Hello! You can't know how happy I am to have been able to get some writing done. I'm on my spring break, but my muse seems to have run off to Dissidia world for now. This fic I started to write a little while back, but I was very much stuck at the intro. So I asked ObsessiveCompulsiveValkyrie to help me with some prompts, and she gave me some poetry to work with. Here: "Draw me in and face the truth. You know who I am, but turn away. Tell me why." So this fic is dedicated to Valk, who helped me finish this fic. Thank you!
This piece is short and a little gloomy, but it was just something I really wanted to write. I was sad to see the end of Duodecim, but the bits of CloudTifa just made me love it so much. I'd like to hear the psychos claim it's not canon now… Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys! And beware of spoilers!
Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy or any of the characters used in this piece of fiction. I am making no money off of them.
Standing at a distance from the rest of her companions in the Cornelia Fields, Tifa sighed quietly to herself. The situation that she and her friends had found themselves in was a stressing one, and it had chased away any chance of sleep.
Kain's apparent betrayal, meeting the two warriors of Chaos, and the turmoil the rest of their group seemed to be surrounded by only added to the anxiety growing in her heart. They all knew what needed to be done, but it didn't make it any easier. The balance of the world depended on them, but… what if their sacrifice was for nothing and everything was destroyed?
She also had to admit that even with all of that hanging over their shoulders, her heart was telling her that there was something she needed to do. Someone she needed to speak to, and say goodbye to, before heading off to a journey from which she would not return.
Turning to look at the friends she had come to care for very much, she noted that most had managed to find some rest. Laguna was snoring quite loudly, she saw with a fond smile. Yuna was curled up a small distance away from him, Laguna's larger body blocking the breeze from reaching her. Vaan was propped up against one of the massive rock walls, his head tipped back and lighter snores coming from him, too.
Lightning was dozing fitfully, though she seemed to awaken every few minutes, gaze sharp but tired on their surroundings. Then there was Kain… he was keeping watch over all of them, arms crossed over his chest and breeze moving his wheat-hued hair gently.
"You look like you're deciding whether to stay or go."
His deep voice startled her and Tifa smiled softly. "I have something to do."
"Don't you mean, 'someone to see'?" Kain questioned.
The smile on Tifa's face faded a little. "He may not want to talk to me. Maybe I'll have to fight him."
"I am no one to tell you what you can and cannot do," he started. "Just… be safe while you are gone and do not hesitate to call for help if you need it."
"I will," she assured him, nodding before turning to go.
It didn't take her long, jumping from one location to another. She'd tried the place where they'd first met, but he hadn't been there and neither had she sensed him. She wasn't naïve to think that if she willed it, he would come. No… there had to be some way for her to get him to show up.
The last time the blond swordsman had appeared before her, the silver haired man had been pointing his massive blade to her throat… Could it be that he would show up only if she were in some kind of… danger?
Well, she wasn't a damsel in distress by a long shot, but if it meant getting the man to show up so that she could talk to him, well…
It didn't take her long in her search for an opponent, and she purposely challenged one of the more powerful manikins and nearly got the snot beat out of her. Though it took her a little longer than average, she finally claimed victory, and the treasure chest the manikin had been guarding.
Falling back from any others who might want to engage her, she found a hidden spot to sit in and wait. Tifa hissed to herself as she looked at the long gash that went up the skin of her inner forearm, which was merrily bleeding, and she sighed in annoyance when she realized that she had no potions on her.
Too busy checking the wound, she didn't feel him approach.
"Are you trying to get yourself killed?" his deep voice asked, nearly making her jump where she sat.
Tifa looked up and forced herself to keep the smile off of her face. It really wouldn't do if he were to figure out that she had purposely lured him out. She also felt herself bristle at his question. Did he think she was completely inept when it came to defending herself?
She narrowed her eyes as she got to her feet. "I am perfectly fine, as you can see. I'm not in any need of rescuing," Tifa said, eyes shining with challenge.
Cloud cleared his throat and shifted his boots, looking away from her too-knowing eyes. "I was just passing by," he murmured.
Tifa smiled, her whole face softening and sending a pang through his chest. "It's good to see that you're okay, too," she admitted after a moment of silence.
His eyes were drawn down to her boots when he saw the tiny spatter of blood that had dripped from her arm.
Before either of them could register what he was doing, his hand had reached up to touch her gloved wrist, bringing her arm up. He focused those blue eyes on her face and frowned when she averted her gaze from his.
"What are you doing around this area? It's not safe," he muttered, seemingly pulling a potion out of thin air and pouring a small amount over the shallow cut.
Tifa watched the cut close and leave a trail of blood behind; such a glaring contrast between her pale skin and the red. She blinked and looked up when she realized that he hadn't dropped her limb just yet. "Thanks," she said, voice soft. "But… won't your allies have a problem with you healing the enemy?"
Cloud shrugged. "I don't answer to any of them."
She hummed in reply and watched as his thumb brushed some of the blood off of her skin. He stared down at the crimson droplets and rubbed it between his fingers.
"Why did you come?" she queried, tugging her wrist from his grip.
Cloud let her go without complaint and turned away. "I told you… I was just passing by. I didn't know you were around."
Tifa wiped away the remaining blood with her fingers and then on cleaned her hand on her skirt. It wasn't the most hygienic thing to do, and she realized too late that the leather would stain, but she had no other options at the moment; she'd just wash her hands when she got back to her friends. Realizing she had spaced out, she turned back to see Cloud watching her out of the corner of his eye.
"I don't think I believe you," she sing-songed, eyes bright and mischievous.
