No Wish To Be Alone Chapter 19
Vincent Reveals His Hand
By Chocobo Goddess
Sephiroth savored the sensation of waking up next to his wife. He knew the peace wouldnt last once her other friends arrived, and by his reckoning, they would be here by nightfall. He didnt look forward to the meeting.
Aeris stirred in her sleep, curling more tightly against him. Her breath warmed his chest. He stroked her hair softly, enjoying the way the light played upon it. Finally, she woke, stretching and smiling at him. "Morning."
His hand drifted to her waist. "It is indeed. How do you feel?"
"I feel...well-loved," she said dreamily.
He grinned. "You should. You are well-loved."
"Thats not what I meant." She returned the grin.
Sephiroth looked at the door and sighed. He had hoped for a little more time alone with his bride, but his sensitive ears had picked up the sound of approaching footsteps. Groaning, he hauled himself out of bed. He grabbed his black pants and drew them on. "We have company," he said in answer to Aeriss puzzled expression as he opened the door.
As expected, Vincent was standing in the hall, human hand raised. Nanaki trotted up beside him. Vincent raised an eyebrow at Sephiroth, whether in surprise at the door opening before he could knock, or at seeing the younger man half-dressed and out of bed, Sephiroth wasnt sure.
They all stared at each other until Aeriss plaintive cry of, "Close the door, its freezing!" She giggled under the blankets.
Nanaki looked embarrassed. "Uh, we were, uh, just going downstairs for something to eat."
Vincent nodded. "We were going to ask you to join us. Unless youre busy," he said wryly.
"Oh, of course not!" Sephiroth waved his hand. "I hoped beyond hope that someone would come and interrupt my idyll."
"Tsk, Sephiroth, sarcasm doesnt become you." Vincent glanced past to where Aeris huddled on the bed, laughing at them. "I do apologize for interrupting, but we need to meet with Eron before the others get here. I have the feeling they wont give us much of a chance, and you two need to make this official."
"Very well." Sephiroth ran a hand through his hair, smoothing back his bangs. "Give us a few minutes, and well join you."
Nanaki, still looking apologetic, grabbed the hem of Vincents cape in his teeth and started downstairs as the door closed. "I cant believe you just went and knocked on their door," he growled around the fabric, "If youd done that to a couple in Cosmo Canyon, their families would be out for your blood."
Vincent allowed himself to be dragged a bit, then gently extricated himself from the upset feline. "I will remember that, then. However, I meant it when I said we need to get the details taken care of now. I fear that Cloud will be none too pleased with them when he gets here, though its really none of his business."
Nanaki shrugged. "He still thinks of himself as Aeriss bodyguard. As long as Ive known them, Cloud has been overly protective of her." He glanced at Vincent shrewdly. "Speaking of which, Ive noticed you defending Sephiroth a lot lately. Whats going on?"
"What makes you think Im defending him?"
The red cat scoffed. "Oh, come on. Im not blind in both eyes."
They chose a table near the back of the room. There was a bench on one side, large enough for Nanaki to sit on. Vincent settled into one of the chairs and perused the menu. "For one so young, you are both observant and tenacious. I have been defending Sephiroth."
"I knew it! And dont forget, youre not that much older than me physically." Nanakis tail lashed at the indulgent smile Vincent gave him. "Anyway, were talking about Sephiroth, and your playing peacekeeper between him and the rest of AVALANCHE. Now, why exactly are you doing so?" His voice took on a scholarly tone, and he sat up on the bench, ears forward.
Vincent sighed. "I promised his mother I would look after him."
"His mothoh, that sad woman in the cave!" Nanaki remembered the day they had found the secluded place outside of Nibelheim. The ghostly figure seated by a still pond had been candid about her part in the experiment to bring Sephiroth into the world. Lucrecia regretted only that she had never once held her infant son. "But you didnt talk to her, Vin. When did she ask you?"
"A long time ago, before he was born. When she was pregnant."
Nanaki sat taller, eyes wide. "You knew her back then?"
"Yes." Vincents red eyes filled with pain. "She begged me to watch over him, because she knew somehow that she wouldnt survive his birth." He blinked, and was surprised at how blurry everything looked through tears. Suddenly angry at himself, he rubbed them away. "I havent done a very good job of watching him, now, have I? I slept the last thirty-one years away in a coffin, drowning in self-pity. I wasnt there to save him from Hojos mad experimentation, wasnt there when Nibelheim burned, wasnt there when Jenova took his mind and turned him into a puppet. The least I can do is help him find the happiness that was denied to me." Lucrecias image appeared in his mind, looking as she had in life; brown hair loosely pulled away from her face, glasses balanced precariously on the tip of her nose.
He brushed the image roughly aside, standing. "Nanaki, my friend, Im going out for a walk. Care to join me?"
Nanaki looked at the cozy fire that warmed the dining room, then back at Vincent. "I can tell youre only asking me because youre being polite. Go on, Ill be fine. Ill wait for the newlyweds."
"You wont wait long, were here." Aeriss voice came from across the room.
Vincent turned to see Aeris and Sephiroth making their way through the mostly empty tables. They both looked quite happy, if a little flushed. Aeris waved.
While they were still out of earshot, Nanaki murmured, "Maybe you should talk to him, Vincent."
"Talk to me about what?" Sephiroth asked as they sat down. Nanaki rolled his eyes. Hed forgotten that the Generals hearing was as good as his own.
"I need to speak with you alone before we go to Erons." Vincent took a few steps away, saying over his shoulder, "When youve finished breakfast, come find me. Im going out."
They watched him leave as they gave their orders to the waitress. When she left for the kitchen, Nanaki shook his head. "Somethings bothering Vincent."
"That was obvious. Something to do with me, I gather?" Sephiroth idly caressed Aeriss hand as it lay on the table. At Nanakis affirmative, he looked thoughtful. "I know he was involved somehow with the Jenova project. I also know he was a Turk about the time of my birth. Beyond that, hes a mystery."
Aeris sipped her water daintily. "Hes been holding on to a lot of guilt. Maybe hell open up to you."
The other two looked at her. "Guilt? What did he do?" Nanaki asked, tilting his head to the side.
She pursed her lips. "Its not my place to say. You will have to ask him about it yourselves." She primly folded her hands in her lap.
Any reply to that was forgotten with the arrival of their food. Icicle Inn, resort town that it was, boasted some of the finest chefs in the world. The three of them were ravenous, and they made short work of the elegantly prepared, yet hearty, food.
"Oof. I dont think I could eat another bite," Nanaki said, hopping down from the bench and padding over to the fireplace. "I think Im gonna take a nap."
Aeris went and scratched him behind the ears. "I never knew you liked sausage so much. Ill remember that for your birthday." She smiled up at her husband. "Maybe you should go find Vincent now. If hes in a talking mood, better catch him while you can. This doesnt happen often." Giving one final pat to Nanakis head, she stood and hugged Sephiroth.
"What are you planning to do?" he asked, putting his arms around her and hugging her back.
"I need to go shopping." She made a face. "I dont really like to, but this dress has had it. I should find something a little more suited to travel."
"All right. Lets do this, then. Vincent said we needed to meet with Eron as soon as possible. Ill go find out what Vincent wants to talk about, and then well meet you and Nanaki at the temple in an hour or so." He handed her a small rectangle of plastic. "Here. Use this, and get anything you need. Pick up something warm for me, as well."
Nanaki opened his good eye. "Wow, is that a credit card?"
Sephiroth shook his head. "No, its better. The ShinRa Mythril. Its a debit card from my old account, from when I was in SOLDIER. I found it at the bottom of my bag while we were travelling. I checked when I got the rooms; its still active. No one thought to claim my assets when I disappeared five years ago. I never spent much money to begin with, since ShinRa supplied everything I needed. Nearly every gil I have earned since joining SOLDIER has been sitting and accruing interest all this time." He kissed Aeris on the forehead. "My love, you have married a very, very rich man."
She held the card gingerly, as if afraid it would break. "H-how rich is very rich?"
He kissed her again. "About 10 million gil." Not bothering to hide his mirth at their expressions, he said, "I am, apparently, a multi-gillionaire." He shrugged as if to say, its nothing, then turned and strode out of the restaurant, coat billowing behind him.
Aeris and Nanaki stared at each other. Suddenly, Nanakis mouth opened in a wide, almost canine grin.
"Shall we hit the shops?" He suggested, eyes twinkling.
Sephiroth strode out into the cold, the late morning sunshine glinting off his hair. He had always liked the North and the snow, the cold clean air, far away from the cities of the lower continents. The valley where he had taken Aeris had been one of his favorite places to escape when he needed peace in his mind. Only one person lived there; the Chocobo Sage, and he hardly ever left the boundaries of his little house and yard. She loved that place as much as I do, he thought, Perhaps when this is over, well be able to go back. I will remember how she looked wading in that stream until the day I die.
