Fandom/Pairing: Final Fantasy VII; Vincent, Marlene, Tifa, Denzel
Rating: ESRB Rating of E for Everyone < yet again, nothing bad! wtf?! >
Day: oct 2. good monsters
Summary: It takes only a single instant, only one question, only a few tears in a young boy's eyes, to make Vincent Valentine realize that AVALANCHE is wrong. The truth is that he, Vincent Valentine, is a monster.
Notes: Silly and cliche and fluffy, and I'm not sure if I like it. Also, I think I abused my poor friend the semicolon. Broke his teeth and everything, poor little guy.
The words sting for a moment. He blinks, searches for a response. But there is no correct reaction save his private, knee-jerk relief that Yuffie and Cid aren't present.
Thanks to the Deep Ground incident, his former role in AVALANCHE and a few of his less natural abilities are all public information. Even if they weren't, his form is unique enough that it could easily frighten a child.
It takes only a single instant, only one question, only a few tears in a young boy's eyes, to make Vincent Valentine realize that AVALANCHE is wrong.
AVALANCHE can say whatever it pleases. They saved the world; it doesn't make them omniscient. The truth is that he, Vincent Valentine, is a monster.
Everyone in the car jumps at the sound of Marlene's textbook slamming closed. Tifa's eyes narrow at the sound of a seatbelt unbuckling, but she stays quiet.
Vincent watches Tifa watch the three children in the rearview and notices that Denzel hasn't said a word about it. For once, he seems content to let Marlene get away with flagrant disobedience.
"He's not a monster!"
What a pity that even Marlene has begun to recite AVALANCHE's party line.
"He looks like a monster!"
"Marlene," Tifa says, a note of warning in her tone. With that tone, she doesn't need to say, 'Play nice.' Her voice changes, accent retreating into the clipped sounds of Nibel. "Seatbelt, sweetie!"
Marlene buckles her seatbelt. The click resounds in the car. Tifa nods firmly as she flicks on her turn signal and changes lanes.
The conversation seems over, so Vincent turns to look through the window. Beat-up cars pass them, are passed by them. The Seventh Heaven van is surprisingly fast for such an ancient junker.
The car plummets into some sort of strange silence. The kind that worries parents and experienced babysitters. Vincent is neither of those, but he sees the undertremors of tension in Tifa's grip on the steering wheel, in the lines of her arms. Her anxiety irons a small, tentative curl of fear into his gut. When she begins to chew on her lower lip, he starts actively worrying.
It is at that point that a hushed, almost indecipherable whisper slides through the rear of the van.
It is Marlene's quiet-roughened voice that makes Tifa stop flexing her gloved fingers on a metal steering wheel that must be bitterly cold.
"But he's one of the good monsters!"
Tifa looks over at him, he can see the motion from the corners of his eyes, but he looks back at Marlene.
She is like a statue of some Gongagan woman warrior; pale in the dusty light that clouds the van and proud, spine straight and chin lifted, face turned toward her enemy. There is something fierce and fiery and eerily grown about her. It is like that single instant has captured her very soul in all its incarnations past and future, like she has been revealed as a wicked, deadly, child-woman; stick-thin and mussed and regal anyway. She is the embodiment not only of what AVALANCHE fought to protect, but of AVALANCHE's own potential.
She raises her voice. The sound of her words, thanks to the high pitch natural to young girls, is an almost comical blend of youthful innocence and stunning fury. She is fearsome in her helplessness. "He's one of the good monsters!"
"No such thing as a good monster." The boy's reply is logically sound, but it evidently does not satisfy Marlene.
"He is one of the good monsters! He's my friend an' I'll beat up anybody who says he's bad!"
Vincent fights down his jump reflex only through years of practice. Even as his pulse slows, deeply ingrained paranoia stretches through him. He shifts in his seat and searches the others for their reactions.
Marlene's outburst seems to have ended the argument, for now.
Tifa, after a few moments of monitoring the children, turns her gaze back to the road. She leans to her right, flicks the van's radio on. He does not miss the slight arch to her eyebrow, a sign of mild surprise. Nor does Vincent miss the way Denzel tenses just a little before he relaxes, as if he's waiting for his friend to continue the debate or for Tifa to mete out punishments.
Alone and awkward-looking in the silence, the offending boy leans forward, unzips his backpack, and removes a book. His actions seem more like those of someone startled than someone beaten. Vincent has no doubt that he will raise the subject again, and Marlene will react as she already has.
Paranoia satisfied, he turns to watch Edge's traffic. In the relative privacy of his thoughts, he mulls over the strength of Marlene's reaction. Like any gift from a child, it is startling and somehow sweet; completely unexpected, unasked for and yet not unwelcome.
(Later, when Marlene is at the cusp of puberty and Denzel is driving a motorcycle with more recklessness than Cloud and Yuffie combined, Marlene's response will not seem so surprising.)