“It was my idea, Vincent Valentine, and mine alone!”  The brown-haired woman looked as furious as he had ever seen her.  Oh, the despair that would follow that fury…

Eyes, hateful smirking eyes.  How could he be so vindictive as to look at him as he kissed her?  And all the while she was oblivious to it all, oblivious to the cold war between the two men.  Oh, the burning humiliation and hate behind those locked glares…

A familiar face, twisted into a horrible expression of fear and pity and disbelief.  “Vincent, what has he done…?!”  Oh, the madness that dear friend fell prey to…

No!  He would not remember that, would not think of that, would not relive that most terrifying of memories.  If he had to live in this waking sleep forever, he would not let himself see that again.

He thought he heard himself crying quietly, but he wasn’t sure if he was awake or dreaming.  “Come, dreamwalker…to wake me from this nightmare…”


Cloud brushed the cobwebs off of the ornate coffin in the center of the crypt.  Aeris gave a little shiver.

“Cloud, why have we come so far to find a…” she faltered, “to find someone who’s probably been dead for a while…?”

“I don’t think he’s dead,” the young man grunted as he tried to figure out how the lid was attached.

“We have no idea when Hojo left that note,” Nanaki growled, waving his tail agitatedly.  “I can understand some pity for the fellow – we’ve all had run-ins with Hojo – but…one doesn’t seal someone alive in a coffin and expect them to live long.”

Cloud shook his head stubbornly.  “He has ways, I’m sure.”  He stood back and examined the casket again in consternation.

“Look.”  Aeris blew a cloud of dust up from the center of the lid.  “There’s something scratched into the wood.”  They all peered at the hastily scratched writing, Nanaki balancing his paws on the lid carefully.

“’To sleep here forever and ever, the monster in a nightmare V.V.’,” Cloud read.  “V.V.?  Were those – “

Before he could finish his sentence, there was a sudden sound from inside the coffin, a sigh: “…to wake me from this nightmare…”  It was just enough warning for them to all back away before the lid flew off and crashed to the floor behind Aeris.

“Who is it?!”

Unbelievably, the creature inside – a man dressed in black – sat up and rubbed his eyes with his right hand.  His left hand gripped the side of the casket, the shiny metal drawing all eyes to it.  It was a cruel, cold metal hand, with eagle-like talons at the end of each finger.  The metal went all the way up to the man’s elbow, and it was constructed in such a way that the rebel party realized that it could not possibly be a simple gauntlet.

The strange man, aware of the scrutiny, stared right back at all of them, cradling his claw against his chest.  “I’ve never seen you all before.  You must leave this place.”

Cloud regarded the stranger steadily.  “You were having a nightmare.”

“A nightmare?” the man said softly.  “Such a long sleep….time for atonement…”

“What do you mean?” Aeris asked hesitantly.

“I have nothing to say to strangers,” he said coldly.  “Leave.  This mansion is the beginning of your nightmare.”

“You can say that again,” Cloud muttered.

The man sneered a little.  “What would you know?”

“It’s the beginning of a nightmare…only, it’s real, not a dream.  Sephiroth lost his mind, finding the secrets hidden in this place…” Cloud said slowly.

“Sephiroth?!” the stranger said incredulously.

He and Cloud stared at each other, both faces showing the pain that name evoked.  “You know Sephiroth?” they said in unison.

The older man suddenly floated into the air, doing a slow somersault before alighting on the edge of the casket.  “You speak first.”

Cloud nodded and launched into an explanation of the events in the Mansion five years before, and then a description of the current crisis.

“So now, thirty years later...Sephiroth knows about the Jenova Project,” the man mused.

“Yes…”  Cloud made a gesture of encouragement.  “Now it’s your turn.”

The stranger shook his head, his dark hair waving.  “I’m sorry…after hearing that, I cannot say more.”

“But…maybe you know something that would help us?” Aeris spoke up, feeling that their chance to learn something from this man was quickly slipping away.

