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 8: The Other Search Begins

Tuesday, January 29, 0008

Four Days Until the Wedding

7:00 p.m.

Cloud, Tifa, Barret, and Elena had decided to ease the events of the day by having dinner at the diner. After that, the four of them stood in the town square, preparing to retire for the night.

Tifa looked toward the southern exit of Nibelheim; beyond that, it was no longer safe. She then looked toward the northern exit of Nibelheim; beyond that, it was no longer safe. She almost did not want to look out the window into her backyard; it was no longer safe beyond the apple trees. She then turned to Cloud; she always felt safe with him around.

"I just texted Cid and Yuffie," Tifa announced. "They're willing to do it."

"Do what?" Barret asked skeptically.

"Go into the former Shinra Headquarters and hack the system," Tifa clarified.

"The building's been divided up, but all of the companies are, for now, still using the same system," Elena added. "They can peek at each other's files with the right hacker."

"How's this exactly gonna work?" Barret asked as he folded his arms.

"Yuffie's going to go in for what appears to be a job interview," Tifa explained. "Sooner or later, the interviewer's going to have to get up and talk to his supervisor. When that happens, Yuffie goes straight to the computer and hacks in."

"That's it?" Barret asked.

"That's it," Tifa answered.

"Then what's Cid there for?" Barret inquired.

"To keep the interviewer at bay in case it takes Yuffie longer than expected," Tifa replied.

Barret grunted.

"You're really doin' this?"

Tifa frowned. She had really been hoping that Barret would be the second most supportive party, after Cloud.

"I have to," Tifa insisted. "We just found out my father's alive. He needs to be rescued."

Barret shook his head.

"You mean we found out Sephiroth didn't kill him back then," he corrected her. "He might've passed since then."

"That's possible," Tifa admitted. "But there's only one way to find out."

Barret sighed, and looked up at the sky.

"Is it really worth it?" he asked her. "Look what's nearly happened to you so far!"

"Barret," Tifa protested, "you won't support me?"

"I want to go to your wedding," Barret replied. "Not your funeral. And I really don't wanna be explainin' to Marlene why she's never gonna see her auntie Tifa again."

Cloud glared at Barret, and opened his mouth, as if he was about to say something, but Tifa gently grabbed his arm.

"He's got a right to his opinion," she said.

"We all care about you," Cait Sith added. "But we don't want to see you killed. Or worse, captured and placed alongside him. There's former Shinra employees who are playing by their own rules now."

Tifa looked Cait Sith sincerely in the eyes.

"Do you have access to anything?" she asked him. "Anything at all?"

The cat shook his head.

"Only Heidegger, Scarlet, Hojo, Rufus, and President Shinra had that kind of clearance," he replied. "And I couldn't hack a computer network to save my life."

"Do you have any idea where he could be?" Tifa then asked.

"If he's alive," Cait Sith answered, "he could be anywhere. Any reactor, the Shinra Building, anywhere. There were facilities that even I didn't know about."

Tifa lowered her head. She realized that it would be an uphill battle.

"I don't mean to be a dick," Barret said, "but I really don't think your dad would want you risking your life for him. Trust me, I'm a dad. If Marlene did somethin' like that, I'd scream her stupid."

"Barret, I know," Tifa assured him. "You're still invited to the wedding, of course. It wouldn't be right without you."

"I do have to agree with him," Cait Sith added. "If Sage did something like that, I might actually die of fright. Better if something happened to me than her."

"I know," Tifa said. "You both already supported me enough by being here today."

Cait Sith hobbled off as Barret got into his car and drove out of the southern exit. Only Cloud, Tifa, and Elena remained.

Tifa then turned to Elena.

"I forgot to mention," she began, "you're invited."

"Really?" Elena exclaimed in surprise.

Tifa nodded.

"Oh my God, thank you!" Elena shouted.

"Don't mention it," Cloud added. "You've been a friend to Tifa."

"I'll be there with bells on!" Elena said happily.

