Lucrecia Falls Chapter 2

Visitor the Second - Hojo

By Crimson Sun

//Fire terrorized the small village. It had come so suddenly the citizens thought they were still dreaming as they opened their eyes. Surreal the flames seemed, from another place. The children stared at their neighbor’s burning estates, smoke rising in their eyes, unable to move their feet because there was so much beauty in that glowing pyre fueled with the power of the souls of the dead.

Sephiroth stood in the center of the square. The moon was a terrible color, shining like a demon's eye upon his birthplace. His hands were sturdy, but his mind was in turmoil.

"I am not who you say-"

Laughter cut him off. Evil laughter, barely audible, was slowly filling his ears.//

The shimmer that came through the window stabbed at Hojo's open eyes. Long naked branches scratched at the glass; silhouettes appearing to take the form of long-nailed fingers of ghouls. Across the room from him the grandfather clock chimed steadily, signaling the time it was and the time he had left, maddeningly rhythmic to hear - if he could hear.

But of course he couldn't.

Ah, the illusion was so perfect he even recognized this place. Recognized that uneven brick patch of wall that concealed behind it all of Shinra's scientific breakthroughs. He was laying on a bed, covered with white sheets and drenched in dust, the same dust that blanketed all the furniture like some form of parasite. And of course he recognized the view from his window, not only the brightness of the moon but the gingerbread houses beyond that, and in the distance, the awkward cylindrical construction that was the Nibelheim well, where he had more than once wanted to visit during his physical stay here but could never find the time to do so.

Beautiful. Too much so.

He turned over, frowning and pinched the bridge of his nose. Beautiful it was, perfectly constructed like a hive of poisonous wasps. Nibelheim always reminded him of someone else, perfected by nature and corroded by time. Vincent had been so pretty it hurt to look at him, hurt to look at those startling eyes and masculine form. One day Hojo thought he might go mad, watching the Turk's eyes go up in flames. So beautiful. So beautiful he had to capture that moment and seize that blood-rapture forever, to crystallize that anger, that bitter defeat, that wonderfully fleeting lust!

Here in Nibelheim-

Lucrecia had screamed.


She sat framed in moonlight. Full cheeks with slivers of tears creeping downwards towards her beautifully long neck. But she was smiling. And her eyes were hollow holes with a bare glint of white within them that identified that she was still, somewhat, alive.

He inched closer, and yet he didn't move.

"Cyrus..." She called again. Long fingers brushed his face and caressed the corner of his eyes. Fingernails settled in his flesh "Cyrus, our baby...he's nearly here...What should we name him?"

Baby...Her stomach was swollen, like an over-ripe fruit ready to burst...or rot. He couldn't stand the sight of it; like an afterthought added to her body. Her entire frame seemed too thin and fragile to support it. Radiance glowed from her, a black aura mingled at the edges with gold.

"I was thinking...Sephiroth."

//The soft laughter flew across the flames, a humming hurting Sephiroth's ears so much he could not control the blade. He could not detect the fire, and from their light his eyes were transformed from blue to red. His hands were moist, but he did not know why. There were people screaming around him, but they could not drown out the laughter. Soft as it was, beating in his ears, driving him mad!//

He slapped her hand away, not surprised when it remained even as his did not.

"The tree of life...he's going to grow up to be such a good little boy, Cyrus..."

//"Mother!" Sephiroth cried. The laughter only intensified. There was a terrible rhythm beating against his skull. Seized by desperation, fear and despair, Sephiroth screamed again-//

Her smile, a skull. Her hands, bone through and over skin. Her stomach was red and her hair hung about her shoulders, dead and limp.

"Lucrecia, Sephiroth is not alive." He muttered, drawing both hands to her face and forcing himself to touch that cold skin, those prominent cheekbones and those streaks of non-existent tears. "Isn't it time you let him go?"



He clamped both hands around her head; fingers digging into her eyes like hers did to his. He saw the darkness around her brows intensify, saw her mouth open in a void black as the night. He gripped tighter, until he forced her eyes to open, her hands come up to try to wrestle him away. He seized her face and pulled, pulled her eyes away and her face came as easily as a blanket off the grand piano downstairs...

The dream broke away. Nibelheim vanished into the black hole his resistance created, the light increased. The moon tumbled out of the sky and he lost his grip.

//"Lucrecia!" Vincent screamed. "Sephiroth is dead!"//

At least he knew they also fell.

No more to give, Lucrecia. No more voice to scream and no more will to stand. There she lay silent on the altar he found her on last before the world ended, eyes staring, mouth slightly parted, skin so much like wax he could melt it with his heat. Yet she was still strong enough to beckon him here; strong enough to torment him with old memories long suppressed. To live on. What else would Lucrecia have him do but to live on?

"Dreams. What a lie this is...But..."

Hojo almost laughed. So this was what it had come down to. Her old resilience, the pride she held herself with, where had that gone? Where was the woman who even in childbirth would not scream but bit her lower lip until blood dripped down her chin?

"Oh, Lucrecia. You know the truth, don't you?"

He knelt down below the stairs so his head was just above hers and stroked her hair. She was not dead; he designed it to be so. Bending down, he laid a light kiss on her cold lips.

"I haven't done that for thirty-one years, Lucrecia." He croaked, smiling. "After you, there was just no point to try and find another. You were a goddess, and you had two most loyal worshippers, remember? We were determined to fight to the death for you, but in the end it was my mouth on yours and my child in your womb. Poor Vincent. But I always wonder what would have happened to us - to all of us - if you had run away with him? What a beautiful romance that would have made."

Beautiful. Too much so.

The woman gave no reply. Of course she wouldn't. He could hear the walls moan with her unspoken words, her burdened passion.

"And look at you now. I want to say I don't know what happened, but I do. I killed you, but you're not dead. I could revive you, but you won't be alive. That is just the way JENOVA planned it... She can toy away with Sephiroth and pull at his strings, but he's dead inside and she's powering a carcass. And you wonder why she won't let you go, Lucrecia? You wonder why that even though she haunts you, taunts you, terrorizes and hates you, you wonder why she won't let you go...but you know the truth, don't you?"

The walls of the cave glowed. Green mist swirled within its surface, frantic, possessed, raging. Lucrecia's face remained frozen.

"Our son is dead." He whispered. "And we will live because we are part of JENOVA. If you die, so will I."

Hojo paused, and added: "And so will Vincent. We created Sephiroth, all four of us. Sephiroth's soul could not live with itself."

//"Mother! Father!" Sephiroth's voice cut clean through the smoke. Nibelheim was a nightmare he could not wake from. "Gods, help me!"//

Dreams. What a terrible mess. What did she mean to accomplish, sending those silken fingers through the moonlight into his sleep? Nibelheim was not its former self. The well repaired no longer gave water. The houses rebuilt could not bring back its residents. Even in torment, a man's evil deeds have already been done.

"We're all linked. We've been linked from the beginning. You know I loved you, of course you know. Back then I could've done anything you told me to, so young I was, and so unpopular that I could hardly believe my luck at getting such a heavenly woman. But did you know, Lucrecia, that I loved Vincent too? My love for Vincent could only be matched with my hatred for him. This love overwhelmed me, so much it sometimes made me want to end my own life...or his.

"So JENOVA used me...used this love to bind us together and make herself stronger. She would not die unless we all died, such was her plan."

He drew in a breath.

"Do you know what that means?" He whispered. "Only one of US could kill you. Vincent tried, oh he tried, but he failed. And Sephiroth? He never had a soul. He is JENOVA's plaything, our byproduct. But if it means so much to you, love..."

Placing one more kiss on her lips, he opened his eyes

"I will try to save him."

And awoke.

The clock beside his bed read 3:42. Hojo rubbed his eyes and looked out the window. Midgar did not have any stars, but a flat yellow disc did appear once in a while in the brown-gray skyline, and it seemed tonight he was lucky.

"What a right little family we are." He muttered to himself, looking at the moon, his vision blurring. "Two mothers, two fathers, governing over a son who's already dead and all of us insane."

//When the only reply was the sound of the laughter, stronger than ever, Sephiroth lowered his head and clenched his fists. Silver locks worthy of envy from the moon caressed the bloodstained floor.

And when he looked up, there was a hideous grin on his face.//

Cyrus Hojo chuckled dryly, and put his head in his hands.

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