On the Way to a Smile – Episode:Tifa

After Denzel recovered, she listened to his story about everything that happened to him before he arrived here. Then she thought to herself that he was supposed to come here. Denzel’s parents were among the victims when Sector Seven was destroyed.. The reason why Sector Seven was destroyed was because of AVALANCHE. That’s why I had to take responsibility and raise him. He met Cloud so that he could come to me.

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 while helping with Cloud’s job and in the shop, he opened up his heart.

The number of customers had visibly decreased. The reason was clear. However, Tifa, Cloud and even Marlene never spoke about it.

It was night and the bar was closed. While cleaning up in the galley, Tifa looked up towards the center table. There sat the president of Strife Delivery Service—Cloud—and his two assistants, Marlene and Denzel. Denzel suffered from Geostigma, but on the days when he didn’t have a fever or any pain, he would hang around with Cloud. Cloud spent half of each day outside. So once he was home, it was Denzel’s precious time to spend with his hero. Yes, Cloud was a hero to Denzel. Saving Denzel while he was fighting with death as the symptoms of Geostigma erupted again, riding around on a bike… everything Denzel had been yearning for. Denzel wanted to ask everything about Cloud’s past. He would ask Tifa questions about Cloud until he returned home. Once, Tifa half jokingly said to Denzel that she was the one cooking their meals every day. Denzel also said in a grown up manner that he cleaned the house and the bar every day too.

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

She was troubled at why Denzel shared that with Cloud yet didn’t share it with her. One day, she 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 wasn’t any problem. They were just a normal family.

The answer didn’t make her understand 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 I felt like it, I could go over to that table and be welcomed with smiles.

Cloud had a map spread out on the table. He always made sure to check the routes that he intended to use to make deliveries the next day. Denzel and Marlene were sorting out the slips. 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 said that if they couldn’t write it, then they wouldn’t be able to remember it. Looking at the names of places on the slips, the children 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 satisfied. Soon, Tifa wanted to talk 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.

Tifa wondered if they became a real family after Denzel appeared. 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?” Tifa asked.

“Which problem?” Cloud responded.

“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 never tried resolving it for a long time, I think. You can’t retrieve lost lives.”

Tifa nodded silently.

“But maybe we can save the lives who are in a crisis 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?”

“A lot of things. Even if I opposed it, you would bring him back with you. I could just feel it.”


Cloud was making a face like a kid who thought he would get scolded.

“Tell me. I’ll decide whether I’m angry or not after I listen.”

Cloud nodded and continued.

“Denzel had collapsed in front of Aerith’s church. That’s why I thought Aerith lead him to me.”

Saying all that in one breath, Cloud looked away.

“You went to the church.”

“I didn’t intend to hide it from you.”

“You did hide it.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m not saying you couldn’t go. But next time, I’ll go with you.”

“I understand.”

“And you’re wrong, Cloud.”

Cloud was perplexed as he looked at Tifa.

“Aerith didn’t bring Denzel to you.”

“Ahh, I only thought that…..”

“I didn’t mean it that way.”

“Aerith brought Denzel to our home.”

Cloud gazed at Tifa and finally smiled.


Days after having that conversation, Cloud left. Tifa wondered if that smile he showed her was an illusion. After kissing the sleeping children on the face she went into Cloud’s office. She brushed away the dust on the family photo they had taken and then tried calling him. After several rings the messaging service took over.

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