Through the Looking Glass Chapter 26

The Shape of Things to Come

By Lucrecia Marionette

Vincent’s eyes lifted through his veil of jet-black hair and deep brown irises focused on a similarly clothed figure opposite him. His shoulder was pressed up against a doorway, his pistol raised up and ready to aim at the first sign of danger. His trigger finger itched and he felt sweat bead uncomfortably on his forehead. But one glance at his counterpart revealed his dire need to remain inert and silent.

Malcolm met his gaze, one corner of his right eye twitching as it always seemed to when he was under stress. Out of the five members of the elite Turks, Malcolm Jefferies was the newest and least experienced. Vincent struggled to remember whether or not this was the young man’s first mission but he pushed back the trivial musings as his rational side reminded him that the job at hand was, as always, a matter of life and death. For whom was quite another affair.

Malcolm blinked a few times and inhaled deeply but silently, his shoulders heaving upwards with the gesture. His sparkling blue eyes looked at Vincent with the terrible excitement of a child about to undertake their first rollercoaster ride; unsure of whether to be happy or frightened at the prospect. With a slight motion of his head, a bang of light brown hair was flicked off his sweat-soaked cheeks to reveal his flushed visage. He forced a wan smile at his superior who took it impassively and turned back to the doorway.

Stupid child Vincent muttered inwardly with perhaps a grudging sense of desire to protect the eager recruit. He remembered his first mission all those year ago and the sense of dread-enthusiasm which had overwhelmed his mind then. Turks weren’t created; they were born. Natural born killers to be precise who, in the very darkest depths of their mind, would have no qualms about ending a person’s life if the price was high enough.

Without ties or known family, Vincent had little to lose and was therefore President Shinra’s ‘favourite’; the Turk without a conscience and no need to find one. He had no one to hide from at the end of a night shift and ritual shooting of prisoners. He had no mother or father to shy away from whenever they approached the subject of work. He had a life but wasn’t afraid to abuse it and the head of Shinra was quick to discover that when Vincent as a 19 year old boy had been brought before him having shot dead two of the previous best. "The instinct for murder," the bloated President had decided, "was imbedded deep in the mind of certain individuals" and the only-just matured man from the slums had developed it faster than most. Because of that he was trained and hired within a few months to break all previous records set in the department.

Since then, Valentine’s only family had been the company which had also become his prison. Not that he cared. He had no need to care. Until a few months before that particular moment, that is. Because now he had Her.

Now he had Lucrecia.

Never had a mission bothered him before. They were strictly business; point and fire a pistol and it wasn’t his fault if some idiot got in the way of the bullet. He’d always viewed the cold creed vice-versa; the day he was the idiot to bite the dust then it was obviously his own damned fault for letting his guard down. However, now, Vincent Valentine, the murderous Turk believed in something he never had before.


It was bad luck that Lucrecia was married; it was good luck that brought her to him in the first place. It was bad luck he’d slipped and injected himself with a syringe; it was good luck that he became so ill that Lucrecia came frequently to check on him. It was just one of those things.

But if he were to go one step further, he could start to follow the age-old theory that ‘man created his own luck’. In that case, he had to be careful, he had to be even more careful than ever before to ensure that the next bullet fired wasn’t aiming for him. Now he had a reason to live and he was damned if luck would decide that it was time to take that from him.

But that was why, for one of the first times in his life, Vincent was scared. He was terrified and it showed on his pallid face as he stared with a haunted fixedness on a wall just above Malcolm’s shoulders.

The Sector Three slums were a horrible place he’d decided. And having encountered an angel they seemed so much more depraved and filthy. So much so, he just wanted to rush back to his apartment and take off all his clothes, leap into a shower and scrub the grime off his skin. It was foul and it was dirty; even the air seemed fouler, coating his lips and tongue whenever he breathed in. It was just his luck that he’d been called away from another day of pointless watch duty to hunt down suspected Wutaneese spies in one of the city’s most notorious areas.

Curse Shinra and his paranoia Vincent snarled inwardly.

He was jolted violently from his thoughts as he caught sight of Malcolm staring with horror at him, desperately trying not to scream out what was bothering him and blow their cover. Vincent stared back with the calmness of a professional and slowly looked above himself. There was a red rag hanging in the static air from a corner of the corrugated-iron roof; it had been pinned loosely to a crack in the pathetic shelter. It was the signal.