Vincent was crouched upon a low-hanging tree branch in a large evergreen at the edge of town. Though he gave no outward sign, Sephiroth knew the other man was aware of his arrival. He paused below the tree, arms crossed over his chest, and waited for Vincent to speak first.
It was a long time to wait. He sensed the older man was trying to find words, so he kept silent. Again his thoughts wandered to Aeris. She had coaxed him back into bed after he had closed the door on Vincent and Nanaki. He shivered at the memory of her expression, teasing and serious all at once. She contained an innocent delight combined with a growing understanding of the things that happened between men and women. Still unsure of herself, she would blush furiously if he whispered his desires into her ear, but respond with wild abandon once he showed her what to do...
"It feels good to love another, doesnt it?" Vincents voice startled him back to the present. Sephiroth noticed that the other had been watching him for a while.
Vincent looked back out over the snow field. "I said, it feels good to love someone else, doesnt it?" Though his face was still turned away, the red eyes regarded him out of their corners.
Sephiroths green ones met them, then dropped their gaze to his hands. "Yes," he nearly whispered.
A sigh from Vincent. "Tell me about her." At the younger mans shocked look, he chuckled. "No, nothing too personal. I want to know what makes you love her. How did it happen? Why Aeris? Did you know right away, or did it take time? That is what I want to know."
The dark-haired man shifted his position slightly. He let a minute go by before he answered. "I have many reasons. I have been keeping an eye on her since I met her. Also, she reminds me of your mother. In her gentleness. Her serene smile."
Sephiroth considered that for a moment. "You mean my real mother, dont you? Not Jenova."
Vincent nodded, very slightly. "Lucrecia." His voice caressed the name as he said it.
"Tell me about her."
Another soft chuckle. "I asked you first."
"Fine." He sighed, running his hand through his silver hair again. "It didnt happen right away. I wanted toto protect her. That was my first thought. Shes not strong enough to hold her own in a fight, even if her magic is more powerful than mine. Then I kissed her " his voice drifted as he thought about that first night in the inn. "There were a million voices telling me that it was right. I know now it was the Planet, trying to play matchmaker."
The dark eyebrows rose. "You can hear the Planet? That is news."
"Its an adventure. Like having a benign mother-in-law always hovering around." Sephiroth smiled faintly. "One that hopes to see grandchildren soon."
Vincent couldnt keep from guffawing. "Ah, that explains a lot."
"It has been verydifficult to keep from giving in. Aeris is beautiful, and," he paused.
A stormy look from Sephiroth. "I thought you didnt want to know that part."
The older man laughed out loud this time. "No, I dont." He hopped down from his perch on the treebranch and stood before the scowling young man. I have to tell him, Vincent thought, He needs to know the truth. He deserves it.
"Sephiroth, who sired you?" he asked aloud. He was satisfied to see the other caught off guard by the question.
"Wh-who?" Sephiroth was confused. "Iwell, I was told that Hojo," he began.
Vincent silenced him with a gesture from the claw. "Think about it. Dont parrot what you were told." Scorn colored his tone. "Hojo only wishes he could have fathered you. He did horrible things to Lucrecia, but in the end it was all for nothing." The red eyes flared with old hatred.
"I dont understand."
Vincent moved closer, until they were no more than a handsbreadth apart. "Look at me, Sephiroth, look at my face and tell me what you see." He pulled off the red scarf, unfastened the cape and slung it to the ground. He stood in his black sleeveless turtleneck, wild black hair pushed back from his forehead to reveal sharp features, an aristocratic nose, barely slanted eyes, a strong, yet delicately refined chin, a long, well-toned neck. Though Vincent was a few inches shorter, Sephiroth could not deny what was before him.
Different colors, black where he was white, red where he was green, skin pale from lack of sunlight where he was pale by nature, but it was his own face.
Staring back at him like a dark mirror, with a soul as tortured as his own.
"You," whispered Sephiroth, in awe. "You loved Lucrecia you are my "
Vincent suddenly looked weary. "Yes, Sephiroth." He placed his human hand on his sons shoulder. "We have a lot to talk about."
Aeris dropped her packages off at the room. The hours had flown by, afternoon into evening, and still there was no sign of either Sephiroth or Vincent. The Planet told her that all was well, so she waited at the inn with Nanaki. After dinner, she decided to take a shower and change into her new clothes. When she came back to her room, Nanaki picked his head up from his paws. "Wow, Aeris, you look older. Not like old lady older, but well, it certainly isnt pink!"
