Shattered Dreams & Sleeping Pills Chapter 24
The room was cold, dark, and very lonely. She lay on the floor with her eyes closed against the harsh glow of the lights. Half of her was unsure of whether she was able to open them; the other half didn't want to.
The bullet had hit below the collarbone. Blood still slowly oozed out, staining her white top a deep crimson. Her back was sore from lying on the ground, but her attempts to shift position had only resulted in further discomfort.
Rude had left a little while ago, closing the door gently behind him. She didn't expect him to come back. Now that he had left, he was gone for good. Tifa didn't mind in the least.
Granted, she was shocked, and hurt that he'd betrayed her; but she'd rather that he be gone than watching her as she died. It seemed to Tifa that she had been dying a lot in the last year. But this time, there was no escape. She remembered something he had said to her once and gave a sharp, painful laugh. Curiosity, it appeared, had indeed killed the cat. It was about time.
Once she accepted it, she found dying to be an almost soothing sensation. Her breath still came in short, irregular bursts, and the floor was still hard and uncomfortable, but on the whole, she felt much better. She even managed to forget about Rude.
It hadn't been this easy in the reactor. The thought came to her mind despite all her attempts to keep memories of Nibelheim away. She was surprised to find she could think about her hometown now without the usual pain that accompanied it. She decided to sort through her memories, and smiled slightly as all the little things she had taken for granted surfaced. She thought about smiling, laughing, crying, and a great many shopping sprees. She remembered her training sessions with Zangan, and wondered what he would think of her now as she lay on the floor, defenseless and dying.
Quite unexpectedly, blue eyes appeared unbidden behind her lids. A pale face framed by blonde spikes followed, and Tifa was surprised to feel a tear slide down her cheek. She hadn't realized she cared so much about the man with the sad eyes.
None of it mattered anymore of course. She was dying, and there was nothing her phantom protector could do to change it. Thinking about him did nothing to help her situation, so she tried her best to change the image that stared, unblinking, into her soul.
Natasha took his place, but it was not the same Natasha that had been her best friend since the third grade. This Natasha had bright blue eyes that stared at her and refused to let her look away.
Again she tried to change the face. This time, her mother appeared. It was exactly how she had looked before the sickness took her, but still, no matter how hard Tifa tried, she couldn't change the eyes.
Giving in, she allowed the face to change back to that of her old neighbor. She did her best to avoid his gaze, but soon found that there was nowhere in the darkness she could hide. It didn't take long before he cornered her and she couldn't help but look him in the eye.
Reflected in them, she saw Rude, holding a gun, and aiming it at her.
She tried to look away, but the eyes wouldn't let her. She saw her own eyes squeeze shut and Rude look away before he pulled the trigger. His hand shook, and his target changed ever so slightly before the bullet began its fatal journey. She watched as she collapsed to the ground and saw Tseng congratulate him on the kill. The image disappeared and Tifa decided that the eyes she had admired for so long were not as nice as she had originally thought. Focusing on his tall blonde spikes, she allowed her thoughts to wander back to what she had seen in his eyes.
She hadn't known that he had looked away. In a strange way, it almost made her feel better about the whole betrayal. He had told her that he didn't want to do it and she was surprised to find she almost believed him. Almost. In her mind, Cloud smiled, and faded away into the blackness.
A sound. Tifa tried to place it, but couldn't focus long enough to identify it. There were other sounds, but they became muffled and she wasn't entirely sure whether it was her imagination or not. Before she knew it, she had lost all awareness.
This chapter was supposed to be about Tifa dwelling on Rude and his betrayal, but there just wasn't enough to say that I hadn't already and I really didn't want another chapter 23. Besides, Cloud's cool.
Go To Epilogue
Return To FF7 Fanfic