A/N: This has been probably one of the most exhausting stories I've ever had to write. While I am not new to fanfiction writing, I am new to Final Fantasy fanfics. This is officially the first one I post, and I am a bit hesitant, even now, to put it up. I had to go back many times to read my reference material, brainstorm, re-work the outline, pester my beta, whine, delete entire pages, and start all over. Vincent is my #1 male character in the game and I really wanted to do a good job with this story.
Turk!Vincent was a very exhausting character to get a hold of, and I am grateful for the creative license I got to use. We all know game!Vincent is who he is, but Turk!Vincent could have been just about anyone else. I hope my version of him is adequate.
Tremendous thanks go to Motchi for looking this over and listening when I needed to talk it out. Also to Bleuwyn, and DarknightDestiny for their help, their input and their encouragement to continue. This fanfic is dedicated to all three of them. They are three amazing writers whose stuff is must read. Don't forget to drop them a line too!
A bit of a disclaimer: I read a lot of fanfic and I am absorbent, like Spongebob. A lot of nice things stick in my mind, and sometimes they pop back out and I don't realize it. I try my best to filter things out that I KNOW for sure came from someone else, if it just fits too nicely in the story, I will gladly give credit to the person who came up with it. If I don't remember where it came from, or realize that I borrowed it, please don't hold it against me, as it was unintended, PM me and point it out, and I will correct the oversight. Please refer to my profile for a list of the people I most often read. If anything catches your eyes as being familiar, it probably was inspired by them.
That said, no part of this story was written for profit. I own merely the words on this page, and the visions in my head. FFVII and its franchises belong to SquareEnix, characters belong to yaddayaddayadda.
"You look happy today."
"Hojo asked me to marry him…" Her cheeks were tinged a faint pink.
At his lack of response, she looked up from the notebook she was scribbling in. Her eyes flicked over his face before turning back to her notes. "And I said yes."
If she didn't speak a word, maybe his hands could believe for just a moment. If she just breathed those quiet hitching breaths as he moved within her... If his eyes were blind, then maybe he could believe. Just a little. He could be fooled this once.
Lie to me.
"Oh!" Her exclamation crashed through his concentration, bringing his rhythm to an awkward misstep. His eyes flew open, and a frown of disgust flickered across his face before he suddenly stopped moving altogether and pulled away from her. He let out a rueful breath and sat on the side of the bed, his back to the stranger who probably wondered what the hell was wrong with him.
You're not Lucrecia.
And therein lay the problem. At this very moment, perhaps, she was standing at the altar in that little chapel near the edge of town, eyes aglow with excitement as Hojo took her hand in his. And Vincent? Well, he was… here, drunk off his ass, trying to find her beneath a stranger's skin.
His elbows rested on his knees as he bent over and laced his fingers together, sweat-dampened hair falling forward to shield the image of rumpled clothing strewn on the floor.
The woman shifted in bed to kneel behind him, her breasts pressed against his back. She rested her chin over his shoulder and ran slow, slender fingers through his hair.
"What's the matter, darlin'?" Her sex-slurred breath tickled his ear. "Having a little problem?" She emphasized her question with a nip at his neck, which he impatiently shrugged off.
He reached over to the nightstand for the half-emptied bottle of cheap liquor his cohort had brought along as a bonus for her companionship and took a long swig. It occurred to him that he was beginning to lose the drunken haze that had led him across the mountains and through every dive in Rocket Town that would take his gil in exchange for eighty-proof liquid oblivion.
Hmm, time to correct that oversight.
The second mouthful went down the wrong path, forcing him into a coughing fit as the burning sensation spread across the inside of his throat. She patted him gently and smiled, taking the bottle from his hand and tossing back a swig of her own.
"So, do you wanna talk about it?" she asked.
Her head tilted to the side as she tucked back the errant locks from his forehead and pulled a blanket over her breasts. The absurd gesture of false modesty wrested a bitter chuckle from his lips as he turned and fixed her with a cool gaze.
He shifted and propped himself against the headboard, staring blankly at the wall.
"Well, you don't want to talk, you don't want to…finish. Should I go home, then?" Her voice rang with a bit of disappointment as she moved back next to him and laid on her side to look at him. Her fingers loosely wrapped around the neck of the bottle.
He didn't answer her, just simply took the bottle from her and took another pull. And so they sat for a while, taking turns with the it until the last dregs of liquid burned their way down Vincent's throat.
"It's Hojo," he muttered. His eyes turned to her then, oblivious to her puzzled expression, his lids weighed down by the deliciously renewed alcoholic stupor. "She is marrying Hojo, and finds me disgusting." His eyes drifted closed for a moment before a bitter laugh escaped him. As if the vagueness of his words could be explained away by the razor-sharp contempt spilling from his mirthless laughter.
"Tokimune. Fucking. Hojo… he's my problem." The bottle rolled back and forth beneath his palm. "He's an asshole with a PhD and a god complex, and she's marrying him. I tell her I love her, and she looks at me like I'm telling her I'm Ifrit's bastard spawn. Can you explain that to me?" He opened his eyes again, her cue to enter the conversation.
"I thought you didn't want to talk," she mused, taking the bottle from him and giving it a nonchalant glance before tossing it over her shoulder onto a pile of pillows on the floor. "But if you asked me, I'd tell you she's a fool for not choosing you, baby." Her sneaky hands teased the trail beneath his navel. Muscles twitched beneath her fingers. A mischievous grin tugged at the corners of her swollen lips.
He sighed, still not resigned to the idea of Lucrecia and Hojo. "Yes, well, apparently I'm not fit to be her choice. I'm not a great scientist, and I'm definitely not an ass-kissing opportunist like her new husband. I'm a just a... a…"
His train of thought was careening off-course, partly due to the fuzziness in his alcohol-saturated mind, and partly because of the things she kept doing with her hand. He flinched when her fingertips fluttered lower.
Weak body. It wouldn't let him finish his rant and instead distracted him with that ticklish warmth at the base of his spine. Reflexively, his hand wrapped around her wrist and guided her hand to a less sensitive place.
"A what, darlin'?" She teased his earlobe with her tongue, slid her leg against the inside of his thigh. Her smile widened at the low rumble she elicited from him.
"Hmm?" His mind was dangling perilously over blankness. Anger, heartbreak, jealousy; they all floundered inside his chemically-induced indifference, and love was overrun by the most basic of human motivations
"I…" What was I saying? "...do… terrible things," he finished lamely.
She rose above him, straddling his torso. "Oh, honey, no," she tsked and settled herself upon him. "I think the things you do are anything but… terrible."
She let out a surprised gasp when he gripped her hips and drove himself inside without elegance or consideration. He pulled her on top of him and crushed his mouth against hers, digging his fingers into her hair.
"Don't say another word," he growled against her mouth, shutting his eyes tightly as she began to rock her hips against him.
Just let me pretend for a bit.
After a two day drinking binge, there was something to be said for the Turk's tolerance. However, there was also much to be said for misguided guilt as well. He tilted his head back, letting the feeble shower spray run on his face, and sighed.
He wasn't exactly moralizing about taking advantage of a barfly—hell, all he'd come looking for was booze—and one couldn't really claim he'd soiled her reputation in the least. She'd offered her brand of comfort as others would offer a napkin to wipe up a spill; he hadn't been a special case. No strings attached, she'd said, just a little fun to cheer him up. At any rate, he'd been too drunk to care.
It just felt like he had done something wrong. Like he had betrayed someone. A ridiculous notion, since that someone wanted nothing to do with him and by now was someone else's wife in the first place.
From the moment he watched the wedding preparations create a flurry of activity in the manor, he felt bits of his mind falling into a dark, unyielding mood. Bit by bit, his resolve to remain composed and not make a fool of himself crumbled and left him more and more exposed to the whispering and the nudging of staff members. The final straw had flattened him into the ground two days before the wedding.
He leaned his head against the wall of the shower and tried to suppress the sudden vertigo.
What the hell was I thinking, going to her room?
He had to force himself to take the last risers. What did he think he would accomplish anyway? Did he really believe the foolish voice that chanted, "Tell her. She'll drop everything and run away with you!" over and over in his head? No, not really, and yet, here he was. His hand gripped the banister tighter, his lungs filled with a shaky breath. Caution be damned, it was like hiding behind a house of cards anyway.
Go back, this is a mistake.
His feet moved on their own—traitors—drawn by the siren's call of her laughter down the hall. As he got closer, he realized she wasn't alone. An icy hand twisted in his gut at the prospect of finding her in a tryst with her fiancé.
But no, thankfully she wasn't with him. A second female voice joined in the merriment. "And you'll need something borrowed! Do you have that yet?"
That's when he saw her.
Lucrecia smiled brightly and held up a folded piece of fabric, something that looked vaguely familiar. It was a handkerchief he'd offered her once to bind a scratch she'd gotten from a broken test-tube.
And the moment she looked away from her reflection in the mirror, chancing a glance at the doorway, his house of cards was leveled into nothing.
She was so beautiful, all bound in silk and lace as she was. Her smile faltered when she recognized his face. She looked so unreal to him at that moment, the pity in her eyes, the narrow line of her mouth. A beautiful, beautiful bride for another man.
She also recovered beautifully. A talent he'd had ample opportunities to observe. "Is something wrong?" Her head tilted to the side.
Lucrecia, everything is wrong!
"Actually, if I may…" he cast a significant glance at her assistant, "I need to speak with you, Dr. Crescent."
Oh, there was a term for what he did next. Some call it madness and some others think of it as desperation. He preferred the former definition, as his pride — though worse for wear— was, nonetheless, still standing. Vincent Valentine, Turk extraordinaire and consummate professional, did NOT get desperate. Right…
He'd never seen her eyes grow so wide before. He almost wished she would say something. Anything.
Time stretched in uncomfortable silence as they both stared at each other, his confession still ringing in his ears. 'I love you!' Did he really sound that pathetic?
After a while, he began to doubt she'd heard him, or maybe she didn't understand him? His patience grew thin, frayed.
That's when the madness took over. A stale breath burning in his lungs, he stalked to where she stood and roughly grabbed her arms, pulling her tightly against him. Yes, it must have been madness that made him ignore her horrified look and the startled squeak that escaped her just before his mouth crashed against hers.
Vincent Valentine, fully possessed of his faculties, wouldn't have dared. Yes, he would have known that she'd hate the very idea. A sane Vincent would have expected the stinging slap that followed, and the hot, cutting arrows of her words as she shouted at him to:
"Get away from me! Get out!" She choked back a sob and covered her mouth with a trembling hand.
Even in her rage, she looked beautiful. Her brilliant green eyes clouded by indignant tears. It was tempting. He raised his hand to cup her face, and she wrenched herself completely free of him. One. Two. Five steps back and away.
"Don't you touch me! Get away!" Her voice cracked and she collapsed in a heap on the chair behind her.
And so, Vincent ran.
Still floating in the haze of intoxication, Vincent couldn't help feeling sorry for himself. Was he really that disgusting a person? He couldn't even get himself fucked-up badly enough to the point where he could forget her horror at his confession for longer than a few minutes. Was his love really such a terrible thing? He pounded his fist against the shower stall.
Some vaguely sober part of his mind chided him for coming back too early. He could hear the faint trilling of a string quartet drifting across the ballroom's balcony. People, laughing, talking in that soothing white noise of a thousand murmurs. The party wasn't over yet.
Eyes narrowed, Vincent cursed his screwed up sense of timing and took a couple of stiff steps toward the rear of the building.
