Shards Chapter 4

The Kiss

By Frank Verderosa

Two weeks passed uneventfully. Tifa continued to work at the bar. In spite of Dygus' initial assessment of her, she was a hard worker and soon had earned his grudging admiration, though he still didn't let her help with the actual preparation of the food.

Tifa was fully recovered from her injuries now, or at least as recovered as she was ever going to get. An ugly scar still remained across her chest, not to mention the wounds to her soul, the wounds that couldn't be seen, that would never heal. She wasn't about to forget about what happened at Nibelheim. Someday she vowed that Sephiroth and Shinra both would pay for what happened there. But there wasn't much she could do about it at the moment.

Gradually, as she became more familiar with the neighborhood and it's way of life, Garren gave her more freedom. Now matter how cautious he was, she couldn't remain cooped up in his apartment all day, and he couldn't stay with her all the time. Eventually he started to let her go out on her own during the day, at first just to run quick errands, to go down to the store on the corner, or across the street to look in some shops, but later on, when he saw that she had a decent head on her shoulders, farther afield. All of Midgar was dangerous, but some areas were worse than others, and he made sure to let her know what areas to avoid. For the most part no one bothered her during this time. She still occasionally noticed someone staring at her in a way that made her uneasy, and there were almost always some catcalls, as well as a few blatant sexual offers. She didn't answer those people, just walked away, embarrassed, no matter how many times it happened.

She saw Dulane almost every day she went out. He always seemed to be on the street, somewhere. If he was a pimp, as Garren said, it seemed to her to be a pretty boring job. He spoke to her occasionally. Always politely about mundane things, how she was feeling or what she thought of the neighborhood. He didn't bother her at all, but every minute she was in view, his eyes seemed to be following her. It always made her nervous.

Garren wasn't bad company, once she got to know him, but he was still an adult. Tifa had always been popular in Nibelheim. Her good looks and outgoing attitude had always made her a favorite with other kids her age. The fact that her life had so drastically changed, that Midgar was so different from what she was used to, and what had happened at Nibelheim had changed that. She kept mostly to herself now. There were plenty of young people on the streets, she passed them everyday. She watched them every once in a while, standing in the shadows, unnoticed. Though she often wanted to go over and introduce herself, after all that had happened she was naturally reluctant.

Still, she was an attractive girl, and couldn't help but draw the attention of some of the young men in the neighborhood. She wasn't really very interested, but she did get lonely at times for someone to talk to. She ignored the one's who talked to her crudely, but some of the boys seemed harmless enough. One boy, by the name of Drake, was around a lot, and she had talked to him quite a bit. He was about her age, with dark black hair and, she had to admit, rather attractive blue eyes. He wore a dark jacket with torn off sleeves and jeans, pretty much the common fare around these parts. He always seemed to have some interesting story to tell her about things that were going on in the area. Not that she really cared about this neighborhood, but sometimes she was thankful for the company.

So it wasn't a surprise when she ran into him as she was walking back to Garren's apartment after talking a walk down by the train station.

"Hey Tifa," he said as he came up beside her. "Did you hear the latest?"

"The latest about what?" she asked.

"About the girl they found dead last night," he replied.

Tifa had a feeling she didn't want to hear about this, and she also had a feeling she was going to whether she wanted to or not.

"Some kids found her body this morning, right in the middle of the street. She was naked and they had cut..."

"I don't want to hear it," Tifa cut him off. What was it with guys that they seemed to delight in telling stories like that?

Drake just looked at her for a moment. Then he said, more softly, not that anyone was close enough to overhear.

"It was one of Dulane's girls," he continued with authority.

"How do you know that," she asked. "Rumor on the street?"

"Yeah, and supposedly there was a white rose left beside the body. That's Dulane's trademark."


"Yup. I heard the girl was trying to get out of working for him, that she wanted to go independent and was keeping more money than she was supposeta' so she could run away. I guess he found out. She's an example to others who might try to do the same thing. That's his way of letting them know it was him."

"That's horrible," Tifa said softly. She still had a hard time picturing the man she saw on the street all the time doing something like that, but everyone seemed to know.

"It's not the first time he's done it either," Drake continued. "That's how they know about the white rose."

