Premonitions II-A: The Long Week of Hell

BY : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 1604
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII or any characters therin. I am making no money off of this work.

Chapter 21: The Tower

February 1, 0008

One Day Until the Wedding

THE SECOND FLOOR

The chase was on.

Tifa, Cloud, Brian, and Zack ran after Karnak, down the well-lit white hallways. He was many yards ahead, but he was greatly outnumbered. He would turn a corner at every chance he had, but his pursuers would always follow suit. He was running out of options, and he knew it.

As Tifa turned a corner after several minutes of pursuit, she could see a pair of double doors sliding closed.

"He went through there!" she exclaimed as she lead the way toward the doors.

"Careful!" Cloud warned as he drew his buster sword. "It might be a trap!"

"Fair enough," Tifa agreed as she began to slow down.

She waited until Cloud and the other two caught up to her.

"Ready?" she asked, wondering what was behind those doors.

"Let's go!" Cloud replied.

Tifa cautiously approached the double doors, and they slid open.

Four scout-bots immediately emerged from behind the doors.

Cloud took care of three of them with his buster sword.

Tifa kicked the remaining one into the wall, smashing it beyond repair.

The four of them then passed through the doors, and their surroundings were immediately changed.

They were now in a room where the walls were violet and the carpet was lavender. There were sofas and chairs placed throughout the room, as well as several pool tables and a few dartboards. There was a fish tank in one corner, and three pinball machines. An eighty-five inch television was against one of the walls.

Karnak was nowhere to be seen.

"Is this the break room or something?" Zack asked in surprise.

"It appears so," Brian answered.

Tifa continued to scan the room, searching for Karnak, but failed to spot him. As she scanned the opposite end of the room, she spotted a flight of stairs that lead upward.

"Where do those stairs go?" she asked rhetorically.

"Up," Brian replied sarcastically. "Seriously, I don't know."

"I've never been up there, either," Zack added.

"We did see a tower come from this building when we arrived," Cloud pointed out. "I'll bet this is it."

"How many floors would you say it has?" Tifa asked.

"I'd say six or seven," Cloud suggested.

"You think Karnak's up there?" Zack asked.

"One way to find out," Cloud replied.

And, without another word, the four of them climbed the stairs.

THE THIRD FLOOR

The third floor, with white walls and red carpet, contained bookshelves against the walls and throughout the room.

"Is this the library?" Zack asked.

"It looks like it," Cloud replied.

"Where they get their information on how to do their disgusting experiments," Brian added.

"Be careful," Tifa warned as she scanned the room. "Karnak could be hiding behind any one of those bookshelves."

The four of them began to cross the library. At each row of shelves, they stopped. Tifa would quickly poke her head around the shelves to check for Karnak. Each time, all she saw were books.

Until the third time. Two scout-bots jumped out from behind the bookshelves.

Cloud impaled one of them with the buster sword.

Tifa pulled the other one's head off.

They then checked the next bookshelf, and found nothing behind it. After repeating the process, they reached the other end of the library, where they beheld, and ascended, another flight of stairs.

THE FOURTH FLOOR

Upon reaching the fourth floor, Tifa, Cloud, Brian, and Zack found themselves in a brightly lit room. It was shelved the exact same way the library had been. Only instead of books, there were plants on the shelves. The floor was green tiled. There was a pond in the middle of the room.

"A nursery?!" Brian exclaimed.

"I think I know what this is for," Zack suggested. "All the drugs they experiment on us come from the plans that are grown here."

The four of them crossed the room slowly and carefully, keeping their eyes peeled for Karnak. He was nowhere to be found.

Near the center of the room, four scout-bots suddenly appeared from behind the shelves.

"How many of these things are there?!" Cloud exclaimed.

"Leave this one to me," Tifa commanded.

With that, she approached the pond.

She then whistled.

"You guys!" she taunted. "I'm over here!"

All four scout-bots turned toward her, and began to move in her direction.

Tifa simply stood confidently as the scout-bots drew closer.

