The Memory

"How fucking long does it take to deliver a god damned pizza?" shouted Barret in his deep husky voice.

"I hope it comes soon, because I'm hungry," Tifa said.

" Who cares as long as it gets here," said Cloud, his Mako blue eyes glaring at the door, his thin, muscled arms crossed over his chest.

Finally there came a knock at the door. Barret looked at it and said,

"I'll go give him a piece of my mind the little…" but Tifa interrupted him.

"Don't be mean to him, he is only doing his job!"

"I'll do as I please! I hate when they get here late. They said the pizza would be here at 5:30! It is 6:25 now! Please! I am going to answer it". He stormed to the door. Cloud and

Tifa heard the door slam open, then Barret's deep voice booming down the hall.

"WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS! YOU ARE 55 MINUTES LATE! I'M STARVING!"

Then Tifa and Cloud heard Barret check the box, and he started to shout again.

"I HATE ANCHOVIES! YOU LITTLE… ERRRRR! ..." Barret threw the box on the ground, and they heard a shrill cry of:

"Don't KILL ME! I don't want to die Sir"! Then the door slammed louder than it had been opened. Barret stomped back into the room, panting like a wounded rhino, his face drenched with sweat. Cloud looked at Barret for a moment, his cold blue eyes like ice, which made Barret shiver for a moment, not out of fear, but out of knowing what made them so odd.

Barret threw himself into a chair, it groaned under the weight and force he exerted on it.

"Fucking little idiot! I should have pounded him into the ground! Next time I will!"

"Barret, now that you made our food run off, what do you think we should eat?" asked Cloud, his voice emotionless.

"DAMNIT! I'll cook, and then we will eat!" He flung himself out of the chair, knocking it over in his rage.

Ten minuets later, the kitchen was quickly filling with dense black smoke. Barret came running out, bellowing various exclamations of "SHIT!" or "DAMN!" He ran and got the fire extinguisher, and ran back into the smoke. Soon the smoke wafted into the living room, and Tifa opened the window.

"Whatdidyoudointhere!" she exclaimed, as the nasty smell filled her nose. She coughed.

It took ten minutes for the smoke to dissipate enough to see. Then there was a soft 'tap' at the door. Tifa went to answer it, and said, "Who is it?"

"Aeris," came a sweet alto voice from behind the door.

"Oh kiddo, it's you! Sorry 'bout being so gruff. Come in, make yourself at home".

Aeris stepped in, carrying a basket and making a face as the smell hit her.

"What is that bad smell?"

"My worst attempt at cooking, ever. I have never had to cook since Myrna died." Tears began to fill Barret's eyes as he said Myrna's name. Tifa went over to him, putting a strong reassuring arm around his shoulder, which was hard because he was much taller than her.

"It's okay Barret, she's in a better place than this horrid world now, you don't have to worry about her. You will see her in heaven, when it is your time." She tried to comfort him, but her words only made him cry.

"Look at me! A big tough man, breaking down to tears! I am supposed to be strong, strong for Marlene, but I am the biggest wuss! I just have to mention her name, and I start blubbering like a baby!" He sank into a chair near him, and accidentally dragged Tifa with him, because he had forgot that she was holding onto him. He put his head into his huge hand, leaning it against the chain-gun that was his right hand. Tears continued to flow down his dark face. Aeris put the basket down in front of him, and said as cheerfully as she could manage (it was hard to see him cry), "I brought your favorite kind of steak. I think you will enjoy the recipe I made with it. Come now, it is okay to cry." She patted him on the shoulder, and started to unpack the basket.

"Aeris, do you know if Vincent or Cid, Yuffie or Red Xlll will be back"? Asked Barret, lifting his head and taking Aeris' hand in thanks.

"I do not know," she said.

"Cid and Yuffie are at the bar, what with Yuffie only being 16! I bet you that Cid made a move on her when he was drunk, and ended up in a ditch somewhere! He's twice her age! She's not even allowed in bars," said Tifa, who shook her head.

The door suddenly began to shake violently, as the person who was knocking was doing it really forcefully. Then the door swung wide, and Cid flew into the room, headlong, landing on his face, and laying still for a second. Then he belched, indicating that he was not hurt too badly, and said, "Welllll…. Ex… cuse…me!"

Yuffie walked into the room, stepping on Cid as she did, and he groaned. She pretended not to notice.

