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Misc: Masked like a lover

evocates in ship_manifesto

[Similar Opposites]: Sephiroth/Vincent Valentine, Final Fantasy VII

I am so, so late that it's not funny, but better late than never, right? ^^

Title: Similar Opposites
Author: evocates
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Pairing: Sephiroth/Vincent Valentine
Words: 3,333 (OMGWUT?)
Disclaimer: I don’t own Final Fantasy VII. It belongs to Squaresoft/Square-Enix.
Warnings: Major spoilers for the whole game and Advent Children.

Edit: A copy of the essay here, as requested by the mod. The other copy is here.


[Braided Destiny]: Introduction and Story so Far

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Final Fantasy VII is not, and probably never will be, a story of love. It is more of action, of heroes more interested in saving the world than finding the ever-elusive ‘true love’. It is of a hero, Cloud Strife (affectionately known as ‘Spike’ or ‘Chocobo Head’), and his band of misfits saving the Planet from the ‘evil clutches’ of Shinra and its General, Sephiroth. And of course, there is the alien threat of Jenova who wanted to destroy the Planet. No RPG is complete without an alien threat, after all.

That sounds really simple and uncomplicated but it really isn’t. The world of Final Fantasy is a huge one, and it is still expanding with sequels and prequels and in-betweens being released. If I try to explain it here, it’ll take all year and it isn’t really the purpose of this essay. Suffice to say, FFVII isn’t really pairing-orientated.

However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any pairings or that there couldn’t be any. There are, and I’m here to try and convince you of one in particular: Sephiroth/Vincent Valentine. But before I start rambling, let me introduce them first.

[One-Winged Angel]: Sephiroth
‘I've always felt since I was small… That I was different from the others. Special, in some way. But…not like this…’
Sephiroth, during the Nibelheim Incident.


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Ask anyone about Final Fantasy VII and the first thing that will pop into their mind will probably be Sephiroth.

Sephiroth is quite possibly the most famous villain in RPG, or at least, Final Fantasy, history. Maybe it’s because of his long, white hair and piercing, glow-in-the-dark green eyes. Perhaps it’s because of his tortured past and childhood. Or it could even be that Sephiroth wasn’t really a villain in the end. Personally, I believe in the theory about the hair and eyes. Fangirls are rather shallow, after all.

Sephiroth was born thirty years or so before the main story begun. He was never told the identity of his father, but what he was told was that his mother’s name was Jenova and she died giving birth to him.

That was a lie.

Sephiroth’s biological father is Professor Hojo, and his mother Hojo’s assistant and wife Lucrecia Crescent. He was injected with Jenova cells when he was in the womb, an experiment started by Shinra to create the Perfect Soldier. The project, named the Jenova Project, was considered a success.

Before we go on any further, there is the question of just who are what Jenova is in the first place? Well, to put it simply, Jenova is an alien who came to the Planet two thousand odd years before the main story. It was mistaken by the Shinra Company to be an Ancient, a race that called themselves the Cetra that could wield magic without materia and have the ability to speak with the Planet. Jenova was actually the one who nearly wiped out the Cetra by pretending to be one of them and releasing a virus that unleash a disease that kills almost everyone. Before the job was complete, however, a few of the Cetra managed to seal her away until Shinra found her.

‘Jenova’ is actually a name given by Shinra’a scientists to the alien. The Cetra had called it the ‘Crisis from the Sky’, but, frankly, Jenova sounds better and is easier to say.

Well… that doesn’t actually sound so simple, after all. Anyway, getting back on track on Sephiroth…

From what we know, Sephiroth had a terrible childhood. He was pretty much a lab rat, kept in the Shinra building and laboratories and given injections of Mako and Jenova cells frequently. Considering that it is possible to get Mako poisoning and that Jenova cells are basically alien cells, I can say that the experience certainly wasn’t pleasant.

Fast forward to his adult years and Nibelheim.

Sephiroth was considered a war hero during the time of Nibelheim, five years before the main storyline. He had, pretty much single-handedly, won the Wutai war for Shinra. He was the ‘White General’, and Cloud Strife’s, and probably every SOLDIER’s, idol.

