On the Way to a Smile – Episode:Tifa

Friends were a necessity to me so that I could live on without being supressed by the sins in my consciousness. Even if they were fellow companions that had the same wounds. Even if they were fellow companions who were burdened with the same sins. We couldn’t live without comforting each other and encouraging each other.

Maybe you could call that family. We just had to keep the family together and do our best. Tifa thought she could get over anything while being with friends that she could call her family.

“A family.” (Tifa)

“Yeah.” (Marlene)

Marlene cheerfully answered in response to Tifa’s murmur.

“I’ll put Cloud in our family too.” (Marlene)

“I appreciate that.” (Cloud)

After Cloud thanked Marlene’s innocent offer with his serious face, he looked at Tifa. Tifa nodded a little. Would there be various problems arising after this? However, Tifa decided that she whould stop worrying about the relationship between the two of them.


It had been several months since they opened the bar. There was a call from Cloud, who went to collect their supply of ingredients. It was a discussion about the privilege of how much one person could eat and drink for free during their life at Seventh Heaven. Without listening to his story, Tifa understood what he wanted to say. She was sure there was something Cloud wanted to exchange that strange privilege for no matter what.

It was night, and Cloud came back on a motorcycle. It was a model that they had never seen before. Since then, he had been adjusting it whenever he could spare the time in between his job. He brought an engineer that he knew from somewhere to discuss modifying his new bike. It seemed a few people came to help Cloud complete the modifications. Marlene and her young neighborhood friends watched. The scene reassured Tifa that they were really becoming a family in the world.

There were many times when Cloud had to leave Midgar for their supplies. The destination was mainly Kalm. It seemed he had to rent a bike or a truck or sometimes a chocobo. But now after he had his own bike that he could use freely, he would be able to take longer trips. Sometimes he would bring home rare foods and surprise Tifa.

One night, there was a call for Cloud. After talking on the phone for a while, Cloud said he had to go out for a while.

“Where are you going?”

“How should I say this…”

Cloud told her how there had many times when he was asked to deliver something while coming back with supplies. The caller was one of the store owners who shared some of his vegetables with them. It seemed there was something that he wanted Cloud to deliver before the night was over by all means. Cloud gazed at Tifa like a kid who just had his secrets revealed.

“Why are you looking at me like that?

“Well… I’m sorry I kept quiet about it.”

“About what?”

“Doing things without consulting.”

Tifa burst out in laughter. Cloud went on about how he got paid a little for delivering items. He explained to her how he felt guilty spending it all on the modifications for the bike. Tifa thought he was just like a kid. It may have been a little sad that Cloud had found another world that I didn’t know about but, the fact that his world was expanding was a welcoming thought. Yes, it was similar to the feelings a mother would have. Tifa walked Cloud outside, enjoying the new feeling that was welling up inside her.


Tifa was able to cope with the sins in her consciousness. She hadn’t forgotten about them. Someday, the day may come when she will be punished. Until that day came, Tifa was going to look ahead and live. She was going to live, not just taking, but proving that she herself can give too.


Tifa encouraged Cloud to run a delivery service seriously. 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 start of the Strife Delivery Service. Midgar was the center of their business, but they also delivered all over the world. But only to the areas that Cloud could go by bike. Cloud smiled at how he was like a big advertisement. His job was also a big success. It was a time when sending things wasn’t so easy for people who wanted to. Monsters were still roaming and there were roads that were constructed in areas that had broken down due to the Lifestream bursting forth from the earth. This job of traveling around the world wasn’t something that anyone could do. It was a job he had been seeking. 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 changed greatly. It wasn’t too good. Besides morning and late night, Cloud was usually not at home. And of course, there were less chances for the three of them to have conversations together. Tifa closed the bar for a day during the week, but it didn’t stop Cloud from doing his job. Cloud wasn’t likely to turn down requests. I just wanted us to be able to take a day off together now and then but, I suppressed that selfishness in me. During that time, it was Marlene who noticed a change in Cloud. She told Tifa how Cloud would sometimes space out and not listen to her. Cloud never really approached Marlene to talk in the first place. I’m sure he never ignored her 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 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 slips 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 slip away with the others as if nothing happened, but she was trembling severely. Transporting mail around the world meant he was traveling around his past too. She knew that Cloud was in great pain because he couldn’t protect Aerith. Cloud was trying to overcome that and live on. But, going back to the place where he parted from Aerith might mean that his sorrow and regret was going to tear his heart again.

It was night, and they had closed the bar. Cloud was drinking alcohol even though he rarely did. He drained his glass. Tifa thought about it 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 called often. Most of the time, he hardly talked about himself and asked more about how Marlene was doing. Every time, he would talk to Marlene at the end. As Marlene wondered if Tifa was listening or not, she told Barret in a sad voice, “Cloud and Tifa aren’t getting along very well.”

No matter what feelings Cloud and I have between us, we can’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 doing, he went along with the mood and talked to her. They got Marlene to join in with the 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 shouted.

All the adults were surprised and looked at Marlene.

“You’ve told us that story before and Cloud just gives the same answer!”

It didn’t go well. But we were together. It was because we were family. We lived in the same house and we were living by uniting our strength. Maybe there wasn’t much conversation or many 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 spoke to him.

“We’ll be all right, won’t we?”

Of course, there was no answer. I only heard the sound of him sleeping. I 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 perplexed 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 some time?”

“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.

“Let’s work hard together.”

Tifa waited for his answer, though she couldn’t hear it even if she waited until the morning.

Shortly after that, Cloud brought Denzel back with him. He was a boy who had used Cloud’s mobile phone that he left with his bike to ring the bar. Picking up the phone, Tifa was worried about what happened to Cloud at first, but soon she realized that there was something wrong with the boy. Cloud had picked up the phone when she couldn’t hear the boy’s voice anymore on the other end. Tifa tried to ask how he was, but then Cloud spoke awkwardly.

“What’s wrong? Is the boy ok?”

“Nah, he seems to be in pain.”

“If so, why don’t you bring him back with you?”

“It looks like he has Geostigma.”

Tifa couldn’t reply to what Cloud said right away. Geostigma was a disease that spread through out the world since the day the Lifestream halted Meteor. It’s cure hadn’t been found yet. The patients also vary –some would look healthy so no one would suspect that they were sick and some died right after they contracted the disease. Then, the most important point for Tifa was that there was a rumor that Geostigma was transmittable. It could infect someone in the family. Based on Tifa’s experience she believed that it would not be transmittable or else many healthy people in the world would have died already, though she still felt uncomfortable. Moreover, the rumor was persistent no matter what the truth was; consequently it might affect the image of the bar. However, she already said to bring him over, she couldn’t go back on her word because of Geostigma.

“I heard Geostigma wasn’t contagious.”

Cloud said as if he presumed her hesitation. Then, she realized that Cloud wanted to bring this child home.

“Yeah, bring him with you.”

“I’ll bring him through the back door. Is there anyone that can look after Marlene?”


Hanging up the phone, Tifa wondered at Cloud’s concern for Marlene and the bar. In the end, she understood. Cloud thought that Tifa would oppose. Even so he wanted to bring him back. Tifa wanted to know the reason, though after he was actually brought back those questions were lost somewhere during the time she was taking care of him.

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