I really need to focus on one story at a time lol
The idea for this fic came to me while I was listening to Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain) by Gary Allen. I've never written anything Western before, and I'm never, ever written anything explicit, but I hope that'll be okay?
There was something beautiful about the open country. Something strange and wonderful about how the mountains cut a violet outline into the horizon; how clouds rested on top of their jagged peaks in streaks of rosy pink; how the land, flat and endless in all directions, was covered with grass stained gold by the sun and dried out by the wind. When a breeze whispered through them, they whispered back about nothing and all, and everything.
It was Cloud Strife's favorite place to be, and he tilted his head back, closed his eyes, and simply… listened. Listened to the grass murmur about nothing and everything, and was content to do so. Happy to do so, because though his entire body ached from his grueling week, the weather was good, and he had a decent dinner of beans, biscuits, and coffee. For the moment, all was right in the world.
Though, he was the only one who seemed to think so. Rain, his horse and constant companion, impatiently pawed the ground before she leaned down to nuzzle his shoulder. Let's go, she seemed to say. She wasn't gentle at all with his sore limbs, and threatened to knock him over with every firm nudge. Let's hurry, she insisted. Time to leave.
With a faint smile, Cloud reached up and scratched her behind her ear, just the way she liked it. She huffed into his leather jacket.
"I know," he murmured as his fingers worked behind her ears. His gaze dropped to the horizon; to those distant peaks, their outline rough against the pale, silver sky. "We're almost home."
And what a wonderful thought that was.
Cloud changed his mind.
His favorite place to be wasn't in the middle of god-forsaken nowhere surrounded by nothing but grass, but here. At home. In his bed.
Buried balls-deep in his wife.
Tifa Strife moaned beneath him, and her slick walls fluttered around his length with her every shaky, panting breath. It wrung a strangled groan out of him as he rocked his hips back, the motion sending sparks skimming his skin as he squeezed his eyes shut and savored. Savored the woman stretched out beneath him. Savored how her dark hair was fanned beneath her head, how her eyes were half-mast and their scarlet irises dark with lust. And the noises she made as he rocked his hips again… God. Those noises were sinful, practically forbidden, and it had his length stiffening almost painfully instead of her, a steady ache between his legs that left him twitching and shuddering.
Tifa's eyelashes fluttered as she looked up at him, her cheeks flushed. "You – You w-were gone awhi… Ahh…" He thrust into her, wringing out the open-mouthed syllable further as she arched beneath him, pressing her full breasts into his chest. They could talk about that later, not right now, not when she was shifting her thighs around his toned waist and moaning at him.
And he couldn't get enough of her. Her noises were sinful, and delicious, and he cut them off halfway as he bent down and swallowed them with white-hot kisses. His blood was singing a heady melody that rang through his veins, and he could feel her melt as their tongues met; and she tasted like cinnamon and vanilla and heaven and home. When she shifted, and tilted her head back to angle herself better against his mouth, his hips rocked forward on their own accord. There was a moan; he wasn't sure from who any more, but couldn't find it within himself to care. Pleasure rippled through him at the subtle friction, and he squeezed his eyes shut against flame that sparked across his skin and pooled deep in his sternum, tensing his already solid muscles, his abs rock hard and pelvis straining.
It's only… only been a week, his thoughts stuttered as his calloused palms glided across her breasts, relishing in their heft, their softness. His fingers – trained to hold a pistol, a coiled lasso, leather reins stiff with cold and frost – were gentle, impossibly so, as they worked and teased her erect nipple. Her eyelashes fluttered as he rolled his hips into her. She was so tight and damp and warm around his length that it dragged another moan out from somewhere deep within himself, and whatever other thought he had trailed off, lost the moment Tifa tenderly tugged at his lower lip and forced him to focus. His skin felt uncomfortably hot. Sweat beaded between their flush bodies. His cock was leaking, twitching, swelling against her walls; the paper-thin control he had was slowly becoming undone, and he palmed her breasts as his rocking rhythm became stuttered. Uneven, and Tifa bit her lip as her gaze darkened. She knew as well as he did that he wouldn't be lasting long.
