Story: Ex-SOLDIER Tifa (chapter 5)

Authors: Bara Aozora

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Chapter 5

Title: Chapter 5: Keep Away

[Author's notes:

March 15, 2007 Author’s Note: Just to let everyone know.. The version of this fic that I’ve posted on DeviantHearts isn’t the latest one. It’s just the revised, slightly edited one. LOL I was just reposting it here. People should really read the author’s notes when they read.. Because I already have 10 chapters of this posted on at And the second Author’s notes are just what I originally wrote when I first created the chapter. So they’re not really updated.. The ones that have the current date are the updated ones.

A/N: Yeah, REALLY sorry about the late late submission. .. I’ve been so busy lately with school starting again and exams that I haven’t had any time at all to work on this ;-;.. But don’t worry! I’m not giving up on this one! Anyways, this chapter has me really stressed out. I’ve restarted about 4 times.. and always at around 11pm-1am or 7am, I’m trying to write more, but it reached such a writer’s block and I really wasn’t satisfied with what I originally had. I keep editing and editing, but even my beta readers didn’t like it as much as the other chapters D:! Honestly, I don’t particularly like the events in this chapter either! . ; But it has to be done in order to push forward with the story. It’s a rather important chapter, so I’ll do my best to make it the best I can, and again, very sorry for the late update.

Oh yeah, I noticed there were some weird MS Word grammar things that changed when I uploaded the previous chapters. Turns out they don’t like “?!” (Question mark, exclamation point) and they just leave it as “!” (Exclamation point). I’ll probably reload some chapters because some of the lines like Reno’s, “You want a piece of me, you bastard!?” in chapter two was changed and it sounded weird, at least to me it did. Shudder “You wanna piece of me, you bastard!” (LMAO. XD)

I’ll try to avoid using that combination of unwanted keys, or I’ll keep note of them and try to edit them in the uploader.

Sidenote: Onee-chan means “Older Sister” That’s what Marlene called Aeris in the movie because they didn’t want to say “Aeris” at all. XD

(Mini-update within the update: I fixed minor corrections in the earlier chapters. Hope it fixed some things D)

The usual disclaimer: FF7 doesn’t belong to me, warning, lesbian alert. D:



Chapter 5: Keep Away

“Hey, Marlene.. Do you really think those are going to grow?” Denzel asked as he sat on a nearby crate. Ever since Cloud left the three of them a while back, Denzel had to take over as the ‘man-of-the-house’ so to speak. Sure, Tifa did most of the work and she was much stronger than Denzel, but he was working on it. Plus, he knew that he would do anything to protect Marlene.

“Of course it will! It’s Onee-chan’s water!” Marlene stated as if it were the most basic knowledge in the world. Even in this little patch of dirt, a few flower seeds with some hope, care, and of course, Aeris’ water, Marlene believed flowers would definitely grow to brighten up the depressing gray atmosphere of Midgar. It was her new project and she was dedicated to it, if only as a kind of monument to the late girl.

Denzel didn’t want to crush Marlene’s dreams, so he left it alone, figuring he’ll just play along. Who knows, they might actually grow in this lifeless Midgar. “Yeah, you’re right. It cured everyone, so of course it can grow some flowers, right?” Letting his hopeful imagination soar a little, he made a fist and held it in front of his face determinedly, “I bet you could even grow a garden with that magic water! Magic flowers that will cure everyone!”

Childish dreams are always so cute.

Marlene smiled excitedly, obviously deceived by the imaginative ideal. She finished watering the plant with the liquid from the Church and crouched beside it, new hope that it would really sprout.

A gentle silence fell between them, but it was neither awkward nor tense. It was a silence of comfort, knowing that someone really cared and supported you.

Denzel swung his legs back and forth, occasionally kicking the crate under him. He was glad that he would be able to hang around Marlene like this. Even though he knew he was supposed to be the one to protect her, he simply felt safe and secure around Marlene. It was as if everything was great as long as he knew she was all right.

However, all good times must come to an end.

Marlene was still crouched beside the patch of dirt which she planted the seeds in when she saw a shadow cover the dim light that was supposed to nourish the plant.

She looked up and her eyes widened at the sight she saw. When you’re a nine-year-old girl and you’re only about the size of a six-foot-five, scary man’s leg, one is bound to be at least a little scared of what might happen when one towers over you.