Then came Nibelheim.

Imagine this: you have just found out that your life was a lie, that almost everyone you knew and trusted had actually lied to you. Imagine that you realize that you are right about you being different, but not exactly in a good way. Imagine that, unlike normal people who have parents, you are just an experiment. Then imagine realizing that your mother, whom you were told was dead, is actually alive and is speaking to you right now about how you are superior, not inferior, to all the humans who had hurt you in your life.

I’m not justifying Sephiroth’s actions, both during the Nibelheim incident and during the game itself. All I’m trying to say here is that Sephiroth isn’t exactly the crazed maniac that everyone saw during the game either. He has another side, a side that is only seen very, very briefly during Cloud’s flashbacks.

It is my personal theory that Sephiroth is a lonely man, feeling isolated from others because of his utterly unique appearance and skills. There is also the fact that his position, as Shinra’s General, is also stumbling block over creating relationships. Who is to say that people won’t befriend him simply to climb up the corporate ladder? And, of course, there is his lack of normal interpersonal relationships during his childhood.

But that doesn’t mean he’s a bad person.

I firmly believe that Sephiroth has his own personal sense of honor, cultivated during the Wutai War. It fits in with everything we knew about the General, the saner side of Sephiroth. What is there to say that there isn’t, after all?

[Demon With Broken Wings]: Vincent Valentine
‘I was with... the Shinra Manufacturing Department in Administrative Research, otherwise known as-- the Turks....’
Vincent Valentine, when he was awakened from his coffin.


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Vincent Valentine has a lot of angst.

We don’t know very much about his early life and childhood. What is canon is that Vincent was a Turk, one of the elite soldier-bodyguards that serve as Shinra’s lapdog. Except, at that time, they weren’t exactly the Turks now. They were the ‘Shinra Manufacturing Department in Administrative Research’. Maybe it is a cover, maybe the Turks in Vincent’s time was different from the Turks during the game. Until more information is given, we don’t really know, and it isn’t important right now.

Thirty years or so before the start of the game, Vincent was sent to protect a pair of scientists in Nibelheim. They’re working on a project, officially known as the SOLDIER project, to make humans stronger by injecting them with mako. In actuality, it was a project to make a perfect human, the Jenova Project. And the names of the scientists?

Professor Hojo and Lucrecia Crescent.

Vincent fell in love with Lucrecia, a love that was, by all accounts, unrequited. Lucrecia doesn’t love him, partly because she was already married to Hojo and partly because Vincent plainly scares her, in my opinion. Vincent was a Turk, after all, and isn’t very good at professing his feelings for Lucrecia. Personally, it seems almost as if Vincent had stalked Lucrecia, and while the Turks may not mean the same thing in Vincent’s time than it does now, a man who is supposed to be protecting you seems to be stalking you is rather scary from any perspective.

Sometime after realizing that, Vincent approached Lucrecia and, possibly, either kissed her or told her of his feeling. She didn’t return them, and told him so, but that doesn’t stop him from loving her. However, he backed down, willing to love and obsess over her from the sidelines.

Soon after that, Hojo decided to use their unborn son, Sephiroth, as a test subject for the Jenova project. Lucrecia agreed, or did not protest. Vincent did, however, but his objections were overruled because he was ‘just a Turk’. He had no choice but to let the experiment continues, for though he hated Hojo, Vincent respected Lucrecia’s decision.

But after Sephiroth was born, when Lucrecia seemed to be on her deathbed, Vincent went against Hojo… and was killed. He was brought back before long, though, and was used as a human experiment by Hojo before being shut in a coffin where he slept for almost thirty years.

Why does this end up with giving Vincent angst? Well, he blamed himself for not being able to save Lucrecia and stop the project, never mind that Lucrecia herself had agreed to have Jenova cells injected into herself and Sephiroth both. And, because of this, he thought that the whole mess with Sephiroth trying to destroy the world by bringing down Meteor was his fault. In short, Vincent has a convoluted guilt complex.

[To Love Thy Father]: The ‘Father Issue’
‘What will Sephiroth think when he finds out I'm his father? Always looking down on me like that. HA, HA, HA...!’
Hojo, when preparing to fire the Sister Ray.


Before I can even start on the pairing, there is the theory that Sephiroth was Vincent’s son to deal with. I think Abandoned Hope, a Vincent Valentine shrine, says it best, and therefore I shall quote it:

‘A relationships web in the book Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega clearly labels Lucrecia and Hojo as husband and wife with Sephiroth as their son. A pink arrow pointing to Lucrecia from below is coming from Vincent and reads "unattainable love".’

While I’m not saying that you shouldn’t believe in the theory, there is proof that it is false. And as one of the main arguments against the pairing of Sephiroth/Vincent is that they might be father and son, it makes sense to put this section here, no?

[Two Ends of a Spectrum]: Something in Common
'Sephiroth!? You know Sephiroth?'
Vincent, when he was awakened from his coffin


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Art by Twilight of the Dark Master

Sephiroth and Vincent aren’t the type of love that can be described as ‘fluffy’. ‘I love you’ would probably be rare, or even nonexistent, because they’re men of actions and not words. Even without the major events of their lives, Sephiroth and Vincent both are violent men, one being the General of SOLDIER and the other a Turk. They aren’t easy to write together, because of the issues they must get over: Sephiroth’s mother Lucrecia and Vincent’s slight obsession with her and Sephiroth’s attempt to destroy the world. There might be even more issues, as both are extremely complicated and deep men whom we only scratch the surface of their characters during the game and Advent Children. It isn’t easy to believe in this pairing, unlike Sephiroth/Cloud or Sephiroth/Zack, but the potential is there and waiting to be found.

And that potential, and the challenge of writing them in character and as a pairing, is what drew me into Sephiroth/Vincent. What potential, you ask? Well… Let’s get on with what the essay is actually about.

The main theme of the Sephiroth/Vincent pairing is missed opportunities. I freely admit that there is no way the pairing could happen in canon, but the potential for it is there, as I have said, and overwhelmingly so. If things had been different, if a butterfly had flapped its wings a hundred miles away and created a storm, I daresay that there is a good chance that Sephiroth/Vincent can happen.

For example, what if what happened in Nibelheim had been different? What if Sephiroth had found Vincent in his coffin, and was told the truth of his birth? What if Sephiroth was told that, while he is special, he is still a human with parents like everybody else? The story would’ve gone very differently, wouldn’t it?

How would it work, exactly? Well, it is exactly as the title of this essay says: Similar Opposites. Sephiroth and Vincent are direct opposites, the antithesis, of each other in every way, it seems. However, if you look closer, they are also very similar.

Let’s start with the basics, with physical appearances. Black and white, green and red: Sephiroth’s white hair and green eyes play off wonderfully against Vincent’s black hair and red eyes. There is a slight irony here as well; Vincent’s looks makes him look almost vampire-like, a creature of the night, but he is one of the heroes who helped save the world. Sephiroth, however, can seem almost angelic with his white hair and brilliant green eyes, but he tried to destroy the world. Which brings me to my next point.

Sephiroth is often called the ‘One-Winged Angel’, and possesses wings that any angel will be envious of. His name derives from the word ‘seraph’, the highest class of angels that consist of Gabriel and Raphael according to the Bible. Vincent has the ability to change into demons, bloodthirsty monsters, even though he had no control of it. He is named after a famous horror movie actor, Vincent Price. However…

However, in appearance-wise, both Vincent and Sephiroth are tall, slender and muscular, and they don’t look like average humans. They both have their own demons, except that Vincent shows his through his transformations and Sephiroth shows his when he went insane. They’re both strong fighters, one specializing in guns and the other in swords.