“After hearing your tale, I realize that my sin has grown.  My nightmares shall grow, as well.”  He settled back down in the coffin, arranging himself in a hideous imitation of a corpse.  “Now…please leave.”

The coffin lid rose from the floor slowly and replaced itself, narrowly missing Cloud’s head in its flight.  The three rebels stared at the resealed casket in a certain amount of consternation.

“Now wait just a damn minute,” Cloud muttered, irritation clear in his voice.  He knocked on the lid.

“Cloud!” Aeris admonished in a strangled whisper.

The lid flew off again, and the man sat up.  “You’re still here?”

“At least tell us who you are,” Cloud said, trying to sound diplomatic.

"I was with... the Shinra Manufacturing Department in Administrative Research, otherwise known as the Turks..."  He looked up at Cloud with his startling red eyes.  “Vincent Valentine.”

“A Turk…as the letter said,” Cloud murmured.

“A former Turk,” Vincent said, an edge of anger finally creeping into his voice.  “I have no affiliation with Shinra now.”  He looked down for a moment, then back up at Cloud.  “…And you are…?”

“A former SOLDIER for Shinra, Cloud Strife.  This is Aeris Gainsborough from Midgar, and Nanaki from Cosmo Canyon.”  Cloud gestured to his friends in turn.

“You were also with Shinra…?”  The man spoke directly to Cloud, as if he had not heard the other introductions.  “Then…do you know of Lucrecia deWalt?”  The pain that came into Vincent’s eyes when he spoke that name struck the rebels like a physical blow.

Cloud shook his head.  “Never heard the name.”

“Lucrecia…the woman…who gave birth to Sephiroth,” Vincent said softly.

Cloud’s eyes widened noticeably.  “…Gave birth?  Wasn’t Jenova Sephiroth’s mother?”

“That is not…entirely wrong,” the older man said with a sigh.  “But he was born to a beautiful woman named Lucrecia.  She was an assistant to Professor Gast of the Jenova Project.  Beautiful... Lucrecia."

“It was…a human experiment?” Cloud asked, feeling suddenly ill.

“There was really no way to cancel the experiment, once it was started.”  Vincent gripped the sides of the casket hard, the bones showing through the white skin of his right hand and his left hand gouging into the wood.  “I could not stop her…that was my sin.”  He paused for a long moment, but when Cloud opened his mouth to speak, he continued, his voice almost inaudible, “I let the one I loved, the one I respected most, face the worst fate imaginable.”

He clearly could not speak further; his face was a mask of agony, and his right hand was clenched helplessly over his heart.  He lay back down in the coffin, summoning the lid over him again before the rebels could find their voices.

“Let’s leave, quickly,” Aeris said softly at Cloud’s shoulder.  He looked at her; there were tears standing in her eyes.  “That poor, wretched man…”

Nanaki let out a sigh.  “He might have helped us…He is very strong.”

“Well…if he wants to sleep while the Planet crumbles around him, that’s his right, I guess,” Cloud said with a characteristic shrug.  C’mon.”

They left the dark crypt and made their way through the hallway to the stairs, but as Cloud put his foot to the first step, a voice called out behind them.

“Wait!”  Vincent stood by the door of the crypt.  He looked even more frightening in the brighter light of the hallway, all pale skin and black and red shadows.  He walked up to the party hesitantly.  “If I go with you, will I meet Hojo?”

“Don’t know,” Cloud said with a shrug.  “But we're after both him and Sephiroth. So, I guess sooner or later..."

The wraith-like man turned away from them for a moment, staring into the shadows further down the hallway.  “Lucrecia,” he whispered, speaking the name with such reverence that Aeris felt tears prick her eyes again.  She wiped her eyes surreptitiously as Vincent turned back to face them.

“I’ve decided to come with you.  Being a former Turk, I may be of some help to you…”  He looked down at the floor, and then up at Cloud, who he knew carried the burden of the leadership of this group, of this cause.

