Author's Notes: Dedicated to the fanfictionpoint7 forum.
Isoceles triangle: A triangle with two equal legs and angles and a third unequal angle and side.
He was gone. I knew it would happen, it had happened before, but I didn't expect it so soon. Some men were meant to stay put... while others were meant to wander.
But her... why'd he have to go with her?
"I suppose this is the part where I say it is all ironic?" Clean, precise, and to the point. I'd come to expect that from him... we were all quite comfortable in our uncomfortable arrangement. See, Cid drew the left behinds to him like moths to a light. There were four of us, shacked up in my little house.
Oh, you didn't know? He signed it over to me, when he took off the first time. Should he not come back. I almost wish he hadn't, now.
"Too late for that." Bare bones conversation. Some people can talk for years and get less meaning than a few sentences with Val. He always said he liked my nickname best, for its oddly androgynous qualities... he always used to say that with a twinkle in his eye.
Oh... I didn't get it before.
"Shall I make you some cocoa?" he says, and I look up to actually see him. Shell shocked, ghostly. Only he knew that I really hated tea. I'd never really had a friend before, not even he could be considered like that. Well, she was a friend too... oh gods, why couldn't it be like it was before?
"You loved him too, didn't you?" I ask, not really knowing why. He stops his movements, a ‘man making cocoa' statue. Rather funny, if you think about it. I'm being too bold, but this, this is Val... sinewy powerful ball of fluff. He doesn't fool me.
"I always thought he held his affections for you," he goes back to the movements. Like making tea, except without the anger. There were wars once over the empires that controlled the drink... so I read in school. A lot of trouble for such a bitter little drink.
Does he have to lie like that? Still, it makes me feel better... the thought behind the lie is perhaps genuine.
There is no more conversation that day. Or the next. Just half glances and shuffling about. She'd been kind enough to leave a note as to their whereabouts... and maybe I was delusional enough to think it was just the cheery little trip she described in that neat little handwriting.
But it had been like some commune of a group therapy session... and I knew her mask like I knew my own. Happiness, meekness, coarseness, apathy... hell, we were a regular palette of human falseness.
Still... did she have to run off with him like that? Couldn't she have run off and married Val like a good girl? He's not a bad guy, once you get past the fact that making him angry might possibly cause you bodily harm... or death. Well, alright, I could see one point against him.
And she would have made such pretty children with him. Then again, she was pretty enough to make pretty children with anyone. I never stood a chance. And Val... well, he might have, had he lost some of his, er, equipment.
That and the captain likes boobs too much. Another point I fell short on.
Was I going to be measuring myself like this forever? Already my head hurt. I needed to purge myself, or something, I just... just... dammit. I gave you my prime! Damn you, you horny old fool...
"You should go outside."
I blink up at him. He's so tall, and it irritates me. I didn't ask to be this short, and here he is flaunting it. If I had my way, there wouldn't be people as tall as him, just ones around the captain's height, with blond hair, and actually look me in the eye when they speak to me...
Creepy. He uses that odd claw to pull me out of my seat, in the kitchen of course, and I'm at eye level. So they really are red... just creepy. My mother used to tell stories about guys like Val, only they didn't have that little fluffy side. More like angry scary dangerous Val, from the stories that Cid and Tifa...
"I'm fixating, aren't I?" I whisper, knowing full well that this man should be my rival. That the simple fact of his sex would allow me to have him. I would have let him stay around of course. Maybe I'd keep him around... just in case Cid ever got drunk enough...
He doesn't answer, only tugs my arm to lead me out of the house. Out, into the sunshine that I hadn't noticed had shifted slightly. Judging by the wind, and the general positioning of the sun, I would approximate it to be about... April.
I had been in that house, without him, for five months. He's not coming back. Neither is she. Funny, I hadn't realized that I missed her too. Even if...
"Have you... been here this whole time?" I ask, realizing that yes, Val is still holding my forearm lightly; seemingly in fear I might bolt.
He knows me well enough... doesn't he know what an absolute coward I am?
