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Laura Kinney (X-23) [userpic]
by Laura Kinney (X-23) (fightfurther)
at September 12th, 2006 (04:40 pm)

Who: James and Tifa
When: Sometime tonight.
Where: Seventh Heaven
What: Tifa attempting to cheer up James and failing.
Warnings: Nope.

Tifa was sitting at the bar for lack of anything else to do, trying to urge the bartender she'd hired temporarily not to make her laugh, seeing as she had a broken rib and laughing hurt like hell. She was in a surprisingly good mood despite the fact that Cloud wasn't back yet and Yuffie was still fuming over Vincent, but maybe that was because she wasn't stuck in bed all day. The whole dead body thing kind of worried her, but she hadn't seen one so far, so she couldn't fret over it too much.

The bar was pretty quiet now. Most of the customers had come in a few hours earlier and now there were only a few stragglers, which gave Tifa time to talk to everyone. Except that, you know, she couldn't move too much. She was still achy from that fight.

James had been bar-hopping from one place to the next. Not because of the usual reason, but because he was restless, ill-at-ease, and in mourning. He had lost two people very important to him, and returned to find that everyone else who had survived Silent Hill was gone. He was alone. No one could ever understand. He pushed into the next establishment, ordered a beer, and sat at a corner table. He hunched under his army-green jacket, a nondescript blond man, no one special in a city like this.

Tifa noticed the man, observed him for a second and got up, biting her lip as she made her way over. At least it was easier to walk now.

"Um, excuse me," she said softly, smiling at the man and figuring her looked like he needed some cheering up. "Do you mind if I join you, sir?" Tifa always seemed to fall into the role of helping people, and she found she didn't much mind.

He glanced up, but his grey eyes were dull, red-rimmed. He looked like he hadn't slept in ages. "... if you want." James said quietly, voice slightly raspy at the edges. He lifted his mug and drank deeply.

She nodded, sitting down across from him and resting her arms on the table. "You okay, sweetie?" Sometimes it was easier to talk to strangers about your problems, as odd as that sounded.

"No. I'm not okay." Bitterness overwhelmed his words and he gulped down the drink. "... what is it you want?"

Tifa ignored his rudeness and brushed a lock of hair behind her ear. "Do you want to talk about it? It might help."

James sighed. His tone was more weary than anything, there was no real bite to it. "... Nothing will help."

"You don't know until you try, right?" She asked, ever cheerful. Maybe it would rub off on him, though she doubted it.

He shook his head. "It's over. It's all over." James looked down at the table. "Please, just leave me in peace."

Tifa sighed softly, reaching out to touch his arm. "You know... It isn't good to drown your sorrows in alcohol, sweetie."

"Don't call me that." He said, without ire, moving away before she could touch him. "... It's my choice, to do what I want... what does it matter to you, anyway?"

She pulled her hand away and smiled at him in which she hoped was a comforting manner, shaking her head. "I don't like to see people unhappy. And it is my business. I'm required by law to stop you if you've had too much alcohol."

"I will leave if you want." James slid the chair back a few inches. "It doesn't matter now... not to me, or anyone... I can't take back what happened."

"I don't want you to leave," she replied, leaning her elbows on the table. "What happened?"

"... chaos. Didn't you see... all the people that were murdered? Didn't you... notice that people have vanished?" James asked with a hitch in his voice.

She bit her lip, crossing her arms and nodding. "Yes, I have. But you can't blame yourself for that."

"... not when the murderer..." He trailed off. He had half-planned to turn himself in. "Do you know... the man who has been... terrorizing the network?"

There was more than one, but Tifa had a feeling he wasn't talking about Sephiroth. "Yes," she replied, nodding as if urging him to go on.

"... It... was me. Not... the me here, but... another version of me. Created... by that place... the Otherworld... "

She blinked, tilting her head at him. "You mean that Silent Hill place? Why would it create another version of you?"

"I... to take what it wanted... the other survivors... they're all gone. Except for me. I'm the only one left..." James put a hand over his face.

Tifa was tempted to hug the poor man, but she assumed he'd only push her away. "Sweetie... You can't blame yourself for that. It wasn't your fault."

"...it's my fault!" He said suddenly, his hands clenching to fists on the table. "I'm the one who should be there, not them!" James' voice raised a touch in volume.

She almost jumped at the sudden outburst, but put both hands on his shoulders instead, shaking her head. "If you survived it's because there was a reason. You can't blame yourself for what someone else has done. You did nothing wrong."

"Don't touch me--" James backed away so fast that he tipped over the chair and nearly fell on his ass.

The barmaid bit her lip and nodded, clasping her hands behind her back. "Okay, okay, I won't. Just relax. It's okay."

"I can't--" James shook his head as if to clear it, fumbling for the bills in his pocket. He laid down about three times as much as the drink cost. Without saying anything more, he moved past her and walked toward the door.

"Hey, you don't-!" Tifa was about to say, 'have to leave', but she cut herself off. Maybe the poor man needed to be alone right now.

James glanced back once. He wanted to thank her for trying, but he couldn't. He couldn't make any words come out right now that weren't self-damning. He left the bar, the door clattering shut behind him.