The last point is important because, in my opinion, Sephiroth and Vincent both need someone they know they can rely on to watch their backs. They both don’t exactly want people to protect, because they had been trying, and failing, to protect things all their lives. For Vincent, it was Lucrecia. For Sephiroth, it was his humanity. They need someone that they know they can… well, not exactly lean on, but to stand beside. Any lovers they probably take will be able to fight and protect themselves, so that they wouldn’t need to worry about them and concentrate on eliminating the enemy. Sephiroth and Vincent both belong to this category.

There is more than that, too. Sephiroth needs someone who can understand him enough to not pry about things he doesn’t want to answer. Vincent, while he doesn’t exactly understand about Sephiroth’s horrible childhood, he knew the exact feeling of being experimented on and feeling helpless. Vincent, too, needs someone who can understand about his demons and not to pry about them, because although they’re a part of him, they aren’t exactly pleasant to think about. I believe Sephiroth can understand that, for what was insanity except the release of one’s inner demons? Their situations are similar enough that they can understand each other’s experiences, but not so much the same that they’re the carbon copies of each other.

I believe that if Sephiroth returns from the dead, sane and repentant, Vincent will be the first to forgive him. Why? Vincent had always seems to blame Hojo, and not Sephiroth, for everything that had happened. Also, it’ll be easy to believe that Vincent forgives Sephiroth, because Vincent knows, and understands, how big the loss of one’s humanity can be. Perhaps they might have gotten stronger because they weren’t human, but that’s pretty much a cold comfort when one realizes that one is someone completely different from others.

The two of them, I believe, are almost like looking into a mirror, except that the mirror doesn’t reflect exactly what it sees but distort the colors. However, the image itself is still the same, the cores of their characters are the same, shaped by what they had gone through throughout their lives. If given a chance, they would be able to get along well as the two people who manage to understand each other the most. They’re like two ends of a spectrum that knock into each other forcefully in the middle.

And that is what makes this pairing interesting, to see how their differences and similarities mix, how these two similar opposites be able to overcome their obvious differences and see how similar they are really. They both need someone who can understand what they had gone through, a person whom they can trust their back to and not fear backstabbing. Who better than each other, after all?

And of course, there’s the fact that they’re awfully pretty together.

[In Between the Lines]: Advent Children
‘[Kadaj] is Sephiroth’s body of thought. In other words, he’s like a chrysalis’
Vincent Valentine, Advent Children


One thing that strikes me when I was watching Advent Children: Just how the heck does Vincent know so much about the triplets anyway? Perhaps he is just omniscient, able to predict the return of Sephiroth enough to observe the triplets and learn more of them. However, if that is so, why didn’t he kill the triplets in the first place to stop them from trying to retrieve Jenova and revive Sephiroth anyway?

It is my personal theory, and therefore somewhat biased, that Vincent knew because Sephiroth drew him towards Ajit. His body contains Jenova cells, after all, and Sephiroth, in the Lifestream, may have foreseen the danger and tried to warn people. Of course, this must be the saner Sephiroth, the one we only saw a glimpse of during the Nibelheim flashback. Why would Sephiroth warn Vincent? Well, it seemed in the movie that Sephiroth didn’t actually want to return, being that he seemed to be goading for Cloud to kill him and only stabbing him on the right shoulder when he had an obvious opening.

Why Vincent? Because Vincent is the one most similar to him, of course. And there’s the fact that Vincent, with four demons in his head, might take having an extra voice in his head better than Cloud, or anyone else, would.

Or it might be a crackpot theory spawned from the fact that I like Sephiroth/Vincent, of any type, a little too much. We might never know, unless Dirge of Cerberus, a new game featuring Vincent as the main character, tells us something. But I doubt they will.

[Familiar]: The Fandom and the Fanfiction
‘The thing you want to destroy… Isn’t it your own sin?’
Sephiroth, in the doujinshi Satan Impact


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Art from the doujinshi Satan Impact, by artist unknown.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I’m not the only Sephiroth/Vincent shipper out there. There are more of us, though not as many as, say, Sephiroth/Cloud or Vincent/Tifa. But we exist. Really.

demons_n_angels – The Sephiroth/Vincent community
There’s Beauty in the Breakdown – The Sephiroth/Vincent fanlisting

Fanfiction:

Lemonade Café – Four Sephiroth/Vincent ficlets of various ratings. A glimpse of what could have been.