Finally, once they were close enough, Tifa performed a roundhouse kick, knocking all four of the scout-bots into the pond. They immediately short-circuited.

"Water and electricity don't mix," she said as she cracked her knuckles.

Zack turned to Cloud.

"This is what you're marrying tomorrow?" he asked him.

"I know, I know," Cloud replied.

The four of them then continued through the room, but still saw no sign of Karnak. Ultimately, they reached the next upward flight of stairs.

THE FIFTH FLOOR

The fifth floor had yellow walls and tiles to match. There were many brown tables surrounded by four or five chairs. On one end of the room, there was a serving line, and there was also a buffet in the middle.

"This must be the dining area," Cloud said as he scanned the floor, looking, unsuccessfully, for Karnak.

"Even the worst of us have to eat," Tifa added.

Suddenly, four scout-bots appeared from behind the serving line.

"Don't tell me those things eat?!" Zack quipped.

As Cloud drew his sword, Tifa ran toward the scout-bots. As soon as she was close enough, she grabbed a chair, and swung it into the nearest scout-bot, rendering it inoperable. She then did the same to the remaining four scout-bots.

"Holy shit!" Zack exclaimed.

"Zangan taught you that, too?" Brian asked.

"He sure did," Tifa replied.

"Can you do that with a table?" Zack asked.

"I never tried it," Tifa answered. She then turned to the serving line. "I wonder if Karnak's hiding back there."

The four of them cautiously approached the serving line, and looked over.

There was nobody there.

They then directed their attention to the other end of the floor, where there was another stairwell leading upward.

There was only one way they could go.

THE SIXTH FLOOR

The sixth floor had orange walls and a lighter orange tiled floor. There was only one feature, and it was what appeared to be a single cell. The glass door was wide open, suggesting its occupant had escaped when Tifa freed the rest of the prisoners.

"Who or what was held here?" Zack wondered aloud.

"Who knows?" Cloud replied. "This doesn't look any different from the cells in the basement."

"Hold on," Tifa said as she noticed the screen to the right of the door. "This looks like a heat detecting camera."

"Why would they need that for?" Cloud asked.

"Maybe this was where they kept the scout-bots before they were ready," Brian suggested.

"Who knows," Zack replied. "But, in any case, if there's nothing on this floor, we need to keep going. Karnak could be just up those stairs."

The four of them began to make their way to the the stairs that led to the next floor.

Suddenly, Cloud stopped.

"What's wrong?" Tifa asked.

"I feel like we're being watched somehow," Cloud answered.

"Cloud," Zack dismissed, "there's no one else here."

Continuing, they ascended the stairs.

THE SEVENTH FLOOR

The seventh floor had a cerulean colored wall and light and dark blue tiles. There were a few paintings on the wall, along with a blue, square table with four chairs surrounding it.

It was where Karnak had meetings with his underlings.

Tifa quickly scanned the room. There was still no sign of Karnak. At the end of the room, there was no flight of stairs. It could only mean one thing.

"I think we've reached the top," Tifa said.

Instead, at the end of the room, there was a door under an exit sign. On the door, there was a sign that read: HELIPAD.

"Could he have gotten away?" Brian asked.

"We'll know if we don't see a helicopter out there," Cloud replied as he began to make his way to the door.

At that moment, there was a ghostly apparition. It lasted less than three seconds, but all four of them saw it. It appeared human, or at least humanoid.

"I think it's safe to say we all saw that distortion," Zack said.

"It's a person," Cloud added. "Probably wearing a cloaking bracelet."

"Could be Karnak," Zack suggested.

Tifa's mouth began to dry, and her heart began to race. She had another idea.

"Hello!" Zack called.

There was no response.

"He'll probably have to de-cloak before he can talk," Cloud suggested.

Tifa's heart began to beat faster. That sounded all too familiar.

The four of them stood in place for a moment, waiting for the distortion to reappear, but it did not.

Finally, Zack spoke.

"I'm fairly certain Karnak is right behind that door," he said. "If we hurry, we can still get him!"

