Note: I was listening to Tifa's theme while writing this, and I just can't contain the feels. Like, that's the song. It just spells HOME for me. Everything is perfect. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. And you're in bed with your special someone while your children run around the house, laughing. Life is perfect so you write a sequel to your first work. Unbeta'd btw. My only friend is Grammarly.
ALSO DID I SAY DOMESTIC FLUFF?
Lazy Weekend Morning
The sound of porcelain, cutlery, and childish laughter wakes her up, and Tifa briefly wonders, as their shrieking laughter bounces off the walls, how loud Denzel and Marlene must have been for their voices to reach the second floor. It's a question she frequently asks herself but never finds the answer because it's irrelevant and she loves the sound of it. Still, the day should be early enough to warrant this question because the room is still dark and the morning light behind the curtains is still dim. Moments later, the faint scent of bread and coffee reaches her nose and Tifa finally figures out why.
Ah, there goes my right to use the bread machine first.
When the last vestiges of sleep finally clear her mind, and the voices of her children grow louder, Tifa decides that it's high time for her to leave the comfort of their bed and join the growing chaos below.
She props herself up by the elbows, but the moment her back parts with the soft mattress, a heavy arm drapes itself around her torso and pulls her back in, trapping her and keeping her in place. She lets herself fall back with a huff and a smile tug at the corner of her lips when the arm pulls her closer. Her back is flushed against her husband's bare chest, who is now awake and has taken to pampering her neck with the same degree of care and attention from last night. She hums in bliss and closes her eyes as she feels his lips pepper her neck with warm kisses.
"I have children to feed, you know?" Tifa tells him, filling in the silence. Truthfully, they don't even need to talk. The silence is nice. It's serene. And the sound of their breathing is enough. But Tifa carries on, telling him about the kids below and how the house suspiciously smells like bread. She talks to him in low, soft voices, careful not to shatter the peace they've cocooned themselves in.
She lifts a hand to pat his cheeks and the morning silence blankets over them in a warm embrace. His breath fans over her skin and the tips of his lashes brush against her each time he blinks, and for some unknown reason, the sensation tickles her, and she giggles. Whatever residual fatigue she has in her body completely disappears, and she sighs when Cloud presses a kiss on her shoulder.
"Go back to sleep." He tells her, voice still rough from sleep.
"It's already morning, Cloud."
"It's midnight somewhere, Tifa."
She doesn't bother hiding her laughter anymore. "You're not going to let me go, are you?"
"No, but you can try."
Tifa shakes her head. "We need to go down sometime soon, mister."
There's a scoff. "They can handle themselves for a few… hours."
"Hopefully?" Of course, he jests. There's no way he's willing to do something so obvious while the kids are awake and already near that age to understand.
Cloud is fully aware that she can flip them over and come up on top should she want it (he'd even assist her – willingly and gladly), but it's still morning so he gets away with trapping her in bed. She is relentless to leave, however, but momentarily surrenders against his hold when he drapes his leg over her waist. This got her laughing again.
He rests his chin on her shoulder, "Mind sharing the joke?"
"Ah," Cloud props himself up with his right hand and Tifa takes this opportunity to turn and finally face him. She's laying on her back and her husband is leaning over her, chest is bare for her to appreciate. The sheets that covered him earlier now pool at his hips and Tifa's eyes shamelessly follow the trail of blonde hair from his belly that disappears below the loose sheet covers.
"You aren't even discrete." He tells her, lightly.
"I'm not trying to be." She replies with a cheeky grin.
"Of course." He chuckles. "Stare away."
Tifa reaches out to pinch his skin and his muscles suddenly tense at the assault. He scoffs a laugh, just a single puff of air, like it's been punched out of his lungs, and catches her hand with his.
Now, Tifa knows just how strong her husband is. She's seen him wield swords heavier than her with ease and cut down a mass of enemies with it even under duress, so she has a pretty good idea of just how strong. Though, that kind of thought rarely enters her mind when she's in bed, especially when she's only been awake for a few minutes.
