To Heal A Shattered Heart Chapter 1

By EagleHeart

"Wow, it’s really coming down out there," Tifa commented, gazing out the window of the two-story house she and Cloud shared. A heavy curtain of rain obscured the darkened streets of Nibelheim. Cloud was stretched out on the sofa in his stocking feet, idly watching the fire and eating popcorn.

"Oh, bar mistress? I’m running low on popcorn…" Cloud teased his wife playfully, picking up the near empty popcorn bowl and shaking it so the un-popped kernels rattled.

"And? What do you want me to do about it?"

"Well, I…"

"I mean short of punching you upside your spiky blonde head so you go get it yourself."

"I just thought you would want to know."

"Hmm. Well now I know and I don’t care…go get your own popcorn."

"You aren’t very nice, you know that?" Cloud sighed and got up from the couch, heading for the kitchen to make more popcorn. Tifa watched him leave as she sat down on the couch and pulled her housecoat around her tightly. Cloud had changed in the two years since their defeat of Sephiroth, he was no longer as indifferent and he was beginning to open up more about his feelings. Everybody had parted ways after their journey was over and were trying to return to their normal ways of life. Barret had moved to Kalm with Marlene while Corel was being rebuilt and had bought a small house. Cid and Shera were living comfortably in Rocket Town and working to rebuild Cid’s rocket. Cait Sith had been more or less returned to storage and Reeve was working for ShinRa, which had slowly begun to recover from its massive financial losses with Palmer at the head. Yuffie had returned to Wutai and was hailed a hero while Red XIII had taken up his grandfather’s work in Cosmo Canyon and was trying to map the heavens. Vincent was…for all Tifa knew Vincent was dead. He’d been the only one of the group to break off all connections before leaving. No word of where he was going or what he planned to do with the rest of his life. When Tifa and Cloud had finally tied the knot, they had debated searching for him, but decided it was best to leave him alone. Her reverie was broken when Cloud returned and dumped a handful of popcorn on her head.

"Cloud! You’re getting butter in my hair!" Tifa said angrily, brushing several of the kernels from her long brown hair. "Have you got any idea what it takes to keep hair like this in the condition it’s in?"

"You’re in my spot," Cloud said, shrugging. "Think of it as a hot oil treatment or something."

"What would you know about a hot oil treatment?"

"I dunno." Cloud flopped down on the sofa again and put his head in Tifa’s lap.

"Whatever." Tifa idly laid a hand on Cloud’s chest and began tracing circles with her finger.

"Don’t do that, it tickles."

"Oh? My big, strong, mercenary doesn’t like being tickled?" Tifa poked her husband in the ribs and he smiled. Suddenly several gunshots rang out above the beating of the rain on Nibelheim’s cobblestone streets. Cloud sat bolt upright as Tifa stood up and went to the window.

"What was that?" she asked, peering into the gloom.

"I don’t know…maybe I should go check…" Cloud stood up and went to the hall closet to get his sword.

"Don’t be stupid, you haven’t touched that thing in two years."

"Once a mercenary, always a mercenary," Cloud answered, hefting the sword easily.

"We’ll wait until morning to find out."

"I think I should go find out what it was."

"Cloud, it’s probably dangerous. Please just stay here…" Tifa pleaded.

"Oh…all right…but if it’s something I could help with…"

"You already said you wouldn’t go." Tifa went back to the couch and sat down again. "Come lie back down."

"Yeah…I guess I prefer the option of curling up in front of a fire with you to wandering around in the pitch darkness, in the rain, looking for someone with a gun…" Cloud tossed his sword aside and lay back down on the couch, his head comfortably in Tifa’s lap.

"Damn straight you do." Tifa scooped up a handful of popcorn and began popping kernels into Cloud’s mouth. The couple sat in the relative silence of their living room, each comfortable in the other’s presence, blissfully existing in a tranquil state of inertia. Tifa was fairly certain she could drop off to sleep and let Cloud carry her up to the bedroom later at night if he took a mind to it, when a rapping on the door interrupted her thoughts.

"So much for a peaceful night," Cloud grumbled, half sitting up.

"You stay there, I’ll get it," Tifa said, standing and pushing Cloud back down.

"Thanks beautiful, I owe you one. How about another hot oil treatment?"

"Very funny." Tifa rolled her eyes as she opened the door. She was shocked at who she found leaning weakly against the doorframe. His normally blood red cloak was soaking wet and appeared almost black in the meager light from the fire that radiated through the doorway and he looked even paler than he had first joined their party in the basement of ShinRa mansion. His gun was held loosely in his right hand and the look in his eyes was haunted.

