Story: Ex-SOLDIER Tifa (chapter 4)

Authors: Bara Aozora

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Chapter 4

Title: Chapter 4: Platonic!

[Author's notes:

March 11, 2007 Author’s Note: Okay! Chapter 4. This was a fun chapter to write, I remember, and actually I plan on making chapter 11 a flashback chapter as well. After all of the stagnant drama, we (or at least I) need some action, comedic relief and Tifa/Elena SOLDIER lovin’. Plus.. The really fun stuff is only just beginning.

A/N: Yay Chapter 4! Get ready, I’m gonna take all of the flashbacks and put it into one big flashback! There might be another chapter like this one later on because I KNOW I’m gonna leave stuff out of this one. XD I intend to. I’ll put another flashback chapter later in the future where their plans about ShinRa and stuff.. I also KNOW that I made Elena out of character in this one during the flashback. She’d been alone for so long and suddenly she’s with this mass of people who she doesn’t know D:! And without her father! Of course she’s gonna be out of character. She becomes more like herself later on though. Yeah, and I left out the shower scene, sadly. I wanna keep the rating proper, you know XD.. Who knows, I may write it lime-ish and put it in one of the flashback chapters.

Sorry the chapter’s a bit late, though. My holiday’s been kind of sucking and I guess it’s just been showing a little. Updates may come a little slower in 2006, though. School starts up again and usually I become blah.

Oh yeah. Happy New Year. XD



Chapter 4: Platonic!

ShinRa ruined my life. It wasn’t only my life they’ve ruined either. They ruined the lives of so many people close to me, and even those who opposed me.

They even took the life of my father, the only family I had left.

I’ll never forgive them.. I hate them all.

Tifa Lockhart, sixteen years old, was now an official Sergeant of SOLDIER. During her days as a private, she received many injections and tests to see her capabilities and add improvements to her pain tolerance, physical strength and agility. She knew the road to revenge would be long, and possibly painful, but she had no idea it would be quite so.. Lonely.

Because Tifa was a special case, she was told she’d have a single room unless they find another test subject capable of withstanding the same injections and training she had as a private. Since the male SOLDIERs had possibilities of trying certain things while she was asleep, they decided that ShinRa’s secret weapon wasn’t worth risking in a cabin of rowdy men.

Jenova cells didn’t seem to affect women much, or at all, so they’ve had to find other means of creating enhanced SOLDIERs: Eva Injections. So far, though, Tifa was the only subject who hadn’t had any side effects or damage physically or mentally. Even knowing that no one before her had successfully gone through the tests, Tifa still accepted them willingly, knowing that if they succeeded, she would rise quickly within the company. And if she could rise quickly, she could tear it down from the inside just as easily. It was quite reckless, but at least she got lucky that time.

The fact that she was the only one, so far, gave her a certain confidence and edge. Along with her natural skills as a martial artist, she had the enhancements to aid her in her training. That meant that most people, even some higher officials, have failed to defeat her. ShinRa was definitely excited to create a second one like her.

Tifa should have expected her time at ShinRa to be lonely. She was practically the only woman there in a place filled with deprived men. Deprived men who she could beat up. If that wasn’t sad enough, she had to admit that after the mess with Cloud, Zack and Sephiroth, she didn’t even have much interest in men, let alone men who couldn’t even defend themselves against her.

So here she was, newly promoted and optimistic about another promotion in the near future.

She kicked off her shoes, fell back onto her bed and put her hands behind her head, letting herself get comfortable on her day off, for once. She had no doctor’s appointments today, no training scheduled until tomorrow, and no missions until she’s assigned, so she was allowed to sleep the day away. It was better to sleep than to be courted by anymore would-be SOLDIERs anyways. So shutting her eyes and exhaling a breath, she slowly drifted off to sleep..

Or at least she would have liked to.

She heard someone knock at the door and her eyes shot open.

‘..It’s supposed to be my day off!’ She stayed laid back and rolled her eyes, “Come in!” She made a note to herself that if this wasn’t an important message; she was going to hurt the messenger.

A man stepped in, almost trying to look angry and tough as he stood at attention. He seemed to be a new recruit, taking his job so seriously. He didn’t even make eye contact with Tifa.

