Little Red Riding Tifa

Something has happened to Tifa and Cloud will do anything to help her, even if it means risking himself…

I don't own any of these characters, places, etc. Square Enix owns all this awesome stuff. Rated M for the usual adult situations and language. I apologize for the length; I tend to get carried away by the moment…

Shinra, it wasn't their fault this time. Although they had been like a virus upon the planet, blessing and celebrating the carnage they left in their wake, it wasn't them. They sought redemption, secreting funding the WRO and aiding Cloud in his fight against a second Reunion. Although many were reluctant to trust or even accept any hand outstretched from the defunct power company, people were slowing viewing Shinra , in a mako-less light, with a faint level of faith. So if it wasn't Shinra, who the hell was it? Who had taken her, hid her from the world and made those who cared for her worry themselves so?

"You ok?" Cid asked gruffly, as he walked away from last minute safety checks on the Shera to where Cloud stood a few feet away looking into the distance. Cloud heard the familiar scrape on metal on flint and he turned to face Cid.

"Are we almost ready?" Cloud answered, his voice laden with a controlled and focused anger as Cid took a long drag off the cigarette sandwiched between his fingers.

"Yeah and you didn't answer my damn question." Cid griped as Cloud turned his back on him again. He took his frustration out on his cigarette, flicking it to the ground near Cloud and grinding it out with his heel. He waited a few seconds more for a response and receiving none, he decided to pitch an attitude, his usual fastball.

"Hey, stop acting like you're the only one who gives a shit." Cid growled, making his way back to the airship. Cloud silently watched the ex-astronaut make his way back to the anchored ship, before he turned back to stare at the darkening sky. The sun sparkled in between the wind tousled leaves, as Cloud watched it lazily descend into temporary obscurity. That was the second time he watched the sun set, marking her absence for another day. His mind was blank, but in his chest he felt a tightening, a constricting pain that he couldn't put into words. It wanted to drag him to the ground , this agonizing torment, and beat him into submission. Was there an antidote strong enough to defeat the throbbing ache that grew each hour, was HE strong enough to withstand the ordeal? He was a slave to this anguish, it whipped him forward and then yanked him back, plowing him through the muck and slime. He didn't care if he was dirty, why did that even matter anymore? It taunted him each new day and mocked him upon each growing night.

"Cloud?" A woman's voice asked in a comforting tone. He felt a soft touch on his arm as he turned to see who asked for him. The darkness, when had it gotten so dark, it hid most of her features, but the remaining light struggling against the shadows reflected off of her glasses; Shera. She took his motion in her direction as a response.

"You shouldn't stand out here…alone. Come, I'll make some tea." He felt a slight tug on his arm as she urged him deeper into the clearing where the ship that bore her name waited.

"Tea…" He said absently. He suddenly felt hungry, when had he eaten last? He had been so hungry for the continuing search, it had fed him. Real food though, that had eluded him as much as his prey.

"I think Yuffie is cooking something too, although I'm not sure how safe it might be to eat." She allowed herself a brief light-hearted chuckle as she continued to lead Cloud to the airship which appeared to be lit up like a tree during festival season. The two of them entered the ship, and the faint perfume of cooking welcomed them aboard. As they neared the galley, voices raised and then quickly fell as the two of them entered the room. The occupants each wore a different mask of emotion. Barrett appeared determined and almost angry, his pupils meeting the corner of his eyes as he slowly turned his glare away from Cloud. Cait Sith and Red XIII both bore a mask of understanding sadness, which followed Cloud as he sat down on a bench in front of Vincent, whose face was blank. Yuffie appeared to be forcing a smile as she dished out some kind of stew into a bowl in front of Cloud. He gazed at the bowl's contents before picking up a spoon and eating. It had no taste, had he lost this too, his sense of taste? Shera sat next to him and gratefully accepted the food from Yuffie before standing and preparing some tea at the stove in the corner. It was then that the door banged opening, Cid right on its heels.

"Ok, she's all set for tomorrow." He announced picking up Shera's bowl and helping himself. The stoic group nodded or murmured their reply. Cloud finished his meal, thanked Yuffie and began to stand before Shera's words paused him,

"Do you want some tea Cloud?" He followed her words to where she stood, tea cup in hand. He just wanted to leave, to be away from all the reminders that she wasn't there, that there was a gaping hole where she should be standing at his side.