She's too comfortable, too relaxed, that she couldn't even offer any resistance when Cloud pulls her and drags her up from her position and into his arms. There's a cry of surprise – of course. And wide eyes. And it's only now when she's already awkwardly draped herself on him, that she realized what just happened.
"Cloud!" She pushes him away by the chest and he falls back on the mattress. He's laughing at her, or maybe he's laughing at her expression, Tifa doesn't know (she doesn't care), because the way he's laughing right now, the way his chest rises and falls with each breath and his eyes and nose scrunch up – Ramuh strike her – it's filled with pure, uninhibited happiness that all she wants to do is drag her nails all over his chest and kiss him throughout the day and well into the night.
She briefly reminds herself that being married to this man actually grants her that opportunity. So, she cups his cheeks and leans down to capture his lips in a searing kiss. She feels the sheets slowly being pulled away and they're back to where they were hours before when the moon was still out, and stars shone brightly in the night sky. He's all too eager, and he returns the kiss with equal passion. She feels his arms circle around her waist to pull her down with him, erasing the gaps and spaces between them.
It's sweet. it's pure. it's all things wonderful in the world.
And she's lost herself in the moment again.
It's a long kiss, the kind that leaves her boneless and fragile and forgetting who she is. So, she reminds herself. She's Tifa Lockhart – no, Strife (Lockhart-Strife, legally speaking), and she's in bed with her best friend, the very same man who has made promises to her underneath the stars once upon a time, and their children are currently playing downstairs with the bread machine which she just bought the other day. She's 28 and still young, but so very very happy at this very moment.
Tifa runs her fingers through his hair, and she feels the vibrations against his chest when he groans against her lips. Ah, This emotion, thick and raw, threatens to engulf her in flames, and it bleeds through her voice, wavering when she whispers into his ears the most fundamental truth of her heart. Three words that hold so much weight and meaning, and Cloud keeps them locked away in his soul, in that same ornate little treasure box where he keeps her 'I do' and ''Til death do us part'.
They kiss again.
It's only when their lungs burn with the need for oxygen that they pull away, but even then, they aren't fully apart. Her forehead rests against his and she smiles.
His cheeks are warm and flushed red, and there's a hardened length between her thighs that hints at his obvious arousal. Playfully, she traces her finger down his chest, all the way to his stomach, and rests her hand there. She giggles when his muscles flex beneath her touch.
She likes it when he's like this, flushed and vulnerable, and very open. Only to her. This image of him, so casual and unguarded under the pale morning sunlight that drifts into their room, catches her breath, and she suddenly finds herself with the inexorable need to pepper his jaw with kisses.
Tifa reminds herself again that she can do exactly that.
"I thought…" Cloud breathlessly exhales, "we were supposed to go down?"
"I thought you wanted to stay in bed for hours?"
"Fucking hell." He groans. Cloud shut his eyes and welcomes the sensation of her lips along his jawline. "I love you."
Her lips nip along the soft skin below his ears and Tifa relishes at the sound that comes from his mouth.
"I think I heard you say that multiple times last night." She murmurs against his skin.
"Just so we're clear. Okay, stop — Tifa" – Cloud grips her waist and rolls them over – "Tifa, stop." He tries to pry her hands that were wandering too low.
"Tifa," he's laughing while waving her off, because one more kiss and he'll lose himself and carry through with his promise of staying in bed for hours. "I give. I give, okay. I'm sorry for keeping you in bed."
He's so honest and so adorably him with his apology – "What are you sorry for?" – that Tifa finds herself laughing out loud. Her laughter rings in the air and Cloud can't suppress the grin that splits his face.
"Oh, Cloud." She is breathless. The tone in her voice is unmistakable; it's pure love and affection. Cloud gives her one final kiss on the lips before pushing himself off the bed.
"C'mon." He offers her his hand. Tifa takes it, and soon, she's on her feet and looking for the t-shirt of his that she flung across the room last night.
"—hey!" Cloud catches her slipping her arms through the armholes of his t-shirt.
"I found it first." She sticks her tongue out at him.
He frowns at her, but then shrugs it off. He has tons of t-shirt sitting in his drawers, and besides, she looks absolutely beautiful in his clothes.
"You're awake!" Marlene gasps when Tifa and Cloud round the staircase and enter the bar.
