Final Fantasy - All Series Fan Fiction ❯ Deliveries ❯ Chapter 2

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Deliveries: Record II

Delivery 11: Clock Parts

It was the second time that week that Cloud had attempted to kill Reno, and the week wasn't even half over, though Cloud wasn't the only one who was trying to kill Reno that week. Some would think the redhead had nine lives, or nine thousand lives, because the amount of miraculous escapes he made was truly amazing. Yet, even with so many close calls, Reno never learned to be quiet.

It wasn't that he was trying to cause Cloud any harm, not this time. In fact, Reno was only trying to help. But alas, Reno is Reno, and something is bound to go wrong, simply because he is Reno.

Cloud's delivery was rather simple in the sense that the item to be delivered was nothing dangerous, overly fragile, or alive, though he was advised to be careful with it. The route was one that Cloud knew well, he had gone from Midgar to Kalm and back again many times over his career as a delivery boy. However, there was a catch, because just like there's always trouble when Reno is involved, there is always a catch when Cloud is involved. This time the catch was a race.

Cloud had taken one look at the competition and assumed victory would be his. The clock parts he was supposed to transport were crucial for the newly developed clock making industry of Kalm and needed to be delivered on time... no pun intended. So to choose a delivery boy for this task, a race was held. Competing against a mailman in an oversized van and a kid in a bicycle, Cloud thought he had this in the bag... but he was wrong.

"Cloud!" When Cloud arrived with the first clock part, out of the five that had to be delivered from different locations and times that day, he found Reno and ignored him. But Reno didn't like being ignored and jumped in front of Cloud. "Didn't you hear me?"

"I'm busy working," Cloud didn't stop walking.

"I know all about the race and I'll help," Reno offered. "I know this great shortcut-"

"Stop!" Cloud hurried his pace and continued hastily walking towards the Kalm clock store, almost running.

"Listen to me," Reno insisted.

"I don't want or need a shortcut. I can handle this." Cloud entered the store and delivered the box, coming out a few minutes later with some new directions.

"Trust me you need the shortcut." Reno was waiting for Cloud outside the store. "Besides, it's not cheating. You can take whatever road you want in the race, so why not take the shortcut?"

"Shut up Reno," Cloud refused to listen and headed back to Fenrir. "I can win this race by myself. I don't need your help. Don't think that just because I spared your life it means I've forgotten about what you did."

"Alright, alright, I get it!" Reno attempted to explain his good intentions once more. "You have to hear me out; I was at the Gold Saucer, betting at the chocobo races when I heard-"

"About the shortcut?" Cloud interrupted, "I don't care." The delivery boy raced off full speed on his motorcycle, leaving the Turk behind.

The distant echo of Reno's voice reached Cloud with a "don't say I didn't warn you!"

It was not until it was too late that Cloud found a big traffic jam in the main road, the cars were so close to each other that even though Fenrir was smaller than a car, Cloud couldn't slip past them. Was that what Reno tried warn him about?

"Cloud!" No... No, no, no! "Cloudy!" That voice, Cloud was afraid to look at the car in the lane beside him, but his head unwillingly turned towards the voice. "Are you going to Dio's special wrestling event too? I didn't expect this many people to go, just look at the traffic. I hope we get there on time. I'm sure glad I found you, this traffic jam would be so boring without someone to talk to. You should give me your cellphone number and your email so we can talk some time. How have you been Cloudy?"

Mukki, it was Mukki in the car beside him and calling him Cloudy no less, while having the nerve to ask for his number and email. Cloud twitched and made a mental note to kill Reno for not properly warning him about Dio's event, which was what Cloud guessed Reno had heard about at the Gold Saucer.

If only Cloud knew Dio would have another wrestling event outside of the Gold Saucer, he would have guessed that Mukki and his friends would be there and avoided all the roads heading towards the designated location. It was true that Reno did try to warn him and Cloud didn't listen, but after all those 'it's not your fault' hypnotism and therapy sessions he took to get over his previous depression, Cloud was unable to blame himself for anything, even if it was his fault. At least Cloud wasn't the 'Lord of the Emoness' anymore, but that only meant he had more energy to try to kill Reno later.

As for the race, the mailman avoided the traffic jams, but thinking he had won, because surely the spiky haired blond was stuck in traffic, he stopped at a donut shop and got distracted. Meanwhile, the boy in the bike, though he was the slowest of the three due to his mode of transportation, was the one to win the race.

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Delivery 12: Ghostly Candy

Cloud entered the Seventh Heaven carrying various bags of assorted candy. "Tifa, I'm home!"

Tifa had to admit, she loved it when Cloud arrived and called out like that. It really did feel like having a home, a home with Cloud, Marlene and Denzel. Smiling from ear to ear, Tifa took the candy bags. "Welcome home, Cloud." She walked over to the counter and opened the bags, pouring their sweet contents into pumpkin shaped bowls. "The children will probably start coming by soon, you should put on your costume." Tifa adjusted the summoner horn on her forehead and observed Cloud's troubled expression, "what's wrong?"

"Nothing, I'm going to change now." Cloud went upstairs. He had been delivering candy all day, as everyone tried to supply their homes with treats after leaving the Halloween shopping for the last moment. It was Cloud who had to brave the stores and hunt down the last few bags of candy. He blamed it on Shinra, they were hosting a Halloween party and candy give away, so they took most of the sweets found in the city.

