An Angels Pain
Chapter 5: Demons
"We will now allow final regards before the sending out."
Vincent looked around as everyone rose from their chairs and made their way to the coffin where Tifa lay. He grabbed Yuffie by the arm.
"What’s up?" she asked.
"What’s going on? What do they mean, ‘sending out’?"
"Basically, we’re saying our final goodbyes to Tifa. Then Cloud, Cid, Barret, and you will push her coffin out to sea."
"An ocean burial….." Vincent murmured softly. He cast a glance back to Cloud, who remained motionless in his chair. "But what if Cloud refuses?"
"Then I’ll take his place. Bring Cloud up to the coffin and tell him what to do"
Yuffie began to walk away when Vincent stopped her again. "What is it now?"
Yuffie remained silent, her gaze falling upon Cloud. "Because Vincey, he asked for you….."
Vincent continued to stare at her as she walked away towards the coffin. He turned to Cloud, placing a hand on the blonde’s shoulder. "Cloud, let’s go….."
Cloud looked up, and almost child like innocence reflecting in his crystal eyes. He stared at Vincent for a long time, but made no effort to leave his seat.
"Come on." Vincent said quietly, a bit too forcefully, causing Cloud to retract from Vincent’s grip. Vincent gasped, immediately regretting his actions then tentatively took Cloud’s hand. "Please." He whispered softly, kneading Cloud’s hand with his thumb. Cloud seemed to relax a bit at Vincent’s grasp and stood up as he was asked to. Vincent led him to the coffin where Tifa lay.
Tifa was remarkably pale but her beauty remained. Even now her cheeks seemed to be tinted red, although Vincent knew it to be make-up. She was wearing a white dress with lace embroidery lining the sleeves. Around her neck was a necklace Cloud had given her before their marriage, a mythril chain with a garnet material crystal set within the pendant.
"He said it reminded him of her eyes." Yuffie whispered, noticing Vincent’s interest with the item.
Cloud stared at the item, enthralled. Tears welled in his eyes as he shook his head and fiercely tore away from Vincent’s grip. Vincent turned, his crimson eyes wide with worry. "Cloud…..?"
"No….." he whispered, almost too softly for Vincent to hear.
"No?" Vincent echoed.
"I can’t see her like this. I refuse…..it’s…..it’s too much….." His face contorted with anger when he looked upon Vincent, his sapphire eyes growing slightly darker than normal, signaling his rage. "Damn you, Vincent, why did you bring me here?" He shouted in a sudden outburst. Vincent stared at him incredulously.
"Damn you….." he cursed under his breath as he turned and fled the beach.
Vincent made his way through the Villa to Cloud’s room was. He reached for the knob and turned…..only to realize the door was locked. He knocked a few times.
"Go ‘way….." Was the response he received.
"Strife, lemme in….." Vincent pleaded quietly.
There was a short pause. "Go away." Cloud replied more forcefully. "I don’t want you here. Leave."
Vincent sighed and walked to the hall bathroom. After searching for a few minutes, he returned to the door with a bobby pin. The one skill I can thank Yuffie for….. Vincent thought to himself as he inserted the tip of the bobby pin into the lock and carefully began to move it, twisting and turning the hair piece until he heard the ‘click’ of the lock being released. He opened the door and stepped inside. The lights were off and it being the late evening, the only real light in the room was the glow being emanated by Ultima Weapon, the massive sword hanging comfortably over the head of the bed. It was enough light to point out the figure laying on the bed, curled up and shaking slightly.
"Cloud….." Vincent whispered.
"Go away, Vincent. Leave."
"How many fucking times do I have to repeat myself? I said leave!" Cloud growled.
Vincent paused, his crimson eyes cast downward as he turned and took a step towards the door. He reached the entry and paused again. He looked up and turned abruptly, facing Cloud’s form.
"No." he replied simply.
Cloud turned and looked up at him. His eyes were moist, but due to the strange purple-green light Ultima Weapon was emitting, his mako eyes were a myriad of purples, blues, and greens, all swirling together. Vincent thought it was one of the most amazing things he had ever seen.
"What?" Cloud hissed.
"You heard me, Strife. I’m not leaving."
"…..you have to."
"But I’m not. I’ll never leave you. Promise."
"…..damn you, Vincent Valentine….."
Vincent yawned, feeling the bright sunshine pounding on his face. He hated the sun. Especially in the morning.
He got up and stretched away the last of the nights rest. "Another day….." he mumbled as he made his way from his room to Cloud’s. He walked in and looked at the bed. The empty bed.
"Cloud?" he called, suddenly getting very nervous.
"Vincent, why are you still here?"
Vincent looked over to the window where Cloud stood, looking outside at the ocean. The gunslinger sighed as he walked over next to the swordsman.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean it’s been two months. Two months, Val. That’s a long time. Why…..haven’t you left yet?"
"Yeah, well….." Vincent stuttered. "I was, you know…..worried….."
"Worried?" Cloud echoed, tossing him a look. Vincent looked up and saw, for the first time in months, a smile adorning Cloud’s face. Vincent’s knees nearly buckled at the sight. He caught himself before Cloud could take any real notice.
"How are you?" Vincent asked, staring in Cloud’s light blue eyes.