“Marlene!” Denzel jumped up from his spot on the crate and threw himself in front of Marlene, holding his arms out protectively as he glared at the man. “Who are you?” Denzel promised he would protect her. And even if it meant facing Sephiroth, Denzel would hold his ground fearlessly!

A jolt to the boy’s gut was all it took to knock him down. Much needed air was forced out of his lungs and the abrupt pain shook his nerves. Never had he felt pain like that before; his worst injuries were probably a few bad cuts or the effects of his Geostigma. He could already feel his vision blurring and a sudden urge to cough, but the coughs came out as gasps desperately trying to recover from the blow. A scream could faintly be heard from Marlene as the fading image of her kicked and flailed to get away from the man, and the last thing Denzel could think of before he blacked out was, ‘I wasn’t strong enough to protect her..


For a good minute after Reno left, there was an awkward silence between the two women. Tifa and Elena stared at each other, neither saying a word nor even blinking. So many questions were unanswered and so many thoughts ran through their minds, but how to put them into words? What question would they ask first? Were those memories even truths? Even that they didn’t know.

An intense gaze came from Tifa, as if she was analyzing the girl to make sure she was the same Elena from her memories. She tried to piece together the unique traits that couldn’t have possibly been changed by the years gone by, memory loss, SOLDIER or the Turks. The way Elena would occasionally bite her thumbnail whenever she got nervous or worried, and the way she would get so worked up when she couldn’t do something.

It wasn’t just the little habits, though. It was partially the small physical traits like the way her short, blonde hair fell so perfectly over her right eye, how she always stood with such good posture that she probably wasn’t even aware of.. Even the way Elena fought her a while back in Rocket Town reminded Tifa of the girl from her memories.

They were all things that Tifa had noticed before, but she never really gave them second thoughts. Tifa always thought of herself as observant, but she didn’t even know Cloud’s little habits or intricate details! Yet with Elena, every move seemed so meaningful and important, that Tifa’s eyes would just seem to pick up these things without her even having to examine her or search for them.

It had to be her! Elena had the same name, same age, same brilliant blonde hair color.. And she even recalled the memories herself! Tifa’s eyes began to scan Elena’s features once again with her own curious brown eyes. Elena had the same deep, captivating brown eyes, the same look of insecure pride, the same curve in her back and the same smile that made Tifa almost lose her breath.. Tifa quickly caught herself before she started to think of even more corny adjectives for Elena’s characteristics, ‘Pull yourself together, Tifa!

She was just certain that it was Elena. It was definitely Elena.

Elena’s eyes, however, had a more contemplative look towards Tifa. She began wondering if her whole life and perspective would change if she found out that these ‘memories’ were real. Why wouldn’t they be real? It was definitely possible. She couldn’t remember her past well at all, except a blurry mess with the occasional picture, so that added to the probability. Tifa also seemed like she was remembering things from the same past, but she wasn’t quite definite about that yet. Before Tifa blacked out, she seemed to remember, but ever since Reno left, she hadn’t said anything.

She had to ask, Elena wasn’t the type to leave things hanging, after all.

“Elena..” Tifa finally uttered to break the silence.

Elena blinked to re-focus her eyes, not realizing she had been staring at Tifa without blinking for the past minute. It looked like Tifa beat her to the icebreaker, “Yeah?”

Another short silent moment as Tifa tried to piece together the words she wanted to say. Many candidate questions arose in her head, and she knew she could have asked thousands of different things to Elena in order to confirm her suspicions. Only one question seemed to stand out above the others, and if answered correctly, it could really prove to her whether or not all that she had remembered had actually occurred.

“Do you have a scar on your stomach?” Tifa asked, hoping against hope that the scar was there and she wasn’t just going crazy.

Elena stared at Tifa for a second, dumbfounded by her question. Of all the questions that Elena could think of to ask Tifa, or be asked by Tifa, she had no idea why the hell the brunette would ask her if she had a scar on her stomach. She nearly burst out laughing, but she managed to settle with a simple grin on her face, “Are you sure you’re alright?” She reached out and placed her palm on Tifa’s forehead, a giggle on her lips, “You don’t feel too warm..” Of course, Elena knew her body better than anyone else. Therefore, she knew the answer to that question.

Tifa laughed a little and hit away the hand on her face with her own. Leave it to Elena to break the tension like that, “I’m pretty sure I’m fine!” Tifa crossed her arms and tried to feign annoyance. Yes, she realized how strange it must have sounded, but nonetheless, she restated her question again with an irritated pout, “Do you, or do you not, have a scar on your stomach?”

