|megpie71 (megpie71) wrote,|
@ 2009-03-25 18:53:00
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Rating: Australian PG
Summary: "For years I thought it was all a nightmare." - Tifa comes to terms with the Nibelheim incident.
For years I thought it was all a nightmare.
As far as anyone else knew, nothing happened to me when I was fifteen. I didn't fall from a breaking bridge into a chasm and only survive thanks to a SOLDIER and a miracle. I didn't see my hometown burn, or my father murdered. The scar on my chest and stomach didn't come from a sword blow. Shinra's star General didn't go crazy and destroy the place. I wasn't left for dead in a mako reactor. None of that happened.
Okay, maybe the bridge bit happened. I mean, I must have got a really bad thump on the head to wind up dreaming all the rest, right? I can remember falling off the bridge, and I can remember Zangan-sensei telling me not to speak of the rest of it to anyone else, it probably wasn't the best thing to remember. As far as anyone else knew, I'd come to Midgar to get a job and make my fortune.
I can remember once I'd settled in Midgar, I went to the library to look up the news of what had happened in Nibelheim. Surely something like that would have made the newspapers, even if Nibelheim was pretty much the back of beyond. I looked and looked, for months. I couldn't find a thing. The only thing I found which was even vaguely related was a report that General Sephiroth had died of wounds incurred while fighting monsters, and that was dated at least a month after I'd thought the events happened.
I read about the explosion of the reactor down in Gongaga which had happened at about the same time as I remembered things going wrong in Nibelheim. Maybe I'd tangled the two events together in a dream or something?
I can remember asking people who said they'd been to Rocket Town to see the takeoff of the big rocket there about Nibelheim. One thing for certain, people have to go through Nibelheim to get to Rocket Town - it's the only passage through the Nibel mountains. If the town wasn't there, they'd notice. Nobody said anything odd about the place. It sounded so ordinary.
Maybe I'd dreamed it up. Maybe I was going mad. Maybe I was just crazy.
So I started covering up. I stopped talking about Nibelheim - it wasn't hard, nobody's really interested in where the bartender is from, particularly not if they're more interested in her cleavage than anything above the neckline. I put on the happy smile, and pretended to be normal as hard as I could. When I first met Barrett Wallace, and he told me of what had happened to Corel, I had another explanation for my supposed memories of Nibelheim burning - obviously I'd seen footage of Corel, and it had mixed up with some of my homesickness to give me an explanation of why I could never go home again.
I suppose the sensible thing to do would have been to take the train to Junon, book passage on a ferry and travel to Nibelheim to see for myself. Well, yeah, it would have. But there were a lot of things arguing against it. In the first place, I couldn't afford the fares. In the second place, what if I was wrong? I'd have to explain to my Dad that I was making a living as a bartender in Midgar, and he'd go off his rocker and disinherit me (not that there was much to inherit, but hey, it's been our family's home for generations).
In the third place... what if I was right? I don't think I could have faced it.
So, by the time I found Cloud at the train station, five years later, I'd convinced myself what I remembered of Nibelheim burning was a fantasy.
The first few cracks in the pretty picture I'd been trying to paint came that night, when Cloud woke screaming from a nightmare, and he muttered something about flames. "Burning," he said. "The town's burning." But I told myself, maybe he'd had to be a part of what Shinra did in Corel. That would be enough to give anyone nightmares. The next day, he started working for Avalanche, a mercenary for hire.
When I heard Cloud's side of the story of what happened to Nibelheim, I really didn't know what to think. On the one hand, what he remembered seemed to match up so very precisely with what I thought had been a bad dream. The bridge broke, we survived by some miracle or other, and then General Sephiroth went crackers and Nibelheim burned. I got hurt. Really badly hurt, so badly he didn't think I was going to survive. But then, some of what he remembered didn't match up. I couldn't remember Cloud being there. The SOLDIER there was dark-haired, I was sure of it. Yeah, his hair was spiky, but it wasn't spiky like Cloud's. It couldn't have been him.
I knew Cloud had some memory problems already - he'd forgotten our promise on the water tower, two years before the burning. Maybe he'd heard my nightmares, and wanted to make me feel better. Maybe I was insane, because I couldn't remember him being there. Maybe we'd both been fed a fake story. So many maybes.
Then we reached Nibelheim in our travels. No burn scars. No destroyed buildings. Nobody in the town remembered either Cloud or me. Something cracked in me. I'd received confirmation I was crazy. It had been bad enough, talking with Johnny in Costa del Sol, trying to remember things about Nibelheim we'd shared - he didn't seem to remember much, and he wasn't interested in talking about it. Finding out as far as the people in Nibelheim were concerned, we weren't from there? That shook me right down to the ground. If I wasn't Tifa Lockheart from Nibelheim, who was I?
Did I even exist any more?
I wound up running in circles inside my head. Maybe I'd been lying all along, but if I had, it wasn't with any devious intent. When we found Vincent in the cellars of the Shinra mansion, along with all those books and things, Cloud got the proof he needed. He was right. He had been there. But I didn't get anything. Maybe I was just as silly as those things stumbling about in their hooded robes, trying to reunite with Sephiroth. Nobody said anything to me about it, and in a way, I was glad. I didn't want to be asked why I'd lied. I didn't want to be asked what I'd meant by pretending I came from the town where Cloud grew up.
When we found him in Mideel, I stayed there with him. He was how I defined myself now. I was Cloud's friend - maybe his childhood friend, maybe just a deluded madwoman, but I was his friend after all. So I'd stick by him, and look after him, and try and bring him back to himself. When we tumbled into the Lifestream, I can remember thinking "now I'll know whether I'm real or not".
But I still don't know for certain. That's why I keep fighting. I feel pain, I feel the blows I strike, the blows I take. I see the monsters I hit react to the blows. If I'm a ghost of a memory, I must be a pretty solid one.
* This story came out of some thinking I did and posted up on Joudama's IJ. I was trying to figure out why Tifa would be so very difficult to deal with when it came to reality varying from what she had in her head.
* The issues of memory and reality and Tifa's questioning of her own sanity are things I'm bringing in from my own experience. I'm what's described as an extravert - I largely rely on the external world to validate what's going on in my head, so I need to have other people around to act as a reality check for me. I figure Tifa has the same way of thinking (it's a pretty common one). The problems for an extravert start when the external reality tells you you're wrong. Either you start second-guessing yourself all the way along the line, or if you have to function as a decision maker, you wind up telling reality to go jump down a well and start going off the inside of your head. Either way, the existential angst can get nasty.