(Note: I am not responsible for any mental damage caused by reading this fic.)
Thought I heard you talking softly
He felt like he had been walking for days, without any aim or purpose. It had always been that way. He had felt this useless, this purposeless, without any kind of meaning or direction in his life ever since that day...
That day when the sky died...
And now the sky wept for him, sending it's tears into the ground, into his clothes, his skin, his soul. It sent its tears, a bitter consolement for one whose heart lay so dead.
The weather meant almost nothing to him now. Nothing meant anything.
He wandered under the dripping awnings, heavy with their watery burden, watching his booted feet enter and leave puddles, small droplets being flung from them as he moved forward. He kept his eyes down most of the time now. He didn't want to see anyone, to look in their eyes, and see the horrible lack of that blue that he so loved, had so cherished, and now would never forget.
He walked out from underneath their covering and felt the droplets pattering against him. He was soaked through, so such additional moisture provided nothing but the sensation. The coldness had already worked it's way through his body, burning through his limbs. Not one part of him that he could think of felt warm, and the metal claw on his arm felt heavier then ever. He turned his face to the sky, only finding the unchanging grey hue, mocking him by sobbing, crying so that it's tears stung his eyes and brought his own forth.
He refused to close his eyes nor turn his face back down, staring upwarsds with stubborn resolution, refusing to look down. Tears never seemed to come to him now, they most have all been spent before. To have the sensation of liquid running down his face, down his cheeks and underneath his eyes, even if it was just water, if it was only the sky's tears, was a comfort.
As if anything could comfort him.
His eyes cried out to him, begging him to allow them to close, to stop tormenting them like this. The rain itself was not as pure as it perhaps might have been. The planet was still trying to recover from the disaster before and the pollution, and still some used mako power, despite everything he and his friends had done in efforts to help the planet live.
In the end Bugenhagen was right. The planet was going to die. It was going to die, no matter what they did, because to be rid of one person who wished the planet home did not remove the thousands of others who killed the planet with every TV program and every lamp they turned on.
The Planet was crying. Even the planet was able to do that naturally now, although it's tears stung. He was sure it was not healthy. But he remained, standing in the area between awnings, letting the rain pour through his clothes, into his eyes, stinging them until they burned terribly, and he was sure that some of the water running from them must be tears.
He was unaware of others walking by him, pushing him to one side. He heard a slight sound in the back of his head, something wanting to be heard.
Turning abruptly from the sky, he began walking quickly, trying to drown out his mind with his footsteps. The mental demons that always tormented him had been silent, almost strangely so, since he had died. After all, they were part of him...they were affected as well. The only one to speak now was Chaos, and he rarely spoke more then a few words.
Vincent had not the cause for Chaos to take over him in a long time.
A very long time.
He pushed the door open, trying to write away the voice in the back of his mind as Chaos, asking him why he was doing this to himself. A hotel...good...
He walked to the counter, dripping, and filled out the necessary papers to get a room, all the while remaining stubbornly silent. He hadn't spoken for years. He had never felt the urge. He hated his own voice, and he felt that the silence was the only thing that could comfort him now.
He walked into the room upstairs, carrying only the old antique spear, which he kept with him at all times. He had no clothes, no bags. He traveled in this way from place to place, trying desperatly to find something to give his life meaning.
He leaned the spear against the wall, taking a section of his wet hair and wringing it out without changing his facial expression.
The voice came to him again, old, cracked, rough, and yet so clear, and so, so painful.
"Vin, don't cry..."
I turned on the lights, the TV, and the radio
Still I can't escape the ghost of you
Anger and sadness blended into a maelstrom of emotions, something the dark man had been trying to avoid, to forget for ages, and yet longed for again. He tore around the room, his hands buried in his hair, his eyes tightly shut, hissing between his teeth as he begged something, anything to get that voice from his head. He couldn't bear it...after so many years, wandering so uselessly, without purpose, so many years that had gone by like nothing because they meant nothing, and yet the pain was so real, so permanent. It mocked him, it mocked him by making him wonder if any time had passed at all. How could any time have passed if his pain did not lessen, only grow? But time did pass, as he saw his friends pass away around him...Barret first...
At least he saw his girl grow up strong and intelligent...although Vincent doubted she would ever truly understand what had happened in her youth...
What is happening to it all?