"Hiya! How's it going?" she asked, as she trod on Cid's head, and going to hug Tifa. Cid moaned, and stirred, but didn't get up. Aeris stepped over to Cid and knelt down, drawing out a small vial from a pocket as she did.

Cid glanced up at Aeris, and started to drool. "Hey babe… could I he…lp you take… that dress off…?" He slurred his words badly, as he eyed her chest.

"You're a pretty…one…soooo how's…boutit…kay?"

"Thank you Cid. Will you please open your mouth?" she asked, politely.

Cid thought, 'Shouldn't I be the one asking her to open up?' But he opened his mouth, and Aeris dumped the contents of the vial down his throat. Cid spluttered and coughed, then he shook his head violently from side to side.

"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? WHY CAN'T A POOR OLD, DRUNK PILOT, GET ANY PEACE 'ROUND THESE PARTS?" He jumped up, and massaged his head.

"Damn my head hurts! What is that about? Hangovers aren't till in the morning!"

Then he caught the smell of food on the table.

"Yum! I smell FOOD! YAY! Food! Can I have some?" Cid dropped to one knee, hands clasped out in front of him.

"Yes Cid, you can join us. Come eat with Yuffie."

"Ummmm… Smells good. I think I'll join you."

As Yuffie walked by Cid, he mysteriously fell over, without warning. As he scrambled to get back up, he tripped over the fallen chair, and hit his head. He made a face, biting back a curse, but failed, and shouted, "GOD FUCKING DAMNIT YUFFIE!" He glared at her furiously, and she batted her eyelashes at him.

"What Cid? Mad at me because you don't have a sense of balance? I'm 16, you can't get mad at me for getting you drunk, because I am not 'allowed' in bars." She smiled fondly at the pilot as he sat down next to her.

"Where are Red Xlll, and Vincent and Cait Sith? Are they coming?" asked Yuffie, who looked out the window, and noticed it was raining. As if in answer, a shadow crossed the window. It looked vaguely human, with a billowing cape. Cloud jumped up, reaching for his overly large sword that was almost as tall as him. It was shield like in its width, and extremely heavy. He hefted it with ease, as a red and black blur flew through the window. It was Vincent, his long cape fluttered as he did a beautifully timed somersault, landing a few inches from Cloud.

He looked Cloud in the eyes, looked at the sword, and nodded to Cloud, as if Cloud's sword was a hand out for greeting, not defense. He sat on Yuffie's other side, and helped himself to some ribs. He ate carefully, and with deliberation. Cloud put the massive blade away, sheathing it neatly into the scabbard, not even bothering to check to see of it had gone in, he just knew. His gaze fell on the newcomers, and then he looked at his plate, and began to eat. Conversation was sparse, and it was mainly Tifa and Yuffie who spoke. Vincent put in the occasional morose comment, or a spared word. Yuffie wanted him to talk, for some reason, Vincent Valentine; the tall, silent and darkly handsome man had a strange effect on her.

Ever since she had witnessed his transformation into Chaos, she had had this strange longing to know what he felt like. It was a little sexual, but mostly curiosity, for how could a man who harbors that kind of power and that kind of violence inside him, be a real lover? He barely spoke, and when he did, it was short, curtailed comments, that were completely logical, and usually right. He intrigued her greatly. She tore her eyes off Vincent, and began to eat as well, though she dropped a few ribs as an excuse to touch him, in hopes of getting him to speak.

Dinner was finished quickly, and Aeris and Tifa did the dishes. The rest of the party sat in the living room, talking of the day's events.

"Yah, I got the Highwind working again. We will be able to leave soon," said Cid. His eyes went misty when he mentioned the Highwind.

"Good! This goddamned place is getting on my nerves. I hate being confined!" said Barret, thumping down his mug of coffee, (which he takes black) and spilling it on the carpet.

"I have found more information about Shinra. They are moving to outside Nibelhiem, and starting a plant there," said Vincent, looking at Cloud.

"WHAT? They can't do THAT!" shouted Tifa, looking dismayed at the fact that Shinra would do such a thing.

"Yes, they found an abundance of Mako in the area," was the simple reply.

Cloud merely looked at Vincent, then he continued to lay his head against the back of the Lazy-boy he was sitting in. Tifa looked at Cloud with concern.

"You don't seem to care! For all it was the place we grew up in!"

Cloud looked up, and regarded Tifa with a look of utter relaxation.

"I am not afraid, because I know we can stop them."

"Are you so sure? You look all tough, but I bet it hurts deep in your apathetic little mind Cloud Strife! You hear about your hometown being in danger, and you just shrug it off like a mere inconvenience! I never understood why being stoic is such an appealing thing to you. You confuse me Cloud," accused Tifa, pointing a gloved finger at him. He simply looked at her again and put his head back.

"Please Tifa. You are giving me a head ach, stop the effing shouting," complained Cid as he lit up a cigarette, taking a long drag, and tapping the ember off the end. He blew four smoke rings, and took another drag. He looked at Yuffie.

"We didn't get much information, now did we, my little darling?"

"As a matter of fact, I did. I got quite a bit of it, while you drank yourself into and oblivion, and then hit on me in between drinks. I had to really restrain myself from just poisoning your next one."

"Aw, you wouldn't do that to me now would you, darling?" asked Cid, with a little look of panic written on his long face. "Or would you?"

"I most certainly was about to, if we hadn't left before I could get to your next drink," she replied, a look of mischief in her brown eyes.

"Well what did you learn?" asked Cloud, looking at Yuffie with interest.

"I learned that the locals are mad at the governor, who seems to be taking orders from Shinra, and they are looking for something they call 'Weapon'. I did not learn what the Weapon was, or why they are looking for it, I would assume for either killing things, or for digging for Mako. But I could be wrong…" Cid interrupted her,

"WHERE THE FUCK DID YOU LEARN ALL OF THIS? I TALKED TO A FEW PEOPLE AND LEARNED NOTHIN' ABOUT THIS WEAPON THINGY!"

"I talked to the guard at the door. It helps to be young, female, and cute. I teased it out of him with a few naughty things, and he gave in. He was looking kinda lonely anyways." She smiled wickedly, and laughed.

"YOU LITTLE FLERT! YOU 'TEASED' THE GUARD! YOU ARE WORSE THAN I THOUGHT!" raged Cid, who dropped his cigarette on the floor, because it had fallen out of his mouth.

"I accept your gratitude Cid, you don't have to be so kind, and shower me with praise like that," she said, shooting daggers at Cid, leaning in close to him.

"If it had been left to you, we all would have not known about Weapon! Be happy one of us was doing our job," she added in an undertone that only Cid could hear.

Cid looked taken aback by this comment, and he looked away.

"Yah, yah. Good fucking job, blah, blah, blah. You win. Good job."

Cloud looked at Cid and shook his head, then returned to napping.

"Is that all?" asked Barret, who had taken over Cloud's spot as the leader because Cloud was in need of sleep, so he let him rest.

"Yes, that is all Barret. I have no more useful information. I am tired, it is late, and I want to sleep." Yuffie looked at the clock, and saw it indeed was late; it was around 11:37pm.

She yawned, and left the room, and went to bed.

"You had a rough night I take it Cid? You'd better watch yourself, or she might slip you some poison," teased Tifa, grinning at him.

"I'll 'slip' her something, next time I get a chance. She is a feisty one that one. I am taken!" said Cid, who couldn't take his eyes off of Yuffie's bedroom door.

Tifa looked at what he was staring at, and said, "I seriously would watch your self carefully then, because getting that close might be painful."

"Yah, painful in a good way," replied Cid.

"Okay, suit yourself. I am going to bed as well." Tifa looked at the rest of the group, smiled cheerfully, and went to bed.

"We leave tomorrow then?" asked Barret.

"Yes, tomorrow," Cid muttered, still staring at Yuffie's door.

"Good, then I'm off to hit the sack." Barret heaved himself out of the chair, and went to his room.

Cloud woke at that moment, and without saying anything, left to go to his room.

"Good night," said Aeris, and went to Tifa's room, because they shared a room.

"Vincent, you sleeping tonight?" questioned Cid.

"No, I have things I must contemplate."

"Well, see you in the morning."

"Good night," said Vincent.

Cid walked over to Yuffie's door, and jiggled the handle.

"Damn girl. Locked the door," he muttered, before wandering off to the spare room where Cait Sith and Red Xlll slept.

Vincent glanced out the window, and then sat back, looking at the door. He let his eyes glide around the room, before he went to the window, and crawled out. He had something he needed to do…