"But if he always leaves that rose, if everyone knows it's him, how come the police don't arrest him?" Tifa asked.

"Anyone can leave a white rose by a body, right?" Drake answered. "It's not it's got his fingerprints on it or anything. They don't have any proof."

Tifa just shook her head. She supposed he was right, but it just seemed like there should be something someone could do. She remembered the looks Dulane had been giving her and a shiver ran down her spine.

"I'm surprised you hadn't heard about it," Drake went on. "She was found on Chestnut street, just south of Valiant Avenue. That's right near where you live."

That was true, Garren's apartment was only a block away from there, although she did not say anything. She and Garren had gotten home from the bar right before two. They might have just missed it. Another thing she didn't want to think about.

"Are you done trying to gross me out, or is there more?" she asked.

"I think that's about it for now," he replied. "But there is something I'd like to show you, if you've got the time."

"Show me?" she asked. "What is it? Not some dead body somewhere, I hope."

"No, nothing like that. C'mon."

He started rapidly down the street. She hesitated a moment, then followed.

"What is it?" she asked.

"You'll find out."

Tifa looked around. Though they could not see then sun under the plate, it was almost five o'clock, and she knew it would be getting dark soon. Garren had given her specific instructions to make sure she was back in the apartment before night fell.

"Is it far?" she questioned.

"Not really," he replied, continuing to walk. He turned and waved impatiently for her to catch up.

She trotted forward until she was beside him.

"I have to be in by dark," she told him.

He turned to her and scrunched up his face.

"By dark?" he questioned. "What are you, five years old?"

Tifa glared at him for a moment, then turned away, embarrassed.

"Garren said I had to," she stated lamely.

Drake looked at her skeptically.

"And you listen to everything he says?"

Tifa looked at the ground, frustrated.

"It's just til I get to know the area better," she defended herself. "This is so different from Nibelheim. I'm not used to living in a place like this. There are so many people here, so many strangers. I don't know who to trust and who not to."

"Yeah, whatever," Drake replied, obviously not very impressed with her response. "It's not gonna take long."

He walked on. Tifa followed. Though somewhat nervous she didn't want to seem like a kid. She told herself if it got too late she'd just turn back.

They followed the river down past the tracks, until they reached the gate to Sector Six. It was the same route Tifa and Garren had followed on her first day out. She stopped when he reached the gate.

"Where are we going?" she said.

"It's not far now," he replied.

He walked forward a few steps, but stopped when he saw she wasn't following.

"This is the way to Wall Market," she said. "Is that where you're taking me?"

He looked at her impatiently.

"Would you quit asking questions and just c'mon!"

"I'm not going any farther unless you tell me where we're headed," she said firmly.

"C'mon, I want it to be a surprise," he cajoled.

Tifa refused to budge. She just stood there shaking her head. Though he seemed nice, she didn't really know Drake all that well. She wanted to know what he was up to.

He stood there for a minute looking at her. Eventually he must have decided that he wasn't going to change her mind. He stepped back over beside her.

"Ever wonder what it's like up on that plate above us?" he questioned.

The question took her by surprise. She lifted her gaze to look at the massive steel structure over their heads. She had never been up there. There were elevators and stairways, and the trains ran up there too, but there were guards along all those routes. You couldn't go up unless you lived their or had proper authorization. They didn't allow just anyone up there. She had to admit, however, she had been wondering for quite some time what it was like.

"Yeah," she said slowly. "But they won't let us up there."

He smiled devilishly.

"Well, what would you say if I told you I knew a way to get up there. A way that wasn't guarded."

Tifa just looked at him for a moment.

"Do you?" she asked.

He nodded vigorously.

"But how?" she asked.

"A friend of mine told me some kids told him," Drake answered.

Tifa looked at him skeptically.

"Is this one of those 'I know someone who knows someone who did it?'"

"No, it's for real," Drake assured her. "My friend wouldn't lie to me."

Tifa didn't reply for a moment. She wanted to believe him, but she remembered Garren's warning to her that almost everyone in the slums was not what they seemed. She had already found out that her skills at judging people here were less than perfect. Drake was bigger than her, and had grown up in this tough neighborhood. She was sure he had seen his fair share of fights.

