How did you get this number?
I can't get my head 'round you
Of course you're not coming over
Snap out of it
You're not making any sense
—Psychobabble, Frou Frou
Chapter Five: Putting the Damage On
The woman behind the counter of the Materia shop smiles at him while she wraps his package in heavy bamboo parchment. Her fingers are long, nails polished a shining blue. Her movements are graceful. In Midgar standard, she asks, "And can we do anything else for you before we close?"
"No, thank you," he says in the Wutaian he spent the last year and a half perfecting. He tries not to look at those garish nails of hers. "You've already done enough."
As he leaves the shop, he does not wonder what the clerk thought of him. He barely noticed the wide brown eyes or the thick lips curved into a smile. His mind is a flood of short black hair, grey eyes, and an expression of intense concentration.
The girl he loves is so beautiful when she's fighting. When she's focused, when she's found a target and will let nothing turn her aside.
Sometimes he wonders when, exactly, his efforts will come to fruition and she will notice him at last, will realize how much he loves her. Will disentangle herself from that group of terrorist ruffians and banish that long-haired rebellious monster from her life.
He flips open his PHS, dials a number he has memorized.
The PHS rings.
A smile settles onto his face. His heart begins to beat in time to the pulsing rhythm of the package he holds in his left hand.
When will she love him back? He's been trying for so long, he thinks as the PHS continues to ring. Surely she should love him back by now, right? And even if she doesn't love him yet, the least she could do is—ANSWER HER GODDAMN PHS!
The smile vanishes as his face twists into a snarl. He screams an obscenity—possibly in Midgar standard, possibly in Wutaian—and pidgeons scatter while kimono-clad middle-aged women blink up at him.
But the PHS rings on.
Right until he drops it into the River Leviathan.
Step, step, step, step, step, step, step. Pause. Swish. Step, step, step, step, step, step, step. Pause, swish, repeat.
Somewhere, in the whispering of his clothing and the quiet creak of the floorboards, he heard a wolf howling.
Vincent Valentine could not recall an incident that had infuriated him to this point. Even when she had stolen from him, he had been detached. Even after she had flung herself from Da Chao, when he hadn't been able to think, to breathe, he had known what to do. And even if he'd wanted to strangle her out of frustration once they were on the ground again--once she was safe again--he hadn't been this angry.
It was like five different sorts of fury warring inside him. They whispered to him, circulated some sort of obscene warmth inside him. He could feel it in his fingers. In the churning of his stomach and the static that half-filled his head.
He was going to go insane. How was he supposed to help her if she turned his help aside?
His blood boiled inside him. Churned and bubbled and made his thoughts whirl until, desperate to move, he wrenched the window's heavy wooden shutters aside, sliding them along the length of the wall.
Outside, the false moon was full, almost translucent.
In the courtyard, he could see a silhouette whirling and striking out with what might have been a suspiciously large shuriken. There was no flutter of kimono, no swish of hakama. The figure was wearing eastern clothing, evidently.
Let's lay our bad day down here,
Dear, and make-believe we're strong,
or hum some protest song.
Like maybe "We Shall Overcome Someday."
Overcome the stupid things we say.
Say I needed more than this,
say I needed one more kiss.
—Confessions of a Futon-Revolutionist, The Weakerthans