"Vincent! What are you doing here?" Tifa cried.

"Vincent?" Cloud said getting off the sofa, as their old ally stumbled into the room and collapsed weakly on the floor.

Tifa shut the door quickly as Cloud leapt over the couch and knelt by Vincent’s still figure, carefully turning him over. Tifa joined him and gently shook his shoulder.

"Cloud!" she gasped as she pulled her hand away. Her palm was stained bright red, the color of blood. The blood blended perfectly with the rain-drenched cloak and Tifa noticed a patch of the material that seemed almost darker. She pulled away the fabric and found the source of the bleeding. "No bullet hole…" "I’m going to call Lyria, she might make a house call if I tell her it’s an emergency…here, help me lift him…"

"It’s late, are you sure she’s on duty?" Cloud asked as he gently helped Tifa lay Vincent on the couch.

"She always takes the graveyard shift…she says it’s usually quieter." Tifa pulled an afghan from the back of the couch and carefully tucked around the inert figure. "Cloud, build up the fire, his skin feels like ice.’

"Gotcha, go call the doctor."

"Right." Tifa went into the kitchen and dialed the hospital number that was scribbled on the pad beside the phone. She noticed her hands were trembling and unconsciously wiped her bloody right hand on her housecoat.

"Nibelheim emergency room, how may I help you?" a bored sounding male voice asked.

"I need to speak to Dr. Lyria Kindred."

"This line is for emergencies only, ma’am, not personal calls."

"This is an emergency!"

"I can’t put you directly through to the doctor ma’am."

"Please! It’s urgent!"

"I can’t redirect calls ma’am, it’s against protocol."

"Listen buddy, either you get me through to Dr. Kindred or I’ll come down there and do several very painful things that are most definitely against protocol…and several that I’m not certain are anatomically possible, but I’m just dying to find out." Tifa threatened in a tone she hoped got her message across.

"Ah…I’ll see what I can do…"

Tifa held the line for a few minutes, glancing at the clock on the wall. Quarter after twelve…Lyria was certain to be on duty.

"Hello, Dr. Kindred speaking. I assume this is Tifa, judging by the emergency operator’s description of your threats."

"Hi, Lyria. Could you come down here? We have a bit of an emergency on our hands."

"I don’t know Tifa; this is supposed to be a fairly busy night."

"It’s an emergency."

"What, did Cloud cut himself with that big butter knife of his?"


"I’ve got three autopsies to do tonight. There was a triple homicide."


"I don’t know all the details. From what I understand, someone was attacked in a back alley by some massive winged creature. Two others heard the commotion and came out to investigate, both were slaughtered, but one managed to get off several shots with a handgun. So now we have a murderous winged creature flying around our city, at least it’s been wounded though, hopefully the police can find and dispatch it."

Tifa’s knuckles were white from gripping the phone so tightly. "Lyria…it’s important…"

"What’s the emergency? I don’t know if I want to risk my life if there’s a bloodthirsty murderer roaming the city."

"He’s not roaming the city anymore, he’s at our house."


"He’s here…just trust me, it wasn’t his fault…"

"I don’t get it."

"Just come over, ok? Surely three dead people can wait longer than someone who’s dying…"

"He’s dying?"

"Well…no…not exactly…he’s hurt."

"All right, I’m coming."

"Thank you, Lyria."

"Don’t thank me yet. It’s probably going to be my duty to turn him in."

"No. You won’t do that. Not after you understand what happened."

"I’m putting my reputation on the line for you Tifa."

"You won’t regret it, I promise."


Dr. Kindred hung up the phone with a sigh, pulling her long brown hair back into a ponytail. While only in her mid-twenties, Lyria Kindred was the only female doctor in Nibelheim. She received a lot of censure from her older male colleagues for her attitude towards patients. Time and time again she’d been told to be objective, not subjective to each case. A doctor who took everything personally would break down or be snuffed out like a candle. They said it was because she was a woman. A weak, sentimental, overall emotionally unprepared woman. She took the night shift because then there was no one to mock her. On a rare occasion, she did take the day shift, but only if there was a case in the maternity ward that none of the men wanted to dirty their hands with or a particularly difficult patient. She spent her breaks in the nurses’ lounge rather than the larger, more opulent doctors’ quarters, not because she didn’t have the status to, but because the nurses understood her problems. None had the guts to go through with getting the medical qualification needed to become a doctor and had opted for nursing to help take care of the sick and injured. Lyria had wanted more. She knew she was smart enough to be a doctor, she knew that she lived in a world of sexual equality, she knew there were more and more female doctors, why couldn’t she be among them? She was a good doctor. She knew she was. But, still, her coworkers labeled her as inferior. She had to concede that younger male doctors she’d met and worked with had not always shared this sentiment. Unfortunately, the entire Nibelheim medical staff was comprised of doctors in their fifties and sixties who were set in their ways. Numerous times she’d been approached by friendly, fatherly looking older physicians who wished to offer her a bit of helpful advice.

