By Shiroi Ryu

My world was dark and silent, save for the voices which rang out in my head, driving me mad with guilt. Those voices, and the memories that went with them, were my only companions in that dark and terrible place. I remember them well…

A voice, strong but unsure,--my voice--asking her to put it off-or choose another subject. Then her voice, soft and insistent, telling me that everything was going to be all right. That it made her happy…

More voices, angry, loud, one of which was my voice, screaming at them not to do it. Then her voice, soothing, saying that would be fine… And then His voice, a voice that I loathed beyond mere feelings of hatred, telling me to stay out of it, that they were both 'scientists' and could 'handle it'. My protestation, and then…a moment of silence, filled with roiling tension. Then His voice, filled to the brim with a quiet malice that was far worse than any roar of rage, reminding me harshly that she was not my wife; that she had chosen Him; that she wasn't mine, that she would never, ever be mine.

Footsteps, light and feminine, but with the touch of weight added by pregnancy. A cry of pain, the sound of a slight body collapsing to a wooden floor.

My voice again, angrier than before. Roaring at Him for allowing this to happen to her, reflecting the guilt I felt for letting the one woman I loved get into so much danger. Confronting Him, telling Him that He didn't deserve her, that He didn't love her. Challenging Him to fight for her once again. Little knowing that He would take me up on the offer…

The sound of a gunshot, a dim sensation of pain in my chest. More distinct, the rush of fury and shock as I fell, stunned.

Dim lights, pain, groggy vision. A violent throbbing in my arm and chest, and then, nothing.

Awakening, my body in agony…and remembering… Rage coursing through my veins, and then…

The change. My body feeling as though it were being turned inside out, ripped apart. My cries of pain, becoming something else…

Staring, trapped in the new body that He had given me, watching, powerless, as she labored to give birth to the creature that He had taken so many lives to create. Unable to make any move to stop Him, or to help her, I gazed in horror as she collapsed, and the baby, which, strangely, did not cry, was taken from her. Then I too, was taken away.

I was stripped of my uniform, but it didn't matter; it was ruined now, and I no longer wanted it anyway. It was part of Shinra, the company that had sponsored His diabolical experiments, and I never wanted to be linked to it in any way ever again. I didn't want to be a part of anything. I just wanted to die… So I did not fight when they took me, and placed me in the coffin. I lay there, dying inside, as He pulled the lid over me, shutting out the light…

And then, the voices started all over again…

This continued for what seemed like forever, the memories constantly twisting themselves, never the same, but always torturing me with thoughts of what I had-and hadn't-done.

Over and over the thoughts turned in my head, tumbling through the darkness which was my prison. Until…

A soft and gentle voice broke through my thoughts. Lilting and high-pitched, it filtered through the voices that I'd heard for an eternity, rousing me from my restless slumber. It was a pleasant voice, not unlike the beautiful woman's voice I heard in my dreams…

"Look! I found something!"

Another voice, lower pitched, distinctly male, and definitely less pleasing, reached my ears.

"That's nice, Aeris, but I think you should leave it alone. It could be another monster…"

The female's voice again, "But what if it's another one of Hojo's victims? Remember the note we found…?"


"Well nothing. I'm going to see if I can open it…"

A new voice, female, and slightly lower than the first female's, but no less pleasing, broke in cautiously.

"Aeris, he's right. If it's another monster…Aeris, we won't be able to reach you in time to protect you…"

"Then don't. I'll be fine…" Suddenly, there was a gentle pounding on my coffin's lid. I could hear her straining to push it off. I lay and listened to her efforts, attempting to go back to sleep. After a time, she stopped, panting heavily. I thought she would leave, so that I could return to my punishment. Instead, she began pushing again. Again, I tried to sleep, but with all the noise she was making, I could not. The pounding and pushing was beginning to aggravate me. With a soft, irked growl, I tightened my grip on my gun. Bunching my legs up against my chest, I thrust hard, striking the lid and doing in a few seconds what she had been trying for nearly fifteen minutes. I sat up, blinking in the sudden light which I had forgotten would be there. Blindly, I aimed my gun.

There was a scream, and the male cursed loudly.

"Dammit, Aeris!!!"

As my vision began to clear, I saw two figures. A man dressed in dark purple, with an enormous sword, raised and aimed right at me. Next to him, an extremely attractive young woman, dressed in black and white, fists raised for battle. But no sign of the third female. Calmly, I rose into the air, so that I could watch everything at once. I looked around, searching for the third female. Finally, I glanced down.

And I saw her. Small, dressed in a bright pink dress. I gasped. Not because of her dress, but because of the way she gazed up at me. Beautiful green eyes, and flowing brown hair. The woman I'd loved had had brown hair…

She stared up at me from the floor, where she'd been knocked when I kicked the lid off. To my surprise, there was no fear in her eyes. I was taken slightly aback; usually when most people-females especially-saw me, their expression was one of horror or pity. I saw neither in her eyes-only awe and amazement.

"Oh, Cloud…" she whispered, "isn't he wonderful…?"

Wonderful…? What is she talking about? Does she mean me…? In my confusion, I had not fired the gun. Now I lowered it. Likewise, the weapon of the male was lowered-albeit, cautiously.

"Sure he is, Aeris," the male replied sarcastically, looking somewhat jealous.

"Who are you?" I demanded. The male's attention, and that of the two women, immediately came back to me. Cautiously, the male replied.

