By Sydney SAMA
Disclaimer: All characters, items, places, blah blah blah, belong to Squaresoft Inc.
Days like this, I don't know what to do with myself
All day - and all night
I wander the halls along the walls and under my breath
I say to myself
I need fuel - to take flight -
And there's too much going on
But it's calm under the waves, in the blue of my oblivion
Under the waves in the blue of my oblivion...
-Fiona Apple, "Sullen Girl"
Cid paced over to his group of friends sitting at the counter. "It's already been TWO weeks since we saved the world?"
Tifa nodded and gave him a weak smile. "Hard to believe, huh?"
Cid chuckled. "Heh! Yeah. We've been sitting on our @$$es for the past few days at your bar, doing nothing but drinkin' and eatin'!"
Barret rolled his dark eyes in annoyance, "Your point?"
"Well...I think we should celebrate. I mean, have like a bash or somethin'. I mean...We DID save the world!" Cid reached into his pocket for a cigarette and lit it. He took a few puffs and blew a gust of gray smoke into the air.
"Where? When?" asked Yuffie, she was a little preoccupied tossing her brightly colored materia around in her hands.
"Right here you stupid dumb @#$%. And...tonight."
Tifa raised her eyebrows as a gesture that she had an idea in mind. "All right. It's set, I'll just close the bar off to my other customers. We'll just have it all to ourselves tonight with no drunk bums to bother us."
"No, we'll still have Cid." Yuffie mockingly laughed at her own joke.
"Shaddup." Cid muttered and blew a cloud of smoke into her face.
Vincent was reticent for a while. He shifted in his seat. "Where's Cloud and Red?"
Barret shrugged his massive shoulders. "Beats me. Spike's been actin' up lately."
"Why is he all depressed all of a sudden anyways?" whined Yuffie. "We saved the planet, we're famous... What more could he ask for?" she shook her head, and took a sip of her drink.
"Hey Yuffie!" called Cid. Yuffie turned her head in his direction in an irritated manner.
"Ain't cha a little underage for that drink?"
"Shut up." she muttered. She chugged down her mug and gave him a defiant glare.
Cid laughed. "Let's see who can out drink the other tonight."
A sharp, polished blade cut through the tranquil air of Kalm, making a *swish* sound as it spun downwards.
A loud clang followed.
Cloud continued to hammer his Ultima Sword onto the immense boulder. Fragments of rock flew about like a hail of bullets being released from a machine-gun.
"Cloud? What are you doing?" asked a distinct voice.
Cloud rammed his sword into the rich soil and rested on the hilt. He turned to see Red XIII behind him.
"Just practicing." he replied turning back around to examine his handy work. The boulder now had numerous chips and dents in it. Gravel covered the ground beneath his feet.
"I guess this is a way of getting my stress out."
He turned at walked to the edge of the cliff and rested his arms on the metal railing that acted as a barrier between him and ocean below him.
Red padded his way next to Cloud and sat down momentarily.
Cloud continued to stare into the deep blue depths of the sea below him. Waves softly crashed against the craggy rocks, swishing frothy white foam against them. He lifted his head high in the air, taking in the cool sea air. The wind had picked up a little now, and it freely blew through Cloud's blond spikes, ruffling it in an unruly manner.
Red purred contentedly, and rested his furry head on his paws.
"What are you thinking about Cloud?" he asked.
Cloud didn't answer for a moment. "About...her I guess." he let out a long sigh.
"You know there was nothing we could or you could do about it. Right?"
Cloud ran his fingers through his hair. "Yeah, I guess. But I can't help but feel a little empty. It feels like a part of me is missing...I know I need to move on and all, but she's still on my mind."
Red abruptly stood on all fours, taking a moment to stretch.
"I overheard the rest of them in Tifa's bar. It seems like they're planning a celebration. You should head down there and get a little loosened up. When was the last time you had any fun?"
Cloud managed a tiny smile.