On the other hand, he was not much older than her. It was true, he was bigger than her, but he was not as physically imposing as a full grown man. If it came down to it, she thought she could hold her own against him, that is, if he wasn't leading her to someplace where others were waiting.

She realized he was waiting impatiently for a response.

She decided she was being foolish again. He had done nothing to indicate he was any danger to her. Perhaps she was just being overly paranoid now.

She nodded.

"All right, let's go."

Drake smiled and led her on, walking so rapidly she had a difficult time keeping up. She was going to tell him to slow down, but decided against it. After all, she was the one who had told him she had to be back before dark.

Even though it was not quite night yet, most of the signs of the storefronts in Wall Market were already blazing with light. Drake led her to the north, deftly slipping through the crowded streets, until he suddenly turned and led them toward two buildings. She wondered why he had suddenly developed an interest in a tattoo parlor or a bathroom supply store, but then she realized there was a narrow alley between the two. Drake led her in. It was so narrow they had to walk in single file. Tifa slowed down, becoming suspicious again. Though the main streets were crowded, there was no one else in the alley. But Drake just plunged onward.

He reached the end and turned to look back at her.

"Hurry up, willya, we're almost there."

She nodded and followed, still unsure of herself. It was hard to tell just what time it was under the plate, but she could tell it was getting late. She couldn't go much farther if she expected to be back by dark.

The alley led out into a wider area behind the buildings, with the wall to sector eight on the other side. It appeared as deserted as they alley had been. They were getting far away from the main street now, and the farther they went, the more nervous Tifa became. She was tempted to ask Drake yet again how much farther it was, but she thought at this point it would just sound like whining.

He was about twenty yards ahead of her now. There was a huge pile of what looked to Tifa to be trash littering the ground behind what she remembered from her previous visit was a weapons shop. Drake turned to the wall behind this and stopped.

Tifa came up beside him. All she could see in front of them was the wall.

"So where do we go from here?" she asked.

Drake's gaze slowly rose up the wall.

"That way," he said, pointing up.

Tifa lifted her eyes as well. For a moment she stood there with a puzzled expression on her face, then she noticed the cable that snaked down along the wall.

She frowned.

"You don't mean we have to climb that, do you?"

Drake looked at the cable, then back at her.

"Uhh, I guess I forget to mention that, huh?" he said contritely.

He saw the expression on her face.

"It's okay, I can help you," he offered.

She stood there looking at the cable. She could see some pipework up above that you could climb onto from the cable. It didn't look that far up. Even so it seemed like a crazy thing to do.

"C'mon, we've come this far," Drake said.

She was tempted to point out that so far they had only had to walk. She didn't know how long it would take to climb up there. She was becoming more and more certain she wasn't going to make it home before dark. The apartment was empty, Garren was out with Esella, and she knew from experience he wouldn't be back until very late, at least, if he stuck to his usual pattern. It was very likely even if she came back late he wouldn't be there, he wouldn't know.

But she had never disobeyed Garren before. She felt guilty even thinking about it. She wondered what he would do if he found out.

"Can't we just do this tomorrow?" she suggested.

Drake did not look too thrilled with the suggestion.

"We're already here," he replied. "There's no sense in turning around now. Besides, I've got to help the old man tomorrow movin' some stuff. I'm not gonna have time. C'mon."

Still she hesitated. She really did want to see what was up there, what it looked like on top of the plate. If they hurried, she still might be able to get back before it got too dark.

"All right," she said, giving in. "But I don't need any help. I can manage by myself."

This time it was his turn to look surprised. She wasn't sure whether was because she had agreed or because she said she didn't need help.

"Are you sure?" he said.

"Am I sure of what?" she inquired. "That I want to go or that I don't need any help?"

This seemed to throw him off for a moment.

"Uhh, that you don't need help," he said. "It's not really an easy climb."

"I'm perfectly capable of climbing," she said. "Just because I'm a girl doesn't mean I'm helpless, you know. You go on, I'll be right behind."

Drake looked at her for a moment, then shrugged and grabbed hold of the cable. He quickly hauled himself up. Tifa grabbed hold as well and followed just as easily.

