Not everyone is a Vincent Valentine fan. A character study in one act.
Time Period: Approximately six months after events in "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children."
Characters : Vincent Valentine, Marshall (original character)
Warnings : Language, implied slash reference
Disclaimer: The character of Vincent Valentine and the "Final Fantasy VII" universe are owned and copyright Â© by SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. No copyright infringement is intended, and we are not affiliated with, nor endorsed by, Square Enix in any way. No profit is involved. The writing contained herein is copyright by the named authors. Duplication or distribution of this work is strictly forbidden without the express permission of the authors.
Authors' Note: The following story is an offshoot from a novel-length story now concluding in a LiveJournal role-playing community. The original story features a relationship between Vincent Valentine and Reno. The character of 'Marshall' first appeared in that story when Reno ended up aboard the Shera in need of medical care. Marshall blossomed from a throw-away, incidental character into a fully developed, original character quite by accident. We determined that his history made him an interesting foil to Vincent; a prism through which Vincent Valentine can be seen from another angle. After all, with millions of people living on Gaia, the characters of "Final Fantasy VII" most certainly had interactions with persons outside of their circle; they wouldn't have lived in a vacuum. That said, we hope you enjoy "A Shot in the Dark."
"A Shot In The Dark"
It didn't happen regularly, but sometimes Vincent Valentine just had to get out and walk. Alone. It was never anything in particular that prompted it, not an event or even a particular mood. Sometimes he simply had to get out of the house, stretch his legs, and wander around outdoors in the night.
This night was no different. It was late summer, and although the days were still quite warm, the temperature dropped substantially after dusk. He'd been alone all evening, doing this and that as he puttered about the apartment. Boredom finally set in, and not being the sort to turn in early just because there was nothing better to do, Vincent decided to go out.
He looked at the clock. A little after ten. Reno had told him he'd be home late, which could be translated as nine o'clock, midnight, and sometimes not at all. Vincent had learned from experience that waiting was a futile thing where the redhead was concerned, so he no longer bothered.
Vincent showered quickly and changed into his now nearly-regulation jeans, boots, and a cotton shirt; a black sleeveless one this time. In case it got colder he grabbed a jacket, a casual black sport coat. He didn't bother to dry his long, dark hair completely. A brisk walk in the night breeze would finish the job quickly enough. He pulled up a pant leg, strapped a holster to his calf, then tucked his pistol into the leather pouch. He was ready to go.
Walking through the apartment, he smiled almost fondly at the debris field he had to step over en route to the front door. It was clear that wherever Reno had gone off to earlier he'd done so in a rush. Clothes were strewn everywhere, there was a wet towel in the hall, and he'd apparently grabbed dinner-to-go from a quick-serve judging by the empty, rumpled bag and soda cup that hadn't quite made it into the kitchen much less the trash can. Vincent would deal with it later. Right now he was restless, and the night was calling.
The night was perfect for walking. Cool, but not cold. The sky was ablaze with the light of a nearly full moon, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky to blot out the stars. Being a weeknight, the sidewalks hadn't been overly crowded. Still, there were a lot of people out and about, perhaps to take advantage of these last remaining temperate evenings before winter choked the life from the land.
It was close to midnight when Vincent passed what was probably the only pub left in Kalm that he'd not yet visited. He hadn't intended on stopping anywhere, but he'd walked longer and further than he normally did on his spontaneous nocturnal jaunts. He was thirsty, wide-awake, and the restlessness that had gripped him earlier hadn't diminished a bit.
A few drinks in a new place might just be the thing.
Night Flight was a happy median, falling somewhere between dive bar and posh upscale. A large, traditional oak bar with brass rails was the focal point, with the typical mirrored wall behind it lined with shelves of liquor bottles and mixers. There were quiet, leather booths with tall backs along two walls, with the rest of the space filled with tables of varying sizes. Music was in the air, the popular songs playing at a level you could hear yet wouldn't drown out polite conversation. Traditional, and cozy.
Roughly half the tables and booths were occupied. Vincent headed straight for the last booth on the right-hand wall, parallel to the bar in the back of the room. He slid into the cool leather seat with his back to the wall, facing the door. An ingrained Turk habit he'd never discarded. Be wherever you can see the most, and never turn your back to a door.
He grabbed the menu from the wire holder and set it on the table, flipping it open to the drink list. He'd only gotten through the first page when a waitress approached. She was an attractive, young-ish blonde, with light brown eyes and a pretty smile. He couldn't see her, however, through his curtain of hair as he read the menu on the table.
"Hi, I'm Tessa, and I'll be your server this evening. What can I get for you tonight?" she asked. The smile got brighter when Vincent looked up from the table at the sound of her voice.
Vincent smiled back. The blonde's grin got wider. "Tequila. Top shelf, neat. A double. And a glass of ice water, please."
"Anything to eat? The kitchen's closed for meals, but we still have appetizers. Your basic finger-food, bar fare," she said.
"Not right now. Just the drinks," he replied.
"Coming right up!" the waitress chirped. She flashed another smile, then headed for the bar well at a quick clip.
Next, it's 'are you waiting for someone?' He shook his head, amused at the thought.
One of the pitfalls of Vincent Valentine going out to a bar alone was his luck at always ending up with the prettiest, youngest, unattached female server in the establishment. First was the friendly smile. Then the flirty smile. Then the thinly-veiled question regarding his 'status'. Over the years he'd employed several techniques to let them down, some with easier landfall than others. It depended on two factors: how much he'd already had to drink, and how obnoxiously blatant the girl behaved.
So far, on a scale from one to ten, 'Tessa' was only about a two-point-five on the blatancy scale, and that coupled with the fact he was stone-cold sober rated her an easy let-down. He wouldn't use the 'sorry, sweetheart, but I don't drive on that side of the road' line. That one was reserved for those earning higher numbers, and after he'd already knocked back quite a few. No, this one would get the easy 'my wife is home with the new baby, and I just needed to get out for a while' routine. That usually toned down the flirt without hurting their feelings. It had the added benefit of making him seem somehow sympathetic, which usually resulted in even better service.
Tessa came back with a brilliant smile on her face and Vincent's drinks on a cork-covered tray. She placed two cocktail napkins on the hard wood table, then set the water glass on one and the double shot of amber tequila on the other. Next came a plate containing two lemon wedges and a small pile of salt. The latter had just upped her tip.
Here it comes...
"Will that be all for now?"
"Yes, that's fine," Vincent smiled. "Thank you."
Wait for it...
"I'll check back shortly, but in the meantime just wave me down if you need anything. Anything at all," she smiled, batting her eyes ever so slightly. She turned on her heels.
Wait for it...
The waitress took three steps toward the bar and then spun around. "By the way, are you waiting for someone?"
With his phantom wife and child tucked snugly away for the evening, Vincent had polished off two more double shots of tequila, served by the efficient, pleasant, but no longer flirtatious blonde. He was just about to order a third when a familiar form walked in the door. Vincent sighed.
The green-eyed, green-haired, trigger-happy medic from the Shera. Marshall.
Vincent waggled a finger to get the barmaid's attention. He held up an empty shot glass and nodded his head.