"I'll think about it."
"WHAT?!" yelled a gruff looking man.
"What do they mean, 'Closed for a private party!?' Where the hell am I supposed to get my drinks?!"
He scratched his greasy black hair.
Another man next to him kicked down the sign outside Tifa's 8th Heaven. "Let's go in there and kick 'em out." he replied.
They both pushed the door open and walked in.
Barret was happily conversing with Cid, but stopped to look at the intruders.
" 'ey man! Can't you read? It said closed for a private party!"
"There ain't no party private enough for me and my buddy!" he returned.
Barret stood up and walked up to the man until their faces were nearly touching.
His hot breath blew into the man's scraggly face.
"Yo! Get the @#$% outta here before I get pissed and blow your @#$%in @$$ away!" he yelled waving his gun-arm threateningly.
The man only smirked.
"I'd like to see you try."
Evening was rapidly approaching. The faint sparkles of the stars could be seen in the lavender sky, and the sun was setting fast. A few seagulls squawked in the air and circled aimlessly around the thatched roofs of the cottages.
Cloud walked over towards the brightly illuminated Tifa's Seventh Heaven.
He could hear the distinct, sweet laughter of Tifa, and the "HAR! HAR! HAR's! of Barrett. The tantalizing aromas of Tifa's infamous food drifted through the air, tingling his senses. Cloud could also hear the clinking of ice cubes falling into glasses.
<"Oh, what the heck. I guess I'll try to enjoy myself for once."> he thought.
Before he even got the chance to turn the brass knob of the door, two men went flying out the glass windows. They landed hardly on their backs, shards of shattered glass surrounding them. They hurriedly got back on their feet and scampered away.
"AND DON'T COME BACK YOU @#$%^@#$&@*!!!!!" A gruff voice yelled.
Cloud shook his head and smiled. Barret must've taken care of them.
He opened the door to the noisy room and made his entrance.
"It's about TIME!" yelled and intoxicated Cid. He was sitting across from Yuffie, shot glasses littered the table. He gulped one down in a second.
"That's my EIGHTH one!" he shouted, carelessly, he dropped the glass onto the floor where it exploded into tiny shards.
He giggled. "Oops."
Tifa was busy running around, balancing a billion trays in her hands, serving everyone. She stopped for a moment to give Cloud a sweet smile. Her crimson eyes twinkled at the sight of him.
"You're here. Would you like anything?"
"No thanks Tifa, I'm not really hungry or thirsty." he said, returning her smile.
"Okay." Tifa set her trays down on the shiny counter across from her, and took off her white apron. "Just tell me if you need anything."
"Let's go play some Blackjack with Vincent and Barret." she suggested, motioning him to sit down.
<"Tifa, so cheerful and optimistic about everything. She always wants to please everyone but herself."> thought Cloud.
Cloud shrugged and took a seat next to Tifa.
"THAT'S MY TWELFTH!!" announced a drunken Yuffie.
Cid strained his eyes to see the shot glass in front of him. He pressed his depleting cigarette butt into the ashtray.
"Whoa...Why's the room spinning?" he asked in an innocent voice. All of a sudden, he fell off his stool and onto the cold hard ground beneath him.
Yuffie was rolling on the ground in a fit of laughter. "I WIN! I WIN!" she exclaimed, wobbling around on her rubbery legs. "Hee hee hee *snort* hee hee!" she giggled.
"Cid's out cold!" snickered Barret. He left the snoring Cid on the floor to sleep.
"21! Black Jack!" Tifa threw her cards onto the table in front of her and collected her pay. She gathered up her ruffled bills and stuffed them into the pocket of her jeans.
"Damn girl." muttered Barret.
Cloud opened his mouth to comment, but was interrupted by a sudden rapping at the door.
Tifa got up to answer it. She creaked the door open.
A man with a large bouquet of white roses stood at the door, peering curiously inside. "Uh...Is this Avalanche?" he asked.
