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I Breathe; I Take You In

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Title: I Breathe; I Take You In

Characters: Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart

Pairing: Cloud/Tifa

Rating: Teen

Disclaimer: I do not own anyone/anything from the forum Final Fantasy. Square Enix owns Final Fantasy and its characters. There is no copyright infringement intended. I do not make any profit/money or take any credit.

Summary: Cloud needs to relax. Tifa joins him.

Timeline: Post ACC (I am taking liberation here regarding places, mostly because I have an HC that Midgar is still going to be around after the Remake)

Warning: Bath fun time, nudity, Soft Comfort, Domestic Fluff

Author's Notes: So, this idea kind of kept trying to go smutty but I managed to keep it non-smutty. Though there is a good chance I will write a smutty chapter but we'll see.

'Cause every time I breathe; I take you in
And my heart beats again
Baby I can't help it
You keep me drowning in your love

It was dark by the time Cloud made it into Midgar, the sun long set, giving way to bright stars. The moonlight giving a soft glow amongst the dark sky.

Every time he looked up at the night sky, he was always reminded of the promise he once made under them, to the dark-haired girl who has long cemented her place in his heart and by his side.

Reaching his destination, he could hear the low hum of chattering and laugher. The thumping music coming from the surround system and the bright light filtering through the partly shut shutters let him know it was still a busy night.

Cloud resisted the urge to groan he swung himself off Fenrir, his joints feeling stiff after riding for so long, but it was worth it as he stared up at his home, Seventh Heaven. To feel that warmth settles around his cold and stiff body.

After being away for nearly two days and a night, he was more than ready to climb into his own bed and curl around Tifa and just let her soft scent and warm body soothe his battered soul.

He let out a heavy sigh as he climbed the stairs, shouldering open the door and allowing the noise to fill the air as he saw the bar was full of chattering and whooping and laughing patrons.

Tifa, in her gracefulness and quick feet, was flitting from one person to the next, a warm smile on her lips as she talked with them, one hand on her hip as she held a tray filled with empty glasses in her other.

Cloud stood in the doorway, drinking in the sight of her, feeling the warmth seep into his bones and settling deep in the pit of his stomach.

It felt like it had been an age since he last saw her, had seen her smile and her warm eyes. Had felt her close to his body, her dark hair through his fingers.

Hearing her voice over the phone had not been enough. It was just enough to soothe him but not enough to fill that ache that always followed him whenever he was separated from Tifa.

Plus, he was never the best sleeper when Tifa was not around which meant that he was grumpy after having a sleepless night, and no-one liked to deal with a mako-infused grumpy man dealing with lack of sleep.

So, seeing Tifa was a soothing balm.

She wore a pair of dark blue jeans that hugged her curves, a long sleeve sweater that reached mid-thigh, and made her look cozy while her dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail.

He narrowed his eyes when he saw her smile was just on the edge of looking strained, the lines at the corners of her eyes.

There was even fatigue in her dark eyes, those eyes that always shone when they saw him.

The way she held herself, a little too stiff for his liking. Her shoulders were not relaxed, and she blew out a soft air, displacing a hair that was framing her face.

The familiar smell of smoke brought Cloud of his thoughts and he glanced over to the side to see someone lighting up a cigarette before he wrinkled his nose, shaking his head at the blatant ignorance of the rules regarding Seventh Heaven.

When a roll of his shoulders, he made to turn toward the person who had dared to light up in Tifa's bar when he noticed that Tifa was already in front of the man, plucking the lit up cigarette out of his mouth and crushing it onto his empty plate.

The man stared up at Tifa, his eyes widen in surprise, his lips slightly parted in delayed shock over having lost his smoke only for his eyes to narrow and his lips to form a thin tight line as he stood up, a head taller than Tifa, but she held her ground.

No one broke a rule in Tifa's bar.

Cloud's hand itched to curl around the hilt of his sword when he saw the man's friends pull at his arms, dragging him back into his seat, one hurriedly talking to Tifa, obviously trying to placate her.

Tifa took a step back, giving the man a short nod before she turned around and met his eyes.

He watched, with a warm heart, as her eyes widened before they softened, a soft light entering them and a small smile quirking her lips.

