By Kristen Williams
The accommodations on the Highwind were fairly sparse, and Vincent found himself forced to share a room with Red XIII. He wasnít particularly thrilled about having to share a room but at least Red wasnít a human. Still, Vincent would have been just as happy to have slept up on deck but Cid forbade him from doing that.
"Not on my ship, mister." Cid had told Vincent. "Itíll do you some good to have to interact with others. Thatís how the world works, you know."
Vincent awoke some time during the night. He scanned the room around him, trying to remember where he was. There, laying on the floor, Red was looking back up at him with his one amber eye.
"Youíre up?" The cat asked in a whisper.
Vincent sat up, somewhat unnerved to see the cat staring up at him. He was still too groggy to speak.
Red sensed the rise in Vincentís heart rate and purred in amusement at having elicited such a response from this particular human. "Sorry if I startled you."
He just blinked in response to the catís words. Then, in an attempt to free himself of his tiredness, he ran his hands across his ivory face. "I just forgot where I was for a minute, thatís all."
Although Red found humans strange, this one was even more so. But Red knew that this was the one human who could understand him. Vincent had been held captive by Hojo just as he had. Only this man knew what it was like to be continually tortured and experimented on by the insane scientist.
Vincent knew what was on the catís mind. This had been the first time since Vincent had joined the group that they had been alone. He knew what their conversation inevitably had to be about. "So, what all did Hojo do to you?"
The cat smiled and then nodded in the direction of Vincentís crumpled coat. "I will tell you, but first I want a little of whatever you have in your coat over there."
Vincent reached over and brought his coat to him. Cold blooded killer or not, he had a sweet tooth, and there was always candy stuffed into his pockets. He pulled out a small foil wrapped chocolate and removed its wrapper. He stopped just short of tossing it to the cat. "Chocolate is bad for cats."
Red narrowed his eye. "I have been smelling that candy all God damned day. Just give me it!"
Vincent smiled and let the candy go into the air. The cat caught it cleanly in the mouth and it was quickly swallowed.
"Now," Vincent laid back down on his side so that he could look at his roommate, "tell me your story."
"Alright." Red flicked his tail. "Being the last of my kind, I was naturally an object of interest to Hojo. He managed to trap me as I was out scouting the desert one day. I was kept fairly well tranquilized for the duration of my captivity, so my memories are a bit clouded. He placed these I.D. markings on me, branding me as one of his specimens."
"OhÖ" Vincent sighed lazily. "Your missing eyeÖdid he do that?"
The lion growled. "Yes, and Iíll be damned if I know why. All the blood and tissue samples he took from me, itís amazing that there is anything left at all."
Vincent laughed, not really meaning to do so. As relaxed as he was, his stone faÁade was down, and the cat was seeing the real Vincent, something no one else on the Highwind could claim. "Iím sorry, itís not funny butÖaw hell, yeah it is."
The cat sat up. "Your turn."
Vincent closed his eyes briefly. "Not much to it. Hojo shot me for interfering in his experiment with Lucrecia. Instead of letting me die, he thought it would be entertaining to see what he could, shall we say, rebuild of me." He raised his cybernetic arm.
Red sensed the depth of Vincentís pain, and came to his side. "We will get him, right?"
Vincent instinctively reached out and patted the top of the catís head. There was something very therapeutic about doing so. Having grown up in the city, he had never had much contact with animals. "Yeah, Iím sure we will."
Red continued to allow Vincent to muss with his fur. He would have usually walked away from someone doing this, as it made him feel like a pet, but he could sense how it calmed the human. "I hope so. I guess all of us have a bone to pick with him. You, me, CloudÖall of us."
Vincent sighed, "Yes we do. Hey, donít you dare tell any of the others that I can be friendly."
The cat smiled again. "Wouldnít dream of it. I know you have an image to maintain."
Vincent didnít respond, and his hand soon fell away from the cat. He had fallen back to sleep still having the blue foil from the candy clasped between two of the blades on his claw.
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