I Don't Own Final Fantasy VII thats owned by Square This Disclaimer Goes For All Future Chapters As Well!
this is the first time that I've ventured onto the Final Fantasy VII
realm. I've taken a little time trying to find a somewhat origianl
theme to write about. I hope I hit on something original instead of a
nerve with this one. I won't give too much away but one of my beta's
did tell me he wasn't the biggest fan of this plot. Be nice with your
reviews and if you see a grammar or content error you want to bring to
my attention please let me know through the messenging system through
my profile instead of leaving it in a review. Enjoy!
Tifa felt her heart grow heavier as she watched Cloud speed out of town on his motorcycle. As the motor bikes engine noise grew quieter Tifa's sobs became more noticeable to her ears. She couldn't believe it. Just a few days earlier, she had been so happy to see the Geostigma Syndrome disease cured. With Cloud and Denzel completely healthy she thought they could start their lives over. By this time all sounds of the motorcycle were dissipated and she could no longer see it. She then fell to her knees crying outside the 7th heaven bar.
Tifa shot up and looked around the room. She sighed when she realized she was once again dreaming. Wiping her tears away, she got out of bed and made her way to the bathroom. Flipping on the light revealed the sleep deprived and teary face of Tifa Lockheart. She stared at her face for a second and then turned on the cold water. The sharp cold of the water woke her up and she continued to finish up her personal morning hygiene ritual of brushing her teeth and taking a quick shower. After wrapping her hair in a towel, she returned to the bedroom.
Her eyes caught a glance of the nightstand, where a picture of Cloud and herself stood. It was taken right after the miracle at the church in the slums a little over a year ago. It was the one picture she had with Cloud that looked like they we're actually together. Cloud was smiling and holding Tifa around her waist. His blue mako eyes were staring at her as she smiled, looking back.
It had been that moment in the picture that Tifa had believed everything was going to be alright. She figured that Cloud would move back in permanently with her and the children, but it was not to be. Shortly after they arrived back at the bar, Cloud fell back into his gloom. He then announced a couple days later that he needed to go settle some unfinished business. Tifa fought to control the tears as she looked at the picture, but the effort was useless. Tears streamed down her face as she recalled the memory and Clouds happy expression after everyone was cured of the Geostigma Syndrome disease.
"Why…why did you leave me?" Tifa slowly drew her finger over Cloud's face in the picture.
It had been just over a year now. The last phone call she had from him was two months after his departure, which lasted less than five minutes. He had asked how she was, how things were going, and to let her know it was going to take longer than expected. When she asked how long, he simply replied:
"I don't know."
It didn't seem fair to her. Tifa had given her entire heart to Cloud, she had even always stayed up later after tucking the kids in when he was running late with a delivery.
The memories of Marlene and Denzel made the knife in her heart cut even deeper. After Cloud's phone call, Tifa had slowly started to break down. She slowly lost her warm and loving smile, and was hardly able to wake up early enough to make the kids their breakfast everyday. True, they did help her with the bar, and she knew she owed them so much more than her constantly drowning herself in self-pity.
It wasn't long before Barret noticed Tifa's gloomy attitude when he visited Marlene on his monthly visit. As much as he loved Tifa, he knew having the kids around wasn't going to help her situation too much, so he took Denzel and Marlene with him back to the new North Corel.
Now all Tifa had to keep her sane was work, and she poured herself into it. She had started memorizing new mixed drinks on the web, and even expanded the bar after closing it for about a month. The bar was stacked with all kinds of new interesting liquors, and tons of mixed drink books lined her shelves.
To the casual observer it would look like Tifa was making something of her life, and turning quite a profit. Patrons noted she had the best drinks in all of Midgar, and she even drew crowds from as far as Junon.
However if you lived with her, which no one did at this point, you would see the demons behind Tifa success. The reason her drinks tasted so good was all the testing she did. On herself.
Every night after closing, Tifa would open one of the books and study a drink. She would mix several variations and then try it. She would then proceed to remix it to taste and try over and over again. During this, her spirits were somewhat lifted, she laughed and talked to herself. Sometimes, if the drinks were strong enough, she'd turn on the radio and dance around the bar by herself. She'd imagine herself in Cloud's arms, as if she were looking into his glowing mako eyes. When she felt the effects wearing off she'd drink more and then submit to the alcohol, usually making it to the bed, but their were times she awoke in the middle of the bar with a splitting headache.
What was worse was the alcohol was starting to lose its effect. Even drinks with 190 proof liquor weren't getting her even mildly buzzed. Instead of her being able to imagine Cloud dancing with her, Tifa began finding herself crawled up in a corner crying and she drank straight whiskey from a bottle.
