This bit was inspired by 'The Dark' by Savatage. Not /quite/ my take on how Vincent was imprisoned, but... you never know.
Song lyrics in italics and */blah/* are from The Dark by Savatage; the characters and places belong to Final Fantasy VII and Squaresoft.


Acceptance


You murdered her.

~I didn't! I only tried to save her. I /loved her/!~

Murderer.
Monster.

I can turn you into what you are inside, Vincent. The murdering monster of a Tarx that you always showed me when you thought /she/ wasn't looking.

Vincent opened his eyes. ~Must be late. It's dark.~ He looked around, but saw no windows to whatever room he was in. He sighed and moved his arms, which he found lay crossed over his chest, as if he were laid out for a funeral. ~Hojo has a sick sense of humor.~ He lifted both arms carefully to stretch them over his head.

*THUNK*

Vincent blinked, and turned his hands to push up against whatever was above him, to find his shoulders pinned as well. He tried to lift one knee to gain leverage.

*THUNK*

He moved his other leg out, and found he couldn't move it far. His eyes widened. ~What /is this/?~ He pushed upwards /hard/, and the grating of wood creaked in his ear.

He realized that whatever was above him was soft under the fingers of his right hand, fuzzy, like velvet. He couldn't feel it through his left hand. Come to think of it, he couldn't feel his left hand at all.

But that was all superficial. He was trapped. Whatever was above him wouldn't give. He turned his head again, and heard his hair slide on fabric. He'd heard that sound often enough to know the pillow his head lay on was cased in satin. His eyes were getting used to the blackness, but he could still see very little. He thought he saw a black painted wooden panel not three inches from his head. Turning his head the other way, he saw the same. He looked back up, but couldn't see what was above him. He pushed upwards once more, harder, and heard this time the grate of stone. Something above him grated piercingly, and crashed on the floor, somewhere below him. The top of his prison lifted and slid to the side.

Vincent sat up and looked around frantically.

It was dark here, but he could see a little. His night vision always had been good; one of the reasons he was so valuable to the Tarx. His eyes adjusted to the darkness, and his nose wrinkled a little from the scent of mold, dust and decay. The room was dark still, and he still could not see much.

He closed his eyes and sighed. ~What the hell kind of nightmare /is/ this?~ He felt around him, and frowned. ~This feels...~ His eyes snapped open again, and he found he could see better than before. He looked down, and his hands felt along the edge of whatever he had been inside, and he felt the blood drain from his face. ~... like a coffin.~

He blinked, realizing his vision was improving by the moment. He looked down at his hands. One hand was still gloved in the Tarx standard of fingerless black gloves. The other...

He stared at the brass claw, and found that it responded to each of his reflexes. He turned his arm over. It moved. He flexed the fingers. They moved. He reached with his right hand to feel along it. It was warm from the elbow to the wrist, the long finger-like claws as sharp as razors. He stared at it, transfixed for several moments, then let the limb drop to his side.

Vincent stood up, carefully, as he realized that his legs were stiff from not moving in so long. He took a tentative step forward, and found that he held, and took another. He looked around again, shocked to find that things were easily coming into focus. He was in a small room, one he recognized as -

"He put me in the crypt," he murmured. The sound of his own voice was loud in the silence.

Hojo had indeed put Vincent into the crypt in the basement of the Shinra Mansion in Nibelheim. Vincent sighed as he looked around again, spotting the large stone slab that had been laying atop 'his' coffin. Now broken in three pieces, it lay beside the coffin on the right side. He knelt to look at it. It was just a flat stone, he thought, but he turned over the pieces and found that Hojo had marked the stone with just one word – 'Monster'. Vincent turned away.

The black wooden lid lay a bit further away on the left of the coffin. Vincent frowned as he saw the deep red velvet clearly in the darkness. He ran his right hand over the soft fabric and sighed. He turned it over and saw that there was no inscription, but the black wood was detailed with purple scrolls and edging. He sighed once again, and looked at the interior. Blood red satin. He shook his head slowly, and lifted an arm to push the cloak from his shoulder.