Elena began to sober up her joking demeanor, but kept that faint grin on her face. She stood up from where she sat, saying to the other girl, “See for yourself.” Elena calmly lifted the hem of her shirt halfway up her midsection, revealing a faded scar. It should have probably looked worse, considering it was originally a really bad gash, but the nano-machines and other enhancements increased her healing and reduced the visibility.

Tifa examined the scar carefully. It was faint, but it was definite. It was in the exact same place it would have been if Elena had really been slashed by a robot when she was a teenager. She slowly reached out towards the scar, just so she could be certain that it was the same skin, and gently placed her fingertips on the area, “It’s real..”

Elena shivered a little at the cold sensation from Tifa’s fingers as they were placed on her abdomen, but she inhaled and let the hem of her shirt fall back down so the scar was covered once more. “Of course it’s real. But how did you know I had this scar?”

Elena sat herself back down on the chair she pulled from the desk earlier. Then, with the same questioning look, she crossed one leg over the other and leaned back, her elbow resting on the top of the backrest. “I don’t even remember how I got it. It’s just always been there.”

Tifa blinked a little, pulling her hand back when the shirt hem fell back down and calling herself out of her contemplation. Elena didn’t remember where she got it? That means she didn’t remember some things from those years ago.. “I remember where you got that scar,” She stated thoughtfully, almost as if educating the woman on something she should have already known. “You fought a test robot for ShinRa to see if human SOLDIERs were more capable than robots.. I was in our dorm afterwards and that was when..” Tifa could feel her cheeks heating up, her conceited demeanor fading. She didn't know how weird the next part would sound to Elena if she didn’t remember, “That was when I told you I liked you.”

Now it was Elena’s turn to be surprised. She didn’t think Tifa remembered anything! She even had to remind her of how they first met! Now suddenly Tifa knew about scars she didn’t remember getting and knowing exactly what happened when she got the scar? “Wait.. I thought I got this scar when..”

Then the memory returned to her.

I like you, Elena. As more than a friend.”

Elena uncrossed her legs and sat up, “I was fighting the SOLDIER X5 Prototype!” She blinked a couple of times, and then looked at Tifa with a bewildered look, “You remembered that?”

Tifa nodded and smiled happily, thankful she wasn’t going crazy. “While I was knocked out.. I remembered a lot of things..” She looked away for a moment, down to the wrinkled sheets of her bed, as she recalled all that she remembered. Then, with a hint of a smirk in her voice, the Ex-Sergeant continued, “I was so cocky and arrogant.. I felt like I could do any mission and do it better than everyone else.” She then gave Elena a sidelong glance and continued, “Especially if I was teamed up with you.”

Elena could feel a familiar redness creep onto her cheeks, but she forced it back, surprised that she would get embarrassed by such a vague comment. Reviving her countenance, she put a smirk onto her face and said, “I was such an amateur back then..” She was now looking back at Tifa head on, “So that means you remember a lot now? Why were we there?” Yet another question was still bugging her in the back of her mind, “..Were we, you know,” Elena lost her nerve and pulled her eyes away, casting them to the window with a deepening color of red on her cheeks, “Together? As in..” She rubbed her knees together in an uncomfortable fashion, “You know..”

“Girlfriends?” Tifa caught a glimpse of the blush on Elena’s cheeks and she laughed a little to herself. The once proud Elena of the Turks could still become embarrassed! Tifa pulled herself to the edge of the bed and let her feet fall to the floor beside it. The memories had definitely implied that something was going on between the two of them, so she had no doubts about that. Her doubts and worries now lay in what she felt at this moment. Did she still have feelings for Elena? She knew that she had been thinking about her a whole lot and all of those emotions bottling up within her were driving her mad.. But did she really feel that way for Elena still?

“Yeah.. That.” Elena noticed Tifa inching to the edge of the bed, but she didn’t move or flinch from her seat beside the bed. She doubted those unusual images at first, put them aside as if they were merely strange dreams that she had recalled.. However, now that she knew that Tifa knew the same thing, and with the recollection of how she felt when she was with Tifa..

Those feelings didn’t seem like they were going to go away anytime soon. She didn’t even know if Tifa still felt the same way at all anymore.