"Don’t take each and every sick little boy or pregnant young woman who comes here to heart. If you form an emotional attachment to each one, sooner or later, one of them will slip away and you’ll be left in the dust."

"So you want me to approach these people with a heart of stone?" Lyria asked the senior doctor coldly.

"Goodness no! Go in with a friendly demeanor and try to cheer people up but, for god’s sake, don’t get to know them! Especially critical condition patients. Let the nurses hold hands. That’s what they’re here for. If you want to do that then take a dive and become a nurse."

"But I can do so much good as a doctor and a surgeon! I’m sorry, but this is where you fall short. You’re supposed to be compassionate and warm and caring. Not distantly friendly and cordial like you are. It’s like you aren’t even human."

"Years of watching children die and knowing nothing can be done will strip some of the humanity from your soul. We’re down here trying to play god and sometimes god’ll get irritated and send a curveball at us, just to remind us that we’re only human. It hurts when you lose your first patient. It hurts when you lose your second and your third and your fourth and so on. It doesn’t stop hurting, but you do learn to numb the pain."

"Profound words from a heart of stone."

"Listen to me Lyria; I’m trying to help you. You’ll lose your reputation as a competent doctor if you don’t stop trying to leave a mark on everyone’s life. You’re young. Don’t lose your heart in your work. If you give everything to your patients then eventually they’ll be nothing left. A pretty young thing like you, fresh out of college, should go meet a handsome young man and settle down. Then you’ll understand that there’s more to your life than tending the sick."

"Don’t tell me how to live my life. I entered this profession because I felt there was enough dignity and worth within the medical world for a woman to be considered equal with her colleagues."

"Well…you are equal…but…you deal with things differently. Medically you’re one of the best, but emotionally…"

"What the hell is wrong with my emotions? Don’t you understand that there’s more to healing a person then patching up their body? What about a person’s heart? What about their mind? What about their soul?"

"Medical doctors don’t heal minds and souls. That’s what shrinks are for."

"It takes so little though…a shred of understanding for five minutes can bring tranquility to a troubled mind. A lighthearted laugh with a sick child can heal a frightened heart. An embrace for a mere ten seconds can soothe a broken soul."

"It takes more than that. We can’t have doctors running around laughing and hugging people, it just doesn’t work that way."

"Why can’t it work that way?"

The question had plagued her since her entrance into the medical profession. Why couldn’t it work that way? Lyria sighed and hefted her backpack full of her medical supplies. Another unorthodox way of approaching her job, Lyria often made house calls. She’d found that showing up in the traditional long white lab coat, carrying a black bag and with a stethoscope around her neck only lent to the anxiety of whomever she came to see. Casually dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt with an umbrella in one hand, Lyria didn’t want to draw attention to herself as a doctor.

Her thoughts returned to Tifa as she headed out into the rainy night. Tifa. When Lyria’s family had moved to Nibelheim, Lyria’s family had become close to Tifa’s. In a strange sort of way, Tifa brought her into medicine. Years ago when Tifa had landed herself in the hospital, in a coma, Lyria had come to visit. Lyria had been introduced to the whirlwind of activity and action in the hospital. She wandered the hospital and watched paramedics whisk a pregnant woman to the maternity ward; she saw doctors consulting and nurses bustling from room to room. Lyria had found her calling. The excitement, the rush, the feeling that she could be doing good for humanity sent her out of high-school a year early with medical university’s begging her to grace their campuses. Eight years of life in heaven, class to class, lecture to lecture, paper after paper of such superior quality that every professor on campus was convinced she had been born with a scalpel in one hand and a caduceus for a birth mark. She’d had friends on campus. Aspiring paramedics, pharmacists, pediatricians, gynecologists, and Mako radiation therapists, all like her, all young and wishing to contribute to humanity. Lyria’s aptitude led her friends to joke that she’d been delivered by the first Cesarean section performed from within the womb.

