Hello, everyone! This is materia, the sequel/companion piece to proto, and it's in Vincent's point of view. I strongly recommend you read proto before this, though it can stand alone. Many thanks to my lovely beta, as always.



Time is fleeting.

He has not noticed the late hour, only the flitter and teasing of seconds before they fall over a precipice into an ocean that will never run dry. It is a bittersweet pleasure being here, where the eternal crystals reflect off the dewdrops and make the air appear to shimmer, where society becomes white noise and he can exist without worry. Decades of regret have worn away to the tender core of hurt, and he is reassured that no one will see his weakness: this place has long since been forgotten. It has become a secret—between himself and herself and eternity.

The thought does not comfort him, but it is promised and that is enough.

She has become immortal in her grace, her white dress impeccable as the day it was donned, her hands gently folded above her broken heart. The aching pain that accompanies the knowledge of their dead son still stings to this day, and he feels as though he has betrayed her in his quest to keep her mind at ease. Yet, he cannot bring himself to shatter this illusion, and so he continues his vigil, wondering: what would she think if she could see him now?

"Are sins ever forgiven?"

"Hmph. I've never tried."

Vincent has long since given up on atonement—his sins are as real to him as Chaos' slumber in the corners of his mind yet he has realized that obsession will do nothing. Life has become idyllic since the fall of the Tsviets, and he finds himself missing the intensity of battle: missing the fierce burn of instinct and the beating of execution drums that drive a fighter to keep fighting. He will admit to a thought or two in his coffin's direction, but—aside from the threats of a rather violent pilot—he has a new reason to stay conscious. And it comes in the taste of the sharp tang of leather.

He is not obligated to AVALANCHE or to the Turks: he is a man now, nothing more, nothing less. A man simply trying to melt and create in the flames of an azure fire.

The passion came with a likeness to a thief in the night; it came with soft gasps and the racing of a pulse, it came and left with blonde hair and cool smiles and has Vincent aching for more. It is almost shameful, he muses as he looks upon her face, that his self-control has been shattered so finely and ground to coarse powder by a touch to his cheek. He can tell by the guilt on the other's face that it was never meant to go in that direction, that a singular incident forgiven and forgotten was not intended to turn out like this.

Though the fact that he has allowed this to continue has indeed raised an alarm, it is the fact that he wants more than a hot-blooded workout that has brought him here tonight.

Vincent is not a stranger to his own feelings, and so the sudden thoughts and late-night contemplations were easy enough to decipher—they are alike and he needs this complementary darkness more than he needs to breathe. The gunner is a fool, a fool for thinking that a coffin and time could quell something so natural, a fool for thinking that he could rule the primal and for not realizing that he has been played.

Perhaps he is trying too hard. Perhaps he should take his own advice and not try at all.

Nonetheless—a confession has been made, and small observations have told him that something will happen tonight: he can feel it in his bones and hear it in the echo of a motorbike. It is time to either see this charade to an end...or to usher in a new beginning.

And with the whisper of a tattered cloak, Lucrecia is left to her slumber.

The waiting has passed.

The chime of a doorbell sounds, and he does not need the peephole to tell who it is.

The door opens.

He cannot breathe.