Tifa, Cloud, Brian, and Zack began to make their way for the door.

As they did so, Tifa kept a watchful eye on her surroundings. She was desperately hoping to see the distortion again.

Zack was the first to reach the door. It slid open, revealing the still-sitting helicopter on the helipad. Smiling, Zack began to walk through.

"Hold it right there!" called yet another unpleasant voice.

Tifa, Cloud, Brian, and Zack turned around to see Lechar standing at the stairwell from the sixth floor, pointing what appeared to be a handgun at the four of them.

"It's over, Lechar," Tifa replied. "All the prisoners are off the island."

"Not all of them," Lechar retorted as he stepped forward, and drew closer to the four. "Do you know what this is?" he taunted as he flaunted the handgun.

"A firearm," Tifa replied. "I've seen worse."

Lechar then turned toward the table and chairs. He fired the handgun.

Blue energy escaped the handgun and hit one of the chairs. Moments later, the chair turned brown and crumbled into dust.

Tifa and Cloud gasped.

Lechar then turned to his captives.

"I know you've seen that before," Lechar began as he stepped closer again. "I've had a feeling something was off ever since the premonitions began."

"What are you going on about?" Tifa demanded.

"I've been to the Lifestream," Lechar continued. "I was in Mideel when the ground collapsed right under me. I saw my own future the way I'm assuming you did. I know we're living in an alternate timeline."

"Congratulations," Cloud said sarcastically. "So far, the changes are pretty nice."

"Then you recognize what's in my hand?" Lechar taunted.

"A blue energy gun," Tifa replied. "Where the hell did you get it?"

"I'll tell you this," Lechar answered. "When I fell into the Lifestream, I learned something about my own future that might interest you."

"Nothing about your future could possibly interest us," Cloud dismissed.

"I was the one who gave Bestla the blue energy she used to kill you," Lechar proudly announced. "She wasn't smart enough to figure out how to get her hands on it, so I practically gave it to her."

"It was you?!" Tifa exclaimed.

"Bestla pulled the trigger," Lechar replied. "But I gave her the power. I didn't kill you though. At least not you two." He then turned to Zack. "But in the old timeline, you, Mr. Fair, died from my favorite experiment: removing the heart of a conscious human being!"

"You sick bastard!" Zack hissed.

"No worries," Lechar assured him. "This timeline, I'll kill you all right here and right now, quickly and painlessly." He then aimed the gun at Tifa. "I think I'll start with Miss Lockheart. It'll break the rest of you."

Tifa suddenly began to feel fear. She did not feel it often, but, at this moment, she knew there was no escape. After coming this far, she would be stopped by something this petty.

Lechar placed his finger on the trigger.

"You really should've taken everyone's advice and left it well enough alone!"

Tifa closed her eyes, and awaited the inevitable.

And then, suddenly, Lechar's head jerked to the right. He then fell to the ground, dead as a door nail.

Tifa, upon hearing the loud snap, slowly opened her eyes. She went over to check the body, which had vertebrae poking out of the neck.

His neck couldn't have snapped on its own, she thought.

And then, the distortion reappeared next to the body. Moments later, it began to materialize into a familiar face.

Tifa felt relieved as tears of joy formed in her eyes.

"Tobin!" she exclaimed happily.

"Hey, Tifa," he greeted.

Tifa immediately threw her arms around her cousin and squeezed him.

"I thought the worst!" she exclaimed as she began to sob. "I came to your parents house looking for you. I went to Cosmo Canyon. I heard you went away and never came back!"

"I thought I was history, too," he replied as he hugged her back.

Then, Tifa realized something.

"So you were held in that heat-sensitive cell?" she asked.

"You got it," Tobin replied. "They couldn't remove the cloaking bracelet, so they needed something to detect my presence. But I was amazed to hear your voice again when you were in the intercom. I realized that I was getting off of this island. You obviously found the journal?"

"I sure did," she answered. "It nearly killed me, literally, but I found it and read it."

"So you know about all my adventures and misadventures?" Tobin asked.

