Chapter 10: Rejection
Cooking was a relaxing outlet for Tifa. She was allowed to be creative and considerate for the people she was cooking for, just like her motherly side craved. She cooks to heal her own soul, kind of like Chicken Soup, except without the lame overdone stories. She never thought about it too deeply though. Why take the fun out of something by overanalyzing it when you could just enjoy it for what it is?
Tifa decided to go for a common breakfast menu of eggs, bacon and toast, with orange juice.
Yuffie had followed the fighter into the tiny kitchen and was currently sitting on one of the counters, kicking her legs as she watched the woman work, “Need any help?”
Tifa tongued her cheek while her eyes darted through the small selection. She knew that Jessie wasn’t too big on cooking, but she expected more food than this. Well, at least she had eggs and juice in the fridge. Tifa suspiciously pulled out the juice, opened the top, and sniffed it, wondering exactly how long it had been in there. Thankfully, the juice and eggs were still fresh.
“As long as I have all of the items I need, then I should be fine.” Glancing towards the counter, beside Yuffie, she spotted a loaf of sliced bread and she was relieved at that. “Now if I can’t find any bacon, then I’ll have to make something else..”
“Tifa, you know..” Yuffie inserted, leaning forward on the counter with an inquisitive look on her face, “It’s three o’clock.. Maybe it’s a little late for just breakfast.”
Three o’clock? No way.. Was she sleeping for that long? The long-haired woman arched an eyebrow at the girl, then looked over to the clock. “Oh! Hey, you’re right,” Tifa said as she rubbed at her temple with one of her hands, “I must just be out of it.”
Well, Tifa did sleep late last night..
Tifa forced the memories from the night before to the back of her head and rethought her menu. If she was going to serve brunch, or at least brunch for her and Elena in case Yuffie and Jessie already ate breakfast, then they might as well..
“Why don’t we just go into town to eat?” Tifa said, releasing an exasperated sigh. Cooking in a kitchen that wasn’t hers was torture enough, but not finding anything to cook was another thing.
Yuffie wrinkled her face at that, “But I always liked your cooking..” The ninja always ate out. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.. She was getting sick of it. It was always fast food or something because she didn’t know how to cook anything more complex than rice. And even then, she would screw up. She wanted a nice home cooked meal for once.. And to have it cooked by Tifa would just make it all the more sweet.
Tifa closed the refrigerator and leaned against it, crossing her arms with a smirk on her face, “Well, I don’t have anything to cook.” She took pride in cooking for AVALANCHE three years ago. Yuffie and she used to have to restock on groceries while the guys went to buy equipment. The short haired girl never had a sense for cooking, but when she was picking out fresh ingredients, which she would sometimes eat raw, she had a natural knack for it.
Yuffie finally got a grip of her current situation. Sure, it had crossed her mind when she first followed Tifa into the kitchen, but she had forgotten her motive completely when Tifa started talking about food.. And bending over to stick her head into the fridge.
Yuffie tilted her head to get a better look at the view which was being presented to her.
She was alone with Tifa in that room. This was her perfect opportunity!
One of the main reasons Yuffie never acted upon her feelings all those years ago was because of the spiky-haired blonde. That was coupled with her own doubts about her sexuality and the fear of rejection that Yuffie became familiar with. So it stopped her from making her feelings known as well. She was smart enough to know that saving the world came before her own trivial matters, even if during the start of her journey she deceived them to steal their materia.
“Hey, Tif..” Yuffie inquired, looking towards a cupboard on the opposite end of the kitchen, “Do you still have feelings for Cloud?”
“Cloud?” Tifa used to talk and think about only him, caring only for his needs, and wanting to complete her mission of staying by his side. They had made a promise as youths, her and Cloud. Tifa had said, ‘Hey, why don't we make a promise? Whenever I'm in trouble, my hero will come and rescue me. I want to at least experience that once.’
Sure, Tifa had experienced it once at the Mt. Nibel Reactor, but it was funny and ironic how she ended up being the heroine for the blonde, supporting Cloud and saving his spiky ass from the lifestream.
But now, of course, Tifa had a different blonde. Maybe she had a thing for them.. A blonde fetish. Maybe all of her previous feelings for Cloud were just illusions of a perfect lifestyle she could have. Growing up, having kids with the man who saved her life.. It was all just fantasy, and she knew she didn’t want that anymore.
“No, I don’t,” She finally stated, shaking her head to confirm it. Tifa looked over to Yuffie with an inquisitive look, “How did a question like that come from cooking?”
