Guided by Starlight Chapter 8
By Tifa Strife
A few weeks had passed since the day Cloud told Tifa what exactly happened. There were tears of sorrow and laughs of joy, but still something was absent between them. Love.
Cloud brought Tifa back to the bar and showed her the daily procedure. Within hours she caught on and it seemed things were back to normal, almost. It was like a flame was lit inside her. She worked with such passion and grace like she was meant to do this job forever. Cloud watched from the kitchen whenever he got the chance at the radiance that glowed off of her. He wished he could share her happiness, but always something prevented him from experiencing the joy of life. Ever since Tifa came back it was though he lived his life in complete caution.
"This is my second chance," he often thought, "Don't screw it up."
Much speculation was occurring over the fact that Tifa was not dead at all, but still alive and well. The only explanation Cloud could offer to the people was that it was some kind of miracle. No one did know that she was suffering from amnesia. They played the part of the happy couple beautifully, even though it was only a stage performance.
Night crept up unexpectantly everyday, and every time Cloud dreaded the thought of the long walk home. As they reached the house they awkwardly waited for the right thing to say to each other.
"I'm so tired." Tifa would say as Cloud slid the key into lock of the house. He would just laugh and reply, "So am I."
"So what do you want to do tomorrow?" Cloud said putting the keys on the counter.
"What do you mean?"
"Tomorrow's Sunday. We only work in the morning."
"Oh. Well, I suppose we can just, hang out here and relax! I'm pooped!"
Cloud plopped down on the couch next to her laughed at the thought of it all. Silence overcame them both as Tifa drifted off to sleep. Cloud turned over to say something to her but was surprised to see her already fast asleep. Seeing her there he wanted to kiss her so bad but knew that would be wrong. He lifted her and carried her up the stairs. She stirred gently in his arms but never the less stayed asleep.
Cloud nudged open her door and placed her on the bed, tucking her in like a child. Without hesitation he kissed her cheek and left the room. Tifa smiled and held her cheek the rest of the night.
Cloud awoke to the smell of bacon and eggs sizzling down in the kitchen. The aroma lifted him from bed and somehow got him sitting down at the table. Tifa laughed out loud as she saw this site, how he dragged his feet behind him and literally fell into the chair.
"Not a morning person are you, Cloud?"
"Nope, but you always were. I guess you still are. Look what time it is!"
Tifa glanced at the clock. It was six o'clock a.m.
"I couldnt sleep so I decided to at least make breakfast."
"Mmm! Good decision."
The two ate their food quickly being how good it was. Tifa couldn't help but watch Cloud while he ate with a bit of affection in her eyes. After this whole time she came to enjoy his company. She trusted him, and gradually accepted him in as a part of her life. Like he said he would always be there for her, and she was falling for him.
He must of felt her gaze because he looked up at her eyeing him affectionately. Cloud, almost like reading her mind, felt equally embarrassed and took a sip of his juice. There was just no end to how much he could love her.
That morning at the bar had been pretty empty, except for the occasional drunks that came in for an "early morning nightcap" as they would put it. When they returned home, Cloud opened up a newspaper and sat there reading it in front of Tifa who cleaned up the dishes from earlier.
"Let's go out somewhere." Cloud said pacing back and forth with the newspaper.
"I dunno, anywhere! Just to get out of this house!"
"I have an idea. But you can't laugh at me if I tell you."
"Promise me you won't!"
Cloud walked over to her and tickled her side. She laughed gaily and ran around the house trying to avoid him. She stood on one side of the couch and he lurked on the other side ready to catch her in their game of tag.
"What!?" he replied playfully.
"Promise me you aren't going to laugh!"
"It depends on what you're going to say."
Before he could finish what he was going to say he leaped over the couch and grabbed her by the arms. He tickled her until her laughter came to a fever pitch.
"OK OK I'LL TELL YOU! Just stop tickling me please!"
Cloud smiled over her triumphantly.
"Ha! I win."
Tifa turned her head to not show him how red in the face she was. After all that laughing you would be too!
She straightened her shorts and her suspenders and turned back at Cloud, their faces barely inches away. They then realized how close they were sitting to each other. Her smile faded as she saw his loving face stare back at hers. His face showed that he was pleading to her, wanting her to know what he was feeling.
Her heart beat in her chest and the sweat ran along her forehead. Instantly she felt her hands get clammy as he reached for them and held them dear to him. She wanted this, but something held her back, this gnawing feeling that it was wrong somehow.
Cloud felt her breath on his lips as they came closer and closer to each other. Tifa closed her eyes and waited for their lips to embrace.
"There must be a name for the feeling you feel right before you kiss someone. It is so unexplainable." She thought.
Just as Cloud leaned in to kiss her, their lips meeting briefly, she turned to the side giving him her cheek. He pulled away immediately and stood up embarrassed.
"I'm sorry." He said walking back to the kitchen.
Tifa sat there feeling her emotions pour out of her heart. What was she doing? Why couldn't she open herself to him? She knew she felt something for him, but there was no way to describe it or diagnosis it into being what so many call 'love'? Why couldn't she admit it?
Cloud sat in the kitchen cussing at himself for what just happened. If he wanted her to want him back he would have to fight those lustful moments until she was really sure of what she wanted. He couldn't take advantage of her like that.