"You bet," replied the smiling Tifa. "Including your trip to Costa del Luna, and your prom night."

Tobin began to blush.

"Prom night?" asked the perplexed Zack.

Tobin began to feel nervous.

"It's nothing," Tifa insisted. "It's nothing."

"Well," Zack continued, "here's something. Karnak is right outside that door. Now's our chance to finish him off!"

"Agreed," Tifa said as she eyed the blue energy gun and picked it up. Then, to everyone's surprise, she broke it in two. "This can't fall into the wrong hands," she explained. "Let's go!"

The four of them made their way out the door. There, the helicopter sat there, awaiting a course.

There was still no Karnak.

"Well," Zack began, "where the hell is he?"

"Did we miss him?" Brian asked.

"That's...impossible," Tifa dismissed. "We checked every spot. Where could he have gone?"

The process of elimination sat in front of them.

"I'll check the helicopter," Cloud volunteered.

"Cloud," pleaded Tifa as she placed her hand on his shoulder, "please be careful."

Cloud smiled and kissed her.

"Don't worry about it," he assured her.

He then ran to the helicopter and went inside. A few moments later, he poked his head out.

"No Karnak on board," he announced.

Tifa sighed.

"He must have gotten away at the dock," she deduced. "I hope he didn't hurt any prisoners on the way out."

"I certainly didn't see him on my way up from the basement," Zack said. He then turned to the helicopter. "But, we do have a ticket out of here."

"Without defeating Karnak?!" Brian protested.

Tifa looked at everyone.

"We defeated Karnak," she replied. "I came here to rescue my papa, and we ended up saving Zack, Tobin, and all of the other prisoners here. His operation is ruined. He's going to be the one in a prison from now on. Every prosecutor on the Western Continent is going to go after him. Wherever he's gone, they'll track him down." She then scanned the three men standing in front of her. "Can any of you pilot a chopper?"

"I can," Tobin volunteered. "I learned over the last year."

"Then it's settled," Tifa declared. "We're leaving the island. The authorities will deal with Karnak."

Tobin was the first to board the helicopter, followed by Zack and Brian.

Tifa took one last look at her surroundings. Then, she took one step into the helicopter.

"Don't you dare!" shouted Karnak.

Tifa immediately spun around to see him passing through the doorway. His buster sword was in one hand. But he was flaunting something else in the other.

"This is a remote detonator," he announced. "If anyone gets off, or tries to fly this chopper off this island, one press of a button is all it would take for you all to go up in smoke."

"What do you want?" Tifa demanded.

"You ruined everything for me today," Karnak replied. "I want to settle things with you. A fight to the death. Accept, and I'll spare your friends."

Tifa looked back on the helicopter. The lives of its occupants were now in her hands.

"You have me," she reluctantly agreed.

Karnak grinned as he put the detonator away and tightened his grip around the buster sword. A moment later, he began to charge Tifa.

Tifa was quicker, and slid past him. She immediately rose to her feet, turned around, and kicked Karnak in the back of his left knee with all her might.

The kick did not affect him. He turned around, and swiped his buster sword.

Tifa jumped a yard backward. She then kicked Karnak in the arm.

It still seemed to have no effect on him.

Karnak again struck at Tifa with his buster sword.

Tifa jumped another yard backward. She was now inside the blue-tiled room again. Determined to go down with a fight, she kicked Karnak in the groin as hard as she could.

There was still no effect.

"Is that the best you can do, you little bitch?" Karnak taunted before jabbing his sword at Tifa again.

Tifa jumped back another yard.

"You can't do that forever," he declared as he swiped at her again.

Tifa jumped another yard backward.

"I can try!" she protested.

"Foolish girl," Karnak continued as he swiped his buster sword at her again (causing her to jump back another yard), "I have Sephiroth's strength in me. I can't go down by fists alone!" With that, he took another jab at Tifa.

Tifa jumped back another yard, and felt her a hard surface against her back.

It was the blue table.

She could go no further.

Realizing that she only had moments to live if she failed to defeat Karnak, Tifa took one of the chairs and hurled it into Karnak's right side.