“Sergeant Lockhart, you’ve been assigned a new roommate,” The Shinra guard stated as he saluted Tifa.

“Really?” Now that sparked her interest. Does that mean someone else passed the tests? She knew that ShinRa wouldn’t room her with a man, so it must be.. She smirked to herself inwardly. Maybe her time here wouldn’t be quite so lonely after all. “I thought they wanted me by myself..” Tifa said more to herself than the guard, “Well, let her in.” Tifa lifted her head so she could see the door and awaited the arrival of her new, and hopefully cute, roommate.

“Yes, ma’am.” And with that, the guard left the room.

A young blonde, not looking any older than Tifa herself, stepped in. She had a look on her face that spoke of insecurity, worry, and uncertainty, but her eyes blazed with passion and revenge. She didn’t know of any other way to infiltrate ShinRa than by joining SOLDIER, since at her age, they wouldn’t accept her unless she was an experiment. They injected a couple of chemicals, which she was told only succeeded on one person before her, but she accepted anyways. She had to get into ShinRa no matter what.

However, it looked as if the training she received from her father long ago sufficed to get her into the SOLDIER program as well. ‘Dad..’ She thought sadly as she remembered the man, seemingly her only family.

Suddenly, she remembered her manners and saluted the girl on the bed, “My name is-“

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Don’t be so formal,” Tifa said with a grin as she sat up and looked the girl over. A rare rose in a field of grass, indeed. ‘She is cute!’ This blonde had the innocent demeanor of a new recruit, and yet looked like she could hold herself well in a battle. ‘Lucky, aren’t I?’ Tifa thought to herself with an inward chuckle. And she was going to be Tifa’s roommate too! “We’re off duty for now, right? Put that hand down.”

Reluctantly, the new recruit lowered her hand with a sheepish smile on her face, “Sorry, I’m kind of new at this.” So this was the Tifa Lockhart she’d heard so much about.. She was even more than the girl had originally expected. Though she pictured more of a scary woman who’d command and train her day in and day out. This girl looked much nicer than that. At least she hoped she was nicer than that..

Tifa smirked, “That much I can see.” She hopped off of her bed, landed on her feet, and stepped up to the girl, scanning her over now that she was up close. Tifa nodded and held her hand out for a shake with a friendly smile on her face, “My name’s Tifa.”

The blonde must have noticed the way Tifa was scanning her over, because before she knew it, a light pink tint spread over her cheeks. She looked at the hand, and then took it into her own, shaking it with a genuine smile on her face, “Elena.”

“Nice to meet you, Elena,” Tifa started.

“Oi! Tifa! How about some one-on-one training in my room?” A voice called from outside the dorm.

“Maybe when you can actually beat me in a match, Rex!” Soon, she was reaching around the girl and shutting the door behind the blonde, “Sorry about that, some of the other SOLDIERs like to try to look into my room or get dates..” She narrowed her eyes towards the door, “Honestly, sometimes men just don’t get a clue, do they?” If there was anything other than combat that Tifa was good at, it was communication. She could easily break the ice, and it showed in the way she talked to Elena. It was also clear that she was confident in most aspects of herself because of the way she carried her own weight: Confidently and proudly.

Elena giggled a bit at that scene, already beginning to feel more comfortable in the environment that she had originally been afraid of. Already, she was thankful for Tifa’s presence and the way she dealt with the man so easily only made Elena start to admire her strength even more.

Elena knew that if she were the only female in a crowd of men, she honestly didn’t know how she would react to comments like that, or if she could even defend herself properly if any were to advance on her. She had always been sheltered and protected by her father, but other than that, she was always alone. That meant that she didn’t quite know how to talk to people, so now that she was suddenly exposed to this new group.. Elena felt like hiding.

She could feel an aura that Tifa gave off. So despite her uncertainties, Elena could feel a wave of confidence and strength entering her body just by being near Tifa. It made Elena feel warm, comfortable, and able to take on armies as long as this girl was there to support her.

‘Wait a sec, Elena. Don’t think like THAT! She’s gonna be your roommate!’ She scolded herself, ‘It’s okay to look up to her, but..’