"You're… beautiful," he said in a strained murmur, his lips pressed against her neck. It was difficult to string words together, let alone a coherent though, but he was determined to try anyway. "How did I - I get..." She bit her lip as she watched him struggle with language, effectively short-circuiting his thoughts, and it took him a moment to recall what he was saying. "Get… so lucky?" he eventually finished, cheeks flushed with color, chest heaving, his expression soft as he looked down at her - at the masterpiece she was.
And she blushed. Blushed at that, like they weren't already making love as a hot, steamy, sweaty mess, and he just about came right there. Only desperation made him last a little bit longer.
Just a little longer, but then she looked up at him and purred, "I know."
His pupils dilated. And he felt her stomach tensed as she leaned up to meet him, her teeth just barely scraping against his earlobe. He could feel the pull slightly, followed a little nip of pain before her tongue flicked across the skin in cool relief…
The heat that had been smoldering deep within him suddenly swelled. Swelled into fire, stardust flickering beneath his closed eyes, and he cursed as his hips bucked; his breaths were stuttered, breathless, there wasn't enough air in the room and -
"I love you, Cloud Strife," Tifa murmured in his ear.
- and just like that, he became undone. His hands dug into the mattress, his fingers twisting within the sheets. His thrusts became erratic. Hard – too hard, a tiny piece of him insisted, too hard, be gentle – but then he was grinding against her, unable and unwilling to find rhythm again, and the warmth that had been pooled within him was already pulsing down his length and spilling inside of her. He groaned her name into the pillow as his hips rocked in tiny, frantic movements, and she took it all, her movements just as erratic as she rocked her hips up into him, drawing out his own pleasure while peaking hers.
When she tipped over the edge, joining him, his name was a cry on her lips. Their skin became starlight where they touched; he pulsed within her slick walls while her hands gripped the swell of his ass and pulled him in deeper, her panting breathes echoing in his ears, her body quavering around his length until he was fully, completely, empty.
He practically collapsed on top of her, boneless. Weightless. For the first time in a long time, nothing hurt. Nothing was sore. He felt high off of her starlight and sunshine as he closed his eyes, and couldn't help but smile as she squirmed into a more comfortable position beneath him.
"Not... crushin' you?" he slurred. "I can... move." Though, truthfully, he couldn't have moved even if he had tried. Exhaustion was settling in quickly, turning his arms to lead and head into cotton. A week of hard riding would do that to a person.
His smile warmed as he felt her wrap her arms around his back, her muscles slender yet firm. Strong. His Tifa. His wife, which left him feeling strangely giddy. "Don't move," she ordered into the dark. A pause, then: "I missed you while you were gone."
He hummed as warmth pooled through him, one that had nothing to do with their recent activities. "Missed you too," he managed to reply. His voice was rough, barely audible; sleep was drawing in quickly, that weightless dark that threatened to swallow him whole. How easily he could sink into it. Let himself be swept away, let himself be…
Wait. No. He couldn't sleep yet. He hadn't said it back yet. Hadn't… Hadn't told her the same. From earlier.
He forced his eyes to open, though they felt like sandpaper. Forced himself to shift onto his side so he could make out his wife more clearly. Forced himself to meet her gentle scarlet eyes, even though she was rapidly falling in and out of focus. Forced himself to close the distance between them and land a soft kiss on her forehead.
"I love you too," he slurred.
There. His smile was soft. So was hers as she stared back up at him, her expression bellying more far kindness than he deserved.
Sleep was gentle when it claimed him.
Dawn was Cloud's favorite time of the day.
