I think I wrote this maybe 2-3 years ago now and I've just had it sat in it's folder (along with maybe 10-15 other shorts) until I happened to read it today and thought maybe I'd upload it along with another short.

I may make this into a collection of shorts set at different periods in the game/movie or at least relevant in some way.

So this short is set directly after the movie.


Barret's hand had wrapped firmly round Cloud's and the man tugged him out of the water before pulling him into a tight one arm embrace. Cloud winced as Barret continued talking to him and giving him a final squeeze. All the noise began to drown out as Cloud glanced round the church. He was sure people were speaking to him but he couldn't hear their voices.

There were people on the other side of the church smiling at him giving him a nod. He wasn't sure if they understood what had just happened and they were actually showing him their thanks, or if they were just being polite.

Barret finally released him and the blonde wasn't sure if his legs were about to give out from underneath as he stumbled backwards away from the group. He felt like his soaking wet, torn pants were pulling him down onto the floor as he slowly got his balance and looked to the small group of people, his friends.

They were all laughing at him as he stared back at them in turn. Cloud slowly turned as he watched the children in the pool of water in Aerith's church.

It was over.

He hesitantly touched his left arm, expecting to feel a sudden sharp pain, but instead felt nothing. Cloud looked back up and saw Tifa's beautiful smiling face on him. She stepped closer to him before pulling him into her own softer embrace. He hesitantly returned the gesture, slowly dropping his hands on the woman's slender frame.

"I knew you'd do it." She whispered ever so softly in his ear. She let go of him and watched as he stumbled forwards slightly, clearly not realising that he'd been resting part of his weight on the woman. She laughed at him once more and he turned to glare at her.

Cloud couldn't even begin to explain how tired he was. He rubbed the spot just below his rib cage where there should have been a gigantic wound but instead there was just a dull ache. Despite Aerith's healing he still felt tired and all of his muscles were aching and screaming at him to collapse on a heap on the floor.

He heard someone cry something that he was sure sounded like 'back to Tifa's place.' Without realising he felt Barret's thick muscled arm wrap round his shoulders and began to pull him along and out of the church.

-x-

The celebration was still in full swing downstairs; Cloud could easily hear it even as he stood in the shower. He couldn't really understand why they needed to throw a party. He would have been much more content with dropping down on his old bed, which he couldn't help but admit that he sorely missed as there was only so much of sleeping on an old wooden floor a man could take and then drift off into a nice peaceful sleep.

The burning hot water was comforting and banished away his previous aches for some time. That was until he heard a harsh knock on the door followed by someone's voice, ordering him to get out. He was sure the voice belonged to Reno, what the hell were they doing here?

He turned the silver knobs off before stepping out of the shower and into the steam filled room. He slowly dressed into his pair of black boxer shorts and the baggy black shirt Tifa had found out for him. She then scolded him with a smirk, saying they needed to sort out his wardrobe at some point. He slid back on the creased, torn and slightly wet pants before reaching for his discarded shirt.

With his clothes in his hands he stepped out and was instantly pushed to the side as a flash of red hair forced past him and the bathroom door behind him slammed shut.

Cloud looked up barely noticing Tifa was in front of him. Her cheeks had a pink tinge to them, obviously from the drinks she'd been gladly handing out downstairs. "That's all I could find." She muttered, tugging on the black shirt. Cloud let out a quiet laugh as he stared down at himself and then back at Tifa. She took his screwed up clothes out of his hands and sighed loudly. "Looks like I should be fixing these I guess." She added as she reached forwards and tugged on his pants leg at one of the main torn holes in his pants leg.

Cloud winced as he remembered the silver haired man repeatedly stabbing him in mid air before sending him crashing back down. "Come downstairs when you're ready." Tifa added before disappearing back to the party.

Cloud sighed as he heard Barret's booming laughter. As much as he knew the people downstairs meant well he couldn't bring himself to walk down there. He glanced round and eyed the closed door that led to the kid's bedroom. It was already late into the night and he wondered if the two children had fallen asleep.

He could remember when he'd fallen into a routine of checking the two kids were finally asleep, mostly to make sure Denzel was okay because of his Geostigma. Cloud pushed open the door slightly and saw Marlene fast asleep, her hands wrapped around the covers and pulled to her eyes. Cloud eyes landed on Denzel who stared straight back at him. The blonde hesitated as to whether he should leave the kid or not.

"Cloud?" Denzel suddenly said in a quiet whisper.

Cloud stared back down at the party before stepping into the kids room. He looked to the boy and waited for him to continue. "Are you alright?" The boy asked with general concern. Denzel scooted over to the edge of the bed and stared at the spot in a hope the young man would come and sit besides him.

Cloud noted the reaction and took another slow step into the room. He clicked the door shut behind him and the celebration noise instantly died down. He carefully walked towards the boy and dropped down besides Denzel. He allowed a long sigh escape his lips after finally being able to sit down and take the weight off of his feet.

All his muscles finally relaxed and he rested his head against the wood headboard. He heard Denzel let out a small laugh and he opened his mako eyes to look at the child. "I'm fine." He answered with a small smile. Cloud was surprised the boy hadn't argued to stay downstairs with everyone else, but his question was answered when the boy suddenly yawned loudly. "Tell me about it." Cloud muttered back.

"Were you scared?" Denzel suddenly asked, looking at the young man.

