Chapter 1, Him and Her

The moon is by herself again.

The surroundings seem to shrill in coldness. Did she always lived in this kind of environment? Its all… my fault isn't it…

He heaved a deep sigh, and let his eyelid drop in weary.

I won't leave again…

The door creaked open slightly, and he heard footsteps approaching. Too tired to look around, he stayed in position, breathes in lightly, and slowly drifts off to sleep.

"Cloud…" a soft voice called. He loved that voice, peaceful, gentle yet clear and confident. The voice only made him drift off more…

She laid her hands softly on his cheek, and could feel his warm breath hit her wrists. Just like a child, she thought. Just like that… simply and peacefully… just how did he manage to occupy my entire world?

"Cloud" the voice called again. For a while, there was silence, and he drifts off again… until he could feel soft, small, cool skin brush against his cheeks. Smoothly, it ran from his cheeks to his jaw line, contouring his face.

His eyes dart open, and he could feel soft silky hair on his neck.

A lock of her hair lain itself on his chin.

Dark, illuminated by the moonlight.

Her breath hits the back of his neck. For once, he was glad that she did not catch him opening his eyes. Gently, he shuts them again.

She was kneeling by his bed, right hand on his cheek, his back facing her. She pressed her face against the back of his neck.

He was lost in her scent. She smelt like that fruit they ate together the day before he left to live in the church. Yes that fruit. He didn't remember the name of the fruit, but the fruit too, smelt sweet, tastes sweet, and lingered in his heart.

Slowly, her lips open and mouthed a string of soft melodious words.

"Cloud, did you stay… because of guilt?" he could feel her eye lashes brush against his neck as she continued, "Maybe for Marlene and Denzel…"

Carefully, she lifts her hands from his cheek and helped herself up, carefully, trying not to wake up the awaken.

Turning around, she said the last three words.

"What about… me…?"

The door creaked open softly, and closed.

As she leaned on the closed door,

As he turned towards the closed door,

She thought,

He thought,

"his scent, was cold and lonely."

"her scent, was cold and lonely."

She walked into her room and laid on the bed. Her mind fluttered onto him again. His words back then, she could remember them so clearly. His words when things were still good, when they first lived together…

"If you've forgotten the way you were then, I'd be there to remind you."

I'd be there to remind you…

I'd be there to remind you…

I'd be there…

With that, she falls into slumber with his words by her ears.

Blackness

"If only I could save her."

"If only I could save her."

"If only I could save her."

"Why am I so weak!"

"Why am I so weak!"

"WHY AM I SO WEAK!"

Blackness

Tifa… wouldn't wake up.

Its been a day.

Tifa… still wouldn't wake up.

Its been 3 days.

Tifa… please… wake up…

Its almost a week.

WHY AM I SO WEAK!

Sephiroth. SOLDIER. If I were a SOLDIER.

If I wasn't so weak…

Maybe… Maybe Tifa would notice me.

I'll do whatever it takes. SOLDIER, Shinra, Whatever.

Tifa…

Blackness

"So how does it feel to be back in your hometown?"

Sephiroth, Zack.

Nibelheim.

Im still not a SOLDIER. I can't let Tifa see me like this.

Not in such a pathetic state…

Blackness

Fire. Fire burning. Fire, people, houses, everything is burning.

Tifa… TIFA!

Blackness

"Tifa…" Blood was gushing from the wound on her chest, Sephiroth had done it… "Tifa…"

I could feel her pulse in my arms. Slowly, I stroked her cheek. She is still living…

"Cloud! Finish Sephiroth off!"

His eyes flicked open. Wide. Panting on his bed, he sits up, covering his forehead with his palm. Cold sweat found its way down his cheeks. His lips were dry. Slowly, he brings himself back to reality. He gets off the bed hastily, walks into the bathroom and cleanses himself.

Have I… Became stronger? Strong enough to protect… her?

He walked down the stairs to the bar, where Tifa was busy cleaning up, and where breakfast was set. The clock strikes 7.

"Tifa…"

"Hey cloud, morning"

"morning."

He stood rooted, his eyes searching hers. Answers, that they were both searching, remain unseen.

"Nibelheim" He whispered

"sorry?"

"We need answers. About the lives we lost"

She looked at him, puzzled.

"Lets go back to Nibelheim. Spare a day or two for me. Lets look for the lives we both lost."

She didn't quite get what Cloud was going at, but she smiled. It was a good sign. For the determination in his eyes shone like the stars last night. Confident and clear.

"Sure."

She flashed him the usual smile. Ever so reassuringly gentle. To him, it was the most precious thing on earth, especially after that dream. "protect, that smile…"

Tifa rinsed the cloth that she has just used to wipe the grease off her bar after the last customer. The clock strikes 9pm. She could hear Marlene and Denzel playing upstairs. Sounds like hide-and-seek. Tifa could feel her chest tighten.

She walked up the stairs and saw Denzel looking around for Marlene.

"Games over, dears. Now, gather for cookies."