“Well, all right then.”  Blue eyes met red, and Cloud nodded, accepting Vincent into his team.  “Let’s leave this place, and catch up with the rest of the group.”

Vincent nodded slowly in return.  “Yes…leave this place…”  He did not smile, but his demeanor seemed somewhat lighter as they turned to climb the stairs.


Vincent stood on the balcony, staring at the waxing crescent of the moon.  For what fate had he been awakened?  From the young man Cloud’s tale, it sounded as if the grand irony of his life had come around to haunt him again.  Having failed to stop the creation of Sephiroth, he now felt more than obligated to stop his madness.

Lucrecia, is this your doing?  Have you somehow sent these children to wake me?  To remind me of my sin and to ensure my atonement?  But no, they said they had followed directions in the form of a riddle, apparently left by Hojo.

Oh yes, that sounds like him to a T.  Make it infinitely more complicated than necessary, just for the sheer cruelty of it.  Was he hoping that I would attack them after my long sleep?  I hope he has been wonderfully disappointed.

More irony then; by Hojo’s hand, I have been awakened to put an end to his greatest game.

That poor child… 

Is he like his mother?  Is he like his father?  Is he alone?  Was he tortured by them as I was, abandoned by one and abused by the other?

Is he like me?

A footstep behind him broke him out of his thoughts; he sensed it was Cloud and did not turn around.

“Aren’t you going to eat something?” the young man asked.  He sounded more curious than worried.

Vincent shook his head.  “I don’t need to eat anything right now.  I…”  He sighed and trailed off, gripping the railing with his claw.

Cloud shrugged.  “’Kay then.”  He shuffled over to the rail next to Vincent and joined him in his silent skywatching.

“…You remind me of someone I met during my sleep,” Vincent said finally.  He wondered why Cloud had stayed, but perhaps this was the answer.

“Someone you met…in your sleep?  Someone you dreamed about…?”

“No, no…someone who slept along with me, who fell into my nightmares.  A dreamwalker.” 

Cloud gave Vincent a long, worried look.  “No, that wasn’t me, then.  Um…”

Vincent smiled unpleasantly.  “It’s all right if you think I’m mad, Cloud, because I probably am.”  His talons dug into the soft wood.  “But this dreamer…” He tried hard to summon those memories, memories much newer than the ones he relived throughout his long sleep.  “No, it wasn’t you, it was…a girl.  But you are quite like her.  You both have…a similar mental state.  Something about your minds…”

Now Cloud was staring, but Vincent had closed his eyes in concentration, trying to track down the fleeting memory.  “Both of you, this hardened innocence…the pain of…”  He trailed off.  “I can’t remember much more." 

He opened his eyes and met Cloud’s makou-bright stare.  “Someone like you…”  He moved a little closer.  “Poor child, I smothered her with my nightmares, wrapped her in the folds of darkness.”  His cloak, mimicking his speech, waved as if of its own will in the slight breeze.  “I wonder if she went mad, like I did.  I wonder if I may find her, this girl…someone like you.”  He was now standing quite close to the mesmerized Cloud, looking down slightly at the shorter young man.

It wasn’t until Vincent raised his hand to Cloud’s face, and broke eye contact by leaning in too close, that Cloud was freed from the near-hypnosis instilled by Vincent’s blood-red eyes and low tenor voice.  Feeling an inexplicable surge of panic, he backed away quickly from the older man, who seemed almost as entranced as Cloud had been.

Vincent hissed softly.  “Forgive me, that was…inexcusable.”  He turned away sharply and returned to his vigil at the rail, his claw making a rhythmic crunching sound as he gripped the wood.

Cloud shook his head sharply, trying to dispel the faint fog that had come over him.  “Er…it’s all right.  I hope…that you can find what you’re looking for,” he mumbled awkwardly.  Had Vincent just tried to kiss him?  Too weird!  But then, who knew what sleeping in a coffin for thirty years would do to a guy?  He shivered a little.

