Hi guys! This is my first try writing from a characters point of view, so I apologize if it's not perfect. I also wrote this just a few hours ago, so I apologize if there are any grammatical errors. I've checked for errors about four times already and hope that I didn't miss any. This story is set after Advent Children and was supposed to be a little more on the cheery note, but I changed a few things and made it more of a drama instead! On that note, please enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or anything in Final Fantasy VII.
I shut off the engine and lazily pull out the kickstand to Fenrir with the tip of my steel toed boot, leaning the bike to its side while I open the garage door at the back of the bar. The garage was an addition Barret helped me install when we realized Tifa and I needed more space to store some goods. That and I wanted a safe spot for my bike, but Barret didn't have to know, although I knew Tifa had her suspicions with her smiling face when we even mentioned the topic.
Walking Fenrir inside, I closed the garage door, wincing a little when I hear the harsh screech of it finally shutting. I feel exhausted, and honestly, I don't know how I made it home in one piece. I just wanted to come home so badly. My eyes are closing on their own, my legs are cramped, and my back and arms hurt.
My latest delivery had me away for three whole days. That meant three whole days without the children, Tifa, or her cooking. It wasn't as painful as I make it seem, but it bothers me, greatly.
Sighing in exhaustion, I make my way into the bar from the back, my eyes half closed. I don't care how much my side hurts when I stub it with the edge of the bar counter, nor do I care about almost tripping over the stairs when I make my way up. If I would have fallen, I wouldn't have minded staying there and sleeping on them, but I know that would freak out Tifa and the kids, and the last thing I want are screaming children waking me up in the morning thinking I've died or something.
I'm suddenly more awake when I pass by Tifa's room and find her door wide open and her bed unoccupied. Tifa? Where are you? I know it's well past midnight and Tifa's usually sleeping by now. I lean against her door frame, feeling the sleep creep up on me again.
She's definitely not in her room even though her sheets are ruffled, so I turn to look down the rest of the hall. And that's when I see it… The light coming from under the bathroom door. I sigh in relief as I make my way to the bathroom, wanting to make sure it was her.
Now standing in front of the bathroom door, I raise a heavy, tired hand and prepare to knock on the door. This would have worked out just fine had the door not swiftly opened, revealing Tifa, wearing only a bathrobe that wasn't even closed all the way across her chest.
It was too late for my tired hand and I gently knock on Tifa's forehead once.
"Oh," God… I retract my hand and sigh, hunching over a bit, feeling a little embarrassed. "I'm sorry, Teef."
She laughs a bit, finally crossing the bathrobe over her chest, removing the small view I had of her cleavage.
"Hi there," She ties a secure ribbon and promptly goes to rub her forehead, where I had just hit her.
"I, ah, hi…" I raise my hand to press it against the skin of her forehead. My knock wasn't hard, but I know it must have felt unpleasant. "I'm sorry… I'm just," I sigh and lean against the wall, closing my eyes, too tired to come up with a coherent sentence. She smells amazing – something like the soap we use and her own soft honey-apple scent.
"Are you okay, Cloud?" I feel her hands cup my face and after check for my temperature.
I take one of her hands with my own and give it a reassuring squeeze. "I'm not sick, don't worry. Just tired." I look at her, and at first she has a worried face, but then her lips curve up into a small smile.
"I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow evening." Her smile stays the same, but I can see the happiness in her eyes.
That's when I smile at her. "Things just went a lot quicker, I guess."
"Are you hungry? I can make you something to eat. Do you want a sandwich? I just got some of that sweet ham that you like, or maybe you want some soup or-"
I can tell she's happy to see me because she's rambling. "It's alright. I'm not really hungry."
"Are you sure?" She carefully raises an eyebrow.
"Mmmm, yeah. I just want to sleep… for like a week." I run my gloved hands through my hair and scratch the back of my head once my hand reaches there.
Tifa laughs and folds her arms over her chest. The bathroom light illuminating her face, I see she's got slight bags under her eyes, which tells me she hasn't been sleeping well the past few days, and I don't like this. She was probably trying to sleep not too long ago and couldn't, so she tried relaxing with a shower. This was common for her.