The chair broke into many pieces.

Karnak simply grinned, and aimed his buster sword directly at Tifa's heart.

"So this is what you traded your life for," Karnak gloated as he pulled his buster sword back, preparing to drive it into Tifa's chest.

Tifa, without warning, quickly turned around, grabbed the table, and, using every ounce of her strength, flung the table into Karnak.

The table broke in two.

Karnak fell to the ground, and dropped his buster sword.

Realizing she had only seconds to spare before he recovered, Tifa grabbed the buster sword immediately aimed it at Karnak.

Karnak gave her a helpless look.

"Get up," Tifa ordered.

Karnak slowly did as he was ordered.

Quick as a flash, Tifa reached into Karnak's pocket and snatched the detonator.

Karnak looked at her, as if to beg for mercy. He was beaten, and he knew it.

"Down the stairs," she demanded.

Defeated, Karnak descended the stairs, down to the sixth floor. It was the floor where Tobin's former prison cell was.

"Into the cell," she ordered, with the buster sword still aimed at Karnak.

Karnak went into the cell. He then turned around, sat down on the bench, and gave Tifa a defeated look.

"So I guess there's one thing left to do," he said.

"You killed Zangan," Tifa replied. "You impersonated Cloud. You tried to kill Cloud. You tried to kill me. You tortured my father. You tortured my cousin. You tortured Zack. God only knows what else you did!"

"I can reform," Karnak pleaded as he gave her a regretful look.

Tifa could immediately tell it was feigned. She kept the buster sword aimed at Karnak's heart.

"It's too late," she rebuked. "You deserve to die!"

The helpless Karnak closed his eyes, preparing to feel the blade pierce his chest.

And then, Tifa stepped forward and fist-bumped a button, causing the cell door to slide shut.

"But I prefer you the way you are now," Tifa continued. "Locked up alone. You'll have the rest of your life to regret it."

Karnak opened his eyes, and looked into Tifa's. There was nothing to be said.

"Good-bye, Karnak," she said as she turned around and walked away without looking back.

Tifa silently climbed the stairs to the seventh floor, stopping briefly to scan the overturned furniture before exiting out the door to the helipad. She disarmed the detonator and climbed into the helicopter.

As soon as she saw Cloud, Tifa ran to him, threw her arms around him, and pressed her lips against his.

"Karnak's done," she announced as she broke the kiss.

"You didn't kill him," Cloud asked. "Did you?"

Tifa shook her head.

"But we won't be seeing him again," she added. "He can stew in Tobin's old cell indefinitely."

"He'll be on this island all alone," Tobin added. "He's going to be really pissed when he gets off."

"Yeah," said Zack. "If he gets off."

"Oh, and Zack?" Tifa began, "I just found out I can fling a table."

And then, Tobin finally spotted the rock on Tifa's finger.

"Wait a minute," he began. "You're engaged?!"

Tifa nodded with a smile.

"To Cloud?"

She nodded again.

"We're getting married tomorrow," she said. "I'll see you there."

"You bet!" Tobin said happily.

The five of them then turned to the cockpit that Tobin was now seated in.

"Next stop, Nibelheim?" Zack naturally asked.

Tifa scanned the helicopter. She then scanned her four companions. And then, she spotted Tobin.

"Cosmo Canyon," she corrected. "Next stop, Cosmo Canyon."

LATER...

The sun was beginning to set as the helicopter gently landed several yards from Cosmo Candle.

Tifa was the first to get out of the helicopter, followed by Tobin. Everyone else stayed inside; it would be a quick drop-off.

Tobin turned to his cousin and looked her in the eyes.

"Thanks again for saving my worthless ass," he said.

"No problem," she replied. "Just...promise me one thing. Don't ever do anything like that again. You're the closest thing I have to a brother, okay?"

"I won't," Tobin assured her. "Not even if there's ever another Meteor." He paused. "So you're getting married in Nibelheim?" he asked.

"You got it," Tifa answered.

