On the Way to a Smile, Episode: Nanaki [Revised]

Although Vincent didn’t reveal much, apparently he had spent his days aimlessly traveling the world. He said with a little self-deprecation, that he had probably been waiting this whole time for something to finally happen. One day, by chance, he spotted a Shin-Ra helicopter in the sky and followed it, which led him to this village. The helicopter had landed here. Elena of the Turks was probably on the search for something, and had gone into the forest with the hunters. A while later, they returned carrying a wounded boy, and that evening the two bears suddenly showed up here. There had been a terrible uproar, but the hunters finally managed to bring the bears down. Elena had obviously got what she came for, then left with the helicopter. Just as Vincent was about to follow, Nanaki suddenly appeared. Vincent had heard shots and then watched Nanaki jumping into one of the huts.

“When I got here, you had a hunter pinned to the ground, and were about to bite through his throat. And a child was screaming hysterically, that he wanted to be your friend, or something like that. I have no idea what happened, but I didn’t see the Nanaki I know. You were like a wild beast attacking people… So I shot you.”

After Vincent had shot Nanaki, the hunters had no idea what had happened. And it would have been too dangerous to leave them there with their guns, so he drove them out of the cabin, and even from her village.

“I gave them a little scare, you know? All I had to do was transform.”

After that, Vincent treated the unconscious Nanaki and waited for him to regain consciousness.

Nanaki looked around the cabin. There was blood all over the floor.

“Did I kill someone?”


“…That’s good.”

The two were silent for a while. Nanaki tried to get up to look out the window. Although he was dizzy, he somehow managed to stand on four legs. Vincent said to him, as if it had just occurred to him:

“They took away the bears that were outside. Should I have stopped them?”

“No. They will probably be of use to them. That’s the rule of the forest. Or perhaps it’s the rule beyond the forest? Vincent. I just don’t understand anything anymore!”

“Tell me, what happened?”

Vincent silently listened to Nanaki’s story. He told him everything, from his first encounter with the two helpless cubs in the forest, to his reunion here with Vincent.

“What should I have done differently?”

Vincent remained silent. Nanaki already suspected that Vincent probably had no answer for him either, but surprisingly, he started to speak.

“If you ask me, if one day you look back on all these events, you will find the answer for yourself. But if you look back again after some time, you may suddenly get a completely different answer. In other words, there isn’t just one answer. Just continue living your life, the rest will sort itself out.”

What Vincent was trying to say, was as simple as it was true: Never forget.


Nanaki thought he understood, but equally he felt that he actually understood nothing. All in all, he was left with a very unsatisfactory feeling.

“Maybe you will understand if I told you this,” Vincent added as if he saw right through Nanaki’s mind.

“One moment, you are 100 percent sure that what you are doing is right, but the next moment it is already wrong. Completely wrong. ”

“…how do I know what is wrong and what isn’t? No matter how much I think about it, I just can’t come to the right conclusion.” figure it out

“That’s just it,”

Vincent stood up, as if to signal the end of the conversation. But he continued, like he just remembered:
“You can also choose not to do anything. I made that choice once.”

“How did it turn out?”

“It was probably a fair punishment.”

With a dramatic turn, Vincent’s red mantle fluttered as he left the cabin. Nanaki quickly followed him.

Vincent seemed to be traveling east. But before long he left the road and headed into the wilderness.

“Where are you going?”

“Why do you want the know?”

“Can’t I come with you?”


“Well, because—”

“…because I won’t be lonely if we’re together.”

Especially here in the middle of nowhere – walking along the bottom of a cliff, the height of a multi-storey building – he wanted to be with someone. He didn’t want to be alone.

“Your answer is one hundred percent wrong.”

Vincent effortlessly jumped up the towering cliff above them.


There was no answer. His red mantle had already disappeared.

“Who is to say you’re not wrong, Vincent?!”