Yuffie hid the panicked look on her face with a laugh, “Oh, I was just curious!” She rubbed the back of her neck with a goofy smile on her face, thinking successfully, ‘Okay, good. Cloud’s out of the picture.. Maybe I should..’
“Although..” Tifa started, interrupting Yuffie’s thoughts. She was smiling with a thoughtful, distant look on her face as she softly said, “There might be someone other than Cloud.”
Yuffie blinked, her back straightening like a puppy at attention, “Someone else?” Who could that be?
Yuffie had this faint, small hope that Tifa was talking about her.. The ninja knew, though, that thinking things like that would just jinx it.
‘Don’t jinx it! Stop thinking about it! STOP!’ Yuffie shook her head in frustration, then gathered herself, asking with a sly smile, “Who is it?” She crossed her fingers behind her back, praying Tifa would say what she wanted to hear. It wasn’t much, but she felt like it boosted her chances.
Then, Tifa flashed Yuffie that smile..
..Tifa smiled that same gentle and optimistic smile that always made Yuffie’s heart stop. The ninja’s eyes were fixed upon Tifa’s face as she awaited her reply..
Then she heard it.
‘What..?’ Yuffie could have sworn her heart really did stop for a moment in time. It felt like all of her internal organs were cringing uncomfortably, and she stared incredulously. “Elena..?”
Tifa expected that kind of reaction, but perhaps for different reasons than what Yuffie felt. She expected the other members of AVALANCHE, especially Yuffie, Barret and Cid, to be shocked by her involvement with Elena.. Specifically in a romantic way. After all, Elena was a Turk, whom they fought countless times as AVALANCHE. And those three seemed to be the ones who hated ShinRa enough to let it be known.
However, there seemed to be another reason Yuffie was shocked, and even hurt by those words. For a second, Tifa almost wondered if it was because she liked a girl, but she knew better.
Perhaps Tifa might have known about Yuffie’s feelings for her, but she couldn’t directly turn her down if she were to make a move, nor could she hide it from her if prompted. The fighter wasn’t as dense as people gave her credit. Wouldn’t it hurt Yuffie more to think Tifa was hiding her relationship with Elena from her, just for Yuffie to find out later? Tifa felt it was better to let the girl know sooner than later. And Tifa couldn’t simply allow the girl to follow a fantasy, a false hope that she created.. That would be more heartless than telling her.
Tifa placed her index finger in front of her own mouth, indicating that it was a secret, “It’s a secret, kay? Don’t tell any of the others.”
Yuffie, still in a disbelieving state, nodded. She didn’t know whether she should go scream at Elena or break down crying. Either way would have resulted badly. She realized that in order to stop the drama before it starts, she would have to play it cool and not allow her emotions to take over. “I won’t tell anyone.. It’s just..” She smiled bitterly, casting her gaze to the kitchen’s floor. She didn’t finish her sentence.
She just couldn’t.
So she had to pretend as if it didn’t hurt.
“I’m happy for you,” Yuffie said clearly, forcing a smile with closed eyes. Normally, her voice would have cracked because if one looked closely, they’d be able to see tears being desperately held back. She was quite the actress, this ninja.. And obviously, Tifa hadn’t noticed the pain in her eyes. After all, her eyes were closed.
Tifa smiled back, “Thanks!” Sure, she had noticed.. But she couldn’t very well hide the truth. If Yuffie wanted to pretend it didn’t hurt to stop things from being awkward.. Then Tifa would let her. “So let’s get something to eat in town?”
Yuffie nodded, then hopped off the counter, walking towards the metallic kitchen door. She avoided eye contact with Tifa, brushing past her and saying, “I’ll go call the others then.” She opened the door and it emitted a hiss.
She paused for a moment, one hand on the frame as if she were hesitating, contemplating whether or not she should say what she wanted to say or if she should keep it to herself forever.
Tifa eyed the girl inquisitively. She had an idea of what was going through the ninja’s mind, but she wouldn’t say it out loud. The brunette knew how much pride meant to the Wutaian.
“You were always out of reach..” Yuffie said, her back still toward Tifa. Her voice cracked slightly, a chip in her attempt at a stone exterior, “Even after three years.. You’ll always be out of reach.” Then without another word, she shut the door and made a break towards the bridge, praying she’d find Jessie there.
In a way, she was running from her emotions to save herself from getting hurt. She ran, forcefully closing the door on her past, trying to escape from the pain she was bound to endure if she were to remain in that kitchen. She ran, hoping to find sanctuary in the presence of a friend. She ran to Jessie, knowing somehow that she would find comfort by going to her. After all, who else in the world would listen?