"Don't make me say it Cloud," Cid warned, as he emptied the contents of the bowl into his mouth. Cloud sighed in defeat as Shera happily placed the brimming cup in front of him. Vincent nodded in what appeared to be approval as he studied Cloud, who ignored him. The conversations that had ended abruptly when he had walked into the galley, began to slowly pick up again as Cloud sat lost in the sea of his emotions sipping his tea. Their voices began to sail away with the waves that lapped roughly against his already raw and blistered heart. His emotions embarked again on that failed journey to a shore he thought he would never reach.

"Cloud." The deep voice broke upon the ocean he was lost in, forcing him to look up from the now empty tea cup. It was Vincent and only Vincent, Cloud noticed, realizing they were the only two in the room.

"Yeah…?" He answered avoiding the penetrating gaze the gunman shot at him.

"Tifa wouldn't want you like this." Was all he said as he left Cloud alone in the galley.

. . .

"Tifa, sorry I'm la-" His words were cut off by the silence that greeted him as he entered Seventh Heaven that night. He had meant to call her and let her know, but he had gotten bombarded with work that he hadn't realized the time until it was past midnight. She wasn't there, in the kitchen, in the bar, in her room, she just wasn't there. He quickly opened the door to the room Denzel and Marlene shared and both children were sleeping deeply until they were startled awake by Cloud.

"Where is Tifa? Did she say she was going out?" He demanded, trying to keep his calm toward the two of them. Marlene appeared shocked while Denzel rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. The girl suddenly leapt from her bed and began running around the small home screaming for Tifa. Cloud jumped from where he knelt in between their beds and struggled to grab her and she darted from room to room in a sobbing panic.

"Tifa isn't here?" Denzel asked confused as Cloud battled with the girl.

"No, where is she?"

Where is she…

. . .

He sat up in a cold sweat, breathing heavily. A form stood in front of him outlined by the light that spilled through the open door.

"You gotta stop fucking waking me the hell up Cloud," Barrett hissed, slamming the door closed as he stomped off back to his own room. Cloud sat in his cot trying to calm his hyperventilation.

"Is he ok?" A voice asked the passing Barrett, its owner unknown since it was muffled by thick metal walls.

"You serious? Go find out yourself, I'm going back to bed." Barrett's voice retorted, furious, his pissed off steps echoing in the hallway for a few more seconds before fading with a slammed door. A knock then interrupted the brief silence after Barrett's storm had passed through.

"Cloud? It's Shera, I'm coming in ok?" The door slowly opened allowing the robe clad woman to enter. She gently closed the door behind her and stood awkwardly in the darkness.

"I'm fine, go back to bed." He stated to where he thought she might be standing.

"But you're not." She answered. He felt a weight on the end of his cot as she sat down. The darkness in the tiny room was overflowing with tension, until she broke it by speaking again.

"We will find Tifa, Cloud. You're worrying the others acting like this…"

"Like what, tell me how I am acting." He demanded, his emotions finally finding their voice. He almost heard her smile in the dimness.

"I'd be the same way if something happened to Cid…" She began to sympathize before his flood gates opened upon her again.

"Then go back to him and leave me alone, before something does." He practically shouted laying down in his sweat-soaked cot. He felt the weight on his bed lift, like the one he wished would from his chest, and the light from the hallway creep into his room briefly before being shut out again.

"Where is she? Where is Tifa?" Cloud demanded to the darkness around him. Of course there was no answer and he grew impatient trying to make himself comfortable on the cot. In frustration he threw the blankets to the floor and stormed out of the room. He made his way to the main deck, which was empty, since the ship was still anchored on land. He walked toward the broad glass windows that separated him from the night outside. In the dim illumination cast by the consoles behind him, he could just make out his reflection. He glanced briefly at himself before looking away, disgusted.

"I can't even help myself…" His spat at his reflection and wandered back to a fitful sleep.

. . .