"We are…" Tifa arches a brow in question while Denzel and Marlene share a look. One in exasperation and one in resignation. Cloud stops behind her, resting a hand on her waist, and looks at the booth near the wall in surprise.
The table is… different. A nice kind of different, but different.
There's a table cloth that suspiciously resembles Marlene's spare bedsheet. A quick look at Tifa tells him that she's thinking the same thing.
There are four sets of plates and utensils placed on the table, one on each side. Set in the middle are servings of pancakes with a dash of powdered sugar on top, crispy-fried bacon, sunny-side-up eggs, freshly sliced apples and oranges and oh—
"So that's why I've been smelling bread since I woke up."
Marlene admits to using it before her. "But we really need everything to be perfect. See" – she points in the middle of the table – "we even saved up for it."
There's a small vase in the middle of the table, enough to contain a small bouquet. The flowers were not the usual yellow flowers Tifa would normally decorate the bar with. On some days, she'd visit Aerith's church and ask permission from her friend to pick a few stalks to brighten up the bar. No one answers her back, obviously, but Tifa likes to think someone had been there to give it anyway.
This time, they're red roses – flowers that rarely show up in Edge. And if they did, it's guaranteed to be a bit pricey. No wonder the two had been staying at home after school instead of spending time outside.
"Aw," Tifa places her hand over her chest and croons, "you guys…"
Denzel and Marlene share another look. There's a silent conversation happening between them and Cloud can't help but smile at the scene. No matter what anyone says, these two are siblings. The two share a smile, and on cue, turn to Cloud and Tifa.
"Happy Anniversary!" They yell. Denzel shoots them a toothy grin, all teeth and gums, and Marlene's jumping up and down before throwing herself at them for a huge hug.
"Denzel, attack!" Seconds later, Cloud finds himself balancing all their weight. Tifa is caught between Cloud and Marlene, and is fairly content in leaning all her weight against him, while Denzel jumps his back to give him a back hug.
"We're going," he grunts, "…to fall."
Tifa's laughing again, so much that tears pool at the corner of her eyes. Whether she's laughing or crying, he couldn't tell, but either way, if she does end up crying, then he's sure they're tears of joy. Denzel's weight on his back disappears and a familiar warmth blooms in his chest again when he watches the kids pull Tifa along, ushering her to sit down.
Tifa's laughing again and she's waving at him to come and sit down with them. He's noticed that she's been laughing a lot recently.
That's good right? That means she's happy.
"Hold on a 'sec." Cloud walks to the door, checking the locks for good measure, and shuts the blinds closed. This is a small celebration for his family only. No customers allowed.
There's a warm mug of coffee waiting for him at the table – courtesy of Denzel, and there's already a tower of pancakes on his plate – courtesy of Marlene. Tifa is spreading peanut butter on a slice of bread when Cloud takes a bite out of it and is quick to placate her with a kiss on the cheek.
"Ugh…" Tifa wipes at her cheek and gives him a look, "I can feel the peanut butter on my face…"
Cloud doesn't laugh, but he does scrunch up his nose at her and it's enough to bring a smile on her face again. Tifa empties her hands (the bread and jam lay forgotten on her plate) and cups his cheeks.
She's looking at him with those bright, wine-colored eyes with such joy that it makes his heart tumble in its place.
"Happy Anniversary," she tells him before placing a loving kiss on his lips.
He ignores the booing and the mock gagging from their younger audiences – teen and pre-teen, he corrects himself in horror – and returns the kiss.
His reply is too soft, too quiet to hear over the noise of their two kids, but she can see it in his eyes, in those baby-blue hues that mimicked the sky, the message he's trying to convey. There's a faint blush on his cheeks, as if somewhat embarrassed at showing affection, but he's still smiling at her and he's looking at her with the same look he's given her in that courthouse where they said 'I do' that she almost cries again.
Note: I have this thing for lore related curses specific to that series when writing fan fiction. (Like how ATLA!FanFiction uses Tui and La for cursing or something). So there's "Ramuh strike him/her" because - wink wink nudge dunge - lightning. Hehe, geddit.