She gave him an affectionate pat. "Of course not, silly. Its black. I actually like it a lot." She smoothed the front of the cowl-neck sweater in the mirror, turning around to see how her new jeans fit her. "It will definitely be better for traveling! I bought sweaters for Tifa and Yuffie, too, and jeans for them to match. I hope I got their sizes right. Ugh, I hate shopping for myself, but its easy to get things for everyone else."
"Oh, and yeah, thanks for the new barrette. Did you get yourself those pretty materia bangles you were looking at?"
"Mhmm." Aeris fished around in a shopping bag and found them, putting them on and fitting the materia from her old ones into the empty slots. "Im glad I was able to sell my old ones. I hope someone else gets some use out of them!" She sighed, putting her hands on her hips. "Nanaki, maybe we should go look for them. Vincent made a big deal about going to see Eron, but they still havent returned."
The red cat stretched. "I agree. The others will probably get here soon."
Aeris placed the packages for her friends into the reserved rooms, then grabbed her red-and-white cloak as they went outside into the darkness.
The night sky was clear and filled with stars, the air crisp. Aeris walked slowly through the middle of the town, hugging her cloak around her and smiling. She closed her eyes and let the peace of the evening wash over her.
Nanaki stood by her side, eyes half closed, thinking. I havent seen her so happy since...well, ever. Maybe its a good thing that she married Sephiroth. Hes changed, too. I cant believe I ate breakfast with him, and he laughed, for goodness sake. He felt the familiar sensation of someone scratching behind his ears, and he looked up to see her smiling down at him. The moon made her pale skin seem even paler, and it found the green deep in her eyes, making them glow nearly like her husbands.
A sound behind them made them turn. Vincent and Sephiroth stood a few yards away, waiting to be noticed. Nanaki was struck by how similar the two seemed, as though they were two versions of the same man. Black hair beside white, shadowed red eyes contrasted with viridian green; but the faces were the same. The same expressionless mask, the same sharp features, worn openly and proudly on one, obscured in shame on the other. Why havent I noticed this before? He wondered. He looked up at Aeris in question, only to see her staring at the sight herself.
I know. Amazing resemblance, isnt it? He replied softly in her mind.
Hesitation. Hes...Vincent is my father.
Then...Hojo wasnt? Even though the journals said...he claimed...
Aloud, he said, "Hojo uses manipulation as skillfully as I wield Masamune. And often, the damage he does with a few words is far more destructive than that which I can cause with my blade." A pained expression crossed his face. Aeris wanted to go to him, but she waited.
Vincent put a hand on his sons shoulder. "It seems Hojo fooled us all. He led me to believe for a long time that Lucrecias son was his own." He grimaced in disdain. "I should have realized that it could only have been wishful thinking on his part. Lucrecia told me herself, when it was too late, after she died."
Sephiroth held his hand out to his wife. "Come on, we dont want to keep Eron waiting." When she took it, he pulled her into a powerful embrace. As he buried his face in her hair, she heard, I will need you more than ever tonight.
Soon, Love, she replied, soon.
They walked to the temple in silence. In the cold, moonlit night, the lights inside the old building looked inviting and warm. Eron met them at the door, looking a bit surprised, as though he hadnt expected to see them ever come back. "Please, come in. My office is in the back." They followed him through the darkened church, paths lit only by the candles placed in the windows. To the left of the altar, on the back wall, a door led into a tiny corridor which opened into a small, comfortable room. The young man motioned for them to sit, and he began rummaging around in an ornate roll-top desk.
"Please, make yourselves at home. Would you like anything to drink? Tea?" His voice was muffled. "Ah, here it is." He came up with a huge, dusty tome.
Aeris rubbed her hands together, warming them by the fire. "I guess I was outside longer than I thought. If its no trouble, tea would be lovely."
"No trouble atall. I had just put some water on when I heard you come up." He bustled about for a while, noticing how quiet his guests were. The newlyweds sat side by side on his leather-covered loveseat, faces showing a strange progression of emotions, as though they were having a conversation without words. The dark-haired man had taken up a position by the window, looking out at the snow. The red catlike creature had curled up in front of the hearth, head on crossed paws, flame tail swishing. Eron took a deep breath and brought out mugs of tea for everyone.
"Here you are," he said cheerfully, "Careful, its hot."
