~Chapter 2~Lance Valentine~
His eyes narrowed as she made eye contact with him, silver and red burning into each other.
His head snapped over to the bed.
She—the girl, Viridian—was dreaming. The group had taken her back to 7th Heaven at his request. He needed to find out what she'd meant by Hojo being back. Was it true? Why did she have the shape of Chaos? Why—
"Why does she resemble Sephiroth so much?" Cloud asked from the doorway.
Yes. That. "I do not know. Lucrecia's files stated nothing of her, which leads me to believe that she is a more recent creation."
Cloud nodded. "She still unconscious?"
"Yes, though she appears to be dreaming. She talks in her sleep."
"What does she say?"
"Well, if anything happens, we're downstairs." Cloud left.
"He turned to face her. "Stop pretending to be asleep."
Her eyes opened and she sat up—a little too quickly. "Whoa…"
He moved to support her as she recovered from her dizziness.
"Thank you. I apologize for being ill earlier. I try to time it so that I'm not near anyone, but that wildfire…"
"Yes." She shifted so she was facing him on the bed.
His eyes narrowed as she made eye contact with him, silver and red burning into each other. She immediately averted her eyes.
"I apologize. I upset people when I look at them. And frankly…these colors drive me mad…"
"Excuse me. I'm getting ahead of myself. I will explain everything I can, but please, where is my belt?"
He nodded to the bedside table. She leapt up agilely and opened the square pouch attached to the sought item. When she turned around she had a pair of thin cat-eye glasses on…and her eyes were green. Mako green.
"Light-refracting lenses. They enable me to see as well as adjusting the light frequency to make my eyes appear a more natural color. This aqua green was going to be my natural eye color if I had been born on time."
"My apologies. I seem to be creating more questions than answers. I will start with that one and go back from there. I was born prematurely. That is why I am strangely…pigmented."
He nodded. "What did you mean by 'these colors drive me mad'?"
"That…" She looked away. "You probably won't believe me…"
He sat down next to her and looked at her intently. "Was it something Hojo did to you?"
She shook her head. "I should say yes for all the sanity you'll think I don't have…"
He slowly cocked his head. "Continue," he demanded.
"I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?"—John Lennon
Viridian heaved. "Okay, but…" She looked at her hands. "I…I'm highly clairvoyant…"
His eyes narrowed. "What?"
"You heard me. Clairvoyant. I can see the dead. In addition, I can see a person's auras."
She tensed. Visibly. Her hair fell in front of her face, forming a protective barrier between her and him. "It…It is rather difficult to explain." She started twisting her small braid around her finger in a nervous bout.
He grabbed her wrist to make her look at him, alarming her and prompting her to meet his gaze nervously. She reminded him of a deer in headlights. 'She's terrified…why? It's fairly obvious that she's attempting to win me over by offering up all of this personal information. But…would she do that if she had malicious intent...?'
They sat there in silence for a few minutes, he holding her wrist and she too petrified to push up her slowly slipping glasses, each collecting his own thoughts. Then—
"Have I convinced you, then?"
He started. "What?"
Her silver irises glinted over her glasses in the afternoon sunlight. "Your aura is much calmer and you are less guarded, based on the brighter shade of violet and the duller shade of red it has acquired."
He released her wrist. "You…What exactly can you see?"
A look of surprise graced over her pale features. "You…You're not going to hit me?"
His eyes widened involuntarily. "Hit you? Why would I hit you?"
"Because everyone else does…everyone except him, anyway…"
'Him? Does she mean Hojo?'
"I'm not referring to…to…that monster." She shivered. "Sorry. Your red color flared up quite suddenly, and I assumed…"
He nodded. "Who, then?"
She looked very uncomfortable. She once again said something he barely heard: "My husband."
"…What?" Husband? She didn't look more than eighteen years old. "How old are you?"
She turned her blushing face toward the window. "I am twenty-three. My physical appearance is younger, I know, but that is a result of the experimentation. Mentally…I believe myself to be twelve to nineteen, though at times I feel almost sixty," she said with a childish, sly glance at him.
He stiffened. He'd forgotten that she'd seemed to know something about him. He coughed.
Her demeanor fell. "So…do you reject me yet?"
He shook his head softly. "No. I know what Hojo does to people. I, myself…" He looked at his claw.
"I know…everything about what happened to you…"
His eyes narrowed.
She rushed ahead. "When I knew I needed to escape, there weren't many who I could approach for help. Most people think Hojo is dead, but…" She sighed. "He was. And he blackmailed me into reviving him."
"Blackmailed you, how?"
She took a deep breath. "I was studying for a research paper on alchemy when I stumbled across his files. I decided to sneak into his old lab at Deepground to gather more information (I'm mortally curious, you see.). There…I found him. The Lifestream had rejected him because of his unfinished business… He was—is, I suppose—corrupted… He followed me, possessed me…" She shuddered. "I went to my husband for help, but Hojo…Hojo took over his body and threatened to commit suicide with it unless I helped him.
"Before he'd died, Hojo had been researching me because A: I was the top student in my alchemy class in college, and B: word had it that I could see the spirits of the dead.
She hesitated. "He wanted me to locate Miss Lucrecia."
He stiffened. "…Lucrecia?"
She nodded. "But…I knew she wasn't really dead. Her things weren't cold as most people's are after they die. I couldn't tell him that, though. Instead, I insisted that she was already a part of the Lifestream. And then…"
"Then he insisted you bring him to life so he could concoct another mad experiment."
She bowed her head. "Yes."
"And since you couldn't bring Lucrecia back to life, he decided to experiment on you, instead."
"Yes," she whispered.
He put his hand on her shoulder. "I can guess what he did to you. I assume you wouldn't—couldn't—talk about it if I asked you."
She shook her head. "I'm sorry, but…" That deer in headlights look again.
He put his gauntleted hand on her other shoulder. She flinched at the contact, so he withdrew both quickly.
"I'm sorry. It's just…so strange to have someone other than him touch me with compassion." Her voice sounded far off.
"You really love him," he said.
"Yes…more than life…which makes me so upset…I can't do anything to help him."
"You mean…Hojo has him, too?"
"Yes. He came to rescue me. I escaped, but…"
He mulled over this information for a minute, then: "Why do you think I can help?"
Viridian looked at him with the most honest and defeated look she could muster.
"What? What is it you're not saying?"
"Mr Valentine, I, myself, didn't know until right before I set out to find you. In fact, the proof was what spurred me to start looking for you—the proof I can show you. I just need to hack into Hojo's files—"
Her eyes snapped up to his face.
"My husband…he's your son."
The silence started a headache. "W…What?"
She turned away. "I'm sorry…"
"How? I never…"
"Hojo took a sample of your Chaos-infused DNA and impregnated Miss Lucrecia with it. He wanted another test subject to play with after Sephiroth failed…"
Her voice lost focus. "My child…with Lucrecia?" He was torn between horror and elation. A child that he hadn't known about? With that beautiful lady? "What is he like?"
She blushed. "I…I believe that it would be the same as if you were to describe Miss Lucrecia, but I will try my best. He…he, well…he saved me—not just literally, but emotionally, as well. It appears that Hojo was altering my life as I grew up, sheltering me from the 'evils' of society by bribing my parents, molding me into a naïve child with too much trust in and hope for humanity. My husband, though he wasn't that at the time, saved me from killing myself—the only way out my oppressive childhood that I could see—on many occasions…" She trailed off, confused about what else to say.
"What…What does he look like?"
"Oh! He's like you, in the sense of that he's not beautiful, but not repulsive, either. It's that tempting air—it's around you, too—that makes one want to look at you again, but that tinge of darkness that makes them afraid to."
He raised an eyebrow. Naïve and blunt. Very childlike. How did she survive all those…terrors? There was more to this girl…
She continued. "He has your brow line and eyes and high cheekbones, but he had Miss Lucrecia's hair and skin tone and stature. I think he has your nose, and from looking at your hands, he must have Miss Lucrecia's. He's five-ten and weighs one hundred fifty-six. His birthday is the seventeenth of July and he's twenty-four." She finished, slightly flushed. "Excuse me. I didn't mean to ramble on so."
"It's fine. What is his name?"
She paused. "Lance…Lance Valentine."
"Lance…who named him?"
"I'm not sure, but…I think it's a nice blend of his parents' names. 'L' from 'Lucrecia' and the hissing 'C' sound from 'Vincent'." She looked out the window, which was slowly but surely darkening.
He thought about her outlook on life. I t was very…artistic. He wondered if she was one.
"…Call me Vincent."
"Oh. Uhm…would you watch the sunset with me, Mr Vincent? Your aura is very calming."
Calming? With his demons? Surely she could see…
He moved to sit beside her again. As he took in the last gold rays, the name crossed his mind again. 'Hmph…Lance Valentine…'
I belong in a fairy tale
Even though it hurts
'Cause I don't care if I lost my mind
I'm already cursed.
—Alexander Rybok, "Fairytale"
A/N: Hey, again, guys! Be sure to leave a review if you read! Oh, and the illustration for this chapter is at
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