Crazy some say
Fighting Sephiroth, saving the planet...they seemed so far away now. Had he dreamed that? Had that ever happened? No, he had to trust what he remembered, even in the ancient, dusty memories of the ShinRa mansion. His memories were fading quickly, along with much of his sociability. He couldn't remember much before his friends had found him, barely recollected feelings of heartbreak, betrayal, and pain. He knew that was how he got the way he was today. He hated Hojo for that, but he had already killed him, so there was nothing he could do about that.
Chaos was mumbling in the back of his head. Or so he hoped.
Where is the life that I recognize?
To watch his friends, once so strong, so proud, fade in such a indignant manner hurt him. They deserved a more honorable death, but it appeared fate had destined otherwise. Red XIII was the only one who could match him for longevity...the creature seemed as ageless as he, and just as afflicted by the same kind of dark sadness that took over Vincent so often. They had to both watch as those they cared about died...
Cloud died after Barret...the Mako in his bloodstream had apparently been too much for him, and he did not last long after the death of one of his most loyal friends. Tifa had died almost directly afterward, which was believed to be of a broken heart. That's what they said.
Vincent didn't believe that broken hearts could kill people, or else he would have died long ago. But he said nothing, only standing silent. He did not say goodbye either. When he tried to recall, he didn't seem to remember saying anything to them before they died at all...
Yuffie was killed in some way...she didn't have to suffer as the others did. It was her own recklessness that brought her death...unlike most, her behavior didn't change when she reached adulthood, and she still lived for the thrill of theft. This eventually did become the end of her, but Vincent was not surprised.
Reeve...Reeve had become so busy with the work of rebuilding Midgar, so much so that they barely met, barely saw eachother. He died suddenly, unexpectedly, but he was old. So in a way, it was expected. He spent his life working to make other's lives better, and they had made the poisoned air that weakened his heart.
Vincent had no heart for irony anymore.
But I won't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive
Sitting in the hotel room, his hands buried in his hair, anything that could produce noise turned up in an effort to silence the voice that continued to speak to him, even after death, he could feel the choking rising in his chest. The dry, heaving kind of breaths that were never accompanied by tears.
Something in him had broken that day, something in him. Nothing had been the same since then, nothing. The days passed like years, and the years passed like days, and barriers became steadily blurry, and Vincent began having trouble remembering where he was. The only true link to his past that remained was Nanaki, Red XIII, the only surviving member other then he, who remained silently in Cosmo Canyon...
And the spear.
Despite the years, the toil, the constant abuse that the spear had suffered, it still shone brightly at him, as if no time had passed. Another thing that blended time together for him, made it indistinct. He had just seen that bright blade slide into Sephiroth's chest, peppered with bullet holes and gashes and tears, ripping his wing free, causing the Northern Crater to collapse as Sephiroth finally reeled in defeat...
And now, years later, countless years later, here it was, and nothing had changed.
He got up, taking the spear and holding it in his hands. It still felt light. This was not his weapon, he knew that. He could never muster the energy now, the grace required to be able to use such a beautiful tool of death. But the purpose of the spear was not for self-defense, it was so that, in his mind, addled with so much time passing with so little definition, would remember the one thing that had once given him meaning.
That he could remember that one time in his life, those shining, golden years, when he had been happy, and his eyes, so stained with blood, had been washed clear with the concern of the sky.
Had he said something different, would things have been better? Why had it it taken so long...was it their pride? He did not know...he only knew that it was far too late, in terms for both of them, when they finally accepted what they knew was true, and now...
Now all that was left was a spear, a spear that Vincent wished he could see being held by those gloved hands again.
He leaned the spear back against the wall, shaking his head. Although his hair continued to grow, he kept it cut so that it ended near his shoulders, in memory. It was a different style then he was used to, but then before, he hadn't slept long enough for his hair to reach his feet...as it had then...
His hair...so many years had passed. So many years, and the black strands always littered the floor, falling unevenly in piles and patterns, as he constantly waited for the brush of his hair against his shoulders before letting his claws down, letting them stop slashing. Now when he cut his hair, there were traces of different color among ebony, a lighter color, a slight shade of charcoal, perhaps. Almost imperceptible, but he knew it was there.
He knew that, he too, was growing old. It was taking him a long time, as it would with Nanaki, but in the end, he too would face the same fate as those who had died around him.
In this dark world, with so many cruel and indifferent people, he found himself longing for the days before, even when the memory of broken hearts and broken minds was so fresh, because compared to the mental stress, the memories, the fading and the detioriation he was facing now, it seemed almost normal.