"Yes." replied Tifa, eyeing the bouquet.
"Well, this is from the new president Reeve." he said handing her the immense arrangement of flowers.
"Well, uh, thanks!" she muttered behind a wall of roses.
The delivery boy tipped his hat and closed the door behind him.
With great difficulty, Tifa walked over to a table and set them down. She found a small note card a midst the beautiful white roses and read it aloud.
"Guys, sorry I couldn't make it. I just got promoted to the new president of Shinra! Don't worry, the Mako reactors aren't being used. Well these are for you guys. Thanks for believing in me!
"Woooooooowww...Those are preeeeeetty!" Yuffie giggled again and took another sip from her nearly depleted drink.
"These are nice." breathed Tifa as she plucked a single, long-stemmed rose from the bunch. It was just past the budding state and it was slick with droplets of dew.
"You don't see many flowers around here." she said.
Cloud blankly looked at the rose, his mind clouding with a familiar memory.
<You don't see many flowers around here..."
<<Would you like one? They're only one gil...">>
<<Oh thank you!>>.....................................
Cloud shook his head and found Tifa staring at him. Her expression demanded an explanation. "Are you okay?" Cloud didn't reply. He jumped off his stool and bolted for the door.
As the door slammed shut, everyone looked at each other with the same curious look on their face.
Cloud sat on a rock, burying his face in his hands. Night had just approached now, and the stars faintly glimmered above him. Voices echoed in his head...
<Have you ever been a bodyguard?>
<You can be mine...>
<<Yeah, but it'll cost ya>>
<How about one date?>
He heard the soft patter of approaching footsteps behind him.
"Cloud?" a soft voice called.
He didn't respond.
"Cloud. Are you okay?"
He knew who it was without seeing the person's face.
"Yeah Tifa, I'm--fine."
Tifa frowned, his answer didn't reassure her. Gently, she placed a hand on his shoulder.
"You know we can talk about it."
Cloud shook his head. "No really, it's okay."
"Well, let's go back in then. Everyone's worried about you." Tifa suggested in a softly her voice.
"I'd...I'd rather stay out here." he mumbled, still not turning to face her.
"C'mon, we should go in...it's getting a little cold out." she said gently pulled on his arm.
Cloud suddenly stood up and shook her hand from him. "I said I'd rather stay out here!! I feel fine and I don't need your help!! Don't you get it?! I'm a big boy now! I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself!" Cloud took a instant to catch his breath. He continued
"Go inside and have FUN!!!! I don't care!! I really don't give a damn! Stop nagging me and prodding me like some damn...baby sitter! I need some time to myself, I'm sick of your constant tagging along!! Just get out of my face and leave me alone!" he yelled harshly, backing away from her.
Tifa was totally speechless. She hadn't expected him to react like this. Was this the Cloud she really knew? He had never said anything so cold and...hurtful to her in his life. Maybe she was being too 'proddy'.
Maybe she should just leave him alone...
Cloud turned to face her. He immediately regretted what he had just said when he saw the hurt in her wine-colored eyes which were glistening with unshed tears.
He had been a little harsh...
He took a slow step towards her.
"Tifa...I-I didn't..." His expression seemed to plead for forgiveness.
Tifa didn't bother to glance at him and slowly walked back towards the bar.
"Tifa...Please...You know I-I didn't mean..." he followed closely behind.
Her steps quickened the closer he got.
If this were some kind of race, Tifa would be the racer, the bar the goal, and Cloud the desperate fan who trailed after her.
Instinctively, she covered her face with one hand, attempting to hide her tears that were just beginning to stream down her face.
Cloud caught up with her and gently grabbed hold of her slender arm.
In an instant, her pacing evolved into running.
Tifa flung the door open and bolted for her room. Cloud ran to catch up to her, ignoring the others. He followed her down the hall, in the direction of her room. Tifa stealthily snuck inside her room and slammed the door shut in his face. Cloud leaned his head against the wooden door as he heard the *click* of the lock.
