An Angels Pain
Chapter 4: Wake
Blood-red eyes shot open and glanced around nervously. Vincent had awoken from his otherworldly dream to arrive back in Cloud's room. He looked down to see Cloud comfortably asleep in his chest. He looked so peaceful and Vincent hated to disturb him, but he had to get him to the bed. As gently as he could, he lifted Cloud's form and placed him on his bed, a much more appropriate resting-place than the floor. Vincent smiled, tucking a bit of Cloud's golden hair behind one of his hears before leaving him to his sleep.
He entered the living room to see Red XIII lying next to the fireplace, eyes closed, apparently asleep.
"Good of you to emerge."
Perhaps Red wasn't as asleep as Vincent thought.
"Where is everyone?" Vincent asked, his voice still hoarse from sleep.
"Gone." Red mumbled, not even bothering to open his eyes. "They left quite some time ago, my friend."
"How long have been sitting in there?" Vincent asked curiously, rubbing the last of the morning ache out of his neck while crossing the room. He unceremoniously dropped himself on the couch behind Red.
"About 10 hours..."Red chuckled.
"What's so funny?" Vincent asked.
"What in heaven's name were you doing in there?"
"Er..." Vincent paused, his face going flush. "...sleeping."
Red stifled a laugh before continuing on. "Is Cloud still at rest?"
"He is. Peacefully."
"That is good to hear."
A silence fell between the two. Vincent's visage softened to that of a more solemn nature. Even though Red made no movement to see the man sitting behind him, he noticed the sudden mood change.
"What troubles you?"
"Nothing." Vincent replied coolly. Red sighed discontentedly as he propped himself up and turned to face the former Turk.
"What?" Vincent questioned, confused by Red's movements.
Red narrowed his eyes. "Vincent, why don't you trust me? I know you well enough to know something is wrong. Yet you never seem to say it."
Vincent merely stared at the lupine form in front of him.
"Again, with the silence..." Red spat, exasperated. "Perhaps we can talk another time. Excuse me for my rudeness. I'll take my leave."
Vincent watched Red as he padded away, irritation evident in his every step. When Red had left the room, Vincent lowered his gaze to the floor.
"What could you do to relieve an angel's pain, my dear friend?"
Vincent nearly stumbled off the couch when he heard a loud pounding at the front door. Lazily, he made his way to the door and opened it to see Barret standing before him. He handed an envelope to Vincent, who glanced at it with mild interest.
"What's this?" Vincent asked plainly.
"It's an invitation to Tifa's funeral. Ya need to find a way to get Cloud to attend. He'll regret it if he doesn't show."
"Sunset, at the beach."
"The beach? A bit of an odd place for a funeral."
Barret offered a disapproving look.
"Sorry..." Vincent said quietly. "Why the beach, though?"
"It was Tifa's favorite spot to go. She used to go there just to watch the sunset everyday. It seemed a proper place to see her off." He replied solemnly.
Vincent nodded. "Alright. I'll talk to Cloud, though I don't like the idea of forcing him."
"I don't care." Barret retorted, perhaps a bit too callously. "He has to be there. He doesn't have a choice. Just bring 'im." Barret sighed then turned to leave.
Barret regarded him. "What is it?"
"Have you seen Red?"
"Yeah. He's at the bar."
"Thanks." Vincent stepped forward only to be roughly pushed back by Barret's gun arm.
"What?" Vincent hissed as he glared at the gunman blocking his path.
"You can't just leave Cloud here..."
"He's asleep." Vincent protested, trying to make his way through the human barrier. He failed rather miserably.
"Stay here. You don't know what he'll do if he's alone..."
Vincent paused. "What are you talking about?"
Barret sighed. "No...it's nothing." Vincent noticed his visage belied his words.
"Barret? What has Cloud done?"
"Before you came, right when Cloud heard of Tifa's death, he slit his wrists. Cid found him and fixed him up before any damage could happen." Vincent's crimson eyes were wide with shock.