Tifa took Elena’s hand in her own, excited to finally have some good company, “Anyways! Let me give you the tour.” She had an energized grin on her face. Finally getting a roommate was better than taking a nap all day! “Here is the main part, I guess you already know that, though. I sleep here, relax here..” She sweatdropped a little when she realized ShinRa hadn’t even given the new girl a bed. ‘Where do they expect her to sleep?!’ Tifa inwardly scoffed, ‘Perverts.

‘..Where do they expect me to sleep?’ Elena seemed to have the same thoughts running through her mind as she stared at the single bed. Sure, she never had any particular issues with sharing a bed with another girl, but.. They just met! And Elena didn’t really want to ruin her only potential companion by kicking her or mistaking her for a plush toy when they were asleep.. Though, it didn’t seem too bad, considering.. ‘Ah! Don’t think that! You’re straight, Elena! Straight straight straight.

“Well anyways, I’m sure they’ll get you a bed soon enough,” Tifa reassured her, not wanting to be too forward with her flirting by inviting Elena into her bed the first night, “Let’s continue the tour!” She said enthusiastically. Serving as a tour guide in Nibelheim did have its perks after all. Tifa motioned towards the mini-hallway, “Down there is the bathroom..” Then she motioned to a little area with a refrigerator and stove, “And I guess you can call that a kitchen. I don’t like the cafeteria food, so I just make my own stuff sometimes.”

Elena just nodded dumbly as she listened to the tour, following the girl’s motions with her eyes. There didn’t seem to be any need to move from that one spot really, so.. Elena questioned as to why Tifa was holding her hand. That question was soon answered because Tifa guided her to the one bed in the room and sat on it, motioning for her to sit beside her.

“So tell me about yourself! Why’d you join, how old are you, and all that business.” Tifa said with a grin, facing Elena as she pulled her feet in.

Elena sat where she was directed and put her hands on her own lap, shrugging a little as she faced Tifa, “I dunno, really, why I joined..” She inwardly thought to herself, ‘That’s a lie, and you know it.’ She, then, added on, “I guess you could say I wanted to learn how to protect myself.. I don’t really have family anymore, so who else would, right?”

Tifa’s eyes seemed to widen at that statement. ‘No family?’ Elena seemed to have a similar story to herself.. Only Elena’s wasn’t out of revenge, but self-defense. “No one to protect you, huh?” Tifa sat back and thought silently for a moment, staring up at the roof as she tongued her cheek a bit. “Hmm..”

Elena looked at her new roommate inquisitively, a questioning look appearing on her face. She didn’t know exactly how dedicated to ShinRa Tifa was, but Elena wasn’t going to risk telling her that her reason for joining SOLDIER was for revenge. She just met her, so what if she were to report her or something? Elena couldn’t risk it.. Her father’s honor depended on it. So what could Tifa possibly be thinking about?

“It’s settled then!” Tifa exclaimed, standing and making a fist, holding it in front of herself proudly, “Until you can defend yourself and beat up everyone here,” She said with a confident smirk, “I’ll protect you!” Then when Tifa realized exactly how corny that sounded, she rephrased herself, “Err.. I mean, I’ll help you out!”

Elena stared at Tifa for a moment, not believing what she just said. ‘She’ll.. Protect me?’ The blonde was speechless. No one had ever said that to her before! She’s always had to be strong for herself, she’s always had to take care of herself because her parents were never around and her brother was put up for adoption because of delinquency.. All she really ever had was her dog, but even he ran away from her.

“You’d.. Really do that?” Elena asked, a blush on her face at just the thought.

“Of course!” Tifa stated, putting her hands on her hips, “But just until you can fight me and tie.” She grinned as she sat beside the girl again, “Then you’d help me out too, right?”

Elena nodded, tears welling up in her eyes and threatening to spill. She didn’t allow them to fall, though. Even if Tifa said she’d be there to protect her, Elena would still have to be strong and become stronger!

“Hey now, don’t hold back on me,” Tifa said, “You’re allowed to cry sometimes, you know.”

Elena smiled at the girl in front of her, thankful to whatever fate brought her to Tifa. A tear slid down her cheek, but it wasn’t a tear of sadness. It was a tear of hope, if there is such a thing, “Thank you, Sergeant.” Elena said, figuring Tifa deserved whatever respect she could give her.

