Three Years Later
Thursday 9:28 PM
There's three duffle bags pilled on top of my bed in my room. Or rather, there's three duffle bags pilled on top of the bed in the guest room.
It's amazing the crap you can accumulate over the years. I mean, I don't think I remember buying half this stuff and when the hell did my book collection ever get so big? I need a man to lift all this crap.
Or...something like a man.
I lean out the door, pouting at him, "Help me...Denzel...help me."
He glares at me, "No."
My jaw drops, "Denzel...you slay me."
"Get Seph to help you," Denzel points over his back.
Sephiroth is sitting on the couch, his leg crossed, and reading a newspaper as per usual.
He doesn't look up, "I merely came because I was told that if I didn't Marlene would bind me with my hair and fry my innards. I do not believe I was told to move things or help anyone."
"Seph, I need help."
He tips his head back, looking over his shoulder, "You're a big girl."
My eyes narrow, "Great time to get a sense of humor."
He shrugs, returning to the newspaper.
"Will no one help me?" I ask, "Seriously, I just want to move my stuff out into the front room. I'll carry it down by myself. So please...please please please please!"
"Denzel..." Sephiroth stands slowly.
"Yeah, Seph?" Denzel glances at him, before turning and grinning maliciously back at me.
He charges forward, pushing me in the room, and shutting the door.
I grab the knob, but I hear scraping, and my jaw drops again.
"Denzel! Sephiroth! I will murder you!"
"If you can get out of the room!" Denzel snickers through the door.
I try to twist the knob, but I know they've put one of the chairs from the table up against the door. Bastards.
I growl, kicking the door once, and Denzel yelps in surprise.
"Don't break it! You don't live here anymore!"
"Yeah, I wouldn't if you jackasses would help me with my stuff!"
"No!" Denzel shouts.
I sigh, turning and heading across the room. I open the bathroom door, and slip out the bathroom. It's amazing how clueless Denzel can be sometimes. He's staring at the door, snickering. My gaze travels across the room to see Sephiroth watching me from the couch. He shrugs, unperturbed. At least one of them remembers the bathroom connects to the bedrooms.
I sneak up on Denzel, and grab the collar of his shirt from behind. He yells, and I put him in a head lock, running my knuckles across the top of his head.
Sephiroth sighs from his position as I give Denzel the noogie of his life. Ha. Take that.
Denzel finally frees himself, and glares at me.
"Eventually you need to remember that there is more than one way out of the bedrooms."
He narrows his eyes.
Sephiroth speaks up from the couch, "Honesty, I would've thought you were an adult now Tifa."
I stick my tongue out at him, "Just cause the rest of us weren't born one," I say, and he shrugs again.
"Hey, I have an idea," Denzel says, "Why don't you get–
"Hello loves!" Marlene steps through the door, holding her arms out.
Sephiroth puts his head in his hands, and I hear him mutter, "Oh God it's her."
Marlene walks past the couch, patting him on the head, "Hello, Seph. Anyways, dear hearts, I bring tidings of joy! More specifically, moving men!" she points towards the door.
My jaw drops.
"Holy...Rude?! Reno!" I rush over, grinning.
"It's been a while, toots," Reno gives his wolfish grin.
I shake my head, "Wow, Rude, you're tall. Er...Reno, you're...not."
"Hey!" Reno cries, "You want us to help you or not?"
"Of course! But why are you guys in Midgar?"
Reno rolls his eyes, "Here we are, haven't seen the woman in ages, and all she can ask is why the hell we're here?"
"Well, why are you?" I ask.
"Man's work," Reno says, moving past me.
I shake my head, "I'll take that."
I walk back towards Marlene as Reno enters my room.
I hear him call out, "God I forgot women have so much crap."
I sigh, looking at Rude.
"How are you, Rude?"
I grin, he's still bald, and seems to have adopted sunglasses...even inside.
He isn't blind, is he? Maybe Reno's like his seeing eye dog.
"Yo! Woman! What the hell did you put in these boxes?"
I sigh, moving into the room, "Books, Reno. You know, the things you read."
He's hunched over a box, and glances up at me, raising an eyebrow, "Why would you want those?"