He ran his thin fingers across his lips, opening his mouth slightly, and finding nothing but air pouring forth softly. It had been years, countless years, since he had last spoken. The last words he had spoken he still remembered, but he did not dare speak them again, or sully their memory by covering them up with more meaningless jibbering.
He had to continue living, that's what he had promised so long ago, and he could not break that. Although he lived a living death, he had to continue this grotesque parody of life, because of his memory. He could remember that clearly. Years may blur, funerals may pass, but he would remember that, and that was what he had to keep in mind.
He lay down on the bed, the light never having been turned on, and watched the sky weep outside his window, it's tears sliding and shining dully with the light of some streetlamp before vanishing forever. Just like the lives of his friends...a flash of brightness, a moment of glory, and then they faded, forgotten, and were never seen again. Except for him...what was he, in this metaphor?
What was he?
He did not know. He and Nanaki did not fit into it, and unable to resolve this, he turned away, staring into the opposite wall, finding it not asking him as many questions.
Passion or coincidence once prompted you to say
"Pride will tear us both apart..."
How foolish he was back then. How short-sighted. Thinking back to those shining days, thinking back to waking, going downstairs, perhaps walking about the garden...go out in the back and see the Tiny Bronco, with him working on it, wave at him...to walk back in the house, finding Shera offering him lemonade, her quiet smile and friendly eyes. He was so foolish then, to think that she would smile at him forever. To think that she would smile...forever.
The tragedy that claimed her life, so suddenly and without warning, was not even enough to wake Vincent from the dreamworld he was so desperately trying to cling to. This was his happiness, his only happiness, and to think that someday it may end as sharply as Shera's scream when the explosion hit her, to think that someday, everyone he knew would be buried as she was, would be mourned as she was, and then forgotten...forgotten...
He didn't want to forget, he didn't want to waste this time he had. So foolish, he believed that if he tried hard enough, he could make this illusion last forever. He believed that he could have this, this happy life, this life with years that passed slowly, but were so fulfilling...to think that something like that could ever belong to him was unthinkable...but he believed it back then. He didn't want to believe in mortality, but death is not a matter of faith. It came and struck him, reminding him of it's power, and then left again, leaving him alone while it cut down his friends, leaving him and Nanaki stranded, alone, in a sea of nameless people who would die nameless. Just as he soon would.
He should have said something. But no, Shera was there. He should have said something, but she had just died, that would be the greatest disrespect. He should have said something...and by the time he did, it was too late. He had waited so long, waiting for some sign of confirmation, and all he had to do was ask, all he had to do was ask. He was so foolish, and it cost him everything that he had ever wanted. So foolish and so proud...
And now where was he...?
Well now, pride's gone out the window, cross the rooftops, run away
Left me in the vacuum of my heart...
Now he had nothing. Deeper emotions had been lost, taken from him, in that horrible moment. That moment when he could hear his heart stop, that moment when he knew everything, everything was gone. That despite what everyone told him, that he wasn't different, that he wasn't a monster, that he was a normal person, here he was, standing outside the flow of time while watching it sweep away the only thing he ever loved. Now he had nothing.
Time had swept by him before, some time before he remembered. In the darkness, in the basement. Time had swept by him then, and he had awoken, swore revenge, and found that time had no meaning again. Fearing, maybe, that it would sweep by him again, he clung to Cloud and his friends, their purpose, so that time would not flit by, mocking him, as those around him withered. But such a useless excercise...in the end everyone still vanished, everyone was still gone, and time had not slowed down at all, only sped up, leaving him in the dust. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust...
Now he had nothing. Nothing. Even his emotions were gone, most of them. His voice was disappearing, along with his memories, and he knew that his youth was vanishing with them. To find those charcoal strands, now turning a lighter shade of grey, like the clouds that seemed to always cover the sky, did not surprise him. He didn't know what feeling the generated in him. They just...were.
What is happening to me?
Crazy some say...
Wandering despondently, that was his life now. Doomed to be the eternal wandererer, the proverbial Jack'O'Lantern, eternally holding up his lantern of immortality in search for the mortal. He had found it, but it was far too late now. Far too late now.
Leaving the hotel, paying the money, working jobs, getting more rooms, everything blurred into masses. No longer were days divided by tasks, his tasks were divided by number. He had done such and such a certain amount of times...that was all he knew now. That and the spear, always bright, always near him.
