Love and Life Chapter 2

Cry, Baby, Cry

By Medina

She packed up the picnic while Cloud rambled on about Aeris and the City of the Ancients, and more about how much he liked her. On the way out of the forest and on the trip back to Kalm, he recounted the details of their short date back at he Gold Saucer.

“We went to this play they were having there, and we ended up being picked to participate in the play! It was funny, because I started messing up my lines...” he said with tons of enthusiasm. Tifa nodded now and again to give the illusion that she was interested in what he was saying; what she was really concentrating on at the moment was,

“I want to tell Cloud that I have these strong feelings... But how can I when he’s always talking about her? Hmm, what am I going to say?” For a moment, she looked over at Cloud ,who was still merrily jabbering. In a couple minutes, he finished, and finally taking some notice of the girl that he was with, asked,

“So, what do you think?” at first Tifa just nodded, not having noticed him yet, thinking that he was still in the story. “Tifa!” he said louder, making her jump.

“Oh, sorry. Ah, well...” she fumbled. Now was not the time to be inarticulate!

Cloud’s countenance turned from a perky smile to that of dismay. “You weren’t even listening to me, were you.”

Tifa’s jaw dropped, not knowing what to say, “I, uh, well, I was...” think damnit! “Er...! I was wondering, since you had such a good time on a date with Aeris...” here goes nothing... “Would you like to go on a date with me?” she finally asked, her hear pounding against her ribs, fluttering, unrelenting, hopeful. Cloud looked surprised for a moment, and Tifa couldn’t quite tell what he felt.

“How can you ask me something like that, after, ah... after what I just narrated to you?” he said in low tones. “Trying to take her line? That’s bad, Tifa. I wouldn't think that you would do that,” he said in the same voice, almost indifferent to his own words.

Tifa felt something like steel rip through her chest, and she stood, breathless for a moment -- yet when she put her hand to the pain, it touched was no wound -- at least a visible one. Her face was screwed up into a look of shock and pain, but Cloud did not even look at her to see her pain.

“Have some tact, Tifa, don’t you know how that makes me feel?” said he, who held his hand out in a fist. “I loved Aeris, I admit it, ok? So, just don’t go there right now.”

A single tear trickled down Tifa’s milky-white cheek and was carried off by the wind. He said the dreaded words again... just to her. He loved Aeris... and he didn’t want Tifa or anyone to encroach upon that territory of his heart.

“I’m sorry...” she just barely whispered. She had gotten so close for a while back in the woods; so close, and still so far. She stood there, having already dropped the basket, and brought her hands up to her face, covering it for a moment, with them she was hiding her shame, her embarrassment, her sorrow; all of these things she felt, but he didn’t seem to care -- he cared only for Aeris.

Cloud finally decided to turn his head back to look at Tifa, which he did, but only in enough time to catch a glimpse of her taking off in another direction. He had, though, seen her face, and only then did he begin to realize exactly what he had said to her.

“Tifa-!” he shouted to her off in the distance, reaching his hand out as if he could pluck her fine figure off of the horizon, but she didn’t turn around. Run after her, something inside him said, but he did not listen. Instead, he walked on to the town, and wallowed in his stupidity, but also his self-righteousness, over a drink.

“She shouldn’t have said that, she knows damn well how I feel to that subject... But on the other hand, maybe I wouldn’t give her the chance to say something...” he went over these things in his head as he kept on stirring his margarita with the little umbrella that was in it. “She had time to ask me back in the woods, but...” he kept on going back and forth on the subject in his mind until he had finished his drink, and the bar owner had told him that he should be on his way.

Cloud walked through the streets of Kalm, still thinking about what had happened earlier that day, until he ran into someone he knew -- Cid.

“Hey, Kid! Where in the hell have you been? We were all gathered for dinner, waiting for your spiky ass to get over there to the restaurant, and you never showed!” the man said loudly, and still, somehow, keeping the lit cigarette in his mouth.

“Wha-? Oh crap, I completely forgot about dinner!” Cloud said, bopping himself on the forehead with the heel of his hand. Cid puffed away at his cig, looking annoyed.

“Damn straight! First we had Barret drooling over the chitlins, then Vince was complaining that he had things to do, then Nanaki kept on cat-napping, while the lil’ brat, Yuffie, was trying to find the materia you had in your room! People were getting hungry, and since you’re usually the leader, were were getting f---ing hungry for some of that f---ing food! And then, things got all screwed up because Tifa was acting weird!” Cid paused for a moment. “You and she were out together, weren’t you? Did something, ah, happen?” Cid looked straight into Cloud’s guilty eyes.

“She wasn’t crying, was she?” Cloud asked.

“F@!k no, but some s#!t was wrong! She wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t talk, she wouldn’t even smile for that matter. Kid, you had better go straighten out whatever happened between you and her. I ain’t seen her like this since you were in that coma thing. Do it, before I have to make this more of my business,” Cid said in warning. Everyone in the group liked Tifa, since she was such a likable person anyway, thought Cloud, and Cid had a lot of concern for her too, more than he would usually have for most people, probably because she didn’t back down from him like most people did. He had respect for strong women, and hated to see Tifa brought down to such a vulnerable level.

“Thanks for finding me, Cid. I’ll go and see if I can talk to her,” said Cloud, as he went past Cid with a parting pat to the guy’s back, which almost dislodged his cig.


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