He felt an answering smile cross his lips seeing her relaxing just as tad at the sight of him and it felt like he came home.

"Hey." She moved closer to him, easily bypassing the standing customers, and pushed out chairs before she came to stand in front of him.

"Hey." He reached out, his fingers brushing against that lock of hair, and tucked it behind her ear, tracing the curve of her cheek as he did.

Tifa hummed, her eyes fluttering close for a moment as she leaned into his touch, taking his breath away at how starkly beautiful she could be then her eyes opened, pinning him with emotions.

"I missed you." He moved in closer, their bodies brushing, taking comfort in her words, in her presence.

It never failed to calm him, to make him feel grounded.

He just stroked his thumb over her jaw, smiling when she sighed into his touch before he leaned in, briefly resting his forehead against hers.

"Welcome home," her words were like honey, and he closed his eyes, breathing in her scent. The world around them drifted away, leaving only the two of them alone.

"Hmm, I'm home," he agreed.

The sound of glass shattering broke Cloud out of his blissful daze and he felt Tifa sigh against him, her shoulders stiffening as argument penetrated the air around them and both of them looked toward the arguing men who had grabbed each other by the collar, threatening to punch each other.

Cloud straightened, rolling his shoulders and he made to move in their direction when Tifa's hand on his chest stopped him. He glanced down at her to see her press her lips together as she glared at the two men before looking up at him.

"Go and see the kids," she told him, lifting on tip-toes to kiss his cheek before she spun completely and walked over to the two men, her hands already reaching for the back of their collars, yanking them away from each other.

Cloud watched as the two men rounded furious eyes on the newcomer only for their protests to die on their lips when they discovered who it was that had dared to enter the fray.

He watched as Tifa scolded the two of them and smirked when Tifa yanked them over toward the door and promptly threw them out.

With a frustrated sigh, she dusted her hands together before spinning around to take in the stunned customers, her challenging gaze made everyone resume their partying, albeit with less noise than before, and Cloud smiled.

You did not mess with Tifa Lockhart, that is for sure.

Cloud made his way through the bar, careful not to bump into anyone before disappearing behind the door that led the way to Stargazer's Heights.

A place that once had been home to Tifa was now a home for them all.

Cloud took off his boots, set his sword against the wall, and hung up his sheath before making his way through the hallway, following the sounds of the kids chattering.

Peering into the living room, he discovered Marlene and Denzel sitting at the dining table, bent over doing their homework while advising on questions.

With a small smile, Cloud made his way over to the kids, watching as Marlene's head came up and Denzel chews on his bottom lip, obviously engrossed in whatever question was stumping him.

Marlene's eyes widened in surprise when she saw him before a bright smile crossed her lips.

"Cloud!" Marlene's excited voice broke into Denzel's concentration as she near enough lept off the chair and into Cloud's arms, making him laugh as he held her close to him.

"Cloud!" Denzel's voice joined in and Cloud felt arms around his waist, his hand going to Denzel's head, ruffling his brown hair.

"Hey kids," he greeted, his voice soft and warm, feeling even more at home as Marlene and Denzel began drowning him in questions, making his heart feel full.

This is where he belonged.

Maybe I'm a drifter
Maybe not
'Cause I have known the safety
Of falling free into your arms

After dealing with his energetic kids, scoffing down his dinner that Tifa left for him warming in the oven, and promising that, yes, he still had the day off tomorrow and no, he didn't have any plans outside spending time with his little family, they finally allowed him to go to the bathroom for a much needed clean up.

Where he was currently digging in the cupboard for the one thing that keeps eluding him.

Where is the damn bottle?

Plastic clicked against each other as Cloud pushed and pulled bottles out of the way, looking for the bottle that held his favorite bath bubbles.

The one that Yuffie had sworn up and down, hand on her heart and the other on her precious Materia, that would ease all his aches and stiffness.

That was how Cloud knew that Yuffie was not lying. She would have never sworn on her Materia without good reason and Cloud had agreed to give it a try only to discover a whole new weakness.

Much to Tifa's amusement and partial annoyance. She was never the best at sharing when it came to something she liked, and her bath times was something she liked to have to herself.

Until Cloud discovered bath time himself, much to Marlene's amusement.

There you are! Cloud thought victoriously when he spotted the bottom in the way back, snagging it by the neck and pulling it free.

