A Rose By Any Other Name Chapter 13

By Mintbaby

Natalie looked down at the schematics with wide eyes. “So… so, it’s finished?” She looked up at Cid and saw his expression that bordered on arrogance. “You have it done and set up?”

Cid nodded and changed his gaze from Natalie to Vincent and back again. “Yep. She’s all set up. All I have to do is check the power connection and turn it on.” He turned to go and then paused at the door to face the two again. “Oh. You were right. The conversion rate was wrong. But you still did a hell of a good job, professor. For a broad,” he added with a smile.

He left the room and Natalie could feel Vincent’s eyes on her as she stared down at the schematics. After a moment, she carefully rolled them up, fastened them with a rubber band, and then set it aside. “Wow. It’s done.”

Vincent came to sit in the seat beside her. “Yes. Cid has always been amazing at engineering.”

Natalie glanced toward the window of her room at the starry night that soothed the town to rest and released a breath. “I wish it was morning. Then I could start. I could finally start.”

“You should rest now, Natalie. Tomorrow will be an intense day. A new beginning for some.”

Natalie focused on Vincent’s face and smiled. “You’re right. Of course.” She stood with a yawn and a stretch. Vincent watched her in silence. “Where are you going to sleep? The past couple days we haven’t slept hardly at all. When we did, it was a quick nap under a tree while the others kept trying to figure out what the problem was.”

Natalie cleared her throat and made her way to the bed to turn down the covers. ‘So, what are you asking, Nat? Are you hoping he’ll opt to stay up here with you? To celebrate? To say good-bye to what he is now? One last night together before possibly saying good-bye forever?’ She cleared her throat again and plumped her pillow.

“Going to the crypt seems pointless now. I have no reason to hide.”

Natalie swallowed hard and paused a moment before turning to face him. He was still sitting at the table, watching her. She sat on the edge of the bed and looked down at her hiking boots a moment before bending forward to untie the laces. “I’m sure Cloud will put you up at his place.”

‘I want you to stay here with me, Vincent. Sure, Cloud will let you stay there with him because he sees you as a friend. I want you to stay here with me and tell me that I’m doing the right thing. That you’re not afraid. That this is what you want me to do. I want you to hold me close and kiss away all my fears.’ She set aside her hiking boots with a shallow sigh.

Vincent stood and made his way over to her. He knelt down and gently pushed her hands away to untie her hiking boots and pull each one free. “Yes, he would.”

He began to massage her feet and Natalie stared down at him, gnawing her lower lip to keep herself from asking what she shouldn’t ask. ‘Are you ready for this, Nat? Do you realize what you’re asking? Do you realize what it would mean?’

He looked up after a silent moment and she caught his amber eyes. “Vincent…”

“Natalie, don’t ask me to stay.”

Natalie flushed and lowered her eyes. “Why not? A lot of things are going to happen tomorrow. I’d sleep better if you were here.”

He straightened and sat beside her on the bed after a slight pause. When he turned toward her, his eyes were oddly glowing. “I wouldn’t.”

She smiled slightly, turning away to rub her palms on the thighs of her jeans. “Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t either, but… But it’s the last night before our world gets turned upside down. I guess I thought… Oh, I don’t know what I thought.”

Vincent was quiet for a long time, and then he cupped her chin in his hand and turned her to face him again. “Making love to you, Natalie, is something I want more than my own life right now. But… But I want you as I was, not as this creation of Hojo. You deserve nothing less. Please understand.”

Natalie’s face flamed its darkest shade of red, but she held his gaze. “I… I do,” she whispered.

He released a slow breath and dropped his hand, looking away from her face. “I should go now. Before I forget.”

He made a move to stand and Natalie took hold of his hand. “Vincent, wait.”

Vincent tensed. “Natalie. Please.”

Natalie released his hand and clasped hers behind her back. “I know, I know. I… I just want you here with me. There are a lot of good reasons why you should go, but… Just for me? I just want you to hold me, so that I can sleep. Then you can go. Please.”

He turned to face her. “My control may not hold, Natalie.” There was pain in his expression.

Natalie stepped forward to take his arm again. “It will,” she said as she held his gaze. “I know you, Vincent. It will. I know it will.”

He removed her hand with his claw and gave it a gentle squeeze before releasing it. “I do not trust myself. Good night, Natalie.”

Vincent waited there and Natalie lowered her gaze. “Good night.”

Natalie heard his footsteps approach the door, pause as he turned to watch her a moment, and then slowly recede down the hallway after closing the door behind him. She slumped onto the bed with a deep breath. ‘He has more sense than I do.’

‘Making love to you, Natalie, is something I want more than my own life… But I want you as I was, not as this creation of Hojo. You deserve nothing less.’

She smiled slightly and lay back on the bed, closing her eyes as she remembered again and again the look in his eyes and the soft caress of his words.


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