Into the Dark – A possibility of what could have happened during Nibelheim. Beautifully dark, with a tortured Vincent and both of them so in character that it hurts.
Silence Became Golden – A very eloquent piece on the theme ‘there are no words’. Their silence is more poignant than any sound.

A Game of Dying – Their convoluted relationship is perfectly displayed here. In the Pit.
Choose Your Path – While not directly Sephiroth/Vincent, their interaction here is beautifully executed. A cliché Sephiroth resurrection story given a twist. In the Pit.
Sanctuary – A ‘what if’ story executed marvelously. Sephiroth survives the final battle with Cloud, and gets a present landed onto his lap. In the Pit.
Sea of Illusion – Vincent, haunted by green eyes in his dreams. Also in the Pit.
Silence – Going decades without words and communicating by actions is something only Sephiroth and Vincent can do.

Fanart:

SephirothxVincent The Sephiroth/Vincent club in DeviantArt.

Divine Star – While her stuff in mainly of the triplets and DMC, there are quite a few Sephiroth/Vincent pieces.
Mila-Valentine – Again, mostly art of the triplets and Sephiroth, but with one or two of the pairing as well.
Shahnida – Beautiful, beautiful art of Sephiroth and Vincent, together and with other people too.
V-Valentine – Very, very pretty Sephiroth/Vincent art. Features chibis.

Amadaras - Gorgeous Final Fantasy VII and Sephiroth/Vincent art done in paints.
Zaxroth - Art mostly based on Sephiroth, Zack and Vincent. The shading is beyond words.

Comments

Hey, you asked for a comment, so here it is.

Timeline wise, I think the time frame is against you. Vincent is far older than Sephiroth. He's knocked out for the entire period that Sephiroth is sane. He's awakened when Sephiroth is gone. Putting that aside, however, and taking you up on the AU point:

Age-wise, Vincent is far older than Sephiroth. His obsession about Lucrecia does not necessary extend to her mad son, and even if it is does, most people are hardwired to think that having a relationship with the son of the woman you love is tantamount to something very, very wrong. Vincent, at least, seems a very principled person, and throughout the game, we can see that his thoughts are constantly caught up in the past and in Lucrecia. We don't see him harbouring the same interest in Sephiroth that the rest do.

I can't remember the basement conversation too well, but does Vincent react to the mention of Sephiroth or Hojo? Because if he reacts to the mention of Sephiroth, that's a point in your favor.


I'm never one to be influenced by how good a pairing looks together, so I'll just pass on that argument.

The last point is important because, in my opinion, Sephiroth and Vincent both need someone they know they can rely on to watch their backs.

That's a very good point. Their shared past and their connection in the form of Vincent's love for Lucrecia and the unhappy events that brought them all together is probably the strongest point in favor of this pairing.

However, at the same time, it can also work against the pairing. The impression I get from Vincent is that he hates the monster aspect of himself or at least isn't very comfortable with it. Knowing that Sephiroth has been experimented on, knowing that he, too, has the potential to turn into a monster, it would be like looking into the mirror and seeing the bits of himself that he doesn't like. Moreover, Sephiroth would remind him of his 'sin' against Lucrecia, which, it is quite clear, he still blames himself for. How long would a relationship like that last?
True, timeline-wise, canon is against the pairing. I admit that freely, and the fact that there is absolutely no way this could happen in canon except perhaps when Sephiroth was in the Nibelheim mansion, but that isn't exactly the issue now.

While Vincent might be far older than Sephiroth age-wise, it doesn't really matter. His... growth, emotional and mental, is stunted, partly because he was locked in a coffin for years, partly because he was experimented on by Hojo, partly because he refused to let Lucrecia and his 'sin' go. And yes, the fact that Vincent is obsessively in love with Lucrecia might go against the pairing, but there isn't an issue that Lucrecia actually returns his feelings.