Oh, how weak Yuffie felt. How sorrowfully she looked at herself. Before yesterday, no one other than Tifa would even give her two thoughts. Only two people in her life had ever listened to her for who she was. Aeris was one of those people, the older sister whom Yuffie could look up to. The other was Tifa, the one person who could understand the ninja without judgement.
Aeris was dead, so she couldn’t help.. And Tifa was the one causing this anguish, so she couldn’t really confide in the source of her pain.
There was no one else in the world to run to except Jessie.
Running was all the ninja knew how to do.
It was difficult to find another bar like Tifa’s. Rude and Reno learned this the hard way. They searched all over the slums, finding only run down, dirty bars which could never even compare. Even the beer itself made the two question whether it was beer or urine. Being part-time bartenders themselves, they should have known a thing or two about what drinks should taste like, and in no way did this piss-beer taste how it should. They shouldn’t even be sitting in a dilapidated place like this..
“You know what, Rude? We should just mix our own drinks at one of our places, yo,” Stated Reno with a disheveled sigh. “We’d stop before we got too drunk because we wouldn’t be able to pour anymore, am I right?” He followed up with a smirk.
“…” was Rude’s typical response. No comment. The guy always did keep to himself, didn’t he? Stony and brute. That was his nature. He held in his emotions at all costs, only allowing the words that he felt were needed to be said to come out. Getting drunk with Reno wasn’t his idea of a good time at the moment. There was too much to be done, too little resources to do everything, and too much time to spare because they weren’t able to do anything about it.
The ball was out of their court now.
“You’re thinking about Tif, ‘Lena and those kids, huh?” Reno injected into the already melancholic Rude. “If I know Elena like I think I do, then she’s fine, and probably bitchin’ about something right at this moment!” Then, in his best Elena impression, Reno crossed his arms as he had seen the blonde do many times before, and in his whiniest voice he exclaimed, “You’re not doing it properly! That materia goes there! Nya nya nya!”
Despite his efforts to tune out the red-headed one, Rude cracked a smile and puffed a soft withheld laugh through his nose at the impression. It wasn’t as accurate as Reno thought it was, but it did certainly capture the essence of Elena’s bossier half.
“I saw that, yo! You smiled..!” Reno pointed a finger at his friend, an accomplished look on his face.
Then, realizing his own words, Reno looked baffled, “Whoa, wait. You..” His eyes widened, “You smiled?! But you’re Rude! You never smile!” An over exaggerated expression came over the more charismatic Turk. Teasing his partner was one of his favorite past times.
“..Shut up.” Rude replied stoically. He only ever says what needs to be said, and that is something he felt needed to be said. Without Elena around, the red-headed, hot-headed, big-headed Reno would need to be told his place by someone.
A moment of silence fell between them, Rude wondering if his statement of ‘Shut up’ actually worked. In reality, Reno was just thinking of what to say next.. And how to say it.
“Hey, Rude..” Reno called for his attention tentatively, squinting his eyes a little in a sense of worry, “I have something serious to ask you.” The activity of the rest of the bar around them, Reno grabbed the mug he was drinking from, took another sip of his piss-tasting beer and grimaced. Reno didn’t want to ask what he was about to ask.. But he had to! It’s been bugging him!
“How do you feel about..” Reno rolled the questions and the different ways he could ask them in his mind, his eyes casting to the corner and his mouth pushing to the opposite direction of his eyes. “Hm..”
He could ask how he feels about Tifa, but Rude knew that Reno knew that already.. He could ask how Rude feels about Elena, but how would that be segway to telling him, gently, about Tifa and Elena? Should he even tell him? Reno wasn’t even clear himself of what they were to each other. He could just be causing unnecessary worry in Rude’s part. But.. He was already involuntarily given this unnecessary worry, so now he could wonder out loud rather than keep it to himself!
Ah! “How do you feel about same sex relationships?” Reno asked, proud of himself in the fact that he was able to properly formulate the question without any misinterpretation.
Yeah right, no misinterpretation.
Rude arched an eyebrow at his co-worker and wondered where the hell that question would come from. Was Reno gay? Well, Rude wouldn’t be very surprised, but why would Reno be telling him this? Was Reno attracted to him? An uncomfortable feeling came over Rude and he just sat there, saying nothing. However, his body language made a clear statement of, ‘Please don’t hit on me. I like Tifa.’
Reno caught on and quickly tried to dismiss the thought, “No no! I’m not talking about me, yo!” He waved his hands in front of his face and backed away from Rude just a little, in case he ruined his segway. Guess it wasn’t as foolproof as he originally thought.
