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25 May 2006 @ 05:16 pm
Big News - Vincent/Cloud  
SUMMARY: Vincent is intruded on by Cloud on the beach, and there is some shocking details sent Cloud's way. He leaves in need of time to think.

Vincent: The beach seemed to be eternally warm and calming, some standstill of existence where the chaos of the world around this one little town seem unable to permeate its incorporeal shield. Yet, at the very edge of the beach where warm water met cooling sand, it felt to one man as if his location, wherever it may be, was always the axis of disorder and misery that the rest of the planets pandemonium rotated on. Bare feet breeching the border between land and sea, Vincent sat and watched the waves as they billowed and fell, crashing, against the shores of Rocket Town. Within his grasp he held a photo, blond hair and blue eyes, eternally innocent or at least it seemed that way at such a young age. All that he had missed out on, all that he could have taught him. Raising a son instead of rotting away in a coffin, but that would have never happened; Hojo wouldn’t have allowed it.

Now he sat in solitude, a damned photograph in all its perfected detail as his torment instead of the blurred images his demons were so gracious to provide. They had gotten clever lately though, providing him with mini ‘video’ clips of events that might have happened had he been there for Cloud when he was a child. Picturesque images of father-son bonding times, touching moments really that usually ended in screams, blood and more misery to pile onto the already growing mountain of angst he felt he deserved.

Blinking his eyes against the warmth of the sun and shifting only to roll his sleeves up on his arms, Vincent let a soft breath of air slip from his lips before his gaze fell back down to the photograph in his hand. How easy it would be to walk out into the ocean and let the water consume him. He doubted his demons could breathe underwater, weighted down they would each manifest and drown as he would. What a simplistic solution, how perfectly easy. He was sure it would fail somehow. There would never be reprieve for him, redemption was an illusion that he had created in his mind to give him a reason to continue on, but knowing now that all there would be would be pain...what was the point? So he had gained control of his demons, did that matter? It only made it worse that their release was truly his fault. Letting the beasts out to do as they will. What had become of Vincent Valentine. Maybe if he let Chaos rampage through another village, then Cloud would truly pay him mind. Maybe if he allowed him freedom again, Cloud would deem him important enough to seek out again.

Pulling a knee to his chest, Vincent wrapped an arm around his leg and closed his eyes to the warming rays of light. Since when did it become all about Cloud? When did his existence center around the blond haired blue eyed child-hero that saved the planet?

Hard to forget the one that gave you an existence after death, Valentine.

Pardoned you from hell and just as easily turned his back and forgot you.

Not even locking yourself back within that box will bring him back to you, you know. You’ve tried that, remember?

Do you think if you try to swallow a bullet, he will arrive before it punctures your brain cavity?

Unholstering the weapon from his side, Vincent turned it over in his hand while glancing at the photograph in the other. If he did...now thatÂ’s an interesting question. The safety on his weapon clicked off and Vincent shifted the weight of the pistol in his palm. Cold, cruel and unforgiving. His gun never knew the difference between right and wrong, blindly obeying his command to murder and delivering it quickly and efficiently. He had to wonder if his trusted weapon would know its betrayal against it’s master and jam when he pulled the trigger, or perhaps his demons were right and the impending death would some how summon Cloud to his side.

Not likely.

Cloud: The travel had been long and harsh, the weather not the best for a long journey given that there were many passing storms that he had had to fight through. He had been soaked to the bone for a few days and the cold misery had suited his mood perfectly. He had needed to escape Midgar, to get away from the facts that he had ruined his friendship with Kadaj and the boy would never come back. He shouldn't have pushed as he had, and now he had to live with that decision to prod for answers that Kadaj had not been so willing to give up. He needed to get his mind off of it and save himself some time and angst sleeping alone on the nights that Sephiroth had not snuck into his bed and warmed him... or maybe it was just a distraction.

Arriving in Rocket Town had almost been a pleasing since he had had to travel through Nibelheim just to get there. It had been the most miserable part of the trip, remembering the looks of disapproval and silently cursing all that he was denying himself and his mother. He had tried to forget, and she never did like it when things slipped from his mind.

The weather was nice in Rocket Town, and, in a rare show of being pleased to be there, he had taken off his boots upon hearing that Vincent was down on the beach. It had been a relatively pleasant walk and when the sand slid along the bottom of his feet, it didn't seem so bad being here. His mood was still completely silently dismal, but he could deal with that at another time. Vincent seemed insistant on seeing him, but the last message had had an undertone of something different from the others. It was what had drawn him out to Rocket Town, to find out what it was that was bothering Vincent.