They reached the pipework and grabbed on. Tifa looked up to see there was a maze of pipes above them. It hadn't looked that high up from the ground, but now that she was up here it seemed a lot higher. She was not particularly afraid of heights, but looking down she was still nervous. There were many handholds, but even so there was no guardrail or anything like that. If she fell she was pretty certain it would be fatal.

"C'mon," Drake called.

She looked up to see he had gotten ahead of her. She followed carefully, making a mental note to herself to avoid looking down from now on.

There was only one point where she was really scared. They had to use a cable to swing across one gap. Drake did it easily, then motioned for her to follow. For a long time she just stood there, holding onto the cable, trying to build up her courage. She could see that Drake was getting impatient. Finally she gritted her teeth and launched herself across. Drake grabbed hold of her and pulled her safely to the other side.

"You okay?" he asked, looking perfectly calm himself.

"Of course," she replied with false bravado. "A piece of cake."

Drake did not reply but led her onward. They were right below the plate now. This close to it made her realize just how huge the thing was. She could see the massive supports that held up the plate at intervals in the distance. The massive size of the thing was mind boggling.

They climbed up one final pipe. This led into the plate itself, but there was space enough around it for them to fit through as well. It was dark here, and the metal plate surrounded them, a sharp contrast to the open spaces below. But it didn't last long. Drake hauled himself out of the plate, then reached down a hand. She took it and he pulled her up to stand beside him.

Immediately she looked up. For the first time since she had left Nibelheim she saw the sky above her.

The sun was low on the horizon. Though there were still buildings all around them, hiding the sun, the clouds above were streaked with purples and reds in the fading light. Not as beautiful as the sunset over the hills of Nibelheim, but pretty nonetheless. She glanced over to see Drake staring up at the sky as well.

"So that's what it looks like," he said softly.

Tifa looked at him, shocked.

"You've never seen it?" she questioned.

Drake shook his head.

Tifa just stood there. She hadn't thought that Drake might never have seen the sky in his life. It seemed almost incomprehensible.

"You've never been out of Midgar?" she said.

"No," he replied. "I've lived my whole life in the slums. I've never seen the sky, or the sun."

Tifa didn't know what to say. The sky, the sun, she had always taken them for granted. They seemed like things that everyone had a right to see, to appreciate. She looked at Drake sadly. She had never thought that anyone could be deprived of that.

She was the first one to drop her gaze from the heavens to look around them. The first thing she noticed was how clean the streets were. They were standing in a small courtyard at the foot of one of the concrete buildings that lined both sides of the street. The courtyard itself was paved with white flagstones. Dispersed among them were perhaps a dozen sapling elm trees.

She walked over, looking at one of the saplings. It was about twelve or thirteen feet high, it's green leaves almost black in the gathering darkness. The first trees she had seen here as well. She had forgotten how much she was missing.

After a few moments Drake came up beside her. He slowly reached out and touched the tree. He didn't even seem to notice that Tifa was there anymore. For a moment she looked at his back, then the full realization of what he had told her sunk in. He had never been out from below the plate. He had probably never seen a real tree before either.

She came up beside him and took hold of his arm.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" she said softly.

He did not reply, just nodded his head. Suddenly he looked around, as if waking from a dream. The street beyond the courtyard caught his attention.

"C'mon," he said. "I want to see more."

She followed him as he walked out into the street. They both looked back and forth. There was a lot of traffic in the road, and just as many pedestrians on the sidewalk as there had been below. For a moment Tifa felt her nervousness return. She didn't see anyone in uniform, but she felt suddenly exposed out here, among all these people, in a place that she wasn't supposed to be. She felt as if they would somehow know that she didn't belong here. She looked down at what she was wearing. They didn't fit in here. She looked around and everyone's clothes looked immaculate. The men in snappy causal wear or business suits, the women in fancy dresses or smart blouses and slacks. All of them with polished shoes, with expensive jewelry. She looked at herself. Her hair, her clothes, everything about her seemed to say second class citizen. Or at least that was the way she felt. It couldn't have been that bad, however, for no one seemed to pay any attention to them at all.

She looked at the buildings around them. In both directions the structures rose up, as tall again as the building down below the plate. But to their left there was one building that towered above the others. A huge edifice that could probably be seen from any spot on the plate. The largest building in Midgar, and one Tifa had seen occasionally on TV.