Rude wordlessly took a sip from his drink, obviously having nothing to say to Reno at all.
“It’s just..” The red-headed Turk scratched his own head, narrowing his eyes unsurely, “You know, ‘Lena.. Ever since Tseng died, she hasn’t really been into any guys, right?” Reno cast his eyes towards his grubby looking mug, fiddling with the handle for sake of having something to distract himself. “Have you ever thought that she might be, you know..” He lazily waved his fingers a little, “Swinging the other way? Batting for the other team?”
Rude arched an eyebrow behind his dark sunglasses. Actually.. He had never thought about it. He just assumed Elena was straight because of Tseng, but now that he thought about it more clearly.. He couldn’t really pinpoint it. But what did it really matter to them whether she was gay or not? Neither of them liked Elena in that way.. “So?”
“So.. If Elena were a lesbian..” Reno suggested, pulling out a cigarette pack from his pocket. He shook the box once to get one out and held the unlit stick between his lips. “What if she and Tifa were.. You know.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but you can’t smoke here,” The bartender stated from further down the counter.
“Tch, cheapskates,” Reno said as he took the cigarette from his mouth and placed it on his ear, for later use. Sure, smoking was a horrible habit. It shortened Reno’s already short lifespan and it was going out of fashion.. But he still thought it made him look cool and hardcore. Just the way the smoke looked as it rose from the white stick coming out of his mouth. A nonchalant look on his face with his eyes closed and his body relaxed.. Reno was such a poser.
Rude was wordless throughout the discussion though. Now he was thinking about Tifa again. He hadn’t really given the thought that there was a possibility that Tifa were a lesbian. But now that he considered it.. His mind wandered back to his conversation with the brunette. When he mentioned that ShinRa was after her, Tifa’s first reaction was to ask, ‘What about Elena?’ It seemed as if Tifa was more concerned about the blonde than she was for herself.
Rude didn’t say anything of his thoughts to Reno. He wouldn’t say anything until he was absolutely certain. However, these ideas will probably haunt him on his own, caging in all risks of being hurt.
For now, though, there was work to be done.
Rude stood, still not saying a word, much to Reno’s dismay. The bald Turk left his tip and payment on the counter, while Reno just stood from his spot. Why waste good money on crap beer like the ones served to him? And for Reno, what was more important right now was heading out so he could have a smoke.
The pair stepped through the doors of the bar in Edge.
“Three..” Reno counted down as he pulled the cigarette from his ear, “Two..” He placed the stick in his mouth, shutting his eyes as he and Rude walked in their suave way towards the car they took for this mission.
A sudden explosion came from the bar behind them, flames and debris shooting from the building.
There was so much work to be done and so little time to do it.
Reno smirked as he saw a flaming piece of the bar’s sign fly onto the ground near the car. The flame on the piece was still burning bright, so why waste good gasoline from his lighter?
The red-headed Turk picked up the piece of the sign with gloved hands, held the flame close to his face, and lit the cigarette. He tossed the piece of the sign over his shoulder and breathed out a soft stream of smoke from his lips.
Rude walked with lost purpose, his emotions shrouded by the sunglasses on his nose and the stoic expression on his face. No one would know of the thoughts running through that bald man’s head. No one could realize his mindset. No one would know that secretly, in the depths of his mind, he was screaming about how frustrated he was. Inside, he was tormented by this, by everything. The pressure from his father as a child, the unrequited love, the cruelty of his profession, the betrayal of his friend.. Everything seemed to be falling apart, but outwardly, he still appeared calm and collected.
Rude was a stone cold Turk.. And not even falling in love would change that.
Jessie wasn’t hungry. Plain and simple. She had already eaten her breakfast, a lazily toasted bagel with cream cheese and a glass of non-expired orange juice from the kitchen. She was never one to eat much, since she was always so absorbed in her work and her computer that she would sometimes forget to eat. Still, she didn’t require much energy anyways.
She never considered herself much of a fighter.
Jessie was definitely always the support. Bombs, distractions, intelligence, piloting.. She did it all, but all of it was achieved through sitting at a desk or constructing something.
Even now, as she glanced from her workstation monitor to the surveillance screens, she spotted the ninja racing from the kitchen towards the bridge. Jessie felt she was needed again, not a battle of war, but a battle of will. And that was the type of battle she could support and win.
The door behind her opened with a hiss and she turned from her work. One look at that ninja and the technician could see a side of Yuffie that the ninja refused to show anyone else. One look at her pained and tear-stained face, and Jessie’s heart melted in remorse. It was as if a burning flame had been reduced to embers, glowing with the life that once resonated from its midst, but not able to do much more than flicker, waiting to die out.