"Better." He sighed. But Vincent’s attention was no longer squared on Cloud. The blonde noticed the gleam in his eyes and the terror in the expression of his face. Something was going on -behind- him. He spun around to see…..nothing. Confused, he faced Vincent once again, who remained staring ahead, an absent look in his eyes. The gunslinger whispered something inaudible, took a step backwards, fell to his knees, and hung his head down, swaying back and forth eerily.
"Vincent?" Cloud beckoned, kneeling next to him. He lifted Vincent’s face just in time to see the demonic crimson shade turn black before falling lifeless into Cloud’s arms.
Vincent listened attentively to Cloud’s response, but his attention quickly shifted when he saw two figures behind him. One was dark, so dark it seemed to be absorbing light, while the other seemed to be composed of light. The dark one was holding the light one against a wall. He focused his eyes a bit more. His breath hitched when he recognized the two beings.
"Arios….." he whispered all too quietly for anyone to hear. His spirit immediately abandoned his body to help the angel being attacked by the shadow-like creature he knew all too well.
"Chaos! Release him!" Vincent shouted. The demon turned his head and issued a cocky grin.
"So there you are?" Chaos hissed in his otherworldly voice. His grating voice still managed to send chills down Vincent’s spine, but he held his ground. Chaos had his claw-like hand gripped around Arios’ throat and held against a wall, apparently with no intention of letting the angel out of his tight grasp.
"Vince-" Arios gasped, but his plea was cut short by Chaos’ ever-tightening grip.
"So Vincent….." Chaos began, his tone as if he was starting a friendly conversation, "How did you enjoy my attack on the little bitch…..what was her name again?"
"Tifa….." Vincent responded, his hands balling up.
"Ah yes, Tifa. Tell me, did the whore die?"
"You should know….." By this time, Vincent was seriously regretting leaving his gun in the other room.
Chaos smiled then squeezed harder, making Arios let out a choked gasp. Vincent winced at the sound, his glare growing deeper and less human.
"I see you’re getting angry, Vincent. Of course, what will you do? Your stronger half was taken away from you months ago….."
"Stronger?" Vincent scoffed. He shut his eyes and the telltale glow returned. Vincent’s transformation was much quicker, bones cracking and blood flying out from his wings as they spread to their full span. The pain was immense, but he ignored it as he summoned his angelic weapon to his grasp, a slender, but ultimately sharp, sword.
"And what, pray tell, do you plan to do with such a toy?" Chaos asked, stifling a laugh. "You’re a sharpshooter, remember?"
Vincent grinned. "I’ve had time to learn some new tricks since your departure."
"Oh?" Chaos asked sarcastically.
Vincent nodded then, keeping his sword pointed out at all times, turned in a complete circle, finishing with his sword poised in the air.
"And what was that?" Chaos scoffed.
"I’m not finished…" Vincent replied as the sword burned within a bright blue hue. When the sword seemed to glow it’s brightest, Vincent swung the sword down across him, the glow fading when he was done.
Chaos laughed. "Was that it? What, were you too afraid to get close enough to slice me wit-" The demon gasped, clutching his chest as a large, clean slash formed, reaching from the top of his shoulder to his torso, blood streaming from the wound.
He released Arios, who fell to the ground, gasping for air.
"How!?" Chaos hissed, clutching his chest in a futile attempt to stem the blood flow.
Vincent ignored the question, dropping his sword, and kneeling next to the fallen Arios.
"Are you alright?" he asked,
"Fine….." Arios gasped, breathing heavily. "I could’ve taken him….."
"Always so stubborn….." Vincent whispered, bending Arios’ head and examining the claw marks on his neck.
"Vincent!" Arios shouted, but his warning came a second too late as Vincent was violently slashed aside by Chaos. Vincent hit the wall hard, and fell down to the ground, groaning. His vision was blurred from the initial shock of being attacked and he struggled to stand. His energy was drained both from the transformation and from the sword attack, so his legs barely held him as stood up…..only to be slammed back into the wall. Chaos picked the fledgling angel up and brought his claw across Vincent’s chest, ripping his shirt and giving him a slash identical to Chaos’.
"Now we are even, my former host!"
Cloud had placed Vincent up against a wall in a sitting position, examining his face.
"Vincent…..Val, c’mon, wake up…..don’t leave me now….." Cloud whispered, placing his hand on Vincent’s now-cold cheek.
"Val….." he begged.
He gasped when Vincent’s body shuddered and a large gash made its way along his chest, as if an invisible knife was slicing him.
Vincent struggled to loosen the grip on his neck, but it was futile. Chaos held him there, his claw closing in like a vice over his neck. Vincent coughed, his breathing pattern disrupted, lungs begging for air. The only thing he could hear was Chaos’ chilling laughter. Chaos was trilled to be squeezing the life out of his former master.
Arios, though weak, had no intention of allowing Chaos to continue this torture. He picked up Vincent’s fallen sword, its form changing into his own blade, Sever, named after its wind enhanced abilities. He walked up behind Chaos and swung the angelic blade across in a side arc, the blade eagerly ripping through demon flesh. Chaos screamed in pain and dropped Vincent to the ground, turning to face his attacker.
Vincent lolled his head, vision blurred, too weak to stay in the spirit realm any longer. He took one last look at the demon towering in front of him before his body faded away, his beaten spirit retreating back to the physical realm.
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