"I want to go to the park." Tifa said from the other room.
Cloud stopping thinking for a moment.
Tifa walked into the kitchen slowly, a guilty expression on her face.
"I just thought that, maybe we could go to the park or something. Maybe that would be fun."
He thought about this for a moment. A walk in the park would be nice, but he was still angry with himself.
"Sure. Whatever you want." He said leaving the room.
Tifa watched after him wondering if this was a good idea.
They left the house a few minutes later feeling the gentle breeze of a Sunday afternoon as soon as they stepped outside. Tifa felt rejuvenated and carefree while on the other hand, Cloud was miserable. They reached the park where surprisingly there was no one around.
"Don't parents ever take their kids to the park anymore? It's such a beautiful day!" Tifa said. She ran over to the swings and jumped on the closest one to her. Cloud kicked the rocks beneath him but slowly made his way to the swing next to her.
"Push me, Cloud!"
"Oh Tifa, come on. You can push yourself."
"Please?" she said making puppy dog eyes. Cloud rolled his eyes at her and shrugged. She yelped with delight the higher he pushed her.
"This isn't so bad." Cloud thought.
They spent the whole day at the park playing childish games locked away in their hearts for the longest time.
"You know, Tif," Cloud said out of breath, "We never got to be kids when you think about it. We had such tragic lives the only option we had was to grow up or be buried in it all."
"Yea..youre right. We never did get to have a childhood. But look at the circumstances we had to face. The old life, your problems, my problems. Everything was so confusing."
"And you think things now aren't confusing?" Cloud laughed.
Tifa smiled but did not find the same humor in it. They were sitting on a tiny hill comfortable in the soft grass. The sun was setting behind them now and the rising twilight was not so far off. Some stars shone through the deep pinks and purples in the sky.
Tifa stared up to the sky. Cloud sat next to her pretending to stare at the sky also but was really looking at her.
"It's all so beautiful."
"Doesn't it make you wonder that we helped to saving this. Do you think that if it weren't for us maybe we would never see a sky like this ever again? Hell we might not even be alive today. And I still don't know if it really was us that helped these things to still exist."
"We could have helped in some way. But I think the planet fought most of all to save these things. I think it still wanted us to see such splendors of the universe."
"You could be right. We thought the planet was trying to help us, but in reality we were only trying to help the planet. Lifestream was not to save us, it was to save itself. And it wasn't at all selfish of the planet."
"No it wasnt. It was here before us, and it will be here after us. There's no stopping that and no use thinking about it either."
Cloud closed his eyes and breathed in the scent of a cool summer's night. It was nor humid or chilly.
"Perfect." He said.
"Huh?" Tifa replied.
Cloud shook his head. "It's nothing."
"I'm sorry about before."
"I wouldn't worry about it. It was a mistake I made that I won't make again."
Tifa seemed to take it the wrong way because she sat up quickly propping on her hands behind her.
"Dammit! I did something wrong again didn't I?"
"No, no it's not you."
"Yes it is me. I don't know how to act around you anymore. Sometimes you seem like you want me, or like me or something, then the next you act cold. What is up with you? I feel like everything I do is wrong or offending you." He stood up folding his arms.
"Cloud I told you, it's not you! It's me. I don't know what I want." She placed her hand on his shoulder. He didn't react to it or even seem like he noticed.
"You're killing me, Tifa. And I don't know how much more I can stand."
This took her by surprise. She took her hand off his shoulder and stared at it for some time. Finally he spoke up.
"I think it would be best if," he hesitated "if I left you. I am like a barrier from preventing you from what you really want."
"No..no you can't leave me..not like this."
"I have to, Tif. You need to find what you're looking for, not what I'm looking for. Your past of your future. You have to choose. And I can't be around when you do."
He turned to her one last time and gave her the look she would never forget. The look of fear. He was afraid everything he was saying was true, and she knew it was. Still, she didn't want to be alone.
"Goodbye, Tifa." He walked off.
"Wait!" she screamed to him. "Where will you go?"
"Somewhere you can't find me."
The sun was fully set. The stars shined above them as Tifa sat there, feeling small and helpless again in this big world. For the first time in a long time, she cried. The tears fell from her eyes rolling down her face bathing it in it's salty liquid. She tastes the tears on her lips hating to be seen this way. She hated to show how weak she really could be.
She ran to him as fast as he could. He was near the edge of the park and ignored her cries to him. She ran to him and spun him around.
"Cloud, you can't leave me like this. No matter what there will always be a place in my heart for you. I just need to find that place again."
"But there is no place in there for me any longer, you know that!" his eyes were darting around nervously catching the light from the moon in them like shallow pools of water.
"Well then we'll have to make that place for you, don't we?" she said with anxiety in her voice.
She grabbed him by the neck and wrapped her arms around him drawing him close to her. She pressed her lips against his and caught him by surprise. At first he was stunned and knew not what to do, but gradually melted in the heat of the moment. Maybe she did need him after all.
He put his arms around her waist and held her there. They kissed under the light of the stars and moon on that grassy hill, wanting nothing but each other, and not thinking about anything except being there together at that very special place.
"I know what I want now."
"And what is that?"
"I want you. I want you to stay here with me and be my husband, like you always were."
"Then I'll stay here and do just that. Forever and ever."
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