By Randy Law
Disclaimer: The characters, items, places, etc. of Final Fantasy VI are property of Squaresoft, Inc. No infringement is intended.
This is a non-profit fiction. I make no money off this. It is simply for the enjoyment of the fans of one of the greatest RPG ever made.
After all this time, all these years, I still find it hard to take in all that Cloud has revealed to me in during the past few hours. I had always grown up to believe that my love for him was just a one-way relationship. Yet, for as long as I've thought of him and wanted him to be at my side, he's been equally trying to gain my attention also...
Actually, I never truly realized how much I cared for him until he left home. It only seems like yesterday that we were sitting together at the well on a cold winter night. Looking up at the beautiful and cloudless night sky and all it had to hold. The stars and the moon radiating a dim glow down to earth. The cold, fresh air against warm skin. Quietly reveling at the person next to us. Then Cloud announced that come Spring, he was leaving Nibelheim to try and join SOLDIER.
It was a shock to me at that time. One is never conscious of the closest things in your life being so valuable until they're gone. However, I made a special promise with him that night so that I could have something to hold on to him by. I had already realized that after he left, I would long to see him again. Back then, I never knew that he felt I was giving him the cold shoulder and talking and acting condescendingly towards him. If I had known of his feelings, I felt I would've changed many of my actions to reflect the more "true" side of me towards him.
After the Nibelheim incident, in which I wouldn't hear from or about him for 5 years, I always hoped and prayed that I would get word of him again. There was so much that had confused me relating to the events leading up to the Nibelheim incident, and there was still so much I had wanted to tell Cloud. My heart always reassured and psyched me into thinking I'd get the chance to see him again, eventually. But my mind disheartened me by making me consider that not hearing from Cloud for this extreme amount of time meant he's probably died to reasons I may never know. If that was the case, I thought, why was there no mention of what happened in Nibelheim news, or an obituary of Cloud in the papers then?
As a young teen, I would've never thought of owning a bar. I considered that field of work to be of low class and degrading, or at least severely offbeat for a lady to own and run. But after I was forced to Midgar due to the Nibelheim tragedy, it was one of the few things I could do to survive in the slums. The bar was almost a 365 days a year job, I worked it from late afternoon until the wee hours of the morning - it was the only way to survive. I had no abundant inheritance, and no relatives or friends I could've fallen back on, I was all alone. When I'd finish up for the day, I'd always wish that I could come home and fall into the arms of someone that loved me, someone that could take care of me, someone that could relieve me of all my aches and pains. Still, everyday I slept alone, many a night crying myself to sleep. I named the bar after my own name because I always had hopes that Cloud might still be alive and would hear about "Tifa's Seventh Heaven" someday. He then would've came and gotten me away from that slum, and we would be reunited once again.
There were quite a few men that I knew were attracted to me, some were subtle, some came on strong, and many more were just perverts. None of them attracted me the slightest bit. I pinned my hopes on seeing Cloud again, so I waited for him yearningly. Maybe back then I hyped him up more than he was pent up to be. I'd dream of him treating me totally right, I'd dream we'd walk the beaches to catch the sunrise at dawn, and lay in the grass and watch the stars twinkle at night. Yet, Cloud really is the man I've always dreamed about. I've discovered this more and more to be true ever since the day I found him getting out of the Midgar train a month ago, and all throughout this quest to destroy Shinra and stop Sephiroth.
When Cloud gave the Black Materia to Sephiroth, then vanished under the mud and slush when the cliffs of Mako around us collapsed, I couldn't believe what was going on! Avalanche and I barely had to time to escape with Rufus. We all managed to board the Highwind safely and get away from the Northern Cave, but a Weapon flew past us, and knocked me down. I had apparently fell and hit my head on the deck, inducing a coma which lasted for seven days. After I had recovered from the concussion and escaped Junon with the others, I became the leader of Avalanche. However, I couldn't think clearly and get thoughts of Cloud out of my mind. I grew very depressed at the thought that I may never see him once again. My comrades felt my pain and tried to ease my suffering, but I just couldn't go on with through life without seeing and having him around. I was no longer completely concentrating on eliminating Shinra or stopping Sephiroth, just whether or not I'd ever be granted the privilege to meet Cloud again.
