I have a lot of love for this story of mine, its also mostly finished, but i have this piece-like writing where I'll vividly write very slim, certain scenes, and generally I don't like making jargon bullshit to fill in the blanks. I've been told it's very drabble-like, and for some reason its either like this, or extraordinarily wordy (like Visionary Eyes).
So it's a story told in bits and pieces, pretty much.
Cloud thought his newly picked room rather depressing—Lucrecia already had furniture planned.
Lucrecia wasn't like the other scientists. In fact, if Cloud hadn't known of her occupation she'd thought she was the resident designer. Which probed him to question; why was she here at all? He wasn't doubting her abilities, per say, but she was so different from the other scientists. That, and she was the only woman he'd met so far.
Vincent lurked around—Cloud would catch him from the side of his vision once or twice, before the man seemed to dissipate into shadows.
He was pretty good at what he did. Cloud surmised he must be one of the higher ups in the Turk pyramid; Veld would never let someone so god damn good be nothing but a grunt. Which also lead Cloud to have his suspicions about this project. He was used to Turks guarding him, prowling the labs, making sure the president's will be done. But they were mostly the grunts, doing grunt work. Vincent certainly was not a grunt.
So what was he doing here?
It wasn't like Cloud could just ask him, even as he finally caught up to the elusive guy that night in the kitchen.
Seeing Vincent do human things, though he resembled a vampire so clearly, made Cloud's mouth quirk upwards. He looked like a pretty creature of the night, reading a newspaper and eating Cloud's cereal.
"That's mine, you know."
He wasn't surprised that the Turk already knew he was there. Vincent didn't even jump at the sound of his voice, only inclining his head.
"My apologies." He took another spoonful anyway.
That brought a full smile to Cloud's lips and he poured himself some as well, bringing his bowl over to Vincent and sitting across from him, cross-legged.
"Shouldn't you be sleeping?" He asked. It was nearing four in the morning.
Vincent looked up from the newspaper slowly. "Shouldn't you?" He quipped back. Cloud noticed he always deflected questions—even mundane ones—with more questions.
Cloud shrugged, playing around with the marshmallows in his bowl. "I couldn't sleep." He confessed. "I never seem to be able—after…"
Vincent was perceptive enough to understand, and to not question. "One would think." He agreed. "Though you should try anyway. Don't you have more tomorrow?"
Cloud blanched at the thought of more experiments. As he had first thought, his entire presence here revolved on being the guinea pig for Hojo's new experiments. What he didn't understand was the move from the more impressive lab at ShinRa. Hojo was forever cursing his lack of equipment in this 'second-rate' facility. This 'second-rate' facility which had almost enough gill backing it that ShinRa could have bought Mideel with it.
"Yeah." Cloud muttered glumly, before changing the subject. "What have you been up to this whole time?" It'd been nearly three weeks since they came here, and he'd yet to see anything but a passing look at the guy.
"My job." Came Vincent's wry answer.
Cloud snickered. "Well, I'm sure not all the time." And, like a light bulb in his head. "Why don't you come on a picnic with me tomorrow?"
Vincent stilled. There was humor in his eyes though, the most emotion Cloud had ever seen on him. "…A picnic?"
"Yeah." Cloud nodded. "With Lucrecia. She likes them I guess. But all the other scientists around here are so stuffy and would never do something like that—you should come. The fresh air will be good for a vampire like you."
Vincent snorted. If anything, Cloud's freely given invitation only intrigued the Turk more. There was a calculating, undeniably intuitive brain in there, masked by a loud, vulgar mouth and a carefree expression. Who was he, Subject C?
"Perhaps." Vincent answered, noncommittal.
The last thing he wanted to do was go on a picnic with a nutty scientist and an equally nutty experiment.
But he did so anyway.
The afternoon was all sunshine, and he was starting to feel a little hot in his suit. Lucrecia had shrugged off her lab coat and her shoulders were glowing with a tan. Cloud too, seemed to be getting more color onto his once almost sickly white complexion. Vincent noticed the slight discoloration around the bottom of his eyes and dotting his nose—almost imperceptible little freckles from the sun.
There was something unbelievable looking about Cloud—some sort of inhuman trait to him that Vincent couldn't quite identify. The unnatural blue of his eyes, perhaps, that seemed to burn into everything. Vincent had never seen anything quite like it; a hybrid between monster and human.
"What's wrong with you?" Lucrecia gave him a silly smile, for she was quite a silly scientist. "Don't like cheese?"
He'd picked it all off, having an aversion towards it ever since he'd eaten a rotten piece on a mission once.
"Not a fan." He said, laying another slice onto the plate beside him.
She gave a happy bite into her own, as if pleased that he'd even opened his mouth. Did she think him so disagreeable that he wouldn't even respond to a simple question? The thought didn't sit well with him.
He twitched a bit at the very word. He'd scraped all that off, too.
"You're wasting the best parts." Cloud rolled his eyes, a pleasant smile on his face. And again, he looked perturbingly human once more. His eyes flickered once with the light, and suddenly he looks all monster.