The next morning, the group gathered on the Shera to search for one of their own departed into the skies, heading first to Cosmo Canyon to see if the wisdom harbored there could shed any light into the darkness of a lost soul. Once they landed on the outskirts of the valley surrounding the secluded village, Cloud aimlessly wandered, while Red XIII and the others sought advice from the elders of the town. He couldn't stand the waiting, the questions, the speculation, he wanted answers and he wanted them now. He really had wanted the answers the night he had come home and discovered Tifa missing. There had been no trace of a break-in, a robbery, any violence against the building or anyone inside of it, Tifa was just gone. He inhaled a shaky breath and sat down near the fire pit in the center of the town. He felt drained, mostly emotionally, but he felt exhausted physically as well, having been unable to sleep more than a few hours since her disappearance.

"You look terrible." A soft voice stated next to him. Cloud looked over to see Red XIII lounging near the fire, his tail swaying, its flame dancing alongside those that flickered nearby.

"I need to go." Cloud said, standing. Red XIII nodded in understanding.

"I'm surprised you stayed this long. Go, we will do what we can on our end." He answered standing on his four legs and nodding again to Cloud.

Cloud now had a purpose, a more solid purpose. He knew, he needed, to find Tifa on his own. The others, they would still look of course, but he needed to be away from their concerned words and worried glances. As a group, as a team they were strong, but this search he felt was his responsibility. Not his alone, but one he needed to fulfill alone.

. . .

Home. This place had become a home. Tifa, Marlene, and Denzel had given this place life. Now, it was dark and vacant and dead. Cloud felt like he had entered a tomb although it had only been empty three days. The children had been taken to Elmyra's, who was more than happy to take them for whatever length of time. Marlene had been crying insisting she could help find Tifa, while Denzel was brooding, his unvoiced downcast stares speaking volumes. Cloud promised them he would find her and bring her home safe, and as he had driven Fenrir toward uncertainty, he remembered the promise he had also made to Tifa years before and cursed himself for his failure.

His boots sounded a lamenting toll upon the hardwood floors as he wandered the bar. He sat heavily on one of the stools, put his elbow on the counter and rested his hand in his hand. The colored bottles in front of him, tempted him with a temporary forgetfulness, but he refused to give in to their suggestive nature. He scanned the room briefly, when something near the floor by the stairs caught his eye. He stood up and curiously walked toward the tiny white object, before bending down to pick it up. An earring. Tifa's earring. He looked around the steps, desperately seeking another indication of, of anything. There! No, no it was just a cigarette butt, wait why was it near the stairs….?

. . .

"Hey baby, come 'ere…" The stale, rank stench of beer hissed through the bloated face of the drunken patron. He was a regular to Seventh Heaven; one of the few Cloud had to usually drag out after some territorial show of masculinity between the two men. He was one of the nameless who came for the liquid and visual intoxication. Most customers knew better than to get on Tifa's bad side, they knew she could handle herself and what she couldn't Cloud did. This anonymous investor of the brew, seemed to appear more when Cloud was absent. Cloud didn't hide when he was home; Fenrir was parked in clear view of the bar's entrance, on purpose.

This night, the balding, obese man reeked of his usual cologne of beer and cigarettes and wasn't taking no for an answer. Several other customers had tried to dissuade him from his pursuit of the busty barmaid, but he ignored them and swatted them away like annoying flies. He had almost started a fight over their annoying interruptions. He solicited the corner of the bar, closest to the stairs leading to the bedrooms of Tifa and company, struggling to fit his large bulk on a stool while trying to flirt with Tifa. Her glaring eyes and sharp retorts did little to deter his attentions; in fact it seemed to spur him on further.

"I think you've had enough." Tifa asserted, avoided his excessively flabby arms as they swung toward her like tentacles.

"You want me to take care of this Tifa?" Another customer asked, slightly unsteady on his feet, but not completely useless in the brawn department.

"Only if he's still here when I close." She stated walking toward where the other man was standing at the bar. He nodded as he continued to nurse a drink he had bought over half an hour before. Tifa glanced at the clock, willing it to move faster toward closing time.

. . .

"Ugh, these people need to learn to use an ash tray." Tifa complained as she swept up the floor after finally being able to close the bar. Thankfully, the customer who had offered to help her, should she have needed it, wasn't necessary after all. The overly flirtatious supporter of her business had excused himself loudly and obnoxiously after hearing Tifa exchange words with her would-be assistant. She smiled to herself over the silliness of it all, when I sound from the kitchen intruded upon her thoughts. She stopped sweeping and studied the silence that followed hoping to hear the sound again. There it is, almost like someone was going through the garbage outside. The kitchen opened up into a small alley where Cloud sometimes would come in if he was late and forgot to call her. She smiled to herself, getting ready to mock scold the blonde for his unpunctual nature as she entered the kitchen and waited by the door. She folded her arms under her chest and tried to stand in a reprimanding manner. She waited….and waited, but nothing.

"Cloud?" She asked as opened the door and was greeted by a horrible pain to the head and then darkness….

. . .

"…a pretty one with that on." A voice chuckled as Tifa began to focus. Sound came to her first, a TV or radio in the background. Someone speaking. Someone answering. Was it two people or just one? Pain, pain in her head came next and her…wrists? She was bound, her wrists were bound to something that was barely holding her up off the ground. She shifted slightly and was greeted by a fresh pain and the jingle of bells, no chains it was chains.

"Awake are we?" A male voice asked as the speaker moved closer to where she was held. She felt a hand roughly grab her chin and force her to look up.

"Sorry about the face, sweetie, but I know what you're capable of and we don't want any more harm to come to anyone." He chuckled. She realized her eyes were swollen almost completely shut and breathing was difficult.

"Cloud…." She gasped as obscurity embraced her again.

. . .

"I'm going to ask again, and this time you're going to tell me the answer that I want to hear." Cloud snarled at the form on the ground in front of him. He was struggling slightly to catch his breath and wipe the blood out of his eyes. This one had put up more of a fight than the last few had. The man on the ground pulled himself up to his elbows and lifted his head to look at Cloud. His gaze met a large sword pointed directly between his eyes.

"Where is Tifa?" Cloud hissed, "You know and you're going to tell me." Cloud had been systematically hunting down Seventh Heaven delinquents for the past two days and this man was one of the few left he hadn't interrogated yet. This man was almost as muscled as Barrett and he knew how to fight. He had been the hardest to track down as well.

"Fuck off," He stared to say. In one swift movement, Cloud had taken a choke hold of his collar, dragged the shocked man to his feet and slammed him into a nearby wall in the alley the two men inhabited. Cloud's sword was poised ready to swing in his outstretched arm.

"Say that again, please." Cloud responded , through clenched teeth. The man saw the wild look in Cloud's eyes. It wasn't desperation, it was hatred accompanied by a maniacal lack of fear.

"Ok, ok, holy shit man don't kill me. It was the fat man, he hired me to grab her and take her to him. He wanted me to pretend to help her fend him off and then knock her out and bring her to him." He stuttered, putting his hands up in a defensive manner. Cloud responded by kneeing him in the balls. As the man coughed and sputtered on the ground, Cloud kicked him in the ribs, before giving him a verbal answer.

"Take me there, now."

. . .

Her name, someone was calling her name. Did she know the voice or was it her captor? No, she knew this voice, but the tone she didn't recognize. It almost sounded like it was…grieving.

"Tifa, please…" Cloud begged as he held her broken body in his arms. She had been beaten near death. The psychos who had taken her had stripped her of her clothing and dressed her in some kid of childish baby doll dress, which was torn and spattered with blood. She wore a necklace of bruises and her eyes were swollen black holes on her battered face. Her lips were cracked and bleeding, luckily none of her teeth had been knocked out. Her arms were sleeved in cigarette burns and needle punctures, as were her legs. Cloud feared she might have been raped or assaulted in some other way he couldn't see with his eyes. The pink and white dress was decorated with not only her blood, but various rips and slashes that had clearly intended to try and free her breasts, which were barely covered by what was left of the costume. He held her close to him, his body still glowing slightly from the limits he had pushed it to, to deal justice to her captors. He was shaking with fear for her and the strain he had been putting himself through for the past four days. His phone lay abandoned nearby, the backlight of his numbers slowing fading from the phone call he had just previously made to Cid. She wasn't answering him, but he knew she still lived by the slow pulse he had felt in her battered neck and the struggling breath she had been desperately forcing into her body. She most likely had broken ribs, he thought to himself as he handled her rag doll-like body as carefully and delicately as he could. A barely audible moan escaped her lips followed by a fit of coughing which produced speckles of blood on her lips.