Straying down the beach, the black material around his hips billowed with the wind and he tucked his hands into his pockets as he walked down the beach to where Vincent sitting. He noted the unholstered weapon and paused some distance away, hands still stuffed deeply in his pockets and his massive sword attached to his back. It appeared Vincent was looking at something, but he couldn't see it with the other man's back turned. "I hope I'm not disturbing some moment for you," he called loud enough for Vincent to hear, feeling the ruffling of his spiky hair. "I had no idea you liked the beach... you look different."

Vincent: The photograph folded in half within his hand in the same instance the safety on his weapon clicked back on, the blond hair and blue eyes of the toddler in the picture vanishing from sight as he palmed the item and turned his head slightly to the side. Cloud. Wonders never seem to cease, apparently, and here he was moments away from giving up completely. He watched him approach for a few moments before turning his gaze back out to the ocean, his pulled back hair off his face and giving the sun unspoken permission to warm his skin.

What was there to say now that Cloud had found time or perhaps reason to seek him out? A warning against Natas who apparently never followed up on his threat, not that Vincent thought he would. Why make mention of wanting a challenge and then drop a hint of death on the main source of a fight? Re-holstering his weapon, Vincent merely remained silent for the time being and watched the waves drift up the shore and brush against his foot.

“A lot has changed, Cloud.” His appearance as the most notable, his control of his demons, his demeanor towards life itself, and the knowledge that he now held as to the blondÂ’s paternal lineage. The list could continue on. “I was beginning to wonder if I had been dialing the wrong number.”

Glancing over at him again, Vincent wondered if he would be joined on the sand or if Cloud was going to stand there all day and look down at him. He didn’t feel like moving from his position quite yet, content with the spot he picked on the beach. It was secluded and empty, but vast at the same time; all the blessed qualities his coffin held without suffocating him. “Why have you avoided my council?”

Cloud: When it appeared that he had disturbed some kind of moment, Cloud turned his head down to stare at the sand to allow Vincent to recover from whatever it was the older man was doing. He finally approached when everything appeared to be back in order, and he stopped when he was standing next to Vincent, staring out over the vastness of the ocean. It was a nice scene, one he dared not enjoy too much in case he get lost in it and be swallowed by his dark thoughts.

He wiggled his bare toes into the sand and simply remained silent even as he glanced down at Vincent next to him. He wondered what the first statement meant, since it was clearly more than he could think of. He finally let the issue drop after a few moments of thinking, unable to pinpoint what Vincent was referring to, thought he thought it might have something to do with himself. He supposed it probably had something to do with him not coming to visit earlier, but he couldn't be sure. Vincent did make it obvious though. "I'm here now," was all he said, digging his hands deeper into his pockets. "You aren't the first one to tell me to watch some man named Natas, though. And you should know I'm not the best about keeping up by phone..."

He turned his eyes down to the sand and shrugged his shoulders a little. "I haven't been avoiding you, Vincent. Things have been busy where I am, and I haven't found a lot of time to get away." He glanced back to Vincent again, trying to disearn what it was the older man wanted to council him about anyway. "And what council have you wanted to give me aside from this Natas fellow, who I have found no information on aside from... he's apparently threatening my life."

Vincent: Listening to the sound of the fabric hanging from Cloud’s hips as it shifted with the breeze coming off the ocean, it became another noise in the background of his melodic misery. Demons chanting within his mind, the all too sweet sound of silence around him that he didn’t find himself all too deserving of. It was becoming his constant theme song, dark and foreboding, laced with delicate undertones of a gentle harmony.

“Sit, Cloud.”

He does really look like you, you know.

“I came to speak with you months earlier in Midgar, I had not trusted Natas then, and trust him even less now.” There was a pause as Vincent glanced over at Cloud to regard him in silence, the acknowledgment of their similar features, in great thanks to his demons, shifting to the forefront of his own thoughts. It made no difference, nothing would change. “He is like Jenova, a calamity from the skies who seeks to destroy the planet, but he is biding his time and toying with its inhabitants. It is a game to him, and we are merely a source of entertainment.”