At least Cloud could find enough candy in the neighboring towns to ration it between his deliveries and bring some back for Tifa to give away tonight. But that was not Cloud's current worry, the candy had been taken care of and now he had to face the costume. Cloud was a summon to match Tifa's summoner outfit, but the dragon-like costume was so complex he wasn't sure he could put it on.

While Cloud was battling it out with his costume and Tifa was finishing setting things downstairs, Reno arrived. "Indiana Jones?"

"Right," Reno nodded, "the younger and cooler version of course. But Tseng took away my whip and Rufus told him not to give it back."

"Let me guess, you broke something," Tifa correctly concluded.

"Only a few things..." It had been actually a lot of things that were broken or knocked over by Reno and his lack of practice using a whip. "Then Rufus told me to come here and help out as a gift from Shinra."

Tifa muttered something about being everyone's babysitter, then handed Reno some decorations. "If your mission is to help, then you might as well put these up, it's been a busy day and we need to finish decorating as soon as possible."

As if on cue, Cloud stumbled down the stairs, tripping on his dragon tail and falling on his face on the very last step. This caused Reno to laugh loudly, while Tifa attempted to help her summon to his feet.

A few minutes later, Marlene and Denzel came downstairs dressed as a chocobo and moogle and soon the neighborhood children began to arrive calling "trick or treat!"

A while later, a couple arrived with three children dressed as a kitty, a bunny and a fox. Cloud's eyes glowed and he felt something familiar about the group, but didn't say anything. "Having fun?" The man asked; he was dressed as a knight. His blue eyes were glowing and his face was partially covered by the silver helmet that matched his armor.

"Yeah," Cloud didn't know why, but he felt as if he had met them before.

"Can you guess what we are?" The woman asked; she was dressed as an angel with white robes, long golden hair and a glowing halo.

"An angel and a knight," Cloud guessed the obvious, their costumes were so easy to interpret.

But the couple laughed. "Ghosts, we're all ghosts," the knight replied.

Then a sudden realization came to Cloud. Though the knight's face was covered, he recognized those glowing blue mako eyes, and the angel with her golden wig was also someone that he had met before. They said they were ghosts... could it be?

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Delivery 13: Pumpkins and Pokemon

It wasn't the delivery itself that was unusual, it was the amount. Delivering pumpkins for Halloween was not strange in the least, but why did they need this many at Shinra? Well maybe the amount wasn't so unusual given that the headquarters were so big. But the question still remained, why did they call Cloud to deliver the pumpkins?

After several trips, Cloud finally finished the deliveries and collected his pay. Everything seemed to be going smoothly for once, but Cloud knew not to lower his guard. "These pumpkins are broken," Rufus watched as Rude took out one of the pumpkins, it was only a few, while the large majority was intact.

"It's not my fault," Cloud tried to explain that the pumpkins must have already been broken when he got them. "I was careful with them and-"

"No excuses, Strife! Find more pumpkins or you'll never work in this city or planet ever again!" Rufus was rather stressed, possibly because he had to force himself to be all friendly and nice tonight, even if he didn't feel like mingling with the lower class visitors from the slums. But he really needed the positive propaganda.

Cloud grumbled and left the Shinra headquarters, hopped on Fenrir and went to have a word with the pumpkin merchant at Kalm. He didn't want to be left without a job after all.

The delivery boy was in too much of a bad mood to realize who the one wearing bright orange coat and looking at the pumpkins was. Much to his dismay, Cloud seemed to be running into Mukki at every turn. "Cloudy! You came to buy pumpkins too?"

Cloud could only nod while he silently cursed his bad luck.

"These are the last two boxes. Here, you can have one, it's a gift," Mukki cheered.

Cloud twitched and shuddered, forced a "thanks" and rushed back to Fenrir.

As Cloud dashed away, he didn't quite catch the chocobo farmer complaining about there not being enough pumpkins to go around, and not being able to give the chocobos a pumpkin treat. Nor did he notice the farmer's glare directed towards the one who left with the last box of pumpkins, Cloud Strife, though it had been Mukki who purchased it, Cloud was blamed for the pumpkins running out.

If he had noticed all of that, then maybe Cloud wouldn't have been so surprised when a group of chocobos started chasing him, trying to steal the pumpkins. They chased him all the way to Midgar, where the unlucky delivery boy finally lost them after several turns and tunnels in the highway.

"The pumpkins," Cloud delivered the box to Rufus, who was now wearing clothes that Cloud knew he saw somewhere before, possibly on TV. The cap looked especially familiar, though it was a miracle in itself that Rufus would hide the hair he was so proud of.

"Good, now you can help with another thing," Rufus decided.

But Cloud shook his head; he needed to take a break before he had a breakdown. "I think that's enough work for today-"

"No! You're the only one who can do this, Reno explain the new job!" Rufus left the explanations to Reno, which was usually a bad idea. But the entire thing had been Reno's idea in the first place and for once, Rufus didn't think it was possible for him to mess up the plan.

Cloud could only stare as Reno appeared in front of him dressed in yellow, with bunny-like ears, red cheeks and a zigzag tail. Then he realized where he had seen Rufus' outfit before, he was that trainer from Pokemon. Marlene and Denzel watched that show all the time. After the initial shock wore off, Cloud laughed like he never laughed before.

