Cloud Strife woke up and sat on the side of his bed. He recalled his dream and turned it over in his mind, enjoying every moment of it. Yet he still couldnt help but heave a sigh as he realised that it was just that:
about us, he muttered.
He got dressed and grabbed the parcel that he was supposed to deliver off his bedside table. He had to deliver the package to the outskirts of Edge City, meaning he would be gone all day. It made him a little sad to think about being away from Tifa that long. It wasnt uncommon for him to be gone for long hours, thinking of her as he drove along the dusty roads on his motorcycle. But it pained him to be away from her now that there wasnt much to occupy his time; the battle between him and Sephiroth was over and peace had finally settled over the city. His guilt over his weakness and his past had long since dissolved. All that stood now between him and happiness was his reluctance to finally admit his long buried feelings.
At length, he went downstairs to find Tifa preparing breakfast. Her raven hair cascaded down her back as she glanced back at him. When she turned around to see who had come down, her brown eyes met his and he was lost for words. All he could do was smile slightly as she greeted him:
Hey. Howve you been, Cloud?
Ive been fine. I have a delivery today, just outside the city. Im not sure when Ill be back, probably not before the late evening.
Oh, Tifa replied. There was something in her voice that made him curious. It sounded like
disappointment? At what? Surely, she didnt feel the same way as he did
Just then, the door to the bar opened. Two children came into the bar, surprising Tifa and causing her to turn around.
Marlene! Denzel! You finally came! the young woman exclaimed.
The two orphans that she and Cloud had taken care of during the troubled times had come to visit. Barrett Wallace must have dropped them off. Oh well, theres always next time, Cloud thought to himself, Ill tell her when the moment is right. He walked up to the two children to give them a hug before sitting down for a few bites of breakfast. Then he took the bundle in his hand.
Ive got a delivery to do, kids, but Ill be back in the evening. See you then! With a quick wave of his hand, Cloud mounted his bike and drove away.
The city roads eventually disappeared and turned into dusty highways as Cloud rolled to his destination on his motorcycle. He finally reached his destination, a house in a small hamlet outside the city. He handed the parcel over to the man who had ordered it, got his paper signed, and was eventually on the road again. On the way back, he thought about Tifas reaction earlier that day and wondered when it would be the right time to finally own up. Just as he was entering the metropolis, he felt a few drops pelt his forehead. He squinted upwards as the raindrops intensified and thunder started to sound.
Aw, man. What now? he said aloud.
He scanned his surroundings for a place to get a little shelter from the storm. Then he spotted the ruined church up ahead, the same church where he had last been when the troubles finally ended. He brought his bike inside the crumbled edifice and went under the part of the roof that had not collapsed, sitting down and trying to warm himself. As he sat down, he felt his hand touch something. He looked down to see that his hand had fallen on the handle of some instrument.
A closer look revealed that it was the hilt of a sword. He got to his feet and lifted the sword off the ground with some effort. A light from a hole in the roof showed it was his old Buster Sword. So that was where I hid it, he mused. He had left it in the church and had forgotten all about it; it seemed appropriate at the time to bury a remnant of his past in a church.
As he stared at the blade, memories of his past came flooding back to him. He was amazed at how the bad times still got to him, to this day. He took a few paces to try to clear his head, only to trip on a piece of rubble that stood in front of his foot. He stumbled forward and swung the immense weapon, hitting a column and littering the ground with small rocks. He raised himself on his knees and coughed, choking on the dust cloud that settled after the rocks fell to the ground.
Hey, take it easy with the sword, Cloud! Its not a toy, you know, a familiar voice resonated through the vestiges of the church.
Cloud raised his head and scanned his environment for the voice he just heard. His eyes finally fell on a figure shrouded in light. Clouds eyes widened in surprise as he saw his old friend from his mercenary days, Zack Fair. Cloud inherited the Buster Sword from Zack after he died, and Cloud thought he had seen the last of him after he cured himself of the mysterious Geostigma disease a few years before. He was awestruck at his sudden appearance.
Is that really you? Cloud finally managed to say in a choked voice.
Yeah, man. Howve you been?
Ive been okay, I guess
Zack gazed at him meaningfully and shook his head slightly.
Its Tifa, isnt it? Shes been on your mind, huh?
Yeah Cloud admitted.
Youve wanted to tell her your feelings but you couldnt find the words. Sounds right?
Every word of it, Cloud sighed.
Cant really help you there
he began. Cloud hung his head resignedly.