Shifting his hand around the folded photograph, Vincent glanced at the white surface that hid the image from sight and twisted it through his fingers slightly. It had already been folded and unfolded numerous times, the wear of constant attention to it showing along the edges and it had only been in his possession for a week or so. He tried to discern some form of fallacy in the story he was told, some inkling of an impossibility in Natas’ words that would make this tale of his paternal link to Cloud a lie. Yet, he was left with nothing but photographs and a notebook depicting in great detail how and why it came to pass. The familiar handwriting, the style of torment, it was all pure Hojo and indisputable proof against his better wishes.

“You are no good to anyone if you run yourself into the ground.”

Cloud: Cloud looked to the sandy beach when he was told to sit, and he simply shifted his footing as he regarded the sand. He would get sand everywhere in this breeze, but he supposed it was pointless to be standing around when Vincent was seated. He had been sitting all day on Fenrir, which made him want to stay standing, but he eventually sighed heavily and settled himself down on the sand next to Vincent and crossed his legs in front of him.

"Hmmm... was that the time when you met with Kadaj? He said that you were about in Midgar, but I had received no word from you about wanting to meet with me. Had I known you were in town, I would have come to you then," he said quietly, not wishing to disturb the serenity of the sea stretching out in front of them. He tilted his head at the information regarding Natas, storing it away in silence and more than aware that it made too much sense. Why would Jenova be the only one of her kind? "I will keep my eyes out for him, but I admit to not knowing what he looks like. I suppose I should expect something similar to Jenova. He has not confronted me at all, so he may not yet be interested in me... but as you say, he could just be bidding his time for when it suits his purposes best."

He shrugged a little at the last statement, passing the warning off almost too easily. "I'm doing just fine as I am now," he murmured and brushed back a strand of blonde hair from his eyes. He turned his head and looked right at Vincent, resting his chin upon his shoulder so he could continue to watch the older man. "I assure you that I'm not running myself into the ground either. It's just work and all... everyone needs to make a living."

Vincent: "Similarities to Sephiroth in appearance. Silver hair, red eyes. I doubt there are many on the planet that look as he does, so it will not be difficult to discern him from a crowd." Vincent let his hand fall into the sand between himself and the young boy beside him, the soft particles giving way as his fingers sunk beneath its surface and he shifted his palm only slightly. "Whether or not he has contacted you does not disprove his interest in you. Natas has mentioned you often, in various ways."

He said nothing about work, presuming that there was perhaps a bit more than just Clouds profession keeping him as busy as he claimed to be, but there was no point to inquire futher so he merely let the topic slide. Then Cloud was looking at him, the blue of his eyes and blond of his hair quite clear to the ex-Turk in the corner of his own vision. It was enough to get him to turn his gaze from the ocean and return the stare the younger was giving. There was significant time that passed between them, Vincent merely looking across Cloud's features before he nearly had to force himself to look back out into the expanse of the sea before them.

"Did you know I have a son, Cloud?"

Cloud: Cloud thought that the fact there was a similarity in appearance between Sephiroth and Natas was the reason that Sephiroth had warned him about this Natas character. If there was any relation in species between Jenova and Natas, it had obviously been passed down to Sephiroth. The silver hair couldn't have been a feature that happened often in their normal society, so he would have to look out for anyone that was not Sephiroth or his babies. "I will keep my eyes out for him and see if I can find him. I would rather have the drop on him rather than it be the other way around, if he does intend harm."

He wasn't unnerved by the fact that Vincent was staring at him, and he felt no need to look away either. He had relied on Vincent's council too much to know that the older man meant him no harm, and he was certain that Vincent knew more about him than most save Tifa and possibly Sephiroth now. He turned his face away when Vincent did, staring out over the sea.

Though his expression failed to change at the sudden statement, he found himself shocked. Vincent with a son? How did that happen or... when? He had trouble imagining Vincent sitting around in full garb cradling a squalling infant, so he was rather hoping it wasn't the 'father to be' case in point. He glanced over at Vincent with raised eyebrows. "No idea," he replied. "Is it true? I wasn't aware that you were interested in starting a family, but... congratulations on that, if it is true. I wish you well with that. How old?"

Vincent: "It is true, though I have only found out about it recently." He shifted his leg down and kept the photograph held tightly within his hand, suddenly fascinated with the way the water wrapped around his barefeet before slipping back away into the sea. It was cool in comparison to the warmth of the sun, and he indulged in the feeling for a brief moment as he contemplated over the information he held and whether or not it was an intelligent decision to share it with the blond.

