Disclaimer: It is to be noted that I, mihoyonagi, take no credit for the characters appearing in the story, unless they are derived from my own mind. Yuffie, Vincent, and the rest of the Final Fantasy VII crew, as well as the game and plot itself, do not belong to me and in fact are property of Square-Enix, nor do I receive anything in compensation for writing this story, fiscal or otherwise.

Reason to Live

By mihoyonagi

Chapter 1

I went home to die, and ended up with a reason to live.

I wasn't sure how it started, or really when everything began to move toward what I should have seen coming, but it sure as hell did. It could have been all at once, or it could have been gradual – to be truthful, I hadn't paid it much attention.

What am I talking about?

Let me start over and try to rearrange my thoughts.

Two years ago, almost to the day, we purged the planet of Sephiroth, one of the strongest, not to mention most insane, beings on the planet. His dreams of conquest, of god-hood, vanquished, he submitted to the call of the lifestream, even though none really believed he deserved peace after what had transpired.

I guess a large part of that was my fault, really. In fact, the gaping majority of it had been due to me, and everything only snowballed afterward. But that's why I had started to travel with Cloud in the first place- after I heard Sephiroth still lived, my conscious wouldn't allow me to lie dormant in my self-implicated prison any longer. He would be my last piece of retribution for the wrongs committed, or at least I had planned.

Funny how fate doesn't really give a damn about anything you plan.

I was in love with his mother. Lucrecia was everything I had wanted, nothing I didn't, and yet was completely and utterly out of my league, though it didn't come as much of a surprise. I was a freshman Turk, unsullied and only just out of training. My father had gotten me the job, and later helped me transfer so that I could be closer to him. Our relationship was never strained, but it was never really that normal either. I think he had Shinra transfer me so that he could watch over me, but that's just assumptions. I was never good at discovering what was on his mind.

I was assigned to be Lucrecia's bodyguard. The specific department of science she was involved in, biotechnology, had received threats after Lucrecia had published a few thesis papers regarding the entity know as Chaos. She worked directly under my father.

I'm not really sure when I fell in love with her, but I do remember wishing she would favor me with one of her beautiful smiles all of a sudden. Occasionally, I would sneak her out of the lab and we would have picnics and observe the scenery. I remember nearly having her affections – charm goes a long way, after all, and I did my best to win her over – but then, all at once, everything changed.

The entity she had been studying in captivity, the being she thought was Chaos, had broken though its cage. As a result, my father, ever the ladies man apparently, died in his attempt to save Lucrecia.

I know now that she had blamed herself, even though I knew it was never her fault. I never threw even so much as an ounce of guilt her way, and I never blamed her for anything.

She didn't seem to see things my way, however, and began to distance herself from me. She fell into the arms of the man with whom my father worked with – a twisted excuse for a man named Hojo – and later married him. Be it for love, or just to get away from me, I'm not really sure. It was months later, after little to no communication, when she came to me, tears in her eyes that fell down to stain the pretty lab coat she wore so well.

She told me she was pregnant.

I wished her happiness and luck, and she accepted them with a smile, though I knew she secretly knew I still loved her.

It was what she told me next that made me lose my respect for her.

She was going to offer her baby up for experimentation.

The being found deep within the crater of the northern continent, named Jenova by those who excavated her, had been mislabeled as an Ancient, a Cetra. It wasn't long afterward that the biotechnologists at Shinra realized their mistake, but it was still too late – Lucrecia had already injected herself with a large dosage of concentrated Jenova DNA as well as a larger supply of Mako than was considered safe.

She named her baby, the first and last motherly thing she would ever do for her doomed child.

Sephiroth, she had told me after she decided.

Hojo stole the baby after it was born, and Lucrecia came to me looking for help of any kind. I had tried to reason with her when she had been pregnant, yet it was only after she understood what she had done did she feel the need to wish her way out of the nightmare. How ironic.

But Hojo would have none of it. He suspected Lucrecia and I were having an affair; something I suppose I regret wasn't the truth now that I contemplate it. He shot me in front of her, nearly killing me.

Ever the one to play God, Hojo strapped me to one of his exam tables and did things to my body and mind I can't begin to relay. Words do not do justice to what was done to me, but I knew I had none other to blame but myself.

I suppose if I had been stronger I could have shown Lucrecia my true feelings, and her baby wouldn't have been born into such a life. I suppose I could have stopped her when I knew of her plans to use her baby for the sake of science.

Suppose in one hand and shit in the other, and see what you have more of.

I have Chaos inside of me thanks to Hojo's handiwork, and a metal attachment for a hand that creeps up nearly halfway to my elbow. Chaos' appearance slowly overlaps mine, though it took me nearly an entire year to notice the change. It was first my eyes – they changed to a deeper, wine-colored red than previously – then my hair – it grows now at an alarming rate – and then the rest of my body gained attributes not associated with humanity. I found myself able to run at alarmingly fast speeds, able to go days without food, or even able to put myself into a state of suspended animation, so long as I could still breathe.

I only lost my temper with Chaos once. That was all it took.

I can't recall much of the occasion, but what I remember was absolute rage consuming me. The next thing I knew my consciousness was pushed aside and a completely different being took charge of my body, willing my limbs to do its bidding.

It was terrifying.

I never lost control after that, though, on dire occasions, I was able to find I could control Chaos for a short period of time.

I guess to say that everything started nearly two years ago would be a blatant lie. Everything started the day I fell in love with Lucrecia, but things only started to turn decent for me two years ago.

After the defeat of Sephiroth, Holy's power, aided by the prayers of Aerith I'm sure, stopped Meteor from crashing into the planet. I remember bright lights, and fountains of the lifestream breaking through the crust of the earth, holy Meteor in place in the sky as though it weighed nothing. Meteor disintegrated.

The planet still loved its children, it seemed. I still find it hard to believe that a large rock floating in space could have a will to survive, a well as express love and mercy for those that lived on its surface.

Then again, I have a metal hand and a demon inside of me, so, now that I think about it, a sentient planet doesn't seem too strange.

After we all knew Meteor was gone, the sweeping relief that flowed over the planet was felt everywhere. From Cosmo Canyon to Mideel, even in the slums of Midgar; all life on the face of the planet let out a collective sigh. The birds sang louder, the tress rustled without a breeze; everyone was happy.

Well, not everyone.

We were in the Highwind a good day after everything. The bridge's windows gave us the brilliant glow of the ocean at dawn. I remember Tifa beginning to cry. I remember Cloud trying to pretend he wasn't sad.

But the fact of the matter was that, even though we were all thankful to be alive, we missed our flower girl.

Despite the fact that I had spent a great deal less time with her than anyone else, it still felt as though there was a great pressure on my chest. I knew that it would be hard to say goodbye, but none of us really felt like we could let go. It was within that first week that Cloud had handed out the ribbons to us.

They were pink. One for each of us.

No one said a word about them, they merely fastened them to their persons, and went about their business.

But it wasn't simply Aerith.

There was still a deep chasm, a terrible and suffocating pressure, in place of my heart. I grew confused. Sephiroth had been slain and everyone had been saved.

Why, then, did it hurt so badly when I thought of the people I traveled with.

It was in the depth of the third night after we had returned fro the crater that I left.

Call me selfish, but I couldn't stand their happy faces any longer. I wanted out, and I wanted out fast. I told no one where I was going, but I am sure they could guess easily enough.

Even with the hole in my chest, the duties I had imposed on myself had been fulfilled and my life was thusly meaningless thereafter. Perhaps that's what I seemed to be dreading so much; maybe because I knew it was finally my time to go, I was actually scared.

I'm not one for irony, but even I cracked a smile after I thought of that one. Me, finally able to die, but too scared to.

I didn't know if I could feel any more, save for the cold and the hurt. It sounds overly-depressive, but I really felt hollow inside, like I had been unplugged and all of my emotions had just drained out like old, piss-warm bath water.

And so, with a heavy heart and an even heavier conscious, I made my way back to Nibelheim, down the winding stairs of the ShinRa mansion, deep into the cellar, and finally, standing before my coffin, I realized that there was nothing left for me. I took a deep breath, reached for the lid and-

The footsteps I heard overhead sounded as though someone were running whilst Bahamut was nipping at their heels. I paused and concentrated, trying to listen for patterns in the steps. Before I was able to discern who it was obviously trying to rouse me from the sleep of the dead, I heard the hidden doorway slam open, and the thundering feet began to descend the stairs.

I stood there, with one foot, quite literally, inside of my coffin, and waited for whomever it was to barge into my basement sanctuary and try to persuade me from lying down inside my casket. I had no words, and I knew nothing I could say would prevent them from thinking less of me, but it was my life and my journey was coming quickly to a close.

Or so I thought.

Funny how fate doesn't seem to give a damn about what you think, either.

Even though I tried to mask my surprise when the door swung open to reveal none other than Yuffie, I knew my mask had slipped. My young companion who, when compared to all of the others from the motley crew I'd traveled with, I knew the least about, wore a look of absolute rage across her face. She was dripping wet; I took a guess that it must have been raining out.

I opened my mouth to speak, though I'm not sure why – she was too far gone for words at her point – and found myself flinch when she began to stalk toward me.

"You bastard!"

Her voice was shrill, full of hate and anger.

It was all directed toward me. A flicker of emotion flared up – guilt, perhaps – but quickly died when I realized I didn't owe anyone else anything, least of all the young woman who walked toward me.

"You ignorant fuck! Do you have any idea what you're doing?"

I took a deep breath, straining to keep my voice from breaking. "I came to die, Yuffie. I own nothing else to the world. I've finally absolved my sins, and now I can sleep peacefully forever."

Her hand flew out before her, her pointer finger jabbing me in the chest. She was a head and a half shorter than I, but Yuffie was oblivious to such a small detail. Her rage made her feel a million times larger than me, I'm sure.

"We already lost Aerith. Now you pull this bullshit by trying to die on us, too? Do you have any idea how upset everyone was when they found out you left?"

I faltered. "Yuffie, this is how it has to be."

"It hurts when people you care about die – I'm sure you know better than anyone, seeing all the shit you've had to go through – yet here you are trying to just up and keel over on us all, paying no nevermind to anyone else's feelings for one damn second!"

I took a step back. She wasn't full of rage.

She was full of hurt, of sadness, and it was my fault.

Everyone had felt so lost after Aerith's death. I pondered for a moment; would they be just the same were I to fall away from life?

It seems I can't live without hurting others. How is that for irony? I try to correct my mistakes, I try to make things better, and I only screw it all up even further.

"Yuffie, this is my choice."

"Fuck you, Vincent Valentine!"

I saw her hurt. I read it in her eyes.

I didn't see the balled-up fist come sailing toward my face, however.

Funny how fate is a bitch like that.