I might know someone who can, he concluded, walking forward into the shadows where the ceiling had not collapsed.
The spiky-haired man looked around for his old friend, walking up and down the aisles. Running around the debris that littered the ground, he searched for any sign of Zack. At last, he stopped and took a deep breath, his hands on his knees. What awaited him as he stood upright he never expected to see in a long time. A young woman in a pink dress and brown hair smiled at him; a young woman he would never forget.
he gasped. She responded with that same breath-taking smile he loved.
Oh, Cloud, she said, why havent you said anything? Whats holding you back?
I just dont know. How she feels. If she feels anything at all for me. How am I supposed to know? Clouds words poured out with his silent tears.
she feels the same pain as you when youre away from her. It was in her voice this morning, remember?
Cloud inhaled sharply. So that was it.
She cares for you, Cloud. Thats why she always went out of her way for you, to save you even when you didnt want her involved. Do you see now? Aerith inquired.
Cloud nodded. It all seemed so obvious now, he wondered why he never saw it before.
But what now? What should I say
or do? he asked.
your heart will find the words for you. All you have to do is breathe
Aerith whispered before fading into the light of the outside sky.
When Cloud finally stepped outside of the church, night had already fallen and the rain had stopped. The clock tower in the plaza showed that it was almost eleven oclock. He parked his motorcycle near the bar, where the lights were already off and the sign on the door read Closed. Fortunately, Cloud had his own key to the bar. He locked the door behind him and walked up the stairs to the second floor.
He walked up to the closed door of the spare bedroom. He opened it slightly and peered in. The two children were sound asleep next to each other, each one facing the opposite way. He walked up to them and kissed his hand, touching the kids on the cheek. They stirred slightly but didnt wake up, so he left the room and quietly shut the door.
He walked over to his bedroom door, which was closed. Thats weird, he thought, I dont remember leaving my door closed when I left. He opened the door and entered, surprised at what awaited him. A black figure was on his bed, lying on its side. He approached the sleeping figure and the moonlight that beamed through the window revealed it was Tifa; she had fallen asleep on his bed.
My God, shes so beautiful, Cloud smiled well, here goes. He took a deep breath before putting his hand on Tifas shoulder and whispering her name. She didnt stir, so he tried again a little louder. Her eyes opened and she jerked her head up in surprise. In the moons glow, her eyes looked as though she had been crying herself to sleep.
She gave a small gasp and started to stammer Cloud! Im so sorry
I was just tired
I didnt mean to fall asleep here, I dozed off... Before she could finish, Cloud leaned closer to Tifa. He pushed her hair back and taking another breath, he kissed her. He pulled away from her and she sat there, unable to believe what just happened. She looked at him in surprise and whispered Cloud
Tifa, Im so sorry, Cloud began Im sorry
for not knowing from the beginning. How you felt. I should have realised...from the way you saved me.
She looked at him with a slightly confused look but she still said nothing, so he continued,
I love the way you never gave up on me
the way you were there for me, even when I didnt want you to be involved
What Im trying to say is
he breathed in yet again before he said Tifa
I love you. I always have
I just never
found the right words.
Two tears ran down Tifas brown eyes and yet she could not help but smile. Suddenly, she put her arms around him in a passionate embrace while he slowly put his hands on her back and hugged her back. Oh, Cloud
I love you too
she breathed out her words. His hands caressed her back and her hair and her hand lightly stroked his cheek. He put his right hand on her cheek and looked into her brown eyes. He inhaled one last time before he said:
Theres something I should have done a long time ago
She looked deep into the blue eyes of the man she loved for so long and whispered, Well
dont hold back
Then, they approached each other and with eyes closed, joined in a sweet kiss. Although it didnt last long, it didnt matter. They were finally together, and time didnt matter anymore. As they kissed again, Zack and Aerith appeared in the moonlight smiling at the result of their advice to Cloud. The two guardian angels had done their job well, and now their friend was happy.
The two young sweethearts lay down on the bed. Tifa laid her head on Clouds chest, her fingers laced with his. He kept his arm around her shoulders and spotted his two friends watching him with content smiles.
He smiled back at them and whispered, Thank you
thank you so much
for everything. I owe it all to you
Tears of gratitude streamed down his cheeks as they waved goodbye and faded into the moonlight. For the first time in years, he felt happy. He finally admitted his feelings to the girl he loved since childhood, and she loved him back. It made his victory over Sephiroth and the Geostigma disease even better. He finally closed his eyes and before long, he was asleep.