Disclaimer: FFVII? Not mine. Tifa? Not mine. Cloud? Heh… I wish. Squaresoft-Enix has that pleasure.
Author's notes: This takes place several years after the events of AC. Also, this is my first fic, and English isn't my first language. Please don't be too harsh. Oh, and this is most definitely a Cloti. Enjoy!
Setting The Record Straight
Cloud Strife entered the warm and bustling atmosphere of 7th Heaven with a sense of relief. He had just returned from his last delivery of the day, and although it hadn't been tiring, the night was rather cold and the warmth of the bar was more than welcome.
Making his way to the counter, his eyes sought out the proprietress of the bar and found her as usual, doing a juggling act of mixing drinks, lending an ear (or both of them) to her customers and taking orders as well as passing them on to the chef in the kitchen. In the years that had passed, business at 7th Heaven had expanded and they had hired more staff and were now capable of efficiently serving more customers.
Although today it seemed like Tifa was understaffed and looking slightly flustered, judging by the frustrated way she kept blowing at her bangs. Weekends always pulled in a larger crowd, but as one of the waiters had called in sick, service was a little slow and customers were all but screaming for their orders. Looking up from the drink she was mixing, she caught him watching her bemusedly.
She gave him an exasperated smile and said, "Cloud Strife, I'm glad you find this all so amusing, but could you please send those drinks to table 3?" She nodded to a tray on the counter top.
With a low chuckle, he nodded at her and picked up the drink-laden tray. Tifa flashed him a grateful smile before turning back to her customer. Cloud made his way to table 3 and groaned inwardly. The patrons at that particular table were all women, and from the looks of it, giving them another round of liquor was a bad idea.
As he went about unloading the tray, one of the women, slightly tipsy and made bold by alcohol, flashed him what she must have thought was her most seductive smile. "Hey, handsome," she purred. "I've seen you on that big bike of yours around Edge. What say you give me a ride tonight?" she said suggestively, leaning back to show off her cleavage and lightly running her fingertips along his forearm that was extended to collect her empty glass.
Totally nonplussed, Cloud retrieved his arm, fixed her a look that clearly meant "touch me again and die" and simply walked back to the bar counter. Tifa had been watching the entire scene and could guess what had happened, judging by the way the woman's friends were now laughing at her. The woman herself was wearing a look of total indignation.
"Sorry, Teef," Cloud said as he stepped behind the counter. "I think I just cost you some customers." He rubbed the back of his neck, not looking in the least bit sorry. Tifa grinned at him and said, "No worries, I'll go deal with it. You take over here." As she passed him, she patted his cheek fondly.
Nearing table 3, Tifa could hear their conversation. "And I bet he only rides that monster and carries that silly big sword 'cause he's trying to compensate for something," the scorned woman was saying loudly to her friends. They laughed uproariously at the insinuation.
Tifa rolled her eyes and cleared her throat. "And how are you ladies doing this evening? Everything alright?" putting on a smile as she asked. As they made their little comments and praises about the food and drinks, the woman Cloud had brushed off interrupted by asking, "What's up with that blonde guy?" pointing over Tifa's shoulder. Tifa glanced over her shoulder, and replied, "Oh, Cloud just isn't the talkative sort. And he's a little tired right now."
"Too bad. He has such pretty blue eyes though," the woman sighed. Tifa smiled indulgently at her. The woman took another sip of her drink and added, "Maybe i'll try my luck again tomorrow night when he's not too tired," she smirked.
Now that had to be headed off immediately. Still smiling, Tifa said apologetically, "I'm sorry, but we'll be closed tomorrow. It's my son's birthday, and the whole family's going out to celebrate." Hearing about her son, one of the woman's friends asked her, "How old is he? You look kinda young to be a mother."
Tifa laughed lightly. It was a comment she often received whenever she told people that she had a child. She didn't mind; she loved her family. "Well, he'll be 3 years old tomorrow. He's got my brown hair," she said, and then looking directly at the woman who had been hitting on Cloud, "and his father's pretty blue eyes," she finished.
The women at the table gasped and all heads turned to the most outspoken of them all. She had at least the presence of mind to look mortified. Tifa decided that it would be kinder to walk away then but couldn't resist adding one final comment.
She bent her head towards the women, and said in a low voice as if she were talking to fellow conspirators, "And just to set the record straight, it isn't for compensation. It's more of a representation." She straightened, bestowed the group a dazzling smile and walked back to the counter.
The woman's jaw dropped as the meaning of Tifa's words dawned on her. Frantically she took out her purse and dug out a handful of gil. Dumping it on the table, she made a hasty exit, her friends trailing after her.
When Tifa went to clear their table moments later, she found a generous tip. She walked back to the bar with the money, giggling to herself. Cloud quirked an eyebrow. He had seen the manner in which those women had left. "What did you say to them?" he asked the still giggling woman. "Oh, nothing much. I just set the record straight," she replied.
With that, she snorted and burst into a fit of laughter, throwing her arms around Cloud's neck. "Oh Cloud honey, I think you're gonna have to start wearing a sign that says "I'm married with kids" around your neck or we'll lose even more customers," she said jokingly. He gazed at her, arms encircled around her waist, and replied with a straight face, "Only if you'll do the same. I can't keep punching out every customer that hits on you."
Tifa laughed again, and gave him a quick kiss. "Well, at least they leave big tips," she said. This time Cloud laughed along with her.
Done! Please R&R. It doesn't take long. Your feedback is very much appreciated asI plan to keep writing. Thanks!