Not everyone is a Vincent Valentine fan. A character study in one act.
Ozzy arrived with a pitcher of ice water and two glasses. Marshall managed a hoarse, "Thanks, Ozzy," as he poured himself a glass and took several long swallows. He wiped his mouth with his fist, and looked into the red eyes before him. The bartender shuffled off to tend to his other patrons.
"I know you weren't there," Marshall said, "but you were later. In fact, I had just graduated a few days after the explosion. I was celebrating in this very bar when I got a phone call from my father." Marshall winced at the recollection.
"He was taking care of a Mako poisoning victim at the clinic in Mideel, and had just met the most unusual group of characters, including one with a flowing red cape and a prosthetic arm. My father was the man who found Cloud Strife and gave you his diagnosis," Marshall explained. The anger was back; he wondered if Vincent cared, or even remembered the incident.
The medic reached over for the bottle and poured yet another shot. He was literally trembling at the exertion of keeping himself from lunging across the table at the man. Only half of the shot actually made it to his lips, and for some reason, this one went down much slower and more painfully than the previous ones.
"I...I..." Marshall stammered before pounding his fist on the table. "Fuck!" His outburst startled several nearby patrons, earning him a warning look from Ozzy. He took a deep breath, clenched his teeth, and hissed the air out between them.
"It's a big fucking mess in my head, Valentine," he said through teeth that were threatening to destroy each other with the pressure of the clamped jaw behind them. He was beginning to rein everything back in, when the alcohol reached up and flipped a switch.
"Do you even remember him?" he asked, his voice a slow growl.
Vincent recalled the event, but had only a fuzzy recollection of the doctor. He hadn't been involved with the conversation, and had stood in the back of the room against the wall. The gunman hadn't known those people-the AVALANCHE members-but for a few days. He didn't think it polite to be right in the thick of what had all the markings of a 'family crisis'."
"Vaguely," Vincent replied with a shrug. "I wasn't actually involved in the conversation; Cloud's friends were. It seemed like a 'family' matter to me, so I kept my distance. I'm sure Tifa Lockhart appreciated that greatly. She wasn't very happy at my tagging along with them in the first place."
At the response Marshall threw himself across the table and grabbed the gunman by the collar, balling a fist with his other hand. "That was my /father/, you bastard," he snarled.
The red eyes barely wavered as the medic glared into them, and the lack of response leeched some of the fury out of the emerald-eyed man as well. He released Vincent and sat back down, looking at his hands.
"That was my father," he repeated in a whisper.
"When the WEAPONs showed up, they ripped Mideel to shreds. He and my mother helped rebuild that town from the ground up," Marshall said in a daze. He was completely numb now, his voice simply echoing his thoughts like a tape recorder. "I finally made it back home weeks later, after the Meteorfall business. I was so interested in the Lifestream. I went out to see one of the fissures for myself."
Marshall seemed miles away as he went on with his story. "I was standing a few meters away from one when the ground under me caved. I hadn't realized I was standing on a pie crust of dirt over a Lifestream filling. The chunk I was standing on tilted into it. Most of my body was still above-ground, but I ended up head first in that energy."
He stopped and looked up at Vincent, the memory of being immersed in the life of the planet itself was one he always found calming, and he grasped it tightly and continued. "That's how I wound up with these eyes and this hair. It's permanent," he explained quietly.
At this point, Marshall knew that he was going to have to continue, but he needed a break.
"I'll...be back in a second," he said, excusing himself from the table.
Vincent watched as Marshall headed for the bar. Once the distraught medic had settled onto a stool, Vincent turned his gaze to the empty bench across from him. He pursed his lips and let out a silent whistle. He had no idea how to respond to Marshall's tirade, and fortunately hadn't been given the chance.
The young man had stated earlier that he didn't hate the gunman. Noble words, but his eyes and his actions spoke otherwise. Marshall's hostility toward Vincent was positively venomous.
Vincent wasn't planning on budging an inch until he found out why.