The Shinra building.

She stopped and stood there for a moment looking up at it. The lights had just been turned on, what looked to Tifa like thousands of windows shining above them. She had seen in the papers that Sephiroth was missing. Supposedly no one had seen him since the incident at Nibelheim, the incident that had been covered up. She wondered if Sephiroth's disappearance was some kind of cover up as well. She wondered if even now he was up there somewhere, perhaps looking down from one of those windows.

She felt anger rising up inside her. She wasn't about to forget what had happened to her home town. Even if Sephiroth wasn't there, she knew that someone in there was responsible. Somewhere in that building was the person who had created the SOLDIER program, somewhere in there was the person who had ordered Sephiroth to Nibelheim, might even have ordered him to do what he had done. All this time she had kept her anger in check, because she knew there was nothing she could do, but seeing the building in front of her, being so close to their headquarters brought it to the surface. Someday she was going to make them pay for what they had done.

"What are you looking at?" Drake asked.

The question brought her back to reality. Someday she might get revenge, but today wasn't the day.

"Nothing," she said. "C'mon, let's go."

They walked slowly down the street. Drake looked at everything as if it were the first time he had seen it, which was probably true in a lot of cases. Tifa wasn't quite as awed, but she still found their surrounding impressive. Drake wandered seemingly at random through the streets, going in the direction of anything that caught his eye. Eventually they came to a large plaza. On three sides of the plaza stood huge terraced buildings. Each terrace seemed to have it's own garden, but garden was too modest a word. Forest would have been more like it. Full grown trees filled them, with sculpted shrubs beneath. Long snaking vines hung down from the sides. In the center of each building, a waterfall flowed down each terrace. They both just stood there staring. Even Tifa had never seen anything like this.

"It's beautiful," she said softly.

Drake did not reply, finding no words suitable. Slowly they walked over to one of the buildings. A staircase led up to the first terrace. They walked up. There were paths under the trees. They strolled down one trail, looking at the greenery around them. Neither of them spoke, too awed by what they were seeing. Tifa hadn't thought a place like this could exist. She could only imagine what Drake, who had never seen a real tree before, was thinking.

They worked their way slowly up the terraces. There passed other people occasionally, mostly couples. Tifa would get nervous each time, thinking that someone was going to say something to them, that they shouldn't be here. But they were ignored.

Eventually they reached the roof. Here the illusion of being in a forest instead of the middle of a city was even more complete. The cobblestone path disappeared, replaced by a hard packed dirt trail. Apparently the entire roof was covered with soil. The greenery here was even more abundant than the terraces below, while the trees blocked out the view of most of the buildings around them. It didn't take much imagination at all for Tifa to believe she really was in a forest.

They followed the trail until they came upon another surprise. In the center of the roof was a lake, from which the water flowed that fed the waterfalls on the terraces below. Again Tifa stopped to stare. She could see no clue that gave away the fact that this was man made. If she hadn't seen the building herself, she would have never believed it.

"This is incredible," she heard Drake mutter.

She nodded her head in agreement. He walked over and sat down on the grass at the edge of the lake, touching the water with his hand.

"I'd have never believed something like this was possible," she said.

He turned to look at her, patting the grass beside him. She walked over and sat down beside him.

"Neither would I," he replied. "I had no idea what it was like up here. I had no idea what I was missing. I've seen pictures of the upper plate on TV, but none of them ever showed anything like this."

Tifa sat beside him in silence, content just to look out at the lake in front of them. She had forgotten what it was like to see the glint of the sun on the water, to smell the pine in the air. She hadn't really had much time to think about Nibelheim, about the world she used to live in. All this time she had shut it out of her mind. But this artificial forest brought it back to her just how much she missed her hometown. Suddenly she felt terribly homesick.

A cold breeze filtered through the trees, sending a sigh through the leaves around them. Tifa shivered.

Drake slipped his arm around her. For a moment Tifa felt uncomfortable. It had been a long time since a boy had done that.

"You cold?" he asked.

She hesitated a moment, then nodded.

"Yeah, a little," she replied.

He moved closer to her, until she could feel the warmth of his body against her own. She looked at him, but he was staring off over the lake. She had to admit, he wasn't a bad looking boy. She had to admit it would feel good to finally have some friends her own age again.

