Final Fantasy - All Series Fan Fiction ❯ Ephemeral Existence ❯ 13: Knight ( Chapter 13 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Ephemeral Existence
A C/S Story
Warnings: YAOI, kinda AU
Disclaimer: Not mine. Phooey.
Chapter 13: Knight
It had been a month since Cloud and his friends met Sephiroth and cooperated with him. Many things had changed; Cloud decided to help out anyone who needed it, gathering all of his friends who wanted to come with him. It was so good of Cloud to do that; he truly represented the knight that Tifa wanted him to be in her dreams.
Even so, as she walked in the hallways of the Highwind, heading towards Cloud's room, Tifa found the interaction between Sephiroth and Cloud strange. It was as though Cloud knew Sephiroth more than anybody else.
She stopped in front of Cloud's door, wondering whether she should talk to him about the bizarre thoughts she had. She and some of the perceptive ones in the Highwind had noticed that Cloud, despite his interactions with people in the process of helping them out, had somehow… distanced himself. She couldn't explain it; the man she loved was no longer there, replaced by this contemplative person who she couldn't relate to anymore.
The door slid open, snapping Tifa out of her musings. Cloud was sitting on the bed, gazing at her with thoughtful eyes. She mentally shivered; she didn't like that look; it was as though he was dissecting her or something. She tried her best to push those ridiculous thoughts away, walking towards him with a smile on her face.
She sat next to him, about to say something, but Cloud cut her off. “What's up, Tifa?”
Tifa hesitated and then she responded, “Oh, it's nothing, Cloud. I was just thinking about things. Ever since we left the Crater, you haven't really rested or anything. The moment you returned to us, you immediately set off to work on fixing the remaining problems that Sephiroth caused.”
Cloud sighed, laying on the bed with his hands behind his head. He stared at the ceiling for a while. “Well… that's not really `nothing'. Is it a bad thing that I help people around?”
Tifa shifted her position and placed a hand on his arm gently. “But you need rest to heal. I don't know how you managed to keep yourself straight after the things we went through.” She smiled softly at Cloud, who turned his head the other way as though he didn't want to see her. “Cloud? Is there something wrong? You know you can tell me anything. We've been friends since we were children.”
“I know,” Cloud stated, releasing another sigh. “You shouldn't worry. I've been thinking a lot, that's all.”
“Yes, but,” Tifa paused, gazing at him sadly, “everyone's worried. Yuffie tries to hide it, but I know she cares. She comes to me and asks about you often. Barret and Cid tried to talk to you a few times, but then you're always so busy talking to other people or something.”
Cloud just laughed. “If everyone is worried, does that include Vincent and Red? It's really strange, I never thought they would come with us. I guess Vincent doesn't want to sleep anymore and Red doesn't mind another mission if it benefits the Canyon.”
That shut her up. She stood up, crossed her arms and tried her best to glare at him, narrowing her large burgundy eyes. Cloud smiled at her, chuckling a little. “You're sulking,“ he said. She rolled her eyes at him, placing one hand on her curvy hip. “Oh, now you're pouting.” She blushed and stomped her foot. “Tifa, what are you doing? If you really wanted me to rest, then shouldn't you be, you know, heading out?”
She knew that Cloud's comments were supposed to be jokes, because Cloud liked to joke with her, but they still hurt because they were true. If she left him alone, he would get rest and she didn't have to worry about him not getting enough sleep. She could inform everybody, who all had set her up to talk to him, that Cloud was doing fine and the new journey that they had started would go smoothly, no longer filled with any hidden tension and secrets.
“Okay, I'll go then,” Tifa said, grinning.
Cloud turned around to face her, pulling up his blankets. “Thanks. I just… I couldn't get sleep and even if I did, I feel like I'm awake.”
Tifa hesitated again, tilting her head to the side. Cloud was starting to open up; that was a good thing, and she was going to take advantage of it. “Restless? I wouldn't be surprised. You've been talking to many officials of other continents and visiting many new settlements. Of course that tires people out, silly.”
“Yeah…” the blond trailed off, closing his eyes. “Thanks for checking up on me.”
“You're welcome,” Tifa said softly, walking out of Cloud's room. The door was about to close, but she held it, wanting to see if her best friend was really going to sleep. The lights began to dim until they were off and another sigh met her ears.
“Seph…Zack…” she heard Cloud murmur. She watched him silently and he ran his fingers through his hair. It seemed as though he was daydreaming. Perhaps he was reliving another dream or maybe another memory. Tifa didn't know; her friend had truly changed. He was mysterious, an enigma, because nobody could reach him now and even if they try, hesitation would hinder them because they knew that something was not right.
Despite all of that, Cloud was still her knight in shining armor. He was there for her whenever she needed him. He had risked his life for her and rescued her from Sephiroth in Nibelheim. He truly was an honest and noble man.
But who was the enigmatic male in that room now, murmuring Sephiroth and Zack's names in a wistful way?
Cloud just went off to the deep end--
Just kiddin'. XD