After the Midnight

By Nightsong.




            I looked around me.  Here I was, back to the place I had come so many times.  Just a cave behind a waterfall.  Just a remote, empty cave.  And yet I came back again and again.  It was not as if I had anything I had to do here.  There certainly wasn’t anything here to be done.  It was something deep within the depths of my soul, something unnamable, that bade me return. 

              My name is Vincent Valentine… at least, that’s who I used to be.  Five years ago, He took that away from me too, along with the love of my life.  Hojo.  The name still makes me clench my fists in anger, even though he is now dead by my hand.  He killed my beloved.  He KILLED dearest Lucrecia, after he impregnated her, and made her have an child.  Not even her child was pure with his taint upon it.  She bore Sephiroth, accursed beast of a human.  He nearly killed us all.

             Of course, that may not have been so bad, now that I think about it…

              Since we stopped Sephiroth from destroying the planet, I have wandered.  I do not know if the others wandered.  I don’t really speak to them.  We were never really close.  Not even Aeris, the happiest of them – for I cannot think of Avalanche as ‘us’, I never truly felt that I fit in with them – spoke to me more than once or twice.  I was the loner of the group, even moreso than Cloud, our leader.  The others forced themselves upon him, made him be friendly.  Noone made that effort with me.  No matter, though.  I wouldn’t really have been worth the effort.

              All I am now is an empty shell.  The Jenova cells and Mako within me have ripped my soul apart.  I don’t feel things like I used to.  I used to be so passionate about everything… now, I’m nothing but a zombie.  I see everything pass me, but I can no longer make myself care.  The only emotion I feel anymore is despair.  Is this self-inflicted, or is it Jenova’s legacy?  Either way, I am forever cursed.  Either way, I cannot make myself die.

              I tried to die once.  I knew I could not commit suicide – even with my lack of emotion, I am still too weak to do that – so I attempted to starve myself.  I locked myself in that room, that dank, cold basement, and slept with the dead for five years.  Jenova plagued me with nightmares the entire time.  Even so, five years later, I still lived when Cloud came to me.  I did not feel for him, nor his cause, but when I heard the name Hojo, I knew that he had to be stopped.  Not so much because I cared what he did, but because of what happened to Lucrecia.

              And I got my chance.  Oh, I got my chance.  I took it, too, rended that monster apart.  But it didn’t make me better.  It didn’t remove my apathy.  It didn’t end my nightmares.  If anything, it increased them.  So I continued on, thinking perhaps that Sephiroth had caused my pain.  After all, he was of Hojo’s bloodline.  I killed him too, or rather, Cloud did.  It changed nothing.  If anything, it has made me even colder.  I don’t know what else to do.  I found Lucrecia here once, after I thought she had died.  It didn’t make me feel any better.  I thought I would be filled with joy to see her alive, but my mind was so flooded with memories… and not of the happy times.  I was forced to relive those last ten months before I lost myself forever, was forced to watch Lucrecia fall for Hojo, forced to watch as they pumped their baby full of Jenovan cells like some sort of guinea pig… It was almost too much to bear. 

              And then, when they finally passed, I could tell that Lucrecia was worse off than I had ever been.  For all of those years, she had been in this cave, after a failed suicide attempt.  She had jumped into a river, feet weighted down.  People had killed themselves in that way for years.  It was almost an unspoken tradition in Nibelheim.  But the Jenova within her kept her alive.  She was swept here, to this now-abandoned cave, and forced to think over all that she had done.  She had never even held her baby, her Sephiroth.  He had been stolen away by Hojo.  Hojo had left her as well, had discarded her like an old toy.  He had what he wanted from her.  Then she lost me.  She would have lost me anyway, from how I was at the time.  I was still in love with her, but too proud to go to her.  Instead, I had gone to Hojo, seeking revenge on him for all he had done.

              He shot me.  For that, myself as I am would thank him.  But he did not stop there.  He experimented on me, messed up my genetics so badly that I will never even try to bear children.  It is just as well.  I am incapable of love anymore. 

              Of course, if that’s true, then why do I keep coming back here?  Lucrecia is gone.  I will never know where she went.  It is likely that she died, after I told her that Sephiroth was dead.  Why did I tell her that?  Was it pity?  Did I not want to tell her that her son had become little more than a monster and a murderer?  Did I not want to tell her that I was no better?

              Perhaps that’s true.  I am a monster.  Even so, I must wait for Lucrecia.  I tried to free myself from this apathy, this despair, with murder.  It did not work.  Destruction has never healed anything, any more than fire purifies.  I burned Hojo, and found that with him went another piece of my soul.  I destroyed Sephiroth, and destroyed another aspect of my emotions. 

             Now, I will try love.  Of course, that may not work either.  Lucrecia may not even be alive any more.  With Jenova gone, she may have lost her apparent immortality.  She and I both were bound up in this world by Jenova.  We did not eat for years, and nothing happened.  Jenova wouln’t have allowed it.  Now, it no longer mattered.  What chaos works through my genes now?  Shall I die?  No, that seems unlikely.  That would be too much of a blessing.  Nothing good has happened to me since I became what I am now. 

  But I must try.  I must.  I will wait for Lucrecia for all eternity if that is what’s necessary.  No matter what, I will be re-united with her.  If not in this life, than in the next.  Nothing can live for eternity.  At least, that’s what I’m praying.

  I am as the mythical vampire.  I am cursed to live forever, no matter what efforts I make to die.  My hands are stained with so much blood… and yet that blood makes me feel no worse about myself than I already do.  I feel no remorse for their deaths, for many of them deserved it.  But I feel no sense of justice from the act, either.  I feel nothing but this eternal dull ache within my soul, or whatever tattered fragment remains of it. 

  None of this matters.  I will think no longer.  I will return to those deserved nightmares that I felt for so many years.  So much pain lies within them.  I almost dread to return.

  But at least pain is an emotion somewhat removed from this dull aching.