Yes, Vincent might be caught up in the past and Lucrecia during the game, but I can see that mostly because he wanted to be cleansed of the sin he thought he was guilty of. He was obsessed with his 'sin', stuck in a rut because of it, much like as it was with Lucrecia. He had to move on from it to think about anything else. He doesn't have an interest in Sephiroth, because, I believe, in his opinion it wasn't exactly Sephiroth's fault. It was Hojo's, and Vincent feels that he should stop the source of the problem first.

And as for getting involved with the son of the woman he loved... Vincent doesn't seem like a person who cares very much about that, in my opinion. He was a Turk, after all, and if he cares about what other people thinks, he wouldn't have gotten very far.

Yes, I'm pretty sure he reacted to 'Sephiroth'. It's shown on the quote there. ^^


While Vincent might think that Sephiroth it the incarnation of Vincent's 'sin' and his monster side, I don't think Sephiroth would stand for that very long. He would, at some point, try to beat some sense into Vincent, both literally and figuratively. Sephiroth is himself, and I believe that Vincent would be able to see that clearly. It might start as a relationship of obligations at first, but I don't think that it would continue for long, given their personalities.
Well, my main contention is that generally, a person who wants to break free of his past or has some kind of trauma in the past will try to avoid anything related to it.

but there isn't an issue that Lucrecia actually returns his feelings.

Not true. Unrequited love may act to exclusion of finding anything else.

While Vincent might be far older than Sephiroth age-wise, it doesn't really matter. His... growth, emotional and mental, is stunted, partly because he was locked in a coffin for years, partly because he was experimented on by Hojo, partly because he refused to let Lucrecia and his 'sin' go.

Again, I beg to differ. There's no proof whatsoever that his growth was stunted or in any way retarded. Stopped, very likely, while he was in that coffin but even so, he was old enough to be Sephiroth's father even before the experimentation. That's a good 20 or 30 years older. And he acts it.

-

He was a Turk, after all, and if he cares about what other people thinks, he wouldn't have gotten very far.

Vincent strikes me as the kind of person who cares very much about principles. I suppose it would depend entirely on whether, according to his own moral code, whether he saw it as wrong. Given that most people do, I'd say it's fairly safe to assume that he would feel guilty about it. If only because he can feel guilty about anything.

But well, the way I see Vincent is that he'd feel guilty about any sort of happiness connected with that entire event. He's so tied up with atonement and stuff that finding happiness out of the entire mixture would seem to trivalize the atonement.

Wangsty? Yes. Emo? Yes. Goth-teenager? Yes. But still very Vincent.

-
Another point is that if Seph looks so much like Lucrecia (and people tell me he does), they're going to have a slightly rocky time where Vincent angsts about whether he's really in love with Seph or whether he's actually in love with Lucrecia and he's with Seph because Seph is the closest thing to Lucrecia that he can get. ^^; Vincent's a very conflicted person who thinks too much, and I think it's entirely possible for some sort of mental hiccup to tear up their relationship pretty bad, with Vincent running away.

Seph might be able to beat some sense into him, as you said, although I'm not sure that Seph won't start on his own angstfest. And I'm not sure that anyone can really stop Vincent from being insecure and conflicted o_O.

Yes, Vincent might be caught up in the past and Lucrecia during the game, but I can see that mostly because he wanted to be cleansed of the sin he thought he was guilty of. He was obsessed with his 'sin', stuck in a rut because of it, much like as it was with Lucrecia.

And this is never actually resolved in the game. (I'm not sure if you've seen the DoC FMVs, so I won't spoil it for you, but suffice to say he's still very obsessed about her.) The way I see it, it's not just the sin, but the entire affair, and there's no real way of resolving it.

-

At the end of the day, I can see both of them in a relationship together, but it would be a terribly, terribly wangsty relationship unless they managed to resolve everything somehow. You'd have Vincent sitting around and brooding all the time, and reflecting on how he doesn't deserve to be happy, and goodness knows whether Sephiroth would be able to deal with that. Given how AU this pairing is, it's hard to see whether it really works until someone puts pen to paper and writes a fic for it ^^;
blue by darkhavens

January 2018

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