A/N: Originally written for TifaLockhart-FC's Little Secret/Guilty Pleasure Contest, on deviantArt. I was going to go for chocolate as a guilty pleasure at first, but I changed my mind. I have double feelings about this piece, but I hope you enjoy!
Many thanks to Mystics Apprentice, my amazing beta reader. :)
~ "Tifa? Why are you smelling my shirt?" ~
Believe it or not, there was a reason why Tifa hugged Cloud longer and more often lately than she ever did. Yes, the fact that he gave her butterflies had something to do with it. Another reason was that she wanted to stay as close to him as was humanly possible, but there was more to it; when she happened to discover how immensely good his aftershave smelled on him, she decided that she had every right to indulge in it from that moment on. She was his almost-but-not-quite girlfriend, after all. Besides, she was pretty sure that the ex-SOLDIER didn't mind anyway; otherwise he wouldn't hug her back.
You could even go as far as call Tifa's current...obsession a guilty pleasure. Especially what with the way she was behaving. Every morning, she would always let the blond go to the bathroom first, after the children were done, of course. In the meantime, she would prepare their breakfast. That way, she would have the bathroom all to herself when Cloud was done, so she could linger in there a little longer and enjoy every bit of it.
This guilty pleasure of hers wasn't new, though; as a child, she'd loved the smell, too. Back then, she would always rub her own cheeks against her father's soft ones after he'd shaved, taking in his scent and memorizing it forever. It had become a part of their morning routine that she'd loved (and now missed) the most.
It was just too bad that Cloud had never really been around that much for her to notice how nice he actually smelled. But after she'd ended up wearing his clothes a few weeks ago (don't ask), she couldn't help but crave his tantalizing scent. (If only she could walk around in his clothes for the rest of her life...)
Fortunately the others never wondered why she seemed to be so desperate to hug the living daylights out of Cloud, so that meant that she was safe.
Well, there had been that instant a little while ago, where she was almost busted by Denzel, who had suddenly stormed into the bathroom for no apparent reason.
"What are you doing?" the boy had asked, painstakingly curious.
"…The laundry?" had been the simple reply (albeit it had sounded more like a question).
Yeah, that's totally credible, had been the first thought to cross the bartender's mind.
Thankfully, the boy had believed her, and he hadn't questioned her any further. She really should be more careful, though…
Oh, and not to mention that time when Marlene had noted out of the blue, "You like hugging Cloud, don't you?"
And that was when the raven-haired woman had no idea how to respond. Tifa had opened her mouth, but she could only gape at the girl as she failed to form any cohorent words.
"I think he likes it, too, because he always smiles when you let go of each other and look away," the girl revealed with a Cheshire grin.
This had taken her aback almost as much as Marlene's question. Tifa hated herself for sounding so insecure, but she couldn't help but ask, "He does?"
Her adoptive child's eyes had lit up. "Uh-huh! Just don't tell him you got it from me."
Tifa had smiled. "Scout's honor."
Needless to say, the raven-haired beauty wasn't going to tell anyone about her guilty pleasure...ever. It was far from healthy, she knew that, but she wasn't going to stop. It was better than doing drugs or binge drinking (a drug dealing, drunk bartender was never a good thing for business). Besides, she never hurt people with it (because apparently, Cloud liked getting hugs from her), so what was the harm in it? Of course, it was only a matter of time before this guilty pleasure of hers became her death, but it was so worth it!
Whoa, it seems like his aftershave's scent even got on his shirt! she thought, almost astonished at the discovery.
Honestly, it was following her everywhere (and she loved every second of it). Even when Cloud was nowhere around, all she could smell was his amazing scent, exciting and mindnumbing at the same time. And he didn't even know. Tifa held the black shirt closer to her face now, while closing her eyes.
She was in heaven...
Suddenly, she heard a quiet but surprised voice behind her, asking, "Tifa? Why are you smelling my shirt?"
Tifa let out a shocked gasp and her wine-colored eyes widened in pure horror. She'd recognize that voice anywhere. Oh, she was screwed alright. That, and the little bit of dignity that she had left was gone too.
I should've locked the door before giving in to this sweet addiction.
Not that it mattered now; she was busted by the one person that was never supposed to find out about all this.
Slowly, Tifa turned around, noting that she stood face-to-face with her almost-but-not-quite boyfriend. All she could do was stare at him blankly. She was frozen with fright, with Cloud's shirt still clutched in her trembling hands. Seriously, of all the times that the guy would decide to pay more attention to her...it had to be now!? If there really was a god…then this was the perfect time to show himself and kill her. Tifa wouldn't even mind if the ground underneath her opened up and swallowed her; anything was better than looking into those electric-blue eyes.
Tifa nervously ran a hand through her long, midnight-colored hair. "Uh, I was just uhm..." she started, but it was all in vain; she couldn't think of an excuse to save her life (quite literally).
She was "just" what? Smelling his shirt because she was hopelessly addicted to the smell of his aftershave? Yeah, that would be the perfect answer.
"...Just checking if this needs to be washed," was the eventual response.
Cloud nodded briefly at that. "Oh. Okay."
With that, the quiet man turned around and left the room again, like nothing weird had ever happened.
...So why the heck had he entered the room, anyway?
Tifa let out a relieved breath. Phoo, that was a close one! she thought. This madness really has to stop, before it gets out of hand... Again, she buried her face in the shirt and the sweet scent made her grin like a silly girl who had just opened her Christmas present.
And the madness would stop... Tomorrow... Maybe.
A/N: Thanks for reading! :) I'm happy to say that this is my last planned one-shot/drabble for this fandom (or any fandom for that matter). From now on, I'll only write multi-chaptered pieces (and I finally won't get sidetracked by silly little plotbunnies like this one...if all goes well, that is, because everyone knows that as soon as you say something like this, you get hit by tons of ideas).