She looked up at the sky above them. The sun was gone, the last rays of light rapidly fading. Already the purples and reds had faded away into grey. The trees around them blocked out some of the light from the city that surrounded them. High above, almost directly overhead, she could see the faint glimmer of stars. She knew she was going to be late getting back to Garren's apartment, but there was nothing she could do about it now. It was already too late, and as long as she was going to be late, what difference did it make how late? Whatever was going to happen, there was no sense in worrying about it now.

Drake lifted his head, following her gaze. She wondered if this was the first time he had seen stars as well. If he had lived his entire life under the plate, she supposed that would have to be true.

"It's so beautiful here," she said. "Thank you for bringing me."

Drake looked at her and smiled.

"It was my pleasure," he said.

Tifa looked back at the lake. The wind blew again, rippling the water on it. It looked so clean, so clear, like many of the lakes in the forests near Nibelheim, and so different from the polluted river that flowed through the sector below them.

She realized Drake was still looking at her. The expression on his face gave her the indication that he wanted to say something. When she turned to look at him he spoke.

"You know, there is a way you can repay me," he said slowly.

"And what might that be?" she asked.

He hesitated for just a moment.

"With a kiss," he finally said.

She looked at him in surprise, and not without a little bit of suspicion. She hadn't expected that, though in the setting they were in, was it really so much of a shock? She had to admit, if he had planned it all out, he couldn't have picked a more romantic spot for them to end up in.

Still she hesitated. She didn't want to give him the wrong impression. She liked him, but she just wasn't interested in romance right now. She didn't want him to take it the wrong way.

On the other hand, how would he take it if she rebuffed him? Would he still want to be friends? Would she seem like a prude? After all, it was just a kiss he was asking for. It wasn't that big a deal. It didn't seem like too much to ask for leading her to this lovely place.

She saw he was waiting patiently for an answer.

"All right," she said finally, her voice barely above a whisper.

She looked at him nervously, yet feeling her heart beat faster at the same time. For a moment he hesitated, then he leaned forward, and his lips met hers. He leaned closer to her still, bringing his other arm around to hold her, pulling her toward him. She had to admit it wasn't an unpleasant experience. At least, not until she felt him pressing his lips harder against hers, leaning forward even more, forcing her backwards, down onto the ground.

She tried to pull away, but by this time he was on top of her. One of his hands stayed behind her back, pulling her to him, so tightly it almost hurt. His other hand slipped around in front, running across her blouse to come to rest on her breast.

She shook her head, trying to cry out, trying to tell him to stop, but all that came out was a mumble. Suddenly the innocent little kiss had turned into something much more. She felt fear rising up in her.

She got a grip on his shoulders and pushed with all her might. Perhaps not expecting her resistance to be so vehement he tumbled away. She pulled herself to her knees, her face flushed with anger.

"What the hell are you trying to do?" she demanded.

He pulled himself up as well, a look of shock on his face, which quickly darkened to anger as well.

"What's up with you?" he snapped.

"That was a hell of a lot more than a kiss," she exclaimed.

"What's the problem?" he said.

"What do you mean, what's the problem? I said you could kiss me, I didn't say you could put your hands all over me!"

He jumped to his feet, staring at her angrily in the darkness.

"I thought you liked me," he said.

"I do. I did," she replied. "That doesn't mean you can do something like that. I barely know you."

"I thought you would like it."

"Whatever gave you that idea?" she questioned.

"All the girls do," he replied. "It's no big deal. And you do work in a bar."

"What's that got to do with it?" she said.

Drake gave her a probing look.

"C'mon," he said. "We all know what goes on in those places. Guys have their hands on you all the time. The only kinda girls who work in places like that are the ones that like that. That's what gave me the idea, okay?"

She just looked at him for a moment.

"You don't know what you're talking about! You think just because I work in a bar I'm going to throw my legs in the air for any guy that asks?" she snapped. "Not everyone who works in a bar is like that. I'm just there because I'm helping a friend and I need some gil. I'm not that kind of girl!"

Drake just glared at her for a moment.

"Well what's the big deal anyway?" he said. "Sheesh, the way you talk, you think you'd never done it before."

Tifa just stared at him for a moment.