Reno wasn't really bothered by it because he honestly didn't mind the silly costume. "Hey pay attention, I'm telling you about your new job! Anyway, like I was saying, we're getting all the Shinra employees together for the Halloween party and everyone's invited. We're also getting everyone who ever worked for Shinra to come, it was my idea. I only told Rufus about it to annoy that vampire because... well he's kind of fun to annoy. So you have to talk to him and get him to come and make him be a little more original and dress up as something other than a vampire."

"Vampire?" Cloud asked between laughs.

"Yes, Vincent, the vampire!" Reno explained.

"I don't think he'll be too happy about being called a vampire," Cloud laughed some more, "but I'll tell him to come." Because if Reno was Pikachu and Rufus was Ash, then there was a chance that the other Turks were dressed up as Pokemon too, and that was too fun to miss. In fact, Cloud would tell all his friends about it.

"Just make sure he doesn't come as a vampire, because he looks like a vampire all the time and that's boring. That's his costume over there, take it to him." Reno pointed at a box, which Cloud took along when he went to talk to Vincent, who was going to visit the Seventh Heaven along with everyone else that day.

When Cloud arrived at the Seventh Heaven, everyone was already gathered there. Cloud told them about the Poke-Turks and they all wanted to see them. Now it was all a matter of getting Vincent to agree to wear whatever costume was in the box so they could help Cloud finish his job and be welcomed to the Shinra party.

Alas their hopes were brought down when Vincent firmly declared, "I am not going to dress up as a purple butterfly!" But they would not give up.

"Butterfree," Marlene corrected as she shared a knowing look with Denzel. Older people couldn't even say the names of Pokemon right.

Obviously, the group wouldn't take no for an answer, especially since they might get kicked out of the Shinra party before they got to bother the Turks about their silly costumes because they were Cloud's friends, and Cloud was the one who couldn't finish his latest odd delivery, to deliver Vincent in a Butterfree costume.

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Children ran around stuffing their faces with candy and comparing their costumes with other kids. Rufus' image improved, as did the image of the Turks. Pikachu, Squirtle, Charmander, Pidgeotto and the ex-Turk, Butterfree.

Rude was by far the most quiet and serious pokemon anyone ever saw, he had only said one word during the entire night after receiving many pokes from random kids, "charmander." Which would have been translated, if anyone understood pokemon language, into "I'm pissed off," but no one quite caught it.

Elena's element was ice, so she ended up as the cute little turtle pokemon, who stayed close to the leader bird during the entire time, occasionally feeding him because, while it was possible to be able to pick up items with her blue gloves, Tseng couldn't do anything with his wings.

Reno was actually enjoying the party; none of Cloud's friends could annoy him because he liked being a Pikachu. Leave it to Reno to have fun with all the silliness. He also took some time to annoy Vincent and make fun of the costume he was forced to wear by group pressure and children's sad looks. Feeling himself about to lose his temper, the "vampire Butterfree" as Reno called him, made a silent vow to stop procrastinating in what needed to be done, rid the world of a certain annoying Pikachu.

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Delivery 14: Jealousy

The life of a delivery boy was not an easy one and Cloud sometimes ended up making deliveries he would rather not make. But alas with the little gil he made, he didn't have much of a choice but to take whatever jobs he could get. "Can you really make a business out of that?" Some would say and Cloud was determined to prove he could.

Rude's quiet precense, appearing more often than usual at the Seventh Heaven lately, wasn't making Cloud feel any better. Much to Cloud's dismay, Rude invited Tifa to the Gold Saucer and she agreed to go. Cloud didn't know if it was good or bad that he had to deliver a package there.

It was good in the sense that Cloud could keep an eye on them and remind Rude that Tifa was his friend and only his friend, making sure the Turk didn't forget. But it was also bad because Cloud didn't know what to expect when he found Tifa and Rude.

Sighing deeply, Cloud almost wished he tried to join the Turks instead of Soldier back when he left Nibelheim. But he was an impressionable boy with dreams of being a hero who protected his secret crush, Tifa. In the end it was a Turk who asked her out, as if insult really had to be added upon injury.

Cloud made a mental note to talk to Marlene and Denzel, and make sure to stress the importance of having a Plan B when choosing a career, in case the first option doesn't work out. Then they wouldn't have to suffer though not knowing what to do and thus making a business out of the first idea that pops into their heads.

As for the delivery, Cloud decided to go, he would take the box, dash to Dio, pray not to run into Mukki, and then move on to more important things, such as meddling in Rude's friendly outing with Tifa and stop it from evolving into a more than friends date.

The heavens smiled upon the tortured delivery boy, or so he thought, because Cloud miraculously managed to find Dio and deliver the box without any inconveniences. Much to his relief, Mukki wasn't at the Gold Saucer that day, or at least he wasn't anywhere to be seen, though Cloud would keep his guard up just in case.

The spiky haired blond then proceeded with his plan, he spotted Rude and Tifa talking, and she was smiling, a fact that made Cloud burn with jealousy. He snuck over to them, avoiding their gaze and caught a piece of their conversation in Tifa's voice; it was something about "pocky."

There went Rude, to buy pocky, while Tifa sat contently on a bench and waited for her treat. Obviously Cloud joined the pocky race and was no longer interested in hiding; instead he openly bought a box of the yummy treat. Then of course, Rude bought another box of pocky, and Cloud another and Rude another, and they continued to compete until there was no more pocky left to buy.