I put my hands on my hips, and he picks up the box.
"Better not to ask questions," I say, and he shrugs, carrying the box out of the room.
I sigh, reaching to pick up one of the duffle bags on my bed. I hear a door open and close, and there's a big commotion. Seems Marlene has invited a few more people for my departure.
There's a discussion, then a gruff voice roars, "Oi! Woman! Get in here!"
No bloody way...
I dash out of my room, and drop my bag in shock.
"Cid! Shera!" I squeal, dashing across the room.
Marlene giggles as I fling my arms around Shera. I hold her back at arm's length, making sure she's real.
"H-how?!" I squeak.
She smiles, "Well–
"We got convinced by this one," Cid gestures at Marlene, "Wouldn't stop friggin callin Shera. We finally relented."
"Guys!" I say, "You didn't have to come!"
"Oh yes they did. Else I'd be about eight levels of pissed off right now," someone says, walking in the room.
I seriously think my eyes are watering up; in comes Yuffie, Vincent, Barret, and Jesse.
I give them all hugs, and Yuffie is laughing loudly. She greets everyone in her own way, punching Reno and Rude's shoulders, and hugging Marlene with a friendly smile.
I'm grinning way too big now, my cheeks hurt. Everyone's talking and laughing, and it's strange seeing all of them together again. I've been visited a few times, but never all at once. It's great, and a bit crazy seeing Marlene talking to Yuffie, and Cid talking to Denzel. It is so strange, but it feels right. I grin widely, throwing my arms around the nearest person. It happens to be Sephiroth.
He glares at me, and I grin, "Oh you know you love it, Seph."
He sighs, but wraps his arms around me firmly, briefly, but at least he hugs me.
"It'll be strange...getting used to not meeting you at the coffee shop," he says, nonchalantly.
My eyes soften as I watch him, "Seph...you've been a great friend. You'll be fine without me."
He shrugs, and I sigh, "You'll have to come visit me, too. You can't get rid of me that easily, Sephiroth."
His eyes narrow slightly when I use his full name, but I shrug it off, hugging him again.
I give a brief kiss on the cheek, "Don't sell yourself short, you'll be fine."
I pull back, giving him a smile. It looks like he could be blushing, but with Seph, one can never be sure.
I turn quickly, diving back into these people I haven't seen in ages. Barret and Reno are hauling up boxes of liquor from the bar. They set it out on the table, and start passing drinks out to people. Marlene laughs with delight, making her way over.
I grin, the door opening again, and I'm not so surprised when I see them.
Zack pauses to hug Shera, and clasp Cid's hand. I don't get a reprieve from Aerith, though. She flings herself in my direction, nearly bowling me over as she hugs me.
She takes a step back, staring at me, "Why Ms. Tifa I do declare, you've grown up nicely."
I grin, "Why thank you, Ms. Aerith. You've got a sharp eye, there."
She laughs, pulling me in for another hug. I'm trying to remember the last time I saw her. I can't, and that's sad.
Course, Costa del Sol is closer to her than Midgar is.
Aerith sighs, "I'm so envious Tifa. Living on the beach, getting to swim! I'm going to be there every other weekend, I swear."
I grin, "You better. We have to make up for lost time. Plus it isn't all that...I've got learn things...more things."
She laughs, looping her arm through mine, and we make our way towards the crowd.
Zack gives me a brief hug, and moves to talk to Sephiroth. It feels like everything is moving to fast as I look around the room. More people are making their way in, friends from high school, friends from Midgar...it's all overwhelming. I love seeing them, and I know they all came to see me off (which was quite the feat I must say) but it's pressing on my head.
Not to mention the fact that it looks like they're going to be drunk soon. Drunk and rowdy and completely uncontrollable. This is going to be the best night ever.
I take a sip of whiskey, Aerith sipping on a mixed drink. Aerith has never really been one for any drink, but she grins at me.
"So, I guess Zack told you the news."
I grin, playfully bumping her hip against mine, "Yes, he did. I can't believe he worked up the courage to do it."
