By Kristi Lockheart

Tifa Lockheart crossed her arms over her chest as she stood alone on the bridge of The Highwind. A single tear slipped down her cheek and she unknowingly wiped it away.

It just wasn't fair. She had loved Cloud for most-if not all-of her life, and just when she thought he was beginning to fall for her, another woman stepped into their lives-Aeris. Though that woman was dead now, Tifa knew that Cloud still thought about her all the time. She could see the sorrow in his eyes almost all the time now.

Her bottom lip quivered as she tried to hold back the sobs. Brushing the long lock of dark brown hair out of her eyes, she gazed out over the field.

She stepped closer to the railing and looked over, taking a look back to the quarters where everyone else would be sleeping right now. She wondered if anyone would really care about her if she just gave up on life. Tifa took a longing look over the railing and stepped even closer. Her knuckles gripped it so tightly that they began to turn white.

She didn't care much about what the others would think, but she wondered about how Cloud would feel if she just ended it all. She looked over again and tears shone on her pale, moonlit face.

Cid had set the airship on auto-pilot and she doubted if anyone would notice that she was gone until morning. Tifa made up her mind and hoisted herself up onto the railing, which her hands now had a vise-like grip upon.

She moved over to the other side, so that she was facing the door to enter the airship. Her feet slipped once, and she would've fallen save for her death grip on the railing.

The wind buffeted Tifa gently and the stars shone brightly against the velvet sky. What a perfect day to be alive, Tifa thought. If you have something worth living for, that is. She believed that she did not fit into the latter category.

Without knowing that she was going to do it, Tifa looked down. Her stomach lurched and the part of her brain that was still thinking logically screamed, Why are you going to do this, Tifa!!!

Tifa paid no attention to either sensation but instead looked up again. Instead of the door and the bridge she had expected to see, she found herself staring into Cloud's worried blue eyes.

An involuntary gasp escaped her and one of her hands released the grip on the railing. Tifa's foot slipped again, but Cloud's hand steadied her.

"What are you doing here?" Tifa demanded sulkily. The tears coursed freely down her cheeks now.

Cloud ignored her question and pulled her back over to the side where he was.

"Why didn't you let me drop?!" Tifa asked through sobs.

"Because I love you." Cloud replied simply.

Tifa made as if to protest until she saw the truth in Cloud's eyes. "But...what about Aeris?" Tifa asked him, waiting for the answer.

"It's always been you, Tifa. I...I guess I never realized that before. But I've always loved you, Tifa. From the very first time we met. And I always will." he said honestly.

"How'd you know I was out here?" she asked as her arms (by will of their own, it seemed) slipped around him.

"I just did." he whispered into her ear as his arms enfolded her into a loving hug. "It must be fate, or destiny, or something like that."

Then Cloud cupped Tifa's face into his hands and began to kiss her cheeks. It took a while for Tifa to realize that he was kissing her tears away. Her heart swelled with a new love for him and her eyes shone with pure happiness.

With the task of kissing Tifa's tears away finished, Cloud leaned over, and with the same serious look in his eyes, kissed her gently on the lips. "I love you, Tifa. Don't ever leave me." he whispered, and Tifa smiled gratefully.

"I never will." she said. Now that she knew the truth, her previous desire to jump off the balcony seemed stupid and childish. She looked up at Cloud with adoring eyes as his arm slid around her waist and he led her back into The Highwind.

I'll never leave you, Cloud. I promise. she repeated silently.

Kristi Lockheart's Fanfiction