Guided by Starlight Chapter 7
By Tifa Strife
Cloud sat up in his chair, his back completely straight, and stared into Tifa's eyes. Those eyes were so cold now, not like they used to be. Whenever he looked into them he felt the warmth of her stare and consolation in them, that feeling was gone now. Goosebumps ran up and down his arms as he could remember her body lying there in that black casket, her stark white face pale and cold. She was so still and lifeless it was expected that she would jump up at any moment and yell, "Just kidding!". But everyone knew better. This wonderful woman was resting in peace; after all that she had done and been through, that was the way she had died.
"Well Cloud? I'm waiting." There was a hint of aggravation in her voice.
Cloud sat there, his mind elsewhere. He acted as though he did not hear Tifa speaking to him even though he heard every word.
"Cloud, wake up."
"Huh? Oh, sorry."
Tifa gave him a dirty look. He nodded his head to let her know he understood.
"It was a beautiful day." Cloud's tone of voice let Tifa know that he was going into a flashback. She envisioned herself in every word he was saying, like she was reliving it again.
"It was a very beautiful day, and you loved it when the sun was out and the weather was so nice. Today was a very important day."
Cloud had lost all track of time and place as he told Tifa everything he remembered from his memories.
As Cloud had said, it was indeed a glorious day. Children were out in the streets playing, adults watching them, some joining in on the fun. People were getting along wonderfully since the end of Shinra and it's suffocating hold on the people. Cloud watched on from his window of all the activity below. Tifa was getting finishing getting dressed by putting her shoes and taking a few last brushes of her hair. Cloud moved away from the window and watched Tifa through the reflection in the mirror.
'What? What's wrong?' she asked him smiling devilishly.
'Oh Nothing. I'm just gazing at the most beautiful woman in all of Midgar, that's all.'
'Hmm, are you really? Well guess what I'm doing?' Tifa smiled even more broad and moved towards him.
'I dont know, you tell me?' Cloud said.
'I'm looking at the most handsome, wonderful, brave, daring..'
'Stop, stop! You're making me blush!" Cloud laughed and put his arms around her waist.
He looked down on his prize and mouthed the words, "I love you", to her as she did the same.
'Come on, we better get going.' He said to her, although regretting what he just had done.
'You go on downstairs, I'll be right there.'
Cloud gliding his hand around her face frame and touched her lips. He smoothed over her eyes and nose familiar with every feature. Taking his index finer he placed it right below her chin and tilted her mouth up towards his. They kissed there for a long time in each other's arms not caring about the world outside. Finally they stopped and Cloud gave her one last hug before he made his way downstairs.
Tifa closed her eyes and touched her lips, still tasting the kiss from before. She then moved back over to her dresser and looked herself in the mirror. She had grown up so much. He face taking on the elegance of a woman and no longer had the hint of a child resting deep down in her soul, although it did live there and showed its face many times in fear or joy.
Tifa picked up the music box on the dresser, polished and shining, and opened it up showing to her the picture of all her friends. The cheerful music chimed in adding to her feelings of delight.
'One long year of not seeing them is like a lifetime.' She said looking lovingly at the picture. She was like a mother to these people, always ensuring their safety. After the wedding they had somehow lost touch, but today, today was the day they would meet again.
'Tif, you ready, we're going to be late!'
'Alright, alright! I'll be right down!'
She kissed the picture and ran down the stairs where her and Cloud closed up and left the house.
"So we were going to see everyone?" Tifa said, back into the present time. Cloud did not seem to wake up from his dream, but heard her speaking to him, his eyes still focused on the floor.
"Yes. We we're going to meet everyone at Mideel. It was a kind of spurt of the moment thing. Cid had planned it all. He said they had really cleaned things up there and we should go to relax for a few days, catch up on what everyone was doing. We drove for a few hours past Fort Condor and to a new city being built at the edge of the continent. They had ferries going up and down the coast right to Mideel and back. We met up with Red XIII, Barret and Cid there. You were so happy to see them you literally burst out screaming for joy. I almost had to gag you."
Tifa chuckled a little at his joke, a first break in the heavy atmosphere.
"Anyway, everyone else was waiting for us at Mideel. They really had cleaned the place up, no more Lifestream gushing out in the center of town.."
Cloud was silent again as he came back to his memory of that fateful day.
'Cloud! You big spiky headed jerk! How are ya?" Barret gave him a hearty pat on that back knocking the wind out of Cloud.
'Yes, it's nice to see you too Barret.'