“You’re welcome,” Tifa saluted her lazily, a grin still on her face, “From now on, I’ll be your family, okay?”

Elena returned the salute and nodded again, “Okay.”


Tifa and Elena went through training and injections together. It was almost like a routine for them now.

Training was a breeze. With the enhancements that the two had received, within a few weeks, Elena was almost up to par with Tifa. Perhaps it was from the encouragement from the higher-ranked girl, or her own drive to become stronger so she wouldn’t hold Tifa back, but either way it worked. She was almost equal to her.

The SOLDIERs and scientists definitely expected the two of them to become rivals, Tifa striving to maintain the lead, while Elena working to catch up and surpass. But it was quite the opposite. The two worked together like a dream. However, one would have to say that Tifa was better during missions.

Tifa was like a born leader when she led missions and operations. She’d know exactly what to do in situations to make sure her platoon was safe and her objective completed, and she’d execute the plan quickly and efficiently.

Elena wasn’t quite the leader that Tifa was, so she was satisfied as the one to follow her lead and make sure the plan was done. Soon, it came to the point where she’d want to follow the girl no matter where she went. The way Tifa cared so much and let Elena be herself, no matter what ShinRa expected of her.. It made her feel wanted. It made her feel like, as long as it was for Tifa, she could die.

Elena never voiced her thoughts or feelings like that though. Tifa would probably get creeped out or something.

Though the way Tifa acted sometimes..

“Wanna sleep with me again tonight, ‘Laney?” Tifa said with a wink, sitting on Elena’s bed with her elbows on her knees. She watched the girl in front of her with a grin, as she was in the middle of changing.

Of course, Tifa meant the platonic kind of sleep, but that didn’t fail to bring a blush to Elena’s face at the thought of it. What a way to joke around, though. And when Elena was changing into her pajamas too. However, now that Elena was more comfortable around the girl, she was able to counter her statement without restrictions, “You sure about that? The last time we did, you couldn’t even get up in the morning!” She said over her shoulder, since her back was facing Tifa. She was unbuttoning the blouse she had on, so it made sense to at least turn around, but that didn’t stop the grin from appearing on her face.

..Yep. Totally platonic!

Tifa, herself, was already dressed in her pajamas, but she had changed right when she got back. She honestly didn’t like to wear ShinRa uniforms, no matter how much armor they provided. Tilting her head a little to get a better look at Elena’s backside, she arched an eyebrow, ‘I never noticed that before.’ Tifa smirked as she leaned back on the girl’s bed, “That was because you’re too cuddly and soft to let go!”

Elena’s blush deepened at that. “No comment..!” No matter how hard she tried, Tifa always won when they played this game. She finished unbuttoning her shirt and she removed it, rotating her shoulder and cracking her neck a little.

Tifa giggled at the girl’s response, but when she removed the shirt and revealed her toned mid-section, Tifa felt a lump catch in her throat. She was kind of relieved that Elena was turned the other way, because the girl would have caught the pink color on her cheeks. No matter how many times she’s seen the girl change, it’s always entertaining to watch.

“Quit staring, pervert.” Elena said with a laugh.

It looks like Tifa was caught!

Elena had a smug grin on her face as she pulled on a more comfortable, white, cotton shirt. She sat on Tifa’s bed, imitating her earlier pose and putting her elbows on her knees, leaning on the arms.

Tifa was a little surprised initially, but she sat up with a calm look on her face, “I’m not being perverted. I’m just supervising your.. Progress.” Her eyebrows bounced up and down suggestively, “As any good Sergeant would do.”

Elena’s eyes widened and she covered her chest, throwing a pillow at the girl with a deep red on her cheeks. “You’re still a pervert, Sergeant!”

Tifa giggled and caught the pillow, holding it as she stood up from her spot on Elena’s bed. She walked over to the other girl slowly, putting emphasis on her steps before she sat down beside the girl on her own bed, “Still calling me Sergeant, Elena?”

Elena sat up straight, that same earlier blush still apparent on her cheeks. Being this close to the other girl definitely does something to her composure, because she couldn’t even seem to find any words to say. She didn’t want to call her Sergeant, she just didn’t know if she was allowed to be anymore personal than that..