Aerith smiles, "I don't know. He seemed pretty confident about it...did this whole dinner thing; had it all planned out. I told him when we first got really serious...I said, 'Don't you dare propose to me until after we graduate.' I mean, think about it; the last thing I needed over my head during finals was a wedding to plan. I told him I wanted to live a little after we got out of school, ya know? I mean, this way we have time to get jobs, and lives. I can wait to be married, I can wait to have kids. Don't get me wrong, I want to, but I want to live a little too."
I nod my head, "Yeah, that sounds nice. Where do you think it's going to happen?"
Aerith grins, "That little church with the flowers. It's so old, and ruined...sort of tragic, but beautiful."
"Can you fit everyone you want in that little church?"
She scoffs, "Why of course. Ye have little faith."
"Ye are just crazy. Delusional."
"Are too, freak show."
"I'm not a freak show. You're the freak."
"Aerith, dear, please. We all know you're the freak."
"Obviously you haven't been paying attention because you're the freak."
"Will you two cut it out?" Cid whines, "Seriously...you're like a friggin broken record or somethin."
We both stick our tongues out at him, "Hush up grumpy."
He grunts something, turning back towards Barret, and we both bust into a fit of giggles.
Barret rolls his eyes, muttering "Women."
"Girls," Cid growls, ignoring us.
Aerith is more bubbly than usual; she really has no tolerance at all. It's great.
Still, I'm getting overwhelmed again; someone's started blasting music from the stereo in the corner.
I pat Aerith's back and lean into her ear, "I'm going to go get more drinks."
She nods, and I turn to head downstairs.
I descend the steps; I can still hear the music above, and I smile. I'm going to miss Marlene, Denzel, and Sephiroth. I love them all; I love everyone up there. I'm going to miss them all, course, I guess by now I should be used to going to new places alone. It's kind of sad dad's company dropped him before they moved down here, but I think he's happier in Nibelhiem. It's his hometown, and that's where he wanted to stay; plus, mom is there. As long as he's happy, I'm okay with what he does.
I move behind the bar, pulling out a couple different bottles. I put them on the counter, and start rummaging around for a tray to carry it up.
I bet I'll get chewed out by some of them for working at my own party. I don't mind, though. It's enough that they're all here.
My ears perk, though, and I glance towards the door that leads towards the back, and the storage rooms.
I frown, hearing murmured words, and I head towards the door slowly, cautiously.
I raise my fists, edging my way down the hallway, the murmuring getting a bit more clearer.
"...we've known each other for...no, no that's not right. Dammit...what did Zack say?"
I drop my fists, peering through the open doorway of the storage room.
A soft smile crosses my features, and I lean against the door frame. I watch him struggle with himself, his back turned towards me, still mumbling incoherently.
"I thought you had to work."
Cloud turns sharply, fumbling with something in his hands.
"Err...I got off...early," he says, pulling the delivery boy cap from his head.
He runs a hand through his hair, fluffing the spikes back up a bit.
I grin, folding my arms across my chest, "Uh huh."
He nods his head, his hands fidgeting, fingering something.
"What'cha got there?" I ask, nodding my head at his hands.
His face flushes, "Uh...nothing."
I raise an eyebrow, "What?"
"It's nothing," he replies quickly, too quickly, and moves to stuff it into his pocket.
"Oh no you don't. Let me see what you're hiding," I take a quick step inside the room, reaching for his hands.
He flushes further, pulling his hands back, "No! No, Tifa, Tifa please."
"What?" I ask playfully, "What are you hiding?"
"It doesn't look like nothing."
"Well it is nothing."
He sighs, holding his hand above his head, "No."
"You're no fun," I poke his side.
He jerks violently, and drops the object; it falls to sit at my feet.
I bend over and pick it up, holding the red, velvet box back out to him.
He narrows his eyes, "Aren't you going to open it?"
"You said it was nothing. Why would I open an empty box?"
"You need to make up your mind," I say, grinning, prodding him in the chest with the box.
I look up at him, and he stares at me for a moment, before reaching over and taking my hands. He opens the box in my hands, still holding on as I stare down. My jaw drops slightly, and I stare at the silver ring with a little pearl on it.
"It's beautiful," I whisper, staring at the ring.
"I...know it's...not much, but...that's all...I could..."
I smile, looking up at him, "No, it's perfect."
