Title: Last Christmas
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Characters: Tifa, Barret, Jessie, Biggs, Wedge, Marlene
Prompt: 092: Christmas
Word Count: 405
Summary: Avalanche celebrates Christmas Eve
Author's Notes: All three of these pieces are related (though can stand on their own); I bent the FFVII timeline about two-three weeks later than what it actually is because I really wanted to write Avalanche before Cloud joined, and the Christmas prompt seemed to me an appropriate method of achieving this. Then I did some research and discovered the timing isn't *too* far off so just went with it :)
Seventh Heaven always stayed open on the holidays. It wasn’t that Tifa didn’t celebrate, but it was her gesture of good will—anybody looking for an open bar on a night intended for staying home with friends and family, could only be out looking because they had no friends and family to go home to.
Likewise, her bar was her home. Open or not, Tifa would still be there. She felt it was her gift to the slums, and often it was—she’d had people as far away as the fourth sector wander in for Thanksgiving Dinner before.
This night though, Christmas Eve, Tifa was pleased by her lack of business. To an outsider, it may have been her busiest night—her bar stock was considerably lower than it had been earlier that day, and the bar was as loud as ever—but her last customer had left around 5pm and she hadn’t had one since. Now, Seventh Heaven was occupied only by Avalanche, and their junior member Marlene. Barret, who was always considerably more upbeat when drinking, had been loudly declaring that his Christmas present would be a huge bonus for everyone, with little Marlene repeating his every word. Biggs and Wedge had given Jessie a book on electronics, and the three of them sat huddled around it, pointing out ideas they wanted to try, and bursting into excited shouts whenever they got to something Jessie had already come up with on her own. Tifa, always the quiet one in the group, laughed at her friends from the bar where she was topping off mugs of spiced rum, cheering on the bomb squad as they generated one wild plot after another, and cutting off Barret when his language exceeded Marlene’s appropriate vocabulary.
There was nothing to separate this gathering from any other house in the slums that night. There were no events out of the ordinary to make it different from any previous year. But they were together—a big, loud, somewhat strange looking family, and they were happy. None of them could have known that this was the last Christmas they would spend together, nor could they have predicted that just days later their fates would change forever. But even had they known, this evening, surrounded by the closeness and comfort that spending the holidays with friends can create, would have been everything they could have wished for.
Title: After-Christmas Special
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Characters: Tifa, kind of Cloud
Prompt: 013: Yellow
Word Count: 1239
Summary: How Tifa found herself at the Sector 7 train station that fateful day...
Author's Notes: This took a completely different direction that I had originally planned, but I am so happy with how it turned out. And I love the little cameo a certain someone makes, which completely took me by surprise. As with the first, the actual timeline has been slightly altered.
Three days after Christmas. Tifa guessed she was lucky for the time off they got. Barret had made a few discoveries that, with Jessie’s technological mind, had quickly evolved into what would be their first attack on Shin-Ra.
She had been out that day in Sector 6 because of that mission. Though Avalanche was still fairly unknown in the slums, they had little hope of accessing the upper levels to gain information; however, the Wall Market was still frequented by Shin-Ra officials due to the seedy Honeybee Inn. Since Tifa was known to have the best bar in the slums, she had started making more and more visits to round up new customers, and this recruiting frequently resulted in Shin-Ra employees coming to the bar and growing increasingly open with classified data as they drank.
Maybe it was shady, and definitely deceitful, but Tifa always convinced herself that, as she was only deceiving the very people who had put Midgar in its current state, it was okay. Her deceit would give them the information they needed to change the fate of the slums.
Barret had given them Christmas day off, as well as the remainder of the Christmas week. It should have been four days, but Jessie was so full of ideas that she wanted to start working right away. The anxious discussions finally became too much for Tifa to handle, and guilty for not joining in, but still needing to get away, she decided to try for some advertising for the New Year.
She wasn’t very successful. It was too early in the day for the Honeybee crowd to have arrived, and most of the people on the streets were either parents buying post-Christmas groceries, or the occasional flower vendor. There were no after-Christmas sales in the slums.
After a couple hours of just people-watching, Tifa left. She’d noticed a new flower vendor, a girl about her own age, and it disturbed her. She was used to seeing young children and single mothers with their baskets, but this girl was her age. Tifa watched her walking--no, floating--from place to place with mingling of intrigue, nausea, and despair. This girl wasn’t weighed down by life the way most of the other vendors were. The way most people in the slums were. There was a very faint, but very distinct glow that she emitted, separating her from everyone else in the filthy Midgar underworld.
Somewhat disgusted, Tifa started back home.
This is why we’re fighting Shin-Ra. She thought. That girl—that could have just as easily been me. But instead, I was given the chance to fight. I’m fighting for her.
Hot tears welled in her eyes as she thought of all the lives ruined by Shin-Ra. As she approached the Sector 7 train station, she stopped and looked up at the plate looming over the dying soul of Midgar and shouted, “It’s all their fault! Everything! To hell with Shin—“
Her voice caught in her throat. Her sudden outburst had disturbed a couple standing near a lamppost, and when they moved she saw that they had been blocking someone laying on the ground.
All she saw was a crumpled body donning a blue uniform—she could see neither face nor hair, but she would recognize that uniform anywhere. It was somebody from Soldier. She’d spent years pouring over every newspaper she could find, looking for information on Soldier. She could still clearly remember the first time she ever saw one of them in person. She remembered every detail as though it were yesterday, remembered how she had fought back tears the entire time, when the young man who had appeared in her town was a stranger.