"I'll be there," Tobin assured her.

She smiled in response. Her smile then faded as she turned her gaze toward where Tobin's apartment was.

"But until then," she said to her cousin, "you have another place to be."

Tobin turned his glance toward his home. He realized what awaited him there.

"Tobin," Tifa continued, "losing you left Cissnei broken-hearted. She may be incapable of crying, but she can still show it."

"I know," he guiltily admitted.

"But she's up there now," she said. "She needs to know you're alive. She really cares about you, you know."

With that, Tifa wrapped her arms around Tobin's neck and kissed him on the cheek.

"Now go to your best friend," she commanded.

"Will do," he agreed.

Tifa smiled and boarded the helicopter, which took off moments later.

With nothing further ado, Tobin climbed the stairs to the hallway where he lived. He laughed to himself, thinking about all he had been through.

I knew writing that journal would save my sorry ass, he thought. I know going to the Island Gulag was a dumb thing to do in the first place, but, hell, we all thought we were going to die. Plus, if Zack and I didn't pull that stunt, Tifa never would have found Uncle Brian. It's funny how two wrongs make a right.

Tobin then opened the door, and entered the hallway.

But, damn, Zack'll eventually find out about prom night. I'll have to tell him when he's in a really good mood. And, once I do, maybe I could publish the journal. I'll make a shitload of money off of it.

Finally, he reached his apartment.

Tobin suddenly became tense, realizing that he had a lot of explaining to do. Tifa was right; he had hurt Cissnei very much by going to the Island Gulag. He did not know whether she knew of Tifa's expedition to the island, but he did know that Cissnei was not aware that he was still alive. How she would react to him would have to be seen. In any case, Tobin knew he clould not stand at the door forever, nor sleep on the doorstep.

He knocked on the door.

There was no longer any going back. He could only stay there, and await the consequences.

And then, slowly, the door opened.

Cissnei appeared in the doorway, but it was not the Cissnei he remembered. Her hair was dirty brown. Her eyes were red and baggy. She wore no makeup, and she smelled terrible.

Tobin felt his heart wrenched. He could not believe she was that upset over losing him.

But now, he was back.

Cissnei, meanwhile, began to tremble. Her eyes immediately widened.

"Tobin?" she asked nervously.

"Hi, Cissnei," he greeted. "I'm home."

His roommate and best friend could not believe her eyes.

"Is it really you?" she asked, her voice breaking with anticipation.

"It's me, Cissnei," Tobin replied gently. "It's me."

She immediately threw her arms around him and clutched his body to hers.

Tobin hugged her back, just as tightly. As happy as Cissnei was to see him, Tobin was equally happy to see her.

But when the hug broke, a surprising sight greeted Tobin.

Tears were streaming from both of Cissnei's eyes.

"Cissnei," Tobin observed, "you're crying."

Cissnei touched her face, and realized that it was true.

"I'm just so happy you're home!" she laughed through her tears.

"Me, too," he said.

"Please don't ever do that again!" she sobbed before hugging him again. "I thought I lost you forever!"

"I won't," Tobin promised. "Not ever."

MEANWHILE...

They stopped at Nibelheim. The helicopter gently landed just outside of the southern entrance.

Tifa was the first to get off, followed by Cloud, Zack, and Brian.

Brian stared at the town as tears began to form in his eyes; he thought he would never see it again.

"Welcome home, papa!" Tifa said happily.

The four of them quietly walked into town. The houses, which were now lit inside, greeted them as they entered. It was a peaceful feeling for all four of them.

And then, for one of them, it was shattered.

"Zack Fair!" Yuffie exclaimed a she began to march in his direction. "I haven't seen you in a year! Where the hell have you been?"

"In hiding," Zack replied. "It's good to see you, too, Yuffie."

Yuffie placed her hands on her hips.

"From me?!" she accused.

"From the Shinra," Zack clarified. "They tried to kill me and I had to lay low until they were gone."

"Well," Yuffie continued, "they're not coming back anymore."

"I guess this means I don't have to hide anymore," Zack said.

