Original Stories Fan Fiction ❯ Into The Void ❯ In My Heart ( Chapter 34 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Into the Void
Chapter 34: In My Heart
By: Revamp/Melissa Norvell
Ionna lay in bed, sleeping lightly under the sheets. Her battered body was bandaged up and her long, silky hair spilled over the side of the mattress. Occasionally, her team mates would check up on her to make sure that she was alright. In the last battle, she took a lot of damage. It was best that she rested for now.
“I guess she was hurt worse than she told us,” Zidane closed the door to the room she was in. “She probably just wanted to act strong in front of Vincent.” He didn't even know why the girl was still trying for that goof ball, but a part of him admired her for doing it. If he could say something good about Ionna, it was that she was stubborn to a fault.
“Will she be okay?” Sari asked, taking a step forward. She was really worried about her and the fact that she got hurt because of that jerk made her feel worse.
“She's been through worse,” Zidane had faith in her. He thought that she could pull through this. At least, he wanted to believe that she could.
“I think that's true about everyone,” Udo added. They had all gone through the grinder just to get as far as they had. He wasn't sure about everyone else, but he was lucky to be alive at that point. He could only imagine how Ionna felt right now.
“Agata…” Loreli looked crestfallen as the events of their last fight reeled through her mind. She couldn't believe that the police woman had fallen. It was weird not having her around, hearing the sound of her deep, strong voice and smelling the faint smell of cigarette smoke.
“Yeah, at least she's not dead,” Udo joked, but he knew that it would be twice as bad if they lost more allies. He supposed that he could have counted that as a positive. He then received a sharp punch to his shoulder from Loreli. “Ugh, okay, that was too soon.” Damn, she caught onto his dark humor.
“You cold ass,” Sari scolded as she placed her hands on her hips and shot him a disapproving glare. “Don't you care at all that she's dead?” It was true that Udo was a sadist, but that remark was something that she wasn't going to let fly.
“I do, but we can't change it. What's gone is gone and you can't get it back,” Udo knew that the girls were angry at him, but the truth was the truth. There was no sense in dwelling on Agata's death, no amount of tears were going to bring her back. Would she honestly have wanted them to be this way? He didn't think so.
“Tell Vincent that,” Bosnia turned her sights to the window she was seated by. A few feet away there was a huge tree. It had to be hundreds of years old with massive branches that reached through the air. Below it, concealed in the shadows was the bounty hunter. He looked crestfallen and she knew that he was probably crying. “He's so sad about all of this.”
Valentino walked out of the room, wordless.
“Huh?” Sari heard his boots on the floor as he exited.
The experiment walked outside, heading towards the tree. Usually, being outside didn't feel so bad but this was lonely. It was like time had been frozen and he and Vincent were the only two people on earth. He could faintly hear the sobs of the bounty hunter through the light winds that occasionally swept through the area.
“I think that's his way of showing sympathy,” Rubio watched the two out of the window.
“He lost a lot, too, you know?” Udo could only imagine how that guy lived, knowing what happened to him and the trials and tribulations that he went through. Valentino had a sad life, and he knew loss more than most of them did.
“We all have,” Hisamichi added. Valentino's loss was big, but he wasn't the only one who suffered along the way. Each of them had made sacrifices, each of them had afflictions, and each of their hearts had wounds that took time to heal.
The assassin walked up, the snivels and sobs were louder now, more crisp and defined. Grass was crushed beneath his boots, broken, busted blades bent below the black treads. Vincent remained in place with his back turned to him. Tears ran down his cheeks as he sat at the base of the tree. A moment of silence passed between the two of them before the bounty hunter spoke.
“I want to be left alone,” Vincent hoped that Valentino would take the hint, but instead he knelt down beside of him.
Anger welled up inside of him as that moment replayed in his mind over and over. Agata's dead eyes stared at him, guilting him. They didn't have to speak; he knew what they would have been saying. The fact that Valentino was breathing down his neck reminding him of why it happened in presence alone made his blood boil.