"Shit…" He panicked, trying to cradle her in his arms, he winced at his own pain of dealing with her assailants. It was then he heard someone shouting his name.

"Here! I'm in here!" He screamed in response as the sound of running became louder. Barrett burst into the room first, followed by the medics Cloud recognized from the Shera.

"TIFA!" Barrett cried out when he saw her on the floor being protected by Cloud. The medics beat him to Tifa's side, quickly laying down a stretcher and easing her onto it. Cloud ignored the others as they rushed into the room, his attention completely on the broken woman in front of him. The medics were talking frantically, as one started an IV in her arm and the other placed an oxygen mask over her nose and mouth. Cloud sat in a tormented silence, carefully embracing her hand in his own.

"Cloud, you need to move, we need to get her in the infirmary." One of the medics spoke authoritatively, before pausing to study his face further.

"You need to come with us, someone help him, he needs medical attention too!" The medic ordered the others in the room before whisking the stretcher with Tifa strapped upon it, out of the room with the other medic running alongside. Cloud sat on the ground still in mild shock of the situation unfolding in front of him. He felt someone firmly grasp his arm.

"Cloud." It was Vincent, there was a slight hint of urgency in his deep voice. Cloud tried to tear his arm away from Vincent, but found himself suddenly dizzy and weak. He allowed the stoic man to assist him to his feet and guide him back to the airship. Once there, he allowed himself to be led to the infirmary where he began to demand to see Tifa.

"Where is she? I want to see her." He shoved off a doctor who tried to get him into a wheelchair.

"Cloud, you need to relax. You're not well, you need to let me check you." The doctor said calmly, motioning to a nurse to help him with the stubborn man.

"Let me see her!" He bellowed, finally succumbing to some of his injuries and catching himself on the wheelchair. He blinked a few times to clear his foggy vision and shook his head slightly to lessen the creeping deafness he was experiencing.

"Cloud you need to sit-" The doctor began before everything became a void of darkness.

. . .

Pain. It was there lingering on the edge, it was dulled but it was still there. There was a gentle pressure on his hand, he was able to move his head toward the sensation.

"Easy, go back to sleep Cloud." A soft voice cooed into his ear. A woman? Sleep, yes that sounded wonderful…

. . .

"He's pushed himself beyond the point of exhaustion, I'm surprised he was able to function for as long as he did before he collapsed." The doctor was explaining to Tifa. She was resting in a bed in the infirmary on the Shera. Her injuries were not as bad as they had looked to Cloud, it was more heavy bruising than anything else. She had been unconscious for two days before coming to in the room she lay in now. Cloud was still unconscious in the bed directly next to her. He had an IV in his hand and his vitals were being monitored by various machines clustered around his bed.

"He's going to be fine though, nothing rest can't cure." The doctor reassured her as he checked her IV. She gave a tired nod as her response, before looking over at the man in the bed next to her. A nurse and her various visitors had told her what he had gone through to find her. He had barely slept or eaten for four days and had beaten nearly ten men to death trying to extract information about her whereabouts. The two guilty of her disappearance were hospitalized at a WRO prison facility, waiting to be sentenced for various crimes against her. He had practically refused medical treatment for his own injuries, demanding to see her and find out if she was going to be all right.

The doctor walked over to where Cloud was sleeping deeply and began to check the machines and making notes in a file that had been attached to the foot of his bed. She watched, silently hoping for him to wake up right then so she could see him before her medications pulled her back into a drug-induced sleep, but her fight against the pain medications was a losing one and she drifted off into a blissful pain free sleep.

. . .

"Tifa, can I talk to you…" He asked, lingering in the doorway of her bedroom, two weeks after the two of them were allowed off of Cid's airship to finish recuperating in the comfort of their home. Marlene was humming on Tifa's bed going through a pile of pictures she had drawn. Tifa was in the bed, several pillows stuffed behind her back and she studied each picture Marlene passed to her for inspection. Her bruises were almost completely gone, only faded yellow splotches marked where she had been defiled. She still complained of pain in her ribs, where she had been kicked several times and suffered damage to the muscle and tendons. She was thankful and surprised she hadn't broken any bones, telling Cloud at one point, jokingly, that "I can take a hit." She smiled and shooed Marlene off the bed.