He leaned against the porch fence, a cup of black coffee between his hands and his breath fogging the air in front of him. The sky was stained pink as it stretched above him. Pink and violet and, where the sun was just cresting the rolling hills, a beautiful gold. The vibrant colors stained the wild land in shades of pastel, and everything seemed more gentle beneath it. The distant rooftops of their neighbors had softer edges. The dirt road leading up to his property seemed smoother, though he knew that the recent rain had left ruts deep in the rich earth. Even the cacti, which dotted his land like sentinels with thick arms praising the heavens, seemed to have a kind glow about them.
Of course, he knew first hand that the land was not kind. The wilds were not gentle, not soft, and certainly not forgiving. He had the scars to prove it. And it wasn't just the land, either – monsters roamed these parts, feral and at home within the barren wilderness, and while he was confident he could handle himself the same couldn't be said for so many others. It was partly why he was out here, truth be told.
But only partly.
Soft footsteps behind him told him that Tifa was awake, and he didn't turn around as she pulled their comforter around their shoulders. Then she was leaning into him, the top of her head just brushing against his chin, and he sighed contently as he rested his cheek against her.
"You should still be asleep," he murmured, his eyelashes fluttering in the chill morning.
Tifa only hummed in response. Like himself, she also craved the quiet mornings. Craved the way that the world was silent and still around her, as if it were holding its breath before the sun came out and warmed the land.
She looked up at him, humor warming her expression. "So should you," she told him. "You've had a hard week."
"I always wake up at dawn," came his easy reply. He wrapped his arms around her, inhaled her scent of vanilla and rain. "Force of habit."
A smile teased her lips. "I know," she murmured as she leaned against him again, and he relished her warmth. The softness of her nearly bare skin against him. God, he had only been gone a week, but he had missed her something fierce. When had he become so needy? So desperate? "But that doesn't mean that you couldn't sleep in every once in a while," she continued.
Sleeping in. He couldn't imagine that he would do much sleeping, not with Tifa beside him beneath the sheets, and the corner of his lips lifted. "I'll think about it," he promised.
Her huff told him that she didn't believe him for a second, and he couldn't help the faint rumble of laughter deep in his chest. "You will not," she told him as she reached down to take a sip of his coffee… only to grimace in disgust. "No sugar?"
He teased her hair with his finger, wrapping the rich brown strands around his scarred knuckles. "I like my coffee as bitter as I am."
She rolled her eyes. "Please. You are many things, Cloud Strife," she drawled, "but bitter is not one of them."
He hummed in response. Clearly, she thought far too highly of him. He could be just as bitter as anyone else, if not more so… but he didn't correct her. He knew better to by now. In this household, Tifa Lockhart – no, Tifa Strife, he corrected himself with only a hint of smugness – was always right. And she made damn sure to remind him of that fact often.
"So," she continued after a pause. She pointedly did not take another sip of coffee as she nestled against him, a perfect fit into his side. "How was your trip?"
And with his next blink, his mood instantly dampened. Tifa could tell – she always could tell, and she glanced up at him. At his melancholy expression… but she said nothing. She was a patient woman, more patient than most to put up with him, and simply waited for him to begin his tale.
"It… started good," he began when there was far more gold than pink staining the sky. A hawk cried out in the distance before it streaked to the rolling earth, plucked a mouse out of the brambles, and then arced gracefully back up towards the pastel-stained sky. Cloud's blue eyes tracked the bird as he continued, "Rain and I made good time. Took the dry riverbed to the next town over, rested there for the night, then kept on going. Got to Corel just fine. But then..." He dropped his gaze to bury his nose into the crook of his shoulder, and when he spoke again, his voice was muffled by her hair. "Then when I went to the inn…"
His voice trailed off. Tifa had, at some point, turned around so that her chest was flush was his. Her fingers worked circles into the small of his back, and he wrapped his arms around her, pulling in tight. His breath shuddered.
"The people there are scared," he finally murmured. "The inn keeper almost turned me away."
Tifa frowned up at him, and she didn't need to be told why. Bandit attacks had been becoming more common ever since the president of this stretch of the country, a wealthy man who went by the name of Shinra, increased the taxes. Coupled by a dry year, especially in the eastern half of the land… well, people there were becoming desperate. It didn't take a wise man to see why.