Visions of the day swam through her mind. She pictured Sephiroth, remembering how afraid of him she had been, but how happy she was to be around him anyway. Meeting Cloud’s idol made her feel closer to him, connected in some way.
She also recalled how much the black haired Soldier had reminded her of her lost friend. She smiled, thinking of the poor repair job that had been done on the cuff of the Soldier’s pants—he’d used a horrible neon yellow thread, which made Tifa think it was the type of repair Cloud might have done.
She wondered why this man was here in the slums. Despite her hatred for Shin-Ra, she could never feel any anger towards Soldier. Of course she knew anyone in Solider was at some point responsible for carrying out Shin-Ra’s dirty work; after-all, when Sephiroth had come to Nibelheim, it had only been because of the Mako reactor.
But to her, Solider would always mean Cloud, the boy from her childhood who haunted her dreams, and the one cause of her greatest regret. She hadn’t heard from him in seven years—she tried to convince herself that he was okay, that he was stuck on one of the outer continents, out of danger, and happy—but her heart told her otherwise. She feared the worst, and it was only years of trained optimism that prevented her from caving.
She loved him. It was a truth she hadn’t realized until it was too late, but it helped to keep her going. She knew she would see him again—she had to believe that she would, at least, because she had to tell him how she felt. It was why she had to convince herself that he was okay. She had lost everything from her childhood except for the small hope that Cloud was still alive, and it terrified her to think that she might have lost him too, because she’d been too selfish as a child to realize how much she needed him.
Cloud had willingly joined Soldier. Tifa knew that. But it didn’t stop her from feeling like it was just one more thing Shin-Ra had taken away from her. However, where the flower girl had evoked anger and disgust, seeing this Soldier brought on quiet despair, the reminder that despite her outward cheerfulness, there were moments where Tifa felt she would never be happy, never be complete, again.
She blinked, and watched a tear splash onto the cracked stone floor of the station.
Through blurry vision she saw one of the station guards walk past the young man and mutter something under his breath. Tifa took a few steps closer. Shin-Ra or not, she felt the need to help the man in the Soldier uniform. But she stopped as she got closer—something had caught her eye, something that made her draw in her breath, made her heart stop mid-beat, as a gripping anxiety overtook her. Frozen, she stared at the familiar hem on the Soldier’s pants—a neon yellow scar across the blue knit. And as she stared, the man shifted, revealing, to Tifa’s absolute shock, not the black hair she expected, but messy blond spikes.
For the first few seconds she stood motionless, unable to even breathe for fear that what she saw was a hallucination that might vanish with the slightest movement.
Then, not bothering to fight them back, tears cascaded down her face, blinding her as she rushed to the lamppost, and she collapsed onto her childhood friend, the man who had once stolen her heart without even realizing it. And as his cloudy mask of despair dawned into glowing recognition, she realized that she had also stolen his.
Title: Interrupted By Fireworks
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Characters: Tifa, Cloud
Prompt: 095: New Year
Word Count: 521
Summary: Tifa ruminating the night before the events of the game begin
Author's Notes: I have discovered that writing Cloud in that brief period of time between the infamous escape and Sephiroth's return is extremely difficult, but after many re-writes, here it is :) And I'm happy I got to use this title since that track is one of my favorites from the OST ;-) And again, with the timeline disclaimer :)
The air crackled. Tifa heard it. It might have just been perceived, but with the combination of tension and excitement in the air, she felt it was possible enough to believe.
Tomorrow was the day. They were going to bring in the New Year with an attack. Their last night…possibly their last night alive. Barret was confident. He was fueled by so much anger and determination that there no room left for doubt. Biggs and Wedge trusted the group. They trusted Barret and they trusted Jessie, and that was all they needed. Jessie was nervous—she wasn’t afraid that it wouldn’t work, but she was afraid of the consequences.
Tifa was terrified. She trusted them all…but she also knew how much the mission meant to them. She knew if it came down to it, they would give their lives for their ideals. And it worried her. She would not be with them. If something happened…she would be left alone. So when she saw the air crackle, and felt the silence in the bar close in around her, she knew she had to step outside.
Then there was Cloud. She had been so surprised to find him, and so worried about the stupor in which he was immersed; she had to bring him home. Somehow she had thought…she shook her head. It was still too hard for her to admit. She wished she hadn’t told him about the job, but in his delirium he had said so many things that had confused her, and then as he grew lucid he spoke of leaving to find work…she couldn’t have let him walk out. She had too many questions, and her hopes were still so high…But his condition had changed once more, and now he was worse than when she had found him. Of course she wished for the night to see him back, but if he could wait just a bit longer…then she wouldn’t have to sit the mission out alone…
A tear slid down her cheek and she thought that she had cried more times since Christmas than she had since—and she paused. Since the last time she was in the moonlight with Cloud. She turned to go back inside. Tonight was not the time for fear or doubt or questioning—but the doorway was blocked.
“You’re…up. Does that mean--?”
“I don’t want to make any guesses for now. I’m here, at least until tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow…” Her heart sunk at how he’d say “at least.” There were truths she needed to know…and feelings that were becoming more and more difficult to hide. Tomorrow. One more way that he might once again be pulled from her life…one more time he might walk away. She stood up straighter and gave him the most genuine smile she could find. “Oh, I know everything will turn out fine. And Sector 1 is just the beginning, there will be plenty of work later and maybe Barret—“
“Hey—Don’t talk about tomorrow, okay? Look.” And he pointed up, where through the cracks of the plate the reflections of fireworks shone through. “Happy New Year, Tifa.”