Cloud didn’t even know what to say! He was -beyond- confused at this point, “Just…..how? How are you still…..” The blond was even sure if the word ‘alive’ was technically even correct.
"J-J-Jenova!?!" Cloud was awestruck at who had appeared before him.
She strode inside, immediately heading for the flower patch. She knelt before them, and looked over her shoulder to give him a smile and wave him inside.
“It seems so long since you’ve been here with me, Cloud. Maybe coming here was the right choice.”
A small sigh escaped her as she moved her hand to gently brush the petals of the lilies.
Cloud walked behind her, kneeling down next to her to examine a few flowers and give them a sniff. The scent reminded him of the girl next to him, “Y-Yeah, I guess. You know I don’t mind going where you go Aerith. After all, I was your body guard for a while.” He grinned slightly, a small chuckle coming from him.
There was giggling. Tifa was sitting in her bedroom with her friends. She was saying jokes with Jessie, Biggs, and Wedge. She was hugging Aerith and talking about helping her fix up the church. It was bright and warm. All the things she wished were real. Only…they were just manifestations of what she wanted and would never get.
The giggles grew louder and closer. Tifa grumbled softly as she finally opened her eyes, seeing Marlene and Denzel in the doorway, holding hands and laughing quietly. Her cheeks grew hot when she realized that Cloud was still holding her, and she gasp softly. Reluctantly, she removed her hands from his back and slipped out of his hold. The warmth was missed immediately as she got out of the bed, holding her finger to her mouth to symbolize being quiet. The two young teens nodded, continuing to watch as she ran the blanket up over Cloud, just past his shoulders. She wanted to lightly kiss his forehead—but the onlookers stopped her.
Turning around, Tifa left the room, asking them how long they had been watching. Marlene said she found them when she got home from school…a few hours before. Denzel was quieter, only nodding. Feeling guilty, Tifa shooed them downstairs with promises of warm food. They both asked when Cloud came back and how long he would be staying, and Tifa remained silent. She didn’t know the answers, and couldn’t bring herself to say anything.
After the two had gone down the hallway, Tifa gave a final glance to the sleeping blond in his bed. She sighed softly to herself, rubbing her arms. It was nice while it lasted. With that, she went downstairs, going into the kitchen to start cooking food.
It was only about 30 minutes after Tifa had been woken up by the two teens that Cloud himself had woken up. He opened his eyes slowly, wincing a little as he started to come to his senses, extremely disappointed to find himself alone.
He turned his head to see the clock that was hanging up on the wall. It was about 3 O’clock in the afternoon and he had only gotten about 5 hours of sleep. Not that he minded but still, that was quite a small number of sleep to get. He slowly sat up and rubbed his eyes a little as he kept his feet on the bed.
Still here…..you gunna leave again? So soon too? Why not….stick around this time? At least for a little longer. It would make her and others happy too. He was talking to himself in his own head, just mentally weighing the pros and cons of him sticking around or not. He sighed softly and stretched before getting to his feet.
His shoes were still off, his socks still on his feet as he stepped onto the slightly cold floor. He looked around his room for a moment, going over to the desk that had important papers of his on it, shuffling through it quickly. He was just making sure everything was still in its place, nothing more. When he was done he headed out of his room and stepped downstairs. Cloud looked a little tired, still a little groggy from the heavy sleep he just broke out of but he was alright. He wasn’t hungry, if anything just a tad thirsty for some water but he wasn’t going to say anything.
Tifa’s mind was immersed in memories as she dozed in Cloud’s arms.
She was a little girl again, mourning over the death of her mother, seeing Cloud watch her from her bedroom window. She was a tour guide, looking through paper articles for any mention of Cloud as a soldier. She was bleeding in the reactor, wishing to see her rescuer. She was in Midgar, hoping he was safe and sound. She was in Don Corneo’s mansion, wondering if she’d ever see him again. She was underneath the highwind, resting against him thinking it would be their final moments together.
But she was warm through the thoughts. Like something held her together during each fleeting recollection. It was a feeling she had in the Lifestream. When he helped her out of the Northern Crater. Tifa snuggled against Cloud in her sleep, wanting more of the warmth that undoubtedly came from his body heat. It felt right being this way, like she was missing it while awake.
In her sleep, she had courage that she lacked while awake. She thought of what she would always want to say. How she would stop herself from worrying so much. But she never could do so otherwise. Tifa always let her emotions run her actions. No matter how hard she fought against it. It was just how she was.
At one point, she thought she heard voices. Lazily opening one eye, she caught sight of brown hair from the hallway. A giggle. Then nothing.
Opening can wait…was all she could think of before she fell back asleep. Her hands gripped around Cloud, not wanting to let go.
A few hours had passed while the two slept……
Cloud was still fast asleep, his body and mind physically and mentally exhausted as he had no dreams nor memories, he just kept fading deeper and deeper in his sleep as time passed. He could be awoken, easily. He wasn’t that heavy of a sleeper as is.
Sleep to him didn’t matter so much, hence why he stayed up all the time. Sure it helped him fight and think better or get his mind off of things sometimes but he didn’t really see it as essential. Especially after being part of Shinra and fighting so much with little to no break, the man had a lot of stamina to just keep going before he started to slow down.
