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.

Premonitions II: Crisis Core

Chapter 5: The Reason

Tuesday, January 29, 0008

Four Days Until the Wedding

12:00 a.m.

Tifa sat alone on the sofa and closed her laptop. She had just ordered the "Wifey" crop top she liked for the honeymoon, figuring that putting the wedding back on her mind would relieve her of the stress of what had just happened. She had changed into her pajamas and was ready for bed, but wondered whether she would be able to fall asleep. That night had just proven that their troubles would outlive the Shinra.

These events certainly did not happen in the old timeline. Tifa Prime had given up on her father and never looked back. She realized that, by the time Bestla had killed her, her father would likely have been long dead, having died from some sort of prison illness (since, had he lived, he would have been taken captive), or something worse. She shuddered at the fact that her prime self would allow such a thing.

It would not happen this time. This time, she had noticed the absence of her father in the Lifestream, and put it all together. He had to be alive somewhere.

But, Tifa also wondered if it was truly worth the search. An attempt was made on her life. Cloud, who had done nothing to offend the Continental Governor, had also become a target. This was after he had warned her not to see her; she had let him down.

Tifa then stood up, and walked to back window. The patio was still there, with the pool and the apple trees beyond. Past that, it was no longer safe. The boundary of their backyard was also the boundary of Nibelheim; anything could be lurking in the tall grass that she could now see so clearly.

Peering out, she gazed at the stars.

"Mom," Tifa began quietly. "Did I do the wrong thing? Is Papa alive or isn't he?"

For a few minutes, she continued to gaze at the stars, awaiting some sort of response. But none happened. She sorely wanted to believe that her mother was somehow watching over her, but she simply was not sure.

Just then, she began to hear Cloud descend the stairs. She went to greet him, and noticed that he had changed into his pajamas as well.

"Doors and windows are locked," he announced.

"Good," Tifa said softly.

Cloud looked at her in the eyes, and gently placed a hand on her shoulder.

"I'm sorry I yelled," he apologized.

"Apology accepted," Tifa replied as she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him. "You were right. It did attract unwanted attention."

He took her by the hand and sat her on the sofa with him.

"What happened with the Continental Governor, anyway?" he asked. "Any leads?"

"Not a lot," Tifa replied. "Our names are clear, at least on this continent, but she wouldn't help me with my father. She insists he's dead, but something just didn't seem right there."

"Bismark can lie out of both sides of her mouth at once," Cloud said. "If she ever caught herself telling the truth, she'd lie just for the hell of it."

"Cloud," she asked as she squeezed his hand, "do you think he's alive?"

"I'm pretty sure he is," he answered. "Otherwise, we wouldn't have been attacked tonight. He's obviously somewhere they don't want us to find him. Or he's somewhere they don't want us to find."

"I'm just wondering where to begin," Tifa said. "If we can just have a lead, we can uncover whatever they're hiding. But we'll have to try and find one."

"Probably where we last saw him," Cloud suggested.

She looked him in the eyes. It was not a place she had really wanted to go; it bore too many bad memories.

"The Nibel Reactor?" she asked.

Cloud nodded.

"Let's go there tomorrow," he said.

"We were just there last Wednesday," Tifa reminded him. "We didn't find anything. At least nothing related to him."

"We weren't really looking," he replied. "We kind of had a world to save and a Sephiroth to find."

"What could we have missed?" she asked.

"There has to be surveillance there," Cloud suggested.

"Where would it be?" Tifa asked.

"I wasn't looking," he admitted. "But we'll go there tomorrow. That's the place to begin."

She smiled at him.

"Thanks for being there for me," she said.

In response, Cloud stood, pulled Tifa up as well, and kissed her.

"I always will," he said.

She placed her hands on his shoulders and kissed him again.

"In the meantime," Cloud said, as he began to lead her towards the stairs, "we have a wedding to plan."

"I'm almost done the guestlist," Tifa said as she followed him.

"Who do we have so far?" he asked as he began to climb.

"Barret, Jessie, Yuffie, Vincent, Cid, Shera, Red XIII, Reeve, Parker, Sage, Elena, Tseng, Reno, Rude, my Uncle Albert, and my cousin Tobin. Sixteen."