“What I’m looking for…”  Vincent laughed, his voice somewhat distorted as he spoke into the wind.  “Tell me what it is, Cloud, and then perhaps I can begin to search.”

The young man had no answer for that.  He had a feeling that talking to Vincent was never going to be easy, and probably never pleasant, either.  “Hn.  Well…we’re outta here tomorrow morning, so I’m catching some Z’s.  Good night…”

“Good night, Cloud,” came the soft reply.  “Have pleasant dreams.”


 Hojo tricked me, Vincent thought, staring at the sky again.  I thought I would be lucky enough to die at that point, but no…a few short years of suffering was nowhere near enough.

Was he saving me for later use?  Am I his “insurance”?  Was he hoping to make me into something mad and magnificent like Sephiroth has apparently become?  I could never be so grand; I am truly wretched, inside and out.  Perhaps because Sephiroth was raised from birth as this superhuman, just as Lucrecia wanted…perhaps that is why he can be so forceful, so imposing.  That was the role cast for him all his life.

But I…I am a true man-made monster, cut down well into life, designed to be just a shadow of a human.  He clenched his claw mercilessly around the railing, feeling it come close to snapping.  Why?  Why must I live?

He knew the answer already, but it didn’t make it any easier to swallow.  I failed to stop the parents, so now I shall stop the son, the creature whose birth I could not prevent, the creature who killed my Lucrecia!…

No…Hojo killed Lucrecia…

It isn’t my fault, is it, that she went on with her mad idea?  I couldn’t have restrained her like a child!  I respected her so much, her intelligence and her passion for science…

But if I had stopped her, she would still be alive…not with me, surely, but…alive.

The man shook his head in despair, tugging on a lock of his long hair hatefully, wincing at the pain but perversely enjoying it.  Her mocking laughter rang in his mind, but he ignored her, almost without a thought; apparently he had had his entire long sleep to practice. I cannot let myself die, though…not until the circle is closed.  Or am I doomed to forever struggle with this “family”?  He could hardly think of the sweet Lucrecia, despicable Hojo and their mad monster-child as a real family.  Will I return to my sleep, only to be awakened to fight another Sephiroth?  Or some other son that Hojo may have had during my long absence, some other mad scientist following in his footsteps?

The idea of not being able to die left him cold.  The young want to live forever.  They don’t know the craving for death that comes after the kinds of things I have endured.  He smiled darkly.  I am “young” still; thirty years of sleep and my body is still twenty-seven.  But Death calls me like a lover, like…


Jenova laughed at him again, offering her bloody kisses and clawing hands as a poor substitute for his only love.

He bowed his head, forcing the monster back into her den.  I will finish this task, finish what all of you started when I couldn’t stop you.  That will perhaps pay for my mistake, my grossest sin, and then…

Then I will take the true “long sleep”.

Well, that was interesting. ^^; I had a time working with those quotes from in-game...  If you have the things memorized, ^_~ you'll realize that I changed some of them a bit, either to clarify or to make them into a bit more of a conversation, instead of a stream of one-liners. I tried to keep them pretty straight to the game though...

The real problem is when I start contradicting myself between stories, because I'm getting more information from the game as I go along...=P

"Sameru" means "to wake up", both in the most literal sense, and also to come to one's senses after unconsciousness.

I keep having this problem when I write; there are more things that I want to say, but I can't figure out how to fit them in the narrative I have already. -_-; So for the most part, they don't get said.  For example: Vincent has awakened after a thirty-year sleep.  There should be a little culture-shock going on there, but I didn't have a place to dwell on that.  Well...hell.  Under the circumstances, I can imagine that he would be more trapped in his memories of the past -- especially since they wrapped right around to the present.  After he's come to terms with the fact that he's not dead yet, and that he has to help stop Seph, then he can worry about what's going on these days, right? ^^; Or so I keep telling myself...