Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII or any of its affiliates. Anything that you recognise is property of its respective owners. Any relations to persons living or dead are purely coincidental.
Base/s: Final Fantasy VII
Title: Letting Go
Summary: Cloud comes to terms with letting Tifa move on. Implied Reno/Tifa
Music used for inspiration:
He poured his own drink for once.
Sitting, he was slumped in a seat in the bar with a glass of something strong in his hand. The bar was closed today.
Even Yuffie, in all her brightness, was giving him space. They all thought it amusing to poke fun at his insecurities, especially when they came to her, but they were all quiet now it had become a reality.
He lifted the glass to his lips and took a long drink, staring absently at a shaft of light that crept in through some crack he couldn't see.
He felt the cold glass drawing the heat from his fingers but he didn't set it down. He'd hurt his friends by being selfish, he knew that. But he also knew that if he had stayed, he would have hurt them even more. He would have lashed out at them when they tried to pry and would have wounded them with his melancholy silence. He didn't want to hurt them.
What he did he usually did for those around him, but he saved one special pleasure for himself.
He loved watching people. Just, watching them. Especially her, when she laughed and when she scolded. He realised with a faint hint of pride that she had grown into a fine young woman.
Not for the first time, his mind jumped back to a different time and place and he let it, still staring at the same beam of light, swirling with motes of dust.
He absently stroked her hair as she slumped down beside him. Their chests were heaving from exertion and they were laughing even as they shushed each other and hunkered down in their hiding spot.
She was giggling.
"Tifa! Be quiet or we'll be caught!" He'd hissed even as he fought to keep of another bout of laughter.
They'd been running from some irate shopkeeper they'd played a trick on. Fortunately for the two eight year olds, they were fast and knew Nibelheim like the back of their hands.
After waiting for a while, their giggles died down.
Tifa turned to him with a big smile on her young face.
"That was fun! Let's do it again!"
He almost smiled at that memory, stored away in the back of his mind like a photo album. Tifa and him hadn't been close when they were little, but he remembered that time clearly.
He loved children. They were so... carefree.
He turned a metaphorical page in his mind and stumbled across another memory.
He sighed contentedly as he breathed in the cool night air. He could feel the breeze ruffling his hair and the grass was pressing into his skin. He looked up into the star spangled sky and watched as the faint clouds rolled by.
He heard the soft rustle as someone approached, he half sat up, propping himself up on one elbow to see that it was Tifa. She smiled softly before settling down next to him. They didn't say anything, just sat and watched. Eventually, when his eyelids were dropping and he was having trouble focusing on his own thoughts, he stood and offered her his hand. She took it with a little smile and he pulled her up.
They walked back to the camp together, still not saying a word.
He could barely remember where they were or what they were doing then. They had been camped somewhere... he couldn't remember exactly where.
He took another sip of his drink, idly noting it was almost empty.
He stood behind her as they looked into the mirror. She gave a little grin smoothing the dress and fiddling with the bracelet on her wrist.
He brought up one hand to stroke her long hair and she flushed, embarrassed. It was a habit.
"You look beautiful. You know that right?" he said, looking into her glass self's eyes. The grin slipped off her face.
"Why are you talking like this? You act as though I'm never going to see you again!" she questioned.
He gave a weak little smile. Every time she went out to fight, even though he knew how capable she was, he still felt the need to keep her safe. He looked at her like she was made of porcelain, and his teeth clenched every time she took a hit.
"I might not," he said lightly, "Some red headed Turk might come along and steal you from me."
She snorted and the corner of her mouth upturned, a faint flush on her cheeks. He'd done what he'd wanted to, deflected and made her laugh.
He gave a humourless half chuckle into his glass. Oh, the irony. He was distracted from his memories by the faint sound of the door being pushed open.
He glanced up and saw Yuffie standing awkwardly in the doorway.
"Cloud?" she ventured and when she saw his eyes on her, she continued. "The ceremony is starting soon, shouldn't you get changed?"
Cloud didn't move for a few moments before he noticed that Yuffie was looked uncomfortable under his stare. He sighed and nodded.
"Give me a minute." He asked and she paused, nodded and left the shabby bar, flinging a concerned look over her shoulder.
He bowed his head again and studied the grains in the wooden table he was sitting at. He knew he was wasting time and that he really should get up but it was getting harder and harder to even think of the possibility.
With a heave, he quickly threw back the last of the liquid in his glass and, as it burned its way down his throat, stood.
But he would do it, for her sake.
The clothes felt stiff, starched and unnatural to him as he walked, barely paying attention to where his feet were taking him. He much preferred his regular attire, but today wasn't about him. It was all for Tifa and this was her day.
He vaguely heard the music as he walked down the aisle in the half ruined church, not sparing a look for the many people standing either side of him. The lilies were giving a soft scent to the building and the sun hit the glass windows and splayed pretty coloured light that danced across the worn tiles.
They didn't get to have ceremonies like this often, so it was strange to be taking part on one.
He made a mental note to find out who organised the ceremony he couldn't bring himself to be a part of. They had done a good job.
He spied a familiar splash of red ahead of him at the front but didn't pick up his pace. He couldn't help but feel cheated by the other, although he'd mellowed some towards the idea. He supposed he should have expected, with the red head being able to draw out more laughs from her than anyone else and frequenting the bar like he lived there.
So he continued walking up the aisle to the man waiting at the other end.
He stopped beside him and turned his head. He noticed that the other mans eyes were rimmed in red. It was strange, he thought belatedly, seeing the other is such a state. But Reno had always worn his emotions on his sleeve, even if he tried to cover them up with attitude.
Surprising even himself, he put a heavy hand on his shoulder.
"She wouldn't want to see you like this." He said quietly, not quite being able to give a reassuring smile but hoping his words were enough. "She's waiting."
Reno looked a little calmer at that, and flashed him a quick, tense smile although he still looked overwhelmed by everything. Out of place. Cloud understood.
"Yeah, I guess she is."
When they led her in, Cloud had to clench his jaw to stop tears. He knew the man next to him was doing no such thing.
Was this what letting go really felt like? He'd felt it before, but it was different. This was drawn out, long. He felt it was almost worse.
He would continue to do what he could to make her proud. He would continue to so all she asked of him because she was worth it.
He didn't really know what words he could possibly give, but as he stepped aside to allow her to pass, he whispered what his mind told him was the only thing he could say.
He heard a harsh intake of breath from beside him and refrained from looking.
He certainly couldn't say he wasn't distraught, but he would honour her the only way he knew how.
There were a few almost soundless sobs from the children and it made his heart wrench. The adults didn't cry, unwilling to break the spell, as a single white rose was placed on the casket by a pale, shaking hand.
But they all felt the silent tears that ran down their cheeks at the memories she left them with.
Why do I write angst? I'm not an angsty person, not even close, so why do I write so much of the damn stuff? Oh well, some people may see this as similar to Bokunenjin's 'The Scientist'. And it is. That's where I got my inspiration from.
Anyway, a White Rose symbolises Eternal love, silence or innocence, wistfulness, virtue, purity, secrecy, reverence and humility. Or so says Wikipedia. I thought about a Marigold, because that symbolises Death, but I decided against it.
And it's Reno/Tifa because... I like Reno/Tifa. So there.