Chapter 1: Thinking
Location: Seventh Heaven
Time: 11:00 pm Thursday
The days seemed to be getting longer…and the nights seemed to be getting colder. I dunno…maybe it was just me.
Yeah I had a job…I had friends…very close and special friends at that. I had a home…I had clothes and food. My life was almost complete. Note that I said 'almost complete'.
I mean I was twenty-one years old and never had I been in a relationship with a man. The closest I had ever gotten to the opposite sex was a few years ago…and it wasn't pretty. The love and want had been there…but only from me. Yes, I, Tifa Lockheart 'was' in love with a man who had no feelings whatsoever towards me.
I came down hard onto the counter with a bottle in hand. With my eyes shut tightly and my head hung low, allowing the long never-ending tresses of chocolate brown hair to fall downwards around my face, I forced myself to erase that memory completely. I refused to let myself think of that…that…
I looked up and opened my eyes to stare around at the quiet and completely vacant bar. There was nothing that I could say or do to forget him…and cursing at him was not going to make my life any easier. The feelings that I may have felt for him…and the ones that still may exist somewhere underneath my skin…they would always be with me…reminding me of that night…when those cobalt, depressed looking eyes glared at me so…
I felt a shiver run up and down my spine at the thought of it. I could still see those eyes. They were impressed within my memory and would never leave. They would stare at me every time I closed my eyes when I went to sleep. They haunted me…
I should have never…
Knock, knock, knock…
I heard someone at the door and it startled me, causing the bottle to slip from my alarmed fingers and break into tiny shards all over the recently mopped floor.
I groaned, knowing that I would have to stay down here and clean it all up. I was only minutes away from heading upstairs to a nice long, warm bath as well.
Forcing myself to try and find a bright side to the situation…which was actually quite hard considering the circumstances…I rested my forehead in my right hand which was propped up by my elbow on the counter and called out, "I'm closed…read the sign."
No answer came and I assumed that whoever it was had taken the hint and left. But just as I bent down to start collecting the broken pieces of glass, I heard yet another knock.
This time I was not so polite and practically yelled from my spot on the floor, "I said I'm closed…what part of that is not registering through your thick skull?"
"Excuse me?" came a familiar voice.
It was then that I knew exactly who it was…and I instantly regretted losing my temper.
I stood up and left my position from behind the counter and began to walk towards the door, looking through the peephole just to make sure it was who I thought it was.
Yep…no mistaking that voice…it could only belong to a certain red-haired male who constantly got on my nerves…not intentionally though. He just always seemed to be there with his lame humour, annoying me at the wrong time. And right now was no exception.
I opened the door slowly, allowing a soft breeze to greet my skin, sending the smallest of goose bumps to run up my bare forearms.
"Yes…what is it now?" I questioned, noting that I sounded rather uncouth as I said these words.
He however was so used to this that he didn't pay any attention to my crudeness and simply said, "Uh I left my house keys here tonight I think…I got home and realised that I didn't have them on me. Did you…" he trailed off, as I flung a shiny set of keys at him from out of my back pocket.
He caught them skillfully…like he had done every other night he came here…well at least every third night he came here anyway.
"Had too much to drink again and forgot them did you?" I said mockingly, as I leant on the side of the door, folding my arms and raising an eyebrow at him.
"Yeah I must've." He said, as he flashed me that stupid grin he always seemed to grace his lips with.
"You know…I've always wondered…how is it you get home in a car completely drunk, without ever causing an accident and then when you come back here you're completely sober?" I queried, as I watched his face slightly blush from embarrassment.
I knew that he was never drunk and he always seemed to have a perfect excuse for coming back after hours. Even if he always used the same pretext.
"Yuffie's not here tonight…she's at training." I said after a few moments of dead silence between us.
Yuffie Kisaragi had been my closest friend for a few years now.
The look he gave me was so childlike. It was as if his favourite toy had just broken.
His grin left his face and he reached inside his coat pocket and pulled out a bunch of squashed flowers and handed them to me.
I gave him a confused look and before I could say anything he said, "They're for Yuffie…can you give them to her for me?"
I looked down at the bruised petals and then stared back up at him sceptically, "You know…flowers are best carried by hand."
He nodded and then said, "Yeah I know…but…"
I nodded and finished for him, "But a man such as yourself couldn't be seen holding a few daisy's could he?"
"Hey I have a reputation." He said in defence, as he raised an eyebrow shrewdly.
I smiled at his playful ways and said, "I'll make sure she gets them."
I was about to turn around and head back inside but then something came to mind. I whirled around and said, "Reno…you know, Yuffie is my best friend…I'd hate to see her heart broken."
He stared at me…but this time his expression was serious and meaningful as he said, "I know that…and I don't want to hurt her ever. She means the world to me."
For a moment I just stood there and drifted into a dreamland and imagined that instead of this fiery red head standing before me, it would be a spiky blonde, saying exactly the same thing, except about me.
"Tifa…hey…you okay?" came his voice, as I snapped back into reality.