"Why don't you go to bed?" I ask, extending a hand into the bathroom to turn off the light.
Now both in the dark, I hear a soft 'hmm' come from her. I can still see her in the dark, and so I see when she steps closer to me and presses her body against mine, her head under my chin. I've learned to take this as my cue to wrap my arms around her and we stay like that for a little while.
When we first started hugging like this not too long ago, I was hesitant because I always return dirty from my deliveries. There's always a layer of dirt and sweat coating my body and felt Tifa wouldn't want to touch that, but after all the times she'd hint at me to hold her with a little smile or straight up asking, I got the feeling she didn't care how dirty or smelly I was. All she cared about was me – that I had returned home.
Now, I feel her arms wrap around my waist and give me a small squeeze before speaking.
"Good night, Cloud." She mumbles into my chest.
"Night, Tifa." I rub her back a few times, but this time, it's a little different. I don't feel her bra; all I feel is the soft plush of her white bathrobe and her smooth back under it, and for the first time, I think about the fact that she's most likely not wearing anything under this now dangerously thin robe and I can't help thinking about what her naked body looks like. I still remember very well from that one time under the airship all those years ago, but things between her and I hit some sharp rocks along the way to a new life and we never spoke about that.
She slowly breaks the hug, and soon, I hear the soft click of her door closing, leaving me alone in the hall. I take three strides into my room and also close the door. Stripping myself of anything and everything except my chocobo print boxers, courtesy of little Marlene, I let my body fall on my bed.
After Geostigma was cured, Tifa changed a slight bit. She purposely avoided getting emotionally close to me, and I knew she was doing it for fear of getting hurt again, but I promised her that this was my home and she and the kids were my family. She would hug me for longer periods of time and would brush up against me to make it seem like we were growing closer in the eyes of the kids and our friends, but I knew better. Tifa and I haven't had a heart to heart talk in a long time.
I knew the reason why she was behaving like this was because she was afraid I was going to call it quits and leave again. She was afraid that we would share something and it might have been the last thing before I left her and the kids alone again. Marlene had told me one too many times that she was lonely when I wasn't around, even though she and Denzel had been there.
I never wanted to bother her about this shift in attitude, but in all honesty, it was starting to get to me. I wanted to get to know her even better than I do now and I wanted her to tell me about how she felt when something happened during her day, not just what had happened.
She was still the strong and wonderful person she had always been, but her insecure side needed to be dealt with soon because I don't think I can take it anymore.
Morning arrives and I'm surprised to not have been woken up by two little bodies jumping on me. I yawn and stretch my body, feeling a hell of a lot more refreshed than I did the night before. My eyes glance at the clock to reveal it's almost twelve in the afternoon, and now I'm really finding it weird that the kids haven't sneaked into my room. Tifa tries her best to let me have my sleep, but sometimes, just sometimes, I'm woken up by a roulette of slaps on the butt from Marlene, and a wet-willy by Denzel.
Getting up and making my way to the bathroom, I begin my morning routine of cleansing myself.
Once I dress myself in dark jeans and a grey shirt, I make my way down to where Tifa and the kids most likely are. Since it's a Saturday, the kids are either in the family living room playing, or helping Tifa around the bar.
Tifa, the kids, and I have gotten into the rhythm of being the best family we could be. We were all friendly toward each other, and Tifa and I were sacrificial for them. We knew when to stop working in order to tend to the kids, whether it was a school matter or because one –or both– kids were sick. The kids also fought and threw things at each other; they disobeyed me more than they did Tifa, though they also took refuge under me when the long-haired bartender was fuming in anger over something they did. It took more to be a family, but we were getting there.
"Good afternoon, you," Tifa gives me a smile as she walks back from serving a happy customer their meal.
"Hey, anything there for me?" I squeeze her arm as I wander into the kitchen with her, where I already see some homemade stew brewing.
