Love and Life Chapter 5
The cold air of the North county was crisp and clean, and the sun, reflecting off of every white hill, lit up the land like a frosty jewel. The only thing that stuck out from the deep, powdery whiteness were a few gray rocks, and a curious golden figure running across the horizon. A gold chocobo, named Boco, ran at furious speeds over the mountains of ice and rock, carrying his single passenger: a young woman with long, dark-brown hair which glinted with coppery highlights from the sun, and skin that challenged the snow around her in whiteness.
For Tifa Lockheart, this beautiful scenery would have captivated her, had she been here under other circumstances, but now that she was on the run from her problems and sorrows, nothing looked right to her. But it was not only that now. She was so tired that she could barely keep awake to guide her chocobo, and she was almost certain that she had a fever. She was searching for the town of Icicle Inn, from where she could proceed to find some medical help. As she shivered in the morning cold, she had a fleeting thought to just find a nice place to lie down in the snow, and fall into a frozen sleep, where she could forget about her problems, her losses, her pains, and Cloud.
No, I must face my problems, and live to see what tomorrow brings me... -cough, cough!- she said aloud to herself. She spurred Boco forward, and the gentle bird continued on, effortlessly through the snow.
Some distance later, despite her will to keep herself awake, she passed out and fell off of the chocobo, into the snow. The bird stopped, and, being one of the more intelligent of his kind, went back to check on her.
Wark, wark? the bird squawked, nudging Tifa with his massive bill. Waaark? Wark wark wark?? He circled around her a few times, and managed to get her to stir.
In a half-conscious daze, Tifa managed to get up to a crawl, and the bird squatted so that she might get back on his back. She flopped up onto him, and the bird continued on, without her guidance, and made it to the town. He walked in, with the girl on his back in a feverish sleep, and began to make as much of a racket as he could.
WARK! Que-Wark! Wark Wark Wark WAAAAARRK! exclaimed Boco, while at the same time kicking a galvanized garbage can with his clawed foot. A man emerged from the closest house.
What the hell is that noise--? Oh, s#!t, a gold chocobo! Come here, ya little, er, big birdie! (Man, what a find!) he said, slowly approaching the chocobo. The bird walked up to him, unafraid, surprising the man. What? Ive never seen a choco do that... Whats this? he finally took notice of the woman that Boco bore on his back, which was his reason for approaching the man. Oh, so this is why you came to me, you rascal, heh. So, who are you? he pulled up the hood from over her head. Oh my god! Its Tifa! Aw, damn, youre burning up! Come on! he said, gesturing the choco to follow him into the house.
She felt a cool cloth on her forehead, and a warm bed beneath her. Safe... she sensed the presence of someone in the room, and heard her chocobos low cooing, as he did when he was dozing.
Cloud... Cloud!? she shouted, and ripped the cloth off of her forehead. She blinked her eyes open, noticing a blurry figure over her. Who are you? she hoarsely asked, rubbing her eyes.
Youre awake! Great, the antibiotics are working, he said to her. Tifa could now make out red hair, and the only man she knew with red hair was, Reno, Tifa, its Reno. I found you passed out on your chocobo, and youve been sick with fever for a week. I found a traveling doctor a few days ago, and he gave you a shot o some medicine. How are you feeling? he said, pulling up a chair backwards and sat astride it, his chin propped up on the back.
I dont know... a little numb, she said a little louder now. Why did you, of all people, help me?
Reno kind of shrugged, and ran his hand over his wild hair. I dont have any hard feelings against you, if thats what you mean. You guys did destroy my income, but it was just a job; I had no special feelings for the ShinRa corp. Ive started a ski range here, and within just a few months Im already making more money than I had in five years in the Turks. Isnt that is a laugh?
Its good, Reno. Im glad one of us is happy... she said sadly.
Oh, yeah... No need to tell me... you were kinda mumbling about it while you were out. I never got what you saw in that guy anyway, Id say that you were better off without him.
