I Can't Let You Go That Easily
Sequel to Void
I wound up writing a little more, because I felt like it, and decided to go ahead and post it. Once again, I don't plan on wasting too many resources. But I can't help but have a little fun with it, particularly since this installment is a little more adventerous than the last one, and things go more wrong for both of them. So, let's see where this one goes, as long as people are interested.
I don't know what's coming over me or why I'm doing what I'm doing. Obsessive doesn't cover the aspects of my behaviour as I follow him all over the Midgar region and keep an eye out for anyone else that might be trying to kill or attack him. Justified doesn't explain it either, even though I attempt to justify it in my head.
I keep telling myself it's to protect him, and then I keep asking myself why I'd want to. Not to mention, after what I did, he's well within his right to not want me anywhere near him. I doubt I'd want me anywhere near me after taking advantage of him like I did either.
But then again, like I'm suffering from an illness I can't shake, I also keep reminding myself that he never fired at me when he had the chance.
From what I've seen of his actions, he has no problem taking lives, not even when it's people he used to work with or even trained. And as far as honour goes, I'm not so sure that he really has any, or maybe that's just what I want to believe so I can justify myself as I continue to chase him through the open fields like a wraith, utilizing my abilities to appear like vapour when I need to.
He's getting closer to his base and I'm beginning to believe that he knows I'm following him since he keeps his eyes on all the possible areas where I would be. He catches on quick and seems more wary of me than he was before.
But I can't say that I blame him.
I'm becoming wary of me too.
When he gets to the farm, the first thing he does is go straight to his quarters on the outskirts, separate from everything else, and I don't doubt for a second that he chose it for that very reason. It's a small bungalow that has everything he'd ever need to live happily in for the rest of his life, assuming that he's capable of ever being happy.
He walks quickly and goes out of his way to not be noticed by anyone while he sneaks up to his own door and locks it behind him after he enters his conservative and sparsely decorated living room that gives no hint of the feminine touch he hides.
Then he stares out of one of his windows—the one that's facing the direction of the barn I'm in and sneers before he quickly walks up to it and pulls the drapes shut in a manner that suggests he's trying to tell me to leave him the hell alone.
And to make his message clear, he does the same thing with every drape on every window in his living room, and he even goes so far as to do the same in his kitchen. He may be overstating, and he may be acting a little childish since I get the thorough message. But he's making no attempt to hide the fact that he thinks I don't and I hardly notice the damaging etches that I'm making in the floor of the loft I'm watching him from as I unconsciously dig with the claw of my gauntlet into the old wood.
He wastes no time after that to move into his bedroom. But surprisingly, he doesn't close his drapes. Instead, he allows the movement of his silhouette to be seen through the sheers that are heavy enough to block out any detail and behaves as if he's in too much of a hurry to tend to covering it up further while he quickly takes off his tie, blazer, and shirt in a way that makes him seem angry, and he tosses them into the garbage by the entrance to his room. Then he walks into the adjoining bathroom and slams the door.
No bath is run this time though. I can hear the shower running from the vent he's opened to let out the insane amount of steam that's escaping from a shower that's probably too hot to tolerate. He couldn't have picked a better way to punish me for what I did, and I have no doubt in my mind that the only reason he's taking a shower is because he doesn't want to bathe in the filth I've contaminated him with by touching him.
And still, I'm unconsciously digging into the wood that I'm crouching upon while I hear Reno talking to his partner as they approach an opening surrounded by trees somewhere near the rear of the barn. I don't bother to try and look through the cracks behind me though. I'm falling so far that I don't even care about what they're up to as I hear Reno mention something about the ground sinking, Rufus being pissed off, and the fact that they're going to have to dig up the bodies.
"He's gonna be pissed when he finds out this whole section's a bog—Ya bring the shovels?"
"Fer fuck's sake, Man. Is that a fuckin hand stickin out'a the ground?"
"Fuck me, Man. It's still fuckin ripe. This job fuckin sucks."
"Mm. You might want to cover your face—This is going to smell."
"Thanks fer remindin me. Hey. Ya hear somethin?"
As far as I'm concerned, he's spending way too long in there and I can't help but wonder if his intention is to empty out the entire hot water tank in an unnecessary attempt to over-exaggerate the fact that he thinks of me as nothing more than a filthy animal that doesn't deserve to be anywhere near him.
"Hm. What is that?"
"Dunno. Comin from over there, somewhere."
I should also be paying more attention to what Reno's saying to his partner since it's no longer business-related. But instead, I'm too focused on the fact that Tseng has finally turned the water off and is hopefully getting himself pulled together until I suddenly realize that Reno's talking about the noise I'm making by scratching at the wood at my feet, making me realize that I should move as quickly as I can to get away before I wind up causing even more trouble for Tseng.
