Rain droplets, no matter how anyone looked at it the sound of rain always had a calming effect. The sound of it dropping against the city streets, roof and window edges was a sort of lullaby to one particular little boy, the only child born to two former unknown heroes.
It's raining outside, and the boy looked out from the second floor of his home, his knees squeezed the cushions near the windowsill as he watched the water trail down against the window, he eyed the water like any child would eye a toy in a toy shop or a piece of candy.
To him the rain was no different, it was still fun to watch, and truth be told, it was the only thing that could him to sleep. It was much better much than his mother's lullaby. He shook at the thought, okay, nothing was better than his mother's lullabies.
The light from doorway brightened part of the room. His mother sighed in disappointment as she stepped further into his room, but she didn't scold him like she used to instead she walked, her barefooted on the wooden floorboards toward the windowsill.
Then she sat down on a second cushion, the one beside her son's and stared out into the night sky. "I like the rain mom." Her young six-year-old smiled turning to her. "I know." She replied. The little boy rested his head on her pajama pants and looked at her before he begged, "Can I please stay up mom! PLEASEEEE!"
His mother, Tifa chuckled and answered, "Okay, only for fifteen minutes." Her son seemed happy with this and went back to watching the rain dripping down the window glass. Fifteen minutes passed by as it were only mere seconds, and Tifa finally told her son to go to bed.
The little boy sulked at first, however he did what he was told. Tifa trailed behind him as he walked over to his bed. She bent over to tuck him in.
"Yes Solas?" Tifa looked down as her son's eyes peered into her own. "Are you and dad okay?" He questioned. She was taken aback at that question there wasn't anything relatively wrong between her or Cloud, however he had been distancing himself again. 'It's nothing.' She told herself. Tifa knew Cloud, so she was sure that it was nothing, in either way if he wasn't ready to tell her something then he wouldn't tell her, she knew that if she pushed him, it would most likely drive him away again. So it's best just to wait. "Yeah, everything is going to be fine between us, your dad will tell me when he's ready to." She assured him while pulling his blanket to his chin.
"Are you sure?" He asked. "I'm sure." Tifa replied as she brushed her fingers through his brown hair. Solas smiled while he snuggled his blanket. Tifa slowly got up and walked out of the room, and stopped once she reached the doorway. "Don't try and sneak out of bed okay, because I'll know when you do." She warned him in a gentle manner. "Okay mom." He replied while suppressing a yawn. Tifa smiled before she finally closed the door to her son' s room.
She walked down the small set stairs, and entered her room. Her eyes widen for a brief moment. Cloud was awake. Not only awake, but disconnected mentally. As if there was something troubling him.
Suddenly something caught her attention from the corner of her eye. Amidst their concrete bedroom floor was a bag, unzipped and stuffed with various items from a few sets of clothes to Materia. Tifa shook from the inside as she approached their bed and sat down on her end. "Cloud." She called him. He didn't sense her presence. She spoke his name again. He jolted slightly, now aware that Tifa was in the room.
"Is everything alright?" She asked. "Yeah." Cloud answered. "Why won't you tell me about it?" She asked. Cloud turned to her. Tifa pulled her knees up at stared at the foot of the bed, waiting for him to answer. "I'm going to head out again. I don't know how long I'll be gone this time." He admitted. Tifa slowly turned to him, her face written with shock. "What do you mean you don't know how long you'll be gone?" She added. Cloud slowly lowered the helm of his shirt
His skin had an uneven patch of pigmentation; a small grayish shade was invading his normal pale complexion. The gray went up from his shoulder to the side of this neck, covering the area where his jugular was. "Cloud––"
"It's called degradation. And there's no cure." Cloud interrupted to explain his condition. Tifa mouth hung open slightly as she turned away from him. It was like Geostigma all over again. She took a deep breath, and turned to Cloud. He looked back at her, knowing what she was thinking 'Is contagious or is it a genetic trait that their child will get?' Cloud wasn't so sure himself, but he hoped that Solas wouldn't develop it.
That's why he had to go…to seek answers, and he knew the first place he visit was Nibelheim. The former homeland that Sephiroth had destroyed, and later rebuilt by Shin-Ra as a cover up to eliminate the evidence that took place there.
"I don't know if this is transmittable, but I'll find out."
Tifa remained, seemingly unsatisfied with his answer. She should be, they were in the peak of their lives, and she had the family she never dared to dream of. Now things would be snatched away again. She had the right to be dissatisfied, but she wasn't. It wasn't his fault; if anyone was to blame it was she for not realizing this sooner. Maybe she hadn't completely repented her sins.
Her eyes widen bit by bit. She wasn't the only one being punished here. Cloud was too. That thought brought her back; she couldn't just surrender to her helplessness. No, her family needed her; Cloud needed her to be strong. And that's what she's going to do. She'll be strong for him, for their son Solas, Denzel and Marlene. It wouldn't be easy, but she knew that's her role as the matriarch.
Deep down, she also knew Cloud didn't want to leave them, but he had to. She wouldn't stop him from doing what he had to.
"Go." Her heart wrenched when those letters came out from her mouth, she said it again. "Go, but come back to us every now and again…and remember you'll always have a home here with us." She meant those words, his home was here now with her and their children. If he were ever in any trouble then she wanted him to know he could come back whenever he wanted to.
"I know, I won't be alone as long as have you all by my side." Cloud replied. She smiled.
'That's right, you never will be Cloud.'
Some time later after Cloud finished packing, he walked over to Solas' room. Tifa stood behind him; her hand laid on his shoulder as he looked down at their little boy. Cloud knelt beside his bedside and placed his hand on top of their son's head. The boy's brown hair pressed down from the weight of his father's hand, but he remained asleep completely oblivious to everything around him.
"Don't think of this as a goodbye, because I will be back Solas…I will come back, someday. Till then you need to stay strong for you mother, and for Denzel, and Marlene." Cloud closed his eyes before he took a deep breath. Tifa squeezed his shoulder in reassurance. He slowly opened his eyes and continued.
"Don't forget; never let the darkness take you over. Stay on the path of light. And never lose sight of who you are."
Solas went "mhmm…" before he turned to lie on his side, while showing no signs of waking. Cloud took Solas' response as a sign that the words of a father had reached to the son.
Cloud slowly stood up without taking his eyes off the boy. Tifa moved next to him and leaned her head against his shoulder; she too kept her eyes fixed on their son. "Raise him well." Cloud told her. "You know I will." She replied.
The following events that took place sped up in Tifa's mind, one minute Cloud was saying his goodbyes to the children, then they suddenly were downstairs in the barroom. Seconds later there she was, standing outside her bar watching as Cloud climbed on the Fenrir, with his travel bag strapped on his rain soaked shoulder.
He put on his goggles, and revved the engine.
Tifa raised her hand and waved. Cloud sped off from the district and headed for the highway that would eventually lead him out of Edge-City.
She was grateful for the rain as it subsequently hid her disguised her tears. She knows he'll come back. That was defiant. Her thoughts then turned to three other people in her life, Solas –her first natural child– The little boy was a piece of him that she could hold on to for the time being, Denzel the boy that Cloud had brought from Aerith's church –though he was a teenager now– he was the first child she and Cloud had brought up together.
And then there was Marlene, she was her daughter although she didn't give birth to her, however Tifa knew the girl since she was four-years-old, and she raised her alongside Barret, and later on, she and Cloud took care of her while Barret was still in Corel.
Despite the fact that she now faced the challenge of raising three children by herself, she still smiled for she knew that it wasn't a burden but it was a pleasure. Being a mother was in her nature, and she knew she could do it.
"We'll welcome you back Cloud, and I will be here, holding our smiling child as you walk through the door." Her spoke as the gust of wind rushed by…taking her words with it as it passed.