The end of the shopping spree was not the end of the battle. The two men were tied, but there could only be one winner. Cloud made the first move, stealing one of Rude's pocky boxes, opening it and emptying its contents in his mouth. This escalated to Rude doing the same thing, which led to both men trying to choke each other by stuffing pocky in each other's mouths, and neither noticed the mischievous redhead taking a picture of them.

Back at the bench, Tifa sat wondering what was taking Rude so long when Reno arrived. "Hey Tifa, I have a picture I know you want to see. But you have to give me free drinks at the Seventh Heaven later!"

"Not interested," Tifa disregarded this as more of Reno's unimportant randomness.

"Yes you are! I know you want to see this, it's about an epic battle!" Reno had lost quite a lot of gil betting on the chocobo races and was in need of drinking away his sense of defeat; but because of that defeat, he lacked the gil to do so. Thus the mischievous redhead, who couldn't stay out of trouble, had to resort to desperate measure.

Tifa curiously thought of the picture, worries starting to form in the back of her mind. "Is anyone I know in that picture?" When Reno nodded, Tifa knew she had to see that photo and hastily offered, "five free drinks."






The picture was interesting to say the least. Though it was an epic battle of rivalry, to anyone who saw the picture without learning its story, it looked like two grown men playing with pocky. Needless to say, Tifa was not pleased to have been apparently forgotten.

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Delivery 15: Poker

Between making deliveries, Cloud Strife returned to the Seventh Heaven and watched the different stages of the Turks' boredom. At first they simply lacked something to do, after being used to staying busy all the time, so they went to the Seventh Heaven and just sat there. Then they were beginning to be bothered by the fact that they had nothing to do.

Cloud came and went, and watched as the boredom progressed. They tried to make small talk, they stared at the walls, they ate, they drank and finally, they just hung around idly. The boredom could be felt in the air, leaving the Seventh Heaven with a heavy atmosphere.

But this was none of Cloud's business, unlike the Turks, he had plenty of work to do, to earn a fraction of the gil they earned, which was rather frustrating, but the delivery boy would bear with it. One after another, the packages Cloud had to deliver became less and less, and one after another the minutes of the afternoon ticked away slowly.

The next time Cloud returned from a delivery and picked up another group of packages, because he could only carry so many at once on Fenrir, Tseng and Elena had left. "They went out together," Tifa had casually mentioned and Cloud eyed Rude suspiciously, as if warning the Turk not to try to ask Tifa out while he was gone delivering more packages.

Once again, Strife Delivery Service was on the case. Cloud rushed around the streets of Midgar delivering more packages. At least his business was doing better than usual, but of course there had to be catch, Cloud had plenty of work when the Turks did not, thus leaving Tifa alone with them. His only consolation was that Reno was also there to occasionally make a silly joke and shatter the possibility of a developing romantic atmosphere between Rude and Tifa.

"Just a few more packages to go," Cloud told himself. But as he entered the Seventh Heaven, the packages that needed to be delivered were the last thing on his mind. "Reno, what are you doing?"

"Drinking a strawberry smoothie," Reno replied.

"I can see that but..." Cloud trailed off from the sheer random weirdness of the situation in front of him.

"Yes, it's spiked, just in case you're wondering," Reno answered the unasked question.

"Where's your shirt?" Cloud finally asked.

Reno pointed at the end of the counter, "there, it's not for keeps, I can have it back at five. Marlene and Denzel are with Elmyra so we played poker."

"Strip poker..." Cloud had a bad feeling about this. But fortunately Tifa's clothes were not among the pile. "So you lost?"

"Not really," Reno replied. After all he still had his pants and goggles, though he lacked his jacket, shirt and shoes. Reno and Rude never found out that Tifa could clearly see their cards reflected on their sunglasses and goggles respectively, and she never mentioned it. All is fair and love, war and card games.

Cloud's eyes went wide, along with Reno's clothes there were other clothes on the pile, an entire other Turk suit. "Rude..."

"He's helping Tifa clean the kitchen," no sooner had the words left Reno's mouth, Cloud had already jumped over the counter and ran into the kitchen.

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Delivery 16: Scarred for Life

Cloud only had to deliver one more package, just one and he would be done with his work for the day. Barret had come over and was staying for a few days. During that time Cloud had set aside a moment to try to have a man to man talk with Barret. Barret knew Tifa well enough from the days of Avalanche and though he was now a widow, Barret had once been married.

Putting all those facts together, Cloud thought that he could request some advice about making his relationship with Tifa progress, and first of all start. Thus previous night, Cloud told Barret about his problem and received some advice. To summarize, Barret told him to "be more direct and say what you need to say!"

Cloud just couldn't get himself to say anything straight out in the past. It wasn't that he didn't try, because he certainly did. Cloud tried to express his feelings time and again, but saying how he felt wasn't his forte. He still tried though, even if he end up tongue tied and embarrassed as if he was still the child he was back in Nibelheim.

Regardless of all those troubles, Cloud Strife was feeling determined. After he finished today's work, he would ask Tifa out on a date. He had already asked Barret to stay with Marlene and Denzel, to which Barret happily agreed the previous day. Then Tifa would be free of her usual babysitting duties and able to go out with Cloud. The delivery boy would finally push the words out and ask Tifa on a date, he would, he was certain he could do it this time. As Barrett pointed out, he just had to say it, there was nothing overly complicated about it.

