Final Fantasy VII, Life Ever After; Chapter 10 Destroyed

So, I just got around to putting te last few chapters of this on here. It's pretty old and I can't be bothered editing. Though, to be honest, I'm so out of practice that it's probably better than anything I could write now, almost ten years on.

In case you've hit this page from some random link out there on the internet: Chapter 1

Well, this is it; the final chapter. Hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Copyright: Characters not mine... blah, blah... you know the drill.

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Vincent found himself lying on the floor, entangled in Lucrecia's arms. She seemed to be sleeping, her face gentle and serene. He had seen her this way a hundred times before, frozen in the Mako crystals. This was different though; she breathed softly, a small frown wrinkled her brow. He ran a bare thumb across the soft skin of her forehead and she smiled.

He remembered that innocent smile, when life had still been good to them, when Hojo had not yet instigated his vile plans. That was all gone now; they would both work to put it all behind them and start anew.

Lucrecia murmured softly, turning in his arms as she woke.

"Good morning," she whispered, glancing at the window behind him.

"It is, " he replied. "I never thought I would be able to say that again."

Lucrecia's face crumpled in pain, a cry escaping her lips as she clutched her stomach, body going foetal. What was happening? In seconds his happy new world had fallen apart.

Lucrecia's cries were followed by a sudden, vicious buffeting of the airship, as if a powerful force was trying to get inside.

Silence, stillness.

Vincent lifted Lucrecia up and placed her on the bed. Distraught, confused, he could do nothing as she cried.

"What is it? Lucrecia, please, tell me."

"Him," she muttered. "He's... calling me."

Him? "Sephiroth?"

She nodded.

"But..."

"He's not dead," she answered, looking up at Vincent. "He never was. He's woken and he wants to find me."

There was an odd expression on her face, as if this somehow pleased her.

"I'll stop him," Vincent promised.

"No... Vincent, he's my son."

Vincent kissed her, lifting her slowly. "Not anymore," he said. "He stopped being your son a long time ago. Hojo destroyed your son, took the shell and moulded it into something else."

"Please," she begged, but her words were cut short; Cid's voice came through the tannoy.

"Valentine! Get yer ass down to the bridge, now!"

"Will you come?" he asked Lucrecia.

She nodded, wiping the tears from her eyes. Vincent put his shirt back on, his bandanna and his black gloves. He neglected the gauntlet and cloak; they were images of his past.

Cid did a double take as they entered the bridge. Vincent knew the Captain was wondering about the missing clothing, but Cid made no comment, instead jumping straight to the problem at hand; "You felt the blast?"

"It's Sephiroth."

"How do you..." Cid started before Lucrecia raised her arm. She did not know these people, for all she knew they blamed her for everything that had happened in the last five years.

"He... he's calling to me," she doubled over again, calling Vincent's name. He caught her before she could fall.

"Cid," he shouted. "Move the ship!"

The Captain did as Vincent demanded. A blue shaft of energy skimmed the port side of the Sierra as she strafed to starboard on her jets.

"What the hell is going on?!"

"She told you," Vincent replied calmly. "Sephiroth has awoken again. This time Lucrecia is his target."

"Shit!"

"Take me to the crater."

"And what yah gonna do there?" Cid asked.

"Kill him."

"No!" Lucrecia grabbed his arm, eyes pleading. "Don't."

"Yer his real mother, right?" Cid asked, already manoeuvring the great airship northward. Lucrecia nodded. "He don't care 'bout that. Whatever it is he wants from yah, it ain't good. I've had enough o' all this fightin', but that's what he wants - so we gotta give it 'im."

"It's not his fault!"

"That don't change a thing. There's no talkin' to Sephiroth."

"Vincent..."

"I would rather bring this to an end without violence," he said, avoiding her eyes. "If we can do that then we will." He clutched her to him, hugging her. "But we have no choice if Sephiroth wants to fight. Can you understand?"

He felt her nod slowly, sniffing back her tears. Still holding her he spoke to Cid; "We are going to need help."

"Obviously," the Captain snorted. "Cloud, Tifa and Barret are in Edge. Yuffie is with Red in Cosmo Canyon. We can grab 'em on the way."