By what I would consider to be sheer luck and chance, we had found him again while on a visit to the village of Mideel. I was filled with joy and desire upon first overhearing the village people describe of a person who was incapable of speech or movement, yet with many similarities to that of Cloud. After confirming the person to be Cloud with the village men and visiting him in the hospital, I was saddened all over again. I decided to stay with him in the hospital and try and wait out his illness and ailments, while the rest of Avalanche continued on the journey to hunt down Sephiroth and stop Meteor. No one was going to change my mind about the decision I had just reached.
All those days I just sat next to him, watching him utter words and phrases that had no meaning, with saliva slithering down from the side of his lips. Minutes felt like hours, hours felt like days. The whole situation just made me hate everything even more. I had anger in my heart at myself, at Cloud for not pulling through, at life. Everything. I didn't care anymore, if Meteor fell and everything around crumbled, then so be it. After all, the only thing... the only person that I still could hold on to, after everything else was taken away from me, was now in a vegetable-like state. I think this past week, laying beside a inattentive Cloud, will always be one of the saddest times of my life, if not THE saddest. I genuinely thought I had finally even lost the one thing that had kept me going all these years - when life was rough and no one was around to look after me.
Near the end of my whole week of attending to Cloud, great earthquakes and a Weapon came upon Mideel. Avalanche managed to drive away the enormous Weapon temporarily, but the earthquake was unstoppable by any human means. Avalanche and all of Mideel's inhabitants and visitors scattered to take cover - if you could call it that - from the earthquake. I also remembered grabbing Cloud's wheelchair and trying to run for open ground, far away from the crumbling buildings. As hard as we tried to get away, the Earth opened up it's gaping mouth and swallowed us whole.
What happened next is still beyond my comprehension, but I was surrounded by all the sad voices and feelings of those who had gone before us and were a part of the Lifestream now. I was afraid of all the sorrow in the voices, and still vividly remember calling out to for Cloud for help. Yet, I also thought I heard something very penetrating above all the anguish and pain, and will always believe this to be true: that I heard him crying out for me from the depths of his soul.
I reached out to him with my heart and mind, and through some seemingly divine intervention that I still don't completely understand yet, the next thing I realized was that I was inside of his head, helping him to rediscover the truth about our past. This was the "place" where Cloud and I had finally filled in the gaps in both our memories. We corrected lies we once thought were truths, and tore apart truths we once held to be valid. Which leads us to where we are now...
Unfortunately, I still don't have the courage to reveal to him my true feelings, yet... I'm still terribly shy, but the main reason is because we've been friends for so long, and we're all we have for childhood memories. I guess I'm just too afraid of messing things up. If I don't time it right, I might get my heart broken, and worst of all, our friendship might never be the same again.
Even if the both of us never take this lifetime friendship of ours to a higher plane, I will truly value and cherish a close and loving friendship to him.
Sadly, I don't know if I may ever get the privilege to tell him of all I've been keeping in before the time is absolutely right. This journey, a journey filled with so much death, mystery, powers beyond imagine, and disillusion, threatens to take away that chance from me forever. Everyday we happen across the most gruesome and deadliest creatures, magic, traps, and machines. Many a time, one of us, or even the entire group, come very close to death. Only through absolute will, determination, luck, faith, and a little help from someone watching over us, have we managed to pull ourselves through, so far. The deeper we get into this seemingly unending conflict, the more dangerous it becomes. I'm afraid that Cloud or I might be taken from the other before we ever find out just exactly how we stand in terms of one another.
Does he still have those strong feelings that he held for me some many years ago, or did he lose interest in me after moving so far away? Did he bury his feelings for me because he was never able to become a SOLDIER and was too ashamed and downcast to see me again? I do understand now though, how badly he wanted to make good on his childhood dream of wanting to be something big and important, simply so that I may finally give him the attention due to him. Does he realize how he has grown tall and handsome through the years, and that many girls admire him? And most of all did he or does he still like Aeris?! Obviously, Aeris must have had an attraction for him to a degree, with the actions she carried out and the comments she remarked. Sadly, Aeris went away from us before her time was due, and we'll never see just how compatible Cait Sith said they were. At least she knows the truth about Zack now. Cloud seemed to have held back on his affection towards Aeris though, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Then again, he holds back on a lot of feelings and words, he's always been the mellow and subtle type. Even when we were kids, he'd always keep a physical and mental distance from the group, never showed fear when he was beat upon, and never acted like a sadist when he beat up the other kids.