However, Cloud never expected his last delivery of the day to take such a strange turn. It was simple enough, the location was the very Seventh Heaven where he lived and he knew what the package contained. When Barret made the order he wasn't sure about the zip code, and since Cloud was a delivery boy, it was only logical to ask him about it, even if it was only a small technicality since Cloud would end up taking the package from Junon to the Seventh Heaven anyway.

As expected, Cloud knew the answer to Barret's zip code question and it was then that the blond found out that Barret's package was supposed to contain the Special Edition Super Deluxe Gun Service Kit. It was a practical assortment of different tools and utensils used to clean and maintain guns, or gun arms in Barret's case.

Then it happened, the event that would leave poor Cloud scarred for life, the image that would forever be burnt into his mind, never to leave the vast abyss of his darkest nightmares. When Cloud went upstairs to deliver Barret's package, he found Barret admitting himself in the mirror wearing a pink tutu, while growling curses under his breath.

Cloud's jaw dropped as he stood there wide eyed and frozen at the door. He wanted to scream in both fear and agony, but his throat refused to produce any sounds. He wanted to run away and not stop until he was on the other side of the planet, but his legs refused to move.

Cloud's grip starting to become weak, until the package slipped out of his hands and the audible noise of the impact upon the floor caused by the box, containing the Special Edition Super Deluxe Gun Service Kit, alerted Barret to his presence. "Cloud!"

He ran; Cloud Strife finally managed to wake up from his shocked daze and he ran for dear life, dashing down the stairs and tripping over his own feet in his desperate haste.

"Cloud, are you okay?" Tifa had been coincidentally mopping the area at the base of the stairs and witnessed the spectacle of Cloud tumbling down. She immediately tossed the mop aside, and away from Cloud's mouth. It wasn't done on purpose, Cloud came so fast that Tifa simple didn't have time to react and move the mop out of his path, much less attempt to catch him. But she did help him to his feet.

Cloud made a pained face, not only because of the fall, but because of the taste the mop had left in his mouth. Although none of that was as bad as the terrible trauma he had suffered seeing none other than Barret wearing a pink tutu. "Ba-ba-ba..." his voice had still not fully recovered.

"Come here, sit down," Tifa helped Cloud towards one of the tables in the restaurant area, in front of which they sat. "Did it hurt that much?" The fall certainly looked painful, but Cloud was strong. Even so, Tifa knew very well that even the strongest person could feel pain. She tried her best to console Cloud, gently patting his back tracing circles and allowing him to rest his head on her chest.

Cloud brushed madly, but didn't say a word. Unfortunately he was far too traumatized by what he had recently witnessed to be able to fully enjoy being so close to his crush.

"Is he okay?" Cloud jumped upon hearing Barret's voice and immediately became alert.

"Cloud fell down the stairs, it must have really hurt." Tifa spoke in a sweet and loving tone, as if her concern for Cloud had made her momentarily forget anything else she might have been thinking of.

"You gotta watch where you're goin'!" Barret commented; he wasn't in the mood to deal with anything.

Cloud could only blink in surprise at Tifa's lack of mention of Barret's clothes, which still included a pink tutu. Further confusing the already confused delivery boy, Reno entered the Seventh Heaven along with Marlene and Denzel, who giggled quietly and ate their ice-cream.

"Here's your ice-cream!" Reno cheerfully handed Tifa her cone of vanilla, which had partially melted on the way there.

None the less Tifa said, "thank you," perhaps more so because Reno had actually managed to make it to the ice-cream shop down the street and back without getting into trouble while Marlene and Denzel were with him.

"No problem," Reno grinned at Barret, who glared at the redhead using every last ounce of self control he had left to stop himself from killing the Turk there and then. "Hey Cloud, you look pale!" Barret growled as if telling Reno that he better leave soon. Reno grinned some more, finally said, "I'll be going back to work now," and left the Seventh Heaven.

Barret huffed and went back upstairs, while Tifa ate her ice-cream. "If I had known you would be back by now I would have told Reno to bring another ice-cream. Do you want to share this?"

Cloud only blinked, tilting his head to the side in confusion. "Um..." No one had said anything about Barret's pink tutu so he felt it was best not to say anything about it either. Maybe he was hallucinating, or maybe there was something wrong with his eyes. "No, that's okay; I have to go out again anyway. I'm going to try to get an appointment with an eye doctor."

"Oh, yes, I understand. It's good to have an eye exam every now and then." Especially for mako eyes, Tifa only thought that last part, deciding it was best not to say it aloud so as to avoid adding to Cloud's worries, since he already looked worried enough as it was.

Cloud nodded and left. He had a perfectly good opportunity to ask Tifa to go out with him and he wasted it. In fact, he didn't even enjoy his consolation time close to Tifa as much as he could have. It was all because no one else said anything about what was plainly obvious to him; Barret was wearing a pink tutu.

Cloud's fragile mind decided that he was wrong. There was nothing to fear, Barret had not randomly started wearing pink tutus, Cloud's eyes were merely tired. Maybe he needed glasses or contact lenses and the pink blur that was the tutu around Barret would disappear.

