01 - Motion. Although she would never admit such a superstition to her colleagues, Lucrecia felt that the motion of the planets spun a web of fate, and as she introduced herself to Vincent Valentine, she couldn’t decide which of them was the spider and which was the hapless fly.
02 - Cool. Vincent wore his blue suit, his company issued gun, and his laminated name tag that declared him an employee of the Department of Administrative Research as if these three items gave him the same level of authority as those who had completed their doctorates and had contributed scientific findings to the community.
03 - Young. Until Lucrecia saw Vincent’s birthdate listed on his HR file, she had thought that he was barely out of his teens.
04 - Last. She could tell Vincent wanted to ask her out on a date so she armed herself with excuses that cut him off before he could get those final words out of his mouth.
05 - Wrong. Lucrecia felt a secret thrill every time Vincent ran down the hall responding to her every beck and call.
06 - Gentle. Lucrecia watched Vincent observed a butterfly perched on the edge of the pulp horror magazine he was reading.
07 - One. In the two column list Lucrecia titled with Vincent’s name, all she wrote was “his dogged devotion” under pro and “all of my mistakes regarding his father” under con.
08 - Thousand. After a furious hour of typing, Lucrecia’s spreadsheet hit row one thousand listing all of her reasons for considering Hojo’s proposal, but she quickly exited the program the moment Vincent entered her office.
09 - King. Shinra’s deep pockets provided Lucrecia’s lab with anything she wrote a request for, no matter how extravagant the cost, but the one thing she could not requisition was an answer explaining why, of all people, Grimoire Valentine’s son had been assigned to her.
10 - Learn. Lucrecia couldn’t decide if she was surprised when Vincent casually corrected an error in a chemical formula she had previously scribbled on a note pad.
11 - Blur. It was not just Vincent’s eyes but his long fingers, his casual posture, even the clothing he wore on Sunday afternoons — all of it reminded Lucrecia of a young, slender shadow of his father.
12 - Wait. Even though a light rain had begun to fall, Vincent leaned against a lamppost in the middle of town until Lucrecia arrived and suggested a place for coffee.
13 - Change. “So, you dropped out of a graduate program in biochemistry to become a Turk,” she said, but then she swallowed the word ‘why’ and quickly changed the topic lest it lead to matters regarding his father, Grimoire.
14 - Command. The one paragraph memo from a Shinra vice president made clear that Vincent Valentine was more than a hired gun providing protection — he was authorized to review monetary and procedural aspects of their scientific research.
15 - Hold. During one of their afternoon walks Vincent reached for Lucrecia’s hand and even though she knew she shouldn’t, she let him entwine his fingers with hers for a little while but the moment he referred to her as ‘his woman’ she flinched and pulled away.
16 - Need. Vincent lived deep within the realm of his mind and required little in his day to day surroundings, but the commitment he wanted from Lucrecia was more than what she would give to anyone, especially to him.
17 - Vision. She couldn’t understand how Vincent was satisfied with a career as a Shinra Turk or why he refused to do anything more with his life.
18 - Attention. The instant she told Vincent that she and Hojo would marry, he retreated into professional formality.
19 - Soul. From the third story window Lucrecia watched Vincent jog in the pouring rain while she imagined him crying.
20 - Picture. Vincent appeared in Lucrecia’s wedding photos with Hojo, him dressed as if part of the wedding party while standing off to the side, quietly serving his role as a Turk protecting Shinra’s valued investments.
21 - Fool. “If you are happy, that’s all that matters,” Vincent said, and despite the warmth in his voice and the sincerity in his closed-mouth smile, his words cut through Lucrecia as if he had hurled an insult at her.
22 - Mad. She needed Vincent to feel something, to yell something selfish, to demand that he should have had a chance.
23 - Child. When asked what he wanted for himself in the long run, Vincent scoffed and insisted only children aspire to hopes and dreams.
24 - Now. At ten in the morning, Lucrecia created an urgent excuse that required Vincent to walk with her from her lab back to her apartment.
25 - Shadow. The late morning sunlight slanted through the window, falling against the wall, tracing the contour of Vincent’s shuddering silhouette while she stroked his balls and sucked his cock until he came.
26 - Goodbye. “You’re married… we shouldn’t do this.”
27 - Hide. Sometimes she wanted Hojo to notice, to question, to suspect, so she’d reach out to touch Vincent’s arm but he always shrank and pulled away.
28 - Fortune. “Before I turn forty, I will make a fundamental scientific discovery that will be recognized by the academy, that solidifies my career, and places my name in every biology textbook,” Lucrecia told Vincent, knowing he would not doubt her hunger for the highest levels of success, while believing her words would set straight everything about them.
29 - Safe. Late morning every Tuesday and early afternoon every Thursday, Lucrecia met Vincent for an hour in her apartment in town on the pretense that she needed someone to talk to, but after a few words were exchanged they always ended up fucking.
30 - Ghost. Vincent must not have realized that she had worn her diaphragm because he hovered around her like an expectant father.
31 - Book. Vincent sat by the fireplace reading yet another volume on philosophy when Lucrecia asked him if he had seen the hot water bottle, as she was suffering from monthly cramps.
32 - Eye. Lucrecia made a point of pressing her back against his chest and never looking him in the face as she moved his hand beneath her skirt and imaged that it was Hojo bringing her closer and closer to climax.
33 - Never. When Vincent showed no sign of growing into any of the men she needed him to be, he left her with no other choice — she would end their affair and ask him to move on.
34 - Sing. Later, she would remember the muffled sounds of holiday music and boisterous chatter as a hundred people milled about in the ballroom while Vincent pressed her against the wall in a darkened alcove, thrusting inside her until he finished, upon which she told him to leave her for good and then, without a word, he buttoned up his trousers and left.
35 - Sudden. “Do memories have expiry dates?” he asked in his low whisper of a voice while suddenly brushing past her in the center of town on a warm afternoon a few months later.
36 - Stop. Her cycle has always been irregular but this time was different: her breasts had grown large and tender, her belly soft.
37 - Time. She looked back at Vincent as a pleasurable escape for only as long as escapism lasted: their mid-afternoon coffee breaks at a sleepy cafe, summer weekend picnics, winter evenings reading by the fire.
38 - Wash. Lucrecia deleted every unnecessary email exchange between them, burned his handwritten letters, laundered the lingerie she had worn when they met for sex.
39 - Torn. Vincent’s face darkened as he gingerly fingered the rip on her sleeve and asked her if she had been hurt, and she lied to him knowing he knew she had spoken a lie.
40 - History. When Vincent asked if she was still happy with Hojo, she screamed at him to fuck off.
41 - Power. Her emotions were an electric switch that had been turned off, because once upon a time she loved Hojo and wanted him to think the world of her but now she felt nothing for her husband, just as she felt nothing for Vincent; she felt nothing, nothing at all.
42 - Bother. Vincent was worse then a child the way he dawdled far too long to voice what he wanted, waiting purposefully until it was far too late, waiting until all other options had been lost, until other decisions had long since been made.
43 - God. All the world stopped when she found Hojo standing over Vincent’s body, the room reeking of gunpowder and blood.
44 - Wall. The length and width of brick and plaster separating her lab from Hojo’s were not thick enough to conceal the screams.
45 - Naked. She found him discarded in the morgue, comatose, vital signs weak, yet what struck Lucrecia was how Vincent had been dressed in his blue suit, but without his holster, without his gun.
46 - Drive. Once she had stabilized his vitals, she searched every scientific database for a procedure she could use, but only after Hojo mocked her did she remember that she already possessed the knowledge she required.
47 - Harm. She had already birthed one superhuman boy so what did it matter if she created something truly great — truly paradigm shifting — out of a young dying man?
48 - Precious. It took weeks for the wings to emerge, delicate membranes stretching over the bones of elegant digits, but only minutes for the membranes to tear while the wings beat in frantic panic once the consciousness that was Vincent’s suddenly became aware.
49 - Hunger. More than anything in the world, Lucrecia needed Vincent to understand why she had done what she had done, but he slept and she did not wish to wake him and risk her last memory of him ruined by an unpleasant emotion.
50 - Believe. “If my theory about the Lifestream, Omega, and Chaos is correct, I have made a scientific contribution that will protect the future of all life on the planet because I have created a human-controlled fail safe for the planet’s ultimate defense system by binding Chaos, the shepherd of the weapon Omega, with the consciousness of a human being.”