"Even if I have, that doesn't mean I'd do it with just anybody," she replied. "I barely know you."

"So?" he replied.

"So," she answered, both her anger and her frustration growing. "I'm not going to do it with someone I don't love."

Drake didn't reply. Finally his face drew up into a look of disgust.

"So that's it then?"

Tifa just looked at him for a moment. What kind of attitude was that?

"If you're talking about doing that, yes," she replied.

"So this was all for nothing?" he snapped. "I brought you all the way up here, wasted my whole night, for nothing? What kind of gratitude is that? You know, if you don't want to do it, there are plenty of other girls who would be more than willing. When I came up here with..."

He stopped abruptly.

Tifa's eyes widened.

"When you came up here with...other girls!" she finished for him. "You have been up here before, haven't you? You have seen the sky and the stars. This was all an act! This whole thing was an elaborate scheme to get me up here, to make me think you were romantic, wasn't it?"

He looked at her for a moment, his face clouded with anger, but he did not respond.

She took a step closer to him.

"Wasn't it?" she demanded.

"No!" he snapped.

He stepped away from her, looking around in the darkness, as if for someplace to hide. It was pretty obvious his denial was a lie.

"I don't know why the hell I'm even talking to you," he continued, his voice suddenly filled with anger. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, leading me on like that. What kind of a tease are you?"

"What?" she exclaimed.

"You heard me," he said. "You're just trying to take me for a fool. You probably enjoyed this whole thing. I don't know what your problem is, trying to pretend to be all prim and proper. What a load of crap. I hope you really are a virgin, and one of those men in that bar takes you in the back and screws the shit out of you."

Tifa faced flushed with anger.

"Drop dead!" she shouted.

"Same to you," he snarled. "That's it, I'm outa here."

He turned and without another word walked away. Tifa just stood there, at a loss for words. She couldn't believe he had set this whole thing up, had literally thrown himself on top of her, and then had had the gall to actually claim it was her fault! She was as mad as she had ever been in her entire life. She wanted to shout something after him, tell him just what an asshole he was, but it seemed pointless to waster her breath. His mind was made up. No matter what she said now, it wasn't going to make any difference.

She stood there for a long time. Besides being angry, she was hurt. She had thought she had a chance to have a real friend here, she thought that maybe she had found someone she could trust. But he had turned out just like everyone else here. Just like Garren said, no one was as they seemed.

It took her a long time to calm down. And after she did she almost felt like crying. But she took a deep breath and held the tears back. She wasn't going to cry over this, she wasn't going to give him the satisfaction.

Eventually she looked up and realized that night had fallen. The sun was long gone now, and she could see quite a few stars in the heavens above her. She wondered how late it was. She really had to get back.

She walked quickly back the way she had come, down the terraces and out into the plaza below. She kept an eye out for Drake, just to see if he was still around, but she saw no sign of him. Not that she wanted to anymore. She would be very happy right now if she never saw his face again.

She reached the street and started down it. There were fewer people on the streets now, even though traffic did not seem to have diminished. She followed the path they had taken to get here, or at least she tried to, but she had never been very good with directions. Drake had lead them in a meandering path, going this way and that as the mood struck him. She soon realized she was not sure of the way.

But she kept on, trying to remember as best she could. She could see the Shinra building towering over the others, a landmark that couldn't be missed. She knew from that the general direction she had to go in. Hopefully as she worked her way in that direction she would spot something that would jog her memory.

She continued for nearly an hour, but nothing did. Even though she knew she was close, she couldn't find the white flagstone plaza that they had come up in. As the time went by slowly her uneasiness turned to fear. She became more desperate with each passing minute. She had to find the way back down, and soon.

There were plenty of people on the streets, but she didn't dare ask them. She didn't belong here, and any questions about a way down to the slums below might raise suspicion. At this point, she even would even have been relieved if Drake had come back for her.

She came around a corner and saw a line of storefronts, lights glaring in the darkness. She was certain she had not seen them before.

She stopped, feeling a knot of fear forming in her stomach. Drake wasn't coming back, and she couldn't find her way by herself. She didn't know which way to go. She was alone, lost up on the top plate, with no one to help her and no place to turn.

Chapter 5

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic