Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 7

What Shall it Profit a Man

by Thorne 2 reviews

Vincent weighs costs and pays debts.

Category: Final Fantasy 7 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst - Characters: Cloud Strife, Hojo, Sephiroth, Vincent Valentine - Published: 2005-12-15 - Updated: 2005-12-16 - 875 words - Complete

Title: What Shall it Profit a Man

Summary: Vincent weighs costs and pays debts.

Warning & Disclaimer: Angst. Quick mention of yaoi. All characters belong to Squaresoft.

Imitation is the best form of flattery, or so he's heard. Vincent remembers the small dusty house tucked away in Icicle Village, and the video cameras spilling static and long-dead voices in a darkened room. Now, he sits in a library that is no less dusty and watches with an expressionless face as Hojo's hands fill a camera's foreground, adjusting and fumbling.

The camera has a tilt to the left and is slightly out of focus. Vincent is human enough to still feel a spark of malice; it is fitting that Hojo again fails to equal Gast's accomplishments.

The hands leave the picture and the focus worsens. There is a blur of white, a vague flesh-colored circle, a hint of something moving, and... The focus improves.

Vincent finds himself looking at the child who might have been his own.

"I have decided to name the child Sephiroth." Hojo's voice says, uncharacteristically hesitant. "Current age, ten days. Current weight, eleven pounds and two ounces. Current length, twenty-one inches. Shows heightened response reflexes in auditory and visual tests. Has exhibited evidence of successful mako exposure immediately upon birth."

As if on cue, the baby opens his eyes and stares directly into the camera. Such bright green eyes.

"It should be noted," Hojo says, but Vincent will never know what Hojo believes to be noted, because the film flickers and cuts off abruptly. He loads another reel in, searching for the next closest date. The film reels were hidden in the bottom drawer of the desk, unlabelled except for the dates created.

Personal things, rather than official records, maybe played back in the privacy of darkness by a man who was still only approaching insanity. Vincent does not want to believe this, but it's never really mattered about what he wants to believe.

Sephiroth looks at him from the screen again, painfully solemn, perhaps six months old. Hojo repeats basic stats in the background again: age, weight, height, the latest revolutionizing progress. Most children would reach for an unfamiliar object attracted by the light and shimmer; Sephiroth merely stares with eyes that are already growing used to scrutiny and expect no good from it.

Another reel. Another. Some films begin observing Sephiroth in some sort of activity-- he never remains unaware for long, always turning and looking the camera straight on with the same steadiness. Sephiroth ages before his eyes, walking early and never falling, carefully balanced. Sephiroth's voice joins in gradually, given sparingly in fragments. He only speaks unprompted twice.

His first word is "mother."

He asks where she has gone.

Gradually, the child grows up. His limbs lengthen while his replies get shorter; the looks leveled at the camera have moved to a wearied sort of contempt. Hojo's words fade as well until everything is nothing more than a silent witness to a future that is known by everyone except those on film. Eventually, Vincent can hardly bear to watch but he sees it through to the last reel: Sephiroth receiving the shots that will protect him from Wutai's diseases, the day before he leaves for war.

Cloud is waiting upstairs-- too many ghosts in the basement, he had said, and they fucked on a mattress that smelled of dust and mouse nests before Vincent went down the stairs, made silent, furious love to the dead and then to each other. He can almost smell something else now: the gasoline, rich and pungent, soaking into wood that's been here too long.

The last reel clicks, ends, and begins to run backwards. Time reverses, and nothing becomes everything, the end becomes the beginning. Those eyes again, Lifestream eyes, unholy eyes so full of dreams and light that they'll still be open when the stars fall and the world ends and the universe is nothing more than a sullen spinning cinder. Sometimes it exhausts Vincent to think of time and how he's cheated it. Sometimes he wonders why the house has not already folded in on itself after all it has witnessed.

Someone, somewhere is paying to keep this house in existence. It costs money to do things. It costs money for food, for materia, for the right to sit in a house and breathe the stale air therein and face a boy who will want to be a man, and then a god, and then something more than a god.

It costs so much just to /exist/. This is wrong, this is all wrong. Sometimes, things last much longer than they ever should.

Before Vincent goes upstairs and joins his lover, he heaps the reels on the desk and sets them smoldering. The reek of burning plastic makes his eyes water but he never looks away. Smoke rises like ghosts, like angel wings. Like smoke. Sometimes things are what they are, nothing more and nothing less. He thinks of this while he releases a boy who will never grow up, something that was never his.

Destruction always has an ultimate cost but the choice of it, like so many terrible things, is free.

He thinks that Sephiroth would probably understand that.
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