Still, in her weakest moment, the fact that Yuffie still had the energy within her to express the emotion, untainted and unbidden, showed that she was more alive than anyone. That she could feel the pain in all of its power made her life more credible and real. But since Yuffie is Yuffie.. Her stubborn pride restrains her expression, choking her words before they come out of her mouth and silencing her cries for help.
Yuffie didn’t say what she wanted to say. She felt that she needed to stand alone, facing her issues with her own conviction. No one has helped her with emotional pain before. Not her father, not her late mother, not Aeris.. Not Tifa. She wasn’t going to start now. She was going to deal with this on her own because relying on others was weak in her eyes. Relying on others wasn’t dependable or guaranteed. There was too much risk involved because becoming vulnerable to others makes you susceptible to more anguish, more pain. She needed to become stronger on her own.
“Tifa..” The ninja said softly, forcing a smile, as if only uttering the fighter’s name was painful, “She wanted to know if you want to go into town to eat..” The door leading to the corridor shut itself behind the ninja, leaving them to their privacy.
Jessie looked on, her gentle brown eyes offering the least comfort she could. She could tell what had happened. Those tears were tears of heartbreak, those reddened eyes were eyes of rejection, and that sullen, aching voice was a voice of a girl in need of a shoulder to cry on. Even if Yuffie didn’t ask for it, Jessie was already on her feet, walking towards her.
“I’m not hungry,” Jessie stated with an air of compassion in her voice, “I had a bagel earlier.” She would be the emotional pillar for the ninja to lean on. No hidden agenda, no alternate motive.. Just pure, unfettered solace waiting for the ninja with open arms.
“I..” And though Yuffie was as proud and strong she believed herself to be, there is a limit to how much a person could stand. Yuffie grit her teeth, frustrated with herself. Her thoughts turned from depressed rejection to bitter anguish. Was she not good enough for Tifa? What made Elena so special, anyway? Yuffie shut her eyes tightly, trying to contain herself. “Tifa and Elena..”
Jessie understood. Of course she understood.. She knew about Tifa and Elena ever since they arrived on the ship. However, it was gnawing at her brain, the guilt and fact that she allowed this pain to be inflicted. She could have prevented it by telling Yuffie about the two before the ninja went to confront Tifa with intent to let her know how she felt. She could have prevented these tears that were falling from Yuffie’s eyes.
But Jessie was a coward. She didn’t know why she didn’t tell the girl about them. Perhaps she didn’t want to be the one to cause the pain. She wanted to be the one who saved her from it. Now the question was whether or not she should admit to knowing beforehand.. The possible consequences to telling Yuffie that she knew about Tifa and Elena rolled around in her mind.
Yuffie would probably be hurt further, since the person she went to for advice and comfort had misled her and she was hurt by it. Yuffie would probably hate her for it. But most of all, Yuffie wouldn’t ever trust her again.
Jessie couldn’t let that happen.. She briefly considered the consequences for not telling Yuffie, and in general, it seemed way less severe than if she were to tell her right now. Sure, it kind of made her a liar.. But she felt she was doing it for the other girl’s sake, to save her from more pain.
So wordlessly, Jessie wrapped the sullen ninja in her arms.
And that was all of the encouragement that Yuffie needed to finally let loose. She buried her face into the pilot’s chest, allowing her emotions to take control with unrestrained fervor.
Perhaps it was a cry for help on Yuffie’s part. She couldn’t find comfort in the arms of the person she felt the closest to, so she searched for the love she needed elsewhere. In a flurry of restrained passion, caged emotions, and a forcefully closed heart, Yuffie allowed herself to be free for this moment. And she had to admit that it felt great to finally let it all out.
The tears slid down the ninja’s cheeks and onto Jessie’s clothes, but they were a variety of different types of tears. Tears of release, tears of regret, tears of rejection, tears of pain.. But most of all, tears of joy for finally receiving the steady comfort she always craved.
Jessie, however, felt the need to help the girl in order to help herself. Not because of pity or her good nature, but out of genuine caring for this ninja. Like Yuffie, nothing remained constant in her life. Her parents died, her friends died or abandoned her, and she had to face the cruel world on her own, learning to close her heart and lock it from ever being stepped on again. For once, she wanted something to be ongoing. She wanted to be the pillar for this girl, this strong, but fragile girl.
Knowing someone for such a short time.. Growing attached to them and making yourself completely vulnerable. Wanting to give anything to see them smile again..