Now, two years after graduation, where was she? In a small mountain town, on a rainy night, going to give medical attention to a murderer who a friend from childhood had picked up. She wasn’t even sure her patient would be human. She knew little of what Tifa and her friends had done to save the world. She did know that Tifa had some odd friends who had shown up at her wedding. A big black man with a gun for an arm, a pilot with his head in the sky and his mouth in the gutter, a cat riding an animated stuffed moogle, a member of the ShinRa hierarchy who apparently was with the cat, a talking dog, and a seventeen year old ninja had escorted Tifa and Cloud down the altar. Lyria shook her head as she approached Cloud and Tifa’s house. Perhaps now was time for some of that objectiveness she so terribly needed. She took a deep breath and rapped sharply on the door.


"Oh good, that’ll be Lyria," Tifa said, obviously relieved as she opened the door. Standing with the thumb of her right hand looped through one of the belt loops of her jeans and her other hand carelessly holding the strap of her backpack; Lyria looked like she’d stepped right out off campus. Nothing like a doctor should.

"Hi, Tifa," Lyria’s casual tone matched her appearance, but Tifa knew her old friend Lyr was capable of handling any medical emergency with skill and decisive reasoning.

"Thanks so much for coming Lyr. I knew I could count on you." Tifa warmly embraced her friend. "Please come in."

"Yeah. Where’s my patient?"

"Here…he was an ally of ours, back when we fought Sephiroth." Tifa led Lyria to the couch, where Vincent lay asleep.

"You say ‘ally’, why not ‘friend’?" Lyria asked, kneeling down beside the sofa and beginning to unpack her bag. She looked at the young man with evident curiosity. Long black hair, dark clothing, there was obviously a long story here. She glanced up at Tifa, waiting for an answer as she almost subconsciously reached for his left hand to take a pulse. Lyria gasped when her fingers touched cold metal and she looked in alarm at the gold colored claw where she had expected to see a forearm.

"We say ally because we know too little about him to consider him a friend," Cloud answered. "We’ll explain it later, once we’re sure he’ll be ok, all right?"

"Fine with me. I have to admit I am curious." Lyria rolled up her sleeves and carefully unbuttoned Vincent’s shirt. Her eyes first assessed the gunshot wound in his shoulder, but she could see it was only one scar of many. "So this is our murderer? I must say he certainly looks the part…"

"He looks almost more like a corpse then he did when we first met him," Cloud commented and Tifa elbowed him sharply in the ribs.

"Shut up, Cloud…"

"Yes, do shut up," Lyria agreed. "Why don’t you go boil some water? And put lots of salt in it and make sure you boil it at low heat, not high."


"So I can clean the wound. Honestly, don’t you know anything at all?"

"Salt water, boiled on low heat?"

"Yes, go already."

"Wouldn’t high heat make more sense?"

"No! Not high heat, for god’s sake, then the salt molecules will ionize too quickly and…"

"All right, all right, low heat, just stop with the science crap…ok?"

"Go boil my water."

Cloud left the room in a huff, shutting the kitchen door behind him.

"I didn’t know the ‘go boil water’ standby was still effective," Tifa said.

"Sure it is, the modern woman just has to adapt it a bit. Nowadays, it’s simply easier to tell them to do the near impossible. Boiling salt water on low heat will take him at least an hour."

"Assuming he doesn’t get impatient and turn the heat up."

"So what if he does? We’ll be done by then."


"Yes. I can’t do this alone. He’s got a bullet in his shoulder and it needs to come out soon. Normally I would do this in a hospital in sterile conditions with the proper tools and lighting…but, since we have a potential murderer on our hands, I have to make some allowances. Now, there’s a bottle of alcohol in the front pocket of my bag, hand me that, a couple sponges, and a pair of tweezers."

Tifa complied and Lyria applied a generous amount of the cleanser to a cloth. "Ok, this is the part where we encounter a slight risk, this is going to hurt a lot, but it’s necessary…hold him down while I get this slug out," Lyria instructed.

Tifa nodded and braced her hands gently, but firmly on Vincent’s other shoulder and chest. Lyria didn’t know half the risk they were running. Tifa knew Vincent changed if he was angry or hurt, but she didn’t know how hurt he would have to be before Chaos attacked.

"Ready?" Lyria asked, carefully dabbing the area with the alcohol to clean away some of the blood.

"Yeah, I guess…" Tifa closed her eyes and prayed that in a few seconds she wouldn’t have a Chaos demon to deal with.

"Ok, here goes." Lyria took a deep breath and Tifa suddenly felt Vincent’s body shudder and tense.

"How long will this take?" Tifa asked, eyes still closed.

"Not long…there…got it…"

Tifa reopened her eyes to see Lyria pressing a bandage tightly against Vincent’s shoulder with one hand and holding out a small bullet for Tifa with the other. "Take this and clean it off…make use of Cloud’s water."


"Yes, you. Unless you want me to send him," Lyria said, gesturing at Vincent.

"Oh ok." Tifa left the room, holding the bullet gingerly in one hand.

Lyria returned her attention to bandaging Vincent’s arm. "Sorry about that," she half whispered. "I know it hurt, but it had to be done." Lyria carefully taped her bandage down and rummaged in her bag for a second. "Here, at least I can give you something to help you relax." Lyria removed a syringe from the front pocket of her bag and inserted it into his arm. Almost immediately she felt his muscles relax and his breathing become deeper.

"What are you talking about? Is he awake?" Cloud asked, coming into the room with Tifa.

"If he were awake, wouldn’t he answer?"

"Well…I dunno, maybe not, seeing as it’s him."

"I’d like to know what’s going on here."

"We’ll tell you what we know. Come into the kitchen and we’ll have coffee or something," Tifa offered.

"Coffee? This late? Sorry, one cup and I’m up all morning…although that might not be a bad idea." Lyria picked up her bag and followed Tifa and Cloud into the kitchen. Cloud plopped down on one of the chairs while Tifa rushed about making coffee.

"I’ll tell you what I know, which is really very little…" Cloud took a deep breath. "We met him a couple years ago, when we were fighting Sephiroth…" Cloud continued the story, trying to include as many of the rather sketchy details he knew about Vincent’s past.

"I have to admit I find this rather difficult to believe," Lyria said, sipping her coffee. "You’re telling me that lying on your couch in your living room you have a sixty year old, shape changing ex-Turk, who doesn’t look a day over twenty-seven, carries a rifle, and has a gold claw for an arm?"

"It’s sorta difficult to understand…Red XIII would have explained it better…"

"Red XIII the talking dog? Why? Did he have some sort of rapport with our friend in the living room?"

Tifa could tell by the hint of sarcasm in Lyria’s voice that she didn’t understand. "Red just always understood things better, that’s all…I wish Vincent would wake up so we could find out what happened to him."

"Yeah…until then, d’you wanna stay here Lyria?" Cloud offered.

"I would like to, I’m very curious too. But I probably can’t, I do have three autopsies scheduled for…" Lyria glanced at her watch, "for an hour ago, so by now I think they’ve probably called in one of the senior doctors and he’s taking care of it…though I’ll probably get a nasty dressing down tomorrow. On second thought, I think I will stay here."

"Thanks, I’d like you to be around if he needs any more help. Despite what he looks like…he’s not a bad person, he’s just sort of dark, or maybe cold is a better word…"

"Sure, glad to do it. If nothing else, I’m intrigued…" Lyria stood up and hefted her bag. "I’ll stay up for a while and keep an eye on him and then hit the sack tomorrow morning. You know me; I’m a creature of the night."

"Oh, you’re going to like him then." Cloud muttered.

"Hmm? What’d you say Cloud? Didn’t quite catch that…" Tifa said, though it was obvious she’d heard. She grabbed her husband’s ear between her thumb and forefinger, causing him to wince in pain. "You leave Vincent alone; he’s had a hell of a life."

"Christ, Tifa, all right already." Cloud attempted to pull her hand off, but she held firm.

"Come on, now. Bedtime." Tifa pulled Cloud along by the ear. "G’night, Lyria."

"Good night Tifa, Cloud," Lyria answered, entering the living room and collapsing comfortably in an armchair. She fumbled in her bag for a moment and pulled out a medical journal. Casting a final glance at the still form on the couch, she buried herself in her book.


"For god’s sake, Tifa, let go!" Cloud whined as Tifa pulled him up the stairs and into their bedroom.

"Fine. But how can you be so insensitive to poor Vincent?" Tifa released Cloud’s ear and slipped off her housecoat.

"I don’t know, I didn’t mean anything by it…"

"Honestly, even after you went through the same thing, knowing Hojo had used you for his twisted experiments."

"Good lord…he’s not even conscious, how can I offend someone who’s out cold?"

"It’s not nice anyway."

"I doubt he’d care even if I told him to his face he looks like a goddamn corpse…"

"Let’s just go to bed." Tifa crawled under the blankets and turned her back to Cloud.

"Fine…I’m sorry Tifa…"

Tifa squirmed for a second, hearing the sincere regret in his voice. "Oh, damn you, Cloud. I was almost sure I could go to sleep mad at you."

"I’m sure you tried. I’ll lay off the jokes, ok?"

"I’d appreciate it. I can’t help feeling bad for him…"

"I guess I sorta do too."

"Of course you do, you aren’t heartless."

Chapter 2

EagleHeart's Fanfiction