"No," he replies, the honest intonation of a man who has nothing left to hide, "I was away for a time. Someone from town brought you groceries." How thoughtful. Did you happen to pick up the captain while you were out? Didn't think so.
"Did you see them?"
I honestly don't know why I asked. Of course he did, there was no other reason he would be gone. He'd been cured of his somnaphile tendencies, with a few particularly lengthy excursions on behalf of the captain. He and I were like little puppies, seeking his approval... gods, I wasn't messed up enough for that behavior.
"...No," he breathes, more than says. Relief? Regret? Not even sure which is which anymore.
"Wouldn't want to infringe on the orgy," I reply, that bitter sarcastic wit that I once possessed as a child returning full force. Meek children don't exist; the fight is beat out of them over a course of years. Meek adults are the less fortunate.
Isn't that right, Val?
He snorts, what I used to think was his laugh. He can smile, but it just looks wrong. His face looks natural neutral; devoid of the vestiges of a previous lifetime. We all had those; only Val and I had survived the labs.
Well, on different sides of the glass of course. Me, experimented on? Surely you jest. Shinra always picked people that had something special in them beforehand.
"So what did they see in you? Why did you receive the Shinra..." I say, my thoughts are open for the world, Shera the first died of a broken heart, Shera the second kills with a sharp tongue, "...gift?"
His hand flashes purple for a second. Fleeting anger. Now we're making progress.
"Did you like your butterflies in their glass cases?" he responds, throwing me for a loop. Aggressive today? At this rate we'll be making babies on the kitchen table.
Scratch that thought.
But something just snaps inside of me, at the mere thought of aggression. I never claimed to be a dominant person in anything, and perhaps I bordered on the masochistic. Gods, I just wanted him to smile that smile at me, acknowledge the fact I was still a fertile woman, making him his damn tea, and watching him flirt with the second loveliest woman I had ever seen...
The first being this random scientist in a picture from a box in the labs. It was full of all sorts of junk, and Hojo was always known for his wastefulness.
"Funny, I've always felt like the butterfly," I murmur, not intending to answer his barb. He unclenches his fist, and goes back to the fluffy, passive, self deprecating stick man that he is.
"Do you really wish to talk of such things?" The heavy implication of more recent events hangs with his every word. The past is only a speck of dust on the lead weight that hung about our necks.
"No. But I do have one question," curiosity got the nosey little scientist demoted from the flight team... "Is that a prosthetic?" If he is, then it's the most attractive feature to him. I tinker, and to have such a thing to tinker with attached to a man... not bad.
Even if he looks like a woman sometimes. In certain lights.
He half grins, as if expecting me to proposition him, or call out a firing squad and finding out it's only one mousy nearly over the hill woman asking him a simple question. Well, that is the situation, as of now.
"Yes. Would you like to play with it?" I can't help but laugh at the innuendo he is missing. Sure, I know he's had girl problems, from the vague slump of his shoulders, and that he is drawn more to a person than a figure. Or gender. Can't help but remember that simple fact.
The months fly by when you're working on a toy like Val's claw. I called it the "Valentine Restoration Project" and he would quirk his eyebrow at such thoughts.
We sit out in the sun, and now it's autumn. The summer skipped us by, instead ushering in the sunset brightness that only Rocket Town could muster. Which was fine and good considering we didn't live there.
That house apparently was worth a lot. Kids are suckers for AVALANCHE related items, and real estate was like a dream come true. Of course, they didn't realize that Val was the genuine article in that regard; he was often left out of the reports. Probably wanted it that way, the old punk.
Anyway, Junon is beautiful. Well, now at least. And Val has a hand that resembles a human's. No pretty skin, but I have to say it's some of my best work. I like to show it off whenever I can.
Surprising what being abandoned can do for your self esteem.
The evening ritual of sitting in the sun before it disappeared had been something I'd begun to look forward to. Quiet, far from the noise of the occasional drunk kids wandering the streets.
It wasn't like I was popular in town or anything. I'd gotten the reputation as the quirky old maid. And Val... he had a couple of crazed teenage fans, but mostly people stayed away from him.