"Good. Call me when everyone is here. I have to look after Lucrecia. Keep the ship moving, keep it erratic."

Cid nodded, leaving Lucrecia and Vincent to each other, he concentrated on manoeuvring his ship. Vincent led Lucrecia off the bridge, one arm wrapped around her body.

"Where are we going?" she asked, straightening as the pain subsided.

"Cid keeps quarters by for me." He led her in silence to a small set of open plan rooms; shower room, bed, low seating area in a corner.  It was dimly lit and basic, just a place for him to sleep whenever Cid insisted Vincent go somewhere with him. One large set of windows looked out into the sky, they were high up in the ship.

Vincent lead Lucrecia to the corner couch, setting her down gently.

"I'm okay now," she said as he sat beside her.

"It will come again though, won't it?"

She nodded; "I have to go to him," Vincent shook his head. "Please, you don't even know why he is calling, why he has come back."

"We know enough."

"You know nothing! Except that he was a danger in the past."

"I'm sorry," Vincent mumbled, jumping at her sudden anger.

Silence as they both stared at the ground.

"Please, try to talk to him first."

"We will, I promise."

"How long?"

"We have to pick up the others first... no more than an hour. The Sierra is fast, faster than any other ship in the world."

He caught her shoulders as she buckled again, biting her lip to hold back her cries. He felt useless, unable to stop her pain. How could a son, even Sephiroth, do this to his mother?

"You still think he means to do something other than cause misery?"

"Vincent!" she gasped. "Don't... say anymore."

He hugged her again, and would not let go until he could stop her suffering. They sat quietly, contemplating each other. When the waves hit her, Lucrecia would stiffen in his arms and he would squeeze her just a little tighter until it melted away. The ship was battered several times, but not as many as it should have been; Cid was an excellent pilot.

"Vincent," Cid's voice came through the tannoy. "Everyone's on board, we're waitin' on yah in the bridge."

Vincent lifted Lucrecia from his lap, in the short hour they had been in his quarters she had become a shadow of herself. Drained and frightened, she looked up at him with bloodshot eyes. He would make Sephiroth pay for making her suffer this way, even if Lucrecia never forgave him.

"Go," she said.

"I can't leave you here, alone."

She smiled wanly; "I'll be okay."

No, she would not. "Come with me, Cid will find someone to look after you."

He gave her no choice in the matter as he lifted her into his arms. She huddled against him, arms coiled around his neck. Everyone was waiting for them on the bridge, he was greeted by stern faces.

"Dr. Crescent?" Reeve stepped forward as Vincent set Lucrecia down on a vacant chair. "Incredible," Reeve took a step back as Vincent glared at him. "I'm sorry, only, for her to be alive, now..." he trailed of as Vincent stepped between him and Lucrecia. "How is she?"

"Exhausted," she managed a smile.

"Ah should think so," Cid called from the wheel. "We've been dodgin' blasts every few minutes!"

"Cid," Clouds calm, quiet voice. "How long till we reach the Northern Crater?"

"Not long, twenty minutes tops."

"We should prepare for what we might find," he turned to the group, instinctively taking up the position of leader. "We've fought him and won before."

"Cloud," Vincent had to air Lucrecia's desires, even if he did not agree with them. "We do not know why Sephiroth is calling out to Lucrecia. She does not want us to harm him if he is not a threat."

"But it's Sephiroth!" Yuffie wailed, stamping a foot.

"And Dr. Crescent is his mother," Tifa, ever dignified and understanding. "She does not want to see him hurt. Right Dr. Crescent?"

Lucrecia nodded, catching her breath as another wave of pain hit her body. She reached out and caught Vincent's arm, pulling him down to her. He wrapped her in his arms, her body shaking.

"It's getting worse," she whispered.

"Because we are getting closer."

"Alright, we're almost on top of the crater," Cid said. "What's our plan?"

"Land," said Reeve, outspoken for once. "I'm not in your league. I'll stay here with the ship and Dr. Crescent, keep the crew ready for a quick take off, should it be required."

Yes, everyone agreed to Reeve's idea. Using Cait Sith he could follow their actions, be ready for whatever they might face down there.

"Since the battle four years ago the crater has subsided considerably. Captain, you should be able to land the ship much deeper inside the mountain this time."

