Firstly, I don't even know why I'm updating this. I'm currently a month away from the most vital exams in my life, and going through a series of prelims, revisions and family problems. I don't know how many of you actually read my author notes, but heck, I'm going to rant for a short while.

Going through probably the worst phase of examinations I've ever experienced under the strictest education system possible, I find myself dried of all possible emotions these days. My parents are discussing about filing a second divorce. Do not mistaken me, I'm not feeling sad about it, for all I care. I've already gone through it once when I was about 9. I'm worried for my younger brother, who is 6 this year. I don't want him to go through the same things as me, and end up like a screwed up bitch that I am.

Coupled with that, this morning I was molested on the bus. Okay it was creepy as hell. I've never really been close to any guy before and the way that guy touched me, ewww. I can't believe the first time anyone caressed my arms and thighs would be a bus pervert. I went home, showered and puked. I glared at him and made him stop, but it doesn't change the fact that I was touched. My friend suggests that he will accompany me to file a police report. I'm not so sure, maybe I will.

The look that pervert gave me was… I think I'll never forget it, my blood still run cold when I think back.

He enjoyed every second of it, especially when I tried to make him stop.

I'm going to be sick again.

Okay, enough. Let's start.

Take Me With You!

Chapter 14: Prelude

As the rays of dawn splatter across the bed sheet, Cloud flinched and nuzzled closer to the warmth in his arms. Strains of hair tickled his nose and he reached out to rub it, only to find that his left arm was completely numb. Wincing at the sensation of a thousand needles piercing his flesh, he opened his eyes to meet with long hair that shone with a dark maroon glow under the morning sun.

Smiling, he buried her deeper into the crook of his neck, breathing in the scent of cheap inn shampoo, glorified by her unique scent, made musky by sleep. He wished that time would stop right then. She adjusted a little to draw in fresh breaths of air, her head now completely laid across his shoulder, pressing his head deeper into the pillow. The feeling of naked skin smothering across naked skin when he moved momentarily distracted him from the awkward position he was currently in. Flipping over to let her lay across his chest, he drew a deep breath to rid his head of inappropriate thoughts when her thighs brushed against his morning erection.

"Tifa…" The voice sounded deeper than usual, and he cleared his throat to try again. "Tifa." At least it didn't sound like a sexually charged growl now.

There was no response, only her palms moving across his chest as she felt around the surface she lay on.

With another deep breath, he tenderly stroked her cheeks, pushing a lock of her hair away from her face. "Tifa… it's already dawn."

He would have let her slept longer if they weren't still on Shinra territory.

A soft moan escaped her lips as her hands moved upwards to his shoulders.

"Tifa?" He tried again. This time, her head shot up from where she was laying on.

A blush flashed across her cheeks and she lowered her head. "Morning… Cloud."


One of his hands moved to stroke her cheek, while the other reached out to rest on her hip. She turned up slightly to look at him, still abashed from last night, or the way she woke up on, he didn't know.

Trying to break the silence, she turned and whispered. "…D-Did you sleep well last night?" She cursed herself for lack of any better conversation starter as she nibbled on her lower lip.

To her dismay, he outright laughed.

She frowned and felt his thumb softly caress her high cheekbones as his laughter softened. "Tifa, next to you… who wouldn't?" He chuckled. "Or rather… below you."

She buried herself into his chest again, her right fist softly hammering his chest.

He let off a soft but serious growl when she moved, and Tifa finally noticed the hardened flesh pushing against her inner thigh. If she could get any redder, she would have. Steadying herself on her arms on either side of him, she looked down to find him completely aroused.

Thinking back about last night, Tifa couldn't help but ask. "Do… you need me to…"

"It's a morning thing… don't worry." He looked away from her and placed an arm across his eyes to hide his face. Tifa giggled when she saw the redness that flushed his cheek as well.

"Then I'll shower now…" She moved to leave, but his grasp on her hip tightened.


Sitting up, he positioned her such that she straddles his hip, and his right arm held her in place by her waist. He kissed her softly on the lips before turning to the end of the bed, his other hand searching for something on the floor.

When he returned, he placed another soft kiss on her collar bone before burying her into the crook of his neck again.

"When the time comes, Tifa." The emotion seeping through his voice was almost tangible. It was deep and heart-wrenchingly sincere. "Marry me…"

Her eyes widened at the words he said, and tears were welling up, from happiness, from being touched so deeply by a man she loved with her life. But was she good enough for him?

He laced her fingers through his and brought up to kiss them. It was a silent vow of love. He turned their hands such that hers laid on his before kissing her knuckled. While his lips softly imprinted onto her skin, he looked up into her eyes to see her reply.

Tears were overflowing from her eyes and she couldn't find the words to tell him. But she knew, God, if she could, if nothing matters, she would have thrown herself into his arms. Could she be this selfish and allow such happiness to engulf her? Was she good enough to be the one who share his bed, his life, his soul for the remaining of his life?

Carefully, he pried open her hand and slid the ring onto the middle finger of her left hand. "One day, I will chain you to me, and the ring will go to where it is supposed to be."

She didn't respond, but buried herself into his chest again.

He shifted such that her back laid on his chest. "When I was in SOLDIER, I met a comrade who told me why the ring should be placed on the fourth finger."

"It's because there is a vein in our left ring finger that goes directly to the heart right?" She whispered while looking up at him.

"Yes, the vena amoris. But the comrade was from Wutai. They had another belief." He lifted her hands and put them together. "If you put your hands like that, and move your middle fingers such that they are folded and pressed onto each other… The middle finger represents ourselves, so they are one by nature." He bended her middle finger and pressed them together, until only the tip of her thumb, index ring and pinkies touched. "You see, the thumb represents your parents, now, pry them apart." She followed. "Our parents will leave us, they cannot accompany us for life." She nodded to signal him to continue. "Your index represents your siblings, and your pinky represents your children. Move them apart." She did as he told her to. "They will leave us too."

He moved to kiss the back of her ear before putting his fingers together like she did, to show her. "But when you try to pry the fourth fingers apart, you can't." He kissed her again, and moved his lips to her ear before whispering. "Your spouses are for life. Will you be my life partner? The one that will never leave me…"

Her breath hitched as tears spilled again. What could she say?

"When that day comes, Tifa. I will put the ring to your fourth finger, and we will never be apart again." His voice was only audible to her, so soft by her ear as if he was speaking to himself. But the emotion in his voice was undeniable, deep and vivid; it threatened to pull everything she had away.

"I love you, Tifa."

His hold around her tightened and she knew he was feeling insecure. "I love you too, Cloud." She took a deep breath before she could continue. "But there are things that happened in the past 5 years… that I need answers for… when the time comes, Cloud, and you… accept me, I will live the rest of my life in your arms."

Before Cloud could answer, the building shook, and a loud explosion deafened his response. He shielded her from the broken glass and they scampered for their clothing.

Rufus Shinra's hunt has begun.

"Yes, yes Genesis. I'll get him back." Zack sighed. Damn that chocobo, running off like that and leaving him to deal with the leftover mess. "Just get other second classes to Mideel and problem's solved isn't it?"

"No. I will be expecting your update in four hours." The call ended before Zack could protest. He knew better than to challenge Genesis, but that guy has critical issues to deal with. Four hours? Junon is almost as huge as Midgar!

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Flipping his PHS open, Zack dialed a number he didn't even bother to set into his contacts.

"Hello, Zack Fair's Fan Club reception desk, we devote our youth and love to "Puppy's Love". The newest update of our shining star is provided by one of our most active members: Black Suit. It is speculated that our dearest puppy has in fact, a fetish for sunflower embroideries on his swimming trunks, and it extends even to his boxers, though it is also speculated that our dear puppy likes it windy and doesn't quite wear underwear. If you had yet to sign up, do so now! Membership fees are only 50 gil per month! This is Jessie, how may I help you?"

"Hi… uhhh. This is Zack… I need the girls' help with something…"

"Mr Puppy! Please speak! We would do anything for you!"

Zack cringed at the offensive endearment. That blasted Angeal and his nicknames. "I'm looking for a blonde male… with Chocobo hair, around… 5'7"… wearing second class SOLDIER uniform in Junon. I need his precise location within 4 hours… Make that 3 hours and 45 minutes."

"No problem, Mr Puppy, but for that, our club president requires 3 information from you. One, your wildest sexual fantasy. Two, do you sleep naked. Three, the colour of your favourite underwear. We expect details, Mr Puppy. We Love you! Woof!"

Apparently "Woof" was "bye" for his fanclub. Why, oh why? Sephiroth's fanclub is named Silver Elite, Genesis' Red Leather and even Angeal has a more decent one: Keepers of Honour. Yet here, Zack's stuck with "Puppy's Love".

And now, he just has to wait for information. With more than 100,000 members, finding Cloud would be a piece of cake.

Before he could set foot into Junon through the forest, a young girl ran in his direction, tackling him to the ground.

"Gimme your materia or die trying to run from me, SOLDIER!"

The voice was shrill and piercing. Too much to bear. "Lil' girl. I have no materia." Slowly prying away her Shuriken, Zack pushed the little girl aside and strode into Junon.

"Hey! What do you think you're doing! Running away, huh? The white rose of Wutai will teach you a lesson! Now, give me your materia!"

"Girl… Piss off. I'm looking for someone right now."

Before Yuffie could retort, a loud explosion shook the entire Junon state.

Zack knew the sound. It was the sound of… a Mako reactor exploding.

Civillians were screaming, running across streets, some burdened with luggages, others with children.

"What's happening?" Tifa whispered, holding on tighter to Cloud's arms.

"No idea… Just keep running and be careful."

After dodging a few falling cement blocks and pulling the scraped pieces of bed sheet they ripped from the inn, they covered their nose and mouth to prevent dust from invading their lungs.

While they dashed down the alley, as fast as they could, being pushed by sweaty human bodies, they headed down away from the crowd towards the beach area. Tifa pulled the cloak to cover her face and dress, while Cloud wrapped a protective arm around her. Cloud ignored the weird glances and wriggling eyebrows from woman randomly within the crowd, but he couldn't help but know that they were being watched.

"Why aren't we going with them?"

"They're probably seeking refuge under the Shinras. We will make our way out here by ourselves."

"Cloud… can you smell it?"

"Smell what?" He sniffed the air for a moment. Through the cloth, he only smelt dust and dirt.

"The smell of Mako… I can smell it."

The tone of her voice somehow sent chills down Cloud's spine. He turned to look at her, and met a pair of glowing gold eyes, with red speckles.


"It's Mako, Cloud… There's an explosion in the underwater reactor."

I'll try to update within 24 hours, if I don't I'm probably studying for the exams on Monday. Sorry for the quickie. I'll try my best to update.