Episode Ten – Every Last Breath
I love him.
There’s no other way to explain how I think or feel about Vincent Valentine.
No, I’m wrong. It’s more than love. It has to be.
I desire him, need him, ache without him here. I’m a ship that’s lost his sail, an airplane without wings. I feel grounded, as if I’ll never fly again. He’s gone, and the sky has lost its glory. What was once my only solace from this world, no longer has any meaning to me.
I can’t sleep without him in my arms. Every night, I toss and turn restlessly because, although I’ve changed the sheets, I can still smell him, and I feel him around me. He haunts my dreams, everything we’ve done, every trial and blood-soaked tear. I can see it clearly, as if I’m right there all over again. I can feel his touch, and it makes me burn inside with an unquenchable fire. I can hear his voice, rolling over my soul with each passing moment.
I love him with every fiber of my being, every tattered and brash, broken piece of me. He’s taken over me, and without him, I feel like I’ve lost a piece of my fucking soul. I told Bugenhagen that I was no longer the Captain, that Cid Highwind no longer exists. And truthfully, I’ve lost it all. I can’t be anything, without him here, as if my soul disappeared along with him.
But I know he’s out there somewhere; I know he can’t be dead. I won’t even begin to believe that possibility because it would kill me. I refuse to consider that as the truth. I don’t believe that Vincent would die without me telling him what I have to say. He never let me say it, and with that hanging between us, he wouldn’t possibly just go off and die.
The others, they think I should give up, but they don’t fucking understand. None of them know how I feel as I take on each day alone. Especially not Reeve, he has his lover right there with him, right beside him each day. Not that I fault them for their happiness, but it is given by my pain… by my loss.
And if he is gone… then I’ll gladly go to meet him. There’s nothing for me here… nothing that would keep me from going to him. I no longer wish to see the stars or walk on the moon. I no longer seek to build a bigger, better airship. Heh! I even had a name picked out, something reminiscent for the two of us.
Valenwind has a nice ring to it. I wanted that to be my gift to him, my gift for us. After the battle, I was going to tell the whole world, let everyone know who owned my heart. It belonged in the hands of a dark-haired ex-Turk with sparkling crimson eyes. I might not be much of a romantic, but I know true love when I feel it, and this pain, this haunting desire within me, can only be one thing.
I’m man enough to admit that I’ve shed tears, that I have broken on many occasions, that I ache without him here. I want him back! Can’t anyone understand that? It’s not as simple as moving on! I CANNOT forget, and I refuse to believe he is gone. I refuse to give in because my heart can’t take it.
They say I am only prolonging the pain, making it worse with my delusions. And yet, it is all beginning to go numb. I’m not a dumb man, far from it; I know when to give up; I know when all is lost. But in this, I refuse to see anything but what my heart is telling me. It has always been that way when it comes to Vincent.
I remember when I first met him so long ago that day in Rocket Town. He suddenly appeared, like some dark crimson shadow behind me in my rocket and stood there silently. I sensed him almost immediately, though I took a moment before speaking, quietly judging him.
I did what I was best at, while trying to hide my surprise at his outright beauty. I played gruff, and I rambled on, and somehow, I found myself telling him everything. He just stood there coolly, watching me with those scarlet eyes and nodding occasionally. I can’t explain the feeling that crept along my senses as I spoke to him. It was intangible, nearly imperceptible, but it was THERE.
And that’s what matters to me. I knew from the moment that I met him, that there was something different about Vincent Valentine, and from then on, our lives would never be the same. I vowed to befriend him, to find out the reason behind the scattered emotions in those eyes, those beautiful orbs like red jasper.
He is a quiet and contemplative man but also a bit stubborn and haughty. I didn’t expect to see him again, but damn, I wanted to. I wanted to taste that skin that I could barely see and discover what he was hiding beneath all that heavy fabric.
I am bi, have been as long as I can remember. I’ve had a few lovers in my life, male and female alike, but no one intrigued me like this Valentine. He was always so calm in my presence, no matter how much my temper flared. He is the perfect counterbalance to my emotions, the perfect yin to my yang.
And then luck was on my side, and we ended up, not only traveling together but sharing tents. I was determined to get through to him or at least be his friend. I’m not too thick-headed that I didn’t notice how absolutely lonely he was. Vincent had the aura of being untouchable when in fact he needed it most of all. True, he was friends with Nanaki, but the lion wolf didn’t have the obstinacy enough to pull him out, to make him react. Vincent needed someone who wasn’t afraid to tell him the hard truth, and I was just the man to do it.
He was a tough nut to crack, ignoring all my attempts at conversation. I might have embarrassed him with that first kiss, but for me, it was intoxicating. He has an addicting flavor, and from the moment that I had a taste, I instantly desired more.
And not just his body either, I love his intelligence and quietness as well. I could rely on him for many things, watching my back in battle and offering up an opinion that I couldn’t get from the others. He is the only one who ever really knew that I was actually intelligent beneath this bluster. It seems he is the perfect stability for me, everything I need.