"Ah can try," Cid did not sound convinced. "But it's gonna be an ass with those energy blasts comin' straight at us."

Cid brought the craft down carefully through the winds whipping around inside the crater. She landed gracefully on a precipice deep inside. Walls of solid rock towered above her and fell below her.

"That's as far as we can go," Cid said. "The ledge should be big enough to keep 'er from topplin' off if she gets hit again."

But the blasts had broken their pattern; Lucrecia had felt no waves of pain for some minutes.

Without a word, Cloud led the party off the bridge.

"Be careful," Lucrecia said, hugging Vincent tightly.

"Don't you worry," Cid said, clasping Vincent's shoulder. "We'll take care of 'im.

"Reeve, don't go damagin' mah ship." The Captain pulled Vincent away from Lucrecia and off the bridge.

The descent through the cavern looked treacherous. No path remained after the collapse of the crater years ago, only sheer cliffs. Without fear, Reeves cat-like puppet began the climb down. Yuffie grinned and leapt after it; "This is gonna be fun!"

Tifa could not help but smile at the girl's lack of fear. Soon all were making their way down into the darkness of the Northern Crater, struggling against the buffeting winds and the waning light that barely cut through the perpetual clouds clinging to the crater.

"Anyone else see a light down there?" Barret called above the howling winds.

A blue, washed out light was emanating from the darkness, growing brighter as they drew nearer. The light grew from a small spot to a large orb until all could see it as a lake of light, ebbing and flowing, at the centre of the crater.

"Mako," Vincent whispered.

The greenish lake was edged by a small stretch of rock. In its centre was a raised piece of land and lying on this land the figure of a man. His silver hair seemed shadowy, his flesh translucent. Tendrils of throbbing energy emerged from the lake and crawled across the island, joining with the man's body.

This far inside the crater the winds had vanished. All was bright, lit by the energy that filled the crater's centre. Reaching the ground around the lake the party stood on its edge, staring at the naked male figure.

"Is that... is that Sephiroth?"  Yuffie asked, her toes touching the lake as she tried to get a closer look.

"Who else?" Barret replied.

As they watched, his body became solid, whole. To their amazement the energy kept flowing towards him, building itself around him in the form of his clothes, stretching out from one hand to form his legendary Masamune.

"Shit," Barret exclaimed in a hushed, almost reverent tone. "This ain't good."

"You think so?" Cid drawled.

"What do we do?" Tifa asked, looking to Vincent and Cloud for an answer.

"We kill him before he can retaliate," Cloud said, stepping into the lake. Vincent caught his shoulder, held him back.

"No," he said. "I promised Lucrecia. I won't let you hurt him until we know what he wants."

"He wants to kill her," Cloud drew his sword.

"I promised," Vincent repeated. He wanted to destroy Sephiroth, he knew it was the right thing to do, but he could not break that promise.

"It's too late anyway," Cid said, pointing to the island. "He's gettin' up."

A hush fell over the group as Sephiroth rose from the ground. He stood, silent, his Masamune hanging lose in one hand. He gave a thin smile then looked towards the Sierra.

"Thank you," he spoke softly, the voice of a dying angel. "For bringing her to me."

Before anyone could respond he was sailing through the air, propelled by an invisible force.

"Sephiroth!" Cloud yelled.

"Shit!" exclaimed Barret and Cid.

"Oh no! No, no, no!" cried Yuffie and Cait Sith in almost perfect unison.

Tifa and Nanaki gasped, watching the man rise.

Vincent was already in the air, the power of Hojo's experiments allowing him to follow Sephiroth towards the ship. He fired round after round at the fleeing figure. All missed or were blocked with mercury speed.

Vincent glanced back only once to see his friends following behind, some leaping from outcrop to outcrop, others climbing up the cliff face. He turned his eyes back to his target - Sephiroth had gone. In that brief moment the sharp shooter had lost sight of the silver-haired man.

Screams erupted from the Sierra, followed by an explosion from the aft of the ship.

Lucrecia!

Vincent reached the Sierra moments later, landing on the deck. Smoke rose from several ports, whipped about by the winds above the ship.

He ran inside, heading toward the bridge. Sounds of commotion were coming from all corners of the Sierra. Reeve's voice blurted through the tannoy, telling people Cid had ordered them to abandon ship. Good, they had no chance against Sephiroth.

The bridge was filled with panic, Reeve desperately trying to find out where Sephiroth was. Red light filtered through the semi darkness; emergency lightening.

"Where is Lucrecia?!" Vincent demanded.

"Vincent!" her voice came from above him, behind the helm. She ran down the ramp and embraced him, refusing to let go while Reeve spoke.

"Vincent, I lost contact with Cait Sith, seconds later chaos broke loose. I cannot get a report from anywhere on the ship."

There would be much death, Vincent thought. "Get off the ship, there is nothing any of you can do against him."

"But..."

"Now!"

Reeve bowed before leaving; "I'm sorry I could not do more..."

Vincent moved Lucrecia to the fore of the bridge, far from the entrance, sitting her on a chair.

"What are you going to do?" she asked, shaking, crying.

"Stop him."

"This is all my fault... those people... he's killing them isn't he?"

"I won't let him hurt you."

"And you can stop me?"

Sephiroth stood in the doorway to the bridge. Blood covered his Masamune, spattered across his chest and face.

"Sephiroth?" Lucrecia lurched to her feet. Her son, a boy, a man she had never laid eyes on.

The silver-haired man smiled. Slowly the Masamune rose, pointing toward Lucrecia. Vincent's heart thundered. The woman he loved coward behind him; Sephiroth meant to destroy her.

Vincent fired his Death Penalty, barely out of its holster. Sephiroth leapt into the air, his sword a flash of silver. Vincent dived, bullets chasing one another. They fought. Sword, gun, fists and feet. Black and silver became a blur. Vincent did not think; he had no need as his instincts took over.

He tumbled against Sephiroth, the sword slashing at his stomach. Blood drenched his face, but it was not his own. He had fired, close range, into Sephiroth's right arm. The silver-haired man gritted his teeth, bringing the sword round to Vincent's chest as he loomed over him, gun buried in Sephiroth's jaw. The blade cut into his skin, drawing a thin trickle of blood.

Sephiroth smiled; stalemate.

"What do you want with Lucrecia?" Vincent demanded, breathless.

"Is it not obvious?" quiet, sure of himself.

Vincent felt a chill from the SOLDIER's deep voice. His eyes fixed firmly on Sephiroth's face he growled; "Humour me."

If he pulled the trigger Sephiroth would surely drive the sword into his chest. If Sephiroth moved, Vincent would fire the Death Penalty.

"Her death."

"She is your mother!"

"No," the smile fell away. "She bore me, gave me life, but she is not my mother. That honour belongs to J-E-N-O-V-A. She gave me strength, power, protection."

So that was it. For a brief second Vincent saw the orphaned child Sephiroth had been. A SOLDIER from his conception, torn from his mother, he had never been loved, never held. Lucrecia had been nothing but an incubator to Hojo's experiment.

"Sephiroth!" Lucrecia cried.

Pain, Vincent saw agony dance on Sephiroth's face, felt his pulse skip as his true mother called his name.

"No," the smile returned. "I shall destroy you, annihilate you."

"We beat you once," Cloud's voice came from across the bridge.

Sephiroth, lost in his own emotional pain, forgot Vincent's gun and turned to see his clone in the doorway.

Vincent fired.

Sephiroth drove his sword forward, giving it a vicious twist - he was dead before it drew fresh blood. The Masamune kept moving. It bit through Vincent's chest, sliced through his heart. He felt fire in his veins then ice in his limbs. People cried his name, hands caught him, the sword was pulled from his body. Someone was screaming.

"Lucrecia," he whispered. He could taste blood.

"No!" he heard. "Don't leave, don't go!"

It was too late, he knew, even his body could not cope with such damage. He felt no pain, yet he knew he should be in agony. His mind was going numb, his life pouring out of his body.

"I'm sorry," he coughed. He was leaving her, after a few such short but beautiful hours together again. It was enough... it had to be enough.

"No!" fingers on his face, in his hair. "Please, don't leave me!"

"Sorry," he mouthed. He felt cold, the only warmth was rising from his chest into his throat. Someone held him. Someone was crying.

Cold.

"Vincent!"

~FIN
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