Evolution of Innocence Chapter 3

By Janet Monstwillo

“Why don’t we get a video,” suggested Tifa.

“Whatever.” Cloud shrugged.

She put her hands on her hips. “I’m sorry for what I did. I’m sorry I got pissed off at you for going to Junon. But when you go on these pointless mission, it worries me for no reason. Can’t you see where I’m coming from?”

“They’re not pointless!”

“Did you find Sephiroth in Junon?”

“I found something...but not Sephiroth.”

She looked at him. “What?”

“Dammit, Tifa, can’t I have my own life? Can’t you rent a fucking movie by yourself? Can’t I ever have some time alone to think? If you think that I’ll miraculously fall out of my mind head over heels in love with you if you keep hounding me, you’re wrong! Tifa, don’t do this to us. I swear, you’re going to make me hate you.”

“It looks like I’m too late to do that.”

“I don’t hate you, Tifa. But you’re making too easy for me to want to hate you. Just give me some down time, okay? I’ll go to Junon for a week or something. You stay here. We can both think and look deep inside ourselves. Then maybe we both can act like rational human beings again.”

“Why don’t you let me give you something to contemplate while you’re away,” she said. She kissed him passionately. She reached down and unbuckled his belt.

Cloud relaxed and his hands found the buttons of the tight blouse she was wearing.

(Victory!) Tifa drew herself closer, pressing herself against him. “Cloud,” she murmured.

He snapped back to reality with a jolt. He had to force her off of him with both hands. “Damn, Tifa, why do you do this,” he muttered as he refastened his pants. “If I didn’t know you better, I would say you were acting like some little slut.”

She shrank back like a wounded animal. “Yeah,” she hissed, “because I’m just a little whore. Taking it anywhere. Doing it with anyone.” She slapped him. “Get the hell out of here. I don’t care if you come back or not.”

“My pleasure!”

Tifa watched Cloud storm out. Then she burst into tears.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

(This is stupid.) Cloud stood outside the entrance to the bar where he had met Daphne. (You met a girl here, a week ago. Then you come back, like she’ll be waiting for you. No girl would do that for me. Especially a hot one.)

A hand waved back and forth in front of his eyes. A sweet voice laughed.

Cloud turned around. “Daphne.”

She smiled. “In the flesh.”

(Well, I agree.) Cloud moved his eyes off her body and guiltily met her amused gaze. “What?”

“I’ve been waiting for a week for you to come back so I can ask you out.”

“Come again?”

Daphne lowered her eyes. “I don’t meet that many people. I just wanted someone to do something with, that’s all.”

“What? No, I accept,” said Cloud, “it’s just that I thought there must be some hunky body builder standing behind me and you were talking to him.”

She shook her head. “No. Besides,” she said, running a hand lightly across his arm, “you’re not exactly a ninety-pound weakling. And even though you’re not the biggest guy in the world...”

“What are you saying?”

She drew herself up close to him and met his eyes. “I’m sure you make up for it in other ways,” she whispered.

Cloud turned beet red. “How could you...know...that,” he stammered.

Her eyes widened and she giggled. “I didn’t before, but I do now.” She put her hand to her head. “Damn.”

“Are you okay?”

“Just a headache. I’ve been having a lot since mom died.” Her mind flew back to a place in the past. It seemed like years ago.

“I have a job for you. Get me out of here.”

Cloud arched an eyebrow. “Y’know, I’m not a charity. I charge quite a fee.”

“Fine. How about if I go out with you once?”


She opened her eyes. She had fallen to her knees. (Did I hire Cloud?) “Are you sure, Cloud, that you never had met me before the other night?”

“Yes.” His voice was firm. “I...” He faltered. (Gotta finish it.) “I would have remembered if I had ever seen you. You’re beautiful.”

She stood up and smoothed her clothes. She reached to fix the ribbon in her hair. (What? I don’t have a ribbon in my hair. I never wear my hair up. What the hell is wrong with me?) “Let’s go to the Junon Arcade,” she suggested. “They have this awesome snowboarding game.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“Please tell me, Tifa, why do you want me to do this?”

She fidgeted. “I don’t know, Red, it’s just that I’m worried about Cloud, that’s all. I just want you to follow him and make sure he isn’t in any trouble. Or that he isn’t drinking too much.”

“Tifa,” said Red XIII, “I will do this for you because you asked and you are my friend, but I am going to give you a word of advice. Cloud’s business is his own business. And after tonight, if you want someone to tail Cloud, you can do it on your own. I could be out killing the monsters around Junon, you know.”

(But I need to know what Cloud’s up to. Why he seemed so eager to get back to Junon...) “I can follow him myself, if that’s what bugs you. I just need you to track him down to begin with. Then you can make your rounds.”

Red XIII sighed. “Well, I’ll try my best.”

“He’s in the arcade.”

Tifa peered inside the brightly lit building. “You’re sure?”

“Yes, I haven’t lost my sense of smell since Meteor.” (Or maybe I have. I could have sworn I smelled...Aeris. Maybe Cloud possesses a token of hers. That must be it.) He turned to leave. “Anything else, Tifa?”

She shook her head. “No, this is more than enough. Thank you, Red.”

He nodded and headed for the outskirts of town.

Tifa could hear Cloud’s voice almost as soon as she walked into the arcade.

“It’s not that hard, you can give it a try.” He laughed. “Maybe if you stood the right way instead of backwards, you’d have a better chance.”

She started to approach him, then stopped when she heard the sweet, feminine voice that replied.

“Cloud, you know I’ve never done this before. So don’t mock me because of your experience. I’m not the one that didn’t understand Whack-a-Mole.” The snowboard game started, and the black-haired girl immediately fell off.

Cloud wrapped his strong hands around her waist and lifted Daphne back into position. “There, try to stay on it this time. It’s not like you’re really snowboarding.”

“Oh, you...” Daphne was having better luck with the game. “This is cool.” The game stopped, and she hopped off. “Let’s try something else. Ever played Skee-ball?”

“Skee-what?” His eyes opened in amazement. “Daph, you beat my score and won a prize!”

She turned back to the game. “Bull-- I did win...but what is this blue thing?” She held up an All materia.

“It’s a materia.”

Her eyes brightened. “I never had a materia before. Well, I did, but...” (Wait a minute. I never had a materia, so why do I remember the White materia? Mother’s?) “Holy?” she whispered in confusion. She closed her eyes and put a hand to her forehead.

“Daphne, you all right?” asked Cloud, with a worried look.

“I...I’m fine. It’s just...” (I don’t understand what is happening to me. The strange memories, the way I feel about you...) “I don’t feel well, though. Can you take me home?”

“Of course.” He wrapped an arm around her protectively and held her close. They slowly made their way to the exit of the arcade.

Tifa swallowed and tried to ignore the feeling that had settled in the pit of her stomach, and the tears burning her eyes. (All this time...hunting Sephiroth rumors...it all was a lie...he was meeting someone...someone he hardly knows... And I...and I...)

“It appears to me, Ms. Lockhart, that your eyes have seen something that was not intended for you to see.”

She turned around and saw Vincent Valentine. “So you saw him, too? With...with that chick?” she said scornfully. “Cloud lied to me. He could have had the decency to tell me he was seeing someone.”

“Cloud would not lie to you in order to hurt you, Tifa. You know that.”

“You’re right. He doesn’t care about me enough to hurt me on purpose. He couldn’t care less where I was, what I was doing...” She walked past him towards the door.

“Wait,” said Vincent.

“No, I won’t break down in public. I shouldn’t even be so upset over him.” Her voice wavered. “Please, Vincent.”

“Red sent me to find you, and Cloud. Since he is...occupied at the moment, I suggest that we both go to Red’s observatory.”

“He has an observatory?”

Vincent shrugged. “A few pieces of equipment on the roof of his apartment building. Sadly, it’s probably the most scientific place in the city. He has some news of great importance. Concerning the Planet.”

“Is it in danger?”

“I don’t know. I would assume so, since he plans to gather everyone.”

“I’ll go. But,” she warned, “I may leave when Cloud comes.” A tear slipped down her cheek. “I will leave.”

“Then we should hurry, so you learn enough before his arrival.”


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