“I don’t call you by rank, do I?” Tifa grinned and placed the pillow on Elena’s lap, “You know me better than anyone else here.” A little laugh escaped Tifa’s lips as she remained watching the girl.

Elena stared at her, still wordlessly, because she knew what was going to come up next.

“You can call me Tifa, you know.”

The smile on Elena’s face returned, replacing the blush as she nodded, “Got it, Se-.. I mean, Tifa.” Then, once again, she became aware of how close the girl was to her and the color returned to her cheeks.

“And since you’re already on my bed..” Tifa started, a lecherous grin appearing on her face. She leapt forward and tackled the girl onto the mattress, beginning to tickle her mercilessly. Elena, being as ticklish as she was, broke out into fits of laughter and near-tears. She squirmed underneath Tifa’s weight, but it seemed futile to escape the moment of torture.

It seemed that once Tifa decided Elena had enough, she stopped and giggled to herself, “I never knew you were so ticklish!”

Elena was more than a little relieved that the girl stopped, so she took a minute to catch her breath, “You’re ruthless..” She uttered as she exhaled. Then with a strong counter, she pushed Tifa so she would be lying on her side beside her.

Tifa allowed the girl to take control for the moment and she just watched her with a smile, “Does this mean you do want to sleep with me?”

Platonic! Platonic!

“As long as you don’t grope me like last time..” Elena said with a grin, kicking the blanket on top of the two of them.

Tifa grabbed a comb from her own dresser and threw it towards the light switch, hitting it and enveloping the room in darkness. Just as another testament to her skills. She then wrapped an arm around Elena’s waist and whispered softly, her grin still visible in her voice, “I can’t promise anything.”


It seemed like the closer Tifa and Elena got to each other, the less they cared about ShinRa or SOLDIER. They both still craved revenge, but it was mutual how much they craved each other. They both tried to play it off as friendly gestures, neither knowing exactly how the other felt. At least it seemed that way, until a slightly, yet typically cloudy day at the end of April..

“I like you, Elena.”

Or so it seemed.

“Okay, I’ll just say it like that. Plain and simple!” Tifa said to herself, pacing in the dorm ponderingly. Her Chocobo slippers should have probably worn a path into the floor by now, but she didn’t care. She was reasoning ways to tell Elena that she seriously liked her! “But I’ve already said it so many times before.. Then I pretend it’s ‘like’ in a friendly way.”

Tifa sat down on her own bed and ran a hand through her hair in frustration. Who would have thought risking a friendship that she’ll need for the rest of her time here with a few words or actions would be so hard! Then again, if all the signs that Elena sent to her were right, then that would mean she returned Tifa’s feelings! Maybe she was too scared to admit it? Maybe she already liked someone else? Maybe-

“Hey Tif! I’m back!” Elena called as she entered the dorm, closing the door behind her and locking it out of habit.

Tifa jumped a little, surprised at the sudden entrance. She thought Elena had heard her talking to herself, but it didn’t seem like it, “Hey, how’d it go?”

Elena shrugged a bit, “I’m not sure really.” ShinRa was using them as battle subjects for the new robot prototypes. The engineers figured that if they could handle combat with the best SOLDIERs, then they could handle combat with most things. “I think the bio department was happy I beat them, but the robot department wasn’t.” It was amazing, even to Elena, that she could beat those kinds of robots with just gloves on, as well as her armor. Just a few years ago, she would have been decapitated or shot to death if she went up against something of that caliber.. Now she was considered one of the best SOLDIERs! Of course, it was because of the enhancements, but it was also because of her capabilities that she was so strong.

“I’m not surprised,” Tifa laughed, kicking off her slippers and lying back on her bed. She tried to make it seem as if she wasn’t nervous or anything. Tifa didn’t exactly want her reputation towards the other girl to be ruined. “Did you bring me a chunk of it like you said you’d try to do?” Tifa rolled onto her stomach and faced Elena as the other girl took off her backpack and the SOLDIER jacket.

However, underneath the jacket, a large gash across her midsection was revealed.

“Elena!” Tifa immediately pushed herself up on the bed in a kind-of upward position and gestured for the girl to come closer, “How did this happen..?” She shifted so she was sitting again and motioned towards the cut with a worried expression on her face.