It never bothered me, all the things that he hated about himself. His eyes were mysterious and original, his claw mechanical, which was kind of a turn on for me. After all, I am an engineer, aren’t I? Even the fact that when he reached his limit he transformed into a demon didn’t bother me. I knew he would never intentionally hurt me. In my eyes, he is just beautiful.
I never really understand his guilt complex either. In my point of view, none of it could really be considered his fault. Lucrecia made her own decisions; she was a grown ass woman. But I suppose when the heart is involved, you tend to see things through a narrow view. After all, even years later, Kyle still has the ability to piss me off more than anyone I know. I told Vincent so, that he should stop blaming himself for the actions of a mad man. But it wasn’t until after he discovered some truths for himself that he believed me.
Memories of Vincent and I together are always on my mind. That first night in Gold Saucer is one of my favorites. It was the first time I saw him ever let go, even just a little. I knew he would be good at the game but I never expected him to make perfect score. He smiled that night, only a small one, and I could only tell from the look in his eyes, but I knew he had smiled. It was another first for me, seeing that small tugging at the corner of his mouth.
I remember how he tasted in the hotel room… our first true kiss. He was the one to come onto me, and I know I was surprised, although it didn’t stop me from eagerly returning the kiss. The sweet flavor of the wine he had been drinking, the dark, strong flavor of the chocolate concoction that had been our dessert, and so much of that mysterious taste that was all him invaded my mouth. I found myself drowning in him, wanting more and more with each passing moment.
That’s why I can’t believe he is dead. We are meant to be, crazy as that sounds. I ain’t ashamed to say that I believe in love at first sight, that soul mates are out there for each one of us. Shera is, after all, perfectly content with Rude, and Reeve, I’ve never seen a man happier with Reno. Happy endings do happen, and I want to believe that I would have mine with Vincent. He completes me and is everything that I need. I feel like I can’t even find the right words to say it.
It hurts to think of it, the nightmares haunt me enough as it is, but I also know it is a day I will never forget. The final battle with Sephiroth… I think we all went in with the hopes that none of us would die, but the fear that something terrible could happen still weighed heavily on our hearts. I gave him Jade Tiger, and yet, I am still not sure why.
Perhaps I thought that the summon would protect him. Maybe I just wanted him to have a piece of me when we went into battle, so he would know I was always there with him. I never expected him to return the favor… but Diablos is dark now, nothing but an empty marble that holds nothing but a memory. It doesn’t pulse with power nor swirl with energy. It is just a shell.
He wouldn’t allow me to say the words, wouldn’t let me tell him how much I loved him. How much I burned inside just for a word, a touch; how he had changed my life with just that one look. Maybe it was because he knew what he had to do.
I wonder; did he know he was going to die when we went to the crater that day? I can’t imagine how he was feeling or what was going through his head. No one guessed it, though I can assume Aeris may have known something. But for a woman that talks to the Planet, she never even saw it coming.
A sacrifice… a life given… that was all a bunch of bullshit. It made no sense. He had to die to defeat Sephiroth? He took Aeris’ place? That’s what Cloud tried to say, that was his belief. But I don’t think so. It doesn’t make any sense, that type of sacrifice is bullshit.
I don’t… No… I can’t understand why he would feel the need to do such a thing. Maybe it was his unfailing need for redemption or the belief that he owed it to Lucrecia in some way, and perhaps it was my non-understanding that caused him to not tell me what he had to do. He probably knew I would have tried to stop him.
I won’t ever be able to forget the look on his face or the feeling in my heart when I turned around and saw him bleeding. He had taken the hit intended for me; he had saved my life, and I could only gape in horror. There was so much blood that, although I was unfortunately used to the sight of it, it chilled me to the bone. I don’t think anything can prepare a person for that type of thing.
It splashed on me, dotting my clothes and face until all I could smell was warm copper, but my eyes never left his. I knew in an instant that he was battling with something internally, even as he tried to convey what he felt in just a look. I couldn’t go to him. I couldn’t even hold him one last time before that damn demon took over, grinning maliciously. I didn’t think that a kiss was going to work that time.
He told me to run; he gasped it on a final breath before that monster break free, and I was nearly frozen in place, unable to comply. He seemed in so much pain, and I wanted to stop it; I wanted to help. I don’t think anyone can understand the abject uselessness that filled me in that moment. I was at a complete loss, standing there grounded with my mouth agape.
It was the attack of the Behemoth that finally drew me from my stupor and by then, it was too late to help. I could only watch as he took on Sephiroth by himself, and the rest of us were forced to evacuate. I had to leave… leave him behind. I couldn’t help the feelings of betrayal that raced through me, as if I were abandoning him.
Perhaps I had.
I should have stayed and fallen with him… then we would be together wherever he is. Then I would not have to suffer. But instead I listened to his last words, his last order to run. I wonder if he even knows how much I wanted to stay.
I’m going to continue searching. Nothing will ever make me stop. With every last dying breath and movement of my body, I will continue to look for him. Nothing else matters, not even my own survival, nothing but finding him. Even if I have to follow him into death and beyond, I WILL find him again.
After all, Death cannot stop true love.
It can only delay it for awhile.