"The Logic of Grief"
a Final Fantasy VII fan fiction
by Sarah (sarahtheboring@aol.com)

Final Fantasy, names, characters, et cetera copyright Square Soft, Inc. The story itself is the property of the author.

The night was contained in a thin thread of sound: the soft mechanical whirr of exhaust fans. Outside this there was only darkness, and a solid pistol-grip in his hand that he didn't remember picking up. A light burned far away in Gast's office, but it did not find his closed eyes. He wanted no light. Not now. The sound of his breathing was an intrusion into the tomb's silence; that alone was bad enough. Light would have been a sacrilege.

Light belonged to Lucrecia, and Lucrecia was dead.

She lay in a proper country grave in the foothills, seven thousand miles away from anywhere. Their son lay in a crib in a country inn barely worth mentioning. Their son. Her son. She hadn't even touched him before she died, raving like a maniac. And Hojo could barely stand to look at him.

Lucrecia was dead, and the Project was over. The once-proud lines of his ancestors had coalesced in the tiny body of a silver-haired child which bore no resemblance to anything else on earth. Almost. There would be no more sons, for nothing women offered him would ever seem worthy. Assuming any offered...

Lucrecia was dead, her blood swimming with Mako, her skin fresh as life even after her heart had stopped. She was beautiful, even dead; his own heart had pounded as he looked down at her for the last time. Beautiful, even like this, the most beautiful thing he'd ever known.

It was the fault of that prettyboy Turk, of course. Women never resisted them and their damned self-destructive glory. They were dark stars burning themselves out as they crashed to earth, every last one of them as beautiful as a fallen angel. Valentine was no exception. His name was as perfect as a novel, his face impassive and beautiful, his voice low and smooth, offering little clues to his true thoughts. He offered nothing but mysteries, and Lucrecia had been hypnotized by that silent spell. She had been drawn in by the legendary uniform of the doomed, by his sullen dark eyes and his quiet voice—though Hojo had that, and it had not been enough. It was the destruction women craved, and in the end Lucrecia had been no more than a woman. So he reasoned.

Then Lucrecia had died, days after bearing Hojo's son, the madness which had eaten at her brain during pregnancy finally washing up in one final torrent. She had taken with her all explanations for her betrayal, and all hope of redemption. She had left the prettyboy behind, and a broken, bitter shell of a husband, and an enigmatic son. She had held them together, and their love had strangled her. It had eaten into her like acid.

He pulled back the hammer on a gun he couldn't remember picking up, a gun which held the easiest escape. Hell, then. Easy enough. The only chance for light he'd ever known was gone. She was to have been his love, his refuge, his muse, co-creator of his masterwork. Everything. He'd sunk all his dreams into her, and she had been too weak, in the end, to carry them all. She had been distracted and entranced by a beautiful dark-eyed Turk.

So he told himself, gripping the pistol in one shaking hand. It wasn't his fault; he had meant to enshrine her, not damn her. It had to be the Turk.

It had to be the Turk.

Wrong had been committed; his light had died, and with it all chance of love. And it was not his own fault.

Hojo lowered the gun, the hammer easing shakily back into place, unfired. All he could think about now was the seducer, the traitor. Valentine, the Turk.

The light flared on, and the scientist startled, his eyes straining in the sudden glare. Inside the doorway stood Valentine.

"You killed her," the Turk said.

"No." His voice was rough and thick; what had happened? He coughed and felt the slow phlegm clear from his throat. Hojo lifted his hand to run it distractedly through his hair and stopped dead as his fingers brushed the wetness on his cheeks. Anger tightened in his gut, fed by an ancient, ingrained shame. He wiped his face with his sleeve, but it was too late. His entire clan was a disgrace, traitors to the noblility of Wutai; why should a son of the cursed line be any different? Caught crying by a bodyguard, a nobody from a clan of nobodies. How fitting. The Turk had already defiled his wife; why not disgrace the husband too? "No..."

"What do you mean, 'no'? You killed her, you sick bastard, you shot her full of Mako and—and something, Jenova cells, probably. Don't you remember that?"

He remembered that, of course. He remembered her pain, faint at first, then huge and streaked with madness. But he also remembered breaking into a deserted room in the Mansion, his clothes streaming with rain. An almost-deserted room, rather.

It was the Turk's fault, though the reason for this slipped elusively into the corners of his brain whenever he tried to pin it down. But he remembered dust and rain and two bodies in the half-dark, oh yes. That would never go away. Too many nights he feared to sleep for dreaming of that moment.

"I remember," he said, his voice dull and laden with poison. "I also remember you seducing my wife."

The handsome Turk made a strangled squawk of frustration. His lovely voice was rough around the edges now. "I never seduced her! She loved me, can't you see that? She—"

"She married me," the young scientist retorted. She'd married him, promised to save him. She'd never said that, but that was what it meant. She was his, never to be taken away. Never.

The Turk scoffed. "Yeah, well, everybody makes mistakes."

Hojo squeezed his eyes shut, and for the first time he fiercely, openly, wanted to hurt someone so badly they could never be made whole again.

After all, it was only fair... someone had to pay for the crime.

Time bent in on itself, folded like soft wax. He felt Lucrecia's warm fingers on his skin, saw them trailing across the toned, pale body of this cold playboy; he saw himself old, wasted, while this killer, this thief, lay silent and blameless in the grave. Turks always died young, that was the hell of it. They ran just short of rampant, smoked and drank and either shot or screwed anything that moved—and then met a handy escape in the form of a sniper's bullet. Whether the enemy got them or they were shot by their own for desertion, the Turks died young. They never had to slow down. They never became ridiculous.

They never paid for their crimes.

But this... oh yes, this splendid Wutaian street hoodlum dressed up behind the shield of Midgar power... he would pay dearly.

Despite the Turk bodygards, Shinra had insisted the scientists be armed. Insurance, they'd said quietly, in those closed-door meetings far off the record. They expected monsters from the hills or townsfolk with pitchforks. They hadn't expected one of their own to die. They hadn't expected grief so deep it tore apart right from wrong. They hadn't expected grief with its own cold logic, a sunless, vitriolic logic that reasoned in no uncertain terms that the death of a man's hope must be avenged by any means necessary.

If it weren't for this beautiful bastard, his wife would still live. So said the logic of grief. Somewhere in his mind whispered something much more damning, something that spoke of blame just like the Turk, but he would not listen. Not now, not ever. Not ever. Not ever.

His hand found the hard grip of the pistol, wherever it had been—or maybe it had been there all along, while the dark carved into his brain, waiting to decide between targets. Hojo couldn't remember now. He looked up into the placid, perfect face of the street-gang Turk and saw, once again, the placid, perfect face of his infant son.

He would not die young and escape the hell he'd created. Not when Hojo was damned already. He wouldn't go down alone.

He raised the gun. The prettyboy was still talking, apparently. He had ceased to care. He had ceased to care about everything. He had searched for love, and it had killed everything in him that mattered. All that was left now was science and revenge.

Hojo pulled the trigger and the Turk folded, sank to the floor, losing consciousness as his blood stained the stones.

So much for revenge.