Damn it.’ Elena thought as she heard Tifa call to her, ‘She noticed.’ She tentatively took a step closer, looking away with a bit of shame as she sat beside the girl on the bed, “It’s nothing, really.. I just got reckless.” Elena saw the look of worry on Tifa’s face and she was kind of glad that Tifa still cared for her so much, but she hated the thought of letting her down or making her ashamed. She wanted to be stronger so Tifa would like her! And not just as friends! It’s been itching at her lately, those growing feelings she had for Tifa. She didn’t just look up to her now.. She didn’t just see her as family.. Elena wanted Tifa to be much more than that.

“It looks pretty bad..” Tifa said softly, bringing a finger to gently touch the outside of the cut. She saw the girl wince, or shiver, at her touch and she pulled her hand back as if she burned herself on a stove. She then said with a scolding tone, “You should be more careful, Elena!” That was probably the difference between them. While Tifa thought situations through during missions and battles, Elena just seemed to rush in without thinking.. Either way, Tifa wrapped her arms around Elena’s neck and hugged her tightly, hoping she wouldn’t aggravate the cut, “Don’t ever do that again, okay?”

Elena was caught off guard by the sudden embrace, but she smiled and returned the hug, shutting her eyes happily.

Tifa sighed softly, inwardly cursing the SOLDIER Uniforms for being so unreliable, “I don’t want to lose you, too.. If that cut were a stab or a bullet-”

“I know,” Elena said sadly. Of course she knew! That was why she didn’t want Tifa to see her like this, “I’ll be more careful next time.. Plus, this’ll heal by the morning.” With all of the nano-machines and chemicals working inside of her body, Elena knew that she’d be fine and back in training by tomorrow.

That moment was where Tifa realized that, despite how enhanced they were or how strong they were, one of them could be taken away at anytime. The next mission or battle like the one Elena went through, and they could die as easily as a shot from behind! That meant, who cares about inhibitions or worries.. ‘I won’t hide from her.. I’ll just tell her outright.’ She was going to tell her! Right now!

..Any second now!

“Tifa..” Elena started, still holding onto the girl tightly. “Remember when you said you like me?”

Tifa’s eyes widened. Elena beat her to the punch?! She pulled back from the embrace enough just to see the girl’s face and she nodded, “Yeah?” Was she going to do it first? Was Elena going to tell her that she liked her back?! Maybe she figured out that it wasn’t just out of friendship! Maybe she got creeped out by the thought of Tifa being a lesbian and hugging her! Well, whichever it was, it had Tifa on edge.

However.. It looked like Elena lost the nerve, “Actually, never mind..”

Elena slowly loosened her grip on Tifa’s waist and began to pull away, but Tifa wouldn’t let her. The Sergeant kept a firm grip around her neck and hugged her close again. ‘Who cares if she turns you down, Tifa.. Just as long as she knows.

Then, taking a deep breath, she gathered her courage and softly whispered into Elena’s ear, “I like you, Elena. As more than a friend..” Tifa just took a giant leap into something she promised herself she wouldn’t back out of. ‘It’s all in Elena’s hands now.

Elena was shocked by the sudden pull, but she wrapped her arms around Tifa’s waist again and held her just as tightly, if not tighter, than before. Then the words came out of Tifa’s mouth and into her ear, and before her brain could even fully process the information, she responded, “I like you too, Tif.”

Tifa was honestly, pleasantly surprised by the response and how quickly it came. She reflexively tightened her grip on the girl and shut her eyes, thanking whatever anomaly up there liked her.

Elena even surprised herself with the response, but she wasn’t going to back off now! The person she stayed with, adored, and basically couldn’t stop thinking about just told her that she liked her as more than a friend! Her mind raced happily and she almost became dizzy from the bliss that overcame her, but she stayed conscious, “..As more than a friend.”

However, both of them couldn’t help but wonder if they were still going to be platonic with each other.


Back in the current year, Tifa Lockhart, age 23, slowly fluttered her brown eyes open. ‘A dream?’ She thought as she looked up at the ceiling of her own bedroom. A dulling, throbbing pain resided in her brain, probably from the effects of the memory remodeling and the fact her brain was fighting against it. Either way, she remained awake and tried to get her senses focused. There was an old fan a little to the left that she remembered she had to replace, and since summer was coming up soon, she should probably get that done.. It was old and rusty, and Tifa could have sworn it was gonna fall off.. She glanced at the clock. 5:00pm!? ‘Crap, I have to open the bar.. It should have been opened an hour ago.’ Tifa moved her arm to help herself sit up, but was met with a heavy weight on her hand. She blinked and looked at the source.