"And bring Tseng," Cloud added. "You need a date."

Elena then turned to Tifa.

"Have you gotten your dress?" she asked.

Tifa shook her head.

"No, I haven't," she replied. "With all that's been happening, I nearly forgot!"

"Well, the wedding is only four days away," Elena pointed out. "There's a dress shop near the Shinra Mansion that sells wedding dresses. It's open 'til nine."

Tifa hesitated for a moment. Despite the situation, her wedding remained in place on the upcoming Saturday. She would still need to find a dress, and having someone help her pick one out would not be a bad idea.

"Sure," she answered. "I probably should get that taken care of."

Elena quickly turned to Cloud.

"This is girls only," she said. "Boys go home!"

Well aware of the circumstances, Cloud did as he was told. Tifa and Elena remained alone in the town square.

"What do you think of all this?" Tifa asked.

"About the search for your dad?" Elena asked.

Tifa nodded.

"It's a risk," Elena said. "But you've been through far worse. You have my support."

Tifa smiled. There was certainly one friend who would be there all the way.

SOMEWHERE ELSE...

9:00 p.m.

Barret safely arrived in North Corel without incident. He disembarked and looked around. The town was slowly recovering, with shacks slowly becoming houses. Four or five of them had electricity; Barret lived in one of those. He kept vigilant; now that he had gotten involved, he had it in the back of his head that the scout-bots might come for him. He cautiously scanned his surroundings in every direction.

And then, he saw someone he knew.

"Jessie?!" he asked. "What're you doin' here?"

"Staying at the inn," she replied.

Barret was surprised; the inn was not one of the buildings with electricity.

"Why this shithole?" he asked. "Don't you wanna stay at your home?"

Jessie gave him a sad look.

"My home was destroyed when the Sector Seven plate fell," she replied. "Not to mention, I'm a fugitive on the Eastern Continent, just like anybody else."

Barret nodded.

"Where've you been," she asked him.

"Nibelheim," he replied. "Tifa just found out her dad wasn't really killed five years ago. She's sending Yuffie and Cid into the Shinra Building tomorrow to try and hack the system and find out where he is."

He then made his way to his porch, sat down, and groaned.

"You don't seem too happy," Jessie observed.

"She's gonna get killed," Barret sighed. "I'm scared shitless she ain't even gonna see her own wedding. Bismark's hidin' somethin', and Tifa's been sniffin' around it."

For a few moments, the two of them sat together on Barret's porch, staring at the sky. Jessie was silent the entire time.

"But enough of me," Barret continued. "What's on your mind?"

Jessie looked Barret in the eyes, making it clear that she was troubled.

"It's possible I won't be around to see the wedding, either," she said.

"What?!" asked Barret skeptically.

"The timeline," Jessie replied. "It fights back, remember?"

Barret was silent. Once again, he remembered how he suddenly had the premonition that his friend Dyne would jump to his death. Once again, he recalled shooting him in the legs just as he was about to do so, seemingly saving his life. Once again, he recalled returning to Corel Prison, only to find out the Dyne had died from dysentery. Dyne had beaten the timeline, but the timeline had fought back, and claimed him.

Would Jessie be next?

Jessie was silent as well, realizing that any day could be her last. It seriously made her reconsider her potential future with Barret. She did like him, and she sorely wanted to tell him. He could fall in love with her, and they could start a relationship.

And then she would die, and his heart would be broken all over again.

Jessie sighed; this was a bad idea. Realizing that she had made a mistake, she stood up.

""Where are you goin'?" Barret asked.

"Back to my room," she replied.

"With no power?" he inquired. "Don't be dumb. Stay at my place. You can have the couch."

Jessie shook her head.

"I couldn't do that to you," she dismissed.

And, with that, she ran off, leaving Barret to scratch his head in confusion.

MEANWHILE...

9:30 p.m.

Tifa and Elena exited the dress shop as it closed for the evening, and made their way to Elena's door.

