Honeybee Matchmaking -if it could even be called that, seeing as much of its customer base consisted of users looking for quick and dirty flings instead of the long-term connections the company bragged of- was Tifa’s last hope at love. Or at least, this is what her best friend Cloud would jokingly say to convince her to download and create a profile on the app every night as they closed up the bar and headed to bed. Or every morning as they opened. Or every time he came over during a lull in the flow of customers to wipe down the bar and the seats nearby. Or literally any other time of day when he wasn’t off making some delivery or spending time teaching Denzel the care and keeping of motorcycles.
Though Tifa knew that Cloud was really just kidding around in that dry, you-have-to-get-used-to-his-sense-of-humor way that she had come to love through the years, deep down she didn’t think it was a bad idea at all. Cloud did not have to know that, though. Plus, two could play at that game. Cloud could become just as flustered with her teasing, as there was absolutely no real reason for him to take so many trips to visit Barret or insist that he be there to “supervise” every time Denzel wanted to hang out with Marlene.
She waited and playfully endured the few weeks of good-natured teasing before sitting down and going about the process of creating a decent profile on the app while Cloud and Denzel were on a day trip to visit Barret and Marlene. Cloud insisted, yet again, that the trip was solely for Denzel’s benefit and was in no way a ploy for him to make googly eyes at his crush. Tifa didn’t believe that for a second. She’d seen the “secret” designs Cloud made of various modifications he could make to Barret’s arm, created presumably after the man complained of stiffness in certain areas that he couldn’t address on his own. But that was Cloud’s problem. Hers was right in front of her, in the form of an innocuous yet daunting social media app.
Getting started was harder than she thought, as Honeybee Matchmaking was a bit different from most dating apps she had heard about before. For this app, you had to answer questions that were supposed to give insights into your personality and reveal what type of person you were looking for, so that the system could pick better matches than your average app. There were questions she had never thought of in relation to herself aside from preference, which admittedly took longer than she’d planned on. As she filled out the last question, she laughed to herself, glad that Cloud wasn’t there to tease her about taking so long to make her answers seem appealing to potential matches.
“Mission accomplished,” She announced to the empty bar. Still full of nervous energy, Tifa went about cleaning the bar and tables until she couldn’t justify any further cleaning before circling her phone again like a hungry shark. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to start looking at the other profiles on here.”
Face glued to her phone as she mentally calculated if she could truly connect to any of the women she came across on the app, she didn’t notice when Denzel flew past her on his way to his room with a quick “Hi Teef!” a little while later. Cloud happily took advantage of her lack of awareness with a swift grab, snatching her phone right out of her hands and dashing away.
“Wh-CLOUD!!!” Said man was halfway across the bar before she could react. “WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS?!” Careful to not damage any of her own property, Tifa gave chase until they both collapsed into a booth, laughing hysterically.
“Are you,” Tifa started, catching her breath between words, “happy now? I did it.”
“Yeah well I have to see your profile first,” Cloud said. Tifa made a mental note to change her passcode, as Cloud quickly unlocked her phone to access her profile on Honeybee. She watched his face as his eyes scanned the page, doing that thing where he mouthed the words as he read. Sometimes, he would whisper the words to himself softly as well, which Tifa thought was the cutest thing in the world but would turn Cloud into a self-conscious mess anytime he realized what he was doing.
“So, am I boring?” Tifa grew tired of waiting for Cloud to pass his judgement. “Do you think I make a great catch on paper?”
“Hmmm,” Cloud pretended to think about his answer, humming louder and louder the more exasperated Tifa looked. After a swift, “gentle” punch to the arm, he finally gave his answer. “I guess it’s not terrible. You could sound a bit more, I don’t know, happy about your hobbies. Add some smileys or something. Isn’t that how people communicate these days?”
“Ok, I knew I shouldn’t have asked you,” Tifa grumbled to herself, trying to snatch her phone back from Cloud. Not done with his teasing, he did his best to keep it out of her reach, just about falling out of his seat to get away from her grabby hands until they both froze upon hearing a cheery tone come from the device.
“Holy shit,” Cloud said, slowly placing the phone in Tifa’s open hand. “Looks like I’m your lucky charm. Seems like my cue to leave now.”
“Nooooo,” Tifa whined, refusing to look at the message she was sure to find and subsequently should respond to. “What am I supposed to saaaaay?”
“Look,” Cloud said. “Be yourself, or whatever it is you tell me all the time. Pretend you’re talking to me, but, to yourself. Dilly dally shilly shally or something.” Cloud laughed at Tifa’s pout. “But for real, just be you. You’re pretty alright. It’s just a conversation, not a marriage proposal. But if it were, I am the maid of honor and no I’m not wearing a dress to your wedding.”
“Spoilsport. You’ll wear a dress if I asked. It’s my wedding” Tifa said, finally sitting up straight in her seat.
“Maybe to the reception, if you ask nicely.” Getting up, Cloud prepared to go upstairs to leave Tifa to contemplate her next move.
“I’ll make sure to pick the perfect color, then. Something to complement your eyes,” Tifa called after Cloud, feeling better about talking to a stranger on the internet to find a possible date. Cloud’s laughter carried down the stairs, making Tifa smile to herself. Finally looking back at her phone, she opened the app to see her first message.