Elena had fallen asleep by her bedside, holding onto her hand.

Did she watch over me the whole time?’ Tifa asked herself in her mind. Of course, she didn’t know the answer for sure, but that’s what it definitely looked like. Tifa smiled warmly at the girl beside her and sat up completely, still holding Elena’s hand within hers. Thousands of thoughts went through her mind, but the thoughts of how she felt when she was younger burned brightly as she momentarily watched the sleeping form of her friend. She pulled her hand from Elena’s grip and gently stroked the sleeping woman’s hair, “Who would’ve known..”

Subconsciously realizing the absence of Tifa’s hand from her own, Elena began to stir, searching for the source of warmth. Her search was stopped short, though, when she felt a hand gently petting her. She opened her eyes slowly and looked up without moving her head to see Tifa watching her with a smile on her face. ‘Is this a dream..?’ She asked herself in her head.

Once Tifa saw the girl was awake, she withdrew her hand, staring at Elena as if she couldn’t believe she was once the girl that was in her memories. “You up, sleepyhead?”

Elena blinked when she realized it wasn’t a dream. She sat up and looked at Tifa with a panicked, worried expression, “Are you alright?! You suddenly blacked out when we were talking earlier!”

Tifa nodded and ran her hand through her own hair, “I still have a headache, but I’m fine.” She looked at Elena warily, wondering if she remembered the same memories Tifa recalled.

Elena looked at the girl unsurely, as if she doubted Tifa was really okay. She looked fine on the outside, but Elena knew how much those headaches hurt, and it looked like Tifa was having a bad one.. ‘Anyway,’ Elena thought as she fixed her hair habitually, ‘I’ll ask her about the memories.’ She opened her mouth to speak..

“UORYAA!” Then was rudely interrupted by Reno shoving through angry customers, running up the stairs and into the room (without knocking), and saying, “You guys up yet?!” He saw that they were sitting up and put his hands on his hips, saying angrily, “It’s harder to take care of a bar full of MEN when all they want to see is the waitress and the owner, yo!”

Tifa noticed that Elena was going to say something and she was prepared to listen. However, when she saw Reno’s intrusion, she glanced at Elena to find she was peeved at the fact she was interrupted.

Elena had her back to the door, so she was free for a moment to have an annoyed look on her face at the interruption, ‘Ugh.. Reno..! Horrible timing!’ She turned and nodded, waving her hand at him, “Yeah, yeah we’ll be down in a bit! She just recovered, dammit!”

Tifa suppressed a snicker and looked at Reno again, “Yeah. Thanks for taking care of the bar while I was out.”

Reno nodded and changed his angry demeanor to a familiar smirk, “No problem, Boss!” He turned to go back down the stairs, ‘It’s the least I could do for ya, yo.’ He added in his mind. “You better not take too long, yo!” It seemed Reno had received similar orders that Rude had, and of course, he couldn’t tell his comrades, so this was like his own retribution for what ShinRa was going to make him do.

[End notes:

A/N: Wow, there were a few things that could have been done differently in this chapter, and so much I didn’t get to fit in because I didn’t want to make an ‘OMFGWTFWRONGWITHYOU’ long chapter. So look forward to another flashback chapter in the future. XD School starts tomorrow, so updates will probably be slower. I’m glad I got 4 chapters in during the past week-ish, though. I honestly didn’t think I would finish this chapter tonight, but hey, I surprised myself. Thanks for the support, people! Will need some more support for the next chapter to come. *Hint hint*

March 11, 2007 Author’s Note: Yeah I didn’t expect to change much in this chapter.. Though it made me realize that Tifa had already blacked out once, so I shouldn’t make it happen to her again. LOL I might have to edit ch. 10 then.. I’ll go do that soon. I also find it funny and ironic how I thought 5000-6000 words was a really long chapter.. When the chapters just get longer and longer each time D: Chapter 10 is fscking 8000 words ;o;


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