Disclaimer: Everything you recognize belongs to Sqaure Enix. I just like to steal their ideas and play with them for a bit XD
The day Yuffie shows up on the doorstep of the Seventh Heaven is the day that Tifa is certain her marriage is over. Everything hurts and yet she doesn't cry. She has done enough of that over the past few weeks, wiping saltwater from the polished surface of her bar as if it were alcohol. Yuffie's face is as drawn as Tifa's heart feels and the duffel at her side clearly shouts that she intends to stay for more than just a few days.
This is obviously not a catching-up visit. The smile plastered on Yuffie's face is more fake than Cloud's declarations of love had been. Or perhaps it isn't that those sweet nothings weren't true, but just that they weren't meant for Tifa's ears. She ponders this for a moment, caught in burnt-sugar thoughts before realizing that Yuffie is still standing there half-unsure, half-expectant. Tifa moves aside and Yuffie strides past her, the youthful bounce in her step painfully absent. The door shuts and the women face each other again. They are both quiet, which is very unusual for Yuffie and much less so for Tifa, and yet she breaks the silence first.
"How are you?" The words sound awfully forced and terribly formal and she fights the urge to cringe at how emotionless she has become. Yet the false smile still drops and the weak façade is shattered and Yuffie frowns.
"Gawd-awful. What about you?"
It is Tifa's turn to blink, her turn to be honest. "About to file for divorce. What does that say?"
Ninja lips twist in a smile overflowing with bitterness—for herself, for her friend, for the waterlogged flower girl who still haunts them all. "It sounds like we're in somewhat of the same boat, Teef. More or less." And as hard as Tifa tries to get her friend to elaborate, she continues to refuse. Tifa gives up. It's something she's been experimenting with a lot lately. Giving up on ever having children of her own, giving up on her lie of a marriage, giving up on reconciling her love and hate for the flower girl who has somehow managed to ruin her marriage, even from the grave.
The two friends gravitate towards a booth in the corner of the bar. It is sunny and gorgeous outside and that makes them all the more bitter. They talk. Yuffie is running from duty (again) and Tifa is finally choosing to put herself first. Both desperately ache to have control over their own lives. Both desperately need a friend.
And so they talk and they catch up on the little things that don't matter and they have lunch together and when nighttime rolls around Yuffie helps out behind the bar. Tifa wants to flirt with the cute man with the chocolatey-brown eyes in the corner, but her wedding ring weighs heavy on her hand and she thinks that even though Cloud is living at the church now and she has either burned or trashed most of the belongings he left behind, she can't bring herself to start flirting again just yet. She's not positive she even knows how to anymore.
Instead they wait on tables and mix and serve and keep their hands to themselves. Yuffie is on her best behavior, not even attempting to steal from the obviously wealthy man who hits on her all night. Perhaps she is becoming more responsible. Perhaps she's simply tired. Certainly there is something wrong on a much deeper level than her desire to flee from duty.
The clock strikes three and the bar empties. The night closes in, suffocating the two women, clouding their thoughts and stealing their (only slight) hopes off into the darkness. They find themselves in the living room, curled together on the couch like a pair of tween best friends. Tifa cries and Yuffie sobs and the fall apart and build each other back up again with soothing whispers and hands stroking hair.
Tifa has never felt so weak and Yuffie has never been so mothering. The thought alone brings bile to the ninja's throat and she swallows the burning acid back down before her mind strays too far into dangerous territory.
Morning finds them still curled around each other like yin and yang, as if they'd been up all night telling scary stories. In a way, they had.
Tifa leaves breakfast in Yuffie's hands and heads out to see her lawyer. Their discussion is short because, Shiva, she's one hundred percent positive and she just wants to get it over with so she can have her last name back. She returns home to dust dancing through the bar and also the sounds of retching. The divorce papers hit the counter with a loud flapping as she rushes to the bathroom door.
Yuffie emerges, pea green and awful and the barmaid lays a hand to her forehead.
"I'm not sick." The words are confident and weak at the same time, and a sinking feeling knots up Tifa's stomach.
It's as though time has stopped and even the particles of dust seem to float to a halt amid their airborne pirouettes. There should be shock coursing through her body, and yet all Tifa can do is reach out a trembling hand to touch the shinobi's flat stomach.
"Have you been to a doctor?"
Yuffie's eyes are dull as she shakes her head. "Couldn't see one in Wutai, obviously. I don't even know if I can trust the doctor's out here not to run straight to the highest-bidding magazine. Can you imagine the headlines?" The defeated voice is growing more and more hysterical and the gray eyes are glassy. "'Wutaiian Princess: Knocked Up! And Just Who is the Bastard Child's Father?'"
Tifa pulls her friend into a tight embrace, feeling hot tears soaking through her shirt and tiny, hiccupping breaths against her chest. She resolves that tomorrow, no that very afternoon, she will bring Yuffie to the most trustworthy doctor she knows of, that immediately after she will find Cloud and make him sign the papers to officially end their three-year marriage.
She vows that tomorrow she will start over fresh and help Yuffie to do the same.
AN: This is just something that came to me randomly last night and wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it. I want to turn this into a mega-long piece, but if there's no interest from readers, I'll probably just take it down but keep writing it for myself XD. Anyhoo, if you liked it, and possibly want to read more, drop me a review. If you hated it and think I should go burn my laptop to remove any trace that it ever existed, well you can drop a review to tell me that also :P The rest of this fic is currently writing itself in my brain as I type this, so get to reviewing! I hope you enjoyed!