"I can't wait to see the look on Cloud's face when he sees you in that wedding gown," Elena said with a smile.

Tifa smiled back.

"Thanks for taking me," she said.

Tifa had no regrets about inviting Elena to the wedding. She was indeed a good person, and Tifa had been suspecting such since they had the run-in with Don Corneo back in Wutai. She had just happened to have been working for the wrong people.

"Tifa," began Elena, as a somewhat embarrassed look came to her face, "is it okay if I ask you something?"

"Of course," Tifa approved. "I mean, you deserve it. After my mom died, I always wondered who would take me to get my wedding dress." She paused. "I'm glad it turned out to be you."

Elena smiled briefly.

"Please don't take it the wrong way," she warned. "It's just something I've been curious about."

"Trust me," Tifa insisted, "I'm one of the hardest people in the world to offend."

Elena took a deep breath.

"You've really never had sex before?"

Tifa nodded.

"Because I was wondering," Elena continued, "how do you feel about Cloud seeing you naked?" She paused. "Since you did grow up together. I never dated an old friend; I met Tseng as an adult."

"I am kind of nervous," Tifa replied. "Yeah, we grew up together. There's always a best friend when you grow up, but the fact that he was a boy and I was a girl always made it possible we could become more than friends." She paused. "I have a plan, though."

"A plan?" Elena asked.

"I own one bikini, and it has my last name printed on the back of the bottoms," Tifa began.

"That's kind of a tough situation," Elena observed. "It won't be your last name anymore as of Saturday."

"I know," Tifa replied. "So I'll make sure we book a hotel room with a hot tub that night. We'll both get changed behind closed doors one last time, and I'll tell him to meet me in the room with the hot tub. When he comes in wearing his trunks, he'll see my upper half and bikini top first, but when he gets closer, he'll also see my bare hips, and realize that I don't have my bottoms on. I'll let him take it in for a couple of seconds, then I'll tell him to come around and join me in the tub. He'll see my naked backside first. Then I'll get up, turn around, and he'll see my front. Then, finally, while we're making out, I'll take my bikini top off. I'll save the best for last, if you will."

Elena stood silently.

"Sorry," Tifa quickly apologized. "I know that was T.M.I."

Elena shook her head.

"That's the sexiest thing I've ever heard of," she said. "It's the perfect way for him to see his best friend naked for the first time."

"But I am nervous," Tifa added. "When he comes in, I know my mouth will be dry, and I'll have butterflies in my stomach."

A few moments later, Tifa and Elena had said their good-byes, and the latter had retired to her home for the evening.

As Tifa was returning to her own home, she saw someone she knew, and briefly jumped in surprise.

"You scared me!" she exclaimed.

"Sorry," Cait Sith apologized. He was standing right next to her front door.

"What's up?" she asked.

"I'm here to protect you," he replied. "To keep you safe."

"I appreciate it," Tifa said with a smile, "but you don't have to stay here. You have a life, too, you know."

The cat shook his head.

"Don't forget that I can be in two places at once," he pointed out. "Please, let me do this for you. It'll at least make me feel better about the situation."

Tifa sighed and shook her head with a smile.

"Stubborn little cat, aren't you?" she asked. "Alright, you win. Thanks."

"Any time," Cait Sith said, purring.

FAR AWAY...

10:00 p.m.

Karnak, Anez, Yesha, and Lechar were again seated at the blue table in the blue room. All were seated in an awkward silence, as the situation was escalating beyond what they had anticipated.

"Once again, you failed," Karnak reprimanded. "Anus."

Yesha and Lechar giggled.

"Anez," he corrected.

"Tifa now knows for sure that her father is still alive," Karnak continued. "She got into the reactor's old surveillance files."

"Did she track him to his current location?" asked Lechar.

"It doesn't look like it," Karnak replied.

"So how close is she?" asked Yesha.