"I'm Cloud Strife," he told me. He gestured to the woman in black and white. "And this lovely lady is Tifa Lockhart." She smiled shyly at me.


Impatiently, I gestured at the woman at my feet. "And who is she?"

Cloud gave me a look that told me that he would rather I didn't know. But he answered anyway. "She…is Aeris Gainsborough, Flowergirl of Midgar."

Aeris. The name resounded in my ears, sounding soft and…very much like, well, flowers…I shook my head to clear it. I could not afford to have my thoughts clouded, not now. "Why have you awakened me?" I asked.

"We thought you might be in trouble…" Aeris began. I stared down sadly at her.

"You cannot possibly have any idea what kind trouble I am in. It is beyond normal comprehension."

"What do you mean?" asked Cloud.

"Just this; my internment here is punishment for a great many evils."

"Evils?" Tifa asked. "Why? What have you done?"

I shook my head. "You would not understand. Is Lucrecia among you?"

Cloud shook his head. "No. Who's she?"

I sighed, remembering. Lucrecia… "Lucrecia…was a beautiful lady. A beautiful lady…"

"What happened?" Aeris asked, still crouched on the floor.

I took a deep breath, even now, struggling not to cry. "I…could not save her. Though I loved her more than anything, I still could not save her. That…is my sin."

Aeris gazed up at me, pity in her eyes. "Is there any way we could help you?"

I shook my head. "No. No one can help me, not now… Now, please; let me sleep." Before they could say anymore, I lowered myself down, and pulled the coffin's lid back over myself. But to my surprise, the male charged forward, and tore the lid off.

"What do you want?" I demanded angrily, once more floating into the air.

"Who are you?" he demanded just as testily.

I paused before answering. "Call me…Vincent. Vincent Valentine."

Cloud nodded. "Vincent, we need your help."

I was surprised. "Why?"

"We need to know; can you tell us anything about a man named 'Sephiroth'?"

I gasped. Sephiroth! "How do you know of Sephiroth?!" I demanded.

Cloud told me of how Sephiroth had become a general in SOLDIER, and that Cloud had come to idolize him. He told me of how Sephiroth had gone insane when he learned that he had been part of an experiment, and had burned Nibelheim and killed many innocent people as a result, and then disappeared. And he told me that Sephiroth was back again; save that this time, Nibelheim wasn't the target, the world was. Inside, I died.

"All this while I was sleeping…" I whispered. "And I could have prevented this by not sleeping…oh, Lucrecia!"

"Huh?" asked Cloud. "You know something?"

I nodded. "Lucrecia married Dr. Hojo. Together, they had a child. That child was…Sephiroth."

"Will you help us defeat him?"

I shook my head. "No." How could I? He was the son of that lovely, beautiful woman…he was part of her. Slowly, I lowered myself back into the coffin, and closed the lid. Cloud tried again to rouse me. "Let me be," I told him. Cloud and his friends left.

After they left, I tried to sleep again, but I could not. As soon as I closed my eyes, I was haunted by visions. Not the visions of the past, but visions of the future. A tall man in black, with hair that shone silver, like the moon. The moon which I had not seen in years… Then a lake, a lake of such purity and beauty, I would hesitate to touch it, lest I foul it. And then, the girl. The girl with the brown hair and green eyes. Kneeling, on an altar, before the lake, her eyes closed in prayer. The silver-haired man, descending upon her. A sword, a lethal line of silver, thrust through her. Her eyes closed in agony; his glowing with triumph. And silver. All was silver. The light, the stone of the altar, his hair, the water, so much silver…drowning me. Over and over again, I saw this. And somehow, in my heart, I felt that I could change this. If I only knew how…

And then I felt it. A dark, brooding presence, that closed in on me. And I saw him…laughing…and then, he made his name known.

Little man, I am Sephiroth.

In that instant, I knew what I had to do. Strange though it seemed, I had to help Cloud and his friends destroy the menace I could have prevented long ago. And, if I could, I had to save the one. If I could, I would save…Aeris. Not fully understanding what I was doing, I thrust out of my coffin, and ran in to the hallway. "Wait!" I cried.

The three stopped, and turned to look at me. "Yes?" asked Cloud.

"I will join you," I replied. "There is nothing else for me. Perhaps by helping you, I shall atone for these sins which are mine." Cloud nodded.

"Fine. Follow us." With that, he and the two girls walked off. I fell in step behind them. As I stared at the girl with the brown hair, I felt a glimmer in my heart. A faint warmth, a pale flame that ate gently away at the ice which had held my heart prisoner for so long. Barely detectable, but there, beating strongly, were the first vestiges of feeling I had felt in a long time. I smiled. Maybe they'd grow…who could really say? The future is an uncertain thing.


Empty and cold,
All alone in the night.
Torn and silent my true love will lie.
But, in the end,
I will be there,
Right by his side.

Holding you tightly,
Your heart beats with mine.
Breathing together,
Our movements in time.
Hold me, protect me,
Dear one, please let me be yours,
For you are mine.

Echoing shadows
Do follow my way.
So many things
That I never did say
Regrets and sorrows
Are mine on morrow,
Your sins are mine.

A dying whisper,
A shout's all the same.
In the end,
I'll be calling your name.
Twisted and shattered,
Broken and battered,
Your love I still claim.

Empty and cold,
All alone in the night.
Torn and silent, my true love does lie.
But, it's the end;
I am here,
Right by his side...

-Lucrecia's Lament

Shiroi Ryu's Fanfiction