Vincent paused and moistened his lips, though his eyes were so intent on her that he was unaware he had performed this strangely human action. The girl in front of him tilted her head in a parody of her old curious self, waiting for the answer to a question that had burdened her for as long as his own sins had burdened him. Her eyes were orbs of light, her whole form quivered from anxiety. She was anticipating his response, though he sensed she already knew by his face that it was not the one she wanted.
"Vincent..." She urged, those lips forming into roses as she pouted. Her hair was billowing across her face as if she stood surrounded by a gentle breeze. Lucrecia was beautiful. In his heart she had lived, forever beautiful. And she was still beautiful, graceful, enchanting, all those things that had allured Vincent to her in the past. In her sacred light she basked, in her immortal beauty she stood, but at the same time something was gone from her. She was like the empty shell of a creature that had been much greater in life but had departed, leaving only its external splendor behind.
"Tell me of my son, Vincent. Tell me of Sephiroth..."
Cloud Strife's footsteps echoed behind him. Vincent held out an arm to stop the young man from going further. No, he could not tell her what she yearned to hear. She would destroy herself if she knew...if she knew what had become of the one she had not even had a chance to love.
Her opalescent eyes widened. Shimmering hands raised themselves up to her mouth in a perfect picture of horror. Lucrecia's being wavered as if she was about to fall; yet just as Vincent stepped forward instinctively to catch her, she regained her balance and stopped him in his tracks. Her eyes were blazing like twin suns. Her already semi-translucent body glowed, and it appeared for a second as though she had drowned herself completely in white fire. But the moment of illusion passed quickly and Lucrecia lowered her hands. Her delicate features pinched, as if she was working up the tears to cry, but could not. Tears came to the living. What was Lucrecia? A being composed of hatred and the old memory of a son she could not hold onto, a past she could not change? Vincent suddenly found himself in danger of weeping right in front of her, to have caused her all this pain!
"My son...no, you lie!" The woman on the altar managed to utter, her brows knotted and her hands twisting in front of her chest. In the light her pale figure looked deadly white and painfully beautiful; a marble statue of a goddess with enough power to melt those in her glance with a single frown. Vincent shook his head slowly, sadly. He wanted this to finish fast. Lucrecia and he could not face each other anymore without hurting now.
"Lucrecia, the rumors were true. Sephiroth died five years ago." Vincent pressed on, his voice low; trying to consol her while knowing it was hopeless. Her hands found themselves up to her face again, forming into claws by her ears as if she wanted to shut out what he was saying. Her mouth opened and closed, and all the time her eyes were so wide her pupils were blue points inside their seas of white. She stared at him disbelievingly, shook her head, and stumbled backwards into the glassy wall.
Cloud stepped forward again, seemingly unable to watch any longer. But before the youth could say a word, Lucrecia had pushed herself away from the wall, and, holding her head in her hands, sent a blood-chilling scream spiraling all the way up to the high ceilings of the cave.
Vincent's own hands flew up to shield his sensitive ears; the suddenness of the woman's scream had the impact of a blow. His entire body shrank in on itself as if paralyzed. And as Lucrecia screamed the walls of her cave ignited with an intense white light, rendering Vincent defenseless and blind against her waves of heart-wrenching cries. For an eternity he was surrounded by a cocoon of sound, pressing in on him, making him breathless and causing his legs to give way beneath him. He willed her to stop. Willed her to stop with all of his being yet there was nothing he could do. She was never like this in his memories. Had Hojo done something to her after Vincent had been shut away? Had Jenova pushed her to the end of her sanity? Had Vincent himself contributed to finally killing her inside, in a way the combined evils of her late husband and his experiments could not?
"Lucrecia!" He yelled, but was unable to hear himself. Her voice echoed on, ravaged, broken and torn with an anger and misery so profound Vincent could hear it through her thoughts. He was pressed to the floor. He was crushed with the weight of her grief and sorrow, and any moment now, his eardrums would shatter under her shrieks...
"You lie!" The light dimmed as Lucrecia's screams turned to words. Dazed, Vincent pushed himself up. Cloud and Cid lay at his side, motionless.
"Lucrecia!" He uttered, throat dry.
"I see my son in my dreams, he is alive. He is alive!" She was almost pleading. The volume in her voice subsided. She sobbed now, her face in her hands and no tears on her cheeks. Vincent took a step forward, and was almost immediately propelled back.
"Lucrecia, please, come away with me." Vincent implored. If he could only get her out of this place, her old self would return. If he could take her away from this wretched cave she had imprisoned herself in then everything would be all right. He could tell her about Sephiroth, but not here. Not where the walls magnified her sadness a thousand fold. It would kill them both.
"You stay away from me!" Lucrecia screeched and Vincent grimaced. Where had the girl from Nibelheim gone? Where was the salvation of his nightmares? The woman in front of him was like a terrible shadow of her old glory. Yet she was without doubt the woman he had loved. He could love her still, but if only he could appeal to her reason, locked somewhere beneath those layers of loathing and rage that held her captive!
"Lucrecia, I'm sorry." He almost begged in his desperation. "But Sephiroth is gone. You cannot keep yourself here like this, not when I have finally found you. I thought you were dead, Lucrecia! I thought he...he had killed you. But you must not torture yourself like this! There is a life to live beyond the shadows of the past. Come with me, Lucrecia! Forget and live on!"
Her eyes were blazing again; with hatred so deep it was nearly visible as it coursed through her veins.
"Come away with you? Forget my son and live on?" She mocked in a hiss; her eyes rimmed with red from tears uncried and her mouth forming into an ugly sneer she never possessed in his memories. "You selfish, ignorant bastard, Vincent Valentine! What makes you think I still have a life to live, or a will to live? Now that my son is lost and my sins unredeemable, what makes you think I have a RIGHT to live? Did you not hear me the first time, Vincent? I WANT to die. I WANT the oblivion and blessed silence of death. Can one just forget all that just because one is told to?"
Lucrecia shivered. Her hands came up again to her head as if she wanted to wave off some terrible headache. Weaving her fingers into her hair, she continued, her voice higher pitched: "But Jenova wouldn't let me die! Jenova sends me distorted images of my son through my dreams, laughing at me as she presents me with his most tortured moments. My poor child, in need of someone to protect him in his darkest hours! She showed me a fire, a sea of bodies mangled beyond recognition and blood splattered on his beautiful face. I see his pain like an aura surrounding him. I see him cry out with each step he takes under her command! Jenova sends me these false illusions to torment me, yet I know in my heart that through all her lies, Sephiroth's pain is true. And I stand here, unable to move to his aid, yet unable to free myself from these nightmares!"
Vincent watched her distress unfold, though found himself robbed of speech. How had this happened to them? He had thought her dead all of this time and the idea of it throbbed dully in his conscience like an unhealed wound. But this...this unearthly woman held down to the living plane, anchored by Jenova...this was like a knife that sliced his mind in two! And she hated him. Gods, how she hated him. Lucrecia, the only person he had ever loved hated him as much as the hell she lived through each day! Irony in its purest undiluted form!
"And you lie to me, Vincent, telling me my son is dead!" She screeched in her rising crescendo. "You talk of freedom from the past, as if you yourself do not walk submerged in them! You lie to me. You lie to me as Jenova lies to me! My son is alive! He is out there somewhere, not in a bloodbath as in the postcards she presents to mock me, but somewhere in a nook of the world, a poor babe in need of a mother's hand!
"Now tell me Vincent, what are you concealing? Have you lost your heart? Can you live while knowing a child is out there by himself, without the protection of his mother? I know...if you tell me of him...I can cast off these invisible shackles that bind me to this place. If you tell me of his loneliness, his tears, his cries for his mother then my own thoughts may be justified and I can be free. But why, Vincent, why won't you tell me this? Why must you agree with Jenova?"
Her face ashen, her features twisted in her anger and passion, Lucrecia announced: "If you love me still, Vincent, tell me my son is not dead!"
"Lucrecia, you don't know what you are demanding!" Vincent's own anger was rising, fueled by his dread and terror at the woman who was no longer the object of his affection, the beautiful lady with whom he had fallen in love with all those years ago. This woman was not a woman at all, but a collection of despair, of resentment, created by Jenova's will like so many of Hojo's creatures. And what was he to tell this creature, so confident in herself? What was he to tell this poor soul of a mother? That her son was indeed alive, but only in body? That her little boy was insane and roaming the earth in search of blood and death? Did he dare spill to her the dark secrets of Jenova's most precious puppet, of his intent on becoming One with the earth, of his terrible sins against mankind, of his slaughtering the most innocent of God's children? Vincent wished to break her illusions, those idealistic pictures of herself swooning over an injured baby, but if she would not believe anything other than her own misshaped thoughts, what was the point? She was a few drops of misery short of overflowing. And in her current state, she was very capable of drowning them both.
"Oh, Lucrecia...you don't know what you are asking of me..."
Of course his requests were fruitless and idiotic. Of course Lucrecia in her current form could not join him in the outside world. She had bound herself to this place, because somehow she knew what lay outside it. It would shatter her delicate security of a protective mother and a wronged child. And yet he could not assure her in her delusions either, because somewhere deep down, Lucrecia knew of Sephiroth's doings; she had shown Vincent that in the depth and despair of her scream. And now, perhaps her denial, guilt, and the illusion of her baby were all that were keeping her from slipping away into another world...or slipping away into true insanity.
"Vincent...won't you tell me?" Her voice had grown gentler, pleading. He closed his eyes and shook his head.
Lucrecia must have seen something in him, must have finally caught the sadness in his eyes, for her head tilted again and her hands came loose from her hair. A terrible understanding shadowed her face, though he sensed she did not yet know what it was. Confusion crossed her brows, and she grew silent and watchful, her lips slightly parted, her chest rising and falling rapidly in the old habit of drawing breath, even when she did not need it. Her arms fell limply at her sides. For the first time since he entered her domain, Vincent sensed the old Lucrecia inside her. The reasonable one, who gave everything a chance.
He lowered his gaze. But it was too late. He had come to see her, and lived a brief moment of pure rapture at her seemingly alive and well form. But now the dream had shattered and he was tired. He was tired of her charade and the hope inside him had died at her hands. Lucrecia was worse than dead. Vincent was worse than dead. Sephiroth was worse than dead. This whole damn world could die and it would be better than this. He would dream no more of her. He would continue to hunt down the one who had wronged them both, and now he was determined also to see Avalanche's mission to the end. To free her son from Jenova. He would plunge deeper into his sins and he would curse himself to eternal damnation so that maybe he would come to her when everything was done. Come live with her in blessed denial, in a time when love still blossomed everywhere and two people thrived in each other's arms, a sleeping baby between them immersed in innocent dreams.
"I'm sorry, Lucrecia." He apologized again in a mutter, not looking at her beautifully wretched face. "I'm sorry I ever came."
"Vincent...?" She mouthed like a fearful infant as he started picking up his fainted comrades from the floor and carrying them towards the exit of her cave. "Vincent, please...Vincent, I'm sorry I...he can't be dead, can he? Vincent...I shouldn't have asked...don't leave me, Vincent..."
Her voice died in his ears as the roaring of the waterfall and the outside world greeted him. And putting down his companions, Vincent Valentine wept silently as her voice died in his heart.
Crimson Sun's Fanfiction