He suddenly realized something. There was no sense in wondering who was right, or what you could have done differently. You can’t change the past, only the future. What was important was to be aware of the past, to never forget it, and to learn from it. Then the answers will come to you, and will be of use to you. That’s all there is to it. It’s no big deal, compared to living each day as it comes.

“Neither I, nor Bazu or Rin had any worries in the forest. Our days in the forest were happy.”

Nanaki leaned against the foot of the cliff, crouched on the ground and reminisce over his time in the forest. He saw the two bear brothers in his mind: how restlessly they had always slept, though they were animals. Bazu, as he played in the stream. Rin, as he fell from the tree. As the two bears caught their first fish and devoured it in one bite. Nanaki laugh out loud, but at the same time he couldn’t hold back the tears.

“Farewell. Beast world. ”

Nanaki got up and headed east. After a while, he changed his mind and headed north.

* * *

Cid was in Rocket Town, feverishly working on the construction of a new airship. But when he spotted Nanaki covered with fresh scars, he convinced him to take time to let his wounds heal. Nanaki followed this advice, and watched with interest at the construction of the airship, which was close to completion, but was always careful not to get in the way. When Nanaki finally realized that he had spent almost two years in the forest with the two Nibel Bears, he couldn’t believe it at first. Cid also seemed to have lost all sense of time due to his work, because even he was surprised that it had already been two years since the last time they had seen eachother. He came to the realization that time must lost all meaning, if one lives a fulfilled life.

“Time must lose all meaning, if one lives a fulfilled life.”

Nanaki learned that Barret had also been here relatively recently. He would have liked to have seen him again. He was sure that he would have been greeted just as warmly by Barret as he was by Cid. As though everything happened just yesterday. One day the cheerful Cid invited Nanaki on a small test flight, now that the airship was practically finished. Nanaki accepted the invitation with pleasure.

“If it falls, that’ll be that. Don’t blame me for it, ya hear,” said Cid.

“That’ll be that. Not a bad saying”, thought Nanaki.

From the sky, it became apparent just how small the world really was. For Nanaki, who had traveled the world pretty much always on all fours, it was another big realization. He made a mental note to thank Cid for this memorable experience.

“I must thank Cid for giving me the chance to see the world from this point of view”, thought Nanaki.

“I will be spending several hundred years on this small world, perhaps even longer. There are still many facets of life, which I do not know. Much of which I have yet to see and learn.”

Down on the ground, due to the seemingly infinite wilderness stretching in all directions, he might have lost sight of his goal. But he now knew that the world wasn’t quite as big as it seemed. And this knowledge alone gave him the courage to believe that maybe one day he would have seen and experienced everything.

“The world is waiting for me.”

“What do you mean? Quit exaggerating— Huh? Hey, hey! Look over there— “

“What is it?”

“Look. It’s Yuffie. What the hell is she doing out here?”

Nanaki felt a quite guilty reuniting with Yuffie. After all, he had promised her during their farewell, to gather as much information as he could about the Midgar disease, but really, the subject hadn’t occupied him much at all. To hide his feelings of guilt, he tried to act cheerful, excited even. Soon, Cid flew off, leaving Nanaki alone with Yuffie. Yuffie said in her usual, unique way, that he should accompany her on her search for Materia. However, Nanaki’s opinion hadn’t changed since their last meeting. Back then, he was mad at Yuffie’s friend Yuri, and told her out of spite, that the materia she was searching for didn’t exist. But he felt a little different about it now, he was now even more convinced that there was no Materia to cure the Midgar disease – or “Geostigma” as he had learned it was called back in Rocket Town –

During his time in the forest, Yuffie had been searching in vain for such materia, and that was proof enough for him. Just because he had such a trust in Yuffie’s abilities, he thought in such a way. But when he told her this, she looked at him with sadness in her eyes.

If Yuffie had been searching during all that time he was in the forest, and never found any cure, then it really doesn’t exist. When he told Yuffie that’s what he believed, she looked at him with a sad face.

“I’m sorry. Of course I’ll help you look,” promised Nanaki.

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