Step 30: Cheer Up
Step 30: Cheer Up
The Turks, Rufus and I are currently in the president's office at Shinra HQ. Rufus is going on about something or other while Blaze pecks his paperwork after Reno set him down on the desk, but I'm not really listening. Maybe it's sleep deprivation, for which I blame Reno, or maybe it's the feeling of being lied to, but I'm feeling very cranky and impatient today.
I turn away and walk, I can faintly distinguish the sound of Rufus' voice in the background, which pauses as I mutter, "not Lazard," reminding myself that the director's brother is not the director, he's not a trusted friend.
"Sephiroth," I think it was Tseng who called me, but I blocked out their voices and kept walking. I walked until I was out of headquarters; only faintly aware that I was being followed, yet knowing it to be true.
xoxox xox xoxox
I kept walking until I reached the Seventh Heaven and sat there. "Welcome, it's unusual to see all of you here at this time," Tifa greets; Tseng, Reno, Rude and Elena are with me.
Cloud seems to be out, a fact for which I'm thankful; I'm not in the mood to see him. "Have you ever felt like you can't trust anyone, that you're living a lie and you can't even trust yourself?"
Before Tifa can reply to my random angst, another voice does, "I have."
I turn slowly, I recognize the voice but do not wish to see him, "I thought you hated me," I glare at Cloud who had arrived just in time to hear me.
Cloud looks apologetic, much to my annoyance, "I don't, I just misunderstood something, thanks for helping Tifa that time. It would have been bad if she got hurt, I should have been there to protect her, if I haven't refused to go, then Tifa wouldn't have been in danger and you wouldn't have gotten injured helping her."
Great, it looks like Tifa and Cloud made up, worse yet, Cloud is sympathizing with me. Things just keep getting worse. I decide that it is best not to dignify him with a response.
He takes my silence as a plea for comfort and continues, "I get really depressed sometimes too and frustrated. But you just have to keep moving forward even if it's hard."
I can't take this anymore, but I manage to remain silent, fighting the urge to rip Cloud's head off with my own hands. "Oh no, not you too," it is Tifa who speaks next. "I don't want anyone moping around here; that goes for both of you, cheer up, you're healthy, you have a nice place to live, you have friends and the world is at peace, look on the bright side!"
I'm not healthy, my mind is haunted by delusions and my body is contaminated with mako, I don't have a nice place to live because Reno is my neighbor, my so called friends lie to me and if this keeps up, the world won't be at peace for much longer.
"I never noticed before, Seph," Tseng comments, breaking the Turk silence, "how much you and Cloud are alike."
I glare at Tseng so intensely, I almost expect him to bust into flames. "We are different."
"Nah, you're both emos," Reno joins in and I can't decide who I want to kill more, Cloud or Reno.
"I am not an emo and I have better hair," I glance at Cloud's sour expression, his hair is white from trying to fix his color so many times only to have Reno sabotage it over and over. It's dull, full of split ends, unlike my hair which is long, shiny and perfect.
Cloud growls at me, then directs his anger at Reno; it would be magnificent if they would kill each other, it would certainly save me a lot of trouble. "You're somehow behind my hair troubles, aren't you?"
"I didn't do anything!" Reno pleads innocence, as any guilty person would.
"Cloud, we went over this and you promised to stop blaming Reno for everything that goes wrong in your life," Tifa reminds. "You just have a hair condition, it's nothing to be ashamed of, I'm sure it can be treated."
"Yeah, listen to Tifa!" Reno grins victoriously, while Tseng shakes his head, Elena sighs and Rude remains silent. "Since I'm here, I might as well have a drink; give me the usual, extra strong!" Reno places a generous amount of gil on the counter, which no doubt includes a big tip.
"Later," Tseng takes Reno by the ear, just as Tifa sets his drink on the counter and drags him away, "we're going back to HQ. Elena, give Seph the needed information." He throws a meaningful glance at Rude as if telling him to watch her back, then leaves with a loudly complaining Reno in tow.
I can only imagine what kind of excuses Elena has for me, but even so, my mood has definitely lightened. I don't want to be like Cloud, I need to stay optimistic. Besides, even if the Turks are a bunch of back-stabbing liars, they still amuse me. Maybe one day, I'll truly be one of them, a Turk a mean, not a back-stabbing liar, and I'll have the link that they have with each other, like the bond I had with Genesis and Angeal. I miss that more than I'll admit, having someone to trust.
Perhaps that's why I'm still here, putting up with Shinra, it's the key to recovering what I lost and it's also the only place I know, it's as close to a home and family as I'll ever have. I take Reno's untouched drink and drain the glass, no one seems to mind. My throat feels like it's on fire, the drink is stronger than I imagined, but along with the burning sensation I detect the taste of "strawberry?"
"Yes, Reno likes his drinks super spiked and with a hint of strawberry. It's tricky, preserving the burn of the alcohol and getting that sweet strawberry aftertaste," Tifa smiles proudly, "it's a bartender's secret."
"It's good," I commend, while out of the corner of my eyes I see a pouting Cloud, though his eyes hold no true anger towards me, just a faint warning. "Can you make something that's just as strong as this and has an apple aftertaste?" I can't ask for a dumb apple drink, Bonara's apples are extinct, so regular apples will just have to do.
"Of course!" Tifa confidently assures, "do you want to try it now? Two of those might be too much if you're going back to work, they're really loaded."
I doubt I'll get drunk so easily, but a normal man would, not counting Reno because he's too much of an oddball to be normal. "You're right, I'll try it later, thanks," I leave a tip despite Reno having already paid, just to bother Cloud, though in a way I'm indirectly helping him since he has been freeloading in Tifa's property and everyone knows it. Even so, I don't care, I have decided to cheer up and if my will alone is enough to save me from becoming a mere memory, it shall be enough to prevent me from being an emo. "We should head back now."
"You're welcome," Tifa smiles, "see you later everyone."
"Bye!" Elena looks eager to leave, she's clearly looking forward to revealing the information Tseng spoke of and I'm ready to not believe a word of it. Rude is so quiet as he nods his farewell, it's a wonder I noticed he's still there.
As we walk back to HQ I feel I should be thankful for what I have after all. I may be a bit troubled, but I can still move around with agility and think straight, despite my stress sometimes getting to me. I suppose I could ask Tseng to let me borrow one of his houses, it's not like he can be in all of them at once, so I won't really be invading his privacy. That will do for now, everything else will have to come later.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Final Fantasy VII.