The only good thing with the alcohol no longer having effect was the absence of hangovers. Tifa did thank God for that; it was her little consolation prize for her life's ordeal.
Walking downstairs she turned barstools over and wiped down the huge bar counter, readying it for business. While dusting off all the bottles, she came to the empty bottle of Crown Royal. It had been her chosen victim last night. Sighing she replaced the bottle with a new one from under the bar.
A knocking on the door drew her attention from her opening duties.
"Were closed till five, come back later."
"Aww, but Tifa I wanna see ya now."
Tifa nearly gave herself whiplash; she recognized the younger voice of the ninja Yuffie. Talking with Yuffie over the internet and phone had been the one thing to keep her somewhat sane. She ran over to the door and unlocked it. Not a second sooner a young ninja opened it and hugged Tifa.
"It's been so long since I've seen you!"
"I know. I've been so busy helping dad rebuild Wutai that I couldn't come to see you. That and Vincent."
"Oh yeah. I was so surprised when you told me about you two. How are things?"
"Humm how about we save that over a nice bottle of vodka perhaps?"
"Yuffie your only 19."
"Aww I'm not drinking my problems away Tiff, just loosening myself up to talk about them."
The sound of Cloud's nickname for her made her made Tifa wince unnoticeably. Looking around she noticed that everything was set up. Usually she'd spend this time just moping around. She'd always try to call Cloud's cell phone but it never worked. It'd go straight to voice mail. Tifa guessed he had either turned it off or stopped charging it.
"So whatcha wanna do? We're gonna be around this gloomy place all night so we better get out and do something."
"Huh? You mean your gonna stay?"
"What, you thought I came all the way from Wutai to just stop in and say hey? I was hoping you'd put your friend up for at least week?"
Tifa grabbed Yuffie into a tight embrace, "Oh you better believe it, its been so lonely around here. I need someone I can have some girl talk with."
"Well let's get outta here and have some fun."
"Sure I needed to get some things for the bar anyways."
At the mention of the bar Yuffie finally realized its growth; her memory recollected it and she remembered that, originally, it would barely hold more than twenty people. Now she could swear over a hundred could easily fit inside the 7th Heaven.
"Wow Tifa, you've really done something with the place."
"Yeah there isn't much to do around here so I've put everything into this place. It's paid off though. I've got more money than I know what to do with now."
"Well, I'm sure we can find something to do with it!" The two girls laughed a little as they walked out of the bar. Tifa locked the door behind them and they started walking down the city streets.
Yuffie looked around smiling, "The place is really taking up. I thought it had grown since that last accident we had, now it's huge!"
"The people here really care about the city. Neo-ShinRa has helped out some too, but people aren't to quick to trust them."
"And they shouldn't! Just cuz Rufus spurted out some stupid promises to make up for ShinRa's past mistakes doesn't mean everything's A Ok."
Tifa smiled at her younger friend. She was always full of energy. Yuffie's hometown of Wutai had a big problem with ShinRa, even going as far as holding an all out war to keep themselves from ShinRa's influence.
"But remember Yuffie, we've got friends in high places there now."
It was true. Cid was chief of the space program as well as chief of Aviation. Reeve was actually the one in charge of the entire company with Rufus holding a position as vice-president. The most dramatic was Barret, whom after bringing North Corel up from the ashes, became head of City Planning and Development at Neo-ShinRa.
Tifa couldn't help but smile at the irony. Her friends were now in charge of the very company they had helped destroy.
"Yeah I know you're right, but still, living under anything remotely connected with ShinRa still gives me the creeps."
"Give it time, Yuffie. People have already started trusting them more since the Geostigma Syndrome incident."
"Oh yeah! That reminds me, any word on Cloud?"
Tifa stopped walking at looked at the ground, "I'd rather not talk about that Yuffie."
"Don't worry about it."
The rest of the walk was oddly silent. Yuffie was too scared to bring anything up. Tifa was unfortunately revisiting memories of events with Cloud. The liquor store came into view.
"Tifa! What can I help you find today?"
A slightly balding man who looked to be in his mid 40's came up to Tifa and Yuffie from behind the counter.
"Hey Mark, I just need to pick up that purchase order I placed yesterday."
"Right I'll go grab it."
"Now Yuffie remember your still underage so…Yuffie?"
Tifa turned around to see she was to late. Yuffie was already wandering around the store ogling the alcohol bottles that lined the walls. Tifa smirked as she grabbed one and was surprised at its alcohol content.
"Tifa do you know this stuff is 190 proof?"
"Yes Yuffie its called Everclear."
Mark came back with a large cardboard box. Tifa started to go through it, inspecting the contents. Yuffie was out of ear shot looking at some of the imports in the back of the store.
"You been doing alright kid?" Mark looked at Tifa with concern.
"Not really Mark. The stuff's lost its effect on me and now things are catching up."
"Kid you shouldn't be so addicted to the bottle at your age. You thought about getting help?"
"It's just... someone who was really important to me just up and disappeared. It's been hard on me."
"Well you need to stop drowning your troubles in alcohol. Trust me it won't make it any better for you. Let me go in the back and get this stuff wrapped up so it won't break when you take it back."
Mark slipped away into the back. His store hand that had been going over an inventory list eyed Tifa. When he saw Mark was out of sight he moved over to the counter and spoke to Tifa.
"So even the hard stuff doesn't work on you now?"
Reaching behind the counter the man took out a bottle filled with a greenish substance.
"Try this then. It'll work. Stuff's called absinthe, gets you drunk guaranteed."
"Oh lets say 50000 gil."
"For one bottle?"
The man looked around to make sure no one heard Tifa's outburst.
"Easy, this stuff's not legal around here. Hard as hell to get by customs. Give me the money and I'll sneak it in with your purchase order. With just a few shots you'll be seeing your little long lost friend."
That did it. Tifa gave the guy the money and he went in back and placed it in the box without Mark noticing. He then came back up front with Mark who placed the sealed box on the counter with the purchase order ready for Tifa to sign.
"Do you need help carrying it back?"
Tifa smiled, "I think I can handle it Mark."
Taking the box and motioning for Yuffie to follow her, the two made their way back to the bar. By the time they got back it was already around five o'clock so they had to hurry to restock the bar and open it for business.
The air was cold and stale. Not even a slight breeze was present this night. Cloud sighed looking up at the stars. It had been one year and one week to the day since Cloud had left Tifa to try and find himself.
Looking down at his hand revealed his turned off PHS.
"This time I'm going to do it. It's been too long."
Cloud's finger hovered over the power button as he prepared himself to face his guilt once again. He knew as soon as the phone booted up it would display the number of voicemails on it; voicemails from a certain Tifa Lockheart whom he had never returned to. Each one would puncture his heart. He had tried the night before, but to no avail. This time however, he was more determined than ever.
Tapping the power button brought the phone to life. Cloud dropped it and turned away as it booted up. A female voice then came up.
"You have one hundred twenty six voicemails."
Cloud collapsed to his knees. That was far more than he had ever thought would be. He grabbed the phone and the screen confirmed the number. "122 Un-Heard Voice Mails."
He hit send and turned on the speaker phone feature. After entering his pin the most recent voice mail played.
"Cloud, its Tifa. Its been exactly one year to the day, today. Cloud I miss you, why haven't you at least called? Don't you know how much this hurts? The kids are still away, its been over half a year since anyone's even been here to see me. Yuffie and I talk over the phone, but she hasn't even been able to make it down. Cloud I know you've turned off your phone, and more than likely you'll never get this message. Please Cloud, come home. There's so much I want to talk with you about. If your still going through hard times please let me help you. Please call me."
The message made Cloud's heart race. As he started to set up a tent, he let the phone play through the rest of the messages. Tifa was sometimes crying or sobbing through the message, others she was clearly drunk. Sometimes she'd yell at Cloud in frustration, and other times she'd be begging him to come back to her.
All the messages made Cloud feel guilty. Then it finally got to the last one.
"Cloud I know you've turned off your phone now since it goes straight to voice mail. Hehe and I may be drunk now, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't talk to me. I love you Cloud Strife, oh man I can't believe I said that hahaha."
Cloud felt his face get red. He was sure Tifa had been so drunk she wouldn't remember the call. Cloud started to day dream until the phone got his attention.
"To save message press seven, other wise message will be deleted in two seconds."
Cloud dove for the phone and pressed the seven button.
"Thank you, message will be saved for seven days."
Cloud stood up and wiped the dirt off of him. He silently, but quickly, packed up the tent and got everything loaded onto His motorcycle. Taking out a GPS, he quickly flipped it on and started tapping his foot impatiently as the synchronization screen came up.
"Come on, come on, do it faster you piece of shit."
As if it was listing to him the display locked onto a sufficient number of satellites and brought up a moving map. Cloud then typed in the Midgar check point and let the unit work. Plotting a route, he jumped onto His motorcycle with the GPS in hand.
"I'm coming back Tifa."
He cranked up the engine and headed out into the sunset.
Well that's it. What trouble is Tifa getting herself into, will Cloud's arrival save her or bring feelings of hatred out. Wait till the next chapter to find out!
Thanks To My Beta Readers: Tishannia, Madcap Minstrel, and Extrenm54