Because Cloud didn't ask about Barret's pink tutu, no one ever told him, they simply assumed that he knew. Tifa had assumed that Barret himself had told Cloud how he got into that predicament while they were upstairs. As for Barret, he would rather not bring up the subject at all, so if no one asked, he had no reason to explain.

In truth, Reno had challenged Barret to a card castle building competition. The loser would wear a pink tutu and buy ice-cream for all the others present, which at the time included Tifa, Marlene and Denzel. Barret's right arm was robotic and not too steady due to needing maintenance, plus Reno had been getting plenty of practice building card castles on his desk while procrastinating to do Shinra paper work. As a result, Barret never stood a chance.

Thanks to a merciful persuasive speech from Tifa, Reno agreed to cut Barret some slack and allow him to serve his punishment while hiding in the Seventh Heaven, instead of having him go to the ice-cream shop in a pink tutu. However, Barret still had to buy the ice-cream which Reno went to get along with Marlene and Denzel.

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Delivery 17: Thanksgiving

If he never saw another turkey in his life it would be too soon, because quite frankly, Cloud Strife was sick and tired of seeing turkeys. He had to rush down the busy streets full of people who were heading off to visit or impose on their family, making sure to get to his destination before the frozen bird defrosted, or cooled off too much in case he was transporting one that had already been cooked. A delivery boy had no holidays.

Tired beyond as much as he ever remembered being tired, though it was only mid-afternoon, Cloud returned to the Seventh Heaven. His exhaustion wasn't due to the difficulty of the task, but to the tediousness of it. Deliver this turkey here, pick up that turkey there, this isn't my turkey, mine was bigger, oh no they burned my turkey so I'll blame it on the innocent delivery boy. Cloud was fed up with turkey, even if he hasn't actually had a single bite of turkey all day.

"Is the turkey ready?" Needless to say, Cloud wasn't in the mood to deal with Turks, especially not Reno.

"You have to give it some time," Tifa replied.

"What are you doing here?" Cloud asked, with a frown upon his face.

"I'm waiting for the turkey. Tifa is cooking Rufus' turkey and I have to take it to Healin Lodge before dinner." Reno played with his glass of an unknown drink, before finishing it. "Tifa..."

"Yes, I know, more eggnog," Tifa filled up Reno's glass again, while Cloud looked a bit surprised.

"Eggnog? Already?" The blond blinked, he thought there wouldn't be any eggnog until Christmas.

"You know how it is," Tifa explained. "As soon as Thanksgiving ends, it's Christmas."

That's how it went; there was Halloween, then Thanksgiving and finally Christmas. Then came the new year and another year was gone, Valentine's Day rolled around and like every year, Cloud would try to tell Tifa how he feels during the occasion and fail miserably, telling himself that next year he would get it right. Then when Easter, came he would run around delivering live chocobo chicks and bunnies; but then again, he always worked during all the holidays.

Cloud delivered candy during Halloween, turkeys during Thanksgiving, presents during Christmas, fireworks for New Year's Eve, chocolates and flowers during Valentine's Day. Then there came the random deliveries in between, birthday gifts and other minor holidays. The years would continue to go by and Cloud would never fulfill the New Year Resolution he made every year, to tell Tifa how he felt.

While Cloud spaced out and worried, he didn't notice Tifa asking him something, thus she repeated the question after calling him a little louder, "Cloud!"

He snapped back into reality, to meet with Tifa's concerned eyes. "Sorry, what were you saying?"

"Rufus sent Thanksgiving themed fortune cookies; they're produced by Shinra's new snack factory." Those cookies were just a free box for the sake of promotion, and it was probably suggested by the marketing team instead of Rufus himself. Kids love fortune cookies and after Marlene and Denzel tried them, they would most likely want more. But even so, Tifa appreciated the cookies none the less. "Do you want some?"

Cloud nodded and took a fortune cookie, remembering to remove the paper before swallowing it. It was a detail he usually forgot. Then the ding of the oven was heard and Tifa went off to tend to the turkey. She brought the large barbecued bird in a tray and wrapped it up with aluminum paper and plastic before handing it to Reno. Cloud was too focused on his fortune to listen to the words that were spoken at that point. "Be thankful for the opportunities life brings," he read the fortune to himself.

When Reno left with the turkey, the meaning of Cloud's fortune sank in. After rushing though his deliveries and breaking a few speed records on Fenrir, Cloud finished work unusually early. There were no customers in the Seventh Heaven at the moment, since everyone was in their own homes celebrating the holidays. Marlene and Denzel where playing videogames upstairs and so Cloud and Tifa were left alone.

No more waiting, Cloud would tell Tifa all about how he felt there and then. "Tifa-"

"Happy Thanksgiving!" Yuffie's loud voice pierced the air as a large group including Cid, Shera, Nanaki, Barret, Reeve and even Vincent arrived. Marlene and Denzel heard and rushed down the stairs to welcome the group along with Tifa. Once again for Cloud, another chance was gone...

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Delivery 18: Paper Boy

Of all the delivery jobs, after delivering pizza and letters, delivering newspapers was one of the most well known, though not the safest. Stories were told about how paperboys were chased by dogs like miniature mailmen. Also, in some stories, the paperboys didn't play the victim but the villain. Those villainous paperboys broke windows and hit heads with their news filled projectiles before fleeing the scene never to be caught.