Clicking the safety on his pistol off, Vincent gave a single nod to Malcolm who circled around to the closed entrance with excited, jittery movements and licked his lips eagerly. Taking a step back he lunged forward and kicked at the feeble ‘door’. With a loud clang it flew into the house and smashed against the opposite wall. He ran forward with Vincent calmly behind and yelled "FREEZE!" in a manner he’d seen once on a cop movie.

There was a long pause as the two Turks made themselves at ease with the territory they’d entered and surveyed any possible threats. Vincent was the first to speak as he slipped his gun into its holster on the inside of his tailored, navy-blue jacket. He pulled a face as he observed the almost hyperactive rookie by his side.

"Holster your weapon," he said in his quiet monotone as his gaze flicked over the shabby room and it’s occupants. Malcolm, waving the firearm around in a clearly amateurish way stared at Vincent as though the older Turk had just asked the young man to shoot himself.

"Are you nuts??" he exclaimed but Vincent merely blinked slowly.

"Put your gun away," he repeated a little more firmly and this time was obeyed.

"I don’t understand," Malcolm objected with a frown as he stared at their ‘spies’. A family were huddled hysterically in the middle of the floor clothed in feeble rags; smudges adorning every visible part of their skin. Their wide eyes stared in complete fear at the two men who had barged into their dwelling. Their angled faces clearly denoted them as being Wutaneese, but it was almost preposterous to see them capable of any kind of espionage. Two small children clutched at their mother and father, only in slightly better condition than the parents they sought for protection.

At that moment, there was another figure in the room as a female Turk stepped silently into the area; platinum blond hair which seemed almost white in the dingy light tied back at the base. Her vision swapped between the considerably taller Vincent and Wutaneese refugees several times before she spoke.

"Any resistance?" she questioned meekly.

"From these?" Vincent snorted derisively. "Don’t make me laugh."

"They may look weak, but it doesn’t mean their not hiding something," Malcolm pointed out, the tone of disappointment in his voice more than obvious.

Vincent looked at him. "I know that," he replied patiently. He turned to the slim, female Turk who stood warily in one corner. "Rebecca, take the mother and children upstairs. I shall speak with the father."

All at once the family started sobbing unanimously, the immediate shock of the attack over as they started to understand the danger they faced. Wife clutched at husband desperately as the children were dragged away and taken to the upper floor. Rebecca came downstairs once more and held the arm of the woman tightly. "Come with me and you won’t be hurt," she said with a degree of pity and softness.

"But my husband!" she cried. "Let me stay with him!"

"No," Rebecca snapped in a sudden anger. "Come with me!"

The hysterical woman fell instantly silent under the unexpected harshness and let go of her partner tearfully before being led away from the room. Only Vincent, Malcolm and the Wutaneese father remained now. He let out a shuddering sob and put his hands over his face as his composure totally collapsed. Malcolm’s previous thrill of the break-in rapidly faded until he could only stare with a dreadful sorrow at the broken refugee. He looked to Vincent with an almost pleading sound in his voice. "I don’t think they’re spies," he said hoarsely. "Can we just leave them alone?"

Vincent didn’t bother to answer and instead addressed the captive. "What are you doing in Midgar?"

Slowly, the figure lifted his head and gazed dumbly at the imposing figure.

"What’s your name?" Malcolm intervened in a way he hoped would ‘break the ice’ somewhat.

"My name…" the old man stuttered. "It’s Aiden Shao." He swallowed hard. "Y, You won’t hurt my family will you?"

"Oh no, no, no," Malcolm consoled quickly. "If you’re not a spy then we’ll leave you alone!"

Vincent shot his counterpart a bemused look; a mixture of disgust and exasperation. "Malcolm, leave this to me," he said emotionlessly. "Perhaps it would be better if you watched on this mission."

The brown-haired man gave the captive a hopefully reassuring glance before stepping back grudgingly.

Aiden Shao stared up at Vincent. "Please don’t hurt my family, "he begged in an accent rich with his Wutaneese heritage. "You think we’re spies, but we ran from Wutai because of the war. We thought we would be safe here."

"If that is the case, then you’ll not mind us looking through your possessions?"

"Oh no! No!" he exclaimed quickly. "You can’t do that! I have priceless family heirlooms with me that will mean nothing to the Shinra! Things which have been passed down to me from my father. We’re not spies but you cannot see our things! They’re for the Shao family only to gaze upon."

"I’m sorry, but that isn’t good enough. If indeed you are innocent then you have to let us see your things," Vincent answered with narrowed eyes.

"But it will displease the Five Mighty Gods! They’ll curse us if people who are not of our religion taint them with their foreign ways of thinking."

Vincent gave a slow blink. "I am of no religion, so surely that will not matter," he stated in a way he knew was perhaps illogical and maybe even patronising. Aiden didn’t seem to notice however and could only stand up weakly with his hands clasped together over his front.

"Please sir," he whispered. "I’ll make it worth your while if you leave us alone. We’ve done nothing to hurt you or your company. You’re a good man, I can see it in your eyes and you must believe that we’re innocents judged only by our appearance and background."

Vincent gave an audible sigh and stood rigid before the man’s pleas whilst Malcolm seemed to have fixed his gaze on the floor in an effort to block out his mind to the heartbreaking beseeching of the old man. He rubbed his face guiltily.

"And what would you have to give me, Mr Shao?" Vincent questioned in a purely humouring way. This job had grown rapidly pathetic and was becoming even more laughable with every word uttered. He just wanted to leave and take his accusations with him. The man was clearly not a spy and his family were only guilty of poverty; that was hardly something he could convict them of.

"I can give you jewellery from Wutai! Handcrafted from precious materials. They are from our shrine and it will displease the gods greatly, but you can have anything if you let us go free!"

Vincent ran a gloved hand through his hair and paused with it resting on the back of his head. At that moment he noticed Rebecca walk into the room again, her arms folded across her chest. She looked up at Vincent. "Got anything?" she asked him gently.

He shook his head. "The man knows nothing. The only suspicious thing is that he refuses to let us look through his things. That’s understandable however taking into consideration how superstitious the Wutan’s are."

She nodded. "So we’re going?"

Vincent nodded again after a moment’s thought. "No point in staying here."

"C’mon Malcolm," she sighed as she walked over to the twenty-three year old. "It was your first mission. You look pale."

She helped the rookie to stand and he took the help thankfully despite the fact that it came from someone much shorter than he was. He stood only a few inches below Vincent, but as he stooped sickly and shuffled from the dwelling he looked more like a sickly child. Vincent watched them leave and started to turn back to Aiden Shao. He was just in time to watch the old man’s hand disappear into his pocket with a disturbing fervour on his face.

An unfamiliar sense of anger and rage tore through Vincent’s mind at the action and before he even realised what was happening, his pistol was in his hand and there was the heavy smell of gunpowder in the air. It took a few seconds for the actual sound of the gunshot to reach his ears and it was followed by a sick thud a few seconds later. He looked in amazement at the gun in his hand which had seemed to appear there at will as he watched the Wutaneese man reach for something in his own shabby jacket. He was so engrossed in the incredible event that it took him several heartbeats to even acknowledge his comrades as they sprinted back into the room.

"Holy shit!" Rebecca cried out as her eyes focused on the corpse of Aiden Shao, a puddle of blood spreading out from beneath him.

Malcolm almost ran straight into her, covering his mouth at the sight of the death as he gagged, running hastily from the area. Rebecca grabbed Vincent’s shoulder and shook it violently and he gradually looked up from his pistol, gazing at the crumbled body.

"Damn Vince," she whispered. "What happened?"

"He went into his jacket," Vincent murmured, too stunned to raise his voice. "I knew he didn’t have a weapon, but before I could even blink, he was dead. I shot him."

She walked over to the Aiden and rolled him over onto his front; his hand was still inside his jacket and his face retained the look of concentration and eagerness which it had been wearing when Vincent turned to him. Rebecca pulled the arm from its clothy shrouded and revealed a clenched palm. Tugging the fingers to open the grip, a small gold item fell into the blood. A look of disgust on her face, she lifted it gracefully from the tepid pool and wiped it on the corpse’s trousers. Her lips pressing together in a white line, she walked over to Vincent and showed him the small object.

"It looks like a piece of jewellery," she told him. "It was probably a gift of thank-you or something."

She held it out to him and slipped it into his grasp, taking away his gun. "I’d better take care of this," she reasoned numbly. "You’re in shock and not thinking properly."

Seeming to completely ignore her, Vincent held up the gold symbol to his face and attempted to focus his eyes on it. No matter how much he tried to calm his nerves however, they were still screaming into his brain and he felt a headache build up from the top of his spine and spread to his temples. Sweat formed once more on his forehead and he felt bile creep up the back of his mouth.

With a sudden, almost feral snarl of rage, Vincent threw of the trinket at one of the walls of the room and stormed out with a posture which depicted everything human, and not human with fury. Rebecca backed away from him in alarm and stayed in her posture of defence even after he had gone. Once his footsteps had long since dissipated she crept nervously to the place that her fellow Turk had hurled the object and attempted to find it amongst the garbage. As she stooped to search in the rubbish gathered around the outside of the floor space a shaft of light beamed into her face. Standing up, she noticed a small, rough hole in the corrugated-iron wall. It was just about the same size as the piece of jewellery… .

"No…" she almost laughed aloud. "No one could throw it that hard."

A completely forced expression of amusement touched her face as she decided that she didn’t want to start dirtying her nail by scraping through garbage any more. Besides, she had more important things to do like clear up after her comrade’s ‘mishap’. Only God knew how they would explain this in the reports.

Above her there was a scream and the sound of heavy weeping as the Shao family upstairs in the single bedroom began to comprehend the unexpected gunshot.


Vincent winced furiously as the elevator doors slid open with an almost agonising racket. But he knew that wasn’t right. The doors were oiled daily, he couldn’t even recall ever noticing them before because they were so silent. So why was he hearing them now? Why was the slightest heartbeat drumming into brain like a hammer against an anvil?

It was driving him insane.

Rubbing his temples and fixing his eyes on the floor to save eye-contact with anyone, he stumbled from the recess out onto floor six; his apartment floor. It was just as he walked past the reception desk when he was stopped.

"Vincent!" exclaimed a voice oozing with adoration.

He gritted his teeth and screwed his eyes closed at the grating noise as he fought with every ounce of his will to retain his composure. He took another step in the direction of the apartment corridor but a figure suddenly appeared between himself and the salvation of his home.

"Vinny," the voice teased playfully. "Anyone would think that you were trying to ignore me! The weirdest thing happened this lunch time…"

Vincent surprised himself as a bestial growl rumbled in his throat, but it was inaudible to the receptionist over the incessant sound of her babbling so he merely looked up to meet her eyes. He blinked wearily and trained his ears upon her words.

"… and she looked as though she’d been crying or something! So anyway, she gave me this letter and then ran off to the elevator. She was gone before I could ask what she wanted. I was going to read it-"

"Read what?" Vincent asked suddenly and the woman looked at him in surprise that he hadn’t understood the stream of words which had spilled out of her mouth over the last minute. Long, fake eyelashes fluttered over heavily blushed cheeks revealing turquoise eyelids like a peacock displaying its plumage. She brushed a strand of hair from her face and wobbled over to her desk on six-inch heels, tugging down the hem of her red mini-skirt as she went. She bent seductively over the table, making sure that Vincent was glancing in her direction as she wiggled her rear, fishing through the many unorganised drawers at her control.

Checking her reflection in a mirror before standing, she walked back over to him and handed him an envelope. "This letter," she said. "Some woman in a lab coat came down about five hours ago and asked me to give this to you." She sniffed disdainfully. "She looked a complete mess. I wouldn’t be seen dead wandering around the HQ as she was. Her hair was sticking our in all directions as though she’d never even heard of a brush and there wasn’t a hint of colour in her cheeks."

Vincent blinked at the woman and then down at the object in his hands. His name had been written clearly on the front in light-blue biro. The handwriting was of someone used to taking meticulous care over tiny tasks; filling out forms and labelling test-tubes as she gave herself to her work. The letters were rounded without being overly loopy and yet it was in the style of a mature woman.

He almost blushed despite himself at the sudden inspection of his own name on a piece of paper and tucked it into his pocket anxiously, his hands trembling and any thoughts of a headache gone from his mind.

He stared intently at the receptionist who had begun talking again, but he didn’t even try to understand what she was saying. "Thank you, Michelle," he said before turning away and sitting down on a bench in the waiting area.

"You’re welcome," she simpered after him, unaware that he didn’t even know she was there any more.

He perched on the edge of the seat and paused for a while to slow his pulse, taking deep breaths and closing his eyes. Suitably calmed, he produced the innocuous envelope from his breast pocket and slipped his finger along the top, tearing it open. Pulling out the piece of paper within, he smoothed it out and begun to read, his lips forming the syllables.

"Dear Vincent. I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what I can say to make this any easier. It feels like someone’s torn my heart from my chest and I can’t help but wonder if I can ever have it back. I don’t know what I’m meant to do now, I don’t think I ever have known which is why I’m so confused. I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you what has happened in as few words as possible so that you can hate me sooner and then perhaps I won’t despise myself as much.

"I’m leaving.

"The Jenova Project is going ahead and President Shinra has ordered that I must go to Nibelheim. I wanted to tell you to your face but I’m too much of a coward. It was hard enough putting my thoughts onto paper without the prospect of destroying you face to face.

"I know that you love me. I’m certain of it because I love you. There... I’ve finally said it. Tobias would murder me if he knew that I felt like this, but I’m not as scared any more. He doesn’t care that much about me, he just cares about this bloody experiment of his and I suppose I’m the fool for getting involved in it.

"They say that only true love is requited and I’ve never felt this way before and I don’t think I ever will again. That’s how greatly I feel for you and it would destroy me a thousand times to think that you don’t mirror these emotions. But whenever I meet your eyes, whenever we brush against one another it sends tingles through my body and I feel as though I just want to collapse into you right there and then.

"Oh God… listen to me. I’m like a schoolgirl. You must hate me even more now… not only because I’m going but because I’m leaving you with these thoughts.

"Perhaps it’s for the best that I’m moving to the other side of the world. You’re a Turk and I’m sure that you do things you’re not proud of. You and I are more alike that you could know. I never wanted you to get involved so it is only good which can come from us being apart.

"Now I’m angry. I’m furious. I hate life, I hate the gods that have done this to you and maybe even me.

"I’m sorry Vincent. I haven’t got much time but I thought that you’d better know.

"I love you which is why I’ve gone. If I didn’t feel this way then I would have fought with every ounce of my power to stay with you; something that I’m certain would have destroyed us both in the end.

"Good bye my love, Lucrecia."

Vincent’s eyes scanned over the letter many time before it finally sank in. He looked at the wall opposite him and slipped the piece of paper back into his pocket. His face was drained of any colour and his lips were pressed together so tightly that they were little more than a white scar across his face. His eyes blazed with rage, but had anyone walked past him at that moment they probably would never have given the handsome Turk a second glance.

He stayed like that for several minutes, the words on the piece of paper screaming around his soul as he held up his ice-like front with a possessed fury. Slowly, he stood and tensed his jaw muscles, clenching his fists.

Walking over to the elevator, he didn’t even blink as the doors opened and Rebecca walked out, almost knocking herself over.

"Hey, Vince!" she cried in anger as she stared up at the considerably taller man. "If you’re intending on standing that close to the doors then you’re going to piss a lot of people off."

Vincent’s head tilted to one side thoughtfully as he paused, and eventually looked back at her. His eyes faced in her direction, but the pupils seemed to stare straight through her and Rebecca shivered violently with the feel of something boring through her soul. She crossed her arms over her front self-consciously.

"May I have my gun," Vincent said. It wasn’t a question, she noted. It was an order.

Although slightly confused, she hesitantly reached inside her jacket and pulled the large pistol from the holster. She gave it to him. "Here you go," she muttered worriedly. "Are you okay Vincent? You look a little…" He voice trailed off as she sought the correct word. "You look a little… mad."

He said nothing and brushed past her, only making eye contact with his comrade as the doors slid shut and the elevator began to move up the glass tube. Rebecca Mullen chewed on her bottom lip anxiously after she stared after him for a few seconds. Her platinum-blonde eyebrows knitted over the bridge of her nose as she turned away with a thoughtful expression and went to her apartment.

"I’m sorry sir, but if you want to see the President then you have to make an appoi-"

"That will not be necessary." Vincent shoved violently past the guard that stood outside the staircase to President Shinra’s office; the most important place in the whole of Midgar. He was about to put his palm against the cold steel door when the soldier quickly stepped between his superior and the object of his attention.

"I said that you have to make an appointment sir. The President is very busy."

Vincent lowered his head slightly until he was on the same eye-level as the young guard and spoke slowly as though he was addressing a person who had never even spoken the same language before. He moved his lips obviously as though hoping to put across his point with greater importance by dumbing down his speech. "The President sits on his fat ass all day counting his money and leaving the executives to do all the work. He is not busy. He is smoking his cigars and bathing himself in the glory of his achievements. Now you can either let me in to see him right now, or you can find yourself flying out of that window over there."

