Lucrecia's death through her own eyes.
It was over. Lucrecia, her legs still spread wide, could tell from the buzz of noise and activity around her. She closed her eyes and tried to relax. Sweat poured down her face; her own heart beat impossibly loud in her own ears. A million questions swarmed her mind. Was the baby all right? Was it a boy or a girl? How big was he or she? How much did the child weigh? Lucrecia cringed as the muscles in her legs spasmed making her legs twitch slightly. Fearing it might harm the baby; Hojo had forbidden any medication to be given to her. Perhaps now that the child was born she might be allowed some pain killer. Where was Hojo? As if in answer to her unspoken question, she heard his voice giving out orders.
"What? No. See to my son."
His son. They baby was a boy. Sephiroth. She mouthed the word and smiled despite her pain. Now she would get to hold him. Lucrecia tried to stretch out her arms for her son, but found them leaden and unwilling. She could barely lift her head.
"Honey..." she whispered, her throat dry and sticky. No one came. They must all be busy attending to her new son in the adjoining room. Something inside her began to feel as if it were being stretched. Hard. Too hard. The joints in her legs felt stiff and swollen. Her right hip felt as if it had been dislocated. Who knew if it hadn't?
Suddenly the something being stretched ripped. Lucrecia's eyes went wide and she inhaled sharply at the piercing new pain. Her heart, still thundering loudly in her own ears, began to quicken as she felt a sudden rush of warm liquid spill over her legs. This couldn't be good. Lucrecia desperately wished she cold see what was going on, but her half horizontal position only afforded her a view of where the wall and ceiling met.
"Honey..." she tried again. The pain increased as the flow of liquid quickened. She felt the sheets and her gown become damp. Her deafening heart beat began to become slow, like the toll of a church bell. She tried one last time.
No one came. Dimly, Lucrecia noticed that she had ceased breathing. For some reason this didn't upset her. The liquid kept coming. What was taking them so long? Lucrecia heard the door open and an attendant came into view then quickly ran back into the other room. The look on his face had been a mix of shock and horror. Minutes went by and Lucrecia's heart slowed to a stop. The monitor next to her bed immediately began emitting one endless beep. Black spots began to dance across her vision and Lucrecia gladly surrendered to the oblivion of unconsciousness.
But wait... What was this? Her eyes were closed, her heart had stopped, but she could still see and hear what was going on. This struck Lucrecia as extremely odd. The continuous beep of the monitor began to grate on her nerves. After a few minutes the same attendant from before entered with Hojo close behind.
"Professor... I tried to tell you.." he stammered nervously.
"What's wrong with that thing? Lousy pieces of junk." Hojo grumbled as he reached over and pulled the plug on the monitor. The continuous beep abruptly died down. "Not worth half what we paid for them." Hojo bopped the top of the monitor.
"What happened?" Hojo asked catching sight of Lucrecia. "Look at all this blood! There was hardly any before but now she's practically swimming in it."
"Professor I tried to tell you..." The attendant placed two fingers below Lucrecia's jaw and pried apart the lids of her right eye.
"Professor..." The attendant swallowed hard.
"What? You keep saying that."
"She's dead, Sir."
"Dead?" Hojo sounded genuinely surprised.
"How can that be? She was fine. We were only gone for.... forty-five minutes or so. Tell me, I'm a scientist not a doctor."
The attendant gulped again.
"Sir, I tried to explain it to you earlier but you- I guess you didn't hear me. The birth was hard on her. The baby was big and she was a small woman."
Hojo blinked. "And?"
"The labor was long and she wasn't given any medication."
"So? Thousands of women have given birth under the exact same circumstances and have been just fine."
"But they were never injected with Jenova."
"True, but any medication she might have been given could have hurt the child."
"Did you ever think about how that might effect the mother?"
Hojo looked at the attendant blankly and then turned his gaze to Lucrecia's lifeless body.
"Why did she die? There was no reason."
"Look at the blood. She hemorrhaged. Besides that she was weak. She lost so much blood that her heart simply gave out from trying to pump nothing."
"It is a shame. She was a wonderfully intelligent woman. Rather pretty too." Hojo patted Lucrecia's sweat-soaked hair. "Still what happens, happens. One can not change the past. We must move on."
"Professor? But...SIR! She's your wife!" the attendant gasped, clearly appalled at Hojo's total lack of emotion.
"Yes. She was. And I enjoyed her as my wife. But what's done is done. Now I must focus on my son."
The attendant simply stared.
"But what about.....her?" he finally managed to stutter.
"Her? Oh the body. Yes......." Hojo stood in thought for a moment then crossed to floor to where Lucrecia's clothing hung on a hook. Rolling it into a ball, he pulled her pillow away and placed the rolled-up clothing beneath her head. Hastily straightening her legs and throwing her hands on her chest, Hojo spread the cover sheet so that it covered her entirely and then tied the mattress sheet around her limp body.
Hojo stood back to examine his work.
"Put it somewhere where no one will ever find it. Ever. I think you know where I mean."
The attendant nodded stupidly. Hojo went on.
"Destroy every document bearing Lucrecia's name, or exchange it with my own. You must make it seem as if there never was such a person as Lucrecia. Not a word of this must be breathed to anyone." Hojo called casually over his shoulder as he exited to the other room. Lucrecia then lost consciousness entirely.
She floated in a black and empty void; hearing, seeing, feeling nothing but grief. Hojo's words echoed hollowly in her mind.
"It is a shame. She was a wonderfully intelligent woman. Rather pretty too. Still what happens, happens. One can not change the past. We must move on."
