Chapter 2

Spittin' Ass

Okay, so maybe it might not have been the best idea to do shots of hard liquor with Barret and Cid last night but it was worth it to get Vincent in on it. Of course Vincent held his liquor better than anyone else in Avalanche because of all the weird science experiments he'd gone through. That didn't matter right now though because after everyone dragged themselves out of the bliss of slumber, there were the horrific hangovers to deal with.

A collective groan of misery chorused through the air as Tifa – Leviathan bless her kind soul – roused herself and put a pot of coffee on. The brunette barmaid was thankfully capable of functioning with a hangover better than most people and set to work mixing up enough cures for everyone. She bent and pulled the ingredients from the refrigerator in the mess hall one by one, setting them on the counter. Eggs, gyshal greens, ginseng, some sort of root and several other things Yuffie hadn't been paying attention to. One by one, into the blender they went until it was time to liquify them.

The noise was so much worse than it would have been if they were sober.

Yuffie tried to shield her precious ear drums by plugging her ears. When that was no use, her eyes darted around until they noticed Vincent's cloak. The ninja grabbed it, and the still-attached Vincent, and buried her head in it. The angry whirring of the blender was mostly muffled by the thick fabric and the ninja swore to herself to never drink aga – well… maybe not never. Maybe never get that blitzed again.

When the Noise from Hell™ finally subsided, she relinquished the cloak and glanced up at her friend and victim/adventuring buddy. Considering his strange biology, the ex-Turk never seemed to get drunk, much less have a hangover. Once it was ready, he graciously accepted the first cup of coffee that Tifa poured and slid one of the hangover cures to Yuffie. They sipped at their beverages quietly for a few moments – Vincent enjoying his coffee and Yuffie gagging on the grotesque liquid in her glass. It wasn't long before she gave him a side glance.

"Thanks for letting me get all up in your clothes, Vince!" The petite ninja chirped up at him. He blanched visibly at her choice of words but before he could correct her, Yuffie barreled on. "I mean, what are the chances of you being right next to me when I woke up? Either we both got super shitfaced drunk and slept together, which totally didn't happen since we're both fully dressed, or you sat next to me all night and made sure I didn't drown in my own vomit."

His breath hitched for a moment and he had the decency to look scandalized.

"Indeed. If you are to deliver on your promise, I can't let you die on me."

"Awww, you do love me!" She squealed with glee and pinched his cheeks before mischievously – and quietly – adding, "You know, I'm legal in Wutai."

Caught off guard, he spewed his mouthful of coffee several feet in front of himself. Luckily, Tifa had moved out of the way long before and stared at the Vincent-fountain with wide eyes. Yuffie helpfully patted his back as the raven-haired man coughed and sputtered at the audacity the teenager had whilst the remainder of the coffee left his mouth. Scowling to try to cover the heat of his burning cheeks, he snatched up a couple napkins and proceeded to wipe up the mess.

Yuffie chanced a glance at Tifa and found the woman giving her an accusing look but the ninja just shrugged innocently and shook her head. The bartender frowned, but didn't push the issue. She had a team to help and empty stomachs to fill. Grumbling from the rest of the team prompted Tifa to ignore whatever caused Vincent to eject caffeine and instead focus on frying up one of her specialties from the Seventh Heaven – her famous eggs and chips dish.

Once Tifa had turned around to start making breakfast, Yuffie grinned at her dark companion.

His crimson eyes stared down at her, unamused.

She grinned like a well-fed cat and patted his arm. "Learn to take a joke once in a while, Vince. It's not like your face is going to shatter into a thousand pieces if you smile. Besides, just because the age of consent in Wutai is sixteen, it doesn't mean you have to take off your chastity belt or anything." She rolled her eyes in an exaggerated manner. Though he was certain she was just being sassy, the idea of his being a vestal virgin rubbed him the wrong way.

"I'm not chaste. And this conversation is over."

"Well, duh, Vincent! You're like twenty seven still… for about thirty years now. Does that make you fifty seven or are you still twenty seven? Because you're still young looking and none of your skin is saggy or anything." Yuffie wondered aloud, peering at him as if she was trying to find out where he was hiding the thirty years he should have aged. Absently, she swirled the remainder of the hangover cure around her glass. The taste was indescribably nasty. The only thing she could compare it to was watery barf. Just in the opposite direction.

Vincent thought about her question and found that he really couldn't come up with a plausible answer. He shrugged, but didn't say anything.

"Either way, I'm not saying that you're gross or anything." Yuffie continued, seemingly seeking to keep the conversation going, "I know you're like eleven years older than me, but the lesser lords in Wutai are totally older than that and I know my dad's gonna want to marry me off to one of those old farts soon. Ugh, grossness." Her stomach churned in irritation as she lifted the glass to her lips and chugged the rest of the concoction within. Placing the glass back onto the table loudly, she thanked Tifa as the woman brought her a glass of water to rehydrate.

A disapproving look came over Vincent's face as her words sunk in. