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Title: Haunted People
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII: OGC
Characters: Cloud, Tifa
Rating: PG
Words: 632
Summary: When Tifa comes out of the coma, Lockharts keep grieving. Written for [ profile] blauerschnee.

After Tifa came out of her coma, she almost never came outside. Cloud saw her standing by her bedroom window from time to time, resembling an ice statue with her pale skin and absolute stillness, and Cloud knew that meant she was far from all right. Maybe she'd never be again; Mom's medical book said that recovering from coma was very hard, that it could leave you permanently damaged. Tifa could be broken forever and it would be his fault.

He felt guilty and then he felt pissed, so when Johnny from the shop shouted that he had dropped something, Johnny from the shop got a fist in his face. Johnny didn't talk to him anymore after that.

Tifa could be broken, and there was nothing Cloud could do about it; it was his doing and his responsibility, and yet he had no way to make up for it. Even if he could, he didn't Mr. Lockhart wouldn't let him; Mr. Lockhart was in bad shape himself these days, walking around with an unshaven chin while he was always very clean before, and more often than not he was drunk. After the accident Mr. Lockhart always looked angry if he saw Cloud, but now even that was gone; if he saw Cloud he stared at him like Cloud was something he couldn't comprehend, and then he would look away. The other villagers said he was a ghoul these days, just like his daughter.

Cloud had made them that way, and he could do nothing about it. He punched and kicked and fought until he fell down from exhaustion and bruises, and even that wasn't enough to make anything better.

He saw Mr. Lockhart sitting at the front of his house one night, leaning against the door as he drank, and Cloud stared at him until he lifted his head and looked at Cloud, and there was nothing in his eyes. Cloud stayed there, waiting until the slightest flicker of understanding passed over Mr. Lockhart's face, but it didn't mean anything; Mr. Lockhart's head drooped, as did the bottle in his hand.

"Just go home." Mr. Lockhart's voice was heavy, like he was asleep. "Your mom will worry."

Cloud didn't move, wondering if he got Mr. Lockhart angry that way, but when he didn't move for several minutes and Mr. Lockhart still did nothing, he finally left.

The day Tifa finally came out was gray and on the edge of rain, but Tifa was wearing her favorite dress and her hair was in a ponytail, leaving her bare. Cloud was carrying groceries home when he saw her, and as he noticed her she noticed him at the same time, and didn't look away. Cloud's step froze, the grocery bag weighing his hand down like lead, and though his face was slick and cool with the moist air he burned inside. Tifa looked at him like she had never seen him before, and Cloud counted to the moment she would know.

He saw a raindrop splash on her nose, and as another followed Tifa became stiller than ever as her eyes flooded with emotion, and she whipped around and marched back into the house, slamming the door shut. Rain soaked into Cloud's hair as he listened her scream inside, and he ran home only when he heard Mr. Lockhart's voice join in.

They stayed in their house for a little while longer after that, but when they started coming out again both of them seemed to be at peace, even with darkness in their eyes. Cloud watched as Tifa joined her friends again, as she started laughing again, but even as Tifa finally came back to life Cloud was still angry inside, and he wondered when, if ever, was his turn to find peace.
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