"Well," Tifa stated matter-of-factly, "he should have known better to turn you away. After all you did for them." She loudly huffed. "Ungrateful bastards."
Cloud smiled at her curse and planted a small kiss on the bare shoulder, and she tilted her head to give him better access. He kissed her again, a little needier now, already feeling himself hardening despite their… activities the night before. In his defense, he had been so exhausted from the hard riding of the week that last night's memory was a blur. He needed a refresher. His body needed a refresher, if the growing ache between his legs was any indication, and he hoped the small kisses he trailed up her neck told Tifa as much.
"Cloud Strife," she huffed, her tone severe despite how she arched her neck to give him better access, "you are insatiable."
He grinned into her bare skin.
"But," she firmly continued, splaying her hand against his chest, "you need to finish your story before we do anything else." He was very curious as to what that anything might mean. "I was worried sick about you, you know. You were gone longer than usual." Her full lips pursed with worry. "I thought that you were dead in ditch somewhere."
He hummed. "Me? Dead in a ditch? Please," he teased, but his grin had already slipped and with a small sigh, he rested his chin on the top of her hair. The sky was shifting into a burnt gold shade; soon, it would fade to a baby blue and then the morning heat would come. He needed to get a move on if he wanted to beat it, but in the meantime… "The recent bandit threats aren't the only thing that had the people of Corel nervous," he finally admitted.
Tifa arched an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"There have been monster attacks. One of their fields had been razed. Burned to the ground, until the only thing left was dust and ash. I rode past it on my way into town." He shifted his weight to his other foot. "But that's not the half of it. There cattle are being picked off one-by-one as well, simply... vanishing in the dead of night. Monster attacks, they said. And then, when I went to the saloon for some answers, I heard a… rumor."
A small crease formed between Tifa's brow. "A rumor?"
Cloud subtly nodded. "Yes. They're expecting another attack soon; but this time, they don't think it'll be just burnt fields or missing cattle. They think that, next time, it'll be a person dead." He frowned. "When I asked about it, they became somewhat... aggressive. Didn't want a stranger meddlin' in their business."
Tifa gave him a long, dry look. "You didn't pull a pistol on them… did you?"
Cloud smirked. "Nah, Teef. I'm dumb, but not that dumb."
"You are many things, Cloud Strife, but you are certainly not dumb."
"Wait until you hear the rest of the story," he added, shifting so that he was pressed more firmly against her. Tifa huffed at him. "So then I was thinkin', there was an opportunity here. I didn't ride all the way out to Corel to come back empty handed, after all - not with the autumn quickly approaching and our grain ready for harvest. So, after getting a meeting with the mayor..."
Tifa's eyes widened. "You met with the mayor? Of Corel?"
"I did," Cloud replied with a wicked grin.
"Do I want to know how you managed that?"
He ducked his head to grin into her hair. "Probably not."
Tifa hummed, unimpressed. "Then I don't want to know," she firmly decided. "And then?"
"Well… I may or may not have told the mayor that there is only one way to take care of monsters, and that would be the hard way." Tifa grimaced at his implication. "And after the mayor saw the, ah, sense in that statement, he asked me what I would do about it. So we struck a deal," he finished, sounding more than a little pleased with himself.
Tifa only looked up at him in horror. "What sort of deal? Nothing dangerous, I hope?"
"Nothing too dangerous," he promised. "Corel in desperate need of cattle and grain due to the recent destruction, and are willing to pay quite a bit for it. But they're also willing to pay quite a bit for someone to take out the monsters nesting there." The corner of Cloud's lips lifted. "The Fairs have more cattle than they know what to do with, we have the grain, and Zack and I are used to dealing with monsters and such..."