"He would be around your age now." It was odd, how suddenly he felt a slight almost miniscule shift of their roles. Where he was sought out for knowledge and council, so sat Cloud now in a position to give him answers to unasked questions. "I have yet to introduce myself to him, though I wonder whether or not it would make a difference if I had. His resemblance is closer to his mothers, the similarities to myself are vague at best." A pause and Vincent glanced down at his hand slightly, toying with the words within his mind as if deciphering some vast puzzle. "I have no right to claim paternity over him....what are your thoughts, Cloud? In similar age, would you want knowledge of truth?"

Cloud: Nodding his head to the words that Vincent was saying, Cloud was still having trouble imagining it of Vincent to be a father of a child. There was no slight against the older man, just... he didn't see it of Vincent. Well, if he tried hard, he could imagine it, but he imagined a dark-haired moody boy that had trouble changing expressions and was too introverted to be able to tell head from behind most of the time. Plus... who would the mother be for a child of Vincent? He knew that Lucrecia was very special to Vincent, so he doubted the man would have moved on.

"Still... congratulations," he managed again, nodding his head at the prospect that there was another person around that was similar to Vincent. He uncrossed his legs and thought of his own father, a man he had never met and had run out on his mother just a few weeks after he had been born. His resentment for the man boiled underneath his steely expressionless face. "I don't think I'm the one to ask something like that," he finally replied, wanting to leave it at that. Vincent should ask Cid, not him. "You should ask someone who..." he paused a long moment and shook his head a little, dropping the topic. He would say too much.

He instead rested an elbow on his leg and then his chin on his hand. He tried not to think about the man in the pictures with his mother, happy in marriage until he came along apparently. It pained him greatly to grow up without a father, and he had badgered his mother daily when he had been little about who his father was and where the man had gone. His mother would say little and smile sadly at him, and it was only when he was older that he came to understand from another person in Nibelheim that his father had walked out of the town one night after his parents had had a brief fight over him and never came back again.

"You should tell him," he finally whispered softly. "No child should lose the identity of someone that was supposed to take care of them. The truth hurts, but living in mystery possibly longing hurts much much more." He shook his head and pushed his sunglasses hard to his face before finally climbing to his feet again, dusting himself off.

Vincent: Vincent glanced over at cloud with the second congratulations, wondering if the boy would say the same thing if he did know the truth before hand. The many sordid things that happened before the birth of the blond haired boy that led to his inevitable life of lies, it was his fault but by god what wasn't his fault? "He was the product of a method to torment me even after I had been released from my sleep. Created from my genetics and placed with his mother, whom I had never met, lies told to him about his own father so that when I did wake I would be haunted with the knowledge that I was never there for him and that he would hate me for it."

"My weakness is my desire for a family, something I doubt I will ever have even when it's standing right in front of me." Or sitting beside him on the sand, either one really. "There is information on it, in a notebook, pictures...indesputable truth. He grew up without me there to guide him, though from what I know of his life to this point I would have nothing but pride in him as my son, though that was the entire point I would presume, and beyond effective as I would have given anything to have seen him as a child."

Turning the photograph over in his fingers, Vincent stood when Cloud did and the answer to his question was given. Tell the boy who his father is, he says, tell him...as if it is that easy. He wondered for a moment if Cloud caught on at all while he spoke, wondering if only for a moment why it was the elder was continuing on as such when it was someone else that was his kin, as far as the blond knew. Grasping ahold of Clouds hand for a moment, Vincent turned it palm up and placed the folded photograph within the confines of his fingers; closing them around the item before stepping a few paces away with his back to the younger boy.

"That is my son..." Vincent paused and glanced over his shoulder, turning back to look out at the ocean while his fingertips splayed lightly across the cool metal of his weapon. "...when he was younger."

Cloud: Cloud thought that he was learning something new about Vincent that he thought he should have known in the first place. Perhaps he had simply overlooked the information and not realized that Vincent had probably wanted a family at some point. He could easily imagine the level of guilt that was going through Vincent over missing an entire childhood of memories because of Hojo, missing out on some of the most important moments that any parent could go through. He felt a pang of pity for Vincent in that moment, aware the man would blame himself for missing out. "So... Hojo ruined more of your life by ruining another that Hojo created to hold against you..."

He stared off towards Rocket Town, pushing thoughts of his own father aside. This was not his moment to take for himself, not when Vincent was showing a rare moment of being open. It was Vincent who needed him, so he would have to give something the older man who had been a shoulder to lean on for difficult times, even if he wouldn't admit it. He could understand some of Vincent's pain, so he managed to utter, "It's not your fault what Hojo has done to torment you..."

Blinking, he felt a folded picture put in his hand and glanced at Vincent, nodding his head a little. He unfolded it, expecting to see a dark-haired boy of some kind but he found himself staring down at a little blonde child. The boy couldn't be any older than six, possibly seven years old, and there were bright blue eyes staring at the camera and the wisps of what appeared to be a skirt in the boy's hands, as if too shy for the camera alone. His eyebrows knit together as he studied the picture, blonde hair that was oddly spiky and clothing only found in Nibelheim. The boy was just a little thing, and he came to the sudden realization that he was staring at himself as a small boy.

Not understanding, he turned the picture over to make sure that he wasn't looking at the wrong side. It wasn't and he looked to Vincent, confusion written all over his features, staring at the man's back. "Vincent... this is a picture of me when I was..." and he stopped dead. Whatever colouration drained from his face as all the pieces snapped together of coincidence.

Vincent: "I had doubt in whether or not to tell you, as I saw no difference being made even if you were aware that I had fathered you. I have no right, nor am I even aware of what I want to come from letting you know this." he paused and folded his arms over his chest, taking the time to roll down his sleeves before hand. "You said that no one should be without the knowledge of their caretakers identity, so I have shared with you what I know even if I could never had been there for you when you needed me to be."

"There is no apology that will suffice." Cloud could not imagine the level of grief it gave him though, the pain that welled up anew within his mind and soul that was latched onto and amplified by his beloved inner companions. His mistake, his sin was now not only affecting him but his son as well.

'The sins of the father...', eh Valentine?

Turning back to face Cloud, Vincent stepped forward slightly and let his arms hang down at his sides before stopping beside the shorter blond. His fingers twitched in some indesicive action of thought, a pause between a movement that he wasn't sure whether or not to make and then suddenly rebuked against in the midst of it. How ridiculous to want to comfort him, the savoir of the planet, the want to reach out and pat his shoulder lightly or even to attempt some sort of fatherly hug. He didn't deserve it, had no right. There was no way to make up for lost time.

"You've given me life, I owed to you the truth."

Cloud: Cloud found himself staring at the picture in his hands, a picture of him next to what he knew was his mother. He had been too shy to be in the picture alone back then, and he had pleaded with her to be in the picture with him. She had agreed but the photographer only focused on him that day, and he had been terribly upset over the fact he had only gotten his mother's skirt in the picture that she had needed to pick him up and have a picture with him. He remembered that day, remembered the moment.

His gloved fingers brushed over the picture, hardly hearing what Vincent was saying to him. He was a science experiment all of his life, from the moment he had been created to the moment he would die. Unlike other children, he had been made for the purpose of hurting someone else, not for any other reason but Hojo's whims. His father... no, his mother's husband must have found out and walked out because she didn't carry his child. He wanted to believe that it wasn't true, that this was just a sick joke that Vincent was telling, but Vincent didn't have a sense of humour the last time that he checked. There was a book, pictures... his life was on record to hurt Vincent a little more.

He was Hojo's pet project. He had never been created out of love, perhaps only on his mother's side. He was not only a failure for Hojo, but he had been nothing more than a cheap laugh that came about into the world nothing more than an accident. He was just like Sephiroth, a tool for a madman in a greater game of revenge, he was sure.

The picture was slapped back into Vincent's hand, and Cloud suddenly took off up the beach, sprinting the entire way up the sand. He gagged halfway up and managed to make it to a bush before he violently threw up into it, shaking as he clutched his head and just removed everything in his stomach and probably beyond that. He was a freak experiment. Rocking with his gagging, he caught himself on a tree so he didn't collasp to his knees. He felt tears prick at the edge of his eyes, but he forced that back immediately...

Vincent: When he was twenty seven he was assigned to look after a group of scientists, a shit job for a turk that few favored for their own various reasons. Theories surfaced that they wanted him gone but none of the others could raise their weapons to his temple, all in retrospect of course, he pondered later if his death certificate had been signed, sealed and delivered by the head of Shin-Ra himself when his orders were handed to him. Unsuspecting he entered into it without a second thought, another day done another paycheck deposited into his account. Then she entered his life and it seemed that with her came the highpoint on which the rest of his existence plunged off of into the fiery pits of hell. His love for her had hit a nerve and only increased the wrath of the man who he presumed to be in charge of his imminent demise.

