|Final Fantasy VII ; General Series ; 072/068/095/028/077
||[Jul. 6th, 2006|11:10 am]
The Ultimate FanFic Challenge!
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Focus: General Series
Characters: Tifa in focus, also Johnny, Jessie, Marlene, Barret, Cloud
Prompts: 072 – Fixed ; 060 – Lightening ; 095 - New Year ; 028 - Children ; 077 - What?
Word Count: See each prompt.
Summary: Tifa reconstructs herself after Nibelheim.
Author's Notes: Five sketches of Tifa's life in the slums of Midgar, set in the same universe. The ficlets are in chronological order, but they don't take place immediately after each other.
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII isn't mine and the story isn't written for profit.
Title: Stitched Up
Word Count: 128
The scar Sephiroth left on her was dark and sleek, and it felt deceptively soft as she ran her fingertips along it.
"It will fade in time," a nurse told her gently as she was caught exploring the scar, mistaking her thoughtful frown to vanity.
She didn't want it to fade. Maybe one day she would feel easy enough to lament over her appearance again, but she couldn't even see that day coming yet. The heat of the burning town still felt scorching on her skin, crumbling of the life she had taken for granted still loud in her ears, and the only memory she would have loved to hold on to
(Cloud's fingers gently brushing her cheek)
was the only one she couldn't trust to be real.
Title: Leaving The Nest
Word Count: 381
Tight black t-shirt with a glittering lightning striking across the chest looked cheaper now than it had looked in the store, but Tifa slipped it on anyway, observing her reflection. Dark clothing combined with her dark hair made her skin look even whiter than it already was, but she liked to think that it also made her look tough, aggressive. That's why she had also chosen to wear a leather miniskirt instead of pants, knowing that playing the girl next door in the slums would only turn against you.
"It's dangerous," Johnny muttered from behind her, his reflection frowning at her from the mirror. "There are all sorts of unpleasant people around here. Many of them like to hang around in bars. You may get hurt!"
”I can take care of myself." Just last night somebody had tried to mug her, and she had been able to take the guy out with few selective punches. She had probably been much giddier about it than it was healthy, but just few months earlier she had been too scared to go outside unless it was absolutely necessary. She liked feeling the opposite much better. "Besides, the sooner I earn some money, the sooner I can move out of here." She turned to smile at him, smoothing her skirt as she added:
"I'm sure you're dying to have this place for yourself again."
Johnny was quick to smile back, but not quick enough: She had caught the brief discomfort in his eyes, as well as the reason behind it. He had been the only one to understand how much the loss of Nibelheim hurt, how it felt like to be suddenly rootless, with only yourself to return to when feeling homesick. But he had learnt, and it was about time when Tifa did that too.
She would only hold them both back if she stayed.
"I guess so." Johnny didn't sound so sure, but his smile had become more genuine, and there was nothing but sincerity in his tone as he said, almost dreamily: "It's just been nice to be with somebody from home." He didn't notice when her expression tightened, still smiling as he waved to her when she headed for the doorway.
Indeed, it was time for both of them to learn.
Title: Common Ground
Word Count: 347
"My mom used to say that tobacco kills," Jessie told her in absent tone, "But it was Mako that killed her."
And yet there was something guilty about her movements as she twirled a cigarette in her fingers, like she feared getting caught. The smoke made Tifa cough, but she liked sitting outside with Jessie, who was one of the few genuine friends she had made in Midgar. They had the pain of losing their family in common, as well as hatred for Shinra Inc.
"You'd think that the President would care more about how Mako affects people," Tifa commented, fighting down another cough. Jessie noticed this and repositioned herself a little, the smoke trailing in a more convenient direction now. Tifa smiled gratefully and continued: "Somebody is going to expose the truth one day, anyway."
"You think that anybody hasn't yet?" Jessie chuckled sourly, bitter shadows gathering into her eyes, and Tifa frowned as well. She wondered if she was ever going to brush off rest of her naivety. Jessie's voice broke through these ponderings: "It's the matter of saying it loudly enough, actually. People usually don't like to see the truth until it's force-fed to them. They need actions."
"Then somebody should act!" Tifa jumped at her own voice, surprised of her determination, but Jessie only gave him a curious glance, a small smile spreading her lips.
"Would you?" Jessie asked, putting out her cigarette as she turned to face Tifa fully.
This was the moment of truth. Somebody had tried to warn her about Jessie, once, claiming that she hung around with "unpleasant" people and tended to be reckless, but Tifa had been only more determined than ever to become and stay friends with her. If those unpleasant people were same as her, she wanted to meet them too.
"I might." There were times when she feared her carefulness was actually cowardice, but she wouldn't ruin this. Not only would this determine her friendship with Jessie, it would determine her entire future as well. "So. Actions?"
Jessie's smile was wide and bright now. "Big ones."
Title: Cautious Living
Word Count: 243
When Tifa caught Marlene fixing drinks to customers while she had been to the toilet, she was devastated, even more so when Barret told her that it was alright.
"Isn't it.. well, harmful?" Her own father had believed that the mere sight of liquor would corrupt her, but it wasn't that she feared that Marlene would try to drink something that she shouldn't. She was more worried about broken glasses and bottles, drunks leaning over the counter to spit threats, a little girl believing that she should try to fit into an adult's shoes.
"She ain't a flower," Barret began but fell silent, assembling his thoughts before speaking up again: "Actually, she is, but the kind that can stands against storms and people stomping them. She won't break." His dark eyes shone with fatherly pride when he reached over the counter, lifting Marlene to the other side.
"Besides," he continued, "Marlene knows that there are a lot of nice men around here who will beat up anybody who dares to mess up with her. Right, Marlene?"
"Right!" Marlene smiled to Tifa, so brightly that it had to be an instinct to stop worrying for a moment as she smiled back.
She still shook her head no the day Marlene asked if her friends got to serve drinks, too, but as she poured them all juice, she was happy that while life here tended to be rough, it didn't always have to be fearful.
Title: Who Actually Are You?
Word Count: 370
For years, she had known exactly what she would tell Cloud if she ever met him again. Or, rather, what words would rise on her tongue, only to be swept away by emotion. She was sure that she wouldn't be able to stop touching him if she saw him, wouldn't be able to let go in case he slipped away again, like all the uneven memories she had of him. People claimed that she was optimistic, and most of the time it was true, but having Cloud in her life again seemed to be far too much to ask for.
But when she found him from the train station, more aware of the glow in his eyes than the familiar shapes of his face, she was rather unable to do anything at all.
"First Class," he said to Marlene proudly, brushing blond spikes away from his face with casual swipe of his hand. Marlene didn't seem to be that impressed, but listened politely anyway. "That's why I carry a sword instead of a gun. It takes skill to carry a bladed weapon."
"But swords don't explode things," Marlene complained, to which Cloud responded with a wry smile.
It felt so strange to see him boast to a little girl like that. The boy she remembered sitting on the well had been just a little less confident, there had been optimism and hope to his words back then, while there was arrogant edge to his voice now, iciness to his eyes as he glared around the bar, as he had accepted job from AVALANCHE earlier.
He hadn't carried a sword five years ago, but somehow that boy had been more of a hero to her than this man was.
She felt guilty for thinking like that, wondering if she was the arrogant one. Maybe she was the one who was wrong here, who had changed, who was cold. After all, it was Cloud who seemed to be surer of his memories while Tifa's recollections mismatched, missed pieces.
But as he turned to smile at her, and that smile seemed to come from behind a shroud, she knew that something was wrong, and that she couldn't let him out of her sight.