Well, I think that I would be, but I still love him, no matter what. Thats why I had to leave him. If he doesnt love me, I cant be near him at all -- its just too much to bear, she closed her eyes to blink back tears.
Reno held her hand. Rude was right about you, you are a great girl, he said, I hate to see you like this. When you were out, you were saying things like, I wish I had died instead of Aeris. Thats terrible, Reno was angered.
I know... Enough about me; what happened to the rest of the Turks? she inquired, changing the subject hastily. She stiffly moved herself to a semi-upright position, and looked at Reno intently.
Ah, the Turks, he smiled, or rather Elena and Rude, since there were only three of us left, he paused there, remembering the fate of Tseng. The kid, Elena, had been in love with Tseng, and after everything was over with the Meteor, with ShinRa gone, things really hit her about the loss. I mean, it was so bad, that she even got me into some mushy reminiscing about the old stick-up-the-ass.
Did you call him that regularly? giggled Tifa.
Oh, certainly not to his face, but always when Rude and I were together. Actually, now that I think about him, one time, Rude and I got so stone drunk that instead of going home the way that we usually did, we thought that we were going to work. So we went up to floor 68, found Tseng, and I said to him, Hey, Tseng, you old stick-up-the-ass,... and proceeded to babble on about his personal life until he smacked me so hard that the next thing I knew I was on the floor of my apartment with a reprimand slip, a headache and the biggest black eye ever! with that he had the both of them into stitches.
That was completely rude of you... speaking of whom, did you tell me what happened to him?
Reno blinked. Ah, Rude? Well, as I was getting to saying before, Rude came to Elenas side and helped her through her grief. Over the weeks they grew very close, and then they got married a few weeks ago, actually. Wow... So, uh, yeah, they went and found a nice place to live in Costa Del Sol, where Rude waxes surfboards and Elena makes snow cones. Its a pretty good life. So now, Im here, all alone. Just me, myself and I... he did his best to make himself look as if he were fine with his solitude, but Tifa could see in his aqua blue eyes that he missed them.
Ah...two lonely souls, you and I, out here in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but our pasts, Tifa was stuck in her thoughts. What more did she want to talk about? Uh, Reno?
Who was it that you liked? she asked slowly.
Er, uh? Well, Ive liked a lot of women in my time... there was that girl who used to sell flowers...
Aeris. Tifa couldnt help but be a bit dismayed at the sound of that name. Everyone liked her.
Aeris.. yeah. She was too much of a goody-two-boots for me. Damn, how many of those pink dresses did she have? Sheesh. The only thing that I ever saw in her was her eyes. Hmph, then she dumped me for that SOLDIER guy, he scowled.
How many ShinRa operatives had Aeris been out with? asked Tifa.
Reno scratched his head. Beats me with a big stick. Lessee, first there was Tseng, but he was too old, so she left him, then Rude, she later on said that she couldnt stand his drinking, (By the way, she made Rude cry for weeks...) Then she flirted with Rufus, only to be chased away by Scarlet... then there was me, she then left me for Zack,
Wow, Tifa was amazed. She has quite a repitoire. I never thought that the girl had it in her.
Oh, and those are the only ones that I know about. She had a way with people -- a charm. It allowed her to hand-pick which men she wanted. It seems that she wanted Cloud a lot, since she bothered to stay with him more than a week... he grinned, but then remembered Tifas problem. Oh, sorry about that.
Yes, enough about Aeris... more about you, she made her best effort to look happy and entertained. She really felt terrible, and the effort that she had exerted to sit up had left her even more tired.
Ah, yes, my girlfriends. I went out with Scarlet... Once. Never again. She is literally the wicked witch of Midgar. She had tried to stick her tongue in my ear -- then I realized how much of a skank she was. I had a few when I was younger; Lillian, Jen, Dee... but there was one girl I never told anyone that I liked, not even Rude, he closed his eyes in remembrance.
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