A Rose By Any Other Name Chapter 11
"So So what do we do now?" Natalie raised her head and held his amber gaze. "I've never been here before, Vincent. I always thought it was an impossible reality. Now? Now I don't know what to do next. I don't know how to act. I don't know anything."
Vincent just stared down at her, his expression fading from an odd expression of distance to something she'd never thought she'd see: compassion and adoration. Natalie nearly lost the ability to breathe and the longer she held his gaze, the harder it was to do just that. Finally, she looked down.
"I would say that you have voiced my own fears to the letter." He lifted her chin with his golden claw and examined her face. "So? What should we do? Should we answer our passions and forget the logic and common sense that often protects us from ourselves?" Natalie flushed a deep shade of red, but somehow managed to hold his gaze. "Should we distance one from the other until the reality of your experiment arises in the form of failure or success? Should I accept the one dream attained and put away the other so that I do not tempt the fates? Or should I vanish again within myself and save you from the heartache that I know will come of any association with that darkness which resides within this cold heart?"
Natalie closed her eyes and he lowered his hand from her chin. She immediately lowered her head. "I don't know about you, but these past few days have been glorious. It's been like living a dream and I don't want it to end. But, then again, you deserve happiness just as much as I do. If you think you'd be happier in that dark room in a coffin away from everyone who's ever cared about you, well I guess you should do that." She paused, swallowing her tears as she opened her eyes and looked up at him. He was gazing down at her as usual. "But then you'd be tormented by the 'what if's. You don't really want that, do you? You don't want the nightmares to start again, do you? You couldn't! Not when you know that I'd do anything to make you happy!"
His lips quivered upward slightly. "Your passion is intoxicating and causes me to sneer in the face of my own twisted caution. I can see in your face that you would rather do anything than attempt a reversal of my current form, and yet you set aside your own personal feelings and swear to do that which I wish to be done. You have fallen in love with a monster and now you fear that when it is changed to a man, he will no longer care for you nor you for him " Vincent hesitated, and then took one of her hands in his. He changed his gaze to their clasp. The claw made her hand seem insignificant and powerless and yet hers continued to remain, trusting in the protection of that simple touch. "I am tempted to remain as I am simply to spite that which I knew Hojo believed to be impossible: a beast being loved by a beauty. An age-old story reborn in a twisted future that was nearly erased by our own pride."
"B-but don't you want me to try?" Natalie asked hesitantly. "Shouldn't I try to f-fix you?"
Vincent sighed long and deep. "The desire to be what I once was overpowers anything else. I wish to make my own choices and not surrender to that which someone else chooses as my rightful path." His grip tightened around her hand and he caught her gaze. "Yes. You should try. You should do your best and regret nothing that occurs because of it. This is my final decision. Do not doubt it, or your own ability. Strange as it may seem coming from one such as I, I have faith in you."
"Maybe you shouldn't," she said quietly. Natalie dropped his gaze and carefully removed her hand from his. She walked to the window and stared at the well below them. He came to stand just behind her. "I guess now's the time for me to be as honest with you as you've been with me."
"You have already mentioned your fear that I may die."
"That's not all of it, though. I mean, that's a big part, yes, but not all." She took in a deep breath and wrapped her arms around herself. "Throughout my entire school career I wanted to find someone who would want me for who I was. All my quirks. All my crazy notions of grandeur. All my dreams and fantasies. When I heard about you I guess you could say I was intrigued because I felt sorry for you. I mean, my life was lonely because I was never interested in anything outside history. Yours was lonely because you'd been betrayed by those who had said they loved you. You were an outcast because someone in power abused his position. My heart broke when I found someone who was more pitiful than me. Someone who had no hope of finding someone to love them. So, I decided to learn more. I wanted to I guess I wanted to fall in love with you because I knew it was impossible for you to fall in love with me. After all, I knew you'd never meet me. I knew you'd never do anything that I was interested in. I knew that I was safe."
Natalie lowered her head and wiped away the tears, her heart balking at what she was confessing. "Then I wanted to learn more about what they'd done to you so that I'd have a reason to pity and care for you even more. The fantasy of nurse falling for patient taken to a totally new and twisted level. When I became interested in what I was studying and not just who I was studying it caught me completely by surprise. The surprise faded and in came a new fantasy: what if I could cure you and therefore make you feel something akin to love. It filled me with hope and made me do something foolish. This fantasy actually made me start looking for you. Something I'd promised I'd never do. Work was my life, but "
"For the first time I wanted something more. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to share my life with someone who I thought would appreciate me. I wanted the fantasy to become real because I was tired of living in a dream world when I wanted love or tenderness. At first I'd convinced myself that I was only searching for you so that I could set right a terrible wrong, but then I started dreaming of what our life could be like together. It hurt to see it because seeing it made me want it even more. When I wanted it more, it hurt to know that it was impossible to have. After all, you were in love with Lucrecia. You always had been. You always would be in my mind."
