Chapter 1

Vincent let the cold water wash over him as he lay submerged in the stream, holding his breath, letting the flow of water carry away the taint, both real and imaginary, away from his body. However there was no escape from the reality that was hunting him for it would take more than cold water to wash it away for it was a memory, pressing down on him with every breath he drew. It was the knowledge, the shame of what he had done.

Being honest to himself, Vincent acknowledged that the need had been building up inside him for some time. It was not just him, most of their merry band of adventurers had felt the urge to pair up. Well, nearly everyone in their little group was settling down, leading semi-normal lives while Vincent was left seemingly by himself. It was not as if it was deliberate but he did not want to intrude on them but the news that Cid had gotten married had taken him by surprise.

Not that he was expecting something from Cid.

Or so he had told himself as he had dropped in on Cid unexpectedly. An experience he swore he would never repeat since it just did not make him feel comfortable to visit in their quaint living room drinking tea from a mug that threatened to crack from the pressure of his claw. It had been a total disaster, something he swore never to repeat.

In a way Vincent could understand the need to settle down and find a steady partner. Not that he thought he ever would ever find someone but that did not mean he was not interested in, well, sex. It had been suppressed while he had been traipsing around the planet looking for enemies with Cloud and the bunch but afterwards …

It was not as if he was going to find a woman or man to have sex with and it was easy to overlook such trivial bodily needs when he as by himself living in a small shack by the marshes. But apparently, his alternate forms did not have the same restraints he had. Nor any regard for the species he... it rutted with.

The incident, as he referred to it, had occurred three week ago while Vincent had been out hunting. Sometimes when the urge to find someone who was not his right hand made him feel restless, he would deliberately walk around in the grass waiting for something to attack him so he could fight back. Let the coiled up need translate into the spring action of his gun, the crunch of bones, the feel of warm blood and intestines, a red haze that did not require him to think too deeply.

It had been like a compulsion, just underneath the skin, waiting for him to scratch, to tear away the façade of humanity he clung to and call forth the beast within. It was so similar to a limit break waiting to be released, pulsing every time he closed him eyes, only a hundred times worse, he had thought releasing the beast within him would help.

When the limit break had build up, he had let go, transforming into the mindless purple beast he had come to associate with monotonous violence. It did not require much thinking, just claws and teeth to fight to the end. Only this time, he seemed to have transferred his needs into the monster that he had become and the Galian Beast did not have the restraints his human form did.

Mercifully, Vincent did not have much control over his 'other' forms and he did not remember his actions clearly. However, he knew what he had done though not how or why. Perhaps he did know why, it was obvious. It was a part of him he had refused to accept in his human guise, he refused to accept in his mind until he had gone berserk in his lowliest alternate form.

Vincent could recall a blur of fur; of mounting and being mounted on by monsters and finally of blood and gore. When he had reverted back he had been covered in monster-bits and bodily fluids that were definitely not blood.

Vincent shuddered at the memory, scrubbing his hands over his torso as the cold water streamed over his body, willing his mind to be cleansed as his body was. He could not remember the last time he had washed so many times. Finally, realising that there was not way to put off the inevitable, Vincent stepped out of the stream and on to dry land, walking towards his clothes slowly.

As he bend down to pick up his pants, a wave of dizziness hit him, momentarily forcing him to put his weakened hand down for balance. Without the protection of the golden gauntlet, his gun hand was weaker than his normal hand and it was with difficulty that he stopped himself from landing face first on his pile of clothes. It seemed as if he could hear the echoes of Hojo's laughter as he forced down the nausea, taking gulps of fresh air to restore his equilibrium. Finally, he straightened up, drying himself briskly with his cape before pulling on his clothes one by one. Almost reluctantly, he donned the gauntlet; a necessity he hated for his arm would never be strong enough to withstand the recoil of the gun. As he stood there, though there was no dizziness, he felt the … world shake.

Vincent frowned as he assessed the new feeling before he realised it was his cell phone, set to vibrate, shaking in his pants pocket. Though he had owned the phone for some time, he was still getting used to holding conversations with people far away and mostly of his friends did not call him, knowing his aversion to cell phones. He almost ignored it, fearing it was Tifa calling him to remind him of her oncoming wedding with Barrett then answered it since he did not want her sending search parties after him.

He looked at the caller number and frowned. It was Cloud.

Wondering what could have forced the recluse to call him up at such a time, fearing it was another emergency which dealt with world dominating psychopaths, he pressed a golden claw on the answer button, then he held it to his ear.

There was a long pause and finally, "Vincent." The voice was Cloud's but the tone did not indicate an emergency. In fact, it was one of great reluctance as if the person on the other side was being forced to make the call at gunpoint.

"What is it?" Vincent asked, weary but not alarmed.

"I don't want to bother you or anything … but can you come and bail me out," Cloud said unenthusiastically, the last part of the sentence so low that Vincent was forced to press the phone to his ear. "I've gotten myself arrested and someone has to come and get me out of this."

"Bail you?' he said stupidly. "What happened, where?"

"I'll tell you when you get here," Cloud said reluctantly. "Just… can you come… and bring some healing potion or some Cure mateira."

"Are you hurt?" Vincent demanded sharply.

"No," Cloud answered, voice firm. "It's for someone else."

Glad of the distraction and mystified by the situation, Vincent nodded before releasing Cloud could not see him. "Where are you?" he asked finally.