Perhaps he still had magic in him. Magic was fading as well, as the planet died beneath him so that someone could have their dinner five minutes faster. Everything was dying around him, and to notice that stairs began to give him trouble, that his breath was short, and his hair was changing, changing slowly, was the slow affirmation that, no matter how long Vincent could stand outside time, it would eventually wash over him as well.
Where is my friend when I need you most?
He stayed with Nanaki in Cosmo Canyon for a while. They did not speak to one another. Vincent had still remained silent, unable to utter a word. Nanaki himself was growing older, although his grey was less advanced then Vincent's, and the two spent most nights in front of the Cosmo Candle, sitting and watching the embers disappear, a bright flicker, then fading to obscurity almost instantly.
And time rolled steadily onward.
Time became increasingly meaningless. Years began to blend instead of days for Vincent, and his hair continued to remain at his shoulders. The cuts became more uneven as his claw refused to respond at times, and his hair sometimes looked choppy, a dark grey. People around him continued to rise and burn and die, like the embers he watched. ShinRa had become weak now, with competition, lacking the management of devoted employees such as Reeve or the solid leadership of Rufus, although he had passed on long ago. Technology itself moved onward, and yet, Vincent found almost nothing had changed. Nothing that mattered.
The spear was still strapped across his back, a slight weight that he was never rid of, even when he took it off and tried to sleep. Embers flashed and faded, and he could hear words in his mind again.
"I only wish that I didn't have t'leave y'alone like this..."
Vincent wished that as well.
Papers in the roadside tell of suffering and greed
Feared today, forgot tomorrow
But then again, nothing made much sense anymore. Sephiroth seemed more like a fairytale then ever, and he noted that he was never mentioned...neither was ShinRa. As he lingered around people's conversations, he found them talking about a new war brewing between Wutai and Midgar for some reason, probably space. Midgar had expanded greatly, several layers of plates now expanding on, almost endlessly. Another reason why the rain burned.
Cosmo Canyon remained as it had for years, isolated and remote. Nothing much changed there, Nanaki saw to that. He always watched his people die with stagnation, the people that he swore to protect. But what could he do? Nothing. Just as Vincent could do nothing as well. Opportunities slid through their fingers at every moment, something just missed, out of the corner of one eye. The lingering doubt that maybe, maybe, with all this time they could have done something, done something that would have lasted.
Vincent would have thought that saving the world would have been something that would have been remembered, but now few people spoke of Meteor and some people didn't even believe it actually happened.
Ooo, here beside the news of holy war and holy need
Ours is just a little sorrow at all...
As the war between the two cities, or nations, or whatever measurement of populace they had reached now, seemed to escalate, Nanaki spent more time away. Vincent did not ask why. He couldn't. He only watched and waited, watching embers die in the sky, as the soldiers around the world died for causes they didn't believe in. He wondered about their lives, their short, fragile lives that ended in such a frantic burst of action. Did they know how useless, how meaningless their lives were? Did they know they were essentially tools, to be used and thrown away? To die in combat...the correct death for some, but not for others.
He didn't know how he wanted to die. He watched a slate grey strand float by him in the wind. His hair had lost it's smoothness and softness and was becoming coarser, harsher. He knew that would happen. It did retain it's former beauty at points, but it didn't really matter anymore.
Nanaki came back at one point while Vincent was sleeping, and asked him what a good name would be. Vincent did not know what he meant. He stared at him through sleepy eyes, unable to think correctly, and clumsily scratched a message into the dirt beside him.
When he woke later, he did not remember giving such a name, but he found a small pup, a kit, a child of Nanaki's playing about his feet, moving back and forth with energy that Vincent knew he must have had at some point. Highwind. It was fortunate that he never talked, as he could never have said that name again...
The cub was followed by more, and Nanaki named them himself. His days were now spent with them instead of Vincent, who watched the fire alone, watching embers turn into stars, bright flashes of light.
He wondered about life and the role time had to play on it. Aeris...she had the least time of all. But she had done the most...or so it was believed. In the end, she had done nothing, just as Cloud had done nothing, just as Sephiroth had done nothing. In the end, everything was nothing. He looked up at the stars, and knew that they too, in the end would change. But he could look at the stars, and forget things. He could look up there, make the stars his entire field of vision, and pretend they were all that existed. That this world, this life, this pain, was not real. He could pretend, and he could pretend well. But in the end, it was still pretend. The pain was still there, and the hopelessness that came with his life.
His hair remained at his shoulders, now turning an ashen gray. So rare were facial expressions to him that when he ran his hand over his face, the wrinkles were indeed a surprise to him, and how the skin felt when he did smile, as he rarely did, perhaps every few years.