It's comfortable living with him. No yelling, no demanding. We had gotten a place together simply... well I don't remember why. But it works.
"How's it working for you? Any problems handling things?" I ask him, knowing that he's probably gone off into the brood zone. Not that Cid was a bright ball of sunshine, but he had an interesting effect on Val... an effect that I couldn't duplicate.
Had I really become his guardian so much as to notice that?
"I cannot sew," he states plainly, flexing his robotic fingers, "But there are a great many things I can do now." I smile, really happy to be doing something for someone. Even if we're both staying together on account of guilt.
No, that's not true. Maybe he feels guilty, but I don't. I do enjoy his company, however silent and heavy it is.
"....Shera. Why?" he asks, shifting in his seat. It's been bugging him for a while if he does that. Silly boy thinks too much.
"You need a mother. Or someone to fuss over you like one," I reply, feeling a little bit... annoying. I want to annoy him, and maybe he'll crack a smile. I want to annoy him, and maybe we'll be more like normal people.
"A mother?" he responds, a slight sound of disappointment in the back of his throat. Must have had a bad mom then. Guardian is a much better term.
It's then that I see it. The Look. A look that I'd only seen fleeting once or twice... and I'm shocked. So shocked that whatever annoying little poke of a phrase that I had in my mind goes out the window.
No Val... this isn't good.
"I'm not Cid. I'm not even Lucrecia," I whisper, hoping to get him to stop looking at me like that. He frowns slightly, but there's still that intensity in his eyes. I can tell he used to be a blue eyed man; only they could manage a look like that.
"Did I ever ask you to be either?" Amusement. He's laughing at me, the prick. Sometimes he's so frustrating. You either want to slap him or screw the living daylights out of him. The first being what I feel most like doing.
"It's just... would you stop giving me that look!" Funny. I wanted to annoy him, and he's freaking me out. Figures.
"I apologize," he says, and looks back out over the horizon, "I sometimes forget our arrangement." I'm not even sure what he means. I just hope that this isn't a recurring problem.
I am too old for this.
I still don't know why this was happening.
I am his guardian; he knows as much. I'm a fussy little old woman with a liking for loud and arrogant men. No slightly effeminate quiet danger is going to change that.
So why am I kissing him?
"Stop," I say, and realize that he's just sitting next to me, testing some of the fine tuning that I did with his hand with a needle and thread. The stitches are even and small, so my modifications worked. I was imagining things again.
They were becoming more frequent, these odd images.
"Stop what?" he asks, not even looking up from his work. I can't help but feel the domesticity that emanates from our evenings, how comfortable this is.
I have to stop these daydreams. You like loud, arrogant men, Shera. Loud and arrogant.
"Oh, nothing, just a weird daydream," I want to clasp my hand over my mouth at even the slight mention. I'm turning red too. How chatty I've become, living with such a quiet man... I need someone louder to shut me up.
The image flashes in my mind again. That is NOT a good way to shut me up. Shame on you, brain. I'm starting to think like a bad paperback romance.
"I have those from time to time," he replies, oblivious to my inner argument, "They are just side effects of the ‘what if' principle." He's really quite the know-it-all once you get to know him. Even during that... time, I hadn't really known him.
I know so much about him now that it hurts. I know that his transformations hurt, that he only can do them if he's injured or angry, that he never got to kiss Lucrecia, that Tifa once said she loved him, that... he would accept that Cid didn't want him, so long as he got to see how he was doing.
Two years. It's been two years since he left. Haven't gotten any word from them since. Oddly enough, I'm glad for them. The anonymity and quiet life must be quite a gift... I know that from experience.
If only Val didn't create so much tension. If only I were a few years younger. If only... I could stop these weird images.
"Do you ever wonder how it would have been if we hadn't met them?" Cid. Lucrecia. I'm not even sure why I ask... I regret so much. But I don't want to take any of it back.
He puts down his sewing. When he turns to me, I'm frozen. It's been a year or so since he's looked at me like that. I involuntarily shiver.