I nodded and blinked a few times before playing with the yellow and white flower petals, trying to admire their beauty and take my mind of everything. But these petals were bruised…the life they once had was gone. They were now hurt and soon they would die.
"I'll make sure she gets them." I said once again in a whisper, not realising that I had repeated myself.
"You know Tifa…I could always try to get in touch with…" he began, only to be cut off by me once more.
"You know, it's late…I have a large job to do before I go to bed, so goodnight." I said, knowing exactly where his conversation was headed.
I flashed him a quick and meaningless smile and headed back inside, closing the door slowly behind me.
I walked in a daze over to the counter once more, gently stroking the petals, as if trying to comfort them from their pain. As I reached the counter I stepped behind it and opened a cabinet at the back, and pulled out a small vase. I placed the flowers delicately on the bench and began to fill the vase with water from the sink.
My mind began to wander again, as I waited for it to fill. I seemed to stare off into space and just think of nothing…if that was possible.
Suddenly I felt the cold water gently trickling over my hands in tiny streams, all the way down to my fingertips.
I broke away from my thoughts, turned the tap off and poured out a bit of water from the vase so that it wasn't overflowing. I brought it over to the bench and picked up the flowers by the stems and placed them into the vase.
Small puddles of water sat around the base of the vase on the solid wood surface and reflected the light from the ceiling, straight into my eyes.
I tilted my head to the side a bit to avoid the painful glare. The flowers drooped and I knew that they looked unattractive…but to Yuffie they would mean the world because they came from Reno.
Besides it's the thought that counts and the meaning behind the gesture. The looks were just a small bonus.
But then if Reno had of thrown away his pride for half a minute, then maybe they would have looked at least half decent.
Suddenly I heard the chime of the church clock. I listened carefully to see what the time was. A few minutes later I sighed as the eleventh hour sounded through the streets, and echoed throughout the bar.
Yeah it was a little early to close a bar…but tonight was different. Not many people were around this late…especially when they would be arising early for the arrival of the new recruits.
It was a group of men who worked for a force named 'SOLDIER'. I wasn't exactly sure what it was all about, but I distinctly remember Yuffie telling me once that if she wasn't a girl she'd sign up for it in a minute.
I guess it was because she loved to workout and practice her martial arts. I myself knew a fair bit about the art. Well…I guess a little more then a bit. I had been training since I was seven years old. I loved it. I had however stopped when I turned nineteen and began to work at the bar.
But I still practised in my spare time. It was more of a hobby now.
Anyway getting back on track. I had seen in the papers that the force was the most deadly human alliance that ever walked. I wasn't too sure about that…but I wasn't one to speculate. I knew nothing of these people. Except that they were coming to Midgar in order to check the town out for any sign of this guy called Kadaj.
There had been a few articles on him in the papers but I never had the time or will to read anything about it.
I turned back towards the bar floor and began to pick up the broken glass once more.
Location: Tifa's Bathroom
Time: 11:45 pm Thursday
I now stood in my bathroom in my bathrobe about forty-five minutes later. It had taken me at least thirty minutes to collect all of the glass…well most of it anyway…and then I had to mop the floor again just in case.
Stupid me though…I forgot to put on some gloves to protect my hands. I now had at least a dozen cuts all over my palms. I had removed all of the small, sparkling devils from my hands and now all that was left were tiny gashes.
I stood at my hand basin at the back of the bathroom…slowly and carefully bathing my palms in warm salty water. It wasn't as painful as I thought it would be.
Once I had done that I turned to my long awaited bath on my right. It was so warm that I could practically see the steam rising from the waters surface.
I closed my eyes serenely as I removed my robe and slipped my right foot into the pool of comfort. A tingling sensation shot up my leg and thigh, causing me to shiver in a good way.
I then held onto the sides of the bath as I lowered my other foot into the tub and let my body sink into the lavender scented water.
"Mmm…" I trailed off, feeling sleep beckoning me to visit it.
I accepted the invitation without another thought and that was how I stayed for a while.
Location: Tifa's Bathroom
Time: Early Morning Friday
"Hey are you alive in there?"
I jolted from the voice coming from the other side of the door and forced my eyes to open. My vision was blurry and for the first time in a while, I had actually been able to sleep peacefully.
"Yeah…I think so." I groaned sleepily, as I began to leave the bath.
I was so tired. I must have slept for at least two hours. I looked down at my fingers and noticed how wrinkled they were.
Either I've slept for a few decades and I'm now at least sixty years old…or I've yet again allowed myself to sleep endless hours in the bath…knowing that I'd have gross looking skin when I got out.
The latter was more likely.
"Hey whose flowers are these?" Yuffie asked in excitement.
It was obvious that she knew whose flowers they were. I could just picture her eyes glistening with happy tears and her nose being tickled by the petite petals, as she buried it within them, trying to take in the scent.
I thought that I'd be mean and put her out of her happy mood for a second, for interrupting my bath session and said, "Oh…they're mine."
I knew that right now her face had left the bouquet…if you could call it a bouquet…and her eyes were just staring blankly ahead at the door in front of her, as if trying to see me and show me her most confused look.