The bullet wound that took his life was the least of his problems, the mercy of death nothing more than an illusion shattered when he woke and found himself immobilized on the cold hardened steel of an exam table. A quiet questioning on how he was feeling in the haze of some assortment of drugs being fed into his blood stream, and the knowledge that he had been joined with something called the Chaos Element. Day one of the next five years of really getting to know the inner workings of Hojo’s Laboratory. Every morning was the same as the first, a hazy awakening and an utterance of a question he never actually answered. The first three months he snapped back remarks, his attitude unwavering despite the scars that were being scratched, burned and carved into his skin. The next year he screamed. Snapping, breaking and shattering under the daily torment so generously given to him by his hellish benefactor.

By year three he ceased screaming and reverted within himself, a shell of his former self that Hojo relentlessly showered with his constant attentions and purring inquiries on whether or not he was comfortable within his restraints. When the madman’s attentions weren’t drawn elsewhere with his preoccupation with various breakthroughs in his Jenova research, Vincent was his pet project; a toy that he played with and tried to break a little more with every encounter like some demented child.

He could barely recall year four and five, confined in a small room for days and weeks at a time. The darkness encompassing him when the faint lights were turned off for the evening and he was left to listen to the voices within his mind. Demons that would be named years later, mere whispers at first that had him curled within the corner and clawing at his temples. Days grew into weeks and weeks stretched into months. When a month reached three and he had yet to see any light breaching the crack beneath the door nor hear any form of life outside of the cell in which he was held, there came to him the faint sounds of footfalls on the tiled hallway outside of his room. It no longer mattered, at that point, what it was he would be released into, if it meant being out of the darkness then he would take anything. Even Hojo. The madman greeted him, that Cheshire smirk playing on his sadistic features as he approached his pet and inquired; ‘how are you feeling today, Vincent?’. Just another day, when it had been months without contact in a cell that was sensory deprivation to the fullest extent of the term. He begged him that afternoon, on his knees, never to put him back in the darkness.

Thirty years later he tasted light again, pulled from his worst nightmare by a boy with blond hair and blue eyes. A child that he had sired and yet had no clue about until weeks prior to the current moment. A child that ran from him upon learning of his paternity, and now stood on unsteady feet some distance away thrown into physical disgust at the information. The ex-Turk thought that Hojo couldn’t get to him any longer after he had been murdered shortly before Sephiroth found his own first death; thought he was safe despite never being able to forget all thanks to the demons that were a gift to him from the scientist. He thought that he would be left with what misery and torture he already had, the same repetitive hissing that continued on in his mind with out any semblance of mercy.

It had to be difficult for Cloud to learn of his origin, not because it was Vincent that had fathered him but that he was nothing but a pawn in Hojo’s demented game of chess. To know that you had been used by the madman, he did not blame the blond for reacting in the manner that he had and in fact counted it as a bit more fortunate than what he had been expecting. Despite the lies of Cloud’s life though, he still grew up with a loving mother from what Vincent knew of her from traveling with Strife those years ago, and he lived a fairly normal life until he was reunited with Shin-Ra INC and the scientist that originally created the circumstances for his life. And, perhaps most importantly, Cloud held control over what he wished to do with the information that was given to him. Blessed with the ability of denial, telling himself it was a lie and going back to his life without a second glance, the option was there along with simply accepting it and moving on as well. Vincent knew that no matter what he wanted in regards to what he had learned, he would only ever get some sordid version of it that refreshed the agony in him. Thanks for the parting gift, Hojo, love you too.

Stepping across the sand, Vincent stood beside the blond and kept his hands folded at his chest while his demons continued to plead and prod for him to release them so they could play. Chaos thought he could convince Cloud better than Valentine himself apparently, and Galian just wanted to see how good the boy was at hide and seek. He would grant neither of them freedom though, Cloud didn’t need to deal with it right then and Vincent had no intention of harming the young blond even more than he already had.

In silence he watched over him, leaning against the tree where Cloud grasped onto for balance as he flicked his own gaze down to the putrid expulsion left within the bush that seemed to be the lucky target for the young man’s sudden nausea. It would be the moment cued as the opportunity to inquire on whether or not the blond was alright, but that seemed a rather silly question considering the circumstances and result herein after. Of course he wasn’t alright.

