Rose of Mideel Chapter 14

Vincent Remains Neutral

By Chocobo Goddess

Sephiroth tried to concentrate on his katas. Masamune, which normally seemed to have a life of its own, felt dull and heavy in his hands. The forms would have seemed perfect, had it been any other man who performed them. It was a measure of how angry he was when the blade wavered the tiniest bit.

I want to find her. I need to find her. She’s in danger without me. Damn Cloud. Damn him. Damn him!

Seph…Zack tried to soothe him.

I’m going to kill him. I finally managed to get well and he does this. This damned body isn’t ready to take this much punishment. First the run—

Masamune slashed through the air…

then the fever—

…its blade twisted upward and pulled back…

then Cloud

…a forceful thrust through an invisible opponent…

Seph…it’s okay…

Finally, in frustration, he flung the sword from him with a growl. A sound to his right made him turn and glare.

Vincent leaned against a tree, clapping slowly. "I’m not sure I remember ever seeing that particular kata, Sephiroth. What was that, ‘Frustrated Chocobo’?"

"Shut up, Valentine," he snarled in reply. He stormed over to where Masamune had landed and picked it back up, cleaning off bits of torn earth from the blade. "I’m not in the mood for your sense of humor."

"You’d do well to develop one, yourself." Vincent shrugged out of his red coat and laid it on the ground, then sat on it. "Besides, you should be glad. Aerith’s no longer with Cloud."

"I know that!"

"Then why are you in such a foul mood?"

"Why do you think? I detest Strife, but at least I knew that while Aerith was with him, she’d be safe. Now, she’s out on her own. The Planet says she’s all right for now, but how the HELL am I supposed to protect her when I don’t even know where she is?" He flopped down to the ground beside Vincent, head in hands. "I need to find her, Valentine, and soon."

Vincent silently regarded the man beside him for a few moments. "You actually did fall in love with her, didn’t you?"

One green eye looked through Sephiroth’s fingers. "You asked me that once already, remember?"

Nodding, Vincent smiled. "Last time I asked, you didn’t have an answer."

Sephiroth frowned. "So? What if I do love her? Is there something wrong with that?"

"No," the dark-haired man said, leaning back against the tree again and closing his eyes. "I was just wondering." They sat under the maple tree, both lost in thought. Fluffy white clouds scudded across Nibelheim’s peaceful blue skies, dotted with the occasional bird. The wind made a sighing sound as it wove through the grass and lifted strands of their hair. The smell of grass and earth rose comfortingly, belying the horrors this place had endured in the past.

The Planet hummed softly, somehow in tune with the birds that sang. Zack seemed to want to speak, but he said nothing.

Sephiroth drew his knees up a bit, resting his head on his arms. I’m sorry, both of you. I…

NO WORRIES. UNDERSTANDABLE. The Planet sent soothing waves of violet.

Yeah, Seph, don’t sweat it. Just do what you have to do. We’ll help any way we can.

Thank you. He was about to say something more when Vincent sighed.

"Ah, well, I suppose I should go help you find her."

Sephiroth’s eyes snapped open. "What?"

The ex-Turk grinned. It wasn’t friendly, but it was amused. "I said, I suppose I should go help you find her."

"This isn’t your problem. Besides, I have a score to settle with Strife, and I don’t think you want to be caught in the middle." Sephiroth stood, brushing grass from his legs.

Vincent stood, too, and shook out his coat. "I know about that. Frankly, I don’t blame you, but I also don’t care. It was a dirty trick, but I’m sure he had his reasons." He ignored the glare that comment earned him and went on. "However, Aerith is my friend, too. I’d like to make sure she lives to enjoy this new life she’s been given. If you are her guardian, then we need to find her so you can do your job."


"No buts, Sephiroth. Don’t worry, I’m not doing this out of any desire to help you particularly. I think of this as a way to finally discharge a debt I owe your mother." At the other man’s look of confusion, he shook his head. "Not Jenova. I mean Lucrecia, Hojo’s wife. She was your real mother. You knew that."

Sephiroth blinked. "Y-yes, but I thought…"


"Of course I knew about Lucrecia, but I always thought she’d been forced into it. She actually married that slime?"