"God...I'm sorry." he whispered.
Cloud softly rapped his knuckles against the door.
He knocked on her door again.
"Tifa, please open the door."
There still was no reply. He put his ear to the door to see if he could hear any sort of noise or hint that she was moving or doing anything. He didn't hear anything at first, but listened harder.
This time he thought he heard Tifa softly crying. Her faint sobbing made him realize how insensitive and harsh he had been to her.
Her crying burned a hole through his heart, and Cloud slowly walked down the hall and into the main room where the others were.
Everyone was silent as he entered the room.
"Cloud, what happened?" asked Barret.
"I-I just sorta freaked when I saw the flowers. They kinda reminded me of...of Aeris. I just overreacted when Tifa came over...I think she's mad at me." Cloud scratched his head. An action he used when he felt uncomfortable or when he felt regretted something.
"What the #$%^ did you do man?!" yelled Cid. All of a sudden he was sober.
"I-I ... yelled at her."
"Jesus man!! How could you yell at her!?" yelled Barret. He waved his arms around in a threatening manner.
"I don't know! I just lost it!" Cloud yelled back.
Vincent looked at him in the usual cold way he did.
"Did you apologize?"
"No...She won't open her door, she locked it."
Barret gave him a dirty look.
"Well you betta say sorry to her tomorrow mornin'"
"I will... I'm just gonna stay outside for a while."
He walked out, softly shutting the door behind him.
Vincent slowly shook his head.
"He just doesn't seem to understand does he? He has no idea how much she loves him."
Inside the brightly lit room Tifa cried.
She cried into her pillow, she cried and cried, and cried harder still; knowing that no one cared.
She had never felt so hurt or alone in her life.
There was no one to comfort her, no one to love her, hold her, or care for her.
Her parents were dead, her town was burnt down, she had no idea where Zangan was, Johnny didn't care about her anymore...and Cloud...Cloud obviously didn't care either.
All she ever wanted in her life was to be loved and cared for once. She had taken care of herself her whole life, or taken care of someone else.
Couldn't someone just care for her and love her?
Was it just too much to ask for?
Tifa swept her tears away with her hand in a delicate motion.
There was nothing to live for, really.
She could vanish from the face of the planet for all she knew, who would care?
Obviously not Cloud.
Sure she had her friends, but that wasn't enough. She couldn't live with the fact that Cloud loved Aeris.
She was only second best to Aeris...She hated being second best.
She had fought by Cloud's side for so long...
She had been at his side, even when they all thought he was going crazy...
She had there for him when he was poisoned with Mako...
She had even pieced back his messed up life together...
But that wasn't enough...was it?
No, it would never be enough, because Cloud would never love her...
At least, not in the way she wanted him too.
She let out a sad sigh.
Well, she couldn't just cry forever, could she?
Tifa sat up on her soft bed and looked around her. The loud noises from the bar outside weren't there anymore.
She glanced over at her digital clock.
She had been lying in her bed for about two hours straight.
Might as well face the facts. Aeris had won...
Tifa got up and sniffled as she carefully opened the door, trying not to
make any noise.
She poked her head outside to make sure nobody was there.
They were all probably sleeping in the living room.
She walked on her tiptoes towards the door that led to the end of her pain.
She turned to see Cid softly moan and stir.
She stopped in her tracks.
Cid continued with his loud snoring.
Tifa slowly opened the door and crept outside.
A cool breeze hit her face as she stood outside of her bar.
She took a few minutes to look at the scene around her.
Kalm was a beautiful town, wasn't it?
Dark clouds hovered above her head, blocking out the moon and the brilliant stars that usually looked down the cozy town. They seemed to threaten a sudden downpour any second.
A few lights glowed from within the cottages, but there was nobody up and out. Especially at this hour.
