Step 22: Hair
Step 22: Hair
If there was a time when I resented Aeris or whatever force revived me, that time has been forgotten. The day came to take up Tifa's offer to cook for me, I didn't even ask, she offered to cook me a free meal as soon as she saw me arrive at the Seventh Heaven. She didn't even give me the chance to politely say 'you don't have to...' in an obvious indication that I really did want the food. Tifa left Cloud temporarily at the counter and I smiled, I never thought I would be smiling at Cloud, yet I am.
"If you laugh, I'm going to separate that Sephiroth look alike head of yours from the rest of your body," Cloud growled through his teeth.
Either Cloud was louder then he intended or Tifa had excellent hearing. Her voice came from the kitchen with a warning, "Cloud, if you threaten the customers you'll be in serious trouble!"
"I was only joking," Cloud's angry response sounds like anything but a joke. He leans over the counter and glares at me with his mako eyes, whispering threateningly, albeit it only sounds amusing to me. "Stay away from Tifa."
"Why should I?" I challenge.
"Because if you don't, I'll-"
"Cloud Strife, you behave!" Tifa called from the kitchen, surprising both Cloud and I. I didn't think she could hear him this time. It's almost as if she doesn't need to hear or see what's going on, maybe she can somehow sense the tension.
Cloud remained silent from that point on, glaring at me, the effect of his glare lost due to his pink hair. Now that I have witnessed the aftermath of that childish prank, I can't help it but to be glad I agreed to it. It was silly, it was out of character for me, it was something I probably would have refused to do in my previous existence, but it was so good.
Another good thing is Tifa's cooking, this has to be the best steak I ever tasted and the side of cheesy potatoes matches it perfectly. "Delicious!" I make sure to give my compliments to the chef, because it would be impolite not to and also because I know it will annoy Cloud.
"I'm happy you like it," Tifa smiles and I can feel Cloud's glare increasing in intensity considerably. Although I came back hoping to no longer be hated, being hated by Cloud is fun.
I savored every bite of the meal, slowly, prolonging my presence at the Seventh Heaven until my stomach was satisfied, "this has been the best meal I've ever had, thank you very much."
"You're welcome, you should come more often, I would be happy to cook for you," Cloud doesn't look pleased with Tifa's offer.
"Tifa..." the sudden whine that escaped Cloud preventing my reply, was most comical, from my point of view at least.
"Stop being so cranky," Tifa gently patted his shoulder, "I kept telling you not to buy that cheap shampoo, but you wouldn't listen. Look on the bright side, you learned a valuable lesson and at least you're not bald. Look at Seph's hair, it's so shiny, maybe he can give you some hair tips."
I'm fairly certain that for once I must be agreeing on something with Cloud, even if neither of us voices it: discussing hair would be weird.
Guiding the subject away from me, but still on the topic of hair, Cloud begins to throw out accusations, "it has to be Reno's fault!" Did he see us? Did he only see Reno and not me?
Tifa shakes her head, "you shouldn't jump to conclusions, how would it be Reno's fault? It was just some cheap expired shampoo."
"When something goes wrong, it's always Reno's fault," Cloud insists. I am surprised to find that I agree with him again. At least this time I wasn't in the center of the disarray.
My PHS starts ringing while Cloud and Tifa have their little discussion and I discretely answer it. "Hello?"
"Hey Seph, it's me!" Yes Reno, I saw your name on the PHS screen before I answered. Though you are terribly annoying, you're not so bad when your chaos is directed at Cloud. Furthermore 'me' is not a very informative way to identify yourself.
I decided against voicing any sarcastic reply, frankly I don't even know where it came from, instead I inquired, "is something wrong?"
"No, everything's fine, there are no meteors in the sky," Reno joked, and I'm surprisingly, I'm not bothered by it. It might be a sensitive subject but even if it sounds like a contradiction, I'm relieved it's not being treated as such, as if it's 'no big deal'.
"That's good to know, why are you calling?" I glance at Tifa and Cloud who are still discussing the shampoo incident, absorbed in their little argument.
"Whenever I play a joke on Cloud he assumes I did it, even if I'm totally sneaky and don't leave any proof behind. It's like I'm public enemy number one when it comes to practical jokes. Tifa's the only one who defends me, but that's probably because I'm her best customer, or because she's secretly my fan girl," Reno theorizes.
"I believe the former, ratter than the latter, is true." With Strife sponging off her, it' no wonder Tifa has somewhat of a soft spot for her biggest source of income.
"The form, later, what?" I should have known Reno would be confused.
"Never mind," I lower my voice to a whisper, "Strife is fuming and throwing accusations, keep a low profile."
"Gotcha, I wouldn't want to be decapitated," and as much as I wanted to decapitate you myself before, you might be worth keeping alive if you can terrorize Cloud. "Hey Seph, take a picture for me, will you? I can't go there now so send me a picture of the mission results, thanks a lot, bye!"
Reno didn't even give me a chance to refuse, not that I would, everyone in Shinra will see this picture and the occasion is perfect to take it now that Cloud is distracted. I've decided that I am quite fond of my discrete yet high resolution little PHS camera.
I take the picture and pocket my PHS as a voice echoes in my head, "such a naughty boy..."
I have to stop myself from jumping in surprise, fortunately, I showed no significant sings of being startled and no one noticed anything. There's no one here save for Tifa, Cloud and myself right now, and the one who spoke those words wasn't Tifa, though it was a woman.
A sudden 'ding' makes me focus on the here and now again, rather then the voice in my head. "The cake is ready!" Tifa interrupts her little hair product argument with Cloud and looks at me, "you'll try it, right?"
"I would be honored," I watch with satisfaction as Cloud's expression sours even more.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Final Fantasy VII.