"I sometimes wish I had met you first." That tiny half smile, and he pats my hand with his normal one. Gods, he sure knows how to put someone at ease. And... not.
He gets up from his seat, putting his materials back down on it. With his long legs, it doesn't take him long to cross the porch, making his way to the door.
"You're not..." I say, and stop myself. It's better just to let moments like this pass. It's better not to finish my sentence. It's...
But he's already inside. I guess I'll always be a coward.
I never thought I'd ever get drunk. But sure enough, it's the captain's birthday, and I'm dizzy and my vision's blurry. Rum, that's what did it.
I love rum.
He notices it as soon as he comes home, hair tied back and hands covered in grease... he's been quite the helpful little assistant now that I've updated his knowledge of machinery. In fact, he used to be rather good at that sort of thing, back in the day. I can see why Cid would often give me those strange looks... having the power is intoxicating.
"You drank this all by yourself?" he says in a worrying mother hen tone. And here I was trying to be the parent. Feeling incestuous, Val?
I'm not drinking because of him, I'm drinking because... because....
"When's the last time you got some, Val?" I ask, trying my best to leer. I'm about as sexy as a paper bag, so I'm sure that I'll be turned down... but he still looks so good, crazy femme powerhouse, his inability to age just isn't fair... I can't pick apart anything about him.
"You do not mean that." Killjoy. I thought you liked me, too. You're just as bad as him.
"You're no fun..." I nearly slobber. Oh, I'll feel it in the morning. He shakes his head as he pries it away from me. He hesitates, standing just over me.
I take the opportunity to hop up and grab him around the neck. Didn't think I could move that fast, didja?
He's frozen. I'm grinning, and leering, and have all sorts of bad thoughts in my head. Crazy used to be blue eyed man. So... your room or mine? Why do you keep making me think about such things?
He kisses me lightly on the cheek before moving my weak hold on him. Not now... oh, I'll never drink again...
"Sleeping with me will not let you get back at him," he says, darn know-it-all. But that's not what it is this time, really. Are we always going to misinterpret the situation?
Some deadbeat jerk... shot Val. Some kind of a gang related thing. Apparently he's still a sort of underground celebrity.
The point is, he's bleeding. And fighting off a transformation. And I'm panicking.
"Val, hold on a sec, I'm getting a doctor," I stutter, trying stop the bleeding while avoiding the claw that his hand was becoming. It's frightening, really, finally seeing what part of him is.
I'm so scared...
"Please... do not leave," he whispers, mechanical hand gripping my arm. Don't die... please don't die...
"Val, I can't treat this," I say, the hysterical edge of my voice hurting my throat. I can't lose you too, do you know that? I'd miss you too damn much.
He winces. "Give it... time. It will heal itself," he says, oddly calm for someone in his position, "Just... help me with them." It's not the purple one this time... it's the sadistic one with the chainsaw that wants to be free.
And to think I worked with people that made this possible. I feel sick.
"Just... don't leave me either," I still have to tell you that I need you, "The house would be too empty." A wincing half smile. It's almost pretty the way he does it.
As I wait out his unnatural healing, I know that we've just crossed the last lines.
Monsters be damned, I lean down to kiss him. It's not at all like my daydreams. I always imagined he tastes like tea... but he feels more like cocoa. Silly boy's a chocolate addict...
I can't help but smile as his breathing becomes more regular. As his hand becomes just a little more human again. The captain was right about him...
"That better?" I ask, like a little nurse. I'm a mechanic, not a healer. Good thing he's so resilient.
He nods, and gives me that look again. I wonder just how long it will take him to heal himself, how long before he's got complete control...
Or, I could just comply as he's attacking my mouth. He's a kinky one, I'm sure. Blood and chocolate... sounds like the title to a really bad movie. I love it.
I wonder what it's going to be like now that we're both not dying anymore. It's only a brief thought however, as I soon become occupied with a rather repressed Val.
I'm so glad I didn't meet you first; I wouldn't have known what to do with you otherwise.
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