"Mmmhm. Just let me get this order out and I'll prepare something for you." She picks out one of the big bowls and serves a generous amount of stew, placing crackers and two slices of toasted bread on the plate.
I'm instantly starving as I smell the aroma of her cooking, and the pang of misery hits my stomach, reminding me it had been three days since I had her marvelous cooking. I sit on one of the stools by the bar and peek into the family living room that was near me, curious as to why the princess and warrior of this house haven't come seeking me out. I see no life in the room and when Tifa passes by again, I ask, "Where are the kids?"
"Oh, I must have forgotten to mention it. Yuffie picked them up yesterday morning. They had a long weekend and Barret thought he would take them to the Gold Saucer. He just sent Yuffie over to pick them up. It wouldn't surprise me if she wedged herself into the small vacation." She laughed.
Oh, that must have been why there were no squeals or cheers of joy.
"So you've been alone?" My tone of voice doesn't hide the fact that I don't like what I'm hearing.
"It's only been a day. They left yesterday morning." Tifa give me a small scoff, as if I shouldn't worry about her.
"You could have given me a call. You know I don't like it when you're working the bar alone." I cross my arms on the counter in front of me. There were a few shady figures around Edge that I've made myself familiar with in case they ever try anything. They know better than to do anything while I'm there, but who knows what they'll try if Tifa's alone? I know she can handle them, but I get worried.
"Cloud, it wasn't that bad." Tifa rolls her eyes at me as she prepares my meal. She knows I already had my eyes on a big bowl of that soup and that's exactly what she gives me. I don't like crackers or bread with this particular soup and she is well aware of that when she places a nice spoon in the bowl and hands it to me.
"You never know who's going to come in and stir trouble. Believe it or not, the kids are pretty good a holding their ground and giving me a call when trouble's about." I take a sip of the soup. Instantly, I want to drown in its deliciousness.
"Nothing happened, Cloud. You don't have to worry so much." She smiles and watches me eat from her spot in the corner. I see she's wearing the long-sleeved cream colored shirt Yuffie had bought her a little while back, and it looks great on her figure.
"This bar gets packed Friday nights and you were here alone, of course I'm upset. And by the way, this is delicious." I take another sip of my soup. I taste the Wutai spices and can't help but make a noise of approval.
Tifa comes around the kitchen to the bar area and pats me on the back. "Thank you, and don't worry!" She lets her forehead lean on my upper arm and sighs a little smile into it.
"It's in my nature." I shrug.
She laughs, raising her head to look at me, and before she leaves to tend to the customer that walked into the bar, she lets her hand tickle the back of my neck, purposely making me feel good before pinching me there.
Tifa always had this way with her hands. You knew by her touch whether she meant business, or if she was playing around. You could even tell when she was upset just by her touch.
The rest of the day went pretty lax. The bar never got completely full as it did on Fridays, but it was still a successful day. I helped Tifa around the bar until closing time, which was now. Six o'clock on the dot as I nodded a goodbye to a friendly bunch that had passed by to grab some drinks. I close and lock the door, immediately knowing what was coming.
"I'm going to clean, so, shoo," Tifa came with a damp rag in her hand, beginning to wipe down the tables.
I usually follow her orders and busy myself with something else, which was usually playing with the children, but this time, I felt like resisting her –just to play a little. A little courage sprung through my veins and a small smirk rose as I said, "No."
Tifa paused from wiping the tables and looked at me. "I'm sorry, Cloud, what?"
She still had a small smile on her confused face, letting me know her brain didn't fully register the two lettered word I said.
"No." I repeat as I make my way to the kitchen, picking up a piece of the left over bread she baked that afternoon.
I see her frown as I munch of the soft bread. She looks a little shocked, like she'd never expect me to defy her simple request.
"Cloud, I can't have you walking around while I'm cleaning. It distracts me." She puts her hands on her hips, trying to intimidate me like she does with the children. That look usually works on me, but only when I'm trying not to get in trouble in front of the children.
"I distract you?" I say with my mouth full of bread. That earned me extra scolding points; Tifa hates when I do that, especially in front of the kids.