"Yaaaay! Cookies!" Marlene appeared, cheering.
"Where did you come from? I searched everywhere!"

Marlene giggled and flashed her tongue at Denzel.

The clock strikes 9.30 pm and Tifa could see the question coming.

"Hey, Tifa… Why isn't Cloud home yet?"

Tifa looked over at the little girl, and softly tugged on her braid.

"Now, if you go to bed, you would see him in the morning."

"No!" Marlene stood up, "I want to see that Cloud's home!"

Tifa smiled, there was no way she could persuade Marlene.

"Alright, then lets wait for him here."

Denzel nodded, "yeah… Cloud would be home right? For sure?"

For sure…? Tifa didn't know. Maybe… Maybe not. But probably.

"Yes he will, Denzel. He promised so."

The clock strikes Eleven. The children are now laying on Tifa's lap, sound asleep. Tifa could feel her eyes dry. She hugged Marlene and placed her onto her bed upstairs, then Denzel. Eleven thirty. Cloud still isn't home.

Tifa walked to the kitchen and brought out the Chicken pie she had baked earlier that evening. She laid it on the bar counter.

The clock strikes twelve and a faint sound of a bike approaching could be heard in Seventh Heaven.

Cloud walked silently into Seventh Heaven, took out his set of keys but the door was left unlocked. He walked in and locked the door. The lights were on.

He walked towards the bar and smiled at a serving of pie left on the counter. Then frowned at the half eaten serving left beside the now-asleep Tifa.

Her silent breathing seemed to release him from all the weariness of his day.

Slowly and gently, he positioned her in his arms and lifted her up. He long eyelashes flickered, revealing her chestnut-coloured eyes. He marveled at her beauty, her long lashes casted a mysterious shadow on her irises, and her sleepy eyes had a watery edge, sparkling in the dark.

"Cloud, you're back." She nodded and closed her eyes.

"Yeah, I'm back."

She shifted comfortably in his arms, before her cheeks flared up.

"Oh my god, I fell asleep. I'm sorry, you can let me down now."

"Its alright, I'll carry you to your bed. Your legs are probably wobbly."

He could feel her silky hair brush against his neck, his right shoulder, his chest. When he look down, he could see her pinked cheeks laying perfectly below her large eyes as her long lashes now cast a shadow on her cheeks.

Her arm laid over his right shoulder to support herself, the other on her thighs. Her lead leaned against his chest, her breathing rapid, so is his. His cheeks burnt as he realized that hisarms carried her by her thigh and her back.

His heart pounded louder and louder as she parted her pink, luscious lips to make a soft, trembling and gentle sound. He enjoyed every note of this music piece. Her eyes fluttering about, her long lashes seem to dance in the music.

"Cloud?"

"Cloud?"

He immediately snapped out of it and looked at her. Looked at her beautiful and….

"Cloud?"

"Yes, Tifa? I heard you."
"I said… I want to spend some time with you before going to bed…"

Her cheeks turned into a deep red, and so did his.

"Oh. Sure."

He set her down, and he could feel her soft body rub softly against his in the process.

She walked towards the bar counter, and he followed behind. They sat down beside each other.

"Pie for you?"

"Yeah"

Tifa pushed his portion of the pie to him and smiled.

They ate in silence, Cloud devoured his meal hungrily as Tifa chucked softly. Blushing, Cloud slowed down his pace.

"No lunch today?"

"No… The recipient was far, didn't get to buy lunch." He looked down, like a child getting caught after misbehaving.

She chuckled, louder.

"Tomorrow will you have lunch?" Tifa said teasingly.

Cloud smiled and nodded.

"About Nibelheim," Cloud said after finishing his portion and getting another serving of the pie. "I've talked to Elmira. We can leave Denzel and Marlene in her care for a few days."

Tifa smiled. "Sure."

"I'll fetch them to Elmira tomorrow evening, then we leave the next morning."

"I've told them about it. They seem positive."

"Hmmm."

"Might be unusual, but I think I know why they agreed."

Cloud nods.

"Marlene and Denzel are at Elmira's. Asleep."

Tifa smiles. "I've packed up the necessities."

"We leave in the morning." Cloud nodded.

"…Hey, what exactly are we looking for? The lives… we've lost?"

"…"

"Cloud?"

"I promised to be his living legacy."

"…Zack."

"Yeah… But I got lost. I didn't know who I am. I… I…"

Cloud looked up at Tifa, then looked back down again.

"I was so weak. I wanted to… let you take notice of me… I wanted to join SOLDIER… But I was just so weak. Tifa, I'm not a SOLDIER, although we've eliminated Sephiroth, and I've become stronger, older. But am I really strong? I'm just weak…"

"And shy, but adorable." Tifa thought.

"I thought I've grown stronger. I thought I could set up a family with you, be normal. But… I'm just so weak. So weak… nothing's ever changed. I'm still that weak Cloud that couldn't talk to you when we were young. That weak Cloud that dare not visit you when you were unconscious… That weak Cloud that dare not let you know he didn't make it to SOLDIER seven years ago…

Cloud sighed and continued,

"When I was down with Geostigma, I thought I didn't want to burden you. I should take care of myself. Tifa… you were always in the spotlight. Since young… you were always popular. Wherever you went, you were the spotlight.

"You… deserve better than to look after a sick childhood friend."

Tifa looked away.

"I'm glad I finally got some answers, Cloud. But… childhood friends…"

Cloud looked up, at Tifa. Her long eyelashes flutters softly, looking down, covering her slightly parted lids. Her copper coloured irises shimmers beneath.

Cloud waited for her to respond.

"Childhood friends, huh…but you were more, Cloud… much more…"

"No, Tifa. That's the answer I'm searching for. The answer to your feelings."

"Wh…what?" Tifa was totally confused.

"Tifa, you knew how I felt. You were there, at the lifestream."

"Y…yeah?"

"But you didn't know me when we were young. You never did. You were always with the trio. I was always desperate for you to notice me. But you never did, Tifa."

"I'm sorry…"

"No, don't be. Lets search for the answers. We've both forgotten our lives back then, Tifa. When I was living in my illusion, I could feel Zack's feelings. I thought they were mine, but no, I could feel Zack, or at least I imagined so. When we were in the lifestream, I was finally released from my illusion. But, I, too, was left confused. I've always had a feeling towards you… even during my illusion days. But… When I returned to myself, Everything just burst. It was overwhelming."

"the feelings I had for you was overwhelming" He wanted to add.

"Tifa, we have questions unanswered."

Tifa looked at him, though confused, but nodded.

Cloud stopped, it was so long since he'd talked that much. He looked down at his second serving of the pie, and ate it.

"Tifa… I have questions unanswered. Will you answer them for me… In Nibelheim?"

Her arms wrapped around his waist, Her hair swaying in the wind and he could smell her. "Just like the fruit" he thought.

"Cloud, I… I'm afraid of Nibelheim… There's nothing there for me anymore. I've lost everything there… My everything."

Cloud reached for her hand , grabbed her fingers tightly.

You still have me.

Tifa smiled. As their bike pierced through the morning.

"Don't worry, I'm here." Cloud reached for Tifa as he got off the bike. He helped her down and they walked towards their hometown. Nibelheim.

Everything looked the same. Best way for Shinra to cover up the Nibelheim incident 7 years ago. But Shinra is non-existent now. The employed Shinra villagers are nowhere to be seen.

Nibelheim was empty.

"Cloud… So what exactly are we searching for?"

He stopped walking. His foot sinking deep into Nibelheim soil.

"You. We're searching for you. Your past."

Tifa looked at him, puzzled.

"Me?"

"Yeah. Ours, too."

Cloud held Tifa's hand and they walked into Tifa's house. Into her room.

"My room…?"

"Yeah. Where I only set foot in once."

She felt her heart sink, into the depths of regret.

She looked into his eyes, and for once, she hoped to change their past... somehow.

"Cloud, since we're here, let me make up to you."

"Huh?"

"Lets play!" She flashed him that mesmerising smile, her perfectly aligned teeth peering at him. "Lets play, for we never did when we were younger. Lets relive it, the times we had lost."

Author's Notes:

I've been trying real hard to portray my Tifa and Cloud as close to reality while mixing in my expectation of how the story will turn out to be.

Many people find that Cloud is cold, but I beg to differ. He might seem that way in Advent Children or some other parts, but in scenes like (in ffvii) in the lifestream and when he confessed about him not being a SOLDIER, he was different. So obviously this complex character has got different phases or situations at which he will express himself differently.

Towards Tifa, Cloud is definitely deeply in love with her. Much of this chapter is to prove that. I tried to lay the pieces together, and I realize that perhaps it was Cloud's insecurity that binds him from expressing his feelings.

Tifa, many take it as a natural thing and obvious thing that she is in love with Cloud. But I had tried to find clues at which she started falling in love with Cloud, and none. He was transparent in her childhood until the period at which they made their childhood promise.

Then, did Tifa love Cloud like he does for her?

This is the question I'm trying to answer with this story.

To understand Love.

To experience Love.

Then, to love each other.

This is the first chapter. Some questions may surface while reading, for example, why did Cloud just suddenly want to return to Nibelheim, etc, why did Tifa's heart tighten when she heard Denzel and Marlene playing hide-and-seek.

Well I would try to answer all the questions you have, Review it and I'll read every one of it, and reply them here.

The part about Cloud's dream is taken from his past (FFVII Crisis Core/ FFVII game) In "On the way to a smile" Tifa had asked him if he loves her, and had awaken him, where she changes the topic. Here, the scene in Cloud's bedroom is actually a similar one.

Hide and seek is a game meant to be played by a group of people, usually more than two. The hide-and-seek here, is actually trying to suggest that after Cloud left, Tifa was going through a hard time and did not pay as much attention to the kids. The kids, being understanding, started to play games by themselves. Originally, the hide-and-seek should have included Tifa and/or Cloud, but now its just them.