.... Cloak?

Vincent looked down at himself and gasped. He was dressed in a black uniform, similar to one he had worn in Wutai. His boots were mid-calf height, the plates on them the same material that made the claw on his left arm. The pants were made of soft black cotton, not unlike the standard Ninja garb. His shirt was the same fabric, and modeled after the uniform shirt of a Wutaian Guard. Over it all was a blood red cloak, buckled with leather around his throat, and up over his face.

~It's just as well,~ he thought. ~Who knows what he did to me. This is probably just to hide the scars.~ He finally worked up the courage to leave the room to inspect the rest of his surroundings. He could hear nothing from the lab down the hall, and nothing creaked as if it was coming from upstairs.

He tried the door; it didn't move. Vincent's eyes widened and he pulled at the door with all of his strength, which was considerably more than he remembered having. He then tried to slam into it, to open it out if it wouldn't be opened inwards. It wouldn't move.

~I'm trapped in here. Was this what he wanted? For me to die here like this?~

*/But in the night, the darkness breathes/*

Vincent turned, and leaned against the unyielding door. ~What do I do now? How long have I even /been/ here? It's quiet upstairs, and down the hall. Have they all left? Did they all leave knowing I was here? Did Hojo tell them something else about me? Will someone discover me?!~

Vincent paused in his panic attack to take a deep breath of the stale air. "He left me here for a purpose... But what purpose?" he asked the air around him. He ran his hand along the wall, trying to find a light switch. He gave up after a moment, realizing that this room /had/ no light switch. The sconces and their spent candle stubs told him more than he needed to know. "Because it hasn't been touched in an age. And neither will I."

~Why should I be? I killed the woman that I love. I couldn't dissuade her from bearing a child for science's sake. Or for /his/ sake. In the end, it was all for nothing. I couldn't stop her. Because of that, her death lies on my shoulders.~

He looked around the crypt once more. "How fitting," he murmured aloud. "Perhaps Hojo was right in leaving me here." He shook his head and cursed softly. He leaned his head back against the door, to look at the ceiling, comprised of nothing more than support boards for the floor above. The silence pressed in around him, and he thought he could hear breathing somewhere. Steady breathing, harsh breathing, like the breath of the madman standing over him on the table.

*/He will always hear me/*

It's time, Vincent Valentine. You have interfered with me long enough. It's time I made you what you truly are. It's time I made you see.

Vincent shook his head, trying to push the memories away.

~No! It wasn't my fault! You deceiving /bastard/!~

I think, Mr. Valentine, that you need to take a nice long rest.

~I'm not about to lay down so you can do to me what you did to her.~

Shut up you stupid Tarx! You know /nothing/ of what kind of work went into that infant!

~No, I don't. What I do know is a woman has /died/ because of it! Because of /YOU/!~

Oh, Vincent. You can't possibly know how horrid I feel about that.

~Don't give me that. If you loved her more than you did your Jenova Project, you wouldn't have made her go through with it.~

It was her choice. So she died. There will be others.

Vincent shuddered, violently shaking his head so his hair moved to wrap over one shoulder. He blinked, not used to feeling silk strands against his face like that. His hair was past his shoulders now, almost halfway down his back. ~I have been here a long time...~

"Oh, Lucrecia, I'm /sorry/," he murmured softly to the air around him. The breathing noises stopped, and the air was still.

"But sorry is not enough." He looked back at the coffin from which he came. "Whatever he did to me, kept me alive for however long I have been here since that night," he murmured, walking back to it. "Perhaps the nightmare will go away if I lie here long enough for the world to forget me. If I ever die, perhaps suffering here with my memory will be enough."

He crawled back into the coffin, arranging himself and his clothing carefully as he sat down. He reached over and lifted the lid back into place as he lay down, and crossed his arms. He sighed, softly, and closed his eyes. ~One day, I will finally have atoned for all that I have done. One day.~

*/He sits alone, the cards are shown
as he embraces the dark
/*

~Owari~