'And Tifa, looking lovelier than ever.'
'Thank you, Barret. You look great yourself. Where's Marlene?'
'She's back at home with Elmyra. She didnt feel too great and I was going to stay with her, but no! Elmyra pushed me out the door and told me to have a good time. She's a great woman, that Elmyra..'
'Sounds like big bear Barret might be developing a love interest.' Said the noble red flamed animal stepping onto the ferry. Barret was also flaming from the comment just made by the catlike creature.
'Red XIII! How are you doing?' Tifa said changing the subject.
'Tired, very tired. I never knew how high of a status my grandfather had. I never knew the amount of work he had to get done!'
'Well chief elder isn't exactly an easy job.' Cloud said putting his arm around Tifa's shoulders. She kissed his neck.
Barret and Red XIII gave each other a smile. They knew Cloud and Tifa would be together some day, it was just a question of when.
The ferry was only a few minutes away from the harbor in Mideel. Barret was sitting in the interior of the boat reading a magazine, Red XIII walked up and down the length of the boat, while Cloud and Tifa held each other at starboard as the wind whipped past them.
Soon they had reached the dock and walked into town. Everything had been restored to what is used to look like before the Lifestream gushed up. The people in town still said that every now and then an earthquake would rumble from underneath them threatening to cause further destruction.
As soon as they touched ground they felt a tiny quake shaking them up a bit, but it only lasted a few seconds. They reached the middle of town where the rest of the gang was waiting. Yuffie ran up to them and jumped for joy at seeing their faces. Cloud scratched his head not knowing what to do at first, but he gave in to what he wanted to do and gave her a tight hug.
'How are you, Yuffie? Steal anything lately?'
'Of course! I got this neat watch from this little old lady down the road..'
'Yuffie! That's terrible!' Tifa said unable to hide her laughter. Cloud joined her in laughing not afraid to admit he missed the little thief. Yuffie ran up to her and gave her a hug whispering in her ear:
'Tifa, how's the married life?'
'Good, 'cause I've been thinking of adopting that lifestyle too!'
'I'll tell you later!' Yuffie ran off in the other direction pulling Cloud along the way. 'Come on! You have to say "hi" to everyone else!'
Tifa sighed and walked slowly after them.
'Cloud, this is Shelly.'
Standing before them was a little girl, hardly even two years old, with blonde hair and blue eyes. She had the same face of Shera, but had the blonde hair and eyes of Cid. Tifa came up close behind him and grabbed his hand. A pang of beauty struck her heart and she too longed to be a mother. Cloud had a similar feeling, but a certain fear was in his heart. He had never had a father, and if he were going to be, would he be a good one?
'Hi, Cloud.' Said the little girl.
'Hi there, kiddo.'
'Well I'll be damned! Is that our spiky headed jerk?" Cid said marching out of a house drying a dish with a wet rag.
'Why does everyone have to call me that?' Cloud said scratching his head.
The whole group around him was cracking up. Cid gave him a pat on the back and picked up little Shelly. She giggled in his arms and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
'Come on inside! Shera is cooking us all dinner.'
'Cid, where is everyone else? Vincent and Cait Sith?'
'Well Cait Sith called and said he had to attend some kind of important meeting. Vincent, well. No one could get a hold of him. I really miss that weirdo though..'
'Yea, we all do. I wish he wasn't so secretive and opened up a little.'
Everyone slowly made their way to the house. Cid lead them in with Shelly sitting on his should and the plate on her head like a hat. Shera saw this site and yelled at the both of them. Cid blushed a bright red and giggled with his little daughter about the ordeal. It was a happy scene.
Cloud turned around to see that Tifa wasn't following them inside. She stood looking in the other direction at the coming twilight.
'How are you?'
'I'm fine. Cloud, listen, I have something to ask you..'
'Go ahead, Tifa. What's on your mind.'
Tifa grabbed his hand and turned his face to the sunset. She stroked his arm and rested her head on his chest feeling his heartbeat softly and in rhythm.
'I want to have a baby.'
Cloud smiled and grasped her hand even tighter. She looked up at him and was surprised to his reaction. She had wanted to long to tell him how she felt about this delicate matter but never knew how he would feel about it, so she put it off for the right moment. That moment was now and she was relieved finally to get it out.
'I want to have a baby too, I was just wanted to wait till when you were ready, I didnt want to pressure you or anything.'
Tifa jumped into his arms and they kissed with the stars above them, the sun fully set now. A completeness filled Tifa's heart that she would finally be a mother soon.
