Love and Life Chapter 7

She's Not There

By Medina

Tifa was asleep again; her fever had returned and the antibiotics that the doctor had given her seemed to have no effect. Reno sat and looked at her. If they hadn’t been on opposite sides during the war he could have saved her from Cloud, the man who mistreated her. He had such disdain for the man -- not only could he not take care of Tifa, but he still harbored strong feelings for a girl who had died over a year ago. What a loser. But that loser still had more points scored for himself than Reno did. He had Tifa’s love and he had been on the winning side.

He looked down at Tifa again. When he had confessed his love to her, she had smiled, but it was out of flattery and regard for his feelings. She told him how nice he was, and as soon as she got better, she’d go on a date with him. That, at least, gave him some of a chance, however small. But, now he wasn’t sure if she was going to get better at all.

He stared at her a little bit longer. She stirred, and looked up, her eyes weak.

“Reno...” she said, smiling slightly, “I thought that you were an angel come to take me home...” Reno choked back the tears, and managed to smile back. He stroked her silky hair gently.

“I’m hardly an angel, and don’t you go thinking those morbid thoughts now, Tifa. You’ll pull through.”

“You’re too optimistic...” she whispered.

“I know...” he thought.

Cloud had traced the gold chocobo and it’s rider all the way up to the polar regions. Wraith tore through the deep snow like it were simply a light mist over the ground.

“I need to find her... I know that I need her -- as a friend for sure, and... I think that I have loved her from the beginning. I have to tell her before she’s completely lost.”

He sped on into Icicle Inn and was just about to ask about the rare chocobo when he saw it; tethered to one of the houses, eating greens out of a trough. Cloud hurried over to the bird, which began to squawk with glee when it saw its partner, Wraith, and Cloud.

“Boco! That must mean that Tifa’s in here!” he jumped down into the snow with a crunch, and tied Wraith up next to Boco. Without even thinking, he opened the door and marched in.

“Tifa!” he shouted.

“CLOUD!” Looking back at him was the furious face of Reno.

“Reno? Why do you have Tifa’s chocobo? Where the hell is she, you Shin-Ra slime!” Cloud took hold of his sword.

“Get out of here you dumb fucking asshole! What kind of person are you? First you tell this wonderful girl who loves you more than the whole goddamned universe to pretty much take all of her love and shove it down the shitter! And what now? You come back to tell her that it was all a big mistake, and that you want her back eh? No, you can’t have her,” Reno stood firm before the doorway that led to Tifa’s room.

Cloud felt that. His face reddened, and he let go of his sword.

“I may not deserve her, but I’m not leaving until I get to talk to her,” he told Reno.

“Cloud...?” a wispy voice came from the other room. “Cloud... is it you...?”

“Tifa?” Cloud suddenly was overwhelmed with concern, and blew past Reno with such ease that it enraged Reno.

“Get back here you ingrate--” he stopped. There he saw Cloud, the “savior” of the planet, knelt down at Tifa’s side, crying his eyes out like a kindergartner.

“Tifa! Oh my god... Tifa, what’s wrong with you?” he exclaimed, gasping and stroking her head in the way that Reno wished to do.

“Cloud... I’m sick... what does it look like?” she tried to joke with him in her ever- lowering whisper. Cloud grinned with tears streaming down his face.

“I missed you so much... only to find you here. I should have never said any of that stuff to you before: please forgive me Tifa, please,” he pleaded so melodramatically that Reno felt like puking.

“I forgive you,” she told him. “I’m so happy... but I’m tired...”

“Then sleep, Tifa, get some strength back, and I’ll find the best doctor on the planet for you,” he told her.

“Okay...” she closed her eyes and tried to sleep.

Cloud got up and went back into the other room with Reno. Reno stood there, his face angry and hurt at the same time: poor Tifa was so enamored of this doofus that she forgave him without even a thought. And Cloud looked concerned, mainly, and turned to Reno.

“What’s wrong with her?”

“The local doctor can’t tell. He thought that it was the flu, but it’s not... This is all your fault, you know. If you had never broken her heart in the first place, she never would have ended up out in the cold and sick! What is your coming back going to do to her? Are you just going to leave her again? Maybe you should just put her out of her misery and send that sword of yours flying through her stomach?” Reno yelled at him again. That struck a nerve in Cloud, and he stepped up to Reno, drawing his sword out deftly and holding it to Reno’s chin.

“Don’t you dare say that! I know that you’re not only mocking me but Aeris’ death, too!” Cloud seethed. Reno grinned maliciously.

“There you go again! Letting the memory of that dead Ancient get in the way of a real, living person. At this rate, you’ll have a track record of two dead girlfriends!”

Cloud backed down again. He shouldn’t be sitting here fighting, and yes, he was letting Aeris’ memory block out his current relationship.

“Tifa’s not doing good, you say?” he turned to the wall.

“No, she’s not,” Reno said back in dismay. “The best doctor I know of lives in Kalm town near where Midgar used to be.”

“Then I’ll have to take her to him,” said Cloud, heading back into Tifa’s room.

“What? You’re thinking of moving her right now? You could kill her by simply taking her outside!” he followed Cloud and tried to stop him again. Cloud looked him square in the eye.

“Is this Tifa’s only chance?” he asked, “Tell me.”

“Probably,” Reno conjectured.

“Then if you care about her at all, let my by. I have the gold chocobos -- they’re faster than anything besides a jet plane, which we don’t have right now.” Reno thought for a moment, still not moving. “This is her only chance to live,” Cloud pleaded.

Reno moved. Cloud scooped Tifa up into the blanket and carried her outside.

“Reno,” Cloud looked at him as he was leaving, “Thank you.”

Reno stood there, watching that wonderful woman being hauled away once again by the man she couldn’t seem to detach herself from. He listened in silence as the footsteps of the chocobos became more distant. Finally, they were gone.

“FUUUUUUUUCK!!!!! TIFA!!!!” he cried, falling to his knees. He knew that in whatever way this situation turned out, Tifa was gone to him.


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