"Cloud, swallow before-"
"How do I distract you?" Triple scolding point. Interrupting her mid-scold? I'm daring today.
She slaps the rag on the table and narrows her nicely shaped brows at me. "Are you trying me Mr. Strife?" She pinches her lips into a thin line.
I know she's starting to get irritated, but I want to push her buttons anyway. It's already turning out to be a better night than expected.
"Do you want me to try you, Ms. Lockhart?" I finally get the slice of bread down and lean on the counter, giving her a smile. I'm trying so hard to contain a laugh that's rising because I know any moment now she's going to either throw something at me, or hit me herself.
I was right about what she was going to do because right after I blink I feel the tingling sensation of the rag slapping hard against my cheek, the rag sticking to my face after.
I hear a small laugh from her and I know she knows I'm just playing with her. She's already made her way around the counter as I peel the rag off my face. I see her lifting her hand to smack my arm, leaving the pricking sensation of pain there.
"Are you trying to slow me down on purpose, Cloud? I would have had at least half the tables done by now…" As she complains, all I can do is watch her, examine her beauty.
She's gorgeous – inside and out. I always knew that, but I wasn't always in my right mind to appreciate it. Tifa never gave up on me, even though she should have. Tifa had the right to beat me up a hundred times over and leave me for all the distress I caused her, but she only accepted me and continued to love me. We've had our spats – not in front of the kids, of course – and we've been upset at each other, but we always returned to that family she's wanted.
As I look at her, I noticed how soft her cheeks look and how lovely her eyes are. She has these three freckles on the top of her nose, and I can't help think that it's kind of funny; she only has three and no more, and they're small little tanned things, but they're cute. Just like her.
I raise my hand and brush a few strands of her hair behind her ear, looking into her eyes as she looks into mine with a confused tint. I then bring her toward me, to give her a hug. I know she's wanted to hug me since the morning but the bar was too busy to let us have a moment to each other.
Now though… Now's perfect as I feel her arms wrap around my waist and sigh into my chest.
My heart's pace starts to pick up as I run my fingers through her soft hair, her body warm against mine. I then break our embrace, but only to bring us back together once I softly brush my lips against hers.
I honestly don't know what came over me. I just felt so comfortable with her in my arms.
In fact, so comfortable that I have enough courage to deepen the kiss, pressing my lips against hers a lot harder than before, asking for permission to enter her mouth, her sweet scent invading my nostrils.
I must have not noticed how shocked she was because as I ran my tongue over her bottom lip, she quivers under me. That's when I notice she didn't respond to my first kiss and was hesitant to let me explore her mouth.
I'm not about to give up, so I place one of my hands on her back and begin to soothe her by making smooth circular motions. I want to let her know it's okay, that she can trust me.
She breaks our kiss and stares at me, her mouth parted in shock. Just by looking into her brown eyes I know she's scared of me now, scared I might do something I'll regret later and then somehow leave her for it. I know her fears too well, and it's because of me that I know.
…But I need to let her know that everything is okay now, for real this time. I need to let her know that I'm sorry for all the stupid things I've done and that I promise to be a better person, if not for myself, then for her…because she's been there for me. Because she's worked too hard in this lifetime to ever deserve anything less than perfect.
And because I love her.
She inhales, getting ready to speak. "C-Cloud, I-"
I stop her by pressing my lips against hers again, not taking no for an answer anymore. I kiss her lightly a few times before I deepen the kiss. I grab both sides of her head, making her give into me. My hands then make their trail down her shoulders, her arms, and finally rest on her hips, as I push her against the counter, making sure she feels my body press against hers.
Surprising to me, a needy growl escapes my throat and this is what she needed before she opened her mouth, giving me total access to her mouth. She tastes like the piece of chocolate she sneaked into her mouth just before she began cleaning the bar and this makes me crave her even more.
Suddenly, I feel her resistance cave in as she darts her tongue into my mouth, surprising me with how needy she also seems to be. Her hands venture around my body, caressing my chest through my shirt for the most part.
"Cloud," her breathless voice comes out, "What are we doing?" I don't completely understand her question, but that's only because my mind is down the gutter, contemplating on my next move.
I leave a trail of wet kisses down her neck and once I'm in the crook, I begin to suck on the soft spot.
Tifa twitches a little and a small moan escapes her now swollen lips when I nibble on her neck. She tastes a little salty due to the sweat that probably coated her skin earlier in the day, but she tastes amazing anyway. "P-please, stop, Cloud…" She manages to let out, sounding almost guilty at how she had temporarily given in just a few seconds ago.
I halt, and so does my heart for a moment. Feeling like a rejected teenager, I raise my head to look into her eyes. "Tifa…?" My voice is low and I'm disappointed she would want to stop what we were sharing.
She opened her mouth with the intent to protest but I don't let her. I don't want to hear her talk about how we might regret this later although I know she means me by 'we'. I don't want to hear how much I've broken her trust by leaving in the past in the form of her rejecting my advances. I know she's wanted me for a long time and I don't want to hear her mask it up with some excuse. I just want her to be happy, so I stop her from talking by kissing her yet again, hearing her moan in protest inside my mouth. Funny how she was the one always telling me to show her how I felt instead of telling her, and now, she wants to stop to talk to me.
Today was the perfect time to let her know how I felt about her – how I've always felt about her. The kids weren't here and neither one of us were necessarily busy tending to some immediate matter. Tifa closes the bar early on Saturdays and keeps the bar closed until Monday, which means I have all weekend to show her how I feel.
I feel her begin to roughly push my chest away from her, but I don't let her do that either. I know she's testing me. If I were to back away now, she'd take that as a sign that I don't want her – that I'm just using her for my own pleasure.
I push her into me, making her strong arms give in and rest on my chest as I continue to ravish her mouth. We continue to kiss, as if we could somehow make up for all the lost kisses we could have shared in the past years. As I raise my hand to brush her bangs out of her face, I taste something wet and salty.
I open my eyes to look at her. Her eyes are shut like she's in pain; there are tears streaming down her face as she breaks our kiss to inhale a shaky breath.
"Please don't lie to me, Cloud." She keeps her eyes closed and brushes the newly formed tears off her face.
"I'm not, Tifa," I finish brushing her bangs out of her face and lean my forehead against hers, "I'm not." She opens her eyes, and now I have a perfect view of how deep a shade of brown they are. They're beautiful, just like her. "I love you."
Once she hears my words, she bites her lip, trying to hold back a desperate cry. After a few seconds, she fails, letting her cry fill the empty air of the bar and kitchen. She sounds at war with herself, the unsure side of herself winning.
She tries to push me away again, telling herself that it was better if she and I didn't get intimate, but I stop her midway and raise my voice.
"Tell me you don't want me, Tifa," I let go of her, daring her to walk away from me. I'm tired of this insecure side she's always hiding; like she's afraid I might go back to that shell I was a few years ago. I don't like her doubting me anymore. "Look at me and tell me you don't want me…" My voice dips, and even I get a little scared at how low and stern it sounded.
There is a shiver that runs through her spine because I see her tremble in her spot, too scared to look me in the eye.
"Tifa." I raise my voice again.
"I want you, Cloud!" She yells at me, her face red from holding back tears, "I've wanted you for such a long time… but now-" her voice soften and then stops.
"But what, Tifa?" I jab. As much of a family we are, I know she's kept parts of herself hidden from me. We still laugh, play, joke around, and take trips together as a family, but whereas the kids are blind to it, I'm not. She's held back her true feelings, for a while now, and I want it to stop.
"Not like this, Cloud. Not with you throwing yourself at me as a form of an apology for everything you've done."
Her comment hurt, pang of guilt passes through my stomach, but I settle it. "I'm not throwing myself at you. I just want to tell the woman I love that I love her, but she's not letting me and I thought this was a good opportunity."
"This came out of nowhere Cloud, even you know you didn't plan for it."
"Even more of a reason to believe me when I tell you I don't have any hidden agendas when I kiss you. A few years ago, you told me to show you how I felt," she knew exactly where I was going with this, "And not just tell-"
"Don't bring that up."
That caught me off guard, but I pressed on. I walked toward her and reach to hold her arm. When she moved, I raised my other hand and held her firmly in place. She did everything possible to avoid eye-contact.
"Look at me. You're always telling me to look at you in the eye, now you look at me," I demanded. She didn't comply. "That night under The Highwind, you and I shared something we can't ever take back. You told me to show you how I felt, and now, I'm trying to do the same thing." I increased my grip on her arms.
I saw the tears running down her cheeks, and I wiped them off with one hand.
"How do I know you won't regret it this time?"
"I never regretted the night we had together, did you?"
She gasped and looked at me with her honey brown eyes. "No!"
"Then what's stopping you now?"
She didn't answer.
"Do you love me?" I ask her, much like she had asked me back when we first built the bar.
"Yes." Her tearstained face hardened, adding to the seriousness of her answer.
"Then show me, Tifa," I close the gap between us with a kiss, but right before our lips make contact, I say to her again, "Show me you love me."
As I kiss her soft lips, I feel her tense back relax, letting me carry her bridal style. We never broke our lip-lock as I made our way up the stairs. Once we reach the top, I open an eye, watching as she extended an arm, looking for the doorknob to her room, but right when she manages to grab it, I pull her off to the side and into my room. If I were to mess this up, I don't want her to look at her room and feel uncomfortable – no, if I'm going to mess up, I want her to hate my room-me, and not anything else in the house.
When I lay her down on my bed, she begins to remove her own clothing, but I gently grab her hand to stop her. I want to undress her. I want to see her under me and under my control.
I slip her long sleeved shirt off and toss it aside, not caring about how good it looked on her. My focus now is the scar she received years ago. Her scar runs from the lower inner corner of her breast down to her rib cage.
I trace the exposed part of the scar with my fingers, pressing the pads of my fingers hard enough to feel the texture of the scar. It used to be longer, but the thinner bottom of the scar began to fade. Tifa moved her hand to cover the scar, and at this I raise my eyebrow at her.
"You never hid this from me before…" I say with a soft voice. She's blushing, and she couldn't look more attractive to me. I am well aware she has scars scattered across her body, but that doesn't deter from her beauty.
"It's not the prettiest looking scar." She trails off.
"You're beautiful." I now remove my shirt and begin to unbuckle my jeans when I feel her hand reach up to my chest. There, she touches my infamous scar laid by the same blade. Mine is smaller than hers, but deeper, and there's a matching one on my back, where the sword went through me.
"It's like mine…" She says as she runs her fingers back and forth on my scar.
I know what she meant by the comment. Our scars have the same texture and color. Our skin never properly healed and began roughen up and tighten, the inside of the scar a light color, but the outline a darker shade.
Discarding my shirt and pants, I toss that aside and lay next to her. I don't want her to feel pressured with my advances, so I begin to caress her smooth skin and enjoy the sight of her body. It only took a few seconds for her to turn to her side and kiss me, letting me know it was okay to continue.
For the next hour or so, my room –and I'm sure the hall– were filled with the passionate cries and moans from Tifa. Her body against mine created such ecstasy it fired me up and kept me going. Every time I was inside her, I felt her insecure self wither away. Every time I lowered myself to place a kiss somewhere on her body, I felt her relax. Every time I said I loved her, I got the same answer back. "I love you too, Cloud."
For the first time in months, I felt the real Tifa come out. The Tifa that told me to never give up and to always believe in myself. The Tifa that never gave up on me and always believed in me. I didn't see the Tifa that was hesitant to ask for a favor or tell me how she felt. I felt Tifa. My Tifa.
There it is guys! I wanted it to be a one-shot, but I have a strong feeling there's going to be another chapter brewing.
Please let me know what you think and if you think I should continue or not! I appreciate every single one of your reviews as they encourage me to put out more ideas when I get them.