That is the risk one takes when they fall in love.
‘..Fall in love, huh?’ Jessie never thought she would even contemplate that theory. She looked down at the girl who was crying all of her frustrations, her worries, her heartaches and her angers away, and Jessie gently stroked her hair, hoping to calm her tormented mind.
Even if she was just a rebound case, she didn’t care. Jessie found something that felt warm, comforting and real, and she wanted to hold onto it.
No matter how hard you try to run away from your past.. It always comes back to kick you in the ass.
Elena leaned indifferently against the wall outside the corridor of the kitchen. She stood in the opposite direction of the bridge, since she knew that Yuffie would head in that direction after this conversation. She heard every word of it, albeit unintentionally. As the ninja emerged from the room, Elena was out of Yuffie’s vision; even peripherally. It was only natural for the ex-SOLDIER to use that stealth, and Yuffie was so distracted by the rejection that she didn’t even notice Elena standing there, head tilted up and eyes closed in thought.
Before, Elena disliked the ninja. She was rude, impulsive, annoying, thieving, conniving.. But, after seeing the girl get her heart broken, the blonde sympathized with her. She felt she could relate. Even though Elena hadn’t really been directly rejected by Tseng, but she knew her feelings weren’t returned. He had always had a thing for Aeris, and even when she was out of the picture, he disappeared from the picture too.
She did feel sorry for Yuffie.. But she couldn’t help but feel happy inside at the fact that Tifa had chosen her without any doubts or hesitations.
“I know you’re out there, you eavesdropper,” The blonde heard from inside the kitchen.
Elena’s eyes finally opened and a subtle grin graced her lips. “I’ve been caught, haven’t I?” She said out loud, directed towards herself, but intended for Tifa to hear. Pushing herself off of the wall, she pushed the button to open the door.
Tifa could be seen there, one hand on her hip and the other hand hanging freely. She felt horrible for rejecting Yuffie like that.. But it was better than misleading her, then hurting her more so in the future. She justified the reasons, but she couldn’t shake off the guilt.. “How much did you hear?”
Elena stepped through the door and crossed her arms over her chest, a look of a guilty pleasure on her face, “Everything. At least everything starting from, ‘Do you still have feelings for Cloud?’” Again, she felt bad for Yuffie, but good for herself.. Seems cold doesn’t it?
“It had to be done.. This was probably the best way for her not to get too hurt,” Tifa said, a remorseful look on her face.. “She’s like the little sister I never had.”
Elena looked up to the ceiling of the kitchen, uncrossing her arms and latching her fingers together behind her back. “Still.. Pretending to be oblivious to her feelings seemed pretty cold.”
“You think?” Tifa said with a confused look, “This coming from the ice queen? The Turk with a stone heart?” The fighter teased the Turk, a smirk on her face.
Elena blinked and looked at the brunette in front of her, “What! Since when?”
“Just a little rebel talk from the slums.. Turks didn’t exactly have the best reputation, you know,” Tifa said with a little roll of her eyes. Then with a sigh, her motherly side surfaced once again, “I hope Yuffie’s doing okay..”
The blonde took a step towards Tifa, taking her hand and shaking her head, “It’ll take her a little while to get over, I think..” Elena tried to give her a reassuring smile, though, “You can’t expect her to be perfectly fine..” Words of wisdom from someone of experience.. Elena knew well how Yuffie felt. When she found out Tseng loved Aeris, albeit unrequited, she still felt hurt beyond belief. But she was still young, and unaware of a different love that she knew was real.. “But Yuffie’s a tough girl, and she has Jessie to help her out, right?” Squeezing Tifa’s hand, “She’ll be fine.”
“You’re right.. I’ll give her some time alone before trying to talk to her again..” Tifa looked down at the hand that held hers, then back into the brown eyes that reflected her own. “Let’s go grab some brunch,” The long-haired fighter began to lean forward, intent on giving a kiss to the blonde, but..
It was a perfectly good moment between the two. But it was only to be ruined by that familiar, pounding headache.. “Ugh.. Not again..”
And soon to follow were the memories.. Elena’s eyes became unfocused, unable to hold her own weight as she fell forward into Tifa’s arms. “Elena!”
That was all she heard before she blacked out.
On the battlefield, or during a mission, everyone had to be serious. There was no room for mistakes. Mistakes are what could cost someone their life. Tifa’s squadron never made an error, but on and off the battlefield, everyone could see their confidence. Over-confidence would sometimes lead to being egotistical and big-headed.. But Tifa wouldn’t allow that.