“Elena,” Tifa started with a soft, yet still cautious smile on her face. “I think..” She then glanced up at Elena’s brown eyes once again and felt a warm, familiar impulse run through her body, “No, I know.” Those feelings seemed to give her the extra push of courage, able to be sure that those feelings were correct. So, reaching out and taking Elena’s hand in her own she held it softly as she said, “I was in love with you.”

Elena stared back at Tifa, her jaw slightly dropped as she heard her words. ‘She was in love with me?’ Had Elena been in love with her as well? From the feelings she recalled and the emotions she was currently feeling, she probably was. That would mean that Tifa, the Tifa sitting in front of her right now, was her first love. She gave Elena her first kiss! She nearly smacked herself for not realizing it earlier. Well, she noticed it, but.. At the time she didn’t want to admit it.

Elena smiled. She could see from the look in Tifa’s eyes that the brunette was regretting what she had said and was afraid of how Elena would react. She squeezed Tifa’s hand reassuringly and finally said, “You know..” Elena smiled at her honestly, glad she finally resolved something, “I was in love with you too.”

Tifa felt a swirl of comfort in the middle of her chest, now sure and confident that those memories were real. Now the question was why did they both forget them, and why were they in SOLDIER to begin with? Why did they separate? So many questions and Tifa didn’t think she could figure them out on her own. At least now she knew she wouldn’t have to discover those mysteries alone. Little did Tifa realize that as she was contemplating what was going to happen, her head was slowly gravitating towards Elena’s.

Elena, too, was subconsciously allowing herself to lean forward, in hopes of partaking in a kiss that she had solely forgotten but longed to remember. She inwardly smirked at her own thoughts, ‘Since when have I been so corny and romantic?

“You two coming downstairs or what, yo?” Reno yelled as he marched upstairs and burst through the door.

Wonderful timing, as always, Reno.

The two quickly pulled away from each other, having been barely an inch away from touching lips, and a tint of red appeared on their cheeks simultaneously. Elena, always being the first to backfire at Reno, reverted back to her usual attitude, “God, don’t you ever knock?”


“Reno..” Rude uttered from his spot at the bar, his hand on a mug he was cleaning. He held a look that was different from his usual stoney exterior. It was as if he had been arguing with himself for a long time—debating a situation in his mind—with a look of deep thought on his face.

Reno just finished serving a customer, so a grin was on his face, but once he saw the look on Rude’s face, he immediately became sullen, “What’s wrong, yo? You usually look depressing, but not that depressing.” He said in an effort to cheer up the other guy.

“If you had to betray a friend for your job.. Would you do it?” Rude asked, not taking his eyes off of the counter. Though, of course, one couldn’t tell where he was looking with his sunglasses on all the time.

Reno’s eyes widened at that suggestion. Could it be that Rude was assigned a similar mission that Reno was? “What are you talkin’ about, yo?” Reno put a hand on his own hip and arched an eyebrow, “Who do you have to betray? Me? Elena?” Funny how Rude would say that, though, since Reno’s own mission involved betraying Elena.

Rude shook his head and put the mug down before finally looking up at Reno, “..Tifa.”

“Oi, oi. You’re kidding, right? ShinRa doesn’t have beef with AVALANCHE anymore.”

“It’s not because of AVALANCHE.”

Reno looked a bit more confused, but he crossed his arms anyways, “So why do they want her?”

Rude knew he was already going against his orders by telling Reno, but.. “They said she was an experiment of memory reprogramming. They wanted me to bring her back, but they didn’t say what they would do to her.”

Once Reno heard the word ‘experiment’, he thought of those deformed, gross things that they kept in those giant tubes in the labs. He hated going in there.. It made him wonder how many Jenova babies they had to create before they made those monsters that roamed outside of Midgar’s walls. “Tifa doesn’t look anything like those experiments, though..”

Rude shook his head with a little smirk on his lips. Experiments didn’t have to look like the monsters in the labs.. However, he quickly returned to his point and frowned again, “I don’t want to betray her..”

“Of course not. You have that crush on her, yo!” Reno laughed a bit and put his hands on the counter again, pausing the conversation to serve another customer. Once he returned to private conversation distance and privacy, he continued, “I have a problem like that too though, except it’s Elena.”

Rude stared at him as if he were a ghost, “You.. Like Elena?”

Reno’s eyes went wide and he immediately denied any instance of that assumption, “NO! No no no, yo!” He even waved his arms a little and shook his head to reaffirm his denial; “ShinRa wants me to bring her in by force because she’s supposed to be an experiment. Or used to be one, or something.”

Rude continued to stare, that case was equally shocking.

