Shattered Dreams & Sleeping Pills Chapter 19
By Wind Wolf
"But daddy said you were supposed to be finished by now," the little girl whined.
"Not tonight Marlene," Tifa said, rushing to get an order ready.
"But I'm bored."
"And I'm working."
Marlene pouted and climbed up onto an empty stool. She sat playing with a bottle cap that had been lying on the counter. Sliding it around the bar, she looked up at the older woman with the best puppy eyes she could muster.
Tifa did her absolute best to ignore her, but eventually found herself giving in. "Tell you what," she said, stopping in front of the suddenly perky girl. "You can help me out, okay?"
"Sure. Why not? Right?"
The little girl grinned and ran around the bar to help. "So what can I do?"
She looked around, trying to find something for her to do now that she had recruited the girl's help. "Alright. See those people at that table over there?"
"The one behind your daddy."
"I need you to take them their order, okay?" she said, placing the tray on the girl's outstretched hands. "Hold it carefully now."
"I will, don't worry." Holding the tray close to her chest and walking with slow, deliberate steps so that she didn't spill the drinks, Marlene slowly made her way towards the table. The group of men greeted her enthusiastically, taking their drinks off the tray. Marlene waited until it was empty, then ran back to Tifa, who was busy serving customers at the bar. "Did I do good?" she asked, waiting eagerly for her next assignment.
"You did very good. You wanna take this tray over to your dad?"
Tifa's regular shift continued much the same. Eventually, the few members of AVALANCHE left, taking Marlene with them. Tifa soon found herself alone and working a shift she never had before.
The customers grew rowdier as the time for food passed and the time for drinking came. Tifa found herself grateful for her easy regular hours. The evening crowd shuffled out and the crowd that had already been kicked out of at least one bar came in. A couple late-shift waitresses came in to help and stuck around even after hearing that Black was dead.
One man in a blue business suit with jet-black hair and what Tifa supposed was a mark of religious faith on his forehead came in at around one o'clock. He walked in the door, looked around, and left. Tifa found herself unable to suppress a shudder as he turned to leave. The look in his eyes when his gaze had landed on her and the strange smirk on his face as he had turned leave had given her the shivers.
Rude came in shortly after, and Tifa smiled a little as he took a seat at the bar. Rude was hardly her type; he had half a million earrings in his ears, was bald, could be startlingly cold, and wanted to work for Shinra. But he understands me, she thought to herself as she walked over towards him, and I can't say that for a lot of people anymore.
"So what can I get you?"
"Just a beer."
"Coming right up."
They didn't talk much that night. Tifa was too busy with the bar to manage anything but the occasional smile in his direction and a word or two while he ordered his next beer. There was absolutely no reason as to why he should have stuck around for the whole night, but he did. He helped her out when one of the customers got out of hand, and was still there when she was thanking the waitresses for their help and getting ready to close up almost four hours later.
Taking one last mouthful of beer, he put the bottle back down on the bar and stood to help her clean up a little bit before leaving. "Busy night tonight," he said, feeling the need to start a conversation.
She smiled. "Yeah, I'm pooped. I've never worked the late shift before, let alone all three."
"Can't your friends help you out earlier in the day?"
"Nah, they got jobs of their own."
"With Black out of the picture, you could run this place you know."
"Illegally," she pointed out.
"Who does stuff legally in the slums? Are you trying to tell me that President Shinra legalized rebel groups? Cuz if he did, he must be insane."
Tifa looked at him strangely for a moment, his regular cool voice had disappeared there for a second and she was once again startled to hear emotion in his voice. This time however, it was humor rather than sadness and pity. Shaking it off, she grinned and headed to the door. "I just don't know if I'd be any good at it."
"You did fine tonight," he said pointedly.
"I had no idea what I was doing. When that one guy got out of hand I had no idea what to do."
"You handled it pretty well I thought," he said, walking out so she could lock up.
"Thanks to you."
"I'm serious, I think you should take over the place. Hell, you never know, maybe you and your rebel buddies could use it as a fort."
She laughed at this idea and turned off the lights. Closing the doors behind her, she withdrew the key from her pocket and locked up. She smiled up at him, "I'll think about it," she said, walking down the rotting steps. He followed her, and walked her to the train station. There they boarded the morning's first train and headed off towards Sector Four.
I think this is only the second chapter I've had finished when I wanted to have it done. Ever. Kinda pathetic, huh? The way I figure it, there can't be much more to do. Just some stuff, tie up some loose ends. Got some more stuff to do, and then... Finito! What am I talking about? I'm just rambling now, aren't I? The last part'll probably wind up being longer than I intended. Kinda like this author's note. Oh, but in case you're curious about the title, that's the time when the chapter ends. Mwa ha ha!
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