It wasn't easy for Eliza Mackey to hear the news she already knew. The call log Cloud had kept on her behalf was more evidence than she needed. It was a good thing that Tifa and Cloud had saved this news for the end of this trip. The car ride home wasn't nearly as pleasant as it was going to the beach, Traffic was heavy and Cloud's motion sickness had managed to rear its ugly head. So, what did a loving, caring woman like Tifa do in this case? The solution was simple: give Cloud two of Denzel's allergy pills which just so happened to have a side effect of drowsiness. Of course, Tifa didn't completely think this through because twenty minutes later Cloud passed out on her and was pure dead weight. She then regretted giving him two of those things.
The Mackey's had been quiet on the ride home except for Stella talking to Marlene. Garrison Mackey knew that his wife knew and Eliza knew her husband was well aware that she knew. He just didn't know that the information came from Cloud and Tifa. Tifa had never been more excited to see their Midgar apartment than she was once the Mackey's van had pulled up to the curb. It wasn't that she was ready to be home; it was because her leg was asleep from Cloud having slept on her over half the trip home and she couldn't wait to move.
"Thank you. We had a wonderful time. Thanks for inviting us to go with you." Cloud said yawning as he got out of the van and freed Tifa from her massive scrunched up discomfort. He wasn't a whole lot of help right now. He would have that allergy medicine hangover for the rest of the day surely.
"Thanks for going with us. We needed to fill the spot but…we wish we would have invited you all to begin with." Eliza looked as if she were about to cry. "You're a nice family." Tifa hugged her before this ended in her bursting into tears.
"Thank you. We really need to get this stuff unpacked and get upstairs. Listen, call us…I'm serious…if you need us…call us." Tifa said softly. She meant every word. Despite Cloud's fatigue he managed to load up both arms with stuff. Naturally, Denzel unloaded that ridiculous turtle. Once all their stuff was lying there on the sidewalk it was time to haul it all up the flight of stairs to the apartment.
Tifa was in the lead as she clumsily dug for the door key in her purse. Once at their door, the mailbox was overflowing and there were at least ten post-it notes on the door. Tifa unlocked the door as she felt Marlene falling in to her with her small hands full. Once the door was opened Tifa moved out of the way and began reading the post-it notes that were quite obviously from Yuffie. The house was hot and so Cloud dropped everything he had in the middle of the doorway to immediately turn their air down lower.
"Made you a 90's dance mix CD…" Tifa read the first note. "Okay…whatever…" she moved on to the next note. "Bar has been busy this week…Cloud, your bike is leaking oil." Tifa pulled the rest of them off the door and thought a moment. "Cloud, Yuffie left us a message that the bike is leaking oil." Tifa said putting everything in her hands onto the kitchen counter.
"Wait…Yuffie did what?" Cloud asked a little surprised by this. Marlene and Denzel had run off to their rooms to start unpacking. Denzel yelled loudly and then ran back into the living room.
"The turtle laid eggs! He laid eggs! Well, I guess he's not a he….he's a she!" Denzel was so excited. "I'm going to have baby turtles! Come and look! Come and look!" Denzel ran off again to his room. Marlene heard him yelling and immediately ran to his room. Tifa shook her head and looked at Cloud who had the same expression on his face as she did.
"See, this is what we get for taking that turtle to the beach. If we would have left it here it wouldn't have laid eggs because it would have died." Cloud said.
"Well, it looks like we're going to have to look up some information on raising turtle eggs. Let him have his baby turtles and then we'll figure out what the hell to do with them." Tifa said unloading a bag.
"I should have known. That guy who gave that turtle to me had that 'this turtle is going to lay eggs' look in his eye. I know that look." Cloud said hauling one of the suitcases to their room. When he came back he was still bitching about the turtle eggs. Tifa gave him 'the look'.
"I know that look too…it means shut up Cloud and help me out by go checking how bad the oil leak is on the bike then get your ass back in here and help me put all this stuff away." Cloud said. Tifa smiled as she unloaded what was left of the groceries they had taken on the trip.
"And you knowing what that look means is one of the reasons I love you." Tifa said.
"But I'm so tired from those stupid allergy pills you doped me up with; even though I appreciate your taking care of me." Cloud said.
"Cloud, go check the oil problem and then you can lay down on the couch and me and the kids will unpack. Please, just do that so we know how bad it really is." Tifa begged of him. She knew he was lethargic from the pills but this had to be done. Cloud called for Denzel to come help him. As the two of them left the room Marlene came back into the kitchen as Tifa looked in the refrigerator. Crap…there was next to nothing in here. They had emptied the fridge before they left so nothing would spoil. Tifa sighed.
"Marlene? You need to help me make a grocery list we have nothing." Tifa said closing the refrigerator and grabbing a piece of paper among the mess of unpacking. Marlene hopped up on the bar stool at the kitchen counter.
So, here they were: The turtle had laid eggs, the bike was apparently leaking oil everywhere, there was nothing to eat in this house and there was so much luggage yet to be unpacked. Furthermore, Cloud would be useless when he came back upstairs and fell asleep on the couch. They had many things to deal with right now, so what? The Mackey's would have a hell of a lot more to deal with when they got home. This vacation proved something…so what Cloud, Tifa, Marlene and Denzel didn't live in one of the quiet suburbs outside of Midgar? So what they didn't have the 2500 square foot ranch-style house with the white fences and the manicured lawn. So what none of them had the same last name or were even biologically related? None of that shit mattered anymore. What Cloud and Tifa had thought was a picture-perfect family was on the verge of complete collapse. The truth was…it didn't matter what a family was 'supposed' to look like anymore. A family could look like a three bedroom apartment over a bar on the edge of Midgar as long as there was love in that picture. Welcome home Strife family. Welcome home.