To summarize, the name of paperboys was stained as either strong evil doers or weak victims, but never valiant heroes. One man, who was possibly one of the oldest papermen ever, as he could definitely not be called a paperboy anymore, was determined to change that. His name was Cloud Strife.

"You name it; we deliver it," was the motto of Strife Delivery Service and people could easily say the word "newspaper." Thus Cloud was stuck with the job of delivering newspapers. He rode on Fenrir, which was quite different from the usual paperboy bikes, and caught the attention of the citizens more than the titular page of the newspapers he delivered.

"Newspaper!" Cloud called out, while trying his best to focus on diminishing the red tint that spread across his cheeks every time he voiced that word.

Tifa had told Cloud time and again that it was an honest job, and that Denzel and Marlene were still one or two years away from becoming interested in the position, so he wasn't stealing some poor child's possibility to earn some extra money. Thus in the end, Cloud accepted the job.

"Newspaper!" Cloud couldn't afford to get fired so if he was told to call out like that, no matter how silly he felt, he would force himself to do it.

"So it was true!" Reno jumped out from behind the Healin Lodge main entrance door, after Cloud failed to spot him looking out the window next to it before yelling his paperboy battle cry. Worse yet, Reno had a camera and was snapping away picture after picture.

"Stop!" Cloud defended himself in the first none deadly way he could think of, he threw a newspaper at Reno. But being Reno, he was used to having people lose their patience with his antics and start throwing things at him, so he skillfully avoided the newspaper. However, Cloud didn't stop there, he started throwing newspaper after newspaper, trying to knock Reno out, or at least knock the camera out of his hands.

Finally one of the newspapers hit Reno on the head and knocked off his precious goggles. The redhead gasped and let the camera, which he had borrowed without permission from Rufus, slide out of his hands. "My goggles! This means war!" Reno picked up the fallen projectiles and began the newspaper counter attack against Cloud, who continued to return fire.

"Cloud Strife!" Reeve had not received his morning newspaper, so he went to see what the hold up was about. Since Reeve was the one who pulled some strings and got the paperboy job for Cloud, he felt in part responsible for the safe and timely delivery of the newspapers.

Cloud froze mid-throw and Reno's newspaper hit him square in the nose. Cloud woke up from his daze not bothering to return fire anymore, and looked at Reeve, then at the newspapers scattered all over the ground, then finally at Reno to whom he pointed at accusingly. "It was his fault!"

While Reeve gave them both a talk about responsibility and respecting other people's newspapers, Reno blatantly ignored him and Cloud nodded automatically. None of them noticed Elena at the top of the Healin Lodge stairs with a video camera.

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Delivery 19: Glasses

"What do you mean you'll take a week to make my contacts?!" Cloud Strife was known to have become quiet for some time after the Meteor incident and during Sephiroth's later return. However, he had been recovering recently and becoming more talkative.

Still, it was rare to hear Cloud speak that loudly all of a sudden and it made Tifa look curiously in his direction. "Are you okay?" She asked with evident concern.

Cloud nodded, but his frown never left his face, as he did not like what he was hearing over the phone. Then, after a few "uh-huh" were emitted by the blond, there came another out burst from the upset delivery boy. "You can't find anyone to deliver them?" Cloud's tone was dead serious, which made Tifa pause in a classical bartender pose while cleaning a glass. "You can't find anyone to deliver them?!" This time Cloud's voice was louder and more upset than the last. "You're talking to Strife Delivery Service and you say you can't find anyone to deliver them?!" His delivery boy pride had been hurt.

Tifa hastily set the glass down on the counter and went into comforting mode, offering a caring smile and gently patting Cloud on the back. She deduced he must have been talking to the eye doctor, or the doctor's secretary, from that office that promised to deliver all finished glasses or contact lenses to the patient's home if they took more than an hour to make them after the eye exam. He had mentioned something about getting an eye exam before.

After Cloud came to terms with the caller, he ended the call and set his cellphone down on the counter, proceeding to glare at it. Cloud's eyes glowed brightly as he pouted childishly, too absorbed in his frustration to notice that Tifa had walked around the bar and was currently hugging him. If only the injury to Cloud's pride wasn't so fresh he could actually be enjoying the hug and returning it, instead of focusing on glaring at his cellphone as if it alone was to blame for all the injustice in the world.

A few seconds passed, and after having his spiky hair petted by a concerned Tifa, Cloud finally snapped out of his cellphone glaring trance and grinned sheepishly. "Are you feeling better now? Good!" Tifa let Cloud go and rounded the bar once again; standing on the other side and picking up the glass she had been previously cleaning. Cloud mentally kicked himself for looking happy, which gave Tifa the idea that she could stop consoling him.

"I need to go pick up my contacts tomorrow..." Cloud dully announced. He did have a pair of glasses which were made by mistake during his wasted hour waiting for his contact lenses. At least he got to keep them for free since they were not supposed to be good for anyone else anyway.

"Are you going to wear your glasses until then?" Tifa asked.

"No, I can see without them." Cloud didn't want to worry Tifa, so he didn't want to mention that he got the glasses to stop his supposed visual hallucinations, which were actually the result of a misunderstanding. It was an unusual way to stop hallucinations, but mako eyes were unusual, so Cloud stayed open to the possibility of corrective eye equipment being the solution.

"Aw c'mon, let me see them on you. Glasses can make people look more interesting!" Tifa was curious and when Tifa was curious, there was no stopping her. She would use her charm to get what she wanted, and if not, she would get it by force. Trust me; you don't want to mess with a curious Tifa.