But hey…what if they were for me? Couldn't that be a possibility?
I was just kidding around of course and wasn't even troubled by the idea of never once in my life receiving flowers from someone other then my father, who had sent some to me on my twenty-first birthday from who knows where?
"But who would send you flowers?" came her truly confused voice, which was quickly ended with a small gasp, as if realising the fault in her words.
"I mean…I didn't mean that Teef…sorry." She said in a rush…clearly feeling worse then she sounded.
I felt a little hurt…of course I did. I mean picture never having a relationship with hugs and kisses and someone to tell you that you meant so much to them. How would you feel if someone said something as simple as Yuffie just said and yet it made you feel like you were the most insignificant human to ever walk the planet? Especially when you were so afraid of the opposite sex, all because of one man and couldn't really do much about it, except hide your true self from the world.
I'm rambling on about nothing. I guess it was my fault. If I hadn't of said something so stupid in the first place we wouldn't be in this mess.
I mean what was Yuffie supposed to say to something like that? She could either keep quiet and I'd still know what she was thinking…or she could have said what she just did. It's not like she could joke around with me and call out different names of guys that I'd been with…because I hadn't been with any.
"Teef…are you okay?" Came Yuffie's voice, a little softer and concern-filled this time.
I then realised that I hadn't answered her.
"Oh…uh yeah. Just drying off." I sung out, as I wrapped the towel around my figure.
"Oh…okay. I might have an early night. I wanna see that new force I told you about tomorrow. Reno's picking me up…so I'll probably be gone before you wake up." She said returning to her normal tone, trying to lighten the mood.
"Yeah okay…have fun if I don't see you before then." I said trying to sound like everything was okay…which it was. I mean it was a simple slip-up. Nothing worth fighting over.
"Hey Tifa?" she questioned, as I made my way to the full-length mirror, which was situated at the end of the bath near the door.
I stared at my reflection and murmured, "Mmm."
"Um…if you want…you can always join me and Reno tomorrow." She offered in a sweet tone. It wasn't fake though. It was genuinely sweet.
I pondered over this for a moment, but then shook my head and said, "No it's okay…I've got plenty of things to do tomorrow anyway."
"Oh…all right then." She replied.
I didn't want to sound ungrateful though so I added, "But thanks anyway."
There was no reply…but I knew that she had heard me.
Yuffie didn't need me to tag along with her and Reno. I mean it would seem too awkward. I was all for hanging out with Yuffie…but I didn't want to feel like the third-wheel, which I knew that I would be.
I focused on my reflection once more…and very carefully this time.
What do I see?
What should I see?
I see a tall girl with olive skin. She has chocolate brown eyes and long waist length, straight chocolate hair. She has a small nose…and I won't go into details about other parts of my body.
She is lonely and has the basics to live. She has her own bar and has good friends. She wants to be happy but she can't be without…
I looked away and shut my eyes. This time I opened them with a new goal.Now…what should I see?
I see the same outside features and I can't really change that, not that I really feel a need to anyway…but what should I see inside?
I'll tell you what I want to see.
I want to see an energetic young girl with an ambition in life. I want more then this bar. I don't want to be lonely. I want the same friends…but I want new ones as well.
Change is always good if it's for the better.I want…I want…
"Well you can't have everything you want." I said to my reflection coldly.
With that I left my bathroom and retreated to my room to get ready for bed.
A/N: Hey there everyone. This is my first story in the Final Fantasy VII section. I have like 3 still going in the Final Fantasy X section. But this story has been on my mind for a while now. So I hope you enjoy it.
I am not as familiar with the game or its storyline as I would like to be. I am waiting for Advent Children to hurry up so that I can see it…and I'm buying the game soon as well. So I have decided that this story will use the same names and characters and all the rest…except with a different plot…and I won't be using Geostigma, Jenova, or the Lifestream etc. I will however use SOLDIER, but that is just going to be the name of the force. They will work under totally different circumstances.
Most of the characters will probably be out of character, but that's because I don't know them too well.
So I'm not even going to try and make them into what I 'think' they are like. It's easier for me to make the characters with different personalities. Plus every other story I've written, the characters are always in character. So I guess this is a bit of a change.
I don't know what you think of the Yuffie and Reno pairing. But I wanted to try something different, as I said before. I have never really seen a Yuffie and Reno coupling. (Maybe there's a good reason).
Usually I like to keep the characters with the right people. Especially when it comes to Final Fantasy X. But I don't really know these people, so it doesn't bother me who they're with.
However, I know Cloud and Tifa enough to know that they will and must be together. ALWAYS! It's them or nothing. Aeris is cool and all…but she is so not for Cloud in my opinion. Sorry to those of you who like that couple (not that you'd be reading this anyway. Except to flame for an unworthy reason) or who don't mind either couple. But I'm very dedicated to keeping the rightful couples together forever. Hehehe!
P.S. My 'A/N' won't usually be as long as this one. It's just to give you a little info for the story ahead.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. The characters and everything associated with this story all belong to Square Enix.