Move Along: Chapter 4

Sunlight filtered cheerily through the dusty blinds covering my window. But I wanted none of that. I had a decent headache which made me want to stay put more than anything. Trying to continue sleeping at least gave the illusion that I didn't have to deal with the hangover... Just yet, I guess. Being as accustomed to alcohol (when consumed by patrons or friends, more like it) as I was, I knew that pretending wouldn't help at all. Maybe I was more afraid of the random snippets that would filter up in my memories...?

... Yeah... There they are... I held my forehead as I sat up, vivid images of vodka and red cloaks springing to mind. Did Vincent really...? And Gods I hope I didn't actually...

"Ooh..." I groaned. The worry was already creeping into me. If I really kissed him, then... Did he go home and scrub his face like he'd just locked lips with a toad? What if he never comes near me again? I alienated him! That was the last thing he needed. Way to go there, Tifa. You just set him back another ten years or so. Probably in his coffin as we speak...

Once the crazy, perhaps paranoid, conclusions slowed down, I hauled my 'icky' feeling self out of bed and pulled on a pair of holey jeans and a paint splotched tank top. I had some chores to do, and it served me right for collapsing into booze. Since when do I do that? I don't. I must be really losing it... If he were still here, at least every once in a while... I can't rely on him though, can I? May have been drunk, but didn't I say that last night?

Exactly. Right. I can deal with that. If he thinks I'm going to just become some old maid waiting for him, Cloud has another thing coming! I knew I was just blowing steam... Venting was all I really had at the moment, and oh Gods, it was hard to be angry while I felt like running to that wonderful porcelain bowl... Just focus on cleaning. That was always easy enough. Forget about the problems from the night before, just get ready to open the Seventh Heaven and make some money. I set myself to mopping and scrubbing the wood floor as a wave of nausea flew through me. I held it down somehow, focusing all the more on cleaning. The pine tree scent was a bit strong however, so I worked faster and harder to keep my mind off.

How long was I going to have to wait for him...? Apparently doing maintenance on the establishment wasn't enough to keep my brain occupied. So I let my thoughts wander... Things have always been the same for Cloud and I. From time to time, I wondered what would have happened if I had told him all those years ago at the well that I liked him best. Would we be together now? Or would Aeris have come between us anyways...? The immediate answer I met with turned my stomach. I had a feeling that maybe Cloud would have been lost to me either way... Why was it so hard to lose to someone who was no longer around? I loved Aeris myself... How could I not? But I'm still so jealous. So angry. So terrified that Cloud's heart was once mine, but will never be again.

I lost it. And to someone who has it locked so securely in her grasp, that no one can take it away from her. Not even from the watery depths that are her resting place. Knowing all this, it's still so hard to let go. I always end up thinking "If I just love him enough..." Why do I do that to myself...? Because I don't have a choice. We don't choose who we love... Only what we do with that feeling.

After clearing the last traces of foreign substances out of the corner, I stood up with my scrub brush in hand. A little too fast it seemed. The blood rushed suddenly to my face, and I felt faint. Immediately I dropped back to my knees as the room spun. Again I saw red...

I muttered an "Oh no..." under my breath after I felt a pair of hands on my shoulders. I could already see the raised eyebrow in my mind... He always did that.

"... Should I leave you then?" He almost sounded sarcastic. I shook my head in response.

"No, no... It's not that. I just... Can I sit down?" I asked sheepishly. There was another pause.

"You are seated, Tifa." Was he making a joke...? Not funny Valentine.

"Yeah. Nevermind I guess-" Though my statement was cut short when I felt myself lifted by my waist, and deposited safely in one of the nearby chairs. Through my nausea I managed to blink.

"Better?" Vincent asked tonelessly. I could only nod. It was then that my memory so kindly decided to throw the image of my drunken assault to the forefront of my mind. I'm pretty sure my face went bright red. Vincent suddenly shot a hand out to feel my forehead and I almost flinched. I don't imagine that would have been very nice.

"W-what's wrong?" I asked uncertainly. His brows knitted together.

"You were pale, when your face flushed." All I could do was gawk. Curses... I did blush...

"No, I'm all right, really..." He kept his hand steady on my forehead. Which meant he was unconvinced. Without saying another word, he stood and made his way towards the bar. I buried my face in my hand and groaned under my breath. As if what happened last night wasn't enough... Now he's trying to watch over me again. And I have chores to do...! Ha... That was an empty rant, to be honest.

Then I almost jumped out of my seat when I felt something ice cold on my forehead. Thank goodness he caught me, or I'd have probably banged my head into his, knowing my luck.

"Be careful please." Was his only response. I found myself just sitting still, allowing him to dab at my face with a wet towel. At least he didn't seem to be dwelling on last night's incident. Good old Vincent... However, I had a nagging need to thank him for getting me to bed. It was no small feat, I was sure.

"Vincent...?" I ventured meekly. His red eyes didn't even bother to meet mine.

"Yes?"

I gulped down the lump in my throat. "About last night..." I paused to see if he would flinch, even just slightly. He didn't. "I want to thank you." It was then that I felt ashamed at my behavior. I chose to vent my pain by dousing myself in alcohol. It was a sad sight, and it was a very juvenile decision. Vincent must have been so burdened by my idiotic melodrama. What could I even say to make it up to him? It startled me when his glowing eyes flicked up and gazed at me.

"Please... You are my good friend, and would have done the same for me." My frantic mind slowed down a few notches, and I realized he was right. It was something I already knew. But for some reason hearing it from him made it almost feel different? I slowly nodded, unable to break eye contact.

"Thanks Vincent..." He returned those captivating eyes back to his task.

"You're welcome. Now please sit still." I laughed at his exasperated tone. He had an infinite amount of patience, though I think I playfully drove him insane from time to time. Which was why I decided to push the envelope...

"Can't you see I'm busy cleaning though?" His gaze collided with mine once more, and it felt like he could drill a hole right through me.

"You will sit here and like it. I will clean the rest." A rebuttal rose in my throat before I even had my mouth open.

"Oh no, no you don't. I'm quite capable-"

"You missed a few spots." He quipped. My jaw may have dropped to the floor just then, and the edges of his mouth turned upwards in a slight grin. "Enjoy the rest of your hangover.


Again, sorry for the delay. I broke up with my boyfriend, and had to move... Not to complain, because it actually gives me quite a bit of inspiration. Is it bad that I'm half writing this story to figure my own feelings out.../shifty eyes/ Go figure. I may revise this later. Thanks for all that listen.