"Cloud you don't have to ask. Marlene can you close the door sweetie?" Marlene could take a hint and after slipping off the bed, made her way to where Cloud was standing in the doorway. The girl nodded once and shut the door quietly. Cloud approached Tifa's bed and sat down on it, facing her.

"You look tired. Are you having trouble sleeping still?" Tifa questioned gently, placing her hand on his and giving it a gentle squeeze. Ironically, the entire situation seemed to have more of a psychological effect on Cloud then it did on her. The men who had taken and beaten her, had not sexually assaulted her, they merely drugged her and dressed her in a ridiculous costume for their own disturbing fantasies. When she didn't do what they wanted; silly poses, dancing, acting like a maid, they had used her as a punching bag. She could only imagine what he had gone through, and seeing the destruction he had left in his wake not only to himself but to others, she knew it had taken a heavy mental and physical toll on him.

"I'd feel better if you came back to my bed." He answered, leaving out the part about wanting to stand guard over her. She knew he blamed himself for her disappearance, since he had come home late that night, unintentionally. She had insisted that they sleep in separate beds for a bit, since it aggravated her injuries with him tossing and turning next to her. She knew he woke up several times during the night and checked on her while she slept, she caught him doing it three times the night before.

"Tonight I will, I want you to stop losing sleep over me. I'm a big girl Cloud." She caressed his face gently as he looked away slightly embarrassed.

"I know Tifa, I just, I worry. What if something worse had happened to you? What would I do without you?" He confessed as he stood and then turned toward her. When she didn't respond right away he walked over to the window and stared out at the street below. He didn't hear her behind him, but he felt her warm touch on the center of his back. And then she hugged him. Not too tightly for the sake of her still lingering wounds and his. He turned around and returned the embrace. She slowly backed away, her arms still leaning on his shoulders.

"You think I would have been fine without you?" She removed one of her arms from around his neck and traced the zipper on his sweater to the center of his chest where she felt the quickened beat of his heart. She was staring at where her hand was resting for a few moments, relishing the closeness of him. She was about to speak again so she lifted her hand and was quickly silenced by his lips. He pulled her closer, despite their injuries and the tiny stab of pain she felt as she breathed him in. She felt relieved and safe with his body pressed so firm against her. Cloud gently broke the kiss and took her hand; he guided her over to the bed and sat down. She stood in front of him, unsure of what to say.

"You don't want this right now do you?" He asked, recognizing the debate between her heart and her mind which was displayed on her face. She chuckled to herself and smiled before answering him.

"Cloud you know that I do, I'm just so sore and –"

"I can fix all of that….I promise." He interrupted her and pulled her down to sit next to him. He took her hand and gently pulled off her ring and placed it on the night stand next to the bed. He extended his hand and lovingly tucked her hair behind her ear, exposing the lone earring she was wearing. He carefully removed it and sat it next to her ring. He began to reach toward the red ribbon on her arm, when she stopped him. She moved her hand to his face and traced his lips with her finger. She then leisurely ran her finger down his chin, his neck, and into the exposed part of his chest. She allowed her finger to linger at the top of his sweater where the zipper had stopped her further investigation of his chest. Her intent was not to tease him, but she didn't want to rush the experience this time. Cloud wasn't one to be very physical with her in public and behind closed doors he was only a little more so. She wanted more familiarity with him and he didn't try to stop her. She unbuckled the first strap across his chest, giving it a mild tug to loosen and free the pauldron from his shoulder. She then grasped the two buckles at his waist and methodically unfastened each one, which released the straps that held the half shirt to his midsection. She placed those items behind her, the foot of the bed on the floor. As she turned back around she noticed he had moved further onto the bed and was taking off his boots. She took his hand as he finished placing a boot on the floor and plucked the glove slowly from each finger and then repeated the process with his other hand. She then proceeded to massage the palm of each hand with her thumbs, alternating each hand after rubbing them for a few minutes. When her fingers began to grow tired she released his hands and reached for the zipper on his sweater. He slowly leaned out of her range and then motioned for her to turn her back to him. When she was facing away from him, Cloud arranged himself directly behind Tifa. He leaned over her shoulder and unzipped her vest and slowly pulled it off her arms.

