Tifa - Chapter 4

This content is the fourth chapter of the Case of Tifa.

Tifa seriously encouraged Cloud to run a delivery service. They could just take requests at the bar. As for dealing with calls, Marlene or herself could do it. Cloud hesitated but, after thinking about it for one night, he accepted the suggestion. He was just being hesitant again after all.

And so, that was the beginning of the Strife Delivery Service. Midgar was the center of their business but they also delivered all over the world. Only to the areas that Cloud could reach by bike, though. Cloud smiled at how he was like a big advertisement. His job was also a big success. It was a time when sending things weren't so easy for people who wanted to. Monsters were still lurking around and there were roads that were built in areas that could breakup due to the Lifestream bursting out. This job of traveling around the world wasn't something that anyone could do. It was a job he had been wanting. Tifa thought it was wonderful how Cloud, who wasn't very sociable, was doing a job that connected people through his delivery service.

After Cloud started his delivery service, their "family" life was affected greatly. It wasn't too good. Cloud was usually not at home apart from mornings and late night. And of course, that meant there were less chances for the three of them to have conversations together. Tifa tried closing the bar for a day every week but it didn't stop Cloud from doing his job. Cloud couldn't turn down requests. Although Tifa wanted everyone to be able to take some time off together now and then, she decided that it was too selfish of her. During that time, it was Marlene who noticed a change in Cloud. She told Tifa how Cloud would sometimes look up at the sky and not pay attention to her.

Cloud never really approached Marlene to talk in the first place but, I'm sure he never ignored her before when she talked to him. I knew that Cloud had his own ways of getting along with Marlene. I thought about how there were people everywhere that weren't good with children but had their own ways of coping with them.

I told her that Cloud was probably just tired but it bothered me. Marlene was a child who was sensitive about the changes in adults.

During their holiday, Tifa and Marlene were cleaning the room that was now Cloud's office. There were many papers that laid scattered about unsorted. One of them caught Tifa's eye.

Client Name - Elmyra Gainsborough
Delivery Item - Bouquet
Destination - The Forgotten City

Tifa put the paper away with the others as if nothing happened. But she was trembling severely. Transporting mail around the world meant Cloud was traveling around his past too. She knew that Cloud was in great pain because he couldn't protect Aerith. Cloud was on the verge of overcoming it but now, going back to the place where he and Aerith got separated meant that his sorrow and regret was going to tear his heart apart once again.

It was night and they had closed the bar. Cloud was drinking wine even though he rarely does. He drained his glass. Tifa hesitated before going over and filling his glass.

"Shall I join you?" There was something she wanted to talk to him about.

"I want to drink alone."

Hearing that, Tifa lost control and said, "Then drink in your room."

Barret had called a few times. Most of the time, he wouldn't talk about himself but instead, asked more about how Marlene was doing. Then every time he would end the call by having a little chat with Marlene. Marlene wondered if Tifa was listening or not before she told Barret in a sad voice, "Cloud and Tifa aren't getting along very well."

No matter what feelings Cloud and Tifa had between them, they couldn't drag Marlene into it Tifa thought to herself.

Tifa forced herself to talk to Cloud. When Marlene was near, she would pick something positive, something that wouldn't turn the conversation into a serious matter. Cloud was bewildered at the way Tifa changed but guessing at what she was trying to do, he went along with the mood and talked to her. Even Marlene joined in with their conversations.

I thought it went pretty well. But I couldn't talk about what I really wanted to talk about. I didn't know what to say.

One morning, Tifa shared a story she heard from a customer that seemed funny.

"That's really something that can't be done," Cloud thought aloud.

"It can't be done!" Marlene cried out.

All the adults were surprised and looked at Marlene.

"You've told us that story before! Cloud just gives the same answer every time!"

It didn't go well but we were together. We were family. We lived in the same house and we were lived by keeping the family together. Maybe there wasn't much conversation or smiles. But we were family, Tifa thought to herself. No, it was what she made herself think.

After making certain that Cloud was asleep, she said to him.

"We'll be all right, won't we?"

Of course, there was no answer. Only the sound of Cloud sleeping could be heard. Tifa wondered if the fact that he was sleeping here meant that he was part of the family.

"Do you love me?"

Cloud woke up, a dubious look on his face.

"Hey, Cloud. Do you love Marlene?"

"Yeah. But sometimes I don't know how to approach her."

"Even though we've been together for sometime?"

"Maybe that just isn't enough."

"Even we aren't enough for you?"

Cloud didn't answer.

"Sorry for asking some strange things."

"Don't apologize. It's my problem."

Cloud closed his eyes.

"Lets work hard together."

Cloud didn't answer.

Not long after that, Cloud brought Denzel home with him. Denzel was already unconscious when he was brought into the bar. It was Geostigma. Cloud said the syndromes looked like they just started not long ago. As Tifa nursed Denzel, she thought of how there many children who were also infected with the same disease. There were many facilities setup for children who had lost their parents. Yet, why did Cloud bring Denzel here? Just when Tifa was going to ask him, Cloud muttered something.