"I don't want to..." Cloud asked for contact lenses, but if the glasses he got by mistake were sophisticated and cool, he wouldn't have minded wearing them for Tifa, and thus look sophisticated and cool for her. However, the frame that had been mistakenly selected was so terribly geeky, that Cloud was starting to think it wasn't a mistake at all and they just needed an excuse to get rid of that frame, even if it meant giving it away for free, so that they wouldn't have to admit that they threw away every last frame of that particular model.

"Please!" Tifa insisted in her sweetest voice.

Cloud gulped and tried to remain firm, but he found it quite hard. "They're geeky, I didn't pick this frame," he tried to get out of it but it didn't work.

Tifa continued smiling expectantly, "I don't mind. You can take them off after a few minutes. I just want to see what you look like with glasses."

Cloud sighted in defeat. It was true that some people looked good with glasses and others made glasses look good. However, no one could hide the ugliness of those particular glasses even if they had the face of an angel. Sadly, Cloud knew there was no escape, so he solemnly took his glasses out of his pocket and put them on.

A laugh was heard, and both Cloud and Tifa looked towards the door to find Reno taking a picture with his cellphone. A split second later, Cloud dashed after him, sword in hand, while Reno sprinted away running for his life.

In conclusion, Cloud unwittingly ended up chasing after Reno all over the neighborhood with his geeky glasses still on. By the time the angry delivery boy caught the mischievous Turk; Reno had already emailed the picture to the other Turks and made Cloud let him go with the threat of having Rude avenge his death by publishing the photo on the Shinra website.

Finally, to top it all up, it turned out that neither the glasses nor the contact lenses made a difference for Cloud's already perfect vision; they merely dimmed his mako eyes.

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Delivery 20: Party

Cloud had gone out to work only to find himself back at the Seventh Heaven pretty soon with cake ingredients. Except Cloud wasn't a cook, and nowhere close, so he didn't know what the ingredients would form when they were mixed together. Though those were not exactly the usual groceries he delivered to Tifa, Cloud didn't think too much of it and delivered the ingredients. But still, even if he wasn't certain, he couldn't help it but to picture a cake when he thought of those ingredients.

The delivery boy checked his work list and realized that there were many familiar names there. Next up he delivered some party hats to Yuffie and curiously asked, "why do you need party hats?"

"To sneak into parties I wasn't invited to!" Yuffie replied without hesitation. "Everyone knows that's where the materia is!" It made sense considering this was Yuffie.

After that delivery was done, Cloud headed off to take some streamers and confetti to Cid. "Shera! Bring some tea!" Cid took the package and practically pushed Cloud into a chair.

"I need to finish my other deliveries," Cloud tried to excuse himself. Something suspicious was going on and he wanted to finish work as soon as possible and investigate.

"Sit down and drink your )#%~ tea! Shera hurry with the tea!" Unable to argue with Cid, Cloud did as he was told.

Shera brought the tea soon after, "here you go. Would you like anything else with the tea? How about a muffin?"

"That's okay, I have to leave soon," Cloud replied as he hastily drank his tea.

But Shera placed a muffin in front of him on the table anyway. "Be a good buy and eat your muffin. We can't have you running out of energy while you're working and collapsing of exhaustion," Shera smiled.

Cloud opened his mouth to reply, but Cid spoke first. "Just eat the )#%~ muffin!"

Cloud nodded and gulped down the muffin along with the tea. Once that was done; the delivery boy asked before leaving, "what are the party supplies for?"

"What party supplies?" Cid pretended he had no idea what Cloud was talking about, but it was rather obvious this was about the recently delivered supplies.

"The streamers and confetti I just delivered," Cloud reminded.

"Those are not party supplies; they're mechanic supplies for Shera. Right, Shera?" Cid looked to his wife for support.

With a straight face, as if it was all completely true and perfectly logical, Shera nodded and supported Cid's story. "Of course, these materials are used to maintain engines. You need to have experience in advanced mechanics to understand."

"Oh... okay..." Even if Cloud didn't have the experience Shera claimed he needed, it was obvious it was all a lie.

Cloud's day continued like that, delivering all sorts of party supplies and decorations to all his friends including drinks, chips and snacks to Nanaki, Barret, Vincent and Reeve. Then finally when he was heading home, Cloud was held up by the strangest thing, a barrier of plushies in the middle of the road.

After picking up all the plushies and leaving them in Elena's care, Cloud continued home with one conclusion in mind. His friends were having a party without him and even went as far as hiring the Turks to delay him. He never suspected that the party was actually -for- him.

You know what they say; the best place to hide something is right under the nose of the person you're hiding it from.

End of Record II

Disclaimer, I don't own Final Fantasy VII. Deliveries 11, 13, 16 and 20 were requested by Rei Mumei. Mission 52 is a spin-off of Delivery 20. Special thanks to Nentikobe for pointing out the correct way to spell Mukki's name. The part about 'Lord of the Emoness' was inspired by a review from firefox999. Delivery 12 was inspired by JesusRox7111 who wanted to see the ghosts of Aeris and Zack. Delivery 14 was requested by demonlifehealer. Delivery 17 was requested by les yeux sans visage. Delivery 19 was inspired by a review from SugarHoney91.