THE CRAVE GAMING CHANNEL
V'lanna
 

Loveless?

by
Calis Cheah (calisc@hotmail.com)



Prologue:
The Bleeding Heart

"  In the silence of night,
   the heart softly beats.
   Filled with everlasting pain,
   drops of blood it slowly bleeds..."

     The sky was black and the wind howled, heralding the approach of a thunderstorm. Lighting flashed, bolts of white light which illuminated the darkness momentarily. Obvious to the tempest about to rage, yet paying it no heed, crouched the lone figure of man on a rooftop. Eyes closed, he faced the wind that whipped his crimson cape about his tall, lean frame.
     "Lucrecia, my love.... My only love... why did you have to leave me so soon? I found you only to lose you again. Is this the price I have to pay for my sins? Lucrecia.....Lucrecia......" His voice was heavy, filled with a raw agony that sprung from the depths of his soul.
     It was cold, anyone still out in this weather would have been chilled to the bone but nothing could compare against the ice encasing his heart. His life should have ended along with his beloved's demise yet he lived because of the promise he had sworn to her. He opened his eyes, eyes the vivid colour of blood. Rising to his feet slowly, he stood in defiance to the storm. His long midnight hair steamed out behind his back with the force of the gale.
     "So many times, have I heard people say the home is where the heart is. My heart is with you, Lucrecia, I have no home in this world. Gladly would I follow you beyond yet I can't. I can't..... Alone I have to live without you by my side. This will thus be my fate." His sigh was swept away.
     Placing his right hand upon his heart, he stepped towards the edge. He leaped into space, frozen in a spilt second, like a crimson bird taking flight. Falling, he bend into a somersault with boneless grace, landing on his feet on the pavement with scarce ly a sound. Without a single backward glance, he walked away. A solitary shadow emerging with the darkness of night.
     His name was Vincent Valentine.

Chapter One:
Haunted Wanderer

"  Clothed by the road's dust
   a weary soul travelled far.
   Relentless, a journey undertaken,
   to seek a peaceful haven..."

     The afternoon sun was scorching, an angry burning orb in the clear blue skies. Vincent shaded his eyes with his claw, the replacement to his left hand of once living flesh. It had been two years since the death of Sephiroth. Lucrecia did not survive long after her son's death. Her body could not withstand the disintegration of the Jenova cells and the Mako poison in her bloodstream. Having lost the will to live long ago, she gladly gave up her precarious hold on life. Two years, two long years but time had not dulled the loss that Vincent still felt so keenly. He wandered the far corners of the earth, never staying long in any place.
     Ordinary folks shunned him, regarding him with fear in their eyes when they saw his claw. Vincent told himself that he would not care yet often did he pondered whether he was still human or was he a monster wearing the guise of a man. The only people who treated him with some resemblance of respect were his ex-comrades in Avalanche which Vincent had joined in their fight to save the Planet. Cloud and Tifa got married and had settled down in the quiet town of Mideel where they ran a small tavern. Both Cid and Red XIII had returned to their respective hometown, Rocket Town and Cosmos Canyon while Barrett with little Marlene built a home in North Corel. Yuffie was still pursuing her material quest and Cait Sith's human persona Reeves was involved in developing housing projects for the homeless people of Midgar. Vincent would stop by in his travels to visit them. They welcomed him but Vincent never remained long for he knew his place was not with them.
     He was heading west again with the intention of spending some time at Cosmos Canyon to see Red XIII. Vincent stopped, leaning against the trunk of a tree for a while to catch his breath. It was beautiful to see sun's rays sparkling on the morning dew yet to evaporate on the green foliage. He had never taken the time to appreciate the splendour of Nature until now and Vincent was taking a quiet pleasure in the moment when it struck him.
     "Urghh..." A sudden spasm of pain drove him to his knees.
     "Seems like...the attacks...are ....getting more....frequent..." Vincent rasped, his voice harsh with agony.
     He felt as if something was trying to shred its way out from within. Hojo's experiments' effects were catching up. His bones and tendons were straining, stretching to take another form. Vincent struggled with himself, fighting off the Change with sheer force of will. No, I will not Change... not this time, not ever...I will not wear the shape of a demon, the shape of Chaos again..., the thought echoed through his mind. The last thing he saw before he lost consciousness was a pair of eyes full with curiosity and a touch of concern.
     A pair of amber eyes.

Chapter Two:
Chance Encounter

"  Two paths met,
   with two lives crossed.
   Tell me, is this destiny,
   Or a twist of fate...? "

     Vincent slowly opened his eyes so used to darkness that the slightest hint of light hurt. He discovered himself to be lying on a small narrow bed in a room. There was a small table by the bed and a curtain was drawn over the only window to keep the room dim. All Vincent knew was that he was in a cabin, this he surmise from the wooden walls of the tiny room but as to how he got there and how long he had been unconscious, he had no idea.
     "You're awake," a clear and crisp voice drifted into his hearing.
     Vincent turned his head towards the doorway, hoping to catch a glimpse of his benefactor. By voice alone, he knew it was a woman but the room was too dark for him to make out her features. He was about to get himself into a sitting position when she spoke again.
     "I wouldn't do that if I were you. You have been unconscious for almost two days and I know from experience that your body will be stiff. Any sudden movements will hurt."
     Vincent heed her advice and eased himself up slowly and gingerly. His body still ached but it would have been worse had she not warned him. By now, she had crossed the room to the window. With her back to him, she pulled back the curtain bit by bit, giving Vincent time to get his eyes used to the sunlight streaming in. It was then that Vincent noticed the colour of her hair. He had not expected her to be old, her voice had a strange ageless quality that gave him no clues as to how old she really was. Yet, her hair was white, as white as virgin snow.
     He was further surprised when she turned to face him. Her face was that of a young woman in her mid-twenties. The light streaming in from the window, illuminated her long white hair, basking her in a gentle halo. For a moment, Vincent was not sure if the figure standing in front of him was human or spirit. There was an unearthly, ethereal air about her that somehow reminded him of Aerith, the last Ancient who sacrificed her life for the Planet.
     "I am Syane and I'm sorry if I startled you. People usually find my features very.... unsettling." Her apology carried faint humour.
     Vincent only understood the meaning of her apology when she walked over to where he lay. Syane was beautiful but it was a strange inhuman beauty. His attention was drawn to her eyes which he had initially thought was a very light shade of brown. As she came closer, Vincent knew his mistake, they were not brown.
     She was the owner of the pair of amber eyes.

Chapter Three:
The Beast Within

"  Creature of darkness,
   Banished from the light
   Cursed immortality
   Yearning for humanity..."

     "You must be hungry. Please wait, I'll be back shortly with food."
     Syane regarded her patient who was now awake and watching her with no apparent emotion in his ruby eyes. He looked entirely too pale to be a man who spent his days under the sun. She knew he was a traveller as she had seen the sights of wear on his clothes and boots but beyond that was a mystery. Something has been done to him. I can't shake the feeling that he is one of us yet he is different somehow. I'll need more time...Syane wrenched her thoughts to the present. She was about to walk out when Vincent reached out and grabbed her arm. Syane knew she could have avoid his grasp readily but she wanted to know what he wanted.
     "Where are my equipment and weapon? I must leave immediately," His tone was brusque.
     "They are outside in the hallway but you can't leave yet. You are still too weak to..."
     Vincent released her arm and headed for the hallway, ignoring Syane's protests. His body ached but he was grateful for the pain, at least it made him felt vaguely human. I have to get away from here. The attacks are more frequent and it has been two days. I don't know when the next attack will strike. I fear I may hurt this innocent woman if I stay here any longer, Vincent thought as he stumbled. He was weak and could feel the last of his strength draining away. Death Penalty was almost within his grasp when a wave of dizziness washed over him. Darkness claimed him once again.
     Vincent woke to find himself in the same bed but this time, his body was strangely numb. It was as if his mind and body were existing on different dimensions, he could not move at all. Vincent was keenly aware that the clothes he was wearing at the moment was not his own. Someone had changed them.
     "In case you were wondering, yes, I was the one who changed your clothes. They were so filthy. Anyway, I'm a healer by profession so there's nothing on you which I haven't seen on a man. The numbness you feel at the moment is the unfortunate side effect of a herd called Myern's Fern which does wonders for a weaken constitution and it will pass in a day or so. Now I better feed you before you start trying to leave again. So what are you called?" Syane said matter-of factly as she entered with a loaded tray.
     "Vincent...Vincent Valentine." His throat was dry, making him sound hoarse.
     She set her tray on the small table by the bed and proceeded to prop him up using the pillow he was lying on. Vincent tried to resist her efforts but his body refused to obey. Before he could open his mouth to speak again, Syane shoved a bowl of soup in front of his face.
     "Drink unless you prefer to be spoon-fed." The golden orbs of her eyes fairly glowed as she threatened Vincent.
     To preserve his dignity, Vincent had no choice but to concede to her demand. He trained his blood red eyes on Syane, hoping to frighten her but she fearlessly matched him, stare for stare. It was a clash of wills that ended in a stalemate, much to Syane's satisfaction. She found him a very handsome man. His long, jet black hair and paleness acted to enhance the beauty of his sensitive face. He presented an impassive front to her but she sensed emotional pain beneath that cool facade. He intrigued her.
     "All right! Mr Valentine, you will only leave this bed when I see fit. Don't cross me again for I have ways and means of keeping you down."
     "Leave.... Leave now! If you....wish ..to ..live...Aaaahhh!" Without warning, Vincent lurched forward violently, throwing Syane backwards.
     He flung an arm over his face, knowing that a Change was upon him. The clothes on his body were torn apart as leathery membranes sprouted from his back. They were wings. A demon's wings. Vincent knew he had to get away before he hurt Syane in a throe of mindless pain. He headed for the window, smashing through it. Half running and half loping as his feet mutated into claws, towards the vast sanctuary offered by the forest. Unaware that a white shadow followed.

Chapter Four:
White Wolf

"  Running with the wind
   a streak of white light
   Noble creature of the wild
   what does your wise eyes know...? "

     Syane raced after Vincent as he plunged through the undergrowth, moving deeper and deeper into the forest, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. She shifted into her other form smoothly, never missing a pace. He was moving too fast for her human form to follow. Vincent was not even remotely human now, completely taken over by the Change. What Syane saw was a creature surely spawned from the depths of Hell for it was black, blacker than a moonless night and it's smoky hide seems to absorb whatever light that fell on it.
     She was beginning to feel fatigued when the creature suddenly stopped in a clearing. Syane warily observed it from the cover of the woods. She knew this glade for it was one of her favourite places to meditate. It was special because the lush canopy of b ranches of the ancient trees threw the whole glade in quiet darkness. There was only one spot where the moonlight fully penetrate the dense cover, creating a circle of pure white light. It was there that the creature kneeled. The image struck a chord in her heart: a fiend bathed by heaven's light, praying for redemption.
     He's still in control but how long will it last? What can I do now? Whatever has been done to him is so different from the rest of the Changed that I have aided so far. Can I help him or shall I end his misery? Syane debated with herself, a soft growl emanated from her throat. No, I can't end his life, my calling will not allow it. No creature should be deprived of life when there is still a chance to save it, regardless how slight that chance may be. If he can't be saved then I shall personally see to his death before he becomes not only a danger to him but to others as well.
     She continued to watch, waiting for the right moment to approach the kneeling creature that was once a man. It hid its face behind wicked sharp talons and moaned. The plaintive sounds touched her soul, they were so full of despair and hopelessness. Drawn by his anguish, Syane moved closer on silent paws. Lifting her head, she howled, her own sorrowful cries accompanying his.
     Vincent was fully aware of what he had became and he loathed himself for not being able to stop it. He was bathed in light but he could not feel the life-giving warmth. He covered his face and tormented moans tore themselves from his throat. Vincent was soon joined by melancholy howls.
     Lifting his head, he looked into the beautiful golden eyes of a great white wolf.
     The beast regarded him with intelligent eyes, it apparently did not feared him. Vincent glanced into the depths of those amber orbs and they seemed to be telling him something.
     'You are a man. No monster, no demon but a man. You are not made to wear this form. Fight it and regain your humanity...'
     The words echoed on and on in his mind and Vincent wanted to believe in them but he was afraid. Afraid that this was nothing but a figment of his imagination. Before he could reel away, the wolf reached out its mighty head and gently licked his face. The barriers in his mind came crashing down. With a resounding roar, Vincent willed himself to change.
     To be a man again.
      The excruciating pain he suffered gladly as the price for his humanity. As his body shifted inch by agonising inch, Vincent was comforted by the presence of wolf. It has stayed by his side, making soft whines to encourage him and to share his pain. Vincent collapsed onto the yielding earth, his limbs too stressed by his ordeal to support his weight. To his amazement, the golden-eyed beast muzzled him gently before settling down on its haunches beside him. Fully a man, Vincent was naked and he was grateful for the warmth that the beast's heavy rich coat offered.
     For the first time, he drifted into sleep peacefully, curled next to the body of a white wolf.

Chapter Five:
Revelations

"  Stalking the night,
   hiding from prying eyes
   Who would have guessed what
   lies beneath this repulsive guise..."

      Vincent woke to the sound of birdsong, a bit disoriented. His head was pounding and his whole body throbbed. What had happened the night before was crystal clear, he remembered everything including the strange white wolf. Taking stock of his surroundings, Vincent was mystified to find himself alone, covered with a grey woollen blanket. The wolf was gone. Someone had laid the blanket over him and the question was who. It was impossible for the woman Syane to have followed him, the speed at which he fled the cabin was beyond human. He turned his thoughts to the wolf. It had regarded him without the wariness that a wild animal typically possessed.
     Could it have belonged to someone, a hunter perhaps? Vincent wondered. He quickly abandoned the train of thought, his head hurt too much to think. One thing was oblivious, no one was safe with him, the Change had became uncontrollable making him a danger. Vincent's mind told him to leave before anyone came back but his body betrayed him. Before he could decide on the next course of action, his sensitive ears caught a slight rustle, alerting him to another's presence. A quick scan and Vincent knew he had neither a place nor the time to hide, it would have to be faced head on.
     It was her.
     Breaking away from the cover of the woods, she enter the glade, heading straight to him. There was no doubt in Vincent's mind that the white wolf had brought her here. Syane must be its master. She had seen him Change and here she was sitting down in front of him when any sane human would have fled long ago in the opposite direction. He waited to hear what she would say this time.
     "Who did this to you?"
     Vincent's eyes widened in surprise. How did she know?
     "Someone has altered your genetic structure and now the effects of it are manifesting. I need to know exactly what has been done to you before I can help you overcome these uncontrolled Changes." Syane regarded him with grave eyes, emphasising the importance of his reply.
     "What business is this of yours? Who the hell are you and why do you care?" He lashed out in anger for her words evoked memories he would rather forget if only he could.
     "I care because like you, I am no longer quite human..."
     Syane stood up and stepped a few feet away, her back turned away from Vincent. Before his very eyes, she unbuttoned her dress and let it fall to pool at her feet. She faced him, her body screened by her curtain of silver white hair and changed. Her form shifted and blurred into that of a wolf. A pure white wolf.
     Vincent was speechless. He knew there was something strange about Syane but never in his wildest dreams had he expected that his bestial companion was her. He sat stunned as Syane trotted over to him and looked deep into his eyes with her own.
     'Vincent, listen to me... Yes, I am speaking to you with my mind. You are not imagining things. I spoke to you the same way last night. This is an ability I acquired along with this form. There is much that we both need to know and while I can communicate in wolf shape, it is very exhausting on me not to mention unnerving to you. If you'll excuse me for a moment.'
     Syane picked up her dress carefully with her fangs and loped away beyond Vincent's vision. The act was both their modesty and an opportunity for him to get his equilibrium back. She returned slowly, her heart uncertain. It was a great gamble that she had taken and Syane hoped that her trust had not been misplaced. There was too much at sake.
     "I apologise, that was uncalled for." His tone was subdued.
     "There's nothing to apologise for. I understand your anger and mistrust for I am but a stranger. There is one thing I must make clear to you. I will do by best to help you learn to control these Changes but should you fail, your life will end at my hands. Do you understand what this means?"
     "I know the consequences. I would gladly die if I could but I promised her and so I shall live..." Vincent's voice was a whisper.