Nanaki's cubs remained children, and they followed him. They had heard stories about him from their father. They must have thought him to be some kind of hero. But people remember heroes. And heroes do not make such foolish mistakes, as to let happiness slip by them, dying as the sun shone on their pale face one last time.
And I don't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
He didn't want to get up, to do anything. He just felt so tired, so tired of it all. He wanted to sleep, to sleep forever as he once did, but he had forgotten how he did it. He knew he must have, because he remembered the nightmares. But he would have welcomed even their cold embrace just to change the monotony of such a meaningless life.
He stayed by the fire longer now. Much longer. And moving was getting hard, more difficult. Was this what it was like for him? For all of them? This pain of movement. He was tired now, so tired, and his hair continued to lighten, as if with every passing moment it grew a single shade lighter. It remained around his shoulders, rough and uneven. Nanaki had to cut it, as Vincent was now unable to move his claw at all. It was a dead weight on his arm.
His mind was vanishing, and it was hard to remember anything. The spear, the spear would bring it back for him, but other then that his mind seemed so blank. Nothing else seemed to be there, nothing else was in his mind. He knew he had friends, but he couldn't remember them all...there was the blonde one...and the black haired one...the man with the gun arm...and that other one...and the one who died...he could not remember why anymore.
He slept longer and longer these days, and the cubs around him showed concern, but he was unable to speak to them.
He wanted to go back to his old life, but he didn't even remember what that was.
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive!
Vincent fell asleep, and this time he felt, instead of the feeling that he should be getting more rest, that this sleep was not enough and would never be enough, he felt a quiet ease. He felt something...change.
Something moved, within him, as if some pressure had been released...something had changed. He wasn't sure what it was...
Every world is our world!
In a flash, everything came back to him. Everything. From his early childhood, to his awkward teenage years, those lonely years in college, the Turks, Lucrecia...Sephiroth...his happy years, those times, where he had left his gun, and that one time he had dropped that teacup near his 65th birthday and he had...
When he looked in front of him, there was a light that blinded him, but he did not close his eyes. This time he found tears flowing without the need for irritation. He had finally done it, he had finally done it. He could remember everything.
He had dropped that teacup and watched it's painted pieces break and shatter, leaving a thin covering of dust, and he had helped him clean up, and he had said...
Every world is my world!
The first word out of Vincent's mouth, his throat, so dusty and broken with neglect, sounded rough, uneven, and desperate. It tore through him painfully as he staggered forward towards the light, his voice a sharp cry. "Highwind...?"
"Vin, you're home. You've found us."
Rushing forward on stumbling legs that seemed to rapidly respond to him, to grow with strength, he struggled, and found an all-too familiar silhouette in front of him, a curl of smoke raising, blonde hair held back, a pair of gloves...everything...
Vincent ran forward, tears falling from his once dead eyes, making noises that he wasn't aware that he could make with his unused throat, struggling to grasp that phantasm with his hands, and found that finally, this dream did not disappear when he held onto it, sobbing and making incoherent noises.
The strong arms that he had not felt for countless years held onto him in a gesture that he recognized, that simple hug of friendship, and he felt the warmth around him, the sensation of feathers brushing against his skin, and looked down, finding that sky blue he had so missed.
"We were wonderin' when the #$#% you'd get here." His voice...Vincent could not stop crying, could not even try to make the noises he was emanating into any kind of semblance of syllable. His bright white wings wrapped around him, and Cid took his hand, leading the black-haired man into the light without touching the ground. "#$^#in' glad to see you too."
Any world...is my world...every world...is our world...
It was Highwind, the first cub that had been named, that had found him that day, that cold day in autumn, near the Cosmo Candle. And he didn't know what to say. He told his father that something was wrong with Vincent, that he wasn't moving. When Nanaki finally did come to investigate, he turned away.
"What's wrong? Why won't he move?"
Nanaki's voice was a low growl, short and clipped to the point, as was his normal manner of speaking these days. He turned, his tail sweeping the ground as the ashen strands of Vincent's hair spread around his head like a halo, his chest forever still.
"No...not wrong...something...finally went right."
(Author's Note: That's so depressing and yet, so inspiring at once! Wow, Vincent can sure ramble on and on and on, can't he? ^_^o Well, I think this is a good way ta end that I'll Remember fic anyway, I felt like that needed some closure of some kind. Poor Vin, I wonder how long it'll take him to get his voice back. ^_^)