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Tifa was no longer certain exactly how she was supposed to feel. She had known for years how she dreamed of spending her life, how she had longed to marry Cloud once and for all, how they would someday return to Nibelheim, the town where all their memories had been made, to start their new life together. She smiled briefly at the thought, almost succeeding in putting the recent occurrences out of her mind.
One thing she hadn't thought of when coming up with that dream of hers was the arrival of Aeris Gainsborough on the scene. There was something about Aeris' innocent eyes that made everyone care for her, and had made Cloud fall in love with her. Tifa saw right through it, though, or at least she wanted to. Aeris had never been openly flirtatious (at least not by Tifa's standards), but she was the one who had finally gotten up the nerve to ask Cloud on a date. Tifa heard all about it the next morning--a romantic ride on the Gold Saucer's gondola, an outlandish musical performance where they had somehow ended up as the lead couple, and Cloud's confession that he had never been on an actual date. This last detail was what annoyed Tifa the most. Just what had all the time they had spent together meant to him?
She might never know, now that he was gone. All he had done since that night at the Gold Saucer was talk about Aeris, and once she had left for the Forgotten City, he had immediately demanded that they go searching for her. Tifa shrugged, trying not to think of the events that had transpired in the Whirlwind Maze. She tried her hardest to forget the look in Aeris' luminescent emerald eyes as Sephiroth plunged his black blade into her, but found that she could not. It had been an oddly peaceful look, one of hope rather than despair.
Everyone had been vastly upset by the death of Aeris--Red XIII was filling his existence with quotes from his grandfather, Bugenhagen, about the value of each life and death to the planet; Barret was mourning the loss of yet another of his comrades; the ever-stoic Vincent was even more silent than usual; even Yuffie was strangely subdued, having said nothing of the Materia which had dropped from Aeris' body when her soul flowed into the Lifestream. Only Tifa was somehow ambivalent about the whole thing--when Aeris had departed for the Forgotten City, Tifa had been relieved, and when she saw Sephiroth deal the final blow, her instinctive anger came from not being able to perform the deed herself. She wasn't generally a bloodthirsty woman, but she didn't like the idea of Aeris coming by and destroying all her plans.
Tifa remembered quite well the look on Cloud's
face when Aeris was killed; the hatred he had for Sephiroth was at least
momentarily replaced with an overwhelming sorrow. While Tifa had
silently watched, a tear escaped from Cloud's eye as he cradled Aeris in
his arms for the last time. A reverent calm had
Now, though, Cloud was gone too--or was he
really Cloud? Sephiroth's talk of failed experiments had unnerved
Tifa, whether they were true or not. Cloud had no tattoo to show
that he was one of the Sephiroth clones, but he had those Mako eyes...Tifa
shook her head emphatically. Cloud had to be what she had always
A sudden puff of noxious fumes awoke Tifa from her thoughts and dragged her kicking and screaming into the current reality. She resisted every urge to call for Cloud and instead cried, "Barret! Help me!" There was a pounding on the door as the burly Barret struggled with the door to the execution chamber.
"It won't open!" Barret screamed.
Tifa heard Cait Sith's muffled, somewhat mechanical voice say, "The controls must be somewhere else, Barret. Follow me!" There were footsteps outside Tifa's chamber, and a door slammed in the distance.
"Come back...I can't hold on much longer!" Tifa yelled, but to no avail. The only person who could hear her was Scarlet, who was half asleep and not in much of a mood to feel sorry for any of the rebels, let alone Tifa.
After a few moments, Tifa could no longer tell whether her tears came from the suffocating gas in her eyes or something else. She was just about to take a few deep breaths of the gas when she saw something glinting gold on the floor. Tifa struggled in her chair, stretching her legs as far as possible so that maybe, just possibly, she could reach the key that the Shinra guard had lackadaisically dropped on his way out, and survive long enough to create a new dream for herself.
The new dream--she would discover the truth behind Cloud's disappearance, behind every word he had ever told her. Aeris' eyes flashed a brilliant green in the back of her mind, instilling just the slightest bit of hope in Tifa that everything would turn out well in the end.
I was never a big fan of Tifa's, and I still have my doubts (I was very appreciative when Barret said, "Since when did you turn into such a wimp?" to her.), but I got to thinking that she must be one very confused girl right about this point in the game. It's not often I write serious stuff, so let me know what you think...
--Jenni Ornellas <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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