Some wicked, masochistic tendency of his stopped him in his tracks and forced him to head for the front door instead. He smoothed the wrinkles out of his tie and buttoned up his suit jacket. Staring at the blurry reflection on the windowpane, he rubbed the stupor from his eyes and straightened himself up. Shoulders back, head held high. He sniffed and gave himself an encouraging nod before walking through the door.
Nothing like twisting the knife to remind yourself of where you stand.
Flowers. There were white and mauve flowers everywhere; on the mantle, on stands, on the tables, twined around the banisters, as garlands on doorways. Vincent grunted with disdain. Yeah, he was feeling a little petty, but it's not like he could help it, after all. Losing the woman you love to a scrawny, stooping, dickhead nerd kind of had that effect on you.
He followed the passageway towards the ballroom. The music had stopped, and the people were clapping. As he reached the doors to the hall, the commotion ebbed enough for him to recognize Hojo's voice over the crowd.
"…sharing our happiest day with friends as dear as you all are." The slithering tone of his voice easily charmed the audience into an encore applause.
As he moved closer to the doorway, he was able to see over the people gathered around Hojo and Lucrecia. They stood against one of the stained glass windows, holding hands and smiling as they cut the cake.
Want to talk about disgusting, Lucrecia?
His hands fisted at his side at the sight of the perverse moment. Man, woman. Bride and groom. And he, the bystander. The throbbing in his right hand reminded Vincent of his stupid outburst back at the Rocket Town inn that afternoon and forced him to relax his hands.
Hot. He felt uncomfortably hot watching as Hojo brought a small piece of cake to Lucrecia's mouth. She smiled and accepted the gesture in delight, her eyes drifted closed as she savored the morsel. Vincent's stomach protested.
"Toast!" someone shouted, and several others echoed the sentiment across the room.
"Toast!" the woman in front of Vincent exclaimed.
A steward walked by him and offered him a champagne flute from his tray. His mind had long since abandoned ship and had left his body on its own to brave the storm on autopilot. He didn't quite hear what one of the guests was saying at the other side of the room. Everyone snickered and Lucrecia brought a hand up to her mouth, hiding an embarrassed smile. Despite himself, Vincent smiled along with her.
He had resolved to be angry; he'd decided to hate her, and to remind himself of just how much she had managed to wound him. But he couldn't help it. Her smile was contagious, he was only a man, and he loved her.
Her eyes chose that moment to drift in his direction. As Hojo and the guests raised their glasses to toast the marriage, Vincent held his glass up in her direction. In it was a silent pledge from him to her alone, even if it was unwanted.
Lucrecia blanched, her own champagne glass stopped halfway to her lips when she recognized him in the doorway. Strike two. He took a slight pleasure in the realization that she didn't recover her composure as usual. Good, at least he managed to have some effect on her.
However, he wasn't the only one to notice. It took every last reserve of restraint he possessed to remain stone-still as he watched Hojo gently turn Lucrecia's stunned face to him and brush a deceptively gentle kiss upon her lips. Vincent turned his face away, his head pounded with the rapid-fire cadence of his heart. The murmur of the crowd faded into a distant rush as he spun on heel and stalked back the way he'd come. He'd almost reached the grand-staircase when he realized someone had followed him.
He stopped next to one of the columns. A prickly, quivering dread expanded in his stomach as he turned to face his pursuer. Hojo ambled toward him, wearing a smug sneer. He stopped a few paces in front of Vincent, folding his hands before him.
"I am glad you decided to join us, Mr. Valentine." To a casual observer, his smile would appear almost warm. Vincent knew better. "I was beginning to think you didn't want to celebrate our happy day at all."
He tilted his head to the side, giving Vincent an evaluative look. "Though it would appear I was wrong." He wrinkled his nose and touched the lapel of his tuxedo in the same place Vincent's suit displayed a rather obvious stain. "You look quite…partied-about."
Vincent shot the good doctor his well-practiced Turk-stare. Why the hell was he still talking? And why the hell wasn't he walking away?
"I was quite perplexed when you disappeared so suddenly." Hojo swept his gaze over the decorations around them before settling his eyes on Vincent once more. "Was there a reason for your hasty departure?"
"Tokimune!" Her voice carried past the din in the adjacent ballroom, redirecting both men's attentions towards her. She cast a pleading look to her husband, and deliberately avoided looking at Vincent. "Our guests are asking where you've gone."
"Is it that time already, my love?" he asked, giving a sticky emphasis to the last two words. He moved to her side and circled his arms around her waist. "We shouldn't make them wait, then."
Vincent was sure if he stared hard enough, Lucrecia would quit looking at the floor. Look at me, please. He swallowed a dry lump when she turned away instead and tried to coax her husband to follow her.
Hojo took a few steps toward the ballroom before he turned back to Vincent. His lips tugged into a familiar viperish grin, "Mr. Valentine, if you stay just a bit longer, you can watch the bride and groom's last dance."
"Hn." Vincent smiled wryly and leveled his blood-red gaze on the taunting scientist. "And just when does one get a chance to dance with the bride?" He'd had no intention of voicing that question at first, but the look that flickered across Hojo's face the second he'd spoken made the slip of the tongue well worth it.
"Hah!" Hojo's sharp obsidian eyes lingered on Vincent's for a moment before turning to the dismayed face of his new bride. "Not in this lifetime, Turk."
They walked away, and after they'd crossed the threshold to the ballroom, he heard the guests quieting as the string quartet twittered a delicate melody.
The room was dark except for the light coming from the window above his bed. Grey twilight filtered past leaded glass, distorted into spidery patterns reflected on the floor. The shallow laughter and clinking of glasses, the sound of violins, and the white noise-talk of adoring guests faded. They did not penetrate into this room, two stories above the celebration. For that, he was grateful.
It didn't strike him as odd that his jacket made no sound as he slid his arms out of the sleeves, or that the door to the closet didn't click when he shut it closed. A heavy pressure in his head had drowned out everything except the beating of his heart. It was like being underwater, where sounds stretched, swirled and distorted into a whisper too faint for the human ear.
He brought his right hand up to eye level and flexed it slowly, testing the level of discomfort, but the sensation there was barely registered as he inspected the ugly bruises forming around his swollen knuckles. Thump! Thump! Heartbeats and the echo of his assault on the shower stall mingled together, eventually fading into the gradually increasing cacophony in his mind.
Vincent threw his head back and loosened his necktie. He took in a shuddering breath, trying to ease the coil winding up in his gut.
"I love you."
His eyes flicked to the strap of his shoulder holster, to the snap holding his gun in place. He flicked it open and pulled the gun out, stared at it before reflexively flipping the safety on and off.
"I love you."
"Get away from me! Get out!"
On. Off. On. Off. The rush of blood, and the drumming heartbeats grew louder in his ears.
"Not in this lifetime, Turk."
On, off, on, off, click, click.
"I love you, Lucrecia."
"Is it that time already, my love?" He moved to her side and circled his arms around her waist. "We shouldn't make them wait, then."
His eyes moved away from the gun in his hand. His gaze slid across the shapeless shadows against the far wall, until they settled against his silvered reflection in the mirror above the dresser.
She will never want me.
The notion of her breathless plea turned his mind to a different train of thought; one borne amidst hazy memories of daydreams. What would her voice sound like if he made love to her?
He closed his eyes, shutting out his unshaved and rumpled reflection. He'd often pictured the tangle of sweat-slicked arms and legs, and panting breaths, swollen kisses, and blissful exhaustion.
No more. Not since he'd spied them out in the courtyard, her hands desperately clinging to Hojo's labcoat, straining on the tips of her toes to reach him. Not since she submitted to the artless touch of his rival. No, not after seeing her downstairs, blushed, and content, and her eyes drifting closed, and her pleasured smile as she accepted her husband's kiss.
Now, the hands that roamed her body wouldn't be his, would never be. They would be Hojo's. Tonight he will take her. Hojo would touch her, and kiss her, and feel her beneath him. And she would look up with adoring eyes, and accept him, and love him through the night.