I don't get very far though, because thanks to my own sense of personal hatred and lack of self-control, I dug far enough into the wood to make it snap beneath my feet when I go to move and I crash down to the ground below, missing the haystacks by at least a foot and landing in a pile of dual horn dung while grimacing from the snap that I'm sure was one of my legs.
I've fallen like this probably a thousand times or more in my lifetime, and it only seems fitting that this is the first time I've ever broken something that would cripple my chances of getting away.
"What the fuck was that?"
"It came from over there."
But I try to get up anyway, more for Tseng's sake than my own, and mostly because I've already embarrassed him enough as it is. The least I can do is try to spare him from the indignity of having to explain my presence—never mind the fact that he'll have to lay his disapproving eyes on me again.
Unfortunately though, the sound of gunfire coming at my direction and the bullet painfully lodging into the bicep of my left arm—my gun-arm, stops me from going anywhere. It doesn't really help that I've grunted loud enough for everyone to hear while I instinctually cover the wound with my other hand and fall onto my back. Nor does it help that it's Tseng's gun shooting at me either, making me suddenly question my earlier conclusions about him not shooting me.
And the fact that Reno yells out a "Stop" spell to stop me from moving or getting away—and "Fire," which sets the barn on fire—makes it a perfect and fitting way for me to leave this world as I lay behind a haystack in a pile of ripe manure, cursing all the damn spell-casters in the world for being too cowardly to actually face their enemies while I try to ignore the spasms from the shooting pain I'm in as I lay here, helplessly.
"What the hell is the matter with you?" Tseng asks Reno in an angry tone from somewhere near the entrance before he elaborates on the fact that Reno set the barn on fire without really thinking it through to the end result. Then he orders them both—him and Rude—to find Elena and to prepare for a meeting in Rufus' office about a possible concern while he takes care of the growing mess that I'm becoming.
Of course, he doesn't mention me at all—that would be too degrading for him, and if I wasn't so focused on the pain I was in, I'd probably realize that the reason he hasn't mentioned me has nothing to do with that at all.
But what do I know? Except for the fact that I think I might be losing my mind and blaming him for it.
All I know is that he's managed to creep in here while holding a rag over his mouth to protect his lungs from the smoke and is now standing above me with his gun aimed at me while his gloved forefinger is readied on the trigger. Cold charcoal-coloured eyes stare down at me with an empty look as if they're looking at nothing. And I think of how fitting it is since it's the familiar look of a killer—detached and uncaring, and I strangely feel relieved.
But what he does is far from relieving.
He doesn't shoot me like I thought he was going to do. Instead, he kneels down and hits me across the temple with the handle of his gun, hard enough to make me briefly black out and see stars before a searing pain shoots behind my eyes.
Then he fires at the bolts holding what used to be the back door to the barn closed so he can kick it down. He mutters something about the smoke being thick enough to provide cover and that I'm lucky his home is close enough. After that, he grabs me by the collar and literally drags me along the hard and stone-covered ground while I try to overcome the Stop-spell so I can struggle away from the choking constriction he's provided around my neck as he does so.
He doesn't waste any time once he's got me inside. Right away, he drags me into his main bathroom and then cuffs me to a solid beam that's supporting the unfinished ceiling above. The entire half of the room is unfinished and far larger than it needs to be and I realize the floor I'm sitting on is solid concrete with a drain located in the middle. He shakes his head as if he knows I'm wondering what questionable activities he does in here and says, "Laundry room. It never got finished."
Then he quickly points at the machines and turns his back to me while taking a deep breath as if he's trying to calm himself down before he sharply turns and snaps his cane across my broken leg, faster than I could have anticipated, and causing me to grunt from the searing pain as a result.
His lips are pursed as he glares at me and quickly retracts it. Then he kneels in front of me and lifts my chin with the end of it before he rips my headscarf off, along with several hairs that were still attached to my head, causing me to involuntarily hiss. After that, he tilts my head and inspects the wound from when he hit me in the temple.
"You're already healing," he mutters. His tone is too cold to tell if he's concerned about it or not though.
Then he grabs my arm and notes that the bullet is still embedded in the flesh before he looks down at my leg and runs his hand clinically over where it's broken. He moves it about and presses lightly until I grimace, as if that were the reaction he was looking for, and then he nods.
"It won't set itself, will it?" he isn't really asking, and he stands and turns his attention away from me too quickly to see me shake my head as an answer. Then he opens a cupboard near the sink and pulls out a small case. All the while, he's still wearing his gloves.
"From what little research I could find about you, Valentine," he starts as he digs around and finds a pair of scissors, a sharp knife that's packaged in a sterile wrapping, and a clean towel, "I'm under the impression that your ability to heal is at such an exaggerated rate that it can sometimes cause more damage than good if you're not immediately tended to."
