(Set two or three hundred years after FFVII, only two of the old gang survive. Vincent and Nanaki discuss the past and future. Just this little oneshot I thought up.
Disclaimer: Square-Enix owns FFVII, not me.)
A lonely figure watched the sun set over Midgar. From his high, rocky vantage point, he could see the ruins clearly. Broken buildings, fragments of stone, cracked roads and sheets of metal flapping in the wind. Midgar was a dead city.
The man's cape billowed out behind him. Swirls of gritty dust danced in the heat haze. It was beautiful, but desolate.
A creature with fire red fur jumped on the cliff top and padded noiselessly towards him. The man didn't move. The beast stopped and sat on its haunches next to him, gazing over the ruins.
"It's been a long time, Vincent," the creature said.
Nanaki licked his dusty paws. The flame on his tail shone brightly, reflecting the colour of the evening sky. His face was pensive as he contemplated the sight before him. A few minutes passed in silence.
"Is there anyone left?" asked Nanaki at last.
"Not on this continent. The Wutai colony still survives. Soon, they will also perish."
"You'll be alone."
"No," said Vincent. "I feel my time is running out. The demons within me… they grow stronger as I grow weaker. You shouldn't have come here. I am a danger to you."
Nanaki's hackles rose. "If anything happens, I can take care of it," he growled. "I've lived through many battles." The scars on his flanks and muzzle were testament to that fact.
"I wouldn't want it to end that way."
Nanaki looked at his friend's face. Vincent's eyes held no hope that he could see, only despair. His ragged cloak flew about his bony shoulders and his long black hair couldn't hide his thin face, his hollow cheekbones.
"Do you have anything left to live for?" Nanaki asked.
Vincent laughed bitterly. "I haven't lived for many years. I'm an empty husk, Nanaki, a walking corpse." He looked down and gazed directly into Nanaki's eyes. "I should have died many, many years ago. You don't know how I long to let go, to return to the Planet."
"Then why do you stay?"
"I wanted to see the world for one last time. I wanted to meet you. Nanaki, you've borne the same burdens as me. You've watched our friends grow old and die. You've watched our friends' children grow up, and die, and their children, until all their bloodlines have withered away. But it never gets any less painful."
Nanaki listened in silence. It was not often that Vincent talked at length.
"The human race is all but finished," Vincent continued. "My lifespan is unnatural, but yours is not. Your race is the future, Nanaki. How goes your quest?"
Nanaki lay down with his nose resting on his forepaws. "I searched my native continent without success. The mountains… the forests… I couldn't find a scent anywhere. These last few years I explored the warm southern continent, and the snows of the north. But I still didn't find a trace. No bones, no tracks, nothing to indicate my kind had ever been there. Now I will look on this continent. I'll explore the ruins of Midgar. Perhaps there will be some clue there."
"I hope you succeed," Vincent muttered. "This planet needs someone to protect it. Your race would be better at that than we humans, I think."
"You really think so?" For a moment, Nanaki sounded like a curious cub, seeking reassurance from its parent. He had long respected Vincent, had known him since he was an adolescent. After the demise of Edge, the city that had been built around Midgar, the two had rarely come into contact. Vincent had taken to haunting the Forgotten City again, buried in memories of his past, while Nanaki was on a quite different mission. As he grew into his full adult strength, he felt the mating urge rise like heat within him, and he longed for a companion. Humans were all very well, but most of his human friends like Cloud and Tifa were long gone.
This spot held a special significance for both of them. It was the place where Zack had fallen defending Cloud, and the place where Cloud had asked to be buried. Somewhere beneath the ground, he knew, were the bones of his old friend, gradually disintegrating into the earth. All would eventually return to the Planet and sustain it.
Being here, watching the sun disappear over the horizon, stirred up old memories within him. He knew it was the same for Vincent. His old friend was constantly haunted by visions of the past. The seconds lengthened, and Vincent didn't reply. Nanaki answered his own question.
"Yes. Yes, we would." Tonight, when the full moon rose, he would howl his friends' names into the night sky, honouring them in his own fashion. But Nanaki wanted to move on. His hopes and desires were for the future, as Vincent's were not.
"I'm glad to hear you say it," said Vincent. "It's good to have something to strive for."
Nanaki felt pity for his old friend. Vincent spoke without a trace of emotion, yet he sensed the bitter irony in his words. He lifted his head and gently nuzzled Vincent's hand, the clawless one. Then he padded forward and stared into the darkening sky.
"Some day, when I find a mate and have children, I'll bring my cubs here. I'll show them the ruins of Midgar. By then, it'll be all overgrown, a giant playground jungle for restless cubs. I'll tell them the story of the human race and how they built great cities around the world, and the greatest was Midgar. I'll tell them how they turned to evil and sucked the life out of the Planet so they could live in luxury. Then I'll tell them how a brave group of warriors fought for the Planet, saved the Planet, and without them, my little cubs could never have been born. I'll make sure your memory lives on. Cloud… Aerith… Tifa… Barret… Cid… Yuffie… Reeve… and you, Vincent. I'll make sure your legend is passed on down the generations. Your race may be long gone, but you'll never be forgotten."
Nanaki turned, his tail lashing against the horizon in a flash of fire. His eyes too burned with a joyful light. "Does that satisfy you, Vincent?"
Vincent nodded, and for the first time a smile flickered over his pale features. "Yes. You honour us, Nanaki. I can ask for no more."
The man stood up and stretched. Nanaki heard several of his bones crack. He winced inwardly at Vincent's emaciated state. Vincent crouched down in front of him so that the pair were at the same eye level.
"Thank you," said Vincent softly. "I feel better knowing that I made a difference. I've watched the human race gradually decay… I wouldn't want it to be all for nothing." He extended a timid hand towards Nanaki's head. Normally, Nanaki didn't like humans touching him – he didn't want to be treated like a common pet, after all – but the beast sensed that this was a different occasion. So he bowed his head and let Vincent stroke the red fur.
"Goodbye, Nanaki," Vincent whispered. "It's time I let go."
Nanaki nearly begged him to stay – Vincent was his last connection to the past, the last person who had journeyed with him, who had shared the voyage to save the Planet. But he knew that would be selfish of him.
"Goodbye," he rasped.
Vincent walked slowly away, down the cliff top. Night had descended all around them. Nanaki's keen eyes caught the moonlight reflecting off Vincent's hair, his metal hand and his pointed metal boots. He watched until the darkness completely swallowed him up. Then he pointed his nose at the sky and howled.
(A/N: I haven't played DoC and I don't know the story, so I'm basing this entirely on the game and AC. Thanks for reading. Reviews are appreciated.)