Chapter 6: Promises

well, pretty feels scene here with Cloud and Tifa’s semi-mushy past.

Chapter 6: Promises

                “Come to the well at midnight, I have something to say.” Tch! What the hell possessed me tell her that, even if only on paper!?” Cloud Strife muttered, pacing around the well.

It was getting cold. She’d probably never come. And why should she? If it weren’t for him, she’d never have gotten hurt on the mountain. But he had to see her one last time- he never might again for a few years. He was leaving Nibelheim, going to Midgar and he was going to join SOLDIER! He’d be as great as Sephiroth, a hero!

Well your heroic ass is freezing waiting for a girl who won’t come. His head said. That sobered him up.

He heard footsteps behind him. She came!

Tifa Lockhart walked towards him, wearing a sleeveless blue dress. She looked amazing then, her skin glowing in the moonlight and-

Shut up! Cloud told himself.

“Sorry I’m late.” Tifa said as he sat down. “You said you wanted to talk about something?”

Cloud nodded. How to begin? Now that she was here, he couldn’t find the words.

“Come this spring, I’m leaving this town for Midgar.” He finally said.

Tifa studied him.

“All boys are leaving town.” she said.

 “Yes, But I’m different from all of them.” Cloud said, his voice getting stronger. “I’m not just going to find a job- I’m joining SOLDIER! I’ll be the best there is, just like Sephiroth!”

Her eyes widened. That surprised her, huh?

“Sephiroth? As in the Great Sephiroth?” she asked “Isn’t it hard to join SOLDIER?”

Yes, but he couldn’t tell her that. Besides, he’d make it. He could feel it!

“I probably won’t be able to come back to this town for a while.” He said.

“Would you be in the newspapers if you do well?”

“I’ll try.” For her, he will.

Tifa met his eyes.

“Hey, why don’t we make a promise?” she asked, bright red eyes looking at his.

Uh oh. This might be Tifa, but still, a promise to a girl…

“Umm…” Tifa swayed her feet, seemingly trying to say the words. “If you get really famous and I’m ever in a bind, you’ll come save me, all right?”

“What?” Cloud said, taken aback.

“Whenever I’m in trouble, my hero will come and rescue me. I want to experience that at least once…” She said, strongly this time.

“What?” the words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. Great, idiot. She probably thinks you’re stupid now.

“Come on!” Tifa raised her hand, all of her fingers in a fist except for the last. “Promise me!”

Like he can refuse her something like this. Hero, huh? That’d be great.

“All right.” Cloud told her in a steady voice. “All right, I promise.”

He raised his little finger and locked it with hers.

“It’s a promise!” they announced to the night.

<O><O>

“It’s a promise. That’s what we said, right?”

Tifa Lockhart was looking at him now and he could see, just a bit that girl he made the promise with back then. But he still wasn’t sure.

“I’m not a hero and I’m not famous. I can’t keep… the promise.” Cloud said. He was only fourteen years old back then, thinking life was a story and he the hero. Besides which, he only said that because he had a crush on Tifa, then. Strange. How did he feel about her now?

“But you got your childhood dream, didn’t you?” She pressed, her voice shaking him out of his reverie. “You joined SOLDIER. So you’ve got to keep your promise.”

He looked at her face, shining with hope and realized that he didn’t like her anymore, at least, not the way he did before. But he still felt protective of her. She WAS his childhood friend. He steeled himself and made his decision.

<O><O>

Barret had cooled down already. He had decided. Cloud can take his money and leave. They needed him but there was just no way around it. He went to the elevator and upstairs.

“Hey!” Barret said, then froze. The scene that greeted him was surprising. Cloud and Tifa sat next to each other, Tifa looking at him and the ex-SOLDIER looking unsure.

What the hell did I just walk into? Barret thought. Shit, maybe I should return later.

                It was too late, though, they saw him already.

                “Wait a sec big-time SOLDIER! A promise is a promise! Here!!” Barret threw him a bag with 1500 gil.

                Cloud picked it up.

                “This is my pay?” He said in disgust. “Don’t make me laugh!”

                Barret started getting angry again but Cloud continued.

                “You got the next mission lined up? I’ll do it for 3000.”

                Barret was taken aback. What did Tifa say? He thought that the SOLDIER’d be leaving already!

The girl was good!

                Or maybe she just said what she wanted to. Barret thought. That scene a while ago… Maybe something about the time they were childhood friends?

                Wait- THREE THOUSAND!?

                “What? 3000 gil!? Are you insane?”

                “It’s okay!” Tifa rushed to him.

                “We’re really hurting for help, right?” she whispered.

                “Ugh…” That money was for Marlene’s schoolin’ but…

                “Two thousand!” He shouted to Cloud. The guy nodded.

                Well, that’s finally done. Barret’s stomach growled. Damn, that was embarrassing. Cloud glanced at him in disgust.

                “Maybe I should cook already.” Tifa laughed.

<O><O>

                Really, I thought Cloud would change now that he agreed! Tifa thought.

                The ex-SOLDIER sat on a table by himself as he ate in silence, ignoring all attempts to make him join the others. He already snarled at Biggs and Wedge and Jessie seemed to lose nerve whenever she tried to approach him. Of course, Tifa tried too but other than curt responses, she got nothing from him.

                But he was Cloud. He’s always been that way so she probably couldn’t change him. Probably nobody could. Besides, it’s probably for the best.

                Tifa sighed inwardly. No, it wasn’t. It’d be better if Cloud just enjoyed himself with the others- even Barret was laughing with them. Come to think of it, she’d never seen Cloud laugh ever since she saw him in Midgar. Oh, he smiled, sure, but almost always mockingly, like he was better than us.

                Well, she amended. he does smile a bit genuinely at me sometimes. And sometimes at Marlene. Then again, who CAN’T smile at her? The girl was adorable!

                 She looked at Marlene who was currently chasing Biggs around the room. With everyone laughing and smiling, she wanted to join in. She took one last glance at Cloud who was watching them with those blue eyes and went to the others.

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