“Go away,” his tone turned more commanding, “this is your fault.”
“It is,” Valentino agreed in that same monotone voice he had always spoken in, “and I take blame for it. I thought that Ibuki would be there, since he always oversees experiments. I was wrong, and Agata died because of that assumption. I wanted to tell you how Ionna was doing, if you care.” Surely Vincent wasn't still wrapped up in everything so much that he would ignore the fact that his sister almost died for him.
“I have feelings,” Vincent seethed, “of course I do.” Ionna was still alive. As much as that seemed cold, the black-haired girl could still spend time with him. Agata didn't have that chance. She was gone forever and nothing he could do would bring her back.
“I admit I deserved that,” Valentino noticed that jab the bounty hunter gave to his emotional constipation.
“You could at least argue with me or something,” Vincent turned and stared him down. Why did he agree? Why didn't he try to defend his honor? Did he even have honor to begin with? What was with this guy? Even though they had been on missions together all of this time, Valentino was still an enigma to him.
“Why?” The dark-haired man knew he was wrong. Arguing was a waste of time and it solved nothing.
Vincent glared at him, his skin reddened from crying. “You're INSIDIOUS. You could have killed Esta.” There was no reason to even have Agata fight in that battle. All of this was so pointless!
“Ionna wanted to do that for you, so I didn't interfere,” Valentino wasn't the type to take someone's battle away from them. He wanted to give the girl the satisfaction of killing the blonde. Maybe he shouldn't have, but he couldn't have predicted this.
Vincent was silent for a while, his eyes screwed shut and he tried to hold the tears back that burned his eyes. Pain shot through his chest and he felt as if he might have a heart attack. That was it. He couldn't hold back his feelings any longer. Lunging forward, he threw his strong arms around the experiment's neck and sobbed loudly into his chest. Valentino was caught off guard and looked a little confused before stroking his hair, trying to comfort the distraught man.
“I don't know how to feel. Agata is gone and Ionna is hurt! I don't-“ Vincent's muffled wails resonated through the air as he took the red cape into his hands, clutching the fabric tightly.
“It's pointless to cry,” Valentino's words reached his ears.
“What?” Vincent paused, unmoving.
“It won't bring her back. We should appreciate what she's done for us. Her sacrifice wasn't pointless,” Valentino was going to make sure that she didn't die in vain. If it wasn't for her, Esta wouldn't have been killed. Because of her sacrifice, they would now be able to fight Ibuki.
“How can you say that? Ibuki wasn't even there!” Vincent yelled in a fit of emotions as he grabbed the front of the assassin's cape, shaking his body as emotionless, red eyes stared back into his soul.
“That was his best female general,” Valentino decided to inform him as to whom Esta truly was. “It was the only other person he had to hide behind. Now, he's wide-open for us to attack. Don't think of it as a pointless death, think of it as a noble sacrifice. As for my sister, you should go to her. She's still alive and she's still fond of you.” He wanted to talk some sense into the man, and give him at least a little hope. Valentino also wanted to help his sister. Vincent should have known by now that he and Agata were never going to be.
“I wished you understood,” Vincent took his hand away from the red fabric, hanging his head. “It's hard to love someone right now.” Love was the last thing on his mind.
“I do know what that's like, probably more so than you. It's hard to love someone when you aren't exactly human.” Valentino lost lovers as well, and the pain of the past clung to him like a virus with no cure. Vincent wasn't the only one who knew that pain, and Agata wasn't the only ally they had that died.
“Does that mean you love someone right now?” Vincent was a little confused. He caught the hidden meaning of that sentence.
“I may,” the assassin's answer was vague.
“What do you mean? I guess you can learn to trust someone, after all.” The bounty hunter was a little amazed that Valentino was capable of such emotions.
“I'm not incapable, just aloof and withheld.” As much as Vincent wanted to believe otherwise, Valentino had more of a heart than others would assume.
