"No, Cloud, NO! Gods, I can't teach you anything. Stick with the sword, and leave the guns to Barrett and me, all right? This is useless."
Cloud Strife got that sullen look again, the one he wore when he felt thwarted. Well, tough. The boy had no feel for how to aim, nor did he have the necessary delicacy to pull the trigger just right. In his hands, a gun was just a lump of dangerous metal.
Half the time, Vincent expected him to start hitting people with it instead of shooting them. At least with the sword, that's what one was SUPPOSED to do.
"Don't start that with me. If you don't like it, too bad. I'm not going to waste any more time with you on this." Vincent scowled and spun on his heel. "It's not worth the effort."
"No, you listen to ME, Strife!" Vincent interrupted him. "You are never satisfied! Just do your job. Save the Planet, or whatever the hell you think you have to do. But do it your way. I'm not going to be your mentor or your teacher or your father figure, got it? I'm only here to pay off a debt and then that's IT."
"But if you just—"
"I only wanted—"
Cloud stopped talking when the business end of the Death Penalty connected with the space between his eyes. Vincent had moved too fast for him to even see, and now they stood in a deadly little tableau.
The hammer cocked back on the weapon, the smooth click even louder than the silence that had suddenly fallen. Even the birds seemed to know something was wrong; only the leaves fell around them.
Vincent's blood-red eyes burned into Cloud's wide blue ones. "Now," he said softly, dangerously, "You were saying?"
Cloud barely shook his head. "Nothing," he whispered.
"That's what I thought." The gun was suddenly back in its holster. Vincent watched the boy let out a sigh of relief, and he smiled darkly at the sight. He began to walk away again, then paused to look over his shoulder when Cloud spoke.
"Would you really have killed me?" asked the boy.
Vincent sighed. "I don't like you, Strife," he said matter-of-factly. "I never have."
The red gaze flickered toward camp. A thousand expressions crossed Vincent's pale face, and he looked at Cloud as if he was about to say, then he shook his head. "I have my reasons."
He melted into the shadows, despite the bright daylight, and left the so-called leader of AVALANCHE in the forest clearing.
The birds began to sing again.