Cloud rubbed his face with his calloused hand. He could still picture Sephiroth's green cat like eyes burning right through him. "Yeah." Cloud answered slowly. It was the truth. The feeling that the whole weight of the planet was heavy on his shoulders and rested upon him defeating the silver haired man was enough to be scared of. But then the moment he looked up to see the silver haired demon descending towards him and saw everyone in his life flash across his eyes scared him even more, that if he didn't stop the SOLDIER they would all get hurt. Cloud looked back at the boy and saw the surprised expression. "We're not all brave hearts like you Denz'." The boy's nickname came with a slip of the tongue and Cloud twisted back round knowing he should be downstairs with everyone else.

In the corner of his eyes he saw the bright smile spread across Denzel's face. It had only taken them a minute's walk before Denzel set off telling him how he'd stopped some of the monsters outside their home from attacking people.

Cloud lifted his arm and bent it behind his head as he stared at the grey ceiling above him. "Did you get hurt?" Cloud turned and frowned at the odd question.

He subconsciously rubbed at his chest where Sephiroth's sword had slashed straight through him and remembered the feeling as it tore through his skin, the burning sensation as his blood trickled down his stomach. And then when one of the triplets fired at him and a single gunshot tore right through his chest. Cloud winced at the memory.

Had he actually, died?

It sounded so stupid, but rightly he shouldn't be sat here at this very moment. They'd saved him once again, they'd had both saved him countless times over the last days. From Aerith's appearance as he travelled to the Forgotten City to his encounter with Zack, who practically saved him before he gave in to the silver haired man. He owed them far too much. "Yeah." Cloud muttered back, stifling a yawn. He saw Denzel's shocked look and he turned back to look at him. "But I'm fine now." He yawned back.

He shifted his weight on the bed that was becoming far too comfortable as Denzel asked another short question as Cloud forced to keep his eyes open.

-x-

"So where's the man of the moment?" Cid called out over the laughter. He made to light his cigarette that was quickly snatched out of his hand by the young ninja who sat across from him. He glared at the girl and made to reach for his packet once more.

Tifa heard Cid and she glanced round the bar. Where was Cloud? She felt guilt overwhelm her for not noticing the blonde's absence. She scolded herself silently and made to get to her feet. She'd gotten lost in the moment as she had her next drink with her friends.

Here they all were celebrating that Cloud had defeated Sephiroth and he wasn't even actually in the room with them!

Tifa steadied her balance before she made for the stairs, getting a sudden cheer from a drunken Reno who asked her if she needed someone to accompany her upstairs. Tifa refrained herself from glaring at the red headed Turk as she watched him swirl the almost empty bottle in his hands and Tseng behind him merely shook his head in embarrassment.

Tifa had to admit it, the party was getting a little out of hand and she was sure everyone was going to wake up in the morning not feeling like themselves at all.

"Cloud?" She called as she pushed open the door to his room. She frowned when he wasn't there and twisted round and stared into the empty bathroom. She crossed the small landing and up the few steps to the kids room. She quietly pushed open the door and was met with Denzel's bright blue eyes. "Denzel?" She muttered, the two kids had gone to bed a while back and the here the boy was wide awake.

He opened his mouth to protest when he twisted round and pointed at the black mass on his bed. Tifa sighed and walked towards Denzel's bed and stared down at the young man. He had one arm wrapped round behind his head whilst the other rested on his slow rising chest. His legs were spread apart and took up the entire bed."Cloud!" She whispered harshly, slightly shaking his arm for a response. A low whimper escaped the blonde's mouth, but he barely moved. She shook him harsher and slowly his dulling mako eyes open.

"Wha..." He yawned loudly, his half opened eyes locked with her before closing again. The young man hadn't slept the previous night either and after fighting Kadaj's summon, Cloud had gone straight into fighting the teenager and then Sephiroth.

Tifa was tempted to leave the blonde as he fell back to sleep, his breathing continuing a steady pace and the occasional snore escaping from his slightly parted lips. But when Tifa saw Marlene fast asleep in the next bed she wasn't sure who would be more embarrassed in the morning.

Tifa bent forwards and lifted the blonde's arm to wrap it around her shoulders before lifting him up off of the bed. There was a loud thud when the blonde's legs hit the floor and she glanced to the sleeping girl to check she hadn't woken.

Tifa hadn't noticed Denzel rush out of the room, but he returned with Vincent in tow. The enigmatic man had remained quiet most of the night, cradling his second drink besides Nanaki. The dark haired man silently walked over and brought Cloud's arm around his shoulder before helping her pull the blonde out of the room and into his.

Together they dropped him onto his bed and Tifa thanked Vincent as he left. She twisted round and looked at the sleeping blonde. She argued over the point whether or not to leave the man fully clothed or not. She drummed her fingers on her arm before reaching forwards and gripping tightly onto his socks.

They were still wet from when he'd showered and she tugged the clothing off before dropping it on the floor. She rubbed his pants leg between her forefinger and thumb checking the material was still wet. She sighed aloud and made to pull his pants off, her cheeks flushing at embarrassment. She made a mental note to thank the blonde for not tying his pants properly when he woke in the morning as it came off with ease.

She lifted the sheets up and carefully manoeuvred his legs so she could tuck him in. Once finished she turned and looked at him and saw the fleeting smile across Cloud's face. Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment as she punched his arm "You're awake aren't you!"

Cloud let out a low laugh and his mako eyes half opened. "Sorry." He replied, shifting his weight on his bed, his fingers clutching onto the sheets. "But I couldn't refuse to let you drag me to bed" He yawned once more "and help me undress." He added with a smirk. "As I am actually tired."

Tifa punched him softly once more before twisting to walk back still looking at Cloud's cocky lingering smile as his eyes closed. She'd missed the blonde's sarcastic although funny side for two years now.

But now her Cloud was finally back.