She briefly took a whiff of the refreshing sea air, then made her way to the cliffs.
Cloud stirred on the rock he had been sleeping on for the past few hours.
He was overlooking the edge of the sea, which looked beautiful at this hour.
<"Maybe I'll just spend the night here"> he thought. <"It's just so peaceful">
There was no one to bother him, no one to annoy him...
No one to increase the guilt and shame that had built up inside of him.
It was just him and his thoughts.
For some reason, sleep wouldn't come back to comfort him.
His big, blue eyes were wide open, and glowed in the darkness.
He heard footsteps approaching behind him.
He quickly closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep. Luckily, he was shrouded by a large brush in front of him, so he was well hidden from view. Cloud cracked one eye open to see who it was.
A familiar pair of crimson eyes sparkled in the dark as the person looked around.
Dark, chocolate brown hair swirled around her lean body as she turned to walk to the cliffs.
Cloud popped both eyes open.
One of his bushy blond eyebrows arched in the dark.
This is it.
Tifa's delicate fingers gripped the brass railing, her knuckles turning white.
She felt a small droplet on her cheek.
No, a raindrop.
She looked up into the sky and saw that it was beginning to rain.
Gradually, the rain began to fall a little harder.
Cold water dripped off her chin and she leaned forward to look into the deep sea water below her.
Foam sprayed against the jagged rocks, tossing and turning.
Tifa tipped her head back and opened her mouth, letting a few drops of water flow in.
Last time I'll ever feel rain.
She didn't notice the figure slowly approaching her from behind.
Tifa became deeply absorbed in her thoughts as the rain poured down on her, soaking every inch of her body.
<"I wonder if they'll miss me...
Tifa, Tifa Lockheart...That is my name.
But who am I...really?
Now there's a question no one can clearly answer.">
She tightly closed her eyes and stood there.
<"I've maintained my calm, collected self for all these years, and no one's ever suspected a thing. Just be cheery and optimistic, anyone would swallow that. Still, no one knows how lonely and incomplete I feel. They just think of me as the happy, sweet Tifa. But they'll soon find out that they're wrong...">
Tifa looked up into the dark sky, watching lightning flash before her somber eyes.
<"Here goes nothing...">
<"Just one leap of faith and it'll all be over.">
Tifa tightly gripped the railing.
Her hair was completely saturated with water now, and it had come loose from her tie, blowing effortlessly in the wind.
She closed her eyes and lifted her feet to the rail.
>"This is like from that one really long movie...Titanic? Yeah that's it. They had pretended that they were flying...I'll just pretend I'm flying too..."> she thought.
A tiny smile came over her face.
She let one arms go out in front of her.
Then the other.
A pair of strong arms wrapped around her small waist and pulled her backwards. The rain was falling intensely now, and she could hear thunder echo through the air. Tifa struggled to wrestle out of whoever's arms had prevented her from flying.
What was he doing here?
Tifa attempted to push his well-built arms away in frantic desperation.
"Get off!" she wailed. Salty tears streamed down her face in a downpour.
She was crying again.
"Tifa please! Stop it!" his youthful voice echoed in her ears.
A mixture of raindrops and teardrops flowed down her face.
"Get off of me!"she sobbed "Let go! Let go! Let go. let go..." her voice became softer, and her own loud sobs drowned them out.
"Tifa...Tifa I-I'm sorry." Cloud said gently, still holding onto her as if
she were a teddy bear.
"Let me go!" Tifa continued to cry. She remained in Cloud's arms for many minutes, not moving, knowing that she couldn't escape. Tifa felt like an eagle that was tied down with ropes; the only thing that kept it from flying away into the endless heavens.
Cloud, convinced that she wouldn't try anything, loosened his grip on her.
Tifa sat still for quite a few minutes, still sobbing uncontrollably.
<"He's not sorry.
He's just saying that so you won't kill yourself!