"Not much closer," Karnak replied. "That reactor's surveillance doesn't contain records of anything, only video footage. That trip alone won't lead her to him."

"What about Cloud?" asked Lechar. "He's obviously standing by her."

"I'll confront him myself," Karnak announced. "And I'll give one last warning. If either of them continues to pursue her father," he continued as he turned to Yesha, "she's all yours."

Yesha smiled, and cracked her knuckles.

"Just tell me where and when," she requested.

"We'll do it somewhere where nobody will find her body," Karnak explained. He then grinned. "Or at least until it's decayed significantly."

SOMEWHERE ELSE...

11:45 p.m.

Tifa and Cloud were seated in the parlor, having just finished a game of Mousetrap. Despite it being their favorite game, Tifa was quiet the whole time.

"What's up?" Cloud asked, taking notice.

"I just realized how small the wedding's going to be," said Tifa, in a melancholy tone of voice.

"Who do we have so far?" Cloud asked.

"Us, Bismark, Elena, Tseng, Barret, Marlene, Jessie, Red XIII, Reeve, Parker, Sage, Yuffie, Cid, Shera, Vincent, my uncle and aunt, and my cousin, Tobin," Tifa replied. "That's who I know will come for sure. Maybe Tobin will bring a date."

"How many is that?" asked Cloud.

"Nineteen," Tifa replied. "It's going to be one small wedding."

"We don't know that many people," Cloud pointed out. "We never really did.

"I know," Tifa said. "But I'm hoping we can up it to twenty."

Cloud took her hand and held her close; he knew exactly whom she was talking about.

"We'll find your dad," he assured her. "He won't miss the wedding. I'll make sure of it."

Tifa smiled and pressed her lips against his cheek.

"I just was really surprised Yuffie and Cid were willing to do what they're doing tomorrow for us," she said.

"We're still fugitives on the Eastern Continent," Cloud reminded her. "But, in any case, we have a good group of friends. So what if it's small."

"You're right," Tifa agreed as she put her controller down.

Cloud paused.

"We could invited Reno and Rude," he said.

"That's actually a good idea," Tifa said as she stood up and stretched with her back facing him.

"I was joking," he said.

"No, actually I think we should," she said. "It'll help bury the hatchet." She then extended her hand. "Ready for bed?"

They climbed the stairs hand-in-hand. They parted ways at the hallway bathroom, where Cloud entered alone and changed into his pajamas. As he put his pajamas on, Cloud, who had secretly been scanning Tifa's figure while her back was turned to him, realized how beautiful she really was. He had never realized that until they were together; he was starting to see her as his lover just as much as his best friend. The tee shirt and jeans Elena had picked out for her really helped; they completely flattered her body.

Not wanting to keep his fiancée waiting, Cloud exited the hallway bathroom, and began to walk toward the bedroom.

"Hold on!" Tifa called from the room. "I'm putting my pants on!"

Cloud stopped. Even though the wedding was only days away, he would still respect her wishes for privacy. Instead, he simply closed his eyes and imagined what Tifa looked like at that moment. Knowing her lack of interest in fashion, he realized that she probably wore simple white panties that were no different from her bikini bottoms. He knew the orthopedic underwear rumors were completely false.

"Okay," she called. "You're good!"

Cloud entered the room to find Tifa sitting on the bed, barefoot in her shimmering blue pajamas. He clicked off the light and climbed into bed, with both of them getting under the covers simultaneously. He kissed her and pulled her close, resting her head on his shoulder.

"It just hit midnight," Tifa said. "Only three more days, and you won't have to wait."

He kissed her again before closing her eyes.

It was three more days; he could wait. He again thought about their wedding night. Again he wondered how noisy she would be, and what her butt looked like. They were more or less the final puzzle pieces of a twenty year relationship.

Tifa, meanwhile, kept her eyes open, staring at the engagement ring on her left ring finger, as well as the bare ring finger on Cloud.

She desperately wanted their wedding bands to appear.

And their clothes to disappear.



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