And then, a smirk appeared on Yuffie's face. The trap was set.

"So Zack," she began, "about those boarding passes I gave you back in Costa del Sol..."

"Oh yeah," remembered Zack sheepishly. "I never did fulfill my part of the bargain."

"You owe me a date, Zachary," she reminded him.

"I haven't forgotten," he admitted.

Yuffie grinned.

"So Cloud and Tifa are getting married tomorrow," she continued. "Would you like to be my date to the wedding?"

"Well..." Zack began.

I'm twenty-four, he thought. I'm old enough to be her math teacher.

"Well, what?" Yuffie asked impatiently. "We had a deal! The boarding passes for a date!"

I guess I'm stuck, Zack realized.

"You mean as a couple?" he asked.

"For the day," Yuffie clarified. "Until the stroke of midnight."

"For the day?"

"It means you have to dance with me," she clarified. "My dress doesn't have any pockets. Trust me, I couldn't steal from anyone if I wanted."

Looks like I can't go back on my word, he thought. Why not. It's only one day.

"All right," Zack said. "I'll be your date."

"Hooray!" replied Yuffie as she jumped into the air for joy. "I have a date for the wedding! I have a date for the wedding!"

Cloud overheard that, but it didn't bother him. Yuffie was not the only familiar face he saw. He noticed that Cid and Shera had arrived in Nibelheim, along with Barret and Jessie. In the background, he could see Reeve, Parker, and Sage entering the inn. At the town entrance, Red XIII was coming in.

And then, he turned his attention toward the center of town.

Tifa stood alone by the well. Her now-messy hair was gently blowing in the breeze.

They would be seeing each other the very next day. Still, it somehow felt like something was ending. They would be a married couple.

Cloud slowly approached his fiancée. It would be the final night he would be able to call her that.

"So, after twenty years, its come to this," Tifa began with a smile. Now that Karnak was defeated and her father was rescued, Tifa could now focus her full attention on her wedding to Cloud. "You're staying at Tseng and Elena's, right?"

"That's right," Cloud replied.

"Nervous about tomorrow?" she asked.

"A little," he admitted. "You?"

"A little," she admitted. "But I promise you I'll be the best wife I can be."

Cloud smiled as he gently stroked Tifa's hair.

"I never did say I was sorry," she continued.

"For what?" he asked.

"For scaring you like that when I proposed," she clarified.

"I kind of deserved it," he admitted. "I'm just relieved you took me back."

"Don't worry about that," she assured him. "The past is the past, and the old timeline is gone. After tomorrow, we'll be sealed together for life."

Tifa then smiled briefly, only to suddenly lower her head. A tear escaped her eye.

"What's wrong?" Cloud asked.

"It's going to feel strange not waking up next to you tomorrow," she replied sadly.

"I know," he agreed. "Same here. But, after that, we'll wake up next you every morning."

Tifa raised her head and smiled again.

"Well," she said, "we can't keep our parties waiting."

"You're right," he said as he placed his hands on her hips.

"So I'll see you tomorrow?" she continued.

"I'll see you tomorrow," he replied. "At our wedding."

"I love you," she said.

They kissed long and deeply.

Then, Cloud turned and led Zack into Tseng's house.

He wondered what it would be like to be married to his best friend.

He wondered what she would look like in a wedding dress.

MEANWHILE...

Tifa entered her home to be greeted by her pajama-clad maid of honor.

"There you are!" Elena exclaimed. "Where have you been?"

"Elena," Tifa began with a smile, "I did it."

"You rescued him?!" Elena exclaimed in excitement.

"Along with my cousin, Tobin, and all the other prisoners. Oh, and Zack Fair. He's still alive."

"Who?" Elena asked.

"It's a long story," Tifa replied.

Elena then scanned her outfit.

"You wore those leather pants for your dad?" she asked skeptically.

"For Cloud, mainly," she replied. "I kind of forgot I was somebody's daughter until I saw my dad alive. I know. It's kind of weird, isn't it?"