Vincent extended a long, graceful finger in the direction of a vast pane of glass which virtually took up an entire wall with its size. It showed the hideous view of the smoke-choked Midgar; the reactors spewing their ethereal gas into the atmosphere on the very rim of the mega-city.

"I can assure you that the world down there is not a nice one. And watching it fly up at you with the speed of a train will make it much less pleasant," he finished menacingly.

The young soldier gave a reluctant shudder, comprehending little of Vincent’s words except the threat and knowing only that he was being harassed by the Shinra’s top assassin. After only a heartbeat, he wisely shuffled to one side, breathing heavily and swallowing hard.

The Turk said nothing and merely pushed open the stairway door and entered. Slipping his hand into the inside of his jacket, feeling the comforting, cold metal of his gun he continued with a renewed fury.

The door slid shut behind him as he reached the very top of the Shinra building. An elegant marble floor stretched out like a bleak plain before him; no less inhuman than the icy, burnished metal which decorated the rest of the building. He looked down momentarily and caught sight of his own reflection in the polished black stone. Narrowing his eyes however, he titled his face upwards once more and strode with a restrained anger to the centre of the room.

President Shinra looked up over the sheath of papers in his hands and upon noticing his Turk, gave a wide grin around his cigar. The young president, a man of perhaps the same age as Vincent pushed up from his chair and exhaled a stream of tarry smoke into the air.

"Valentine!" he exclaimed. "Just reading through these mission reports. Disappointing that you didn’t find anything, but it’s good to know you’re back on top form. I’d heard all kinds of rumours about you losing your head over some tart in the science department. Killing an innocent man, huh? Looks like the old Turk streak is back."

Vincent said nothing and glared furiously at his superior but the President was too busy laughing to take heed of the reaction. He put the papers down on his desktop and waddled around the side of the absurdly large table to face the tall man.

"One less Wutan to worry about," he continued as he wiped a tear of mirth from the corner of his eyes, still grinning maniacally. "That’s what I say. And in this dangerous age, that can’t be a bad thing."

"It was an accident."

Shinra looked at Vincent as though the stoic man had just told a joke and burst out laughing again. "An accident??" he chortled between gasps for air as his cruel laughter rung hollowly around the vast, sparse chamber. "You… You mean to tell me that you turned around, pulled out your gun and shot a pleading man by accident??"

Vincent cringed as the red-suited President continued to bellow out his appreciation. Finally the raucous noise stopped although the echo of it rung subtly around the vaulted ceiling. The obese man perched on the edge of his desk and stubbed out his cigar on another pile of papers looking like a comical devil in his crimson, single-breasted jacket and trousers. He scratched the back of his head and leaned forward towards the Turk.

"So what do you want then?" he asked suddenly and Vincent stared blankly at him. "Come on! What do you want? You’ve obviously come up here wanting a reward of some sort. I know you Turk types; all greedy back stabbing bastards!" He sighed almost mournfully. "I need to recruit some more… . The world needs more people like us."

Vincent physically recoiled in horror as the President claimed to have found some similarity between them. Straightening out his tie nervously however and running a hand through his hair, he inhaled deeply. "I was wondering…" he began cautiously. "If I could go to Nibelheim."

President Shinra stopped his ramblings all too soon and merely stared at Vincent. Despite his previous vigour, the Turk stood frozen under the steady, unmoving gaze of his boss and met it imperturbably. His hands tensed ever so slightly, unnoticeable to the obese, suited man who had pulled another cigar from his jacket and was lighting it absently.

"To Nibelheim you say?" he asked somewhat rhetorically and Vincent nodded.

He took a few puffs on the long, fat brown object and his brow furrowed in thought. He slowly looked up after several long minutes of uncomfortable silence had elapsed. He blinked a few times.

"What the hell for?"

Vincent suddenly choked. He’d stormed up here with the intention of somehow getting himself to the distant, gloomy village of Nibelheim on a fool’s quest to find Her. But he’d been so quick to throw himself before the mercy of his superior that he hadn’t even thought of an excuse. For a moment his exterior cracked as his face contorted in malady .

"A… holiday…?" he asked weakly.

