Cloud. How the name fit him so well, or so she thought. He always seemed out of reach and when she got close, she couldn't feel him, couldn't touch him. Just like a cloud. Why couldn't she tell him? He didn't know. Did he even have a clue? The thought brought her comfort and broke her heart at the same time. He didn't know... Would he ever?
She had gotten so close to telling him, that night. How she wished she could touch him, hold him as if he were her own. How she wanted to feel the touch of his lips against hers. But no. She...couldn't...tell. Why couldn't she tell him? Why didn't she look into his eyes and flood him with her soul? No...she couldn't.
She didnt tell him. It was the glue that held her together, but it shattered her all the same. That warm feeling, the way she felt something flutter inside her when he smiled. It was locked inside her heart, but every breath radiated it. Perhaps he was too naive? Perhaps she was being too subtle?
Or was she being naive herself? To think that he could ever want her. People like him could only love the damsel in distress. Or more bluntly: Aeris. Tifa looked at herself, examining the calluses Yes, she was attractive, no one could deny that, but by no means was she a damsel. Much less someone in distress. She wasnt the angel that everyone wanted. She wasnt Aeris. She was just plain old Tifa.
She had no spite for Aeris, no matter how much Cloud gave her attention. She would keep a stiff upper lip and stuff down those feelings she felt. Aeris was her friend, someone who could make Cloud happy. And she was grateful to Aeris for doing what she could do. She put the smile on his face. That grin that never failed to choke Tifa up. She was truly happy for the two.
Aeris had given up her life for the sake of the world. But specifically for the sake of her friends. She had known that she had to do it for the Planet. She did it with a smile on her face. It had to be done. She ached for her friends. It pained her to know she couldnt truly tell them goodbye. But it her them more when she left.
They all thought that Cloud had been the most hurt, but they were wrong. It was Tifa who was wounded. It was Tifa, whose heart burned. She had lost her friend. The only person who understood. Cloud was intangible and Barret... well, Barret was male. She was the one Tifa could come to as a partner, friend, and sister. But what hurt the most, the person who could make Cloud truly happy was lost. Or so she thought.
Hey, Tifa! Whereve you been? The ex-SOLDIER asked, in all his naive glory. The two had both found residence in Kalm, which had considerably grown since the Meteor extravaganza. I missed you yesterday!
Tifa sighed deeply. She had definitely been jovial the first few weeks after their defeat of Sephiroth, but now... now life was just a struggle to hide her feelings. And that struggle was getting harder every day.
Both still wore their normal outfits, but with moderation. Most armor was taken off, but still the majority of their garb remained.
Tifa? Cloud asked. He was in the middle of breakfast when his friend had walked in. She had seemed lethargic for some time. Nowadays he hardly got to see her. Why was she avoiding him so much? She had seemed so excited to be living right next to him, but he wanted to know... Dont you like it with me?
Tifa giggled and pulled up a chair next to him. She sat backwards on the chair and gingerly toyed with part of his hair. He looked over at her with that wide-eyed, confused expression on his face. The hero of the Planet is still just a lost little boy, Tifa silently thought to herself, smiling wistfully. Deciding to stop before she got too carried away, Tifa quickly jumped up and walked past his seated form. She began to nervously fiddle with the stove with her back to Cloud. He turned in his chair to face her.
Whatre you doing now? Cloud asked, a bit disappointed that she hadnt stayed at the table with him. He pushed away the plate he had been eating from and rose from the kitchen table. He slowly made his way to her as she fidgeted with the pots and pans. He stood behind her, close enough to take in the smell of her hair.
Tifa... He started out slowly. She slightly jumped at the sound of his voice and turned around to face him. She knew that he had been behind her, but she had been trying to ignore him. He was less then an inch away from her, his body almost pressing onto hers.
Y-yes, Cloud? The girl found it hard to form her words while looking at him. She grabbed a pot and scratched at an invisible spot of grease. She deliberately held it in front of her face, blocking both his and her view of each other. Tifa inwardly berated herself. She felt ridiculous and in her position, who wouldnt?
She felt a callused hand gently take hold of her wrist, and move the pan to the side. Tifa found herself staring directly at him. She was sure he could hear her heart beating. The entire town must hear it by now, she added in her head.
Theres some kind of party over in Wutai for Yuffie, he stated, sort of a coming-of-age thing.
So? Tifa, once again mentally slapped herself for acting like a fool in front of Cloud.
So, were invited! Cloud added, matter-of-factly. He put on a smile. Were going to Rocket Town so Cid can bring us over there. Were leaving tomorrow. Just thought you should know so you can get packed.
Oh? Cloud raised an eyebrow. Is that all you can say? Its a party, Miss Lockhart. And werent you a bartender? Id think Id get more than an Oh from you! The ex-SOLDIER joked.
Im sorry. Tifa quickly shot out.
Dont be, he chuckled. He went towards the door, turning around as he opened it. Besides, we have to get some supplies before we go.
Tifa just stood there, still a bit shocked from their encounter. Once he was out the door, she sank to her knees, clutching her heart with both hands, panting heavily. If he ever knew how she felt about him...
No. Cloud must never know, Tifa resolved to herself, still sitting there with her hands to her chest.
I must never know what? Cloud asked, bursting in to grab a bag of money he had left on the table.
N-nothing. She quickly covered up.
You didnt take any of my money did you? Cloud eyed her jokingly gave her a suspicious eye, while making sure every gil was still in his pouch. Well, Ill see you later! For the second time, he walked out the door.
Tifa loudly moaned. It was getting too hard to do this anymore.
A/N: I personally feel that this wasnt my absolute best, but I still hold it in higher regard than my some of my other works.