"And when we met?"
"I thought I'd died, or that I was dreaming, or that someone was playing a cruel joke on me. I had never known or dreamed what to expect, so it was all so new and exciting. Yet terrifying too because I'd always lived in the past. In the midst of books and tombs surrounded by sarcophagi and hieroglyphs of legends and kings. When I began speaking, listening, and hearing all you were and were not saying, a part of me began to see that I began to believe that maybe it was possible for me possible for me to have something like what I'd thought was only possible in a fantasy. Then I then I realized that I loved you and not the Turk you used to be. I tried to convince myself that you were one and the same but but I just have such a hard time believing it." She looked over her shoulder toward him and met his amber eyes. Her lips quivered in a smile. "I know what you looked like as a Turk and I like you better. I don't know why. Maybe because I'm odd. Maybe because I believe I'll have you all to myself. Maybe because you're a hero with real super-powers. I know it's selfish, but it's the way I feel. I just thought you should know."
Vincent was silent for a long time and his eyes glowed with a strange expression. Natalie turned fully around and leaned her back against the window, watching his reactions with dread. After what seemed the 100th emotion crashed across his face, Natalie lowered her head with a sigh. "I didn't tell you this to make you change your mind. I just wanted to let you know that if it looks like I'm not trying my best, I'm probably not and you should remind me exactly why I'm doing what I'm doing. I'm new to this whole love business and so I'm not really sure what's right and what's wrong. I know that honesty is usually the best policy, and I've tried to live my life that way, but I also know that I don't want to hurt you. You've had that enough in your life. I can't say that my feelings will change if my theory is right and I'm able to change you back to how you used to be, but I can't say that they'll stay the same either. I guess I just wanted to warn you." Natalie felt her throat begin to constrict with the tears at the thought of causing him more agony. "Yeah," she choked out. "I just wanted to warn you. To let you know now so you won't be hurt later."
"It seems I am trapped between a rock and a hard place."
Natalie couldn't resist a smile as she looked up at him. He was still standing directly opposite her, so close that she could smell him. 'Why does he have to smell so good?' "Aren't we both?"
"It seems that we have also traversed these doubt-ridden paths before. We must put these behind us and move forward. For most of your young life you have wanted to put right a great wrong done to me. Now is your chance. For all of my existence as this monster, I have wished for my previous life back. Now is my chance. I understand the risks and accept them as worth the end result. Now you must come to a decision as well. For what do you care, Natalie? For me? Or for this monster shell?"
Natalie raised a hand to her mouth to hold back the sob as her eyes held his. She couldn't answer, but she knew that he clearly read the answer in her eyes.
"Then your answer is there. Whether your 'idea' is a failure or the answer to my unknown prayer, you know that my soul is what you love and my soul will be the same." He stepped forward and enfolded her in his arms again. "The same? I catch myself in a lie. My soul is changing. I feel it. The stone melts. The blackness begins to crumble away. The same? No. It shall never be the same, but it shall be yours."
Natalie smiled and wrapped her arms around him in a tight embrace. "You're a romantic, Vincent. I had no idea."
He pressed his lips against her hair. "Neither did I. You have a unique affect on me. You cause my walls to fall away and the coldness to turn to warmth."
Her heart welled with happiness beyond description and she tightened her arms around him, listening to his heartbeat. It was slow, rhythmic, and seemed to speak her name. She squeezed her eyes shut and sniffled, then pulled away and looked up into his eyes. They brimmed with questions. "I've got an idea."
"Yuffie and I were talking and she had some great notions of a power source."
Natalie nodded her head and then took his claw in hand to lead him out the door of her room. "Come on. I want to show you my idea."
* * *
Yuffie heard a laugh and jumped down from the bed, careful not to step on Red's tail as she dashed to the window. "Hey look! The two lovebirds are out in the open. It looks like they're heading for Mt. Nibel." She turned to Red as he came to stand beside her. "Well? Shall we follow them?"
"To find out what they're doing of course!"
Red shook his mane and pushed her away from the window. "They'll tell us eventually, Yuffie. Eavesdropping is not polite."
Yuffie grimaced and headed for the door. "I don't care. I'm going anyway."
Red hesitated and then followed. "Fine. I'm going too."
Yuffie turned and looked at him in surprise, her hands on her hips. "What? I thought you said eavesdropping isn't cool."
"Yes, but someone has to keep you out of trouble."
Yuffie rolled her eyes and then left the room, Red on her heels.
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