"Can I take this off?" He asked lightly touching her shirt. When she replied with a faint yes, he pulled the shirt up over her head and arms. He could still see the healing contusions around her back and neck, which he delicately stroked with his fingertips. He then firmly placed his hands on her shoulders and began to rub the tension out. He snaked his fingers under her bra straps before easing them off her shoulders. His hands roamed over her shoulders to her back and down to the final strap. He grasped the fastening with both hands and with a quick twist, released her breasts. He let the bra slip off her before continuing to knead her back. She moved away from him and stood up, still with her back to him. She pulled her arms around her exposed chest and turned around to face him. At first he was unsure what she wanted from him and then he realized she wanted him to finish undressing her, and not just with his eyes. He knelt in front of her and unbuttoned one side of the flap that held the shirt around her waist. As that fell to the floor behind her he tugged on her shorts pulling them down her thighs and calves to her feet. She kicked the shorts out of the way and slipped off her shoes. Standing in front of him clad only in her panties, Cloud lingered on his knees as he ran his hands over her smooth legs, ignoring the yellowed patches of healing bruises. She was still beautiful even when she was damaged. He stood up and pulled her arms from her chest, exposing her full breasts. He rested a hand on her back and let the other explore her chest. Her body was hot under his tender caresses. He pressed a finger into her warm skin and mapped out her breasts. His hand journeyed between her breasts down to her waist. She sighed in pleasure as her head lolled back, parting her lips. He took that as an invitation and seized her mouth with his own. His kisses were stronger and she could feel his desire. She pushed him onto the bed and onto his back, hovering over him, her breasts lightly pressed to his still covered chest. She pulled away and straddled him, sitting firmly on his manhood. She touched the zipper on his sweater and then pulled it down revealing his muscular chest and abs. She rested her hands on his abdomen and began to trace the muscles, working her way to his chest. She also ignored the bruising decorating his body and softly caressed his still swollen rib cage. He heard a soft grunt escape his throat and felt him tense. She drew her hand away from his ribs; she had hit a tender spot.

"Ssshh," she whispered as she rested her body against his, her breasts fully covering his chest. "Relax, relax." She cooed, ironing the pain from his face with her affectionate touches. She felt him take a few slow, deep breaths as he calmed under her gentle instruction.

"I'm ok." He whispered, running his hands through her hair and slowly losing himself in the deep pools of her eyes. She smiled, her feather-like touches still kissing his face as he then returned a smile. He pushed himself to a sitting position and held Tifa tightly against him, letting his sweater fall onto the bed. His lips found not only hers, but her neck and chest. He felt her squeeze her hand to his waist and yank at his belt. He released her so she could undo his pants, which she peeled off his legs before returning to his lips. She felt him now; strong and solid, against her. He turned, carefully and slowly lowering her onto the bed as he sought the comfort of the skin under her panties. She allowed him to finish undressing not just her but himself as well, all the while the passion-filled kisses feeding the fire within them both. She felt his hand press into the soft skin of her inner thigh, pushing her legs open, which she proceeded to wrap around his waist pulling him into her. She gasped as he entered her, his breath hot and fast in her ear. She felt herself melting as his inferno blazed into her again and again. She rode wave after gently swaying wave of the tsunami that threatened to drown her as she dug her fingertips deep into his lower back and ran them up to his shoulders. His lips, his hands; they seemed to be everywhere. She heard her name as much as she spoke his. She reached for him and when her seeking hands found him, she fed his flame; stroking and petting until his teeth clenched and he moaned in ecstasy. She could feel the earthquake building and when it finally crashed within her, she arched her back so high she felt like she was levitating above the bed. The aftershocks reverberated within her for several minutes as she floated back into the mattress. He reluctantly freed himself from her, breathing heavily his skin moist from the exertion. She turned her head toward him and watched his heavy breathing; the strong, concentrated breaths. She rolled to her side and rested her hand on the center of chest, wincing as her ribs let her know she needed to move slower.

"Are you ok?" She asked, becoming concerned when she saw him also cringe. He looked over at her and smiled.

"You're here with me…I'll be ok."