Afterward: The Story of Tifa
I looked around and saw that everyone was in a state of rejoice and fear. I knew what they felt. We were happy that they had finally defeated Sephiroth, and Meteor was no longer a threat, but how would we go on? What would we face once we went back? What confusion would face us once we landed?
I stepped back from the rail and looked at Cloud. He seemed to be saddened and yet happy. I knew what hung on his heart. It was that one person who no one could seem to leave behind. Aeris.
I felt it, too. I missed Aeris so much. Though we had plenty of arguments and competed for the affection of the same man, we were still friends, still allies, still close. I knew Cloud must have been thinking of her, how she helped to save the planet, how she died, how he could've stopped it.
I walked out of the bridge room and into the hallway where I saw Yuffie at her usual spot.
"So, is Meteor gone?" she asked in between gasps.
"Yes, it is. Holy wasn't working, so lifestream came," was my reply.
"Oh, I see. Aeris came to save the day." Yuffie looked up and sighed. "I miss her, you know. She was so cool and stuff. She was kind to everyone and helped me out before. She didn't even really get that angry with me when I stole the materia." She sat down and looked up at the ceiling. "It's funny how I never really noticed her until she was gone, huh?" She shook her head and laughed a bit. "Something I'll never forgive myself for."
"Oh, Yuffie, don't be like that," I responded. "When Aeris was here, all I could think about was how she kept trying to get close to Cloud and how I couldn't stand her sweetness at times. We always acted like we were in a competition. A few seldom times, we were friends, though. I'm still kicking myself for not taking advantage of the time I had with her to make peace and be true friends with her." I looked down, a tear falling down her face.
"Tifa, she knew that you were close. She knew that you were friends. Don't beat yourself up over it, Tifa. You'll see one day." Yuffie stood up and smiled. "You'll always remember her, and she'll remember you. Feel no regrets. It's too late for that."
I nodded and muttered a thank you. Then, I noticed something. "Yuffie, your airsickness. It's gone!"
She looked down and smiled. "Hey, your right! I'm cured! I guess I just have to focus my attention on something other than being sick."
I nodded and walked to the operation room where I found Vincent. He was sitting at the head of the table drinking some tea. He seemed so calm and uncaring of the situation.
I told him what had happened and he nodded. "Very well, then. We have defeated the threat. Have I committed another sin, Tifa?" he asked solemnly.
"What do you mean?"
"I have helped to kill the child of the woman I loved. Have I perhaps committed yet another sin? Should I have to suffer the long sleep again?" He took another sip of tea and sighed.
"No, you haven't, Vincent. Sephiroth was trying to destroy the world to pursue his own selfish ambitions. We had no other choice but to stop him. It doesn't matter whose kid he was!" I looked at Vincent and nodded, sure of my answer.
He closed his eyes and said, "I see. Thank you, Tifa." Then, he went back to drinking his tea and refused to acknowledge my presence. I knew that he had to be thinking of Lucriecia. I left him alone and walked out.
I wandered into the chocobo stable and watched Chochi, our golden chocobo, drink. I smiled and let out a deep breath. "It was all meant to be, I guess." As I turned to exit, I bumped into Cloud. "Oh, sorry, Cloud."
"Tifa, what's wrong," he asked.
"Nothing at all."
"You don't seem yourself," he said slightly worried.
"You don't seem yourself, either, Cloud."
"I guess you're right." He brought his hand to the back of his head and seemed to be lost in thought.
"It's Aeris. I was never really kind to her or anything. I regret that I didn't take advantage of the time I had with her..." I looked down and sighed.
Cloud's hand brushed against my hair as he said, "But you two were so close."
"Everyone's been saying that..."
"Well, it's true. The way you two ganged up against me all the time, I'm surprised you ever fought at all."
"I guess so..."
Cloud sighed and took my hand. "It'll be okay, Tifa. Trust me."
I looked up at him and smiled. Then, uncontrollable tears flowed down my face
as I jumped into Cloud's arms and cried into his shoulder. He held me tightly
and rocked me slowly.
He turned slowly and faced me, a martini in his hand. "Hey, Tifa. I had no idea you were still staying here."
"I guess we just lost touch." I sat down beside him and ordered a pina colada. My order was quickly filled and I took a sip.
"How have you been doing?" Cloud watched me closely as though he were afraid that if he took his eyes off me, he would lose me.
I sighed and responded, "I'm doing okay. I have a job here in the bar and I'm staying at the inn."
"Why aren't you staying at my villa?"
"Because it's YOUR villa, and you never gave me permission to stay there."
"Oh," he said, "well, you can stay there if you want."
"Say, why don't you come back to Nibelheim with me? You can open your bar again."
I looked at him and smiled. "Sure, why not?" I finished my drink and walked outside with Cloud. He pointed to the Tiny Bronco and we boarded and flew towards Nibelheim.
I looked down over the grass fields and mountains. "It seems like forever since we traveled through here looking for 'the man with a dark cape'."
Cloud nodded and said, "Yeah, it sure does."
"I wonder what's changed in Midgar since we've been there?"