'So when should we go baby making?' Cloud said laughing hysterically.
'Cloud!' Tifa said joining in on the laughter.
Suddenly there was a rumbling beneath them. The two stood at the edge of town holding each other when the rumbling got worse. Tifa lost her balance and fell unable to get up. Cloud soon lost his and fell next to her. Then something unbelievable happened, the ground split in two.
'Cloud! What's happening!?'
'Tifa, grab my hand!'
The ground separated them at that very moment. Tifa was out of reach.
'Help me, Cloud!'
'Tifa, you have to jump! Quick, I'll grab onto you! If you don't jump your going to be shaken off the edge!'
A green pool of liquid could be seen far below the surface. They watched in awe as it bubbled up furiously with the souls of people trapped inside trying to get out.
Tifa took a deep breath and stepped back only to find the ground was separating behind her too. There was no room to jump. Her face filled with terror of not knowing what to do. That face lived in Cloud's heart forever, the face that he knew he could not help her anymore than he could help himself.
People from the village were running outside from their houses. The others watched in horror as Tifa slipped off the cliff and plummeted to the Lifestream below.
The last thing that they heard was Cloud's cry to her.
Tifa Lockheart was gone.
Cloud snapped into reality when he heard his own terrifying voice screaming for Tifa from his flashback. The tears were pouring down his face and he was not ashamed to hide it. Tifa sat there staring at him, her face also covered in tears.
"The Lifestream had gotten out of control again and washed up over the town causing the town to be completely demolished. No one had ever seen a case as bad as this before. Your body washed up along with the evil it brought, except it had taken your life when it slid back into its hiding place below the planet's surface.'
Tifa didn't know what to say. She sat there in silence.
"I blamed myself for your death. I was on the verge of committing suicide when someone told me I had to live for your memory."
'Leave me alone.'
'Cloud, listen to me. I know what your feelin, man. When my wife died I felt lost without her. No one knew her more than I did, if I were to die to, it would be like she was dying all over again. You are only truly dead when people forget about you. Once the memory of you is gone, your spirit is gone. I lived to preserve that.'
Barret took a seat on the bed next to the misshapen Cloud. He hadn't slept since her death, which was three days ago, and he hadnt shaved in that amount of time either. They had found the body that morning and ever since then he had lost it completely. The funeral was going to be tomorrow and Barret was afraid Cloud wouldnt make it to tomorrow.
'How will I live without her? She was everything to me. We, we were going to have a baby and everything.'
'That was the same thing with me, I know what your feeling, Cloud. This was a freak accident. Don't blame yourself.'
'How can you say that, Barret? It was all my fault! I couldnt help her! She begged for my help and I couldnt do anything.'
'But you couldnt do anything! Dont you understand? If you could you would have, right? Tifa knows you loved her, she's gonna look after you man. She will live in your heart if you let her. Just think 'bout it, Cloud.'
Barret sighed and gave his friend a big hug. It was awkward to see these two big men hugging, but in this case it was an exception.
'I'll see you tomorrow. Get some sleep and please shave that stuff off your face. Damn man, you look like a bum.'
Cloud had to laugh at this considering the fact that the "stuff" on Barret's face made him look like a bum himself, but he didn't say anything. Immediately after he laughed he felt guilty and ashamed that he was actually smiling after this whole thing. Unintentionally he let out a groan of pain from deep in his heart. He longed for his love.
It was late by now. Cloud's head was spinning from sitting down so long. He got up and stretched his muscles out. No expression was on Tifa's face, she was in shock.
"Are you alright?"
She shook her head and a pout formed on her lips.
"You dont remember a thing, do you?"
Tifa shook her head again. She stood up and jumped for Cloud. She hugged him so tight he could hardly breath. Cloud was caught off guard and stood there with his arms to his sides. She cried bitterly into his shoulders and begged for his consolation.
"Cloud, I'm so afraid! I dont know anything. I just need to be held. Hold me, Cloud!"
He hung his head low and stroked her hair. She wasn't that much shorter than him but he could stare down at the top of her head. It felt good to hold her in his arms once again. She fit perfectly next to him and he always loved that about her. She cried for a long time.
Cloud said nothing, he didnt mind that his shirt was soaking wet as long as he got this chance with her once again. Although it was only a week since she was gone, it felt like a lifetime.
"Shh, it's ok. I'm here for you, always." Cloud rested his head on hers and smiled. "Always."
Go To Chapter 8
Return To FF7 Fanfic