His statement was undeniable. Back in the day, he and Zack Fair – their neighbor and husband to Tifa's best friend, Aerith – had been a part of the prestigious Continental Rangers, before they had quit for the more simple life. He had never told Tifa what he had done before he had become a Ranger, and Tifa had never asked; she respected his privacy. But while Zack had eased into the world of domestic affairs quickly and enthusiastically, Cloud had, to put it simply, struggled. He never told her as much, but she knew was that he continued to long for the open trails. She saw it in the way he watched the horizon. In the way he looked after Rain, his horse, and all of his riding gear – like he was getting ready to tear off into the wind at a moment's notice.
Tifa tilted her chin to look up at him, her brow drawn. "You want to make easy money," she accused.
Cloud pretended to look shocked at her statement. "Me? Want to make easy money? Never," he teased. "I'm being a good neighbor, like you asked me to be. I'm being neighborly."
"This isn't what I meant when I said that, and you know it."
"I know, but... Tifa," Cloud continued, his tone firmer now. "They're willing to pay one hundred thousand gil." And when Tifa's eyes widened at the exorbitant sum of money, he continued, "Think about what we could do with that much."
Tifa quickly recovered from her shock, and her lips pursed. "We don't need it."
But Cloud protested, "The roof has needed repairs since we built it. The front door is cracked. And the fields! We can finally buy real tools, Teef, instead of what your father loaned us. And Rain can have a nicer stable, one I don't have to constantly repair."
"Ah, so you're doing this for your horse." Tifa's eyes lit up in understanding, and she smile was teasing as she said, "Now I understand."
"And for you." He dipped his head to nuzzle her neck, his arms wrapped around her middle. "Always for you."
"Always, you say," she purred, her voice suddenly a little rougher. "I wonder."
Hell, her voice also sounded a little needier, and damn if his cock didn't twitch with sudden want. His mouth went dry as she looked up at him with those half-lidded eyes, their red now copper beneath the brightening sky.
"Tifa?" he managed as she leaned up into him.
"Cloud," she echoed, "can I tell you something?"
He blinked dumbly as she went on her tip-toes against her, her full breasts warm against the thin fabric covering his chest… then he sucked in breath as she whispered in his ear, "We don't need the gil." His cheeks flushed at the feeling of her hot breath caressing his earlobe, and she added, "We have each other. We're enough, Cloud. All I've ever wanted was you." She pulled away, smiling at him, and he only able to stare mutely in reply. "I said as much during our vows, remember?"
Cloud thickly swallowed. Yes, he remembered. He couldn't forget, and the only part of him that had remained dust-free on his week-long ride had been his silver wedding band. He distinctly recalled when they had said their vows; but not in front of the priest but beneath the moonlight, and swore upon the stars instead of an old book that in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, they would stay together – in this lifetime, and the next. It was a small ceremony. Intimate.
He brushed his lips against his knuckles at the memory. "When I said those vows," he murmured, "I had imagined that we would have more richer and less poorer."
"Life doesn't always happen the way you want it," Tifa told him.
"But you deserve more," Cloud insisted. Static hissed between where his lips met her delicate hands. "It isn't… It isn't fair to you to live like this. You deserve better."
Her gaze softened. "Fair is what you pay for on the train, Cloud. It doesn't apply to real life."
He chuckled at her dry expression. "I know," he murmured. "But that shouldn't stop me from trying, should it?"
"Sweet words won't convince me to let you do something so reckless, Cloud. Monster hunting," she huffed. "Insanity."
"Oh?" He brushed his lips against her knuckles again, and was satisfied when he felt her shudder beneath his lips. "And what," he added, looking at her from beneath his blond lashes, his voice rough, "can I do to convince you?"
The look that she gave him could have made the devil blush.
Like I said in my opening author's note, I've never attempted anything like this before, so any feedback is appreciated :) (but please be kind if you have constructive criticism - I'm sensitive)
Also, I'm Rand0mSmil3z on Twitter - feel free to follow if you'd like story updates, previews, and links to my ko-fi and other stories I publish :)
Thanks for reading!