He reminded him of dying things.
Rotten. He was horribly rotten.
He reminded him of dying things; what little was left of some feeble old man who had once been something great, or perhaps the remnants of a city that had spanned endless miles and once stretched to reach the sky. Cloud Strife was both those things, he came to believe.
But he never did like him.
Vincent supposed that all things wither and become disjointed with time; he was no exception (and why would he be? Nothing lasts forever, after all). But Cloud Strife was too young and too bullheaded to simply die and fade away. So instead he became a wordless, faceless piece of meat, rocking back and forth in a wheelchair and mumbling about nothing to no one.
Vincent supposed Tifa was like his dutiful wife, crouching in front of her would-be hero and crying silently. Often he would find her there, eyes red, bare knees scratched and sore from the splintered hospital floorboards, hoping that today would be different from all those other days. It never could and Tifa knew that. But to admit it would be defeat and Tifa Lockheart didn't admit defeat, even when things were impossible and bordered on the imbecilic.
Especially when things were impossible and bordered on the imbecilic.
Vincent supposed he was like their friend, waiting there besides them every day. He wasn't their friend and he wasn't one for philanthropy, but it became something like a routine for him-watch the would-be hero and his dutiful wife and make sure they didn't rot away in each other's company. He grew to hate them both, Tifa for her willingness to be nothing and Cloud for simply being.
(To his credit, Strife did poke his head up once in a while to gurgle and mumble incoherent words that only Tifa could understand.)
Tifa would smile and say, "He'll get better, Vincent. Just one more day. You'll see."
She still smiled when she said it, less often than those days before, but the words became empty and her lips more dishonest.
"I'm sure he will, Tifa."
Then she'd smile her false little smile again, because Vincent had just validated her lie, and lay her head on Cloud's lap. He'd hum and mumble half-dead things, a ghost that refused to die and fade away.
Vincent never could imagine a more horrible sight.
"Maybe we should take him outside." We. Maybe we. "I'm sure the fresh air would do him good." She tilted her head to the right and her hair parted like water, revealing an earlobe and the pale, freckled skin of her neck. "Maybe..." She trailed off and her mouth closed slowly. She didn't speak again.
He nodded vaguely, but he never did listen to her anymore.
Cloud looked up and if it weren't for the nothing spilling from his lips or the emptiness of his eyes, perhaps one could mistake him for a living thing. He hummed. A moment later his head dropped back down like a doll's and his face disappeared beneath shadows and blond hair.
"He's rotten, Tifa."
She didn't look at him.
"He could get better, Vincent." Her voice was a little more distant, a little more broken and hollow. She didn't believe it herself.
He wondered if she was stuck in that position, between her own ignorance and the floor. Perhaps she liked it there, sitting with her damaged, would-be hero. After all, Cloud needed her more than he ever had before and probably more than he ever would again. He hated them both and it was perfectly all right. Vincent walked away and thought of dying things.
"He might get better."
It was more of a plea now, desperate and aching for validation.
Vincent stopped at the door's frame. The floorboards creaked beneath his boots and the thought of rotting limbs trying to claw their way out from the hardened earth forced him to take a step back. "I'm sure he might." It sounded as hollow and broken as Tifa and Vincent nearly winced.
Her cheeks glistened in the pale light that kissed her face. And for a moment, he thought he saw defiance in her eyes, something that told him to take her with him, to save her from the ugly, broken life she had chosen. Pretty girls didn't follow after ghosts and they most certainly didn't wait for corpses to rise from the dead.
But that was just the problem, wasn't it?
Vincent left and knew he wouldn't come back again.
He never did like rotten things.