With his free hand, he twisted the taps, cranking up to the temperature he liked best before he opened the bottle and dumped a handful of the bubbles into the running water, sighing as the scent of sage and sea-mineral filled the air, already making him unwind.

Cloud capped the bottle and shoved it back into the shelves, careful not to upend the other bottles they've cumulative and headed over to the sink, unzipping his top.

With a shrug, the top slid free, sliding onto the ground as his hands went to the button and zipper of his jeans.

A quick twist and pull, his jeans dropped to his ankles and he stepped out of them, sliding his brief down swiftly and dropped it on top of his clothes.

He ran a hand through his hair before turning the tap on and picking up a cloth to put under the water, lathering it up with soap before running it under his arms, over his body, and between his legs to get rid of the grime and sweat that had built up from the day.

Throwing down the cloth onto the pile of clothes, Cloud walked over to his anticipated bath, testing the water with his fingers, and turning off the taps when he got his desired heat.

A hand swirling in the water had Cloud humming softly under his breath before he lifted his leg and let it slowly sink into the heated water, enjoying the way the water soothed his aching muscles before he adjusted and lifted his other leg, his foot slowly sliding into the water.

Cloud groaned as he sank into the bath, the water lapping at his chest as he reclined, his head resting on the little pillow that Tifa liked to use and he closed his eyes, his hands resting over the edge of the bath.

He could feel the water dripping from his fingers but found he was too tired and too comfortable to reach for the towel.

The scent of the bubbles threatened to lull him into a light doze as he felt the bubbles work its magic, easing his stress and frustration over the last few days.

For the first time, he felt like he could sleep, knowing he was at home and not traveling and dealing with irate customers because he had turned down a last-minute job that would have extended his traveling time for another day at least.

The money had not even been worth the effort either.

The sound of the door opening made him stiffen for a moment before he caught a familiar scent and he relaxed.

Tifa.

The door shut behind her and he heard her footsteps as she crossed the bathroom, pressing her lips against his forehead and running her fingers through his hair, her nails delightfully scraping his scalp before she pulled away, leaving him biting down on a whine.

He was so pathetically needy when it came to Tifa, it was ridiculous.

He heard rustling and sighed to himself.

"I was going to put them in the basket," he told her at the sound of the lid being lifted and the clothes being dropped.

"I'm doing it now," her soft voice teased him.

Cloud just sighed, letting his head fall back onto the pillow and the scent soothes him once more.

Tifa ran the tap at the sink and hummed softly under her breath, lulling him and he recognized the tune as a song she used to play on the piano when they were younger.

Tifa has not touched a piano since her death, and it pained him to realize it. Tifa was magic when she was playing, surrounding him with her music, her fingers dancing over the black and ivory keys.

Lost in his thoughts and the sound of her humming, he almost forgets the world even existed outside the bathroom for a moment.

Soft splashing had him opening his eyes, looking down at the water lapping lazily at his chest, and found himself staring at Tifa's toned calves.

Arching his eyebrows, he let his eyes wander – lazily – up her body, taking in her nakedness, the scars, and freckles that mapped her body, as Tifa slowly sank to her knees so she was kneeling in the bath, straddling him.

"Hi," he whispered, meeting her eyes, and seeing the fatigue that had plagued them earlier was no longer there.

"Hi," she whispered back, her hands going to his shoulders before sliding down his back, her arms encircling his neck and she leaned in, resting her body against his and placing her forehead on his shoulder.

"Rough day?" His wet hands smoothed a path up her back, and she nodded against his shoulder.

"The worse," her voice was muffled against his skin. "You?"

"Crap," he replied bluntly. Tifa stiffened for a moment before her shoulders shook and he heard her muffled laugher. "Not funny." He brushed a kiss against the shell of her ear.

"Just a little," she corrected as she pulled away from his shoulder so she could look up at him, a smile on her lips.

He bit down on his cheek so he would not smile back, glaring at her.

"It's nice to know that I wasn't the only one feeling the urge to punch someone out."

"That bad?" He asked and was eerily reminded of asking her that when she said he was losing his hard edge.

She seemed to remember as her smile turned fond and she leaned against him harder.

"Yeah," she leaned in and brushed their noses together, "But better now you are home."

"Hmm," he kissed her softly, enjoying the way she melted against him. "Good."

"So smug," she murmured against his lips and he smiled.

"I have every reason to be." He told her.

"What ticked you off?" She changed the conversation and Cloud sighed, resting his head against the pillow once more.

"Last minute job. Barely offered enough money and decided to give me a bad review because I turned it down."

Tifa's eyebrows rose in surprise before furrowing at his last words.

"What was the job?"

"Hunting down a pack of cerulean drakes for 500 Gil." Tifa scoffed in disbelief. "I had a quick look before I left; just in case it was too dangerous to leave alone. 5 adults, 2 juveniles. All in a tunnel, nesting. All out of bounds regarding the town."

"Did he at least give a reason to why he wanted you to hunt them down?"

"They scratched his van."

"What?" The look on her face was worth the laugh he let free. "Cloud, please tell me you are joking."

"I'm not," he assured her through his laugher.

"He offered you 500 Gil to take down a pack of drakes, creatures that not even a mercenary would risk-taking on by themselves, just because they scratched his van?!"

"Yep."

"Good thing you told him no."

"I wouldn't have even considered it. I'm not tangling with a drake without you as a backup."

"Sweet talker." She smiled at him.

"It's true." He lifted his hand, cupping the back of her head and threading her hair through his fingers, enjoying the feel of silk against his skin. "I hate fighting when you don't have my back."

"Ah, now I understand why you only do hunts when I'm with you."

"I like watching you move." A cocky smirk tugged his lips when he saw the blush on her cheeks and her eyes widening in surprise before she ducked her head, resting her forehead against his shoulder again.

Cloud just smiled smugly to himself, pleased that he could still invoke that kind of reaction out of her even after being together for a while.

They stayed like that for a moment when Cloud turned his head toward her.

"So," he kissed the side of her head and Tifa let out a heavy sigh he could feel.

"People being stupid and even stupider when they're drunk."

Cloud winced in sympathy at the thought. He had the unfortunate experience of dealing with that whenever he helped Tifa out in the bar.

"I'm guessing those three when I came in, was the milder version?"

"So mild!" She groaned into his shoulder before lifting her head to look at him, wrinkling her nose and furrowing her brows. "Who lights up in my bar?!"

"Idiots," he supplied, and she just huffed, rolling her eyes as she did.

"They can go and be idiots in someone else's bar!" She mumbled under her breath, tilting her head back.

Cloud hummed in agreement, distracted by the line of her neck, and was reminded of just how long it had been since he kissed her neck at the sight of the nearly faded purple bruise at the base of her neck, meeting her shoulder.

His mark he left the night before he was to leave for his job. His mark was beginning to fade and he leaned forward, his nose brushing against the spot.

Tifa stiffened in his embrace before he pressed his lips against the spot, and she moaned softly as he suckled.

"You and your mark," he heard her murmured breathlessly.

"I don't hear you complaining," he murmured against her throat, dragging his lips up the side of her neck to meet her jawline.

"You'll never will." She turned her head, meeting his lips with hers as she shifted in closer, her hips flushed against his and he tightened his grip in her hair, the other banding around her hips, pulling her close to him.

She was warm, soft, pliable…her lips parted under his probing tongue and he sighed against her.

He could never get tired of kissing her, never get tired of feeling the way she fitted against him like a piece of a puzzle, perfect.

Never get tired of the way her hands were running through his hair, her nails delightfully scraping his scalp. Or the way her hands would curl around his neck, holding him close when they kissed.

Or the way her chest was pressed up against his, feeling her heartbeat pick up when he would tease her, draw out her pleasure, make her pull him down for more.

Like she could not get enough of him, him, Cloud Strife. Someone who had adored her from far, who had tried his best to be the type of man she deserved.

Tifa hummed softly as she slowly parted from him, her breath coming out uneven, just like his, and met his eyes with soft ones before she smiled then rested her head on his shoulder.

Cloud just held her close to him, breathing her in.

She was his home.

He closed his eyes.

Always.

And every time I try to rise above
I'm swept away by love
Baby I can't help it
You keep me drowning in your love

The End

And yes, I used Radox Muscle Therapy bubble bath

Song: Drowning by Backstreet Boys