"I don't know. I haven't been there since they started rebuilding."
"How's everybody doing?"
"Well, Cid's back at Rocket Town, Barret is in Midgar with Marlene, Red XIII is at Cosmo Canyon, Vincent is SOMEWHERE, Yuffie is at Wutai, and Cait Sith and Reeve are in Midgar keeping everything calm."
"I see. So I was the only one you didn't know about." I looked up at the sky and sighed.
"Well, to be honest, you are correct. No one knew where you were. I borrowed the Tiny Bronco from Cid about a month ago and started searching for you. The others helped out for a couple of weeks, but they had their own business to attend to."
"I was about to give up in Costa Del Sol. I thought that maybe you didn't want to be found. Then, you came in."
"Tifa," Cloud addressed me, "what's wrong?"
"Why were you hiding?"
"I wasn't. I was going on vacation."
"Oh," Cloud said disappointed, "I didn't meant to tear you away from anything."
"You didn't. I was about to leave anyway."
Cloud sighed and landed the Tiny Bronco next to Nibeleim. "Here we are."
I got out and walked into the town. "It brings back so many memories." I looked at the bar and sighed. "This town was supposed to be burned down, but now it's not. I wonder whatever happened?"
I walked into the bar and sat at the counter. "I guess that no one's here."
I turned and saw Cloud standing in the doorway. He looked at me with confusion. "What is it, Cloud?"
"What happened to you?"
"Nothing. I was just on vacation."
"Okay, but you're acting different."
I heard someone coming up the stairs, so I stepped outside my room. I looked down the hall and saw Cloud looking up at me from the fifth stair.
"Tifa, come outside with me."
I smiled and descended the stairs with him. We walked outside and I saw everyone standing by the well.
"TIFA!" Yuffie yelled. "It's been a LONG time!"
"Yes, it has," I replied happily. "How have you been?"
"Oh, fine! My dad arranged for me to marry this guy I haven't even met, though..." She looked down and kicked a rock. "It's probably some geeky guy that doesn't even have materia."
I nodded and looked at everyone. Marlene had grown quite a bit since I last saw her and Cid was standing next to Shera. They were talking and laughing.
"Tifa," Cid said, "We came all the way over here not only to see you again, but also to give you this." He threw something at me. I caught it and read what the paper said.
"OH MY GOODNESS! You're getting married to Shera?"
"Yep, it's about time."
"It's so beautiful," I said.
"Yep, it is."
I sighed and watched everyone as they clapped. The carriage left and we soon dispersed to head home.
Cloud looked at me and said, "Tifa, do you want to go somewhere?"
"What do you mean, Cloud?" My heart was jumping from my throat to my stomach.
"Well, let's go out. How about tomorrow night?"
I looked up at him as he smiled down at me. "Sure, why not?"
He laughed and said, "Okay, I'll meet you at our old meeting place at six!" He walked away and I was left standing alone.
I smiled to myself and trailed Cloud to the Tiny Bronco.
He smiled and lifted up the menu. "What do you want?"
I looked at the menu and gasped. "It's all so expensive!"
"Don't worry about that. Remember, we've fought a lot over the past year."
"Okay," I nodded. I looked over the menu and sighed. "It all looks so good..."
"How about the Red Dragon special?"
"You don't think it's really made of Red Dragon meat, do you?" I asked.
"No, there was only one of those and we killed it a long time ago."
I nodded and said, "Okay. I want mine well done."
"Okay, Tifa." When the waitress came, he gave her our order and turned back to me. "You look lovely tonight."
I blushed and said, "Thanks..."
Our order finally came back and we started to eat. When we finished our dinner, the waitress came back and took away our plates. Then, Cloud reached out and held my hands.
"Tifa, I have something to give you..."
I smiled and said, "What is it?"
He stood up and said, "Let's go to the garden." We walked outside and wandered into the garden. When we got to the red roses, it began to snow.
"Wow, it's beautiful out here."
"Not as beautiful as you," Cloud responded. He kneeled down and pulled out a small box. My heart leapt to my throat as he asked, "Will you marry me, Tifa?"
I nodded and he slipped the golden ring on my finger. I looked at the gem on it and asked, "What is it?"
"It's a special type of materia. There was only one in the world. When I found it, it was shattered. But now, we can have her with us forever."
"Holy materia...Aeris's materia."
Cloud held me close and brushed his lips against mine. "I love you, Tifa."
"He actually looks nice," Barret said. "I didn't know his skinny ass would actually get in a suit."
"You're ruining the moment, Barret," Vincent stated. He looked at the church and actually smiled. "It's about time."
Yuffie stood next to Reno, hearts in her eyes. He blushed and laughed nervously. "Yuffie, we're at a wedding..."
"I can't wait 'til ours..."
"Shh...Here come the bride and groom!"
I ran out with Cloud. He kissed me on the cheek as rice and flowers were tossed over us. I threw my bouquet and Marlene caught it, which made Barret nearly faint.
Cloud helped me into the carriage and we rode down the road. I waved goodbye to everyone as we left.