A Rose By Any Other Name Chapter 10
"You want what?"
"I want you and Shera to come up with a power source for a computer in the basement laboratory of the Shinra mansion," Tifa said again.
Cid released a long sentence solely comprised of expletives and threw his cigarette to the ground. "And how the hell am I supposed to do that when I still haven't come up with a #%$&# power source for the farming equipment Barret wants so &%$#@$# bad."
"I don't care how you do it, Cid. It's for Vincent, okay?"
"Vincent? That spook? What the hell does he need it for?"
"There's a professor who might be able to cure him." Cid stared at her in shock and then lit another cigarette. "I'm serious, Cid. She has an idea and wants to give it a try."
"She? Damned if a woman would be able to cure anything," he scoffed after a deep drag.
Tifa frowned and crossed her arms. "Cid, you and Shera are the only hope---"
"Well then I guess you won't get your power source."
"Fine. I'll ask the professor. She seems to have more brains than you right now."
He snorted and turned to stride away. Shera stepped up a few minutes later. "I'll get him to come, Tifa. Don't you worry."
"Right now I don't care if he comes or not. I'm sure Natalie will appreciate all the help she can get, but I'm not going to beg."
"He's just upset because it hasn't been going so well. He's frustrated."
Tifa sighed and threw up her hands in exasperation. "Fine. That doesn't mean he has to be such a jerk, does it?"
Shera smirked. "That's Cid for you."
"I know. I know. Well, try and have him at Nibelheim before the month's over. Okay?"
"Okay." Shera hesitated. "Tifa, is it true that this Natalie person has a cure for Vincent?"
"That's what she was trying to do on the computer at the Shinra mansion in Nibelheim. Only problem is, our dear Cloud wrecked the computer before she could do anything other than get her hopes up. It was hooked up to a Mako generator, you see."
"Oh." Shera wrinkled her nose in concentration and rubbed thoughtfully at her jaw. "A Mako generator, hmm. How small was it?"
"I'm not sure exactly. All I know is that it wasn't very big. If Shinra can do it, why can't we? I figured that with the three of you working together you'd be able to come up with a safe alternative to Mako. Don't you think?"
Shera nodded absently. "Hmm. I better go get packed."
She turned and walked away, Tifa staring after her with a smile and a shake of her head.
* * *
Shera stepped into Cid's house and immediately set to work fixing him tea. It didn't matter whether he wanted some or not, that was one of her duties. She made tea, kept his house clean, his laundry current, and helped him with his research and experiments regarding an environmentally safe alternative to Mako for the equipment that would be so desperately needed. Shera had no idea what he would do without her there for him to rant and rave at, but she'd already decided that no matter what he said, she would go and help this person in Nibelheim.
Cid slammed into the house with a few extra expletives as he tossed himself into a chair at the table. She set a teacup in front of him, the teapot beside him, and the sugar within easy reach before she turned to go.
"Shera, what do you think?"
She paused and turned back toward him. "Excuse me? What do I think about what?"
"About what Tifa said. About the whole idea of going to Nibelheim to help some braud with nary a thought in her head."
"I was going to go." He glared at her for a long moment before tossing a couple sugar cubes into his teacup. Shera thought the cup would crack from the force of it. "I thought it would do some good, especially since we haven't been out of Rocket Town since Sephiroth was defeated. Well, at least I haven't. And it seemed you had some better ideas once you'd gotten back from your short trip to Nibelheim. What's to say that working with someone other than me might break loose your block?"
"Damned if you aren't right. Shit. I hate it when you're right." He jerked the hat from his head and threw it to the table. "Poor the damn tea, woman. Then we'll pack. I have a feeling we're going to be there for awhile."
Shera hurried forward and grabbed for the teapot, nearly dumping it into his lap in her excitement. He leapt clear and snorted with a shake of his head.
* * *
Cloud reigned in the gold chocobo outside a tent that he recognized as Tifa's. He took off the saddle and bridle, set it off to graze with Tifa's blue one, and then ducked inside the tent. She was tucked into her sleeping bag reading a book. He sat on the ground beside her after setting his sword and scabbard by the door.
Tifa lowered the book and gave him a smile. "Hey, you. What's with the face? Couldn't find Yuffie?"
Cloud laid back and rest his head against her stomach. She immediately began playing with his spiked hair just as she always did. "Nah. Nobody has seen her for weeks. She never disappears until someone actually needs something."
"It can't be that bad. Don't you think Shera and Cid can handle it? They've done a good job so far."
Cloud shrugged. "I guess, but this is going to be different. This time they have to actually come up with something that works."
Tifa knocked him on the head with a playful scowl. "Give them a break, Cloud. It's hard to work under pressure with someone like Barret constantly looking over your shoulder. Don't you remember?"
"I know, I know. I guess I'm just getting a little frustrated with the slow progress. I mean, it's been a month. We should have some kind of idea for a power supply by now. The people are getting nervous."
"So are you, it sounds like." Tifa sat up and carefully adjusted Cloud's head into her lap. She smiled down at him. "You know, you don't have to be the savior all the time. Take a vacation. Let someone else worry about the planet and everyone on it."
One side of his lips tilted upward. "Sounds like a good idea, but "
Tifa smiled wider. "But you like being the good guy."
She sighed with a slight shake of her head and kissed his forehead. "That's what I like about you." She raised her head and looked down at him expectantly. "Okay, Mr. Good Guy, what's the plan? You can't find Yuffie, I can't get a definite answer from Mr. Pain-In-Everyone's-Ass, and we have a shy professor in love with a distant and close-mouthed ex-Turk. What do you suggest we do?"
Cloud was quiet for a long time before he let out a quick breath and looked away from Tifa's face. "I have no idea. Go on vacation?"
Tifa chuckled. "Hey, you started it. You can't back out now."
"Why not? We've got the tent, the girl, the boy---"
Tifa flushed. "Hold it right there, Mister."
Cloud laughed up at her. "You're too easy." He sat up before she could clobber him and rolled to a standing position. "I'm going to go get my bedroll and tent and start setting up. If you want to help "
He ducked outside and Tifa put her hands on her hips with a shake of her head and a slow smile. She slipped free of the sleeping bag and put on her shoes, then stepped outside to help Cloud.
"So, are you going back to Nibelheim to help Natalie?"
Cloud nodded. "Yeah. I've got to. I feel like a jerk for what I did before."
"I'm sure she'll appreciate the gesture. I don't think she feels all that great about how she acted either."
"I deserved it."
Tifa nodded with a laugh. "Yes, you did. And she gave it to you squarely between the eyes. It was great fun to watch what I did."
"Ha, ha. Very funny."
They secured the tent and then Cloud disappeared inside to set up his bedroll. Tifa waited outside until he emerged again. "Say, Cloud, let's go for a walk. We need to get firewood anyway."
"Sure. Let me get my sword." He slipped into the massive scabbard, adjusted the sword on his back, and then grabbed her hand. "Just don't ask me what I'm going to do about Natalie and the whole Vincent thing. I haven't any idea and I don't want to think about it yet."
Tifa tightened her grip on his hand and smiled. "Okay."
* * *
Yuffie stared up at the second story window of the inn and crossed her arms as she adjusted her perch on the Nibelheim well. Vincent and Natalie had been up there for a while. She didn't hear any shrieking or yelling, which she knew was a good sign, but the silence made her a little nervous. Of course, she'd never really cared for silence. It always made her think something was wrong. Red had once said that the people who didn't like quiet usually didn't like being alone with their own thoughts, but it sounded pretty silly to her.
She shrugged and climbed down from the well. While looking for the Materia fountain she'd found a couple of perfect places to set up waterwheels and windmills. She was sure there were other places that would have the same great locale, although she was sure that Corel would work better using Solar power than anything else. As for curing Vincent Yuffie didn't know what to think. She'd gotten used to him the way he was and couldn't think of him any other way. Something told her that whether he was cured or not he'd probably basically be the same guy, but she liked him now. Because of the fact that he was different. Maybe it was his red eyes. Maybe it was his cool powers. It was a lot of things, she was sure. Would he be as cool without them? 'Hmm. Maybe this is why the prof doesn't want to cure him anymore.'
Yuffie shrugged and headed toward Tifa's house. She knew that she wasn't there, but Tifa always let her crash there when she was in town.
Much to her surprise, Red was curled up on Tifa's bed reading a book. Yuffie greeted him and leaped up onto the bed beside him. The swift move caused the pages of the book to turn and he promptly lost his place. "Hey there, Red. What's up?"
Red sighed and then carefully began turning back the pages with a single claw until he once again found his place. "The sun, unless it's night and then it would be the moon."
Yuffie grinned. "Very funny. You know I was asking you what was going on."
"With me or with life in general?"
"With you, of course. What would I care about life in general?"
"What should you care about me in either case?" Red asked as he looked up at her. "In most cases, if life doesn't pertain to you in one way or another you are generally not interested."
Yuffie grimaced. "Give me a break, will ya? Life's been rough."
"For a great many of us, be assured."
Red carefully pushed the book aside and then sat up, cocking his head at her as he examined her expression. "What brings you here?"
"I got a note that some professor wanted to interview me."
"That would be Professor Long."
"Professor Natalie Long."
"Oh. Yeah. Nat."
"How did it go?"
"The interview? Oh, it was okay. I like her. She's cool and she actually listens to what I have to say about things."
Red seemed to smile. "Yes. That would definitely endear her to you quite fast."
"Oh, knock it off." Yuffie examined Red's innocent expression. "Did you know she's sweet on Vinnie?" That comment didn't surprise him and Yuffie tilted her lips down in a pout. "Damn. You know everything, don't you?"
"Not everything, but quite a bit. All one must do is observe." Red moved to sit closer beside her and leaned toward her ear. "Did you know that he is fond of her as well?"
Yuffie smirked. "I kind of guessed when he came up to her room a little bit ago." Red looked proud of her and she shoved at him. He fell to his side and looked up at her with a smile, pawing at the air as if he wanted to play. "Go jump off a cliff, Red," she protested. "Quit treating me like a baby."
He dropped his paw. "Try having a sense of humor." Red cleared his throat and twitched his tail. "There is a bit of a romance brewing between them, but I'm not sure if either one of them is ready. They both seem the type of person who is withdrawn within themselves."
"Yeah. I know what you mean. I wouldn't worry about it, though. They'll get it right eventually."
"But will one of them get hurt in the process? It's hard to say and I'd rather it not happen."
"Well, I feel kind of funny about poking my nose into it. It's their business."
"I believe our only option is to lend an ear and an understanding shoulder when each of them needs it."
Yuffie shrugged. "Sounds like a plan to me."
Red hesitated a moment and then sat up. "Yuffie, what did you mention to Professor Long that you had attempted to tell us?"
"What did you mention to the professor that she listened to?"
"Oh. That. I told her my different ideas for power."
"I see. What were they?"
Yuffie went into the same explanation she had voiced to Natalie and felt a strange feeling of acceptance and belonging grow within her as Red listened.
Go To Chapter 11
Return To FF7 Fanfic