His arms were limp around Tifa now as he was deep in his sleep, it was about the time that Marlene and Denzel would be coming home. Cloud knew, even before he slept, his sleeping schedule would be a little messed up from this nap. but he didn’t care.
She was trying to keep calm. Reminding herself to breathe every few seconds. But then, Cloud wrapped his arms around her, and she felt every muscle in her body relax instantly. There were only a few times that he had ever held her, and they were usually for protection from someone or something.
Now he was holding her for another reason. That reason was hazy, though. She wasn’t sure if he did it to distract himself from his memories, or because he just wanted someone around and she happened to be there. Or maybe…
Tifa shook the thoughts away, focusing on how strong Cloud’s arms were as he held her. How surprisingly soft he was, regardless of his brute strength. Her own warms moved up his back, as if to steady him against her. Added support, like she always was for him.
In those moments, Tifa could feel her own sleepiness crept along her body. She wanted to fight it, to etch into memory this innocent embrace. To memorize the way he breathed, or how sweet he smelled. All of it was like a wonderful dream, and if she fell asleep, she could wake up in the real world, without him there. Slowly, the barmaid rested her head against his chest, finally closing her own eyes.
“Cloud…” she hummed his name without realizing it.
Her voice lingered in his mind as he quickly drifted to sleep unexpectedly, the words drifting away with his consciousness. Then again, the blond hadn’t slept in over a day so he was more tired than he expected to.
As Cloud slept, he kept Tifa in his arms the entire time, subconsciously giving a small squeeze just to make sure she was still there right by his side. Always worrying. He didn’t want to be alone. Especially not now. But he knew that his childhood friend would stay by his side as he rested.
His arms were still lose enough for her to get up and leave in case someone came inside to order something from the bar of if Denzel and Marlene came home and needed her for something.
Tifa couldn’t keep her emotions in control as she broke out in tears confronting Cloud with all her emotions & fears . She felt worried sick of losing Cloud all over again whether is it emotional or physical. Those emotions she bottled up during his journey she was afraid of lecturing Cloud right in front of Marlene & Denzel what if Cloud take it as negatively causing him to leave her for good. She could notice Cloud pain from the memories of the past & her weakness causes it.
Moments later Tifa slightly winces her garnet eyes weakly opening them to notice Cloud was spending the whole night by her bed side with a sweet smile forming across her pale pinkish lips she slowly leans towards him with a soft embrace as she whispered softly “Thank you Cloud…i’m so sorry i couldn’t control my emotions…I’m so sorry…”
Tifa rubs her tears away behind the embrace before it go as she returned back to lying on her bed with her feeling sick & being heated up due to her feverish blush across her cheeks. She softly held onto Cloud’s hand wanting him to stay by her beside she weakly forms a sweet smile across her lips as she softly whispered . “Please don’t go…stay by my bed side…”
Denzel & Marlene notice Cloud’s return along with feverish Tifa in her bed both of them decide to prepare up an in bed breakfast for Cloud & Tifa while attempting to keep it silence while waiting for the preparation both of the children manage to find some stocked up emergency medicine pills from the kitchen’s cabinet.
Cloud held her tight when she embraced him, keeping her close and not wanting to let go. It almost pained him on the inside to see his friend like this. He felt her forehead with the back of his hand, “You’re warm….” He sighed a little, feeling responsible. All that worrying…..must have made her sick.
He made sure she was laying back down, her hand holding his prevented him from getting up to walk away and go downstairs and check for some medicine. He then saw Denzel standing there with the pills and a glass of water, hearing a little scurrying downstairs, thinking it might be Marlene. He took the pills and the glass and placed them on the nightstand next to the bed. He ruffled the hair of the teen, grinning at him before turning his attention back to Tifa.
He opened the bottle and took two pills out and handed them to Tifa, “Take these.” He had silently listened to her words from before, “You…have nothing to be sorry for Tifa. Just…..worry about getting better right now. Relax. I’m not going anywhere.” He tried to give a smile at her but he was too worried to. The blond hadn’t slept all night, watching her carefully the entire night as he stayed at her bedside.
“Good….” She didn’t want to press him for any information. Not now, anyway. Just enjoying the walk together was enough for her. “Well I’d hope so. No run-ins with the law and all.” A quiet laugh escaped her. She glanced around. In only a matter of minutes, they would reach the church, though she still wasn’t entirely sure of what to do after arriving.
Cloud just wanted to be with Aerith. He just used the church as an excuse to get them going somewhere. It is where we met after all…He remembered the day like it was yesterday, it made him mentally shudder but still, he was glad to have met her.
They reached the church and he pushed the big doors, holding it open for Aerith, “After you.”
“Your tone suggests otherwise.” He says while he picked imaginary lint off his coat. ”Yes, well I do… more traveling than most. I travel farther let’s say.” His smirk grows bigger, almost grin like. “You can come out and ask.”
Cloud simply shrugged again, beginning to think to himself This guy reminds me of Reno…..all the easier to deal with and easier to piss off…..whatever. He looks away for a moment, “I don’t judge, if that is what you’re getting at.” He shook his head once, “Clearly you’re not willing to share if you have information to hide. But do I seem like much of a threat to you nor what you stand for?”