Cloud: Somehow, Cloud managed to get ahold of his stomach after being reduced to dryheaving into the bush. His throat burned and felt raw, from emotion or the dry heaving, he wasn't sure anymore. He just knew that it was much easier to lose his meal than think about the information that he had just been given, and he even tried to deny it as he gasped heavily, wincing and shaking his head to rid his mind of the headache that had managed to surface and pounded in his temples.

He finally pulled back from the bush and swayed dangerously on his bare feet. It was fruitless, and he finally was forced to seat himself on the ground. His jaw worked as he tried to work through the information again. He didn't have proof since he hadn't read the book himself, didn't know anything aside from a picture of him as a child, which could just have been found before the Nibelheim burning. His mother had lots of pictures, so it could have been taken from that, not because he was someone else's child.

He just wasn't thinking this through, but Vincent had no reason to lie to him. There was no reason to say something like that to him, to make everything worse than it already was with such information. Vincent didn't hate him, didn't spite him so make something like that up. And the fact he knew Hojo and the way the man could by seemed to solidify the information in his mind even if he tried to deny it. He was Hojo's pet project to use against Vincent, a creation to make the other man suffer. He doubted his mother ever knew... surely she would have treated him differently if she had known the truth of the information. It would have made things so much worse... she would have resented him more for forgetting.

Pulling knees up to his chest, he lay his chin on them and stared out over the ocean. What could he say now? If Vincent was correct about the information, he did have a father, which meant his resentment had been misplaced. The circumstances were so very different, and he could hardly blame Vincent for not being there when he was little... there was no way it was possible. He could blame Hojo, but the man was dead and probably laughing wherever it was that Hojo had gone in the Lifestream.

It took him several minutes of sitting gathering himself, but he managed to slip a mask into place to hide the fact he knew he was breaking apart. He had to hold it together until he was alone... and even then, he would have to think. About what... he didn't know. It was all jumbled up now, and he didn't want to take off his sunglasses to show his cat-pupils to Vincent, not after everything else. He finally swallowed hard and ran a hand through his blonde hair, nodding his head before saying, "I'm alright... just a little shocked...."

Vincent: "You have no need to pretend with me, Cloud." It was a fact that he was sure had been established years ago and solidified in Ajit after Vincent had to save the blond from Kadaj and his brothers. Standing against the tree with cloud sitting near by, he noted the similarities in their positions between the current time and the previous, but there was a shift in their interaction. No longer was Cloud seeking him out unquestioning for information and guidance, but rather running from him and the knowledge that he held. Vincent inwardly scowled at himself, he should have kept it to himself. Suffered in an eternity on his own instead of spreading the misery to someone else like some dark plague. "You're not alright."

"Natas gave me this knowledge, provided the photographs and the file. It could be a lie." Vincent let his gaze drift down the beach, faintly watching cloud out of the corner of his eye as he silently sought to find some way to make it easier for the blond to deal with what he had been told.

Cloud: Cloud nodded his head absently, aware that Vincent was probably seeing right through him, but it was much better than simply falling apart right in front of the other man. He was still trying to desperately digest the information, and he thought that he was going to be sick again. It was too much for him at the moment, and he could already see the trend that would follow soon after. "Alright..." he murmured slowly, taking his time to let the words come into being. "I'm... not fine," he admitted softly. How could he be?

He swayed a little as he sat, tangling his fingers into his blonde hair and just staring down the beach, trying to make sense of things. He wanted to run away and never think of this again, but... that would make things worst for Vincent. "Could be... might not be..." he said slowly. He had to try and think logically, and it was a little easier when he entered a state of numbness. Vincent... his biological father? "How... could this happen...? Why... No, I know why... and I know how... when, no I know that too..." he shook his head as he trailed off.

Vincent: Nodding to himself in silent agreement with the admittance, Vincent did little more than shift his gaze across the rolling waves before tucking the photograph away within his shirt. A picture of a previous time that he could never reclaim, but there was still evidence of it and with that he could formulate some semblance of an illusionary memory. Cloud still remained beside him, babbling it seemed almost incoherently until Vincent let his eyes flicker over to him and a steady stare found itself trained on the spiked strands of blond hair.

“Hojo’s intention was to cause further misery on my part, but he underestimated and did not count on the chance of us knowing each other. His plot against us both can fail even more than it already has.”