“Pride, we’re all clear for take over. Over.” Her radio buzzed.
“You don’t move until I give the signal, you got that, Wrath Squad? Target must be in isolation first. Over.” She spoke back into the device, her irritation clear in her voice.
“Yes, ma’am. Over.” The mocking voice of the Wrath squad leader replied.
Tifa released a sigh, shaking her head as she carefully prepared her sniper rifle. It was a simple assassination mission to take out a syndicate plotting to overthrow ShinRa, but it had to be done well, leaving no trace of SOLDIER’s participation.
The Lieutenant positioned herself, the only other person in the abandoned building with her being her second-in-command, Elena. She looked through the scope, the crosshairs aimed into the building across the street.
Elena held her sub-machine gun loosely. She never really liked to use the guns that ShinRa provided them with. She preferred hand-to-hand combat, or melee-weapon to weapon or robot. However, there was still quite a bit of time until the official start of the mission. So the blonde asked Tifa a simple question..
“What’s with the squad names anyways?”
Tifa didn’t move her head from the scope, ready at any time, but clearly able to multitask, “Have you ever heard of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’, ‘Lena?”
Elena shook her head, but since Tifa couldn’t see her, she had to verbalize her response as well, “Nah, I haven’t.. Is that like some religious thing? I didn’t know you were into that.”
The brunette smirked a little, “I’m not.” She finally finished setting the position exactly how she wanted it and pulled her head from the scope, “It’s just something that stuck with me. I heard about it from one of the Privates. The Seven Deadly Sins.. Pride, Wrath, Greed, Lust, Gluttony, Envy and Sloth.” Tifa sat against the wall of the building, her SOLDIER uniform hidden in the darkness of the room.
“Seven.. If there are seven, then why did you pick it? I mean.. You only have four squads in your command, including your own.” Elena asked, glancing at her watch.
“Only Pride, Wrath, Greed and Envy sounded cool for a squad name,” Tifa stated, a smile on her face, “You wouldn’t want to be called the Lust Squad, would you?”
Elena snickered, shaking her head. What a lame reason! But she shot back with, “Maybe if we had an all-female squad.” She hoped to catch an envious, protective look from Tifa, so she watched her reaction in the corner of her eye.
Tifa narrowed her eyes, about to retort, when sounds of gunfire could be heard from across the street.
“Wrath Squad!” She called into her radio, “Status report! Over!” Her head tilted to listen to the radio while Elena pulled out her binoculars and scanned the premises.
“Lieutenant, Wrath Squad has moved in!” Elena said with a disbelieving air.
“Those idiots! They’re gonna get themselves killed!” Tifa rushed to her rifle and looked through the scope to get a better view, “Target in sight, but he’s surrounded by bodyguards.” She called into her radio again, “Wrath Squad, get your asses out of there before you’re seen! You’re only backup!”
“I’m not listening to orders from some woman, got it? I should be Lieutenant, not you.” The Wrath Squad leader’s voice rang through the small device.
Tifa rolled her eyes, remaining calm. She wasn’t about to lash out at one of the squad leaders for being sexist towards her. “Alright, I’m going in. Those idiots don’t know how to follow orders unless I’m there to keep their asses in line..” Tifa said as she stood up. It was ridiculous! Tifa just had to be stuck with that sexist prick.. She knew that this was bound to happen sooner or later, and she knew she was going to teach him a thing or two about manners once they got back to base.
Elena nodded, immediately knowing what to do. She grabbed a zip-cord launcher from the bag of equipment and set it up quickly. She pulled the trigger, the four-point grappling head shooting from their position to the wall above the window where the target was being guarded. Once the hook was firmly latched, Elena secured the other side to the other wall. “Line set, Tif!”
Tifa nodded and equipped her fists. She was way better with her fists than she was with any gun. “Cover me!” And Tifa grabbed a latch, hopped out of the window, hooking the zip line and sliding down towards the other building. Close behind her was Elena, using a different method to slide down. On her boots were hooks designed for the zip line.. Since she needed her hands free, she slid down with her feet.
Of course, the syndicate inside wasn’t stupid.. If they were enough of a threat to ShinRa that they had to send in their SOLDIER units, then they had to be smart. They spotted the girls sliding down and immediately opened fire.
“Haste!” Elena used the materia equipped in her armor. As if time began to slow, her and Tifa could see traces of each bullet passing them by.
Tifa had obviously expected this, so quickly and skillfully, she transitioned her body weight to the side as each bullet could be seen with ease for the genetically enhanced SOLDIERs. Swinging on the cord from left, right and occasionally over the top, Tifa easily dodged the bullets.
“Barrier!” Elena, however, had a more difficult time, considering her feet were her only support on the wire. She slid down the line as if she were snowboarding down a mountain, but to keep the bullets from reaching her, she needed to use her materia again.
The Lieutenant burst through the window, shards of glass showering onto the floor as Tifa used the momentum to bounce off of the floor with a handspring and wrap her legs around one of the bodyguard’s neck. She twisted her hips and broke his neck, then planted her hands on the ground and threw his twitching body to the side.
Elena shot in after her, blade drawn and cutting the cord behind her. Immediately as a second bodyguard rushed towards her, she lunged forward, stabbing, twisting and slicing through his midsection. After a quick analysis, she spotted four remaining bodyguards and their intended target, the syndicate leader.
Tifa was already taking care of two of them with deadly grace. Her moves were fluid and oddly beautiful, a spectacle to watch if any of her victims lived to see it. As she ricocheted off a wall and dived towards a bodyguard with a roundhouse kick, her hair made a trail behind her like a cape in the wind. After landing the kick, she turned about and faced another, giving him a wink before pulling one of her signature moves: Somersault kick.
So much for being a subtle mission.
The two SOLDIERs didn’t need to say a word to each other. They knew at all times where the other was, and they communicated almost telepathically, only the occasional glances serving as conversation.
Elena crouched down and shut her eyes, with her head bowed down as a man rushed towards her with a baton. Her blade was held firmly at her side, and it almost seemed as if she were paying her respects to the men she had killed and the man she was about to kill. The man began to strike down, but Elena met him halfway as she leapt upwards, slicing in a perfect arch from the ground, along the man’s midsection, and up to his neck.
Behind her, another bodyguard with a knife raised his arm to stab the blonde.. But before he could, Elena threw her sword upwards and grabbed the man’s weapon arm, flipping him over her shoulder. She hopped back and the blade landed in the middle of his chest. That was the last of the bodyguards.
“Ice 2!” Elena said as she cast an ice spell on the target, freezing him in place. Elena simply flipped her hair back, and crossed her arms with a smirk on her face again, waiting for Tifa to complete the mission. She knew that Tifa would have wanted to take out the target, even if it was mostly respect on Elena’s part.
Tifa grinned, glad that Elena knew how she liked it. Calmly, she walked up to the frozen sculpture that was once a man. She made a fist, her gloves audibly clenching over the sounds of gunfire in the next room. Then, with a firm straight punch, the ice block shattered.
By now, it had been one minute since they hopped out of the window to the zip cord. Haste had quickened their movements, after all. And finally, the gunfire reached the door. Tifa stood next to Elena, her hands on her hips as Ken, the Wrath Squad leader burst through the door.
“Wrath Squad, clean this up.” Tifa said as she stepped past the bewildered leader. She had just proved her point that she deserved to be Lieutenant.
Back in present time, Tifa brought the unconscious Elena back to the cabin bed that they slept in the night before. It was only natural, though, since Tifa took care of her in SOLDIER when the injections would have side effects on her body. Elena was less susceptible to the injections than Tifa was.
She couldn’t help but wonder what memories were being revived in the other woman’s brain.
After the mission, once both Tifa and Elena were cleaned up and dismissed, they were free to return to their quarters, “Tif.. Do you ever regret doing what we do?” The young Sergeant Elena asked her commanding officer.
Tifa thought about that for a moment. She has killed anonymous, nameless people for the sake of a company that she wanted to destroy. She sacrifices her own body on a daily basis to withstand the injections and training sessions that would kill a regular person. Blood has stained her hands on hundreds of occasions, and the guilt of killing remained on her soul..
The crimson blood that stained their hands remained there forever..
And all of this for the sake of revenge..
But even after all of those cons, there is one pro that overrides them all: She met Elena.
“No, I don’t regret this,” Tifa said with conviction. She turned to her comrade, her friend, her love, looked into her brown eyes and continued, “Because without all this, I wouldn’t have you,” She leaned forward and kissed the girl’s forehead, “And without you, I would be nothing.”
A deep blush rose onto Elena’s cheeks, but she smiled sheepishly. Even though the line was corny, Elena was still impressed by it, and it was definitely a response she was happy with. Playfully, she hit the other girl’s arm, “You big-breasted sweet talker.”
Tifa rolled her eyes, a lightened mood circling her while she laughed. The tension from the day melted away when she saw Elena’s smile, as it always did. She retorted with her own comeback, “Oh shut up, I’ll say anything to get in your pants.”