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Only Mortal

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The air around them felt heavy. Maybe it was an actual pressure that could be felt from the meteor descending onto them or it was more a shared feeling that they all experienced knowing that the world as they knew could end any moment. Even though nothing was certain at this point, they all still experienced a feeling of sorrow deep in their chests. There was a chance, incredibly slim for sure, that they were able to change this impending doom, that they could save everyone. Or they failed. Most people find themselves mulling over all the ‘what if’ and ‘could have been’, but they usually still have the chance to go out and experience what they missed out on, go to the people they loved and spend more time with them, or even confessing when they hadn’t found the courage to do so. But in this situation? If they failed there would be no tomorrow to do any of these things.

Vincent couldn’t exactly put his finger on the feeling that weighted down his heart. His case was fundamentally different, the time that other people used for making a change in their life, he had desperately tried to pay for the myriad of sins he was burdened with. One lifetime wasn’t even close to being enough to atone for his sins, but he had more than one. At least until a spiky heard ill-mannered soldier had disturbed him.

And now that it was not unlikely that even he could die soon, really how long would the demons confined in him be able to keep him alive if there was no planet anymore, he didn’t feel out of place in the middle of the people grieving for their lost opportunities. A very strange feeling indeed.

But it wasn’t his own fate that was causing his restlessness. His crimson gaze was flickering to the young ninja who was in the same position as all of them.

He had never really been thinking about his attitude towards children when he had been younger. The usual career path of a Turk didn’t involve family, not only because they had no time and their whole life was basically sworn to Shin-Ra, it was also a risk most people didn’t want to take. Family, especially children, meant a weakness no one in their profession could afford and the ones who did, well it didn’t end well. He had been content with that, living for his work, someone that had seen all the evil that they had seen, it was even better to not have the responsibility for a child.

But then there was Lucrecia. Not only did he only then know what love, actual genuine true love, really was, but when he found out what she and that evil bastard Hojo wanted to do to her then unborn child, he had also experienced what would probably be best described as feelings of parental care. He was willing to give his life to protect the child, and the woman he loved, and in a way he did so. Had he known what fate awaited him, awaited them, he would have even given more.

It hadn’t been enough, he was alive and the whole world could end, and it had been in his hands to prevent it. Even more sins he would never be able to atone for.

While no one else from their rag-tag group was struggling with the same feelings of guilt, they all had things to grapple with, that was what had brought them all together in the end. But even though he found it difficult to admit, his heart hurt the most when he was looking at the young Wutaian princess.

She shouldn’t be in such a position. No matter how much she claimed otherwise, she was still a child. Or at least she should have been just that, would have been, had a war driven by the greed of one too powerful company not torn her home-country apart, pushed her into this dire position, fighting against the end of the world. The end of the world that the same company had brought them all. Even if Cloud was able to stop the meteor with their help, the world would never be the same. They would never be the same. But maybe Yuffie would at least be able to have an adulthood when her childhood had already been forcefully taken from her.

“How come you’re staring at me? Don’t try to steal my materia or anything, you hear me!” he was pulled out of his musings, apparently his stare had been fixed on the girl for longer than he had realized.

“My apologies, I didn’t mean to stare… And I won’t steal your belongings, don’t worry,” he couldn’t help but smirk at the accusation, thankfully it was hidden behinds his cape.

“Are you laughing at me?” she sounded so exasperated that it took all his might to not start chuckling at the girl. Deep down she had kept her childish charm, that was certain.

“No, I was just lost in my thoughts…” he didn’t want to dim the atmosphere, but he could see the young girl’s face fall immediately as he said that.

She turned away from him again and gazed into the distance just like Vincent had been doing before he got distracted.

“Do you think he will manage to pull it off? Cloud, I mean… He has been through a lot and has only come out even more badass on the other side, but… this is big. Really big…” she pulled her knees closer to her, as to give herself a comforting hug.

“It is a situation not comparable to anything we have faced before, but I believe in Cloud. And not only in him,” he paused, trying to put his thoughts in order before he continued speaking. “Barrett is fighting for his daughter; he would rather die than not give his all. Tifa has come a long way, she is probably the strongest woman I’ve ever met. Nanaki might have lost his grandfather, but he has still all of Cosmo Canyon to protect and he’d share his father’s tragic fate before giving in. And Cid may seem lax, but he has his heart in the right place and that heart his good and genuine, he gives his all for this. Cait Sith… I mean he is a rather special fellow, but he has already once sacrificed himself for us, hasn’t he?”

He paused, unsure whether he should say the next part. “And Aerith has already sacrificed her life, but I think we all can still feel her presence. And even if all that should fail, there is still the strongest, sneakiest and most courageous ninja to save the day, isn’t there?”

He worried that he might have said the wrong thing, it had a reason that he tended to rather not speak at all, since he even before this whole ordeal did have tendency to say the wrong things at the wrong time, and the telling sheen in Yuffie’s eyes told him that he had done it once again. But even though it rarely happened, he got surprised.

With her trademark speed the girl had shot up from the ground where she had been sitting and pulled Vincent into a surprisingly strong hug, considering her lithe frame. He took a couple of seconds to collect himself, but he returned the hug, with the utmost care so to not injure her with his gauntlet and stroked her quivering back.

“Please don’t tell the others, but… I’m scared,” his heart broke at that. She was only sixteen years old; she shouldn’t be ashamed to admit that the prospect of the world ending was scaring her.

“That’s okay, normal even… I would be lying if I claimed to not be scared; we are all scared, but we’ll make it. Together,” he couldn’t say whom he tried to convince with is words, but for now it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered really, only trying to give the kid in his arms at least some comfort before they had to face the biggest danger their journey had to offer.