The corners of President Shinra’s lips turned upwards as he chortled. "Valentine, you haven’t had a vacation for over a year. Why the hell do you want to have a break when you’ve started to get onto top form again?"

Vincent’s eyes widened marginally. A year…? Has it really been that long…? He questioned mentally in disbelief. Clearing his throat his continued. "If it truly has been that long sir, then surely you cannot turn me down."

"On the contrary," the President disagreed as he stood up and paced around the table with one hand held behind his back and the other holding up his cigar. He stopped when he was behind his high-backed, black leather seat and leant his elbows against it. "I can turn you down and I will. I don’t need to tell you how dire the situation between Midgar and Wutai is at the moment. I need every defence I can muster around me and I’m not about to let my best Turk go. I need you here, with me."

Vincent narrowed his eyes as he felt the now familiar surge of anger which had crept up his mind in the house of the refugees and countless times before that. Back then he had acted upon some impulse which came from his very gut; now his head was screaming in a rage, demanding to know how the fat pompous bastard could even dare to turn him down. In the very back of his throat, Vincent gave a low snarl as the President reeled of reasons why he was the most important person in the world and therefore required the attention befitting such a figure. He needed bodyguards, assassins and spies; the Turks fulfilled all the requirements and Vincent was the best.

"Sir," Vincent interrupted loudly through gritted teeth. "The Science department are carrying out some important research in the town. It must be somehow beneficial to this situation if you are sending them so far out of harms way. Would you not prefer that they had some protection?"

The President stared at Vincent thoughtfully. "Perhaps…" he acknowledged hesitantly. "But the project is of such a secret nature that no Wutan’s could even dream of its existence. Perhaps I should send out that rookie Turk. What’s his name? Mark? Magnus? Oh yes! Malcolm, that’s right. According to Rebecca’s report he needs further training-"

"And I could give that to him sir! He’s not used to battle in a place such as Midgar; if I was there with him in Nibelheim then I could slowly acclimatise him to such situations."

"No!" Shinra yelled and Vincent’s jaw tensed as his boss glared at the taller man and strode around the side of his desk once more. "You will not go to Nibelheim!! And you are not to mention the idea again. Have I made myself clear??"

Before Vincent could even comprehend what he was doing, a voice which was not even his own rose from his throat and snarled bestially at the figure stood barely a metre from him.

"Oh yes…" he hissed dangerously. "I understand perfectly well…!"

President Shinra stumbled back, his eyes wide with a mixture of horror and shock. Walking backwards, he knocked against the table behind him and fell onto it, propping himself up with his elbows. Vincent’s hand snaked inside his jacket and produced the heavy pistol, previously sat snug inside its holster in less than a blink. He leapt the distance between them and dragged the trembling president into a sitting position, pressing the barrel of the gun up against the sweaty temple.

"I understand that you want to die," Vincent growled. "I understand that you want me to tear you limb from limb or plant a bullet in your fat, self-obsessed brain. I know perfectly well that unless you send me to Nibelheim then I shall do exactly that and end the war before it even starts."

Unable to do anything except shiver violently, the red-suited man remained silent, his teeth chattering loudly.

"So unless you want me to end your materialistic life, then I suggest that you let me go," Vincent snarled finally, his voice a harsh whisper. "Now what do you say…?"

Eventually, Shinra rediscovered his ability to move and nodded quickly, sweat pouring foully from his prematurely wrinkled brow. He swallowed hard and Vincent pulled him to his feet by his collar. He straightened out his tie tentatively and dusted down his jacket in a move which made him seem even more pitiful in the sights of the Turk.

He cautiously tilted his face up to meet Vincent’s gaze and cringed under the intense glare. "I, I’ll let you go," he replied quietly. "But you’ve threatened me for the last time, Turk. I had you initiated into the organisation even after you killed two of my best and had been put on death penalty. I erased your past actions and gave you money and shelter. Now I’m sending you away to carry out a pointless task when you know how desperately you are needed here.

"But this is the last time. Do you hear me? The last time. I will not be humiliated like this again. If you dare to behave like this once more then I will have you executed on the spot."

Vincent stared back with a touch of odd amusement on his pallid features. "I understand, sir," he almost smirked, holding back his expression of contempt. "Thank you, sir."

Nodding in a sign of derisive respect, he turned on his heels, holstering his gun; leaving Level Seventy and a furious president behind.

Chapter 27

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic