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Chapter 7

Her eyes fluttered at his touch. She pretended she was asleep, curious as to what he was doing. He outlined her face with his index finger, so gentle. He smoothed the top of her hair, touching her lips and back against her cheek. He stayed there for a moment and finally got up, leaving the room. When Tifa felt his gaze off of her and it was safe, she smiled despite her efforts not to.

"Get a grip girl, he's probably just worried that you'll go crazy." She mumbled. Still she felt something she hadn't felt in a long time. The question was, what exactly was she feeling?

She stood up and stretched out letting her hands reach as far as they could go, then letting them drop sloppily to her sides. A strange dream, she thought. What was Vincent talking about, "It'll be too late?"

She knew he was outside but something kept her from going out there. She didn't want to intrude on his privacy. "You're not intruding, Tifa."

"Vincent? Where are you?" she accused looking all about her. The voice seemed to come from everywhere yet no where at once.

"I'm outside like you said. Come out here, I want you to see the stars." He chuckled. She never heard him laugh before. She cautiously moved to the window and slid back the drape just barely letting her eye see in front of the house. He was there all right, but so far from the door! How is he talking to her?

"How am I talking to you you ask? Simple. Through your mind. We have the ability to do that you know, call from whatever distances. That's a good thing to remember if you're ever in trouble."

"Why didn't you tell me before then?" she said feeling awkward hearing herself echo off the bare walls. She walked outside to join him, silently approaching not wanting to get too close. She stood beside him yet a few steps back and stared up as he did. The light they emitted was almost breathtaking. It had been so long since anyone could enjoy the true beauty of space due to all the pollution and mako energy being used. Nowadays people had gone back to the old ways. Using candles and oil only when necessary. It wasn't an unpleasant life, certainly took some getting used to, but nevertheless fulfilling. Satisfying.

"Yes, satisfying. Though none of us can be, can we? All we can do is live in our own torment knowing that every one of these people fear us and loathe us for what we must do," he turned to look at her, "And thatís what makes us evil. We take life, we steal happiness for our own selfish purposes, for our worthless survival."

Tifa didn't want to argue. Maybe because he was right. But being evil is something she could never be, it was not in her blood. She had destroyed evil and restored peace among people, at least for a little while. Vincent walked along a path and beckoned her to follow as she did obediently and without question. They walked halfway through the night until he stopped quite abruptly. Tifa thought this would be a good time to try out their secret little "talent".

Without moving her lips she asked, "Why have we stopped? Is something up ahead?"

Vincent did not answer. He blocked his thoughts from her. He kneeled down and pulled up a piece of the solid dirt. He lifted it to his face and let is slide through his fingers catching whatever other substances were in it. Suddenly a wave of sadness overcame Tifa, but it was not her own. A vision came to her mind. It was him, standing in that same place many years ago. Dressed very differently and for the first time seeing his face up close. It startled her to see him so, what was the word, youthful though he looked no differently now. His eyes did not carry the burden he has now etched in them. He was standing there in that place just looking out into the open fields. It was daylight and a fair breeze was blowing his hair in a most seductive way. He was so handsome.

A tiny box he held in his hand and in the box, a ring. He took it out and examined it in the light. The diamond in it caught the light and threw it in a million directions at once causing a spectacle in itself. Though that scene would have brought happiness to most others it did not for him. He again kneeled down the same way as he did now and dug a hole with his hand. He threw the diamond in and covered it up packing it down good. The vision ended.

Tifa walked beside him and put her hand on his shoulder. He seemed embarrassed by this attempt of comfort but suddenly couldnít remember when anyone had cared enough to try to comfort him. He was a lone soul, a lost and wandering soul. And now so was she. He placed his hand on hers and grasped it gently letting his head lower staring down.

"At least you can try to understand though you may not. " he whispered.

"But I do understand, Vincent. I do." She said and again he put his hands deeper into the ground. He did the same as before but this time the treasure was there. It was slightly tarnished but the diamond remained the same. He dusted it off and examined it over. He stood up and put it in his chest pocket.

"If you loved her so much, why did you give up? Surly she must have loved you back-"

Vincent shook his head and faced her, "I would have followed her to the ends of the earth, sacrificed my very life for her well being, but to see her happy with whatever she did was my drawback. My presence in her life was the one thing that could prevent her happiness and I could not allow that."

Tifa could feel in her heart that he meant every word. This man had been dwelling on the past for so long no future was ever going to be visible. A fog crept in on him very slowly through the years and he had made it so thick with the past that he often accidentally stumbled into the present not knowing what to do. They continued their journey again in silence approaching a mountainous terrain. Though Vincent knew where they were headed, Tifa was oblivious.

It was not until they stumbled across the Mt. Nibel reactor that Tifa caught a clue to what was going on. Things had changed so drastically since she was last there. The reactor was no more than a pile of rubble. Junk scattered all over the place. It looked as though a group of people were here looking for something. They walked onward.

*

"I visited Nibelheim a few years back. It seemed to be doing pretty well and everything at the reactor was taken away." Cloud interrupted.

"I know. I think their main intentions were to clear out everything from the past. To erase everything that reminded them of the life before. Even if it sacrificed something very dear to someone else."

*

"Vincent, why are we here?" Tifa felt herself shake as she asked the question. This place was beginning to be too much for her.

She walked past him as he stopped once he got near the mansion. The town was deserted. Not a single form of life showed to be here from a long time. Doors were left wide open, windows cracked, accessories dropped.

"The place was raided once the scientists from Shinra left. Those fools carelessly forgot to take with them very important papers having to do with the 'Jenova Project'. Everything was written down from how it began to how it ended including the whole cloning procedure."

Tifa was too distraught to listen. This was her town in shambles. She walked to the perfect remake of her house hearing the glass crunch beneath her feet. She pushed open the door hearing it squeak then hitting the wall behind it. The walls were stained and some of the wallpaper was coming off. Walking through it was like a nightmare to her. There was a gigantic hole big enough for her to get through leading into the kitchen. She jiggled the door handle finding that it was locked. She decided to check in there a little later.

She then glanced up the stairway hoping it wouldnít be a complete mess, hoping something could have been salvaged. The steps seemed unstable as she went up one by one. On the third step the board broke right from under her and she fell through scraping her leg. She felt a splinter of wood cut into her, hitting the bone. Strangely it didnít hurt and that was the first confusing thing. The damage to her leg must be massive, she thought. But when she looked down not a drop of blood was spilt. Not a scratch. Vincent stood in the doorway watching her, almost predicting what would happen.

"We cannot be hurt. Sortof like being invincible unless the damage is truly fatal." He walked after her as she continued up the stairs.

A wooden board blockaded off her parent's room. She didnít want to go in there anyway, too many emotions. At last she reached her room and a breath of relief came over her, or was it to prepare herself? She didnít know what to expect after all.

Upon entering the draws to her dresser were either opened and near falling or already broken on the floor. Clothes scattered everywhere and her mirror broken. Her beloved piano still stood triumphantly over the mess though the top of it was thrown off. The bed was thrown against the wall and the sheets in a heap next to it. She pulled the piano stool back on its legs and sat down facing the piano. The white keys were a faded yellow color due to its' mistreatment. A few black keys were pulled off. She smiled and closed her eyes remembering those lessons as a child and how for hours she sat like this playing her favorite music. The first thing she ever wanted to do when she grew up was to be a famous concert pianist.

She looked at her hands, which aged since last time she truly looked at them, but still kept their beauty. They were as white as porcelain but so was the rest of her skin. She touched the keys and to her surprise they worked much like they always had. A bit out of tune but playable. She remembered an old song her mother made her play before she tucked her into bed. She loved that song so much.

Tifa remembered every note and played it filling her ears with the sweet melody. Vincent silently crept into the room watching her as the passion for it shone off her face. A cool breeze came in through the broken window making the drapes dance in the wind. Tifa shivered and hit a wrong note. It was terribly out of place and she stopped playing. Her lip quivered and she got up and ran down the stairs nearly knocking Vincent down on the way.

"Tifa!" he shouted after her, but she kept running. Past the houses, past the well, past everything. She let out a loud cry, not a scream, but crying. She'd been holding that in for such a long time. She was done with the past as the past was done with her. How could everyone else have moved on so easily and she was stuck being the way she was, trapped. She wanted to be like everyone else and go on living. She didnít want to be who she was. And now this has what become of her, crying amidst the ruins of her hometown destroyed.

She lay on her knees and cried so hard feeling like her chest would give way the pain was that great. Heaving for breath and the tears streaming down her face she felt another's presence.

"Vincent," she choked out still crying, "Vincent.." she cried. "I don't want to live anymore. I don't want this I hate this! I hate everything and everyone! I wish I were never born!" she sobbed.

He sat down besides her, pulling her close to him in an attempt to hold her. She put her arms around him tightly and cried for a long time. He was there for her and was glad. The night was coming to an end and he knew they must hurry.

"Shh, I'm here Tifa. I'll be here for as long as you need me to be," He pulled them up to their feet and held her still in his arms protecting her he felt. "Memories from the past can hurt as much and scar as deeply as they did when they first occurred. But I feel, and always felt, things happen for a reason. But what do I know about anything."

Tifa stopped her crying and looked at him, realizing how close they are. "You're so wise, Vincent. And for me to think that about how much you have endured and suffered all alone makes me want to cry even more." She stopped again and sighed trying to catch her breath. She didn't know he was looking at her. "You're the one and only person I think I've ever really felt connected to."

His eyes seemed puzzled for a moment. He looked confused at the same time grateful. He held her again to him feeling her head nuzzle under his neck. The smell of her hair was there again. That smell he loved of wildflowers. Tifa loosened up on him and stepped back so she could see him.

"Why are you helping me? You could have left me a while ago but you didn't. Why?"

He looked her over, he knew he needed her as badly as she needed him. He never wanted anything to turn out like this, it only led to complications. But he was tired of being alone, tired of lying himself that he needed no one to be happy. Solitude was the only way he ever knew to be happy. It might have worked for a while but this time, you can't ignore something that feels so right in your heart.

"Your heart," he wondered. "I didn't know I still had one." He thought.

"But you do," she answered and stepped back to him and tracing his face as he did to her. "And you are right, you can't ignore what your heart tells you, no matter how much you want to object."

"So you will accompany me? You are not afraid?"

She thought about this for a second. His skin was as pale as hers, his eyes the same and even his hair. Never had any of this occurred to her. "I will not be afraid if I am you. Because you are me and I am you. We are each other. Never had anything made more sense to me."

His eyes had gone soft and his features also. He looked so innocent. He looked afraid.

He touched her forehead and let his hand so slowly move over her eyes and down her cheek, just as he did before. He leaned in uncertain at first, waiting for her reaction. She too let her body move towards his till only their faces were separate. She closed her eyes and waited for their lips to touch. He took another look at her and then closed his eyes, moving in on the last bit of space between them. Their lips met in a moment of pure bliss, so soft it felt and so good. His arms came about her waist hugging every inch of her. Tifa had one hand on his cheek and the other around his neck.

A familiar sound was heard, someone walking on the glass. They both opened their eyes and looked to where the sound was coming from. A lone faceless figure in the dark against the dwindling twilight stood, ready to put up a fight.

"Tifa," the voice inquired hesitantly. "Tifa is that you? We have been looking for you everywhere! I am so glad your safe!"

Tifa recognized the voice barely she wasnít even sure, the figure stepped closer for them to see. Vincent held Tifa's hand and stood in front of her being protective. Tifa nearly fainted as she saw who it was.

Chapter 8