He blushes, averting his eyes, "I...I...uh, Tifa...I, well, I want...uh, what I mean is...w-will you...will you...Tifa, will you–
I throw my arms around his neck and kiss him. He wraps his arms around me, and pulls me close as he kisses me back.
I grin against his mouth, and pull back, "Yes, I will."
He smiles, and pulls back. I put my hands before him, handing him the box. He plucks the little ring out, and gently grabs my hand, and slips the ring on my finger.
"I...I wanted it to be special," he says as I stare at my hand.
I look up at him, "You think this isn't special?" I ask, showing him the ring, "It's perfect, really."
I grin, "I'm positive," I say, wrapping my arms around his neck again.
He leans down and kisses me, and I feel warm inside, right down to my very core. Even as his hands slide beneath my shirt down my back, I can't stop smiling up against his lips. When we break for air, I still have this huge grin on my face. I don't think anything will take it off.
Well, maybe one thing.
"Oh, getting more drinks huh? That's what they call it now a days."
We break off quickly, and I turn around, flushing brightly.
Zack whistles innocently, walking over and picking up a box.
He whistles, and walks his way back over towards the door.
He grins again, grabbing the doorknob, and flipping the latch so that it's locked.
He winks, eyeing the ring on my finger, "I didn't see anything or anyone," he says, shutting the door behind him.
I sigh, turning back to Cloud whose got his head in his hands.
"He'll never let me live that down," he mumbles.
I punch his shoulder playfully, "What're you complaining about? You'll be on another continent. He'll be bugging the hell out of me."
Cloud looks up, meeting my eyes, his a bit sad, "I...I'm going to miss you."
I smile softly, "Hey, you'll be done in December, then you can be with me again. That's what, only six months from now? We've had worse."
He sighs as I put my hands on his hips, his gaze traveling around the room, "I guess I did tell you not to wait on me."
I kiss him, smiling slyly, "It's a good thing I never listen to you then."
A/N: Snarky Zack...perverted Zack...gah! I CANNOT believe this is over. It's freaky, really. FREAKY. Anyways, if any of you are confuzzled, Tifa's going to Costa del Sol for her masters, and Cloud's still finishing up his edumacation at Midgar. Since he was a transfer student and all, he got behind...yep, he sure did. SO it's over. I know I keep saying that but jeeze! It's over! Crazy. Anyways, I want to thank everyone for the encouragement and support through this fic. The story line changed several times, I must say. I had a couple other things planned, but I completely scraped them. They were ridiculous. RIDICULOUS. They were, really. I hope you all liked this epilogue, I know it's a bit fluffy, but it isn't fluffy. I kinda wanted to keep you in the dark abou their relationship and where it had gone for as long as possible cos I'm evil like that.
Anyways, thanks to Alexia Alexendra, Alice001, AlwaysHiei, Alyde, Bahamuts AngelVII, Bloo.Chocolate, Bluishorbs, Calistar Heir, ChErRyBlOsSoMs-FlOwErOfDeAtH, City of Dis, CrimsonPromise, CrystalBlueRose, Doctor Kiba, Ethear, Faerex, Final Haven1205, FinalSerenity, Free The Dancing Lamas, Just Mystical, Kelenthial, Kingdom Keys16, Kitty-Cat89, LayDSuLJiah, Lenore Hepburn, Lisilgirl, LockhartVII, Lord Sparta, LoveIsAForceOfNature, Mayarider, MakoRain, Max927, Meiliona, MindlessManiac, Missyesque, MorbidXAngel, Niktastic, NShadows, Pepsi216, RhyssaFireheart, Sephiroth2021, Sheiky, Teef Lockheart, Tibbar Sabertooth, Toons, Untold Secrets, Ur1Nonly, archangel3000, callisto-78405, cerberus angel, ciher, cricketchick1990, dagenn, dreaming.saphire, evenstarfictionfan, fire-angel-of-death322, ialwaysforgetthings, lockheart1, mike tike tofu, purple parasol, reader713, saishenoyama, scooter510, shirilyle, sportiegrl, sweetsimplicity, theDr., timekeeper1824, xTxNxLx.
And to everyone else who reviewed and read this story...thanks!