I'm hurting deeply, and I try not to show it, but it's so hard to suppress true feelings and emotions when one is so anxious to let it out. I presume the others know to a certain degree that I must have deep feelings for Cloud, especially during the time when Cloud was missing after he gave the Black Materia to Sephiroth. No matter what I did, said, or thought, I couldn't even cheer myself up! My friends must have also noticed when I decided to give up on the journey to stop Meteor, so that I could remain beside Cloud in Mideel after we had rediscovered him there. If I really showed how somber and depressed I am all the time, out on the open and on purpose, the group would notice it and it would certainly affect their morale. I even know I'm the one doing lots of the cheering up around here since everyone else seems to be disturbed about their own problems and this situation as a whole. Red, and his thoughts of protecting Cosmo Canyon. Barrett who is equally worried about what the future holds for Marlene.
Maybe Cloud senses me hurting deeply? If he does sense me hurting, how come he doesn't seem to show that he cares then? Why can't he offer comfort and cheer me up? Maybe he's been able to read between the lines and finish the three word sentence I've been trying so hard to reveal and convey since that night under the stars some seven long years ago. "I LOVE YOU". Such a simple sentence, yet so hard to express!
I'm too confused right now, and thinking of all this only throws me into a even more distracted state of mind. We still have many a great confrontation and battle to resolve before this war is over, and I have to make sure Cloud and I make it out of all this ALIVE.
I'll make it up to him someday, all of it.
As you can tell from the story, I really thought Cloud should have gone for Tifa, and they probably did get together after the ending scene of FF7, but that's left for other fan-fiction writers to go in-depth on. Cloud and Tifa are, after all, childhood sweethearts, and your first love is the hardest person to ever let go of, eh? Sure, Aeris liked Cloud, (and perhaps even more than just "liked") and showed it out in the open, but Tifa's was one of true love, one that is subtle and mellow, and takes time to fully bloom.
Although they never do tell each other up front that they love each other, try and read between the lines of Cloud and Tifa in the scene after Avalanche kills Hojo in Midgar(end of Disc 2). They do imply HEAVILY their deep feelings towards each other, both past, present, and future. (email me if you want some of their dialogue)
Like Tifa said in that same scene, "Cloud, words aren't the only thing that tell people what you're thinking" =). Also, that talk session that we actually get to see and read is only a small part of the interaction that goes on between the two of them that night, IMHO. There's no way they could have gone from that quick, yet semi-deep talk, into deciding it was time to rest-up and have Tifa lay on Cloud's shoulders. They had to have revealed a lot more to each other that night before Tifa and Cloud would feel that comfortable to sleep at each other's side. And in the morning, Red and Cid do hear a lot of the conversation from the night, which is why Tifa gets so embarrassed. There's nothing embarrassing in the small talk between Tifa and Cloud that WE actually got to read, the good lines in there were just implied.
Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions (but mine are right ;-)). But if you want to hear more about my theories about Cloud and Tifa, etc., or if you just want to comment/flame, email me at:
My FF7 timeline explained, just to help make my fan fic. a little more understandable - super condensed version:
7 YEARS AGO - Cloud tells Tifa he is leaving to go somewhere far away. Cloud leaves Nibelheim to join SOLDIER.
5 YEARS AGO - Nibelheim Incident. After it, Tifa is sent to Midgar by Zagan to fully heal and recover, and to live life, Cloud and Zack, both hurt by Sephiroth, are rounded up by Shinra and put into experiments by Professor Hojo. Process to rebuild a fake Nibelheim is in the works.
1 MONTH AGO - Cloud and Zack escape from the Shinra mansion in Nibelheim after about 5 years of experiments, and plan for Midgar. Zack dies to Shinra soldiers in pursuit near Midgar, and only Cloud makes it to Midgar, arriving at the slums through a train. Tifa finds Cloud as he is getting off the train station. (I say 1 month ago because there has to be a slight readjustment time for Cloud to recover from his journey from Nibelheim and the experiments, and because the FF7 journey starts soon after with Avalanche going after the Reactors as soon as Cloud is fit. Tifa hired him to try and get some more time between the both of them) And it does take more than a few weeks into the journey before we get to the scenes where Cloud hands over the Black Materia over to Sephiroth).
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