What had happened to the man who only a few minutes prior loved her more than life itself? Hojo had never been one for tears, but still... He had been so calm so...unconcerned. It was as if her death was not even so much as a minor set-back to him. Was that all she had been to him? A vessel to be used for his experiments? Just another tool? He had loved her... But... It seemed his love had faded. Had he forgotten how he kissed her, confided in her, took pride in being with her? And now... She was dead and he didn't even care. Lucrecia wept.
"What's done is done. Now I must focus on my son."
Yes. His son. Their son. Her son. Sephiroth. Lucrecia fervently hoped Hojo would take good care of him but... Lucrecia shook herself, forbidding the thought to enter her mind. Sephiroth would not be abused the same way she had been. He couldn't! Sephiroth... Lucrecia sighed. She had given life to a boy she would never see. She hadn't held him or even been able to see his face. Her baby... She began to cry harder.
Lucrecia didn't know when she cried herself dry. Time did not exist where she was. Lucrecia tried to think of something else. How was it she had been dead and yet alive back in the delivery room? Her body had died and yet her consciousness still worked. It must have been Jenova. Lucrecia shuddered. Hojo had said that the injection would make both her and her then unborn baby stronger. He had promised it would make the child invincible. Lucrecia hoped Hojo was right. She remembered how it had burned when Hojo injected the luminescent green liquid into her swelling belly. And how Sephiroth had begun to squirm and kick inside her. She could almost hear his silent screams of pain.
Lucrecia's train of thought was broken as feeling drifted back into her dead body. She was being carefully laid out on a cold, hard surface. Footsteps hurrying away from her echoed loudly and then died away. Lucrecia wondered where she was. But how could she possibly find out?
Jenova... Her mind returned to that pattern of thought. She could still feel it coursing through her veins, throbbing as it went. Her body empty- or nearly so- of blood, all that remained to fill her veins were the cells of the Ancient. Perhaps that was what was keeping her consciousness awake while her body lay cold. Perhaps... Perhaps through the life of Jenova she could move. Lucrecia decided to give it a try. Her arms obeyed and lifted off her chest. Hojo hadn't tied very good knots so she broke out of her bloodied, make-shift shroud without much effort. It was odd, Lucrecia noted, that she could see and hear and feel whatever was around her, but the sensations were severely muted. As if an invisible force were separating her from the rest of the world.
Death. Death is separating me from this living world. she thought. The idea that she was technically a zombie amused her enough to briefly put a wry smile on her lips. Shakily, Lucrecia stood. The ties in the back of her thigh-length gown had become loose so she pulled the bloodied sheets around her shoulders. Lucrecia waited until her eyes had become adjusted to the darkness and looked around. She was inside a huge, circular, domed cave. A majestic crypt, but a crypt none the less. She was standing on a rock formation which stood somewhat higher than the rest of the cave floor. The formation was layered in such as way that it seemed as if a set of steps led down to the cave floor. Directly opposite her vantage point shone a small, dim light. Curious, Lucrecia descended the steps and crossed the cave floor. The smooth, slick rock was distantly cold on her bare feet. As she drew closer to the light, it became apparent that this was the cave's entrance. Stepping into the passage she found herself splashing through a thin film of water. After a few minutes Lucrecia emerged from her intended tomb onto a the rim of a vast, circular lake, a waterfall pouring down deafeningly from above and masking the entrace to the cave. The light reflecting off the water's surface made the huge pool seem to be filled with stars. The lake's tide softly rushed toward Lucrecia, swirled about her ankles for a moment, and then shied back as if it had suddenly become afraid. The water was gently cool, the soft breeze felt warm, and the lake was calm. Discarding the sheets and her blood-soaked gown, Lucrecia waded in up to her shoulders and gazed at the celestial dome above her.
By all rights I should be there, not here. she thought half mournfully. Sighing, Lucrecia plunged her head beneath the surface and opened her eyes. Blue-black flecked with stars swirled around her.
Perhaps this is what death should have been. A void of calm and starlight. I am alone. By tomorrow no one will remember who Lucrecia was or that she even existed. No one will worry or care. I can not even drown for I have ceased to breathe, my heart lies still in my chest, my life blood is gone, only Jenova flows through my veins. No other person on earth was ever more dead in their graves than I am now.
More out of habit than anything, Lucrecia's head broke the surface. Making her way to the water's edge, Lucrecia found a clean spot on one of the sheets and dried off. Pausing for a minute, she looked up at the star-filled firmament one last time before entering her vault. The stars alone knew she lived in death.
Rolling up her bloodied gown in the sheets, Lucrecia found her ball of clothing and unrolled it. She had been trying to go to sleep when Sephiroth had decided he wanted to see what the world was like. She had only had time to grab her robe and slippers before Hojo came to help her to the delivery room. Hojo had somehow found time to get dressed. Lucrecia shook her head. It was probably mere hours ago, but it felt like centuries. Hojo had probably forgotten he had even had a wife. Brushing away sudden tears, Lucrecia began sorting out the articles of clothing. There was a pair of underwear, her nightgown, bathrobe, and slippers, all of them white. The damp air of the cave was just cold enough to be uncomfortable on her not quite dry skin. Quickly, she donned the clothing. Her nightgown was of soft cotton, and though the sensation was muted, the garment still felt comforting against her skin. Her slippers were a welcome separation from the cold cave floor. Lucrecia smiled sadly as she slid her arms into the sleeves of her bathrobe. It was brand new; made of satin and trimmed in delicate lace. Hojo had bought it for her when he had learned that she was pregnant. She had laughed, insisting that the robe would only be ruined by the baby. But he had bought it for her anyway. Lucrecia put her hands in the pockets and found her brush and a white ribbon. After tying back her hair, she kicked the lump of soiled linens into a crevice behind the rock formation. She ascended the "steps" of the formation and found a second cluster of rock that made a perfect chair. Lucrecia lowered herself into the natural seat. Death had left her tired, and so she slept.