A Rose By Any Other Name Chapter 2

By Mintbaby

Natalie finished the anecdote of one of her many excursions to the Bone Village and pulled out her tuna sandwich. "I have extra, if you want," she said to the black coffin.

She hadn't used force to open it this time. It was still closed tight and Natalie figured she'd leave it that way until he'd gotten familiar with her. Then she'd try again. She looked around the bleak room and took another bite of her sandwich. She washed it down with some grape juice she'd ordered from the inn's kitchen. It wasn't as tart as she liked it, but it was better than water.

"I know a lot of people say this basement should be closed off. They say it's a danger to everyone who comes down here." She shrugged. "I like it. Of course, I'm used to being around old houses and tombs. I guess that's what this reminds me of. One of the places I used to excavate."

Natalie was silent as she finished her sandwich and poured herself some more grape juice. She examined the coffin. 'I wonder if he's hearing me?' She hoped she wasn't annoying him. That wasn't what she wanted to do at all. 'I'll just have to remember not to be here very long. Give him a break.' No one had ever accused her of talking too much.

She'd never really been around people for the social aspect. They had been team members helping her uncover a mystery and that had been the extent of their relationship with her. None of them had ever gotten together after hours because, after hours, she had usually been hard at work cataloguing and deciphering what she'd unearthed. Or she'd been doing reading on the most recent discovery of Professor Gast regarding the Ancients and the Promised Land. Or she'd been researching Hojo's latest 'breakthrough' in the realm of genetic engineering. Or she'd been preparing an article for publication in the local, Shinra owned, scientific digest. There had been no time for socialization, fraternization, or anything even remotely similar.

Maybe that was why she felt she had something in common with Vincent?

She sighed and packed up her picnic. "I better get going, Vincent," she said out loud. "I'm going to be starting on an article about the progress the planet is making since Materia was put back in the Lifestream. I need to talk to a lot of people to get the information, which isn't my favorite thing, but it's all for a good cause. At least it'll be over soon and I can go to the fossilized remains they discovered outside Mt. Nibel." Natalie stood, giving the coffin a wistful look. "I don't think I'll be back until a few days from now. I've got to do a lot of preparing for the interviews that I've scheduled. I never thought they'd respond so quickly…" Natalie cleared her throat. 'Why don't you invite him, Nat? He's just as important to the interview, you know?' "Then I need to write up what I find out. I'll try and drop in and say 'hi', but don't be too disappointed if I don't."

Natalie continued staring at the coffin, wishing it would open just a crack to let her know he was listening. 'Come on, Nat. Don't expect so much the second day. Turn around and walk out of here without being a whiny baby about the whole thing.' She pressed her lips together and turned for the door, closing it behind her to lock it with her free hand. She sighed and made her way out of the basement, up the staircase, and then out of the mansion with a gloomy feeling nagging at her normal light-hearted attitude. Being away from him for a few days would be good for her. She had always been impatient and that would never work with Vincent Valentine.

'I still don't understand why you didn't invite him to the interview. Don't you think he'd come out of his box for his friends? Don't you think he'd want to know?' Natalie pressed her lips together. If he had truly been interested in the article, he would have asked her what the interview was about when she'd mentioned. He hadn't. 'So? What does that prove? It proves that you're a stranger to him and he doesn't like strangers. Big deal. You still should have invited him to the interview!'

Natalie gnawed on her lower lip, pausing at the gate to look back over her shoulder toward the mansion. Suddenly, she pressed her lips together with determination and strode back into the mansion. She made her way up the steps, through the two rooms that led to the spiral staircase, and then through the hidden doorway and down the stairs. She barely paused long enough outside his door to unlock it.

"I'm sorry to bother you," she informed him as she closed the door. She didn't notice the slight movement of the coffin lid as she turned to face the black box. "I forgot to invite you to the interview. You're more than welcome to come. It'll be in my room at the inn sometime tomorrow afternoon. Just come whenever you have a free moment."

Natalie turned from the coffin and hurried outside, closing the door behind her again. She leaned against the door with a sigh and then slowly made her way out of the basement, not noticing the shadowy figure that emerged to watch her.


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