"I'll think of more," Cloud said as he reached the top of the stairs.

"We also need to pick our wedding parties," she reminded him. "I'll be asking Yuffie, Shera, and Jessie to be my bridesmaids for sure. What about you?"

"Barret, Reeve, Cid, and Vincent," he answered.

"I'll need to make it even on my side," Tifa said. "What about your best man?"

"I dunno," Cloud replied as they entered the bedroom. "I always thought that, if I ever got married, my best man would be you."

Tifa clicked out the light, and they both climbed into bed. Cloud pulled her close, and rested his hand on her back.

Out of the corner of her eye, Tifa could see the clock, and noticed that it was past midnight. It was Tuesday.

Just five more days, she thought. Then, she realized it. No; it counted wrong. Four more days!

Tifa giggled at her error.

This time next week, we'll have been married, she thought. Now, my name is Tiffany Claire Lockheart, but, next week, my name will be Tiffany Claire Lockehart Strife. Now, I have only an engagement ring, but, next week, I'll have a wedding band to go along with it. Now, his hand is resting on my pajama top, but next week, his hand will be encircling my bare back.

The most frustrating aspect was the wait.

SOMEWHERE ELSE...

Far away from Nibelheim, four individuals were seated at a blue, square table. The room they were in was quite large, but the table and chairs, along with a few paintings on the wall, were the only funishings there. The tiles were light and dark blue, and the wall was cerulean. It created an atmosphere of both beauty and sadness at the same time.

The frequent coloring of the room suited one of the individuals seated at the table; he was Karnak. His blue, spikey hair blended in with the surroundings so well that it almost looked as if he was bald. His three underlings were with him; his defeat that night would require a new strategy.

A stout man wearing glasses sat to his left. He actually was bald with red hair on the sides; he was much more visible.

"Your scout-bots failed, Anez," Karnak said to the stout man. "Cloud and Tifa destroyed them with the greatest of ease."

"Those were just the prototype," Anez insisted. "My next batch will be different."

"Are you sure?" inquired Karnak.

"My new ones will be lightening-proof," Anez explained.

"I'd like to believe that," Lechar said from across Karnak. "I really would."

Lechar was a young man in his mid-twenties with black hair and blue eyes. He was tall and skinny.

"Are you going to tell me you can wipe them both out with your 'magical' computer programming abilities?" Anez taunted.

"I know how to cripple them," Lechar said. "They can't see my attacks coming."

"All your attacks do is shut cars down and disable credit cards," Anez retorted.

"And if I did that in the wrong place at the wrong time?" Lechar asked.

Anez was silent. He had no comeback.

"Not to mention, I'm finding new things to hack into on a daily basis," Lechar continued.

Meanwhile, a blond-haired woman sat to the right of Karnak. She was six feet tall, and seemed to make even Karnak uneasy at times. She remained silent, allowing Anez and Lechar to engage in their banter.

"Enough of this!" Karnak demanded. "Anez! Will your next batch of scout-bots be more effective?"

"You have my word," said Anez.

"How soon will they be ready?" Karnak asked.

"By tomorrow," Anez promised. "There will be twelve ready to go. Not to mention I might have a secret weapon."

"Perfect timing," Karnak observed. "Especially since Tifa will most likely begin her search then."

"I'll end her search tomorrow," Anez assured him.

"Tifa absolutely cannot find her father," Karnak reminded his three underlings. "She already knows he's alive. If she finds him, she'll find our facility. She'll expose us, and we'll be shut down."

"Couldn't we just release her father?" Lechar suggested.

"He'll tell everyone about this place," Karnak replied.

"Let me take care of her," Yesha requested. "I'll break every bone in her body. She'll die a slow and painful death."

"Yesha," warned Karnak, "we'll save that for last. We kill her, and she could get sympathizers. Someone might pick up where she left off. Not to mention, Cloud will want to take revenge."

"Good point," Yesha realized.

"One more thing," Karnak began. "Under no circumstances can Bismark find out about this. She told me not to pursue her; I am disobeying a direct order from the Continental Governor. If she finds out about this, I'm a dead man."

Anez, Lechar, and Yesha simultaneously nodded in agreement.