Chapter Six:
Pieces Of The Past

"  I thought my past
   has been left behind
   Yet it haunts me
   From dawn to night... "

     All he told her was that a scientist named Hojo had performed the operation that made him what he was now. Nothing more. Syane knew instinctively there was more than what Vincent revealed. Yet being a person who understood the value of privacy, she did not pry. Everyone had secrets to hide.
      There was no time to teach Vincent the simple mental exercises that would focus and strengthen the power of his mind. What Syane had to do was to teach him control, mind to mind but she was foiled again and again. Now that Vincent was aware of her telepathic powers, an unconscious shield blocked her from entering his mind. His life of mistrust and betrayal only made the shield stronger. It was so strong that Syane knew if she ever attempt to breach it by force, the resulting clash may very well destroy both their minds.
     Almost a month had gone by without any progress and Vincent had an attack three times. The frequency of the attacks were not constant, striking like a bolt out of the blue. It took Vincent longer and longer to recover and at the rate they were going, Syane knew it spelled disaster.      Vincent closed his eyes, unable to run from the past. Syane had respected him, never asking for more information and for that he was grateful. Through the time they spend together, he had come to understand her a little. Beneath a gentle exterior, lied a core of steel so unlike the woman he loved. Vincent knew that the new method required a great sacrifice on her part because her own past would be laid bare before him. It seemed that both their past can no longer be hidden. His decision had been made.
     "I accept."

___________________________

     Night had approached on silent feet and a full moon shone like a lamp against the fathomless darkness that was the sky. They were back at the glade, feeling that it was the appropriate place. There was a quietness there that brought peace to the mind. Syane passed the draught that had taken her the entire day to prepare over to Vincent. It would induce a state like sleep, lowering the barriers in his mind so that she could enter. Vincent took a deep breath and drank. It was now or never.
     They sat side by side with their backs against the ancient trunk of a great elm for support. As Vincent's breathing became softer and even, Syane knew it was up to her now. She steeled herself mentally, took his hand in her own and plunged into chaos.

Chapter Seven:
Beyond The Facade

"  So many faces
   without a name
   Unknown dancers
   In a masquerade..."

     She lived his past and felt his pain.
     She learned what it was like to snuff out a life like a candle flame with a single shot, not feeling the least remorse. To live like an machine until a woman called Lucrecia taught him to feel. To love in despair, knowing it would never be returned. To let go of the one who meant more than life, freeing her to seek her happiness. To hate the man who tore his world asunder, making him an unforgiven sinner.
     His memories overwhelmed her, battering her down like a ship caught in a storm. Syane let herself be swept away, it was useless to try and fight. Nothing can be changed, his past cannot be rewritten. She endured the anguish in her heart mutely and forge ahead. Only by sharing his life can she find what she sought: his essence, his soul and the core that was him.

____________________________

     He saw the vulnerability she hid.
     He watched as her story unfolded before his eyes and knew how a child felt when her father gave her away for cold hard cash. He saw through the sad grey eyes of a dark haired girl at the experiments done to her by a white-coated man in an underground laboratory. Feeling her hopelessness as her body started to change, the colour of her hair fading to grey to white, her eyes lightening day by day into the golden feral glance of a wolf. Her horror and disgust when she Changed for the first time.
     She grew up, living in a thick glass cage, treated more like an animal than human. Time had long ceased to hold any meaning until one day an accident occurred, there was an explosion and a fire broke out at the facility. In the resulting pandemonium, she escaped and for the first time in her life, experienced the taste of freedom. A taste that quickly turned bitter when she realised that the human world had no place for the creature she had become.
     Returning to the home she once knew to be taken for a demon. Children pelted her with stones while their parents dealt with her more harshly. They beat her with sticks, heedless of her cries. She scented their fear and knew the taste of her own blood in her mouth as they dragged her broken body into the woods and left her to die.
     Be it a gift or curse, the genetic alteration enabled her to survive. From that day on, she devoted her life to help her brethren, those that were like her, those that had been Changed. Returning to the now abandoned laboratory, she gained whatever knowl edge she could from the records and files that have not been destroyed. It would have been so easy for her to learn how to hate but she refused to give in to this temptation. All because she knew it was only human to fear and shun what was different.

___________________________

     She finally found him at the deepest recess in his mind. Syane's search had ended at last. He was a faint glimmer in the dark, a pale red flame that flickered uncertainly. She reached out to him, letting her own presence blaze, a guiding light.
     Vincent moved towards Syane, joining with her golden fire that burned like a miniature sun. She symbolised another chance at life and merging with him as one, Syane showed him the path to mortality. Together, they came out of the darkness in their souls, two people renewed.

Chapter Eight:
Truth In The Darkness

"  You once loved
   the brilliance of the sun
   Can you love the moon
   a poor, pale shadow...? "

     With the passage of time, Vincent gained mastery over his Change with Syane by his side, steering his way. As the days passed, they grew closer. Vincent enjoyed her company immensely. He had never felt so at ease with another woman except for Lucrecia. Increasingly was he drawn to her because Syane reminded him of his lost love yet there was more. Her compassion and openness drove away the bleakness in his soul when he was with her. Vincent knew he could depart whenever he wished but he was reluctant to leave. Is this possible? Am I capable of caring for someone again? Do I feel this way because she is like you, Lucrecia... He questioned himself.
     Syane was falling in love. She tried to denied it, telling herself what she felt for Vincent was the same concern she felt towards the other Changed. Her heart knew the truth however. Ever since the first night at the glade, Syane had gradually lost her heart to this mysterious man. Now, he was no longer a mystery, she knew him as well as he knew her having relived each other's past.
     Yes, I love him but can he love me? What he felt for this woman called Lucrecia was so deep, so intense. A love not so easily forgotten. The light in his eyes, is that love for me or am I only a shadow? These doubts hung like a dark cloud over the joy s he felt, just being by his side.

__________________________

     Syane's mind was tired but her troubled heart would not let her sleep. Tossing and turning in her bed, she closed her eyes, trying to get some rest but sleep eluded her. Giving it up as a hopeless case, Syane threw off the covers and stalked out of her room. Thinking that a moonlight run would relax her nerves, she was about to let her self out when something prompted her to check in on Vincent.
     He looked much more at peace with himself. Standing by his bedside, watching him in quiet slumber, Syane wanted so much to reach out and touch him. To touch his hair that was like black silk spread against the stark whiteness of the pillow. His face that was like the finest porcelain.
     "Vincent..." Unwittingly, she breathed his name.
     Syane's hand flew to her mouth, unable to believe what she just did. Fearing that she had woke Vincent, she backed away and was about to retreat when he caught her hand.
     "No, don't go. Don't leave me." The longing in his voice bounded her like chains.
     Pulled gently into the circle of his arms, Syane fell into his embrace. This was where she always wanted to be, locked in his arms, a prison that she would never want to be free of. Her head nested against his chest, Syane was in heaven when he brought her down to hell.
     "Lucrecia, my love. Don't go. Don't leave me again..."
     Lucrecia.
     The name pierced Syane like a blade. Like a piece of broken glass, her heart shattered into a million shards. This was the price she had to pay for daring to dream, for daring to think that he could love her. Now she knew all her doubts were true, there was only one woman Vincent loved and that woman was not her. In the darkness and befuddled with sleep, he had mistaken Syane for Lucrecia. There was only one thing to do before he realised his error. Suppressing the pain that was tearing her apart, Syane imposed her will on Vincent, making him drowsy.
     "I'll be here. I'm always by your side, Vincent. Rest now, I promise I'll never leave you again." Each word was a deep gash on her already wounded heart.
     "By my side, Lucrecia. Promise......" He was asleep again.
     She laid him down gently and kneeled by the bed. Cupping his face with her trembling hands, Syane glanced at his features, branding his face into her memory. Bending, she took one kiss, brushing his lips so lightly like a touch of a butterfly's wings. A single tear, glittering like the morning dew, fell unheeded from her eyes onto his face. He would never know she loved him.
     She fled into the night, blinded by her tears.

Chapter Nine:
Knowing Her Heart

"  Too late
   I knew her heart
   Before my words could form
   She was already gone... "

     "Syane?"
     His voice sounded unnaturally loud in the small empty cabin. It was already late morning yet she was nowhere to be found. Vincent wanted to talk to her about the dream he had the night before. It all seemed too real to be a dream, he remembered hearing Lucrecia's voice and holding her in his arms.
     Vincent looked for Syane at the places she had shown him and where they had spend so much time together. He even went all the way to the glade but there was no trace of her. Returning to the cabin, he called her name, answered by silence. Vincent was standing at the threshold of his room when his eyes caught sight of a piece of paper lying on the table by his bed. It was a note for him, his name written on it in a fine, flowing script that he recognised as Syane's. He took it outside to read in the sunlight.

Dear Vincent,
     Forgive me for not saying goodbye, I am needed urgently elsewhere so I had to leave during the night. You are welcomed to use the cabin for as long as you wish for I won't be returning any time soon. There's nothing more I can teach so you are free to depart and continue your journeys. Whatever you do, I wish you well.
                Syane

     Vincent carefully folded away the note. Something akin to disappointment surged. This was not the first time, Syane had left abruptly to answer a call for aid from her brethren. He had seen others like her, the Changed in their wolf forms around her. Ever wary, they kept away from him but accepted his presence because of Syane. Often he had wondered what was she to them, he was musing over this when interrupted by a soft growl.
     A young grey she-wolf, looking barely out of puppyhood, fixed him with stormy pewter eyes. She circled him twice, looking at him from head to toe. Finally, she shook her head with disdain as if she found him wanting. Vincent was fairly amused by the cub's behaviour.
     'If you are looking for Syane, she's not here, pup.'
     'Of course I know she's not here, I spoke to her before she left and stop calling me pup! I'm Kyra, Syane's protˇgˇ and I'm a lot older than I look! Humph! I really wonder what Syane saw in you,' Her mind-voice was a little miffed.
     'What do you mean, Kyra?' Vincent's attention was caught by her last statement.
     'How blind can you be?! Her leaving was no accident. I presume you still don't really know why. It's actually quite simple. My teacher loves you but since another lives in your heart, she felt she had to leave before you know. Before everything becomes terribly awkward. There's more. Did you know who you held last night? I assured you it was no dream. It was a flesh and blood woman. Syane did not tell me anything but the scene was imprinted on her mind. I picked it up when she gave me instructions before leaving. In that wretched state without any defenses, it wasn't difficult finding out what happened.' Kyra's words hit him like a bucket of cold water.
     'Syane loves me?' Vincent could not believe his ears. He never suspected that she felt this way for him.
     'Aye, that she did. I don't know much about this Lucrecia woman nor do I care. What I want to know is what do you feel for Syane? Are you taking her for a substitute for that woman? We will never forgive you if you intentionally hurt her. Syane is old among us, a teacher and a leader. Even though she gave specific instructions that we are not to bother you. Remember this, we protect our own.' Kyra snarled, baring her fangs, emphasising her warning.
     Vincent turned away, leaving the young she-wolf glaring daggers at his back. He needed to be alone, he must think. Questions battered his mind, their answers could only come when he reached an understanding. He had to sort out his feelings for two woman, one living and one dead.
     'What I feel...I do not know anymore...'