"They are the most disagreeable to me." Said the dark haired brunette softly.
"What a crazy guy, huh?" Cloud smiled at her.
"Not as crazy as everyone else." Lucrecia smiled back, before stretching. "I can't stand all these scientists. I think I'm drowning in all this mundane theory."
"You could stick a needle up my arm, if you want some excitement." Cloud offered.
Vincent wondered how he could be so nonchalant about what was obviously the turning point in his life. He'd have loathed the very day, had he been in Cloud's shoes. Perhaps this was to be a judgment of Cloud's character; to be able to survive something so twisted and live to humorously tell the tale.
"I could never do that!" Lucrecia smiled, brightly. "You're too much of a gentleman, Cloud. I'd feel just awful afterwards."
"You'd be the only one." The blonde joked, grabbing for the jello and whipping out a spoonful. Vincent blinked curiously at the easy camaraderie between the two.
Lucrecia took one look at him, blinking, before ducking her head. Vincent moved his gaze towards her, noticing how she turned her head away from him, shaking into her shoulder.
She shook her head, brushing sparkling hair out of her eyes. "Oh—nothing… it's just…"
He looked back at her, looked back into the blue sky of her eyes.
The brilliance of her smile.
"You've got something in your hair…"
She trailed off, a delicate hand going to his head, and coming out with—
Cloud chortled. "How did that all get there?"
But Vincent wasn't too concerned with the abomidable substance in his hair, nor was he particularly concerned with Cloud's inhumanness, and how it pertained to his assignment.
All he could see was the painting of the sun down the side of her face, and the unnerving beauty of her eyes.
Cloud wasn't particularly surprised when Lucrecia and Vincent started going on a few picnics of their own. If anything, he was a tad smug. After all, it wasn't everyday your resident science experiment turned science experimenter got to play matchmaker, let alone play as a decent one.
Personally, he thought it a bit of his right.
And it made sense, after all.
Lucrecia was bored, bored and pretty. And Vincent was just way too pretty in general, but more then that, Cloud sort of thought he'd been giving her the eye this whole time. But then again, it wasn't like Cloud had much experience with these kinds of things, so he could just be reading too much into it.
The blonde was in such a good mood, even Hojo couldn't bring him down.
Well, sort of.
"I don't see why he's got to try it on other people." Cloud began anew, sterilizing equipment alongside Professor Gast. "I mean, he's got me, right? And isn't this braking some sort of safety issue? Personal right issue?"
Gast gave a long suffering sigh. "My dear child," He began, and Cloud felt a little bubble of happiness burst with the term of endearment. "You'll soon find that ShinRa has always been a tad… morally ambiguous. Though, to that extent, these citizens did sign a contract."
"And don't I know it." Cloud snorted. "But I'm sure they didn't really know what they were getting into, right?"
"Perhaps." Said Gast, noncommittally.
Cloud wasn't sure exactly why the guy was a scientist. After all, he seemed to have a good, reasonable head on his shoulders. A sense of humor, at that. In fact, he seemed almost human. So why was he here, in this crazy basement in this crazy, fucked up town?
Speaking of the town, Cloud had spent so much time cooped up in this crazy mansion that he almost began to yearn for a set of new faces. But Nibelheim was a place he'd much rather forget, much rather lock in the bottom of his head where he could only remember in the vague maunderings of his mind. But sometimes he wondered of his mother, and if she'd remember him at all. As he polished off some syringes, he caught sight of his reflection, nothing but a slight of pale, wiry muscles and burningly blue eyes.
"I can finish up here, Cloud." Gast said, braking the young blonde out of his musings.
He nodded, happily. "Of course. Why don't you go outside and enjoy the sunshine? It's a beautiful day."
And do what? Cloud thought, morosely. It wasn't like he had anything else to do, besides sit around and play experiment to Hojo's strange demands.
"Yeah," Cloud lied drily. "Maybe in a little bit."
Ironically, Cloud met sunshine an hour after that, the ending to a shouting match with Hojo down the narrow halls of his labs. Most of his regular assistants had long since fled, more accustomed to Cloud's imperviousness to Hojo's rankled, splenetic irritation.
"You don't think that's too much ephedrine?" Cloud began, more worried for his own sanity rather than Hojo's patient, who was now facing the brunt of what could possibly be a lethal amount of amphetamines. After all, dead patient meant aggravated Hojo, and Cloud would prefer not to be around for that.
"Mind your tone, boy." Hojo snapped, without looking up.
Brows creased in annoyance, Cloud screwed the IV drip onto his own limp patient, giving the professor a narrow-eyed glance from the corner of his eye. "I'm just saying that you're doing it wrong! You're trying to stimulate the guy's nerves, not kill him!"
"The expert on it, now?" Hojo cut in snidely. "Ah yes, I see, the poor farm-boy with no doctorate at all, clearly the expert on medical procedures. Don't tell me what to do."
"I don't need a medical degree to know more than you." Cloud pointed out, seething. Hojo always had to put him down somehow, didn't he?
"You don't know anything! You're nothing but an experiment!" Hojo howled, disregarding his now flopping patient as he wriggled off the table and onto the floor.
"Yeah?" Cloud's voice rose, turning to look at the scrawny doctor fully. "And you're just a self righteous bitch who likes to play God with his shitty tinkertoys!"
That sent Hojo into a blinded rage, the scientist running into his chest like a rampant monkey, Cloud holding him off fitfully with one hand, the other reaching blindly for a syringe behind him, in a futile attempt to sedate the moron for good.
Sadly, Gast broke them apart before Cloud could do any real damage, Hojo a snarling mess as he continued to shout, enraged, at the blonde. A couple assistants rushed in to help their superior, Hojo lashing through them, Cloud pushed back until he almost knocked over an entire tray of drugs. Gast looked back at Cloud with a reluctant expression, advising Cloud to perhaps step outside for some fresh air.
Like it was his fault.
Granted, it may have been, a little bit. Cloud was the only thing that seemed to peevishly rub Hojo the wrong way. Not even Gast, who was the constant source of Hojo's annoyance, could elicit such a physical response out of the small professor.
He just hates me. Cloud thought, shrugging off his mask and sterilized jacket, trashing his gloves and making for the diffused sunlight of the upper floors. Which brought him to his next subject of confusion; why had Hojo bothered with him at all? Why did he keep him around?
Probably just haven't quite lost my usefulness, I suppose. Cloud mused, shoes creaking on the old wood of the main entrance. Everyone else seemed preoccupied with the subjects downstairs, leaving the palatial hall devoid of life, nothing but dust catching gold in the afternoon sun.
Everyone, that was, but Lucrecia.
"Done already?" She smiled, as he opened the door and blinked down at her.
Cloud shrugged. "Got kicked out."
She gave a hearty laugh, folding her hands under her chin. "That seems to be a running theme with you."
"Hojo and I obviously don't get along very well." Cloud noted wryly, seating himself next to her. "Did you finish your report?"
A brief, shuttering look passed her face, before she shook her head. "Almost." And then, with a sudden softness; "My theory will have to be tested out manually."
"Well at least it'll be more exciting than whatever else were up to." Cloud supposed aloud, leaning back onto his elbows. You couldn't see the glorious sunset from in the labs, nor catch the biter mountain air from inside the basement of the sprawling mansion—and Cloud relished the feel of it after hours beneath its metal interior.
Lucrecia made a noncommittal noise, face held in her hands, as if to feel its lovely shape.
"Say," Cloud began, a little hesitantly. "You know, no one ever really explained to me this whole Jenova thing. …What is she?"
Lucrecia turned to him, blinking owlishly with her big blue eyes. "I'm sorry?"
"You know. Those cells I have." He pointed to himself. "Where do they come from?"
"You don't know?" Lucrecia asked, incredulously.
"They never told me."
The scientist hummed thoughtfully, looking back into the sky. The sun was a dim, benign presence on the horizon, an enormous jovial peach that burned through the stratosphere until everything glazed with scarlet. "Well, she's a Cetra. Or she was, anyway. All we have left are the remains—some of which are inside you, in your very DNA. She was discovered almost twenty years ago. Though to that end, I'm not even sure if it was Hojo who discovered her. He takes credit, you see, but I hear that it was Gast who excavated her. "
"So… why me?" Cloud asked slowly.
Lucrecia shook her head. "I really couldn't tell you, Cloud. Why you? Why out of everyone who had her cells injected—why were you the only one to survive?" She smiled slightly, then. "You must be special."
"There's nothing special about me." Cloud insisted. "The only reason why I'm even here today is because I had the bad luck to fall into a mako pool—
"But the fortune to live through it." Lucrecia cut in, innocuously. "There are few, if any, who can say the same. And the duration that you were in there? I read the file, Cloud. Over five minutes? A few seconds is lethal, Cloud."
"But why me?" Cloud repeated, frustrated.
Truly there had never been anything particularly special about him as a child. He was a little undersized… make that terribly undersized, shy, and a little curious. He wasn't particularly smart, nor particularly fast, even for his small stature. And yet here he was, such a curious cocktail of cells, and the strongest man on the planet.
Lucrecia gave him a sympathetic glance. "I wish I knew."
At least he'd finally figured out what Jenova was, exactly. Hojo had never been to keen on explaining, and as an assistant scientist he hardly had any access to files like that. But what did that make him, exactly? Half those people down there were already on their way to becoming monsters, the other half comatose.
Cloud blew a raspberry.
Lucrecia was warm and comforting by his side.
Guess who works all black friday? I'll be dying there, glomped by a gaggle of tween girls with incessant, vapid voices (I work at Hollister, I KNOW, its gonna suck) who'll trample me over the moment I open the doors (AT MIDNIGHT!) So make my day and review!