"Don't believe me? Check his wrists." Barret patted Vincent on the shoulder and left.
Vincent entered Cloud's room quietly, opening the door slowly so as not to wake the sleeping form on the bed. He cast his eyes to the pile of blankets on the bed, the slow rise and fall of Cloud's breathing being the only movement in the room.
"Still asleep..." Vincent murmured to himself. His crimson eyes focused on the single hand sticking out from under the sheets, or more specifically, the exposed wrist. Even in the dim light, Vincent could see the scars of freshly healed wounds decorating his pale wrist. Cloud, what are you trying to do to yourself...? He thought to himself.
"Hey Strife, get up."
He nudged Cloud and the blonde moaned quietly. He opened one of his sapphire eyes, locking gazes with Vincent.
"What is it?" He groaned, pulling the bed sheets up over his face.
"Get up and get dressed..." Vincent commanded softly.
"Because we have to get ready to go to Tifa's funeral."
Cloud stilled. Vincent felt very uncomfortable as the man before him lay still in his bed. It didn't even sound like he was breathing.
"I'm not going."
"Yes, you are."
"No, I'm not."
Vincent sighed. "Strife, please. I don't want to have to make you go. And if you don't go now, you will regret it in the long run. What would Tifa want you to do? Do you think she'd want you to stay here in your room? Do you think that she'd want to you to rot away in some self-inflicted depression?" Vincent stopped. "I'm sorry..."
Cloud shook his head as he rose from his bed and padded over to the bathroom door. When Vincent watched him walk across the room, he could see the effort Cloud was making in trying not to make eye contact with him. Vincent left the room as he heard the sound of rushing water from the shower.
Vincent arrived at the funeral with Cloud in tow a few minutes before the ceremony began. Barret smiled, walked over and clapped Vincent on the shoulder. The force of the "friendly" blow nearly sent Vincent to the ground, but the former Turk managed to keep his balance.
"Glad to see you got 'im here..." Barret whispered. He then turned his attention to Cloud. "How's it goin'?"
Cloud looked up at Barret, a blank look in his crystal eyes then promptly hid himself behind Vincent. Barret sighed, disappointment crossing his rugged face. Vincent merely shrugged.
"Just because I got him here doesn't mean he'll open up anymore..." Vincent whispered back.
"I guess you're right. Here, I saved some seats for you."
Barret turned away and walked to his seat, next to Yuffie and a few empty chairs. Vincent turned towards Cloud. "Come on." He commanded, but immediately softened his tone. He didn't need to scare him anymore. "Let's go to our seat." When Cloud made no effort to move, Vincent took his hand and proceeded to "guide" him to his seat, although from a strangers point of view, it looked more like a mother dragging her child to their first doctor's appointment. Vincent led him to a seat where Yuffie sat. Only when Cloud appeared somewhat comfortable did Vincent take his seat.
"Hey Vincie, Cloud!" Yuffie chirped happily. "Guess what!?"
Vincent turned his head to acknowledge the young girl. Cloud just sat there, staring into blank space.
"What?" Vincent inquired.
"Reeve asked me to marry him!"
"Hey, that's great!" Vincent congratulated. Yuffie nodded and smiled all the wider.
"Yeah, that's why he was in Rocket Town. He was looking for an engagement ring!" The ninja was bubbling with so much happiness Vincent half expected her to explode.
"It's about time you two got married..." interrupted Red XIII, jumping up to a chair next to Vincent. Red looked around then planted his stare on Cloud. "Ah, so he as emerged as well. Opening up a little?"
Vincent shook his head, his wild ebony hair swaying out of place. "Hardly. Hey Red, I wanted to apologize..."
"No need for that, my friend. It was rude of me to say the things I did. Think no more of it." Red did his best to smile and Vincent returned it in kind.
The two silenced themselves when the priest made his way to the front of the congregation.
"Dear friends, we are gathered here today..."
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