"This kid came to my place."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean…"

After Denzel recovered, she listened to Denzel's story about everything that happened to him before he arrived here. Then she thought to herself that he was meant to come here. He was one of the victims when Sector 7 was destroyed.

Sector 7 was destroyed was because of us. That's why I had to take responsibility and raise him. He didn't go to Cloud's place. He met Cloud so that he could come to my place.

Tifa discussed with Cloud and Marlene about how she wanted to welcome Denzel into their family. Cloud nodded silently but Marlene was full of joy.

At first, Denzel was persistent in helping them as thanks for taking care of him but, his heart began opening to them as he helped Cloud with his job and around the bar.

It was night and the bar was closed. While cleaning up in the galley, Tifa looked up towards the center table. There sat the manager of Strife Delivery Service, Cloud and his two assistants, Marlene and Denzel. Denzel often suffered because of Geostigma but on the days when he didn't have a fever or any pain, he would hang around with Cloud. Everyday, Cloud would spend half his day out. So once he was home, it was Denzel's precious time to spend with his hero. Yes, Cloud was a hero to Denzel. Riding on his bike, saving Denzel as he fought with terrors of death when the symptoms of Geostigma erupted… It was everything that Denzel had been yearning for. Denzel wanted to know ask Cloud about everything. He would keep asking Tifa questions that she could answer until Cloud returned home. Once, Tifa half jokingly said to Denzel that she was the one cooking their meals everyday. Denzel also said in an grown up manner that he cleaned the house and the bar everyday too.

It was true and he done a very thorough job of cleaning. When he was asked if it was his passed away mother who taught him how to clean, he answered no. The following day, Tifa asked Cloud who Denzel's cleaning teacher was. He had told Cloud about it. Tifa was a little hurt.

I was troubled at why Denzel told Cloud and didn't tell me. One day I tried asking a customer that was about the same age as Denzel about it. His answer was that boys were just like that. So there really weren't any problems. We were just a normal family.

The answer didn't make her understand them more but, the words "normal family" relieved Tifa.

After the bar was closed, the usual three people sat around the table. It wouldn't be a surprise if someone said it was a young father with his two children. If Tifa felt like it, she could go over to that table and be welcomed with smiles.

Cloud laid out a map on the table. He was making sure of the routes that he was going to take to do deliveries the next day. Denzel and Marlene was sorting out the papers. When there were any words that Marlene couldn't read, she asked Denzel. Denzel would then teach Marlene like an older brother. When there were words that even Denzel couldn't read, he would ask Cloud. Cloud had the habit of handing them a pen after telling them how to read them. He told them that if they couldn't write the words then they wouldn't be able to remember them either. The various names of places on the papers made the children curious and they asked Cloud what they were like. Cloud's descriptions were simple. There are lots of people. There are very little people. There's lots of monsters so it's dangerous. Taking the north route is safer… They were descriptions that would make you ask, "is that all?" but the children seemed content. Soon, Tifa wanted to talk a little about the places too. When she added in more detail, Denzel would ask Cloud if it was true. It annoyed Tifa a little. But she also thought it was all right. That's probably what normal families were like.

Maybe they became a real family after Denzel arrived. Cloud was clearly taking less jobs. At night, he would always make sure he had time to spend with the children. The silly little conversations he had with Tifa were also back.

"So the problem was resolved?"

"What problem?"

"Your problem."


Cloud thought about it.

"It's OK if you don't want to tell me."

"I can't really explain it well…" Cloud warned before starting to talk.

"The problem isn't resolved. Well, I don't think it will be resolved for a long time to come. You can't retrieve lives that have been lost."

Tifa nodded silently.

"But maybe we can still save those lives that are endangered just now. Maybe even I can do it."

"You mean Denzel?"


"Hey, do you remember what you said when you brought Denzel here?"

"What did I say?"

"You said Denzel came to your place."

"Well…" Cloud looked like a kid that about to be scolded as usual.

"Tell me. I'll decide whether I'm angry or not after I listen."

Cloud nodded and continued.

"Denzel had collapsed in front of the church where Aerith used to be. That's why I thought Aerith lead him to 'my place'".

Saying all that in one breathe, Cloud looked away.

"You went to the church."

"I wasn't planning to hide there."

"You were hiding."

"I'm sorry."

"I didn't say you couldn't go. But next time, I'll go together with you."

"I understand."

"And you're wrong, Cloud."

Cloud looked dubiously at Tifa.

"Aerith didn't bring Denzel to you."

"Yeah, that's what I thought too."

"Aerith brought that child to us, didn't she?"

Cloud gazed at Tifa and finally smiled. It had that kindness that made her think everything was all right.

Days after having that conversation, Cloud left. Tifa wondered if the smile she saw was just an illusion. After kissing the sleeping children on the face, she went into Cloud's office. Brushing away the dust on the family photo they took, she tried calling him. After several rings, the messaging service took over.

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