Then he comes back over to me and starts to cut the leg of my pants from where it's broken while inquiring, "I'm curious—How many times have you had to re-break your own bones or cut yourself open to dig out a bullet or some other foreign object because your body healed over it too quickly?"
More times than I care to count, really. But I don't bother to say anything since I'm under the impression he's already figured that out on his own and he's probably only talking to keep me distracted as he firmly places his hands below and above the break in my leg.
"Do you feel pain like the rest of us do?"
When I nod at him, he nods back and wrings a towel before placing it in my mouth and turning his attention back to my leg.
"You might want to bite down on that, then."
And he wastes no time to prove his suggestion was well-intended as my body reacts to the shock by involuntarily jumping, and I half-growl and half-scream into the muffling constriction of the towel while he insensitively orders me to, "Shut up," without bothering to look at me or explain why, even though I know the reason is because he doesn't want anyone hearing me.
Then he takes the knife and removes the sealed packaging around it and commences to remove the bullet while I grunt as he digs and cuts it out. He's not being unnecessarily rough though, unlike I would have expected, and I can only guess that he got the remainder of his aggression out when he whipped me with the cane.
In fact, much to my surprise, he tends to me like a doctor would tend to a patient, and he's as precise as one too—and again, he seems to understand my silent questioning.
"I studied medicine back in Wutai," he explains as he keeps his attention on what he's doing and continues to keep any sign of emotion from his hardened exterior.
Then he tosses the bullet into the can by his toilet with a much expected accuracy and wipes at the pinkish-clear chemicals that run from my wounds with the towel while he changes the subject when I ask him, "What made you join the Turks?"
"I'm one closer to being even with you, Vince."
"Vincent," I mutter through clenched teeth while I look down at the faintly stained towel on my lap. When he notices that I don't understand what he's talking about and completely ignores my correction, he smirks and clarifies, "I saved your life this time."
"You're the one that shot me," I remind him, letting him know that I hardly call that even.
"If I didn't, your death would have been guaranteed by the others and I would have had more questions to answer to than I care to deal with," he answers, factually, before he places his gloved hands against my cheeks and tilts my head toward his hard and unfeeling expression, "If you think I was hard on you, than you have no idea what Reno would have done to you if it was him that went into that barn."
"Is that your attempt at justifying yourself?" I ask him, sarcastically as I try to turn my head away since some of my ability to move is returning.
But he holds me still, with ease.
"I don't recall telling you to follow me."
His answer comes out hollow, matching the look in his eyes before he adds, "In fact, I recall telling you to do the exact opposite."
Then he leans closer and stares blankly into my eyes and lowers his voice to an almost threatening tone, "Don't make me have to clean up an unnecessary mess," before he pats me on the cheek and mutters out, "Angel Whisper," to heal all my wounds and any status abnormalities quicker than I can on my own.
After that, he stands and removes his gloves while informing me that he has an important meeting to attend to. Then he straightens out his uniform and nods at the cuffs around my wrists while telling me that he'd like me to stay put and remain quiet until he returns.
"I don't want any suspicious attention drawn to my home," he tells me as he walks out and turns the light off before closing the door behind him, leaving me with nothing but a small stream of light peering from behind a solid and heavy blind that's covering the small window above the toilet.
All the while, I'm beginning to wonder if this is the penance I've been asking for and whether or not it's too late to see if I can find a way to get out of it.
He must have been gone for over a couple of hours—exactly how many, I don't know. It could have been more than three or more, and not once did I bother to move to make myself more comfortable or even try to get out of my restraints. I spent over thirty years feeling like I was starving from a stomach that no longer required food. Though it always feels like it does. And I spent them in a small and windowless dungeon where I slept in the broken coffins that were left behind—once used to accommodate Hojo's failed experiments.
Where I am now seems like a small price to pay in comparison, and even though it would be easy for me to dismiss it as wishful thinking, a part of me suspects that he's doing his best to return as soon as he can. I just don't think I'm the reason even though I know that the reason I'm here is enough to make him want to hurry.
When he finally does make his appearance, he flicks the light on with a merciless speed that gives me no humane time to allow my eyes to adjust, and I wind up squeezing them shut and burying my face into my upper arm for a small amount of relief.
"It stinks in here," he states, before he looks me up and down and purses his lips when he realizes the smell is coming from the dual horn dung on the back of my cloak and the ends of my hair.
Then he lets out a deep breath and turns on the shower, testing the water frequently until it's at a temperature that suits his satisfaction before he opens the small window just enough to ventilate the room and comes over to me with the key to the cuffs in his hand.
"You'll sleep in my bed tonight," he tells me while keeping his voice low so no one outside can hear him as he leans over me and undoes the cuffs, causing the lavender and his cologne to lighten my mood slightly. And I unconsciously breathe it in a little more obviously than I probably should have.
"Don't do that."
I'd apologize to let him know I'm sorry. But there's something about him that causes me to not want to admit it to him, and instead, I ask him in a more respectful tone than the one he's carrying, "Where will you sleep?"
"On the sofa," he answers, without hesitation as if he's already given it enough thought.
Then he pulls me to my feet and points at the bottles on the edge of the tub.
"There's shampoo, hair conditioner, and soap—Use them all."
After that, he starts to unbuckle my cloak with a slight look of disgust.
"I can't have you sleeping on the sofa," I tell him as he acts like he's not listening to me and pulls my cloak off while holding it away from him.
"And I can't have you leaving," he replies, as he steps over to his washing machine and turns it on while still refusing to look at me.
"After your conspicuous arrival, and the fact that I've informed the others about the possibility of ex-Turks trying to assassinate us all, I'm afraid that I'd be putting you at risk if I were to let you leave."
Then he grabs a towel and continues to behave as if he's not really speaking to anyone in particular while roughly pushing it into my arms.
"Personally, I would like you to leave right away. But given the fact that everyone is on the alert right now, I'm afraid you're going to have to stay here until I decide it's safe for you to do otherwise."
"I'll sleep on the couch," I tell him without telling him my reason, or even admitting it to myself that I might be concerned about how uncomfortable he would be as I turn my back to him and start to undo the buckles on my shirt.
"Don't assume that you have a say in anything here, Vince," he tells me with a warning undertone as he walks out and I grit my teeth over how much he's pissing me off by continuously calling me that.
But I do and say nothing about it. Instead, I remove my clothes and do as he demanded, even though the temptation to do the exact opposite is more than tempting.
When I'm done, I step out of the shower and stand there for a moment, dripping wet and staring at the clean clothes sitting on the seat of the toilet, realizing that he must have come back in while I was in the shower since my clothes are nowhere to be seen. At this point, I'd be lying if I said the urge to walk out there naked, just to spite him, wasn't an appealing one.
But I'd like to think that I've grown beyond childish behaviours such as that. So I don't.
Instead, I put the clothes he wants me to wear on, and I make a special effort to keep my hair from dripping on the expensive and heavy silk that the shirt is made of. Then I grit my teeth and almost falter, suddenly dreading whatever other type of subtle insult or dig toward my appearance or way of life he's going to have laid out for me when I open the door.
He surprises me again though, mostly from the more relaxed atmosphere he's exhibiting as he sets the table while the smell of something cooking has overpowered his small home.
"I felt inspired to make a stew," he comments as he places the silverware in a meticulous pattern, "Something about your appearance reminds me of the Northerners that used to live near the Forgotten Capital—Of course, I don't have ready access to any Bandersnatches in this region. So, chocobo and dual horn meat will have to do."
I don't say it because I'm tired of him being right and I'm also agitated by his snide tone when he mentions bandersnatches, suggesting that I'm nothing more than a mongrel. But my ancestors are from that region and I simply nod while commenting that, "I didn't know you cooked."
"I've lived on my own for several years," he informs me as he does his best to avoid me while he adds, "I'm not used to cooking for more than one person. So I can only hope this will be enough."
Then he adds with a mild snicker as he turns away and walks over to a small pantry, "I'm not really sure why I'm putting so much effort into it though. I'm well-aware that you don't really need to eat."
After that, he grabs a bottle of red wine and then turns to regard me with an out-of-character curiosity.
"But you do get hungry, don't you?"
I only nod, letting him know that my body functions just like anybody else's, and it suffers just the same. But he's right about me not having the needs—just the empty desires.
"Hm," he mutters as he looks at the bottle without much hint to what he's thinking, "I can only imagine what it must be like."
Then he smirks and places the bottle on the counter.
"I suppose that's as far as I'd want to go with it though. Do you drink?"
Knowing he's referring to the wine, I simply lower my head and mumble, "Not since I was a Turk."
I can tell he understands what I mean as he taps his fingers on the neck of the bottle, causing me to guess that he's debating on whether he should open it or not. And I can't help but wonder how long it's been since he's had a drink since he doesn't strike me as the type. Not to mention, in all the time I've been watching him, he hasn't had a single drop.
"It hasn't been that long for me," he reflects before he subtly shakes his head and opens the bottle anyway, "But I suppose a small amount won't hurt."
Then he places the cork on the counter and leaves it while he walks over to me and stares at the ends of my hair, making me believe that he'll pay attention to anything he can if it will help him to avoid acknowledging me.
After that, he states that my ends are tangled as if he wants to change the subject and walks into the bathroom, leaving me there to stare at the bottle that looks like he's had it sitting in his cupboard for at least a decade, or more.