The Story of Vincent Valentine Chapter 5
The Power in a Memory
Planetary Year- 1904 --- 2/8 Nibelheim
Gast's Jenova had become Hojo's life. Over breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Hojo did nothing but ask Gast questions and muse over half-baked hypothesis. As much as Vincent tried, he could only barely understand what Hojo was doing. Every other waking moment, Hojo had practically herded Gast and Lucrecia into the lab with him, to work.
Since Hojo had no orders for him, so enthralled was he with the Jenova specimens; Vincent had decided to take a break from his daily routine, and work on making the mansion fairly more livable with an extra guest in the house. So thick were the lab's walls, Vincent supposed, that none of the scientists had heard his Quicksilver echoing through the mansion's halls. Once Vincent had thinned out the monster population of the building, he began to search the more desolate, and rarely used rooms.
The "Atrium" as Lucrecia called it, which she had attempted to raise a few plants in, was Vincent's first stop. To Vincent's chagrin, a few of his bullets had missed their targets. He knew where they'd landed, now. He'd shattered a few of the pots, spilling sickly plants and soil all over the floor. Also, more to his amusement, he's accidentally punched a fairly large hole in the wall as a result of multiple hits to the flimsy wood. Sunlight streamed thinly through the room. Vincent made a mental note to knock the rest of the wall in later, so he could put up a window. Maybe he'd tell Lucrecia, and she'd help. It was her room, after all.
Passing the bedroom, Vincent sighed. Hojo had kicked him out of his room, and forced him to take up residence on the far side of the mansion, in an old bed. He walked back downstairs, and paced restlessly through the main floor. A pantry to the right of the entrance, a walk in closet to the left. A long hallway led to the previous owner's ballroom.
Apparently, they had good taste, Vincent had decided the first time he'd entered the room. Decidedly ancient paned windows were covered with grime, but were otherwise no different than they had been when first installed. Nature and Time had not been kind to the mansion. Monsters had destroyed the room, leaving decor strewn across the room. When they'd first considered cleaning the mansion, Hojo had called it a frivolous task. No one had bothered to pick up the room. An even worse crime, thought Vincent, was the grand piano in the corner. The strings had frayed, and the legs had bent and splintered. Vincent was hardly pleased when he'd first seen the piano, but could no longer take the mansion's desecration of the instrument, or the room. He got to work.
Planetary Year- 1904 --- 2/9 Nibelheim... Late the next night...
It had taken Vincent all of almost two days, but he'd done it. The ballroom was more or less immaculate. Well, not really, but it was a hell of a lot better. The room's trash had been taken out. He'd cleaned the windows, and repaired the piano. The floor and walls had been rid of dust, cobwebs, dirt, and bat droppings. He'd fixed the chandelier, so it lit up. It didn't look professionally cleaned; not in the least, but the room was much better. Best of all, none of the others knew! He looked over the room one last time, with the proud expression of a successful laborer on his face, and went to get the scientists... And Lucrecia.
He walked to the lab, and gently knocked on the door. A muffled exchange of muted tones came from the other side of the door. "Come in, Mr. Valentine." Gast said softly. "Do be careful."
Vincent lightly opened the door, and looked inside. Lucrecia was sitting in an office chair, a DNA strand model spinning on a computer screen next to her. Gast was next to a small tube, studying whatever was happening inside of it. Hojo had completely ignored Vincent, and was looking through a microscope, in another world. There were small wires meshing the floor, and multiple tabletops were covered with notebooks and sample jars. "Have I come in at a bad time?" He asked mildly.
"Not at all, Vincent." Lucrecia said with a slightly tired smile. "It's just patience from here, for a while."
Vincent nodded slightly. "If you could, I have something to show you. I figured I'd give you a break, if you wanted one." He walked off, back towards the ballroom.
The scientists traded glances, and both Gast and Lucrecia left the room. Hojo lifted his eyes from his studies, and, sighing with irritation at the interruption, followed his colleagues out the door.
Vincent's usually serious, passive face shone with pride as he opened the ballroom door. Lucrecia gasped, and clapped her hands in delight. "Vincent! It's beautiful!" She walked into the room, and circled, taking it in. Gast calmly entered the room, and studied it. "I'm impressed, Vincent. It looks great!" Hojo's comment was as Vincent suspected. "Wonderful. I'll be in the lab if you need me." He left the room. Vincent shook his head, and walked into the room. He had hosting duties.
"I never knew we had such a nice view of the mountains." Lucrecia breathed. "We missed a lot getting straight to work." Beyond the filthy panes of glass had hid a picturesque view of the Nibel Mountain Range. Between two trees, standing like a living picture frame, was a sweeping view of the lower mountains and cliffs. Despite the town's ambient light, stars sparkled above, a finishing touch on the majestic view. "I've got to see this at sunrise... The sun will light up one side of the mountains inch by inch, until the entire range is a shimmering tower of snow and stone." She turned as the sounds of rain and water came into focus in her mind. She turned towards the sound, and laughed.
"Vincent! You play?"
"I'm rusty. I haven't played since..." Memories of Kalm filled Vincent's mind... When his mother had taught him how to read music... Making his little sister laugh so hard as he played that they'd thought she would bust... Playing during the holidays... Duets with his mother, while his sister had sang with her nightingale voice... A tear welled in one eye. He shook his head, his brown eyes hardened. "...Not for a long, long time."
Lucrecia sat down on the repaired piano bench, next to him. "You play beautifully."
Vincent never knew just why he opened his mouth next. Was it her eyes? Her compliment? Had the hard work let down his guard? Had the memories truly cut him so deeply?
"You... You are beautiful, Lucrecia." He said softly, his voice cracking. "You... You've always been beautiful."
A tear shone in Lucrecia's eye, and she kissed him softly. Their eyes widened in surprise, and closed as they kissed again, and again... Stopping only because they suddenly realized that Professor Gast was in the room.
Vincent approved. If looks could kill, Lucrecia's stare could have killed Gast more times than Vincent had killed at all. Gast disappeared, half running, half growing wings and flying for dear life out of the room.
Hojo wondered where Lucrecia was half an hour later. Gast refused to tell him.
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