Chapter Ten:
Forget Forever

"  You belong to me
   from now till eternity
   Forget these memories
   your place is with me... "

     He saw the tears in her eyes.
     Kneeling in the moonlight, she wept brokenly. His Syane, who was so proud and strong, he had never seen her cry and yet now, her tears fell like rain from her anguished face. She was his angel, for her sake, he had promised not to hurt those stupid humans who shunned them even when he hated them with a passion. Her pack was on the ground, where was she going? He approached her with silent feet and touched her.
     In that instant, he knew who made her cry. His face was so clear in her mind.
     "Syane, where is the bastard? I swear I'll tear him apart!" He gripped her arms with such force, bruising her.
     "Fyvern?! Why are you back?" Syane was shocked by his presence.
     "Answer me! Where is he?"
     "No! Everything was my fault. It had nothing to do with him. Leave him alone!" She was defending the one who hurt her.
     "Why? Syane, why? Who is he? Who is he to you?" He was getting suspicious.
     Her emotions worn down, she held nothing back. She could no longer hide nor did she wish to hide. Let the truth be told and damn the consequences.
     "I love him. That's all you need to know and I forbid you to harm a single hair on his head. Stay away from him."
     He did not speak.
     She was lying, she had to be. Syane belonged to him. She was his and no one else's. Only he can be with her. They were made to run together, by each other's side. How can she love someone besides him? The very thought enraged him. He caught hold of a lock of her long white hair that was like spun moonlight. She was so beautiful. Taking her unaware, his fist connected with her body. Syane crumbled like a broken doll into his arms.
     "You belong to me always and forever." He whispered to her unconscious form.

___________________________

     Syane opened her eyes and found herself in the past again. Trapped in a glass holding chamber that was rapidly filling with a clear liquid. She was almost choked by the fear for she knew what it would do to her. She pounded her fists against the thick, unyielding glass in a futile attempt to escape. Syane was reliving her worst nightmare. Glancing wildly about her, she caught sight of him.
     "Fyvern, what are you doing? Let me out!" The fluid was up to her waist now.
     "All in good time, Syane. Soon you'll forget everything. I'll give you another chance, you will learn to love me. We'll begin again. I have learn much during the time I spent here. I'm doing this all for you." His lone, remaining eye lit with a feverish light.
     "Love? You? I never have and never will. If you think everything can be forgotten so easily, you're mad."
     "Perhaps I am but it matters not. Say whatever you want. Nothing has changed, we are destined to be together forever. He will be gone from your mind, there will only be me. Haahaaaaaaa..."
     His crazed laughter was the last thing she heard before she was submerged by the numbing liquid.

__________________________

     Her life was fading in front of her eyes. Bit by bit, stripped away from her. Soon there would be nothing left but emptiness. Her character, her personality, everything that was her would cease to exist. Her mind erased into a clean slate. Syane refused to let that happened, desperately trying to fight the effects of the brainwashing.
     It was a losing battle but she would not yield. She could lose all her memories except one. Syane held on to it, her last lifeline. Never would she forget him, the man she loved above all. Gathering the last tattered shreds, remnants of what she once was, she withdrew deep down into the darkest recess of her mind, letting out one desperate cry for help before she knew no more.

______________________________

     Fyvern watched as she become pliant, all sights of her struggles stopped. She was sleeping now and when she wakes, she would be a mindless puppet, his puppet. A smile of perverse pleasure twisted his thin lips as he anticipated what lay ahead but first he must attend to some unfinished business.

     He had a prey to hunt.

Chapter Eleven:
The Game Begins

"  There is fear upon the wind
   the quarry stumbled, faltering
   Closing in for the slaughter
   the hunter laughed silently... "

     Fyvern.
     Kyra was jolted out of her sleep by a voiceless cry. It spoke one name, a name that chilled her to the bone. He had returned and somehow Syane had fallen into his hands. Kyra recognised Syane's mind-voice which was tinted with desperation and hopelessness. Her heart constricted with dread for she knew what Fyvern would do to her mentor.
     He desired her and had sought to make her his by force. Syane fought him and blinded him in one eye with a lucky swipe of her paw. Kyra and the rest had arrived answering her call for aid, outnumbered, Fyvern fled. Yet Kyra could still remember the hate and madness gleaming from the single yellow eye. He swore to return and now he was back for revenge.
     She never ran faster in her life, bolting headlong into the night. She must warn Vincent and get him to depart at once before Fyvern discovers his whereabouts. Kyra's breath was laboured but she ran on because protecting Vincent was the only thing she could help Syane do now. She found him in the glade, a silent brooding figure.
     'Vincent, leave! Leave this place immediately! Go now! Go before he finds you!' Kyra was panting but her mind-voice was aggravated.
     'What's wrong, Kyra?'
     'Damn it! Stop asking questions, just go! This is all I can do to help Syane protect you! Fyvern has her and he'll come for you next. You have her love, don't you see? He'll destroy you both because she gave you what he can never have...' Her voice trailed down into a whimper.
     'Tell me what happened,' Vincent kneeled and held the young wolf's face in his hand.
     Kyra shuddered, unable to suppress her fear. Brokenly, she told him what she knew. Fyvern like Syane was one of the oldest among their people. He favoured himself as their leader and his hatred of humans was evident, he never hesitated to attack livestock or man if he could get away with it. No one dared stood up against him because of his size and strength. Syane was the only one that he viewed as an equal, Fyvern listened to her because he wanted her. Kyra related the fateful incident that saw an end to his oppression until now.
     Vincent clenched his claw, he would stay. Regardless of whether he really knew what he felt for her, he owed her his life. Together with Kyra, Vincent returned to the cabin to collect his gun, Death Penalty, to find a mangled wolf corpse staked to the door with a lock of snowy hair coiled around its bloody neck.
      'Yves! No! No......!' A piercing mental scream ripped itself from Kyra's throat.
     He had found him.
     Vincent was appalled at the brutality so prominently displayed. There was no doubt as to who was responsible. Yves had practically been torn apart. Vincent carefully pulled out the piece of sharpened wood that held the mutilated body pinned to the door.
      Touching the blood matted fur, he caught the last visages that was rapidly fading from the dead Yves' mind. Fyvern had toyed with him, killing Yves slowly and painfully. Vincent saw the twisted joy burning in the black wolf's eye as he violated Yves' mind before crushing Yves' windpipe beneath his massive jaws.
     Now he understood Kyra's fear fully, Fyvern had so callously butchered one of his kind just to learn about him. Yves' mauled remains and the lock of Syane's hair was left as a taunt like a gauntlet throw at his face as a challenge. Even if she could never be mean more to him than a friend, Vincent knew he could not stand aside and pretend it did not concern him. He was involved now and he could very well imagine what sort of fate awaited Syane at the hands of such a sadistic man beast.
     So the game begun.

