Character(s)/Pairings: Tifa, implied Cloud/Tifa (but mostly one sided)
Summary: Dealing with Cloud's absence proves incredibly frustrating.
Note: It's been a while since I wrote fic, especially for Tifa, but I do love her a lot. ♥
Tifa spins a bottle cap on the bar counter and counts how many times it rotates before it falls. She's trying now to remember how it felt to have a family, but that time was so long ago it was just a shadow in her mind. Tifa struggles to remember her mother's face, her scent, small gestures she made, but it's all foggy and she gives up after a while.
She tried telling Cloud once and thought he understood; she had no one to go home to, no lover to embrace one last time, no mother or father to give her a advice and a tearful goodbye, no child to hold and to fight for.
After the battle, she thinks that for once she can actually get what she wants. But she's not sure what she wants from Cloud, and wonders if that's what drove him away. She spins the bottle cap again and one, two, three, four, had she been too forceful? Too indecisive? She takes a sidelong glance at the phone she's placed just out of arm's reach on the bar, but doesn't bother picking it up. "I need some answers, Cloud," she says, as though her voice would somehow reach him.
She spins the bottle cap one last time, but instead of counting, she grabs the phone and puts her ear to the receiver as she works out what she'll say to him.
"Why did you leave?"
Too desperate, maybe.
"Stop being such a moron and come home."
"I love you."
She drops the phone and lets out a frustrated sigh. The children are asleep, or pretending to be as she goes through her mood swings, and she's a little disturbed at how perceptive they are. Maybe they saw this coming long before she did. Tifa arches her back, craning her head to reach for the ceiling and lets out a deep breath, trying to work out if having a family is something that is not meant for her.
For being a bartender, she doesn't drink much and is thankful for that fact now. The alcohol is tempting, but the thought of leaving Cloud some embarrassing, drunken message is so unappealing she stays dry. The phone rings one, twice, three times and she waits for the familiar beep of the answering machine. She runs her fingers through her hair as she apologizes for calling at a late hour (not that it matters if he doesn't answer, but it's polite to say so), and she just starts talking. About her day, about the children, about the weather, about anything that will convince him her life is entirely fulfilling and busy and that he should come home because he's missing it. At the end of the message, she gives him the information on his next delivery.
She repeats this tactic for the following week, telling as many new and interesting stories (and maybe embellishing a few) as she can think of, only giving his delivery information afterward. According to customers, he hadn't been late once. Tifa felt a thrill of satisfaction in knowing he had to listen to her talk, but then worries that he still thinks she's boring, stale, that maybe he just can't handle a mundane life chopping vegetables and mailing packages. In the last message she sends him, she tells him about a mix up with the order and the bar having a shortage of vegetables for the following month. She pauses for a moment at the end of her story, wishing she had something more interesting to tell him, but decides to end it with the customer address and hangs up.
She's back at the bar, twirling the bottle cap, wondering if she's being pathetic or spiteful. A young man walks up to the bar and interrupts her thoughts by placing four large packages on the table, full of vegetables for the bar. Tifa stares at them for a long moment after the young man leaves before slamming her head down on the counter, interrupting the smooth rotation of the bottle cap.
The next day, Tifa tries to make her next message as pleasant as possible, thanking him for the supplies and wishing him a safe journey on his next delivery. Cid and Shera come to visit, and both inquire as to Cloud's whereabouts while subtly suggesting she turn her attention elsewhere. Tifa appreciates the concern, but doesn't know how to explain to them why getting over Cloud wasn't like getting over a boyfriend. As stubborn and idiotic as he was being, all they had was each other. You didn't turn your back on family.
A few days pass, and two packages come in, delivered by the same young man as before. There's no letter that comes with them, but they are marked for herself and Denzel, and they are clearly from Cloud. Tifa opens up the simple package to reveal a small ring with a wolf design; Denzel had the same. She lifts the ring in her hands and wonders if she should laugh, cry, or (the most satisfying) hurl it through a window. Instead, she twirls it around her hand for a bit and decides to put it on rather that pull her hair out in frustration. Denzel stumbles out of his room now, a bit groggy and disoriented from the disease.
"What's this?" he asks, climbing onto on of the bar stools. "Did Cloud send us something?"
Tifa nods, handing his package over. "It's a promise."