"Suit yourself," Cloud said flatly, turning to walk away. Her question made him pause.
"Have you managed to remember anything from your past?"
He shook his head once. "No."
The silence stretched on and Cloud began to fidget, realizing that she was waiting for him to say something. "Have… you?" He waited in tense silence, hoping that she hadn't. It wouldn't really do her any good if she were to think of him as something other than her enemy.
"No," Tifa said with a small sigh. "I guess it's better that way. It'll make things easier when we—" She abruptly stopped, realizing she had been about to blurt their plans to a man on the opposite side of their war. Despite that little fact, he had managed to make her feel at ease in a way that was almost frightening. "Still, I wish I could remember something. Then that way you wouldn't have to lie to me."
Cloud glanced at her sideways. "What?"
"For some reason I can tell when you're lying. It's something with the set of your shoulders that tells me that you're not being truthful with me," Tifa said, a sad smile on her face. "I just… I can't figure out why you would want to keep me at a distance if you know me."
"Have you ever stopped to think that maybe in our past life we were enemies as well?" Cloud asked, eyes narrowing a touch.
Tifa shook her head and approached him, her eyes focused on the fabric of his shirt and the defined muscle underneath. "I don't believe that."
"Why not?" he asked, almost petulant.
"Because you would've hurt me by now. Now, your friend, Sephiroth—"
"He's not my friend," Cloud groused.
"Apologies," she murmured, looking up into eyes that were nearly crackling with electricity. It made them glow… Like a SOLDIER. She swallowed hard and looked away, sighing to herself. That had been a memory, hadn't it? "Sephiroth has wanted to kill me since he met me. But you haven't. We couldn't have been enemies in our past life and I know that you remember more than you let on."
Cloud sighed and turned away. "I don't understand how you can be so sure of that."
He only had a second to block the fist that came hurtling towards his face, bracing his crossed arms in front of himself.
She came at him again with a high kick that nearly made him blush, but he blocked it once more with his arm.
"Oomph." The next hit knocked the wind out of him when he failed to block it, and he was pretty sure that she had bruised one of his ribs.
"Hit me back!" Tifa exclaimed, pulling her fists back in a defensive position, waiting for his attack. It never came.
He shook his head and lowered his fists. If she decided to hit him again, he wouldn't stop her.
"Why?" Tifa insisted, stepping up to him, eyes staring up at him intently.
He forced himself to not step back and show her how much her closeness affected him. "I have no quarrel with you."
"We're on opposing sides, Cloud, and you won't attack me!"
"I don't enjoy senseless fighting," he said, evasive once more.
Tifa sighed heavily and her lips twitched into a smile. "You promised me a fight."
I… I promised you a lot of things, he whispered inwardly; that much he could remember. Well, that and the fact that he had broken some of the most important promises he'd made her.
"I guess I should be thankful," Tifa said quietly, adjusting her gloves and running her thumb over the skin he had healed. "No matter what happens after today, I wouldn't have wanted my memories of you to be tainted by violence."
Cloud stared hard at her and felt his heart stutter in his chest. "What are you—?"
"It was good seeing you, Cloud. But I have to go now before my friends start to worry and come looking for me," she said with a small sigh.
"Why does this feel like I won't see you again?" he asked, frowning at the fact that he hadn't been able to stop the words from leaving his mouth.
Tifa shrugged, expressionless. "So what if you don't? It's not like we're friends or we knew each other in our pasts, right?"
That unhappy feeling was still churning in his stomach. "Right," he muttered. Her next words made the feeling intensify.
"You're not going to miss me… right, Cloud?" she asked, eyes bright as she turned to look at him.
He grit his teeth at the assault of memories that came to him in that moment. All were fractured, but she was present in nearly every image. She had been… someone important to him. Despite what he could remember about her now, he couldn't bring himself to tell her. Sephiroth wanted to hurt her for no reason at all; it would be worse if any of the Chaos Warriors got wind of how important Tifa was.
Smiling sadly at his silence, she nodded once. Why had she expected Cloud to admit anything to her? Even if he had remembered memories from a shared past, what had made her believe that they were good things? Tifa shook her head to herself. Hope had been something she had always given to her friends in spades, but somehow, she always forgot to keep some for herself…
"Stay safe," she said quietly.
Cloud sighed and nodded, watching her every move intently.
Before she lost her nerve, she placed a hand on his shoulder guard, using it as leverage to pull herself up to kiss his cheek gently. Cloud closed his eyes and breathed in her sweet scent, so at odds with their surroundings, and felt a chill travel his body, starting from where her lips were touching him.
"Goodbye, Cloud," she murmured against his smooth jaw.
Tifa stepped back then and began to walk past him. Before she could fade away and back to the Cornelia Fields, she turned to look at him one last time.
His heart was beginning to beat erratically in his chest and he couldn't quite figure out why. There was worry, and anguish, and a feeling that made him even more confused than when he had been without any memories at all. "Wait," he whispered. "Wait, Tifa."
A memory came to him then; an image of him turning away from their home—he somehow knew it was their home—and getting onto a sleek, black motorcycle. He had turned his back to their home, to their family, and worst of all, to her. He hadn't been there to know the kind of pain he had caused her, but now he knew. He knew because it was his turn to stand there and feel as if she were taking a piece of his heart with her. And he had a feeling that this was the last time he would see her in this world.
Don't kill me! I'll probably be continuing this in another oneshot, but for now it'll stay as it is. I just hope that I'm not losing my touch and that everyone liked this… Take care and enjoy the rest of your week!