No matter what you think, he doesn't love you.">
With those thoughts in her mind, Tifa dashed to the railing once more.
She climbed on it again, but didn't let her arms go.
She just stood there, looking into the dark, blue oblivion that could end it all.
No more pain.
No more hurt.
No more suffering.
Cloud stood up and slowly walked to her.
Water trickled down his face.
<"Goddamn it Tifa...What the hell do you think you're doing?">
"Don't come near me." Tifa firmly said.
Cloud stopped in his tracks.
He held a hand out to touch her arm.
"Don't touch me!" she yelled.
Cloud's face twisted as he felt his eyes burn with tears. "Please don't do this." he whispered.
Tifa leaned dangerously close to the edge.
"What the hell do you care?" she said harshly in a mixture of anger and grief.
"It's not like it would matter to you anyway. Give me one good damn reason I shouldn't!"
<"What? What could I possibly tell her to make her change her mind? There has to be something.">
<Tell her what?>
<<Tell her...you love her>>
Cloud stood motionless for a moment.
Tifa was restless, she rubbed the railing with eager fingers.
Cloud thought for a split second.
<"Do I? Do I really?">
He couldn't bear to think of a life without her. She was the most loyal friend he ever had. She was his best friend. And something more than that.
The more he thought about it, the more he understood.
A wave of pleasant realization swept over him.
<"I love her. I love Tifa Lockheart. It's always been her that I've loved. I just denied it.">
"I-I-I love you."
Tifa's mind froze.
Did he really?
Or was this another ploy to get her not to jump?
"I do, I love you. I know t-that I've hurt you, and ignored you...but, but I love you. It's always been you. No one else. I guess I've denied myself too many times. You-You're the most important thing in m-my life right now..."
Tifa continued to stare into the blue nothingness.
The tears came back gently rolling down her pale cheeks.
Could she believe him?
She still didn't know, the urge to jump was still there.
"B-but... what about Aeris?" she muttered.
Cloud shook his head over and over.
"No...No Tifa. I used to think that there could be something more with Aeris...But then I thought about you... and realized I was wrong. Everyday, it was you who kept me going. Whether it was a smile, or a reassurance...Your love, our love pulled me through. When it felt like my world was falling down, you were there, there for me, there for us. I don't think I would still be here if it wasn't for you. I love you so much Tifa, I can't even begin to think of what life would be like without you being there by my side..."
Tifa closed her eyes, feeling the droplets of rain splatter against her face.
She hung her head over the railing, her tears falling into the blue depths below.
Cloud took slow, cautious steps towards Tifa.
And she made no move to stop him.
He stretched his arms out and enveloped her waist with them once more.
Tifa let go of the damp railing and voluntarily slid off, and onto the solid ground.
<"Maybe this was all a mistake..."> she thought. He grasped her shoulders and turned them so she was facing him. All of a sudden, Cloud wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her in for an embrace.
God, he didn't want to lose her, ever.
He stood there hugging her as tightly as Barret might have. Cloud felt Tifa's head against his chest, and her hot tears.
He didn't want to let her go.
Cloud tenderly stroked her head.
"I don't want to lose you Tifa. Don't scare me like that again."
Indeed he loved her, with all his heart, his soul... Impulsively, he kissed her soft, graceful neck.
He never wanted to hurt her...
Tifa pulled away and looked into his eyes.
They weren't the same dark blue as the ocean... They were clearer, lighter, and more beautiful than anything she had ever seen. Not a blue oblivion, but a pool of hope.
Cloud made a trail of gentle kisses to her lips, where they rested.
Tifa pulled away.
"Cloud, I love you. I've tried to tell you, but, I didn't think you would feel the same way. I love you, I love you so much, I..."
Cloud silenced her with a deep kiss, and they stood there, as the rain fell.
Below them, the deep blue waves crashed against the rocks.
They both paid no heed.
They had each other, and that was all that mattered...
Sydney SAMA's Fanfiction