Vincent shrugged. "Takes all kinds. She thought she saw some good in him, and he strung her along and let her believe what she wanted. She made a bad decision, one that cost her her life." It cost me mine, too, in a way, he thought. He flexed the brass claw that was his left arm, courtesy of Hojo. But at least I deserved it for not helping her sooner.

They made their way back to the mansion to pack. Nibelheim had once been a temporary SOLDIER base, and Vincent had found some extra clothing for Sephiroth, pieces of leftover uniforms from the commissary. They’d managed to put together a few serviceable outfits for Sephiroth. He now boasted a wardrobe containing one square-shouldered overcoat, several sleeveless turtlenecks, three pairs of baggy pants with many pockets plus his original ones, and an extra pair of boots. Sephiroth didn’t really need boots—his own were fine, having been recreated with his body—but finding shoes to fit him could be such a task. He scavenged a backpack that was still in good condition and filled it with his clothes.

When Masamune was safely strapped to his back and within easy reach, he zipped up the pack and slung it over his shoulder. Vincent appeared in his doorway to look him over with a critical eye. "Hmm…"

"Something the matter?" Sephiroth grumbled.

"You should do something about your hair. Cut it or something. You’re far too conspicuous with it as it is. Perhaps you could dye it?"

He snorted. "Aer—I don’t want to cut it off OR dye it."

Vincent laughed out loud. "You were going to say that Aerith likes it, weren’t you? Fine, then, braid it or something. Anything, just try not to look like yourself. Some people have long memories."

As Sephiroth deftly wove his hair into a long, thick braid, he asked, "I’ve been meaning to ask. Exactly how long has it been since…Meteor?"

A black eyebrow raised in surprise. "You mean you don’t know?"

He shook his head as best he could with his hair in his hands. "Time passes differently in Hell."

It does, indeed, thought Vincent. "Let me think, the two-year anniversary of your death was about three months ago. Aerith’s, of course, was a few weeks earlier." He took the pack as Sephiroth tied off the end of the braid. "People have started to rebuild. Midgar is a pit, but then, it always was a pit to begin with. The only difference now is that there’s no fancy wrapping on top."

"Two years? It felt like eternity. Then again, I suppose it's meant to be like that."

"Indeed." Vincent handed the bag back to him. "We'll need to think about where she might go. If she's on the other continent, we'll need to get to Costa del Sol so we can hitch a ride across to Junon."

"Huh," was all Sephiroth said. Inside, he thought, Planet, can you sense Aerith?


Zack piped up, Hey, she’s got a chocobo! Good girl, that’ll be helpful. And Seph, you’ll never guess who raised it.

Who? Someone we know?

Yeah, remember that guy in the Third Rank who was so proud of his breeding stock? The one who liked Black chocobos because they looked cooler than Golds?

Wade Timmins. Didn’t he train them to be used in battle?

Yep, that’s the guy.

AERITH has one of them? And you’re pleased about this?

Well, it really seems to like her. Wow, she just has that effect on everyone. I’m surprised monsters don’t just bow down and let her pass. Man, I miss her so much…she used to have the cutest habits. Does she still bite her lip when she’s thinking? Always made me want to bite it for her, if you know what I mean.

Zack— Sephiroth sent warningly.

And she used to wear that great pink dress…the one with the buttons…I used to daydream about undoing all those buttons, one by one…

ZACK— The Planet said, laughter barely suppressed.

Her legs were, like, a mile long. She had great curves, too, especially her ches—

ZACK!! Sent Sephiroth and the Planet in unison. Sephiroth was far from amused.

Okay, okay, I’m sorry. Zack’s grin was audible.

Thank you, he sent curtly. It’s bad enough to have two distinct voices in my head besides my own. Do NOT keep reminding me about…the things you were reminding me about.

Just checking to see if you’d noticed "those things". Apparently, you have. Zack chuckled. Good, so you’re much less immune to it than you used to be. Heh.

Shut up, Zack, Sephiroth sent amiably.

"Are we quite ready now?" asked Vincent, fastening the top two buckles of his coat.

Sephiroth nodded, and they left, moving Northwest toward Corel, and Costa del Sol, and onward toward Aerith.

Chapter 15

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic