It's Good to be Alive! – Chapter 15: Epilogue Part 2 – Lucretia

Chapter Summary: A probable truth about Vincent and Sephiroth's past.

Author: Illusor Meaneld

Rated T: for Descriptive violence and injuries, No Adult Situations, No Cussing.

Disclaimer: I did not create, and do not own the characters from Final Fantasy 7. They are owned by Square-Enix, and I am simply borrowing them for my own (and hopefully your) amusements.

Vincent Staggered through the forest, wondering idly if this day could get any worse… He felt physically drained, and rather sick. He was certain he never wanted to discover what exactly it was that Zack had decided to put in his hair… He could still taste it even now! After what seemed like an eternity, the gunman's sense of direction proved reliable and he lurched into the Clearing. Many sets of eyes glanced up, some apprehensively and others with obvious relief. Vincent simply nodded finding a relatively straight tree to prop himself against.

Tifa edged close enough to speak in an undertone. "Are you alright?" Vincent nodded again. A quick survey of the gathered people showed him the Turks were no longer present. As though reading his mind Nanaki stepped forward.

"Tseng decided to take the other Turks and leave…" The Blood-Lion explained, "He didn't want to leave Rufus alone for too long, and he said there was no more need for his people to be out here." Vincent quirked his lips into a smile, though none of them could see it. After he'd reverted from his transformation he'd been once again garbed in his red cape. Strangely enough he was also still wearing the borrowed clothing, including the hooded cape, which had proven very interesting to remove. The shredding caused by his tumble down the mountain had still been there also, and the garment was becoming increasingly unsightly. This was noted by another person as well.

"That cape is a piece of JUNK!" Zack cut in, Sephiroth looked like he wanted to ask how Vincent had gotten it back, but for some reason refrained. Unbeknownst to the Gunman, Sephiroth was reviewing all the steps he had taken to dispose of the ragged article of clothing, and was vowing if he ever had the opportunity again, that he would light the effrontery on fire.

"I've been meaning to ask you about that Vincent…" Cloud interjected hesitantly, "Why exactly do you wear that thing all the time?" Vincent sighed inwardly as he noticed the sudden interest from the group of faces before him.

"… It was a gift…" The gunman admitted reluctantly,

"A gift?" Sephiroth repeated,

"From whom?" Tifa responded,

"…" Said Vincent, pausing once more and shifting his gaze away from the curious faces, light suddenly dawned in Tifa's eyes.

"Lucretia gave it to you… didn't she?" The brown-haired martial artist confirmed quietly. Vincent nodded mutely; Sephiroth suddenly glanced up in surprise,

"Wait… my MOM gave you that thing?" Vincent returned the shocked look,

"You knew Lucretia was…." The Gunman's murmur was barely audible, Sephiroth snorted in response,

"What about JENOVA?" Cloud added quickly

"I'm not stupid… Despite what Hojo seemed to think. There's no way that mutated corpse was maternally related to me." Sephiroth scoffed. Vincent fell silent, his right arm fingering the tattered cloak with familiarly.

"So…." Zack interposed glancing back and forth from Vincent to Sephiroth, "Lemme get this straight…. Sephy's Mom gave you the coat thing right?" Vincent glanced up and after a moment he nodded, Zack continued, "And yet, … If I've heard correctly, Sephy's mom died shortly after he was born… right?" A pained expression passed over Vincent's face, and he nodded again silently. "So…. That makes you old enough… to be his DAD!" Zack concluded with a broad grin, his eyes pointedly traveling between the two similarly built faces. Sephiroth choked,

"What?" The Ex-General raised an eyebrow.

"He knew your mom!" Zack repeated,

"That doesn't mean ANYTHING Zack…" Sephiroth snorted,

"But they apparently exchanged gifts… and Lucretia was important enough to Vinny that he is STILL wearing the coat she gave him! ... And LOOK! He's BLUSHING!" Zack pointed out excitedly, Drawing attention to the fact that a flush had indeed risen to the normally pale face.

"This is ridiculous Zack." Sephiroth scolded, glaring futilely at his ex-subordinate.

"What if he really IS your Dad?" Zack enthused, "Would that be so terrible?"

"I'm not." Vincent interrupted, "I'm not his father…" His tone was almost sad, which gave Zack pause,

"Oh… So you and Lucretia weren't that close then?" The raven haired swordsman inquired, Sephiroth choked. Vincent's face seemed to redden further.

"I... No… She said I wasn't the Father…" He admitted reluctantly, his face sinking slowly lower into the high collar of his cloak.

"Yeah, Hojo said he was Sephiroth's father." Cloud added unconcerned by the delicacy of the matter. Sephiroth made a strangled noise in his throat, and Zack turned to gawk at his blonde friend, the glance held a mixture of shock, horror and pity, almost as though he knew Cloud's death was imminent.

"NO! … Nooooo…" Sephiroth snapped, shaking his head violently and clasping his hands to his face as if to block out the images, Suddenly he whirled grabbing Cloud by the shirt collar, "Do I really LOOK like Hojo?" He snarled, Cloud stared at the transformation, frozen in shock, even angry this Sephiroth was different from the 'Clone' they had chased before. However the seething rage was not exactly comforting.

"Well… you kinda have a pointy face like…." Yuffie began, having cocked her head to one side as though considering. She never finished the sentence as the next moment a disgusted and infuriated Ex-General bodily hurled a certain blonde-haired swordsman at her. With a cry the two went down in a heap of tangled limbs. Picking up his cue Zack quickly intervened,

"So… since it's obviously not Hojo… and all Vincent has to go by is Lucretia's word… who's the better candidate?" Sephiroth growled at him, not even bothering to answer the question or look at Vincent.

"Lucretia said I wasn't…" Vincent began,

"Did she like you?" Zack interrupted,

"…" Vincent replied,

"She gave you the cloak right? And there's the POSSIBILITY there right?"

"…" Vincent repeated,

"Wait." Sephiroth input, suddenly staring at Vincent as though just seeing the man. "Vincent… as in VALENTINE?" Vincent blinked,

"Yes…" The gunman affirmed in mild confusion. Sephiroth eyed him consideringly,

"My Mother always mentioned you…" Vincent choked, his eyes widening, "… In her journals I mean."

"You've read Lucretia's Journals?" Vincent half-whispered,

"Yeah… If Hojo had found them he wouldn't have been happy, but I have them." A look of whistful longing entered Vincent's eyes. He had never had the opportunity to read those books. The thought of perhaps learning a little more about her… "So…" Sephiroth interrupted Vincent's musings calmly, "Valentine… Didn't she also give you some sort of shower set too?" Suddenly Vincent turned a shade of red so intense it bordered on purple, his face almost disappearing into his cloak.

"Shower set?" Zack sniggered,

"After-shave and shampoo and stuff…" Sephiroth explained, eyeing Zack impishly, "Not that you'd know about that anyways…" Zack made a sound of protest. But Sephiroth had already returned his attention to Vincent, "Cinnamon scented right?" the ex-general half-teased. Though he hadn't precisely remembered that detail off-hand, he HAD noticed that Vincent carried that faint scent when he was tending the man's wounds. Either way his guess seemed to hit the mark, Vincent ducked his head and actually raised his demonic hand to cover his face.

"Do you still have it or something? Wouldn't it have run out by now?" Zack prodded.

"…" Vincent began, "I … uh…. Refill it…"

Zack burst into laughter, "GIRLY man! Using your Fru-fru conditioner and stuff!"

"Hey! I use conditioner!" Cid yelled indignantly,

"I use conditioner when I undo the cornrows." Barret added, a little more hesitantly,

"You have to use conditioner… to take care of your hair." Tifa explained, eyeing Zack in a mixture of pity and disgust.

Zack gazed around in shock and hurt dignity, "What about YOU Cloud? You're with me right?"

Cloud scratched at the back of his spiky head. "My hair-gel says it conditions…" Tifa drew away quickly,

"Ugh! Gross… That's NOT the SAME!" She cried, "…. At ALL…"

"No wait! I use Shampoo too!" Cloud protested,

"Still not the same…" Tifa insisted.

Yuffie, having picked herself up from the ground as well, sidled over to Tifa. "Maybe you should get HIM a shower-set." She jibbed, nudging the martial artist with an exaggerated wink. Tifa rolled her eyes.

Cid, who had been standing contemplatively for some time finally spoke up, "Hang on… So… if this Lucretia chick gave Vin his coat, and she died around when Sephiroth was born and all…. Does that mean that He's been wearing that coat for the last 40 years?"

"Eeeeeewww…." Yuffie, Tifa, and Barret all chimed simultaneously. The latter receiving odd looks from the two girls.

"I wash it!" Vincent huffed.

"While you were in the coffin?" Tifa asked, raising one eyebrow.

Vincent ellipsised.

"eeeewwww…." Repeated Yuffie and Barret, the latter receiving MORE strange look.

"ANYWAY" Zack interrupted tactlessly, "So all Vinny has going on his claim is Lucretia's word." Vincent glowered darkly at this, "But I mean… LOOK at them!" This of course focused many sets of eyes on the two. In an effort to emphasize his point Zackary grabbed Sephiroth's arm and dragged him to stand next to the Gunman. "See? They're almost EXACTLY the same height, they both have lean frames and broad shoulders, pointy noses, long hair, and just about the same face! Planet they even GLARE at me the same way!" Both figures in question were demonstrating said irritable expression, but paused in almost the same instant to allow their faces to smooth into mild annoyance. Noticing this Yuffie, Tifa and Cait Sith sniggered.

"Fine whatever!" Sephiroth huffed, folding his arms across his chest. "I don't think this is the important issue right now anyways."

"Yeah! We need to get Vinny to a hospital!" Yuffie chimed indignantly, Earning her a plethora of confused stares. "What? He was Mauled by rabid animals, and eaten by the earth!"

"I think Yuffie has been awake too long…" Nanaki observed calmly.

"I'm pretty sure it was Vincent who was doing the mauling." Sephiroth snickered, glancing pointedly at Zack.

"I'm fine Yuffie…" Vincent insisted quietly.

"SHERA'S PARTY!" Cid shouted, leaping to his feet. "She's gonna KILL me!" He quickly dissolved into expletives and foul language as he mentally berated himself, stalking the clearing for good measure. "Let's get goin'! We have a party to go to!" Without waiting for a response and not allowing any argument he ushered the group along. Hiking back up the trail to the mountain roads which would lead out of the mountains and to where his Air Ship Shera waited. It had been an eventful outing that was for sure. And Vincent had the distinct impression there would be more of them coming.

"So if you don't have a 'place'." Sephiroth began cordially as they walked, "Where do you think we'll be staying?" Vincent had almost forgotten his agreement to keep an eye on Sephiroth, and shrugged accordingly. "I have some money stashed away… I suppose we could always rent a place…"

"You have MONEY?" Zackary gawked, "And you didn't TELL me?"

"You'd have squandered it just like you did with all your paychecks!" Sephiroth snorted, "I invested mine, and saved a good portion away."

"I have money…" Vincent insisted, "I haven't found use for it before, so I suppose an apartment works."

"It'll be good to have you back in Society Vincent" Tifa added, having sidled close enough to overhear the conversation.

"So it's settled then." Sephiroth announced.

"HEY!" Zack interposed, "What about me?"

Sephiroth raised an eyebrow, "What ABOUT you?" But Tifa quickly forstalled a possible conflict.

"Zack can stay with Me and Cloud for a while… I know Cloud would love to catch up on things!" Zack blinked a few times in surprise and then grinned,

"Yeah… I guess Vinny and Sephy need their 'father-son bonding' time." Vincent sighed and Sephiroth groaned, Zack would be Zack… Both idly wondered where this strange new future would lead. In any event, they were alive… and that was good at least.

THE END! (For real this time)

((Author's note: Alright, this is the real, real ending to this fanfic, I hope you all enjoyed it! The Sequel should be coming up pretty soon! It's called, "No Longer A Memory" so keep an eye out for it! It will be longer, and a little more serious than this one. With some interesting plot points and at least one Original Character, which you guys have already met. XD ))