“I’m not gonna, though. I’m gonna tell her to run away, yo. She’s like our sister, right?” He ran a hand through his hair and said, “Tifa’s been kind of the same to me lately, I guess. Like a sister.”

Rude had so much riding on this decision. Being a Turk had been his life. His father was a Turk, and Rude was raised to become a Turk! He thought he could overcome any kind of obstacle with a straight face as long as it was for ShinRa.. But this seemed to be overriding his whole purpose of living, his purpose being his job as a Turk. After all, what’s the point of living if you can’t protect the ones you love? Rude realized that was all the support he needed. He’d help Reno get Tifa and Elena, and even Denzel and Marlene, out of there. “We have to get them out of here tonight then.”

Reno smirked and nodded, approving of his decision, “Alright! Who cares about ShinRa!” He felt that as long as his friends could be safe, he didn’t care what happened with his job. Not like they could kill him, right?

“Where the hell are they, anyways?” Reno asked out loud, “I called them down fifteen minutes ago!” With that said, he left the bar to be handled by Rude, and walked up the stairs. He was about to knock, when he heard voices inside. Tifa and Elena were discussing something, and being the nosy guy he is, he had to listen in.

Were we, you know, together? As in.. You know..’


Reno’s eyes shot wide open and he couldn’t stop himself from imagining the two women together, locked in a passionate embrac-.. Ack! He forced the thoughts out of his head in order to keep a nosebleed from making an appearance, and then listened more intently.

I was in love with you.’

I was in love with you, too.’

Crap! This is bad! Bad bad bad! If Rude found out about this, he’d be heartbroken! But he deserved to know the truth! Reno began to make his way down the stairs to tell Rude, then realized, ‘Wait.. If they’re suddenly confessing like this..’ He immediately marched back up the stairs and burst through the door, “You coming down or what, yo?” He asked frantically, glad he stopped them before anything serious could happen.


It was needless to say that Tifa and Elena finally came downstairs, greeted by the attention and applause of half of the men who were already in the bar. ‘Perverts.’ The night was in full swing and they seemed like they were going to be busy for a couple of hours into the night. However, something was bothering Tifa..

Denzel and Marlene hadn’t come back yet. She knew that she clearly made a curfew for them to be back before eight o’clock whenever they went out to play.. So where could they possibly be?

While she was lost in her own contemplation, she realized she should have been paying more attention to what she was cooking. “Ouch!” From the sting of pain, she looked down at the source and saw that she had cut herself on her finger. A droplet or two slid from the wound and she sighed at her own disregard, turning on the faucet to clean the wound. She fished a bandage from her pocket, which she made sure to always have on hand now, just in case.

The memory of caring to Elena’s wound the night before revived that warm feeling she got whenever she even thought about the blonde and.. “Speak of the devil.” That same familiar blonde head of hair peeked through the window and brought a grin to Tifa’s face.

“Another house special!” Elena called into the kitchen, a similar grin on her face as well.

“Coming up!” Tifa also placed the previous order onto the window and smirked, “There’s the other one.”

Elena saluted her lazily and took the plate before rushing off to deliver the order.

Reno, however, was suffering from a more guilty conscience. If Tifa and Elena liked each other, then what gave him the right to stop them from being with each other? He should be happy for them! They’ve found happiness within each other, even if he couldn’t find happiness for himself. It made Reno kind of bitter, in a way. Elena could get a girl, why couldn’t he keep one for longer than a month?

Ah, right, it’s because he’s so ‘badass, yo.’ He grinned to himself as he thought about that, and then shook his head at himself.

Maybe he just felt bad for Rude.. After all the poor baldy wanted to sacrifice his job, which was basically his life, in order to save a girl who didn’t even return his feelings! Well he would have still cared for her as a friend, but.. It just didn’t seem fair for the guy!

Rude was resolute, though. Even if it was unrequited love (which he was unaware of), he was going to save Tifa from ShinRa. He knew that when the ShinRa Labs called the Turks to call in an experiment, it was never a good thing.. He would save Tifa and Elena from that no matter what.

Ring ring.

A phone was ringing, but whose was it? Ah, it wasn’t the bar’s phone, it was a PHS. Quickly, Reno left through the back door and answered, switching quickly to his professional mode, “Reno here.”

“Reno, change of plans,” It was President Rufus Shinra. It wasn’t very rare for the president to call the Turks on their PHS’, but it still caught Reno slightly off guard because Rufus would never call on his days off.