Created as a means of torture, Cloud was to be the son that Vincent never got to know and only knew of his existence after it would be to late to claim part in it. But now they stood together in the same life, eons before too late would ever come to pass with a chance to turn a misdeed into an opportunity. Vincent had spent hours and days pondering on it. It was truly up to the young blond as to whether or not he wished to take the information and make something out of it, or let the knowledge fade into non-existence.

Cloud: Feeling Vincent's gaze settle on him, Cloud decided that it would be best if he didn't say anything at all until he figured out if he had anything to say at all. He wasn't one to talk outloud about his thoughts at the best of times, and he knew it would be much better if he kept his thoughts to himself on this one too, given the odd circumstances. It seemed too unreal, a dream... or maybe a nightmare. His thoughts were all jumbled up, trying to decide what he wanted to believe or deny, what would make this easier to bear in the long run because in the short, he doubted he would be better off with either.

He turned his head a little at Vincent's words, thinking he might have caught some sort of flicking optimism from the older man. He couldn't remember a time when Vincent had been openly hinting towards optimism, and he didn't feel it beyond simply increasing the shock he was already feeling. He turned his head back to stare out towards the sea again, pushing his sunglasses hard against his face. "You make it sound like you want this..." he murmured softly.

Did Vincent want this? Was there something more than skindeep about this confrontation or was it just another oddity that would continue to get worse? He had to wonder what his mother would think, sitting in the Lifestream staring at them... knowing that he had not been her husband's child. It probably made him more a failure than he already was... just when he thought he couldn't sink any lower. "What happens now?"

Vincent: Vincent’s brow shifted slightly, watching the younger male push his sunglasses up before his own gaze drifted away from the blond’s features and settled on the scenery around them. He didn’t know what it was about the connotation within Cloud’s statement but it had him pushing away from the tree he took to leaning against as he strode down the beach a foot or two to stand in front of the younger male. With his back to the other he did little more than glance over his shoulder while almost instinctively tightening his grip around his torso with his arms. “You make it sound like you don’t.”

Natas had said something about Cloud disliking him, though the aliens exact words seemed to elude him in the moment he wanted to recall them the most. ‘No wonder he...’ The term slipping from his thoughts, ‘No wonder the boy resents you...’ Clear as day it was like a slap in the face all over again as he struggled to decide whether or not Natas words could hold truth within them, just as he struggled to figure out whether or not to believe his paternity of Cloud.

“The choice is yours, Cloud, though I will not force you to make one this instant.” He paused and turned, letting his arms fold at his sides as he stepped forward again and stood before the other. “I am returning to my home in Ajit to see if Natas has left anything behind of my books that can be salvaged, I will give you two weeks time to think on what you would want, or not want...and all you have to do is contact me by phone when you’ve decided.”

Cloud: Cloud said nothing as he sat quietly on the beach, his thoughts swirling so fast that it was starting to give him a headache. He didn't really understand what was going on or why he even believed Vincent, but the other man never seemed the type to lie to him, which made the information even more difficult to take in. He had spent his entire life hating the man that had fathered him, a man that turned out to be false in some sense of the word given that he knew exactly where Vincent had been and why the other man had been away. That fact left him confused with the solid ball of resentment that had built up over his childhood, and it wouldn't be easy to get rid of.

And there was still the fact he was nothing but a pet of Hojo's, which probably hurt more than anything else. He didn't know what to think of it, but he knew it had impacted him harshly. Vincent had no control over his coming about, and he was hardpressed to believe that Vincent was completely after getting anything out of him in the family way of life, especially given how he thought Vincent still longed after Lucretia. Both he and Vincent were all just part of Hojo's game, and it was the most depressing thought of all. "And... you're positive about the information that you have in regards to... me? I don't even look like you..." he murmured softly.

He glanced up at the mention of a choice, nodding his head a little. He had a lot of thinking to do, but he wanted to just run. He would have to find out information about this, meaning he would have to go to a place he never wanted to be back to. He had to prove Vincent wrong or maybe... right; he wasn't sure anymore. He needed to get information though, probably just to muttlle up his thoughts more. "And... what are you hoping for from my decision… no, I’ll make an educated guess…"

He climbed to his feet and dusted off his pants of sand, shifting his sunglasses more comfortably on his face before he set his features completely. He had two weeks to think about things and figure things out. He hoped that two weeks would be enough time. He nodded to Vincent and walked away again, heading back to Fenrir, needing time to think.