Chapter Twelve:
Hunt's End

"  Succumb to me,
   you are ensnared
   Cease your struggles
   It all ends at my bloodstained hands... "

     Vincent was playing a game where he did not know the rules. Fyvern baited him time and again, leaving misleading trails. Every time, Vincent failed to find him, one of Syane's people paid a gory price. It was a slow massacre, Fyvern was slaying his own kind but he did not care. In fact, he relished each death, they were weaklings deserving to die. As a united race, they could have ruled and subjugated the miserable humans but they chose to hide and live out their pitiful lives.
     Fyvern stood in front of the glass chamber, glancing lovingly upon Syane's countenance. He placed his hands against the cold surface, how long had he waited for a chance to caress her face. It would not be long once he removed the man who irked him. Fyvern had been surprised at how fast Vincent had responded. It was getting harder to avoid being discovered and that earned a grudging respect.
     "He comes but is it for you? All this shall... we say 'unpleasantness' could have been avoided at the start had you made the right choice. It doesn't matter, everything will end tomorrow. I will savour his last moments when I kill him. Perhaps I'll even let you watch him die." Fyvern spoke to her like a lover before turning away, filling the stillness with his demented laughter.

________________________

     This was the last trail and it lead to a forgotten ruin. What that used to be the heavy steel doors that concealed the underground laboratory had been blasted into smithereens that were now covered by the dense undergrowth. The Shinra logo however was still visible.
     "Shinra... Only they will do such a thing." Syane was another victim.
     Vincent paused cautiously, taking stock of his surroundings. It was quiet, too quiet. Kyra had wanted to come with him but he had refused. The deaths were a heavy weight on his conscience, he did not want the young wolf whom he had become fond of added to the scale.
     All senses alert, Vincent descended into the darkness. A normal man would have been blind, lost in this abyss where the sun never shone. Like a cat, Vincent could however see with the tiniest sliver of light, his eyes were so sensitive. Deeper and deeper, he went when suddenly the ground before him was flooded with light. Vincent halted, ready for any surprises. A mocking voice rang out.
     "I grow weary of this game. Maybe you'll provide some amusement so please make your way quickly to the tunnel's end. I am waiting..."
     Aware that a trap may be in store, Vincent warily proceeded. The tunnel lead to a large antechamber and immediately his eyes were drawn to the centre where a large glass receptacle held the woman who loved him. Her eyes closed, Syane looked as if she was asleep, her long pale hair swirling about her.
     'You certainly took your time, I was becoming impatient. You do know why you have to die, don't you? It makes killing you so much more enjoyable!'
     Fyvern was the biggest wolf Vincent had ever seen. Pure ebony from nose to tail, he resembled a beast more from the pits of hell. Vicious fangs bared menacingly, he sprung suddenly to attack. Acting on pure reflex, Vincent drove to one side, narrowly avoiding being rend to ribbons by the beast's razor sharp claws. The sable wolf spun swiftly and attacked again with deadly intent, giving him no respite. Unable to use Death Penalty, Vincent took the only option open to him.
     He Changed.
     Fyvern hurdled itself at him again but this time, Vincent was ready. He met the creature with a mighty backhand, sending it crashing to the ground. The beast recovered quickly, regarding Vincent with blistering hate. He had underestimated his prey and he was disturbed. Fyvern circled, having learnt his lesson. He feinted and lunged in when Vincent gave him an opening.
     Fyvern snarled in triumph as his jaws closed about Vincent's throat. Before his fangs could sink into flesh, a lance of searing pain pieced his chest. He looked down to see Vincent's talons embedded. He struggled to break free, his claws drawing bloody gashes across Vincent's body. Ignoring his wounds, Vincent sank his talons deeper with grim determination. Feeling the beast's rib cage, he relentlessly crushed them into splinters, driving the shards into the heart.
     Fyvern howled a denial as his heart was punctured. He tasted his own blood in his mouth. He could not believe it, he was dying. Finally, Syane was his but now he was losing her. He fixed his remaining eye on her, trying desperately to hold the image forever. He failed. She faded even before the last breath racked his body.
     Fyvern shuddered once and was still.

Chapter Thirteen:
Parting

"  Your smiles are not for me,
   you love someone I cannot be.
   Go away, leave this place
   Let me forget your face..."