“I never understood why until I heard about you,” Vincent admitted that he misjudged him in the past. “I knew you were weird when I met you, but I never knew how weird. You and Rubio…you're both experiments…so does that mean that Rubio can transform as well?” Now that he thought about it, Rubio had only been fighting normally. Did he even really have any weird powers like Valentino did?
“I really don't know anything about Rubio's experiment,” Valentino admitted, much to the hunter's dismay. “He was an overseer of my experimentation and I was designed to take him out if he should disobey Ibuki. My job as INSIDIOUS was to specifically take him out.”
“Why?” Vincent didn't understand a few things about the past between those two, or much about their creation for that matter.
“Because he's Ibuki's right-hand man,” Valentino educated him. “When he had an affair with his wife, it made them both traitors.”
“Why didn't you kill Rubio, too then?” Vincent's question was so similar to the one Rubio had asked him all that time ago.
“That is a personal reason that you'll soon find out,” the aloof man wasn't really going to give him the real reason why he spared the other experiment's life.
“What?” Vincent then smirked a little. “Is he your love interest? Huh?” He elbowed him playfully and wriggled his eyebrows at him.
“What if he was?” The answer was way too serious not to make him pause in mid-motion and stare blankly at the dark-haired man.
“Uh…I didn't mean it.” Did he really want to know?
“Maybe you shouldn't joke about it,” Valentino advised.
“You serious?” Vincent was unsure if he was messing with him or not. He sincerely hoped that it was a joke and Valentino wasn't being a snide douche.
“You're the one hugging me, might I add,” Valentino made a point as Vincent looked over at his other arm that he still had wrapped around him. He then froze in place. “Uh…this just became awkward.”
“Go and be by my sister's side,” Valentino pressed the issue.
“Right,” Vincent nodded, “I can't do anything about Agata, but she's still here…living for me.” The brown-haired man rose and walked back towards the house. `Ionna…Maybe it's time to show you how I feel.'
It was time to make things right between them.
Vincent stood there as something floated down from the bright blue sky. He glanced up and uttered a `huh' in confusion as the form descended on him. At first, it merely looked like a faint glow, but then it transformed into the body of a woman.
She had long, black hair and wore little clothing. Her form was slender with seductive curves and large breasts. It was Ionna.
When she neared him, her small, warm hands reached down and grabbed his, holding them as she leaned in for a kiss. Their lips were inches apart from making contact and then-
Sari's eyes popped open and she nearly had a heart attack as she shot up to see Hisamichi. He looked freaked out and his gun lay on the floor a few inches from his feet.
“Stupid! Watch what you're doing!”
“Sorry…” The red-head looked guilty and embarrassed. He placed a hand behind his head and sighed.
Ionna woke up, hearing the gunshot and glanced over to see Vincent, asleep. She uttered his name weakly as Sari walked into the room.
“He came in a while ago and never left this bed. He said he was worried about you, or something,” Sari didn't remember the exact words but it was something along those lines.
“I feel bad about Agata. It should have been my fight,” Ionna felt incredibly guilty. Not only did she hurt her friends and took one out of this world, she shattered the man she cared about the most. At this rate, she wondered why he would have even come to sit by her, much less stay by her side.
“It's not like you could have predicted it or something,” Sari felt bad as well, but there wasn't anything anyone could do.
“It was my fault for being so weak,” Ionna continued to damn herself for her shortcomings in that battle. She knew Sari's words were correct, but she couldn't stop the guilt that plagued her.
“I thought you were strong. You've got one hell of an endurance rate on you,” Sari complimented her battle skills. She knew that she wouldn't have been able to last that long if she went toe-to-toe with Esta. “You just took the hits and kept going.” That was amazing, something worthy of admiration.
Ionna looked down at her bandaged hands with sorrow in her red eyes. “I should have done a better job and she wouldn't have died.” Clenching her fist and eyes shut, she tried not to cry again. Just then, she felt warmth on her hand and glanced over to see Vincent. He was awake and his hand was sat on him.
“You did your best. That's all that anyone can do. Don't beat yourself up too bad,” Vincent decided that he was going to be there for her. Ionna needed someone, and for once, the bounty hunter wasn't going to ignore her or leave her in the background.
She uttered his name in a sentimental tone and smiled a little.
“I'm sorry, Ionna,” Vincent apologized. “So sorry that I was so horrible to you…”
“I don't want pity,” the wounded woman's voice was cold. More than anything, she hated it when people pitied her and she would have none of it from the man she loved.
“I'm not giving you any,” Vincent wrapped his arms around her. “I've been thinking about how I feel about you. Please, can you give me one more chance? I should have told you what was going on, instead of treating you like that. I pushed you away because I tried not to hurt you, but it only made it worse. I didn't want you to hurt because of me. You didn't deserve that.”
She must have suffered through so much, constantly being disregarded by him. When he thought about it, she was going through with him what he was going through with Agata. Vincent related to her, now more than ever. He couldn't believe that he had been so insensitive to someone that had done nothing but been there for him all of that time.
“It's not easy,” Ionna admitted.
“I know how that feels,” Vincent agreed. “Agata shut you out like you shut me out and it was painful. I guess you suffered as much as I did. I'm so sorry.” He knew that he couldn't apologize enough for his mistakes.
“It's alright,” she didn't want to hold it against him.
“No it's not,” Vincent argued, his voice was riddled with emotions. “I made some pretty stupid decisions. I want you to give me a chance, and I'm not going it because Agata's dead, I'm doing it because even if she was alive, I couldn't be with her. I promise I won't be a douche bag. I'll be the best boyfriend you've ever had.” He squeezed her hand as tears clung to the corners of his eyes. The bounty hunter had never been so diligent in his entire life. He wanted to spend forever with her. He wanted to see a smile painted across her lips. Vincent wanted her to be happy for once in her life, and he wanted to treat her like a goddess.
“Why are you so suddenly interested?” Ionna knew that he said this wasn't because of Agata's death, but it really did seem that he was coming to her because he no longer had the sergeant.
“It's not sudden.” There were things Vincent hadn't fully said.
“What?” Ionna was a little lost.
“I liked you and Agata back then,” Vincent began to admit, “but I fell in love with Agata first so I placed her over you, even when I knew that you liked me back. I was so torn between who I wanted. I thought if I shoved you aside that you'd go find someone else and I could live with my decision.” In a way, the brown-haired man wanted to make everyone happy and get rid of some of the guilt and indecisiveness in his heart. He never dreamed that things would turn out this horribly wrong.
“Vincent…Even if you hurt me so many times, I still love you. Nothing can change that and it wasn't something that just would have gone away,” Ionna didn't think that Vincent was aware of the magnitude of her feelings. It wasn't just some little high-school crush. What she had was very real.
“Does that mean you'll take me? Even now? You'll really give me a chance?” He was shocked to find out that despite what he'd done, she still welcomed him with open arms. His eyes reflected a hopeful light.
Ionna pulled her hand away and stared into his eyes, “I will.”
“Thank you,” his words were soft as he leaned in and placed a kiss softly on her lips.
She returned the kiss as a small flush crossed her cheeks. Ionna had been waiting an eternity for this moment, and it felt just as elating as she thought it would. In her darkness, there was some light that put her in good spirits.
“At least they made up, I guess,” Sari remarked from her position in front of the opened door.
“If he treats her like crap again, I'll kill him,” Yaritza clenched a fist in anger. She knew of Vincent's wily ways. There was no way that she was going to let him hurt her friend again.
“Yeah,” Sari agreed, “I'll rip his balls off.”
The ninja's face contorted into one of disgust. “You do that. I wouldn't want to touch them.”
Sari then realized the error of that statement, “ewwwwwwww.”
“I'm glad something good came of this,” Loreli smiled a little. “I honestly didn't know what Agata was a cyborg.”
“The police have a cybertronics department that they use to alter or help their wounded troops. I've heard about those operations before, but Agata was the first I've seen.” It was no secret to Udo.
“Why would you want to hide a power like that?” Sari really didn't understand her reasoning for it. There was so much that Agata could have done for them, and it really would have helped them out in battle. “It's pretty kickass to mirror someone's attack. That could have really helped us out with Shigeki.”
“I imagine that she hid it for the same reason that Valentino hid being INSIDIOUS,” Udo thought that she more than likely had a reason for her actions. Then again, it wasn't like they could ask her now.
“Being an experiment doesn't usually hold good memories for people,” Rubio thought that maybe Agata simply didn't want to talk about what happened to her. Once she told everyone, they would have questioned her.
“Did you really know about Valentino from the INSIDIOUS Project from the start?” Zidane still wanted answers on that ordeal.
“No,” Rubio shook his head, “I worked on the INSIDIOUS Project for two years without knowing his name. He was just a number. Shortly after I was relocated as Ibuki's body guard, I didn't learn much about INSIDIOUS other than what the possibilities were and what it was used for. I also knew a lot of the pain the project undergone.” Vivid memories of the experimentation flooded his mind. The screams of pain and all that his boyfriend had been subjected to was something he could never bleach from his mind. “If I would have known it went that far…”
“I'm the one who had to clean up that mess,” Zidane's voice lowered and his frown deepened, “It wasn't pretty.”
“I just thought Valentino was a Dark Renegade Assassin when we first met, but I couldn't lay my finger on whom,” Rubio didn't know that Valentino was involved in anything more than that.
“It explains his attitude, especially if he was in the special ops crew. They did the real dirty stuff. The stuff that even makes hard hearts cringe,” Zidane knew what those guys did. The special ops took care of the horrific experiments, deaths and other things that took place around the labs.
“He's a member of AKUMA?” Hisamichi asked.
“AKUMA?” Yaritza wondered what exactly that was.
“Yeah, AKUMA are the elite,” the red-head educated her, “man, AKUMA were wicked. They all used to be like that. He was robotic and puppet-like, kind of the `I'm at your disposal' kind of guy.”
“AKUMA took care of extremely private matters for Ibuki and they were highly secretive. They had a presence about them. To be honest, they were kind of frightening. The kind of people you didn't want to approach,” Loreli remembered feeling intimidated every time the AKUMA came around, and she could tell who was AKUMA and who wasn't by the look in their eyes. Each member, male and female had a look so cold that they didn't look human. It was as if they were robbed of their souls.
“The kind of people who'd shoot you dead if you did approach them,” Hisamichi looked uneasy just talking about them, “those guys scare the hell out of me.”
Loreli looked a little worried. “Does that mean that AKUMA will be protecting Ibuki?”
“Most of the members of AKUMA are dead,” Valentino informed them of what happened.
“Yes, they were killed in Project INSIDIOUS,” Rubio clarified.
“Some of them escaped, but they didn't live very long,” the assassin added.
“You,” Zidane spoke.
“Yes, Zidane?” Valentino asked.
“I'm not sure whether I respect you or you freak me out. You're a living lethal weapon.” Someone of his caliber was highly dangerous. If he had still been working for Ibuki, Valentino would have been in a padded room on 24-hour surveillance.
“That is why I am the way I am. That is why I am a monster. It wasn't a figure of speech, I really am a monster,” Valentino knew his situation. It wasn't some emo line to get people to feel sorry for him. It wasn't a metaphorical term of speech from his repressed negativity; he could literally turn into several monsters.
“I just thought you were really negative when you said that, but now I see that you're not,” Loreli had presumed, but she was really wrong on that guess.
“I had valid reasons for everything, including my dislocated behavior,” Valentino explained. He knew that it was about time he said something.
“You know what?” Sari asked as he turned his attention to her. “So what? So what if you're different, or you look weird, or you turn into freaky things? You're still my friend and I'm not afraid of you. If you kill me, I won't regret it because I'll know that you didn't mean to. You did so much for me that I owe you my life anyway. I don't regret anything and I hope you kill that bastard Ibuki.” This was a time for brutal honesty; a time that she knew he needed to hear something from her. Sari wasn't good at telling people her true feelings, but she felt it was best to let him know.
“I agree,” Hisamichi added, “even if we lost Agata, and no matter what else we find out about you, we support you. I admire you. I'm just a normal human. I used to think that being experimented on was cool. And that people like you made me feel inferior. I always signed up for experiments. I wanted to be like you so much and I always was disappointed that I was never good enough, but now…now I'm happy that I was never chosen. I saw what you went through and it really made me think.”
He was such an idiot back then. The red-head knew that, and if he could go back in time and slap himself, he definitely would have. Being an experiment had life-long consequences, and it wasn't cool at all, in fact it was a miserable existence that he wasn't sure he would have been able to live with.
“I guess we have to head to HQ and infiltrate it,” Udo brought up the subject of a plan.
“Ugh,” Sair groaned, “don't remind me.”
“HQ not bringing back good memories?” The spiky-haired sadist remarked.
“I just want to kill him and get it over with,” Rubio sighed. They had all come so far, and he was tired of waiting for a moment to strike. Ibuki had his fun, and it was time to end his reign.
“I'm sure we'd all like to kick his ass,” Zidane knew he couldn't wait to sink his teeth into that guy for all he'd done to him.
“Poor Agata,” Sari's face contorted to a visage of sorrow, “I feel horrible.”
“We can't think about it now,” Valentino reminded them to keep on track. “Just like I told Vincent, crying won't bring her back. She would want you to think that her death was useful for our advancement, not something that held us back. That is why we'll move on and not be held back by it.”
“I hate how you make seemingly cold things seem nice,” Sari grumbled.
“It's cliché but you have to be cruel to be kind,” Valentino told her as his sister kissed the bounty hunter again through the opened door.
“You know, as bad as it sounds, this feels right,” Vincent told her as he pulled back. The moisture of their kiss was fresh on his lips.
“There's nothing wrong with wanting comfort. I just hope that's not the only reason you're doing this-“ Ionna still had doubts. The situation was extremely traumatic and traumatic instances cause people's emotions to run high. This meant that what Vincent was feeling could have just been in the moment and not something that would be long-lasting.
“No!” Vincent rushed the words out of his mouth. “I'm sure this time.” His voice lowered and he grabbed her hand again. “Please, don't doubt me.”
Slowly, a smile crept to her lips and she placed her arms around him. “As long as you treat me right, and be the best boyfriend you wanted to be, then I won't.”
“I was serious about that,” he hugged her tightly, paying mind to her injuries. “You won't have to worry about me looking at another woman again.”
“Well, that's because she's already dead,” Ionna remarked.
Vincent said nothing in response.
“Would you have wanted me, even if she was still alive?” The black-haired woman still felt like she was just being a second choice. She needed a confirmation. Ionna wanted him to say something that would make her feel at ease.
“She already turned me down, and she was married,” Vincent brought up her reasons.
“Her family will be devastated,” Ionna could only imagine what will happen when they get the news.
“I wonder if she had any kids. I never got to know her that well.” Now, Vincent wished that he had gotten to know her beyond hitting on her constantly.
“She was a lot like my brother,” Ionna noted the similarities. “She never let anyone in. I regret not trying to know her at least.” Most of her time was spent being jealous of the white-haired smoker. Agata was always silent and aloof. She had a constant feeling of mystery, and she died with that presence.
“I should have been more serious and tried to get to know her,” the regret hit him harder than before with that realization. Now, Vincent wouldn't get the chance he had missed out on. Just then, he felt a warm touch on his cheek. It was Ionna's hand.
“There's no time for regrets now,” she gave him a comforting smile. “We have destiny in our grasp, so now is the time to move forward and never look back, no matter how painful it gets.”
…To Be Continued