So if anyone is confused I accidently uploaded chapter 1 before the Prologue so the Prologue and chapter 1 are going up together.
It was dark in the bar as Tifa slowly and carefully washed the countertop. She would not be opening tonight as a certain blonde warrior was returning home, after over a month’s absence. Cloud had been away delivering messages to the Northern Region and had been diverted home by a call for aid from the WRO. Denzel had intercepted a call from Cid informing them he had dropped Cloud near the Chocobo ranch and Cloud was riding Fenrir home. That had been three hours ago, meaning that Cloud should be arriving soon. That was of course if he didn’t stop in the wasteland first.
She could hear the sound of feet tearing around in the rooms above her and smiled. The children were excited. They loved when Cloud was home and while he could be detached he always had time for the children. Denzel in particular revelled in the time he could spend in Clouds presence whether it was talking his ear off about everyday occurrences or sitting quietly and basking in his pseudo father’s presence. Glancing at the clock Tifa decided that now would be the perfect time to start preparing Clouds favourite meal, even with her estimated time for detours Cloud would still have time to shower and greet the children before the food was ready.
Stretching on her tippy toes to reach the top shelf Tifa pulled down a bottle of very expensive and very rare scotch used on occasions such as these. Occasions where Cloud had not only let her down but the children. She seethed with anger while attempting to hold back tears after informing the children that Cloud had chosen not to return home. Dinner had been subdued and it hurt her even further that she had put time and effort into the dish for Clouds sake.
“He better have a damn good excuse.” she muttered, pulling out a glass and pouring a rather generous helping of the drink. Downing the burning liquid. She huffed angrily and poured a second glass before pulling out her phone and once again dialled Clouds phone. The least he could do is answer why he had chosen to not come home. After dinner she had appeased the children’s pleas and made the journey to the church in the hope he was there. She had planned a long winded and angry speech to deliver to the blonde on arrival but had found no sign Clouds recent presence inside nor outside the ruin.
Breathing deeply to try to dispel the anger and frustration twisting her features she turned to plan B. Dialling a second number she placed the phone to her ear and prepared to listen to the likely exuberant greeting from the other end.
“HELLO!!” Tifa winced as Yuffie’s shrill greeting hurt her ears. “Hi Tifa what’s up I wasn’t expecting any calls from you tonight especially with Cloud finally returning home and you finally having the house to yourselves and the kids wanting to spend time with him cause he is never home and you were preparing a big dinner and stuff so I figured you’d be busy with the kids and then later Cloud all night if you get my drift.” Tifa clenched her fist at the reminder of the dinner and the kid’s excitement and waited patiently for Yuffie to take a breath so she could jump into the currently one-sided conversation.
“Yuffie,” she growled unable to keep her frustration out of her voice, “Where are you right now? Are you still in Kalm?” She was met with silence for a moment as Yuffie most likely gaged her tone and how to reply without angering her further.
“Well…..Not exactly.” Yuffie paused and Tifa waited knowing Yuffie would take her silence as an opportunity to continue. “I may have stolen a little something something from someone who totally deserved it but they didn’t take it very well so I decided hey you know where I haven’ been in a while Junon. Sooooo I’m heading there now.”
“Where are you? Have you crossed the mountain? Are you close to the Chocobo farm?” Tifa asked quickly hoping Yuffie wasn’t closer to Junon then to where Cloud had been left off.
“Actually I passed it about twenty minutes ago. I crossed what looked like Fenrir’s tracks on a bit before that too. Wait! Let me guess Cloud was a no show.”
“No show is accurate. Yuffie I checked the church and he wasn’t there and it’s too late to check the cliff in the wastes children or no. Can you track Fenrir to try to find him or is that too big an ask of you?”
“Depends do I get something if I find our reclusive friend?”
“If you find him and slap him across the head then yes.” Tifa smiled into the phone, hearing an exclamation of glee from the other end. Briefly exchanging words of goodbyes Tifa hung up downed the second glass and waited.
Tifa stared confused at the sight in front of her. Glancing to her left she took in Yuffie’s equally confused expression tinted with worry and fear.
“And there’s no other tracks? It’s been a while they could have faded!” Tifa exclaimed her eyes beginning to fill with tears as her earlier anger dissipated into fear. Yuffie turned to her and shook her head.
“The only other marks I found is the one you can very clearly see for yourself. I searched a mile in each direction. There’s nothing.” Yuffie glanced up as the Shera entered her line of sight. Tifa glanced up briefly to witness the soon to be arrival of their friends before glancing back to the sight before her, Fenrir abandoned on its side in the middle of the open countryside and the blackened earth that spanned a perfect circle thirty feet in each direction. Glancing around the scene there was one thing missing, the most important thing, there was absolutely no sign that Cloud had been anywhere in the vicinity other than the tracks Yuffie had followed. He was gone and from what Yuffie had explained he had vanished into thin air.
A blast of wind hit Tifa from behind she turned and watched the Shera land. Her heart suddenly in her throat Tifa finally let the tears fall. Cloud was gone. He was just……gone.