, "Watch yourself, Tifa. You can't trust anyone." When she didn't reply, he risked a glance over his shoulder; crystalline droplets slid down her cheeks and sliced deeply into his heart. The voice inside him let out a shout and his body moved.
Gently wiping away her tears with his thumbs, he bent and pressed an apologetic kiss to the bite mark on her skin, aware of the tension in her frame. He should've backed away then, but both her vulnerable expression and her hand fisted into the front of his sweater prevented his escape. For a long moment, they gazed into each others' eyes, and then between one heartbeat and the next, his mouth fastened over hers. When her lips parted beneath his, for a brief, sweet moment their entire world narrowed to only two.
Memorizing her scent and the soft little noises she made, he reluctantly broke the kiss. "I have to go," he murmured huskily, bumping his nose against hers.
"I know," she whispered, her breath warm on his cheek.
Clasping her hand where it was still curled into his clothing, he kissed her bare fingertips before moving back several steps. "See ya."
Her eyes were very dark and glistening. "Take care, Cloud."
Striding away into the shadows, denying the voice inside him demanding that he stay, he spared a thought for how she could taste like home.
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