     Bright crimson blood seeped from his wounds but they were not serious so he paid them no heed. Vincent's soul was heavy, looking at Fyvern's crushed body, he saw what he could have become had he not let go of Lucrecia. Shifting back to his human form, he heard the soft taps made by a wolf's paws. Kyra, she had followed him in spite of everything.
     "Is the other side of love, hate? Or is it a love more desperate?" Vincent spoken his thought aloud, a lament.
     'I do not know for I have not loved before. I'm not sure I want to if pain and despair is all it brings.'
     "It can bring the greatest joy as well. One day you will understand."

_____________________________

     She did not want to wake. It was dark and peaceful in this place, she was safe. Nothing can touch her here in this sanctuary. She wanted to sleep on forever until eternity's end when she heard that voice again. Calling, calling a name.
     Her name.
     "Syane, come back..."
     A voice so familiar that it disturbed her. It invoked the image of a pair of haunting blood red eyes. She struggled to remember and imperceptibly it came back to her, trickling grain by grain like the sand in an hourglass. It was him and she answered.
     "Vincent..."

_____________________________

     It had been three days since she woke from her coma, Kyra had fussed all over her, insisting that she stay in bed. Syane smiled, the young wolfling would surely scold her if she knew that Syane was already up on her feet. She had come to a resolution, understanding that reality must be faced sooner or later. No longer would she hide.
     He was sitting in the hallway and rose once he saw her. She could sense his dilemma. Vincent still could not figure out just what was she to him. He stood by her side, holding her arm, supporting her.
     "You should be in bed." Was that gentleness she heard in his voice?
     "All this sleeping is giving me a headache. Fresh air will do me more good. Care to walk with me?"
     Vincent left briefly and returned with a shawl which he cast around her shoulders. Syane refused to think, reading too much into his gestures would only hurt herself more, making things even harder. They stepped out into the brilliant sunlight in silence. Time for the inevitable had come.
     "Vincent...I must talk to you." She pulled away, unable to bear his touch.
     "Too much has happened. Maybe I sound selfish but I long for the peace I once knew. We don't owe each other anything. Any debt has been more than repaid. I think you know what I mean."
     "I understand."
     He must go for his very presence was causing her pain. As long as he could not fathom her place in his heart, he must stay away from her. Vincent was sorry that he had unintentionally hurt Syane. She was a fine woman and did not deserved to be treated as a substitute for Lucrecia. He would depart with tomorrow's dawn. It was better this way.

Epilogue:
Journey Home

"  No more hiding,
   I'm coming back to you
   No more running,
   I'm on my way home... "

     Without a word, he was gone, leaving no trace. Leaving nothing to remind her that he existed once in her life. Yet, he would always be a part of her, a memory that never faded with time. Every night, Syane waited at the glade, ever so patiently for Vincent to return.
     Running under the moonlight with her mate, Kyra had finally understood what Vincent told her. Still, what her teacher was doing was plain foolishness. Three years was too long a time to wait for a promise never made. Vincent never said he would come back and most probably he had already forgotten all about her. Day by day passed her by, still she waited because she believed somehow he would return once again.

______________________________

     He was almost there after travelling night and day. It took him three long years to finally realise what he felt was love. Far from her side, she was the one he missed and dreamed of. Her presence replacing that of a brown-haired woman in his heart and soul. Vincent felt guilt for admitting that he could love someone else besides Lucrecia so he suppressed his feelings. Strangled by a dead love, he was only tormenting himself.
     Under Syane's life-giving warmth, Vincent had experienced what it meant to really live for himself. Coming to terms with his internal turmoil at last, Vincent ultimately understood what Lucrecia wanted him to do. It was to let go of her memory which was what he should have done long ago.
     So now he was hurrying back, heading towards the glade. Instinct had told him, he would find her there and it was not wrong. Syane stood against the ancient elm where they shared their lives that fateful night.
     With all his heart and mind, he called her name.

"  You answered
   My lonely call
   With your song
   Under the pale moonlight

   You held and warmed
   This cold heart
   With such wise eyes
   You saw what lies deep inside

   We are one
   Our souls entwined
   Beneath the starry skies
   Say you'll run with me
   Beyond forever till eternity..."

~ Wolf Song (Run With Me)


Personal thoughts/comments:

I don't want to say too much about this fic because I'm exhausted. Just hope it's not that bad since I was rushing for time and just ended it the way I did. Okay, here we go at the chapters then.

Prologue Game fans should know where I based this on.
Chapter 1 A little accounting of the other characters from FFVII. I changed the Limit Break to a Change because it sounded better. The idea of Vincent losing control was inspired by a pic drawn by Jen. Go see it at RPGamer's site.
Chapter 2~5 Building up the relationship between Vince and his future lady love. I gave enough clues so it should be quite obvious who the white wolf was.
Chapter 6~7 Syane's past was not very well explained so here I am. The lab was established for a 'brilliant' biochemist obsessed with the study of werewolves for possible use in military purposes. Experiments were successful and that's when the place was sabotaged by a jealous scientist ( No prizes for guessing who it is.)
Chapter 8~9 True feelings revealed. Sorry if it's a bit too melodramatic.
Chapter 10~12 Another piece from the past. Done to add some spice. I intended at first that Syane would leave and Vincent go searching for her and then it ends with him convincing her that he loves her.
Chapter 13 Too bad I don't have the means of doing a poll or I would have asked readers to vote on how this story should end. The title "Loveless?" would have supported a dual ending nicely.
Epilogue Second chance at life. Ahhh... I'm drained.

Send your questions, comments and whatever to me at: calisc@hotmail.com No flames though!! ^_^

~The End~
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