"But what if she makes it here?" asked Lechar.

"If she's stupid enough to find her way here," Karnak replied, "she'll never live to walk down the aisle."

Tuesday, January 29, 0008

11:00 a.m.

The sun shined brightly through the bedroom window as Cloud was the first to awaken. Glancing at the clock, he realized it was already eleven. He had not slept that late since he was in his mid-teens, but the events of the previous day had overtly drained him.

He then turned to the sleeping Tifa. The engagement ring was still on her finger, reminding him that she would become his wife in four more days. And yet, there was still work to be done. Her father was missing, and she was desperate to find him. She hid it the best she could, but she was still hurting inside. And as long as she was hurting, he was hurting.

And then, Tifa opened her eyes.

"Morning, baby," she greeted before kissing him.

"Morning," he replied. "It's eleven."

Tifa quickly eyed the clock.

"We were asleep that long?!" she exclaimed.

"A lot happened yesterday," he reminded her as he pulled her close.

"I don't want to leave!" she playfully complained as she kissed him again.

"Remember," he reminded her.

Tifa solemnly nodded. Today would be an interesting day; she wondered how it would turn out.

"I suppose I'll clean up," she said as she got out of bed and began to walk towards the shower.

After about a yard, she stopped. For a moment, she simply stood there, with her back facing Cloud.

"Cloud," she began, "we could find anything down there."

"I know," he replied as he sat up. "And, whatever it is, we'll be ready. I'll be there with you every step of the way."

Tifa then turned to face him. She walked back to her love, placed her hands on his shoulders, and kissed him once more.

"Four more days," she said.

She then turned, and walked toward the bathroom.

"Four more days, and we can shower together," she whispered with a smile.

LATER...

12:00 p.m.

After Tifa showered and dressed, Cloud did the same. They then went downstairs to the patio room.

"You ready?" she asked.

"Almost," Cloud replied. "We're not going to just go for a stroll this time," he announced as he picked up his sword. "I'm not making that mistake again."

Tifa nodded; a weapon was once again a necessity.

Without further ado, Cloud and Tifa stepped outside to find Barret waiting for them in the town square.

"I heard you got attacked last night," he said. "I thought you could use a hand." He then presented his gun-arm. "One that's deadly, 'course."

"Sure thing," Cloud agreed, realizing that Tifa had texted Barret about the incident that morning.

"So we're goin' back to the Nibel Reactor?" Barret inquired. "Already?"

"There might be surveillance there," Cloud explained. "If Tifa's father really did survive Sephiroth's attack, the footage should reveal what happened afterward."

"And if he didn't?" asked Barret.

"Then it would at least give some closure," Cloud replied. "But it wouldn't explain why Tifa got attacked for going to see the Continental Governor."

"She saw Bismark?!" Barret exclaimed. "I would've avoided 'er."

"I was hoping to get a lead on my father," Tifa explained. "But she's hiding something. I can tell."

"In any case," Cloud said, "we may find our answers at the reactor."

The three of them proceeded to head for the northern exit.

And then, they were stopped.

"Espera! Espera!" called a female voice.

The three of them turned to see Elena running up to them.

"You guys," she implored. "You're not going where I think you're going, are you?"

"That ain't none of your goddam business," Barret replied.

Tifa, meanwhile, had a different idea on Elena's being there. She was a former Shinra employee. She would know more about the reactor, as well as any kept data that might be stored therein.

"We're going to check for surveillance," she replied. "Cloud thinks it'll reveal what really happened to my father."

"We got attacked last night," Cloud added.

"Attacked?!" Elena exclaimed. "By who?"

"I'm not sure," Cloud replied. "But we think the Continental Governor's behind it. She'd have no reason to attack us if her father was really dead."

"Then I'll come with you," Elena requested. "I know where the surveillance is!"

Barret gave her an unwelcoming look. They had already been to the reactor; there did not seem like there was anything she could show them that they had not already seen.

Tifa, on the other hand, was well aware that they had not exactly been looking for small features in every nook and cranny during their previous visit. There might be codes or passwords the she might have access to.

"Thanks," Tifa said aloud. "We could use you."

Barret shifted his look from Elena to Tifa. He was less than comfortable with the arrangement.



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