“Boss, what’s up?” It was kind of intimidating, being the first one that Rufus would call..

“I need you to retrieve Elena as soon as possible. I’m sending back up Turks to your sector now, the operation will commence in an hour. Understand?”

“..Yeah, I understand, yo.” And with that, he hung up his PHS, his head aching as he thought about the consequences of his next actions.

A similar phone call was delivered to Rude minutes later and Rufus received a similar reply. “Rude, there has been a change of plans. The operation will commence in an hour. I’ve sent back up Turks to your sector, meet them outside of 7th Heaven.” Rufus then added on what he didn’t tell Reno, “Also, let her know that the two children she had been taking care of are with us. She’ll be more willing to come that way.”

“…I understand.” Rude closed his PHS and put it into his jacket pocket once again. His frustration building within him, he balled his hands into fists and punched a nearby wall, attempting to release the tension of his mission with the outburst. He made his way back into the bar and quickly told Reno of the situation. Reno, however, was already aware of what was going on, so all that mattered now was telling Tifa and Elena and getting them out of there.

Rude went into the kitchen while Reno stayed in the bar to talk to Elena.

“Elena! Come here, yo!” Reno called out to the waitress, waving for her to meet him in the back.

Elena soon complied, stepping out to the alley and crossing her arms, “Hurry it up, Reno, we’re busy tonight.”

“That doesn’t matter right now, yo!” Reno put his hands on his hips and narrowed his eyes at her. Then he remembered his purpose for calling her out there and he became somber.

The blonde watched him with confused eyes, waiting for him to speak first. It was truly rare to see Reno like this. So she knew that when he was, it was best to listen because it must be urgent.

“You have to get out of here. Get out of Midgar as soon as you can.” He said, looking at his friend seriously.

Elena’s eyes widened at the suggestion and her eyebrows knit together in concern and confusion, “Hold on.. What?” She shook her head and tried to grasp the sudden circumstances, “..Why?”

“ShinRa.. They’re after you. They’re supposed to be in this sector in an hour to bring you back to HQ and do some freaky experiments on you and Tif, yo!” Reno’s fists were tightly closed and he looked at the blonde, worried about her safety. “I know I’ll probably be fired for this, ‘Lena, but I couldn’t just stand here and let one of my best friends go through what those other lab rats had to go through!”

Elena looked at the fiery redhead, everything suddenly piecing together. ShinRa realized they were regaining their memories and the bastards wanted to recall Elena and Tifa to erase them again! No, Elena couldn’t let that happen! She finally began to remember and that void in her life was starting to fill up again.. She couldn’t just let that slip out of her grasp! She nodded at Reno purposefully and smiled, “Thanks, Reno.”


Rude entered the kitchen to find Tifa cooking up another house special. He felt something catch in his throat as he stepped up to her, so he cleared his throat to get her attention.

“Ah, Rude.” Tifa turned and smiled at him, finishing the dish and putting the completed meal onto the plate. “What’s up? Someone starting a fight out there?”

“..Tifa,” Rude said seriously, removing his sunglasses to look at Tifa properly.

The smile wiped off of Tifa’s face when she saw how serious he was and she immediately stopped cooking, “What’s the matter?” She washed and dried her hands, turning and leaning against the counter she was working on.

“You need to leave Midgar as soon as possible.” He said bluntly, trying to get to the point so they don’t waste any time. “ShinRa is after you for an experiment and they hired the Turks to recapture you in an hour..”

Tifa stared at him for a moment, caught off guard by the sudden information. ShinRa had no reason to be after her! Their differences from Meteor and Sephiroth’s return should have been solved and put aside.

“But, why?” She tensed up and her hands gripped the counter until her knuckles seemed to be turning white. Tifa still had that inward hate for ShinRa still burning within her from the incident with her father, the whole past with Cloud and Zack, and of course, the memory loss of Elena and herself. It was at that moment that she realized exactly why ShinRa wanted her to be recaptured. Her eyes narrowed and her teeth grit, “So that’s it, huh?” They were calling her and probably even Elena back to re-erase their memories! She knew she had to get out of there before the Turks could reach them, but her first concern was, “What about Elena?”

Rude, having not expected that response, let his eyebrows raise in surprise, “You knew about Elena?” He shook the shock out of his head and continued, not wanting to waste time, “Reno’s talking to her. She’s going to escape with you.” Rude found it rather odd that Tifa would place Elena’s safety above her own, but he tried not to dwell on it. He was more worried about how he was going to get them out of there and stall his co-workers and whatever machinery or army they were bringing.