"What's the big deal?" Elena asked. "I mean, what kind of pants will you be wearing tomorrow night?"

"None!" Tifa laughed, and blushed.

"Exactly," Elena said. "Now, why don't you get changed into your own pajamas and join the rest of the girls in the parlor? It is your last night as a spinster!"

SOMEWHERE ELSE...

Tobin opened the door to his bedroom as Cissnei looked on. She had finished crying, and now had a smile on her face. It was the first time she had smiled since he had left.

"I was going to clean your room and make your bed," she continued, "but it broke my heart every time I touched the knob."

Tobin turned to Cissnei. He still felt terrible. He also felt fortunate to have someone who cared for him like that.

"Can you forgive me?" he requested.

She nodded.

"You know, if you didn't do this and write that journal, Tifa never would have found her father. Not to mention, all the prisoners there are free now."

Tobin smiled back. Then he yawned.

"We do have a wedding to go to tomorrow," she said.

"That's right," Tobin replied.

"After the wedding," she continued, "what do you want to do?"

"Honestly," Tobin answered, "I'd rather stay in for a couple of days. Several weeks without my best friend was way too long."

Cissnei smiled and hugged him again.

"Well, good night," she said with a smile as she turned and made her way toward her bedroom.

As she did so, Tobin could hear her singing. He had never seen Cissnei that happy. It made him realize, once again, how deeply Cissnei cared about him.

And then, she disappeared into her bedroom, closed the door, and locked it.

Still sleeping like a cartoon animal, he thought.

He then turned to his own bed.

It's good to be home.

Good to be home.

Good to be...home.

MEANWHILE...

Brian was upstairs, playing Fur Elise on the piano, as the pajama-clad girls lay on their sleeping bags.

"So about that list I gave you earlier," Elena began. "Were you able to answer every question?"

"You bet I was," Tifa replied as she pulled the list out of her pajama pocket.

"Let's hear it!" Jessie requested.

"Have you found a destination?" Tifa began. "Check. The private island."

"Private island?" Yuffie asked.

"Yeah," Tifa replied. "We decided to spend our honeymoon there. No troubles, and no clothes, either."

"Oooooh, sexy!" Jessie exclaimed.

"How drunk are you going to be?" Tifa continued. "Not drunk at all."

"That's right," Yuffie pointed out. "You're not quite old enough to drink."

"I never thought I'd be getting married at twenty," Tifa admitted. "It's funny how life has other plans for you."

"You can say that again," Jessie said.

Tifa felt sorry for Jessie; she knew that she still had the concept of the timeline fighting back on her mind.

"Have you begin a workout plan?" she continued. "Well, you should have seen me fight Karnak."

"What's going to happen to him?" Shera asked.

"They'll eventually take him to court," Tifa replied. "He'll go to jail for the rest of his life for sure."

"He definitely deserves it," Elena agreed.

"How much ass to I plan to show on the beach?" she paused. "That's a no-brainer. My whole ass!"

The five girls began to laugh in unison.

Elena was the first to fall asleep; she had been exhausted from planning everything. Yuffie crashed second, happy that she had finally found a date for the wedding. Shera went third, followed by Jessie.

Tifa was the only one awake, other than Brian, who was still playing the piano.

She thought about the week.

She had found her father.

She had saved her cousin.

She had saved many prisoners.

But she had nearly paid for it all with her life.

Now, she was hours away from walking down the aisle in her wedding gown.

Tifa thought about the journal she had read as she was fighting for her life.

She had learned more about her cousin, Zack, Cloud, and even herself.

And then, something she had read in the journal struck her mind.

She spent several minutes thinking about it. Then she picked up her phone, only to put it down immediately.

"Tifa, are you serious?" she whispered to herself.

She lay down and tried to go to sleep, but what she had realized was now stuck on her mind. Sitting up, she pulled out her phone.

"Cloud, are you up?" she texted. "There's something we need to discuss."

After a few texts, Tifa put her phone away and lay down again.

And then, she was fast asleep.



You need to be logged in to leave a review for this story.
Report Story