Not me. He'd never get the chance.
"Not in this lifetime, Turk."
The swirling sounds of heartbeat, panting breaths, rushing blood culminated in a crescendo that seared through his fragile barrier followed by a flood of images.
He didn't realize he was screaming until the he heard the shattering of glass. His voice was a guttural animal sound that reverberated deep in his chest. His eyes flew open and he watched in shock as the mirror in front of him exploded and rained a thousand sparkling pieces upon the dresser top and floor. The realization hit him then as he looked at his empty hand; he'd hurled his gun at the mirror.
Vincent stood frozen in place for a few seconds as sounds regained their quality, assaulting his mind with their insistence. First came his breaths, sharp and shaky, and then slowly, the crunch of glass underfoot as he approached the dresser. He was slightly anxious that his outburst may have disrupted the party downstairs, but after a minute, he was convinced it was unlikely.
"Oh gods," he voice sounded gravelly, as if from a thousand years of disuse. Wearily, he bent forward and picked up the wastebasket next to his desk. He stared at the sharp fragments reflecting back his broken image—an eye here, a lock of hair there, the corner of his mouth, the tip of his nose, the collar of his shirt.
His hand shook as he reached out to grab the nearest shard. He stared at it with a dizzying sense of curiosity. The last time his hands had shaken, he was ten years old and he'd just broken his father's microscope camera. He hadn't allowed himself to be afraid again—a scared child earned no lighter sentence, impressed no one, broke no records, earned no prizes. Later on, fear was pushed out because in his line of work being afraid made you careless, and that eventually spelled disaster.
And now, a scaled down disaster lay beneath his tired fingers. Another unintended casualty of his careless loss of control. Pieces of mirror, large and small, landed against one another, tinkling a pitiful tune to accompany his slowing heartbeat. He would do well to remember this outburst the next time he so much as dared look at her. No wonder she had reacted so badly to his confession. This is all he was capable of—breaking things.
Being a Turk made him good at a lot of things. Being a Turk, though, meant some things had to fall by the wayside to allow a certain distance needed for his sanity. Getting too close to Lucrecia had violated everything he knew had kept him alive this long. He also knew she was afraid of him, of the things he had done and would continue to do.
So, that was it, then. He couldn't defend himself, he couldn't defend what he was, and he couldn't really blame her for feeling that way. He had made a mistake out of some selfish desire to see her, hear her… feel her near, but somewhere along the way he had fooled himself into thinking he could love her, and be what she wanted in return. Such a silly thing to think.
But there were still a few things Vincent could give her, weren't there? If she didn't want his love, he could hide it away, pretend it never existed. If she was afraid of him, he could give her room, stay away from her.
He set the trashcan down next to the window and leaned his forehead against the cool pane, watching as a group of people emerged from the mansion and headed for the front gate of the property. He spotted Lucrecia and Hojo among the crowd, hand in hand, looking very much the picture of wedded happiness.
"Is it really what you want, Lucrecia?" Stiff fingers splayed against the glass. "Is that your happiness?" He felt a familiar coil tighten in his stomach, and time slowed to an agonizing drag as his eyes focused on her easy gait, the relaxed grip around her husband's arm.
He watched her wave goodbye to the people at the gate as Hojo held a car door open for her. When her head tilted upward, he imagined she was looking up to his window. His chest squeezed when Hojo bent down and planted a kiss on her lips instead.
Time suddenly resumed its normal movement.
Vincent swallowed and continued to watch in morbid fascination as they disappeared into the rear of the car. His eyes followed the red taillights as they faded into the night, headed for the exit of town.
The image of her smile lingered in his mind, solidifying his resolve to give her the one thing she wanted from him. He would do his job, he would keep his distance. For her happiness, he would swallow his love and pretend it wasn't there, branding her name inside him. He would ignore the urge to hold her whenever he saw her.
"As long as she is happy… I don't mind."