“And what about Marlene and Denzel?” Tifa didn’t know if she was prepared to leave everything behind so quickly, but considering the situation, she knew she had to. She had to protect those she cared about. Tifa still hadn’t changed in that aspect of herself. She always put the safety and concern for others above her own. So since Denzel and Marlene hadn’t returned yet.. She became worried. Where were they?

“ShinRa had captured them as a reason for you to come willingly.. I didn’t find out until a few minutes ago.” He knew it was inevitable that Tifa would have to leave but thinking he wouldn’t be able to see her for a while.. He decided he’d tell her how he felt. “I’ll do my best to make sure they’re safe..”

Marlene and Denzel had been kidnapped.

Tifa felt her chest ache and her head pound at the news. An array of emotions, both her motherly and feminine instincts alarming, saying she had to go rescue them now. She wasn’t even their real mother, yet they were the only family she had left.. She couldn’t just leave them in the hands of ShinRa!

But wait.. She had to think rationally. Tifa wasn’t going to be indecisive and spontaneous. She had to calmly think of a plan.. ‘Think Tifa.. Think!

Tifa felt like it was her fault.. She shouldn’t have let them play outside by themselves! Now they were in the hands of ShinRa so they could use them as bait to capture her.. “Marlene.. Denzel..” No, this isn’t the time to be thinking about what she shouldn’t have done. It’s time to think about what she should do.

Rude lost his nerve to tell Tifa how he felt after seeing the look on Tifa’s face.

They had stood there silently for what felt like forever to Rude, but after a few minutes in reality, Tifa audibly inhaled a deep breath. When she exhaled, there was a difference about her. She wasn’t the insecure, worried-sick mother she was a moment ago, nor was she the confused, pessimistic Ex-SOLDIER bartender. The fire that burned in her eyes was that of Tifa Lockhart, member of AVALANCHE; A strong-willed fighter with her head on her shoulders and determination to follow through.

“Thank you, Rude.” Tifa smiled at him with resolve burning in her eyes, “I’ll escape with Elena for now.. Then we’ll come up with a plan to get Denzel and Marlene out of there.” Her first priority, as any mother figure, was to rescue those children.. But she had to be rational and save herself first. So, not wanting to waste any time, Tifa headed towards her room to gather some of her belongings she felt she’d need.

“…” Rude stood there, cursing himself for his cowardice. He didn’t know when he’d see her again after tonight! He didn’t even know if he would see her ever again! Though.. Perhaps it was better not to tell her yet. After all, they were doing this to make sure Elena and Tifa stayed alive. It gave him more of a reason to ensure that. He’ll have to tell her someday, so she has to be alive to hear it.

[End notes:

Old A/N: Well there you have it. Chapter 5 after much delay and nitpicking of the editing form. God that took a long time. I’m not even completely satisfied with it yet.. There are parts about this one I liked, though. Reno, for example. XD Rude is a surprisingly difficult character to write. He doesn’t say much, so everything is hidden under his mask of stoicism . ; It’s so hard to keep him from being boring. Anyways.. There was much character development in this, at least on Tifa’s part. Elena didn’t get much of a part in this one, sadly. But they finally have instances of romance in present time! This was a long one.. I’m happy about it, for the most part.. It just feels like it’s missing something I.. More action/adventure in the next chapter and hopefully more romantic parts as well! And in later chapters.. Yuffie comes into the picture! D Again.. So sorry for the late submission. I feel like I’m losing readers already.

April 24, 2007 Author's Note: Alright, that took a while.. Just like when I originally wrote this chapter, it was pretty painful to go through because it felt like all the things in this chapter were just.. I dunno. I didn't wanna write them, but it was inevitable, kinda thing. And so it's 3 in the morning, I couldn't sleep from like 1am so I was like "What could I do to make myself sleepy?" And so I started editting this chapter again. I probably missed a few things because I just skimmed through it. Probably couldn't do much to save this chapter anyways XD And I'm actually tired now, so this worked! Anyways, I also plan on entering this fanfic, though incomplete, to fanfic contest for April-May. :3 So I'm writing that in here to show I didn't plagerize XD. But yeah.. I'll get working on chapter 11 pretty soon. Reading over Vagrant's Rhapsody a bit reinspired me some. :D


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