Aeris took hers gratefully, wrapping her hands about the clay mug. Her husband took his, then put his other arm about her shoulders, tugging her over to lean on him. She smiled up at him tenderly, and his stony expression softened.
Goodness, thought Eron, what a change. As if he heard that, the silver-haired man looked straight at him, face impassive once more.
"We do not have much time to tarry here," he said in his commanding voice, "So I request that we take care of the details with speed." He looked down at his wife, and Eron could swear he saw a twinkle in the other mans eye. "I find these legal matters...unromantic."
The girl burst into giggles. "Since when did that matter to you?" she said fondly. She snuggled deeper into his arms.
"Since I married one." His lips twitched in a threat of a smile.
Right. "Well, everyone, lets take care of the details." Eron opened the book, finding a blank page. "Now, Aeris, may I have your full maiden name, please?"
"Aeris Gainsborough Gast."
Eron frowned in surprise. "Related to Professor Gast?"
"Why, yes. He was my father. I was raised by Elmyra Gainsborough of Midgar. Do you know anything about Professor Gast?"
"He had a house here, in Icicle Inn. I can show it to you, if you like. Since he died, no one has gone in there. The mayor has a key, in case any of his family ever came to go through it."
"I would like that very much, Eron. Thank you." Her smile was a little sad.
"My pleasure. Now, General Sephiroth. Your full name?"
Sephiroth glanced at Vincent, who nodded slightly. Looking back at Eron, he said with a faint rueful smirk, "My name is Sephiroth...LeVrai...Valentine."
Vincent seemed to be pleased, though he continued to look out the window.
Eron wrote the name in his book, unaware of the interaction of the other two men. "What an interesting name."
"LeVrai was my mothers last name. Valentine is my fathers." He looked down at Aeris. "I have never used either name before. I have always been just...Sephiroth." He brushed a lock of her hair back from her face. "But I couldnt have people calling my wife Mrs. Sephiroth, now, could I?"
"Ooookay," said Eron, getting everyones attention back on him, "Now the witnesses. He looked back and forth between Nanaki and Vincent. "Umm, perhaps Sephiroths witness first?"
Vincent spoke. "My name is Vincent Valentine." He finally turned his red gaze to the startled cleric. "And yes, to forestall your questions, I am Sephiroths father as well. I trust that its still all right that I am a witness?"
"O-of course, sir," Eron stammered. He wrote a few notes in the margin of the page. This was getting more and more interesting! Legendary Generals, daughters of mysterious professors, strange quiet men who turned out to be related to said Generals... "Okay, one more to go. What is his name?" He waved at Nanaki.
"My name, sir, is Nanaki, son of Seto." He gave his toothy grin at the poor mans expression.
Eron felt like his eyes were going to burst from his head. He knew the beast was intelligent, but it talked, too? "N-n-nanaki?"
"Yes," came the reply, with startlingly precise enunciation. "My name is Nanaki. N-A-N-A-K-I. I am Aeriss witness."
She patted his head. "Only appropriate. Ive known you longer than any of the others, maybe save Cloud. And you and I have been through a lot more together."
Eron wrote furiously in his book for a few more moments. The others patiently sipped their tea. Finally, he looked up at them, arranged in their strange tableau. Vincent, dark and silent, keeping to the shadows but aware of every detail; Nanaki, curled loyally at his friends feet; Sephiroth, holding his wife, alternating between tenderness and no expression; and at the center of it all, Aeris, managing the currents of emotion around her with ease, somehow knowing just what to say, and when, and to whom.
Eron took a deep breath. "All right, everyone, I think Im done. If you would each sign your names?"
Aeris beamed as she wrote her new name for the first time. Sephiroth and Vincent shared a glance over her head, both glad it was official. Sephiroth was next, signing in his neat, bold hand, then Vincents quick scrawl was placed beside it. Nanaki dipped a claw into the inkwell and neatly scribed his own name, once in the common tongue, then in his own peoples written language. Eron himself signed the bottom, then sprinkled powder over the page to dry the ink.
"Thats it, I believe. Now you two are one hundred percent, officially and spiritually married." He wiped his brow. "Congratulations."
Aeris laughed. "Thank you, Eron. We havent been the easiest people to deal with, Im sure." She stood up, wrapping her cloak about her. "Im sorry to have taken up so much of your time."
The others followed her lead. They made their goodbyes to Eron and went back out into the snow.
When they were gone, he sagged against the wall. Its a good thing I dont drink, he thought, Or Id be thinking I could use one right now.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic