Premonitions II-A: The Long Week of Hell

BY : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 1729
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII or any characters therin. I am making no money off of this work.

Premonitions II: Crisis Core

Chapter 3: An Easy Reunion

Monday, January 28, 0008

6:00 p.m.

Tifa entered the house. It was quiet inside, and the tranquil atmosphere helped her put her frustration with the Continental Governor aside for the time being. Still, she could not believe she did what she had done; she had just invited Elena to a party. She appreciated her buying her a new outfit, but she was still less than a hundred percent sure of her intentions. She also wondered what others would think of the situation.

She went straight to the parlor and scanned the room. And then, she saw what she had been waiting to see: there he was; Cloud was fast asleep on the couch. Tifa immediately felt a wave of happiness. They had only been apart for a few hours, but she had missed him just the same. After all they had been through, they were finally together for good.

Tifa walked over to the couch and lowered herself to her knees. He seemed as if, after all he had been through, that he was fully at peace with everything about his life. She could stare at her sleeping fiancé all day. If it had not been culturally unacceptable to say so, she would say he was beautiful.

And then, his eyes slowly opened.

"Hey, sleepyhead!" she whispered as she gently stroked his face and kissed him.

"Hey," he replied groggily. He then briefly scanned her body. "You changed?"

Tifa was briefly perplexed by what he had meant; she had almost forgotten that she had switched out he wardrobe.

"Oh," she replied. "I was just thinking. Now that we're getting married, I figured I really shouldn't be showing as much skin anymore. I'd rather save it for you."

He found it surprising; Tifa usually never made any changes for anyone.

"It looks great on you," he complimented.

"Thanks!" said Tifa happily as she kissed him again and sat down next to him. She began to gently stroke his back with her fingertips.

"You've been out all this time?" he asked.

Tifa nodded.

"You'll never guess who I saw," she announced.

"Cid?" Cloud half-guessed.

"Elena, actually," she answered.

"Elena?!" he exclaimed in surprise. "What was she doing here?"

"I was asking myself the same question," Tifa replied. "It looks like she lives here now."

"She didn't...try anything funny, did she?" Cloud asked out of concern.

Tifa quickly shook her head.

"Not at all," she replied. She then looked at the ceiling. She realized that she might as well tell him. "She bought me this outfit."

"She bought that for you?" he asked in surprise.

Tifa nodded.

"That doesn't sound like something she'd do," he said skeptically.

"That's what I thought," she agreed. "Personally, I think she's just trying to bury the hatchet."

She did not tell him she had visited the Continental Governor; he had specifically advised her against it the previous Friday. Instead, she decided to jump towards the events of that night.

"You know what's funny?" Tifa began.

"What's that?"

"The last time we saw everyone, we were saying our final goodbyes," she answered. "We all thought we were going to die."

"That's right," Cloud said. "It was kind of depressing."

"I wonder what everyone did that night," Tifa said. "Thinking it was their end."

"We might find out tonight," Cloud suggested.

"I think something like this will make them all feel alive," she said.

Cloud smiled at her.

"Well, what can make you feel alive?" he asked.

"I could use a hug," Tifa requested.

Cloud stood up, lifted Tifa to her feet, and hugged her. He then pressed his lips against hers.

"There is something I need to tell you," she began, as she presented a guilty look on her face.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"I invited Elena and Tseng," she announced. "For tonight."

Cloud was silent. He was really not okay with this; they had tried to kill them. Still, they had worked together in Wutai, suggesting that the Turks were, deep down, good people. In any case, he did not feel ready to allow them into his life. Of course, he did not want to be fighting with Tifa, especially when their wedding was less than a week away.

"I'm okay with giving them a chance," he assured her.

It was a chance. It did not mean he was willing to trust them.


8:00 p.m.

By eight in the evening, Cloud and Tifa's backyard was full of old friends they had both thought that they would never see again in the living world. Cid and Shera, being from one town over, were the first to arrive. Barret came second, followed by Red XIII. Jessie arrived fourth, having been staying in Gongana. Next came Reeve and Parker, along with their daughter, Sage. Yuffie then came, and took an extensive look at Tifa's engagement ring, leaving it somewhat ambiguous whether she was happy that they were finally tying the knot, or that she wanted to steal it. Vincent was the last of their friends to arrive; he greeted them, but both Cloud and Tifa could tell that something was on his mind.

And then, Elena and Tseng arrived. Reno and Rude followed behind them.

Cloud was uneasy; he still did not trust Elena, but he knew he had to be the best host he could possibly be. He politely greeted her and Tseng.

"We printed out something for you," Tseng announced.

"Oh, really?" Cloud replied.

Elena handed Tifa a piece of paper.

"What is it?" Cloud asked.

"A honeymoon checklist!" Elena replied.

Tifa took a look at it; it basically had a few yes or no questions.

"Have you found a destination?" Tifa asked aloud.

"Not yet," Cloud replied. "That's kind of hard when you've been all over the world."

"How drunk are you going to be?" Tifa continued. "Not at all; I'm not old enough to drink."

"You can be love-drunk," Elena suggested.

"Have you begin a workout plan?" Tifa asked. She then became skeptical. "Why a workout plan?"

"Well, you want to look good naked, don't you?" Elena replied.

Cloud slightly blushed.

"How much ass do I plan to show on the beach?!" Tifa exclaimed.

"None!" Cloud interjected. "Who shows their ass on the beach?"

"You've seen more of me on the beach!" Elena reminded him, blushing herself.

"Oh yeah," Cloud said.

"I think this is for women," Tifa suggested. "And here, I think they mean how small your bikini bottoms will be."

"I think I'll got for a beer," Cloud announced as he walked off.

Tifa returned her attention back toward Elena, and noticed that Tseng had also vanished.

"I have one pair of bikini bottoms," Tifa continued. "They're a little cheeky, but not too cheeky."

"Good enough for a honeymoon," Elena said. "You'll be showing moderate ass, then."

"But they have my last name on them," Tifa pointed out.

"You'll need new ones," Elena insisted. "It won't be your last name anymore."

"I figured," Tifa agreed. "Since I'll be marrying someone with a different name this time around."

"Wait a minute!" Elena exclaimed in surprise. "You've been married before?"

Tifa nodded.

"And Cloud knows you're divorced?"

"I'm not divorced," Tifa replied. "It's a little more complicated."

"He passed away?!" Elena exclaimed. "Tifa, I'm so sorry!"

"He didn't pass away, either," Tifa said. "I did."

Elena gave Tifa an astounded look.

"How could...oh yeah. The old timeline. You and Cloud didn't end up together there?"

Tifa shook her head. "I married someone else. Later on, I was killed by Bestla. She shot me with the same stuff she turned Junon to dust with. I felt my body go dry, and then I found myself in my old bar, serving drinks, right before Cloud and Barret returned from a mission."

"My God," Elena sighed. "Tifa, you've been through a lot. I'm so sorry."

Tifa shook her head again.

"Don't be," she assured her. "That whole situation gave me a second chance with Cloud. And it gave you a second chance with Tseng."

Elena smiled; she had never thought of it that way.

Meanwhile, past the patio, past the pool, and past the apple trees, Vincent sat alone and silent at the northern edge of the backyard.


6:30 p.m.

"January twenty-eight," Shera muttered. "January twenty-eight."

"What's wrong with January twenty-eight?" Yuffie asked as she sat down next to her. "Did something happen on this date?"

Shera shook her head.

"It's what didn't happen on this date," she sighed.

"What didn't happen?" asked Yuffie.

"I wasn't born."

"That's it?" Yuffie asked.

"I'll be eighteen on the third," Shera continued.

"Of February?" Yuffie inquired. "That's this Sunday. That's not long off at all."

"I know," Shera sighed. "But the wait is killing me."

"The wait for what?"

"Cid," Shera replied. "I have to wait until Sunday before we can take our the fullest, if you know what I mean."

"Say no more," Yuffie commanded. She had nearly forgotten that Shera was only seventeen. She was still a minor.

"I know the laws," Shera said.

"What laws?" asked Yuffie.

"If you're underage and your partner is over four years older than you, you can only have sex if your parents are supervising."

"No thank you!" Yuffie groaned as she folded her arms. Then, something dawned on her. "You two didn't...even when you thought we were all going to die and none of the laws mattered?"

"I cried that whole evening," Shera replied. "Cid told me everything barely four hours before it all happened. I didn't have time to put anything together except for the fact that I was going to die before I was eighteen. Now I can't describe how badly I want to jump him!"

"Hey guys," Tifa greeted as she approached them from behind and sat down with them.

"Hey, Tifa," Yuffie replied. "Come join the conversation."

"What were you talking about?" Tifa asked.

"Sex," Yuffie replied.

"Oh," Tifa said, beginning to feel slightly uncomfortable.

"Which reminds me," Yuffie continued, "have you at least done anything naked together?"

"No," Tifa replied uncomfortably. "Our swimsuits have been the most we have seen of each other."

"Oh," Yuffie said. "It's a really good way to bond."

"We will," Tifa assured her. "When we're married."

"You know what you could do," Yuffie continued. "There's always third base. That way you can be intimate without having actual sex."

"No thank you," dismissed the obviously disgusted Tifa. "I wouldn't even do that when we're married. I don't like that. Can we please talk about something else?"

"Are you taking his name?" Shera chimed in, changing the subject.

"Of course I am," Tifa replied, sounding more at ease. "With our without a hyphen. I haven't decided yet."

At that moment, Yuffie noticed Reeve and Cloud talking in the distance.

"Who do you think he'll show up as?" Yuffie asked. "Reeve, or Cait Sith?"

"Reeve," Tifa answered. "I hope."

"Good point," Yuffie agreed. "If he comes as Cait Sith, he won't actually be here."

And Vincent sat alone and silent at the northern edge of the backyard.


"So who are go going as?" asked Cloud. "Cait Sith or Reeve?"

"Reeve," Reeve replied. "I would like to actually be there."

"Good point," Cloud agreed.

"What about the former Turks?" Reeve asked. "Are you inviting them?"

"It looks like it," Cloud replied. "Elena for sure. It looks like she and Tifa are becoming buddy-buddy really fast."

"You don't seem okay with that," Reeve pointed out.

"Well," Cloud said, "she used to be an enemy."

"So was I," Reeve pointed out.

"It's different," Cloud dismissed. "You had a husband and son for them to threaten."

"Elena has a family," Reeve said. "And she needed a job."

"I don't know," Cloud said. "Something just doesn't seem right. Why would Elena be coming on to us so suddenly?"

"Maybe she regrets her past," Reeve suggested. "I can't think of any reason for her to attack you."

"She's out of a job," Cloud replied. "As far as I can tell, so are Tseng, Reno, and Rude. They might not be Shinra anymore, but people do a lot of crazy shit for money." He paused. "I mean, I was blowing up reactors."

"Elena's a good girl," Reeve assured him. "I had access to her file. Except for a few traffic violations, she's completely clean."

Cloud continued to look at her skeptically. If she tried anything funny, he did have a back-up plan.

And Vincent sat alone and silent at the northern edge of the backyard.


Sage was sitting across from Red XIII a few feet away from Cloud and Reeve. She had been amazed when she had first seen the creature, but had never had the chance to sit down and speak with him until now.

"So if you don't mind, can I ask you something?" Sage requested.

"Go ahead," Red XIII replied.

"How long do you live?" she asked.

"Seven hundred years," he replied.

"Wow," said Sage, amazed.

"And when my life comes to an end, my race will," Red XIII added.

"Why do you say that?" asked Sage.

"I am the last of my race," he replied.

"How can you be so sure?" asked the eleven-year-old girl.

"My father was turned into stone," Red XIII answered. "My mother died. I have no brothers or sisters."

"You can't have looked everywhere," Sage objected.

"I was everywhere," he insisted. "I explored the Eastern, Western, and Northern Continents."

"But you weren't looking for a mate, were you?" she pointed out. "A brief trip through the Northern, Western, and Eastern Continents isn't going to prove there aren't any more of you out there. There's still the Southern Continent to search, not to mention all the other planets out there."

"You think I'm an alien?" asked Red XIII.

"Well," she said, "we humans technically are, for sure."

This girl did have a point.

And Vincent sat alone and silent at the northern edge of the backyard.


"So you're saying we're in an alternate timeline, Tseng?" Rude asked. "That's kind of hard to swallow."

"Believe it," Tseng informed them. "That Bestla impersonator was no impersonator. She came back from 0016 using the Chronus Wand and changed the timeline when she destroyed Junon. I don't think we're even supposed to be living here."

"If that's the case," Reno began, "what happened to the older Bestla's associate? That Nara girl who rescued her?"

"And the Chornus Wand she used?" added Rude. "Is that just laying around somewhere?"

"I dunno," Tseng replied. "My guess is that Nara took it and used it to return to her own time."

"And another thing," Rude said. "If the 0008 Bestla was killed by falling debris, how come everything the 0016 Bestla did is still here?"

"That's a good question," Tseng replied. "I think that, because she travelled through time, the 0016 Besta was protected from any paradoxes."

Meanwhile, Reno shifted his attention to another part of the backyard.

"Isn't that Jessica Skurl?" her pointed out, noticing the young woman a few yards away.

"You got it," Tseng replied.

"Isn't she supposed to be dead?" Rude asked.

"That's what I'm talking about," Tseng replied. "There's people who died in this timeline who didn't die in the original, and there's people who died in the original timeline who didn't die here. Like Jessie over there."

Reno sighed.

"This is getting too weird to comprehend," he muttered.

And Vincent sat alone and silent at the northern edge of the backyard.


"Who invited them?" Jessie asked, eying Reno and Rude. She was certainly less than pleased to see them.

"God only knows," Barret replied. "Tseng, probably."

"I may as well set my stopwatch," she sighed as she pulled out her cell phone.

"For what?" he asked.

"I'm curious how long it's going to take for all hell to break loose here," she replied. Much like Cloud, she had trouble trusting them.

"They're harmless," Barret assured her. "What harm can they possibly do, now that the Shinra execs are dead and their bullshit's exposed?"

Jessie sighed.

"Good point," she said.

That was the thing about Jessie. Ever since she had joined Avalanche, Barret was always reassuring her. He was certainly right; Heidegger and Scarlett had been killed in the Prod Clod explosion, Palmer had been hit by a truck, Hojo had been more or less put out of his misery, and Rufus had fallen to his death from an elevator. Reeve, meanwhile, had technically been fired before the company's collapse. There was nobody to command the four of them. They were not even Turks anymore. What Barret said made perfect sense. Of course, everything he said always made sense to her.

And that was also where the problem lay. Soon, Jessie had developed feelings for him. She had visibly flirted with Cloud early on, but she had really bore feelings for Barret at that time. Those feelings had continued, even when she had survived the fall of the Sector Seven Plate, and had been separated from him for weeks. She had been wondering, ever since Sephiroth had been petrified, whether she should tell him. He had been a widower for several years, and perhaps he was ready to give his love life another try.

Jessie knew that there would be obstacles. The first was the fact that he was raising a four-year-old daughter. The second was their age gap; Jessie was twenty-two, while Barret, weirdly while Jessie had been presumed dead, had turned thirty-five. Barret had already been a teenager when Jessie was born.

And then, there was the elephant in the room: the fact that the timeline fought back against changes. Barret's friend Dyne had been saved from committing suicide, only to die from dysentery. Meanwhile, construction activity was taking place where Junon once stood. Jessie wondered if the timeline would reclaim her as well, and, if so, when it would do it. It could happen at any moment. There was even a possibility that she would not live to see Cloud and Tifa's wedding. The whole concept made Jessie tremble inside.

And Vincent sat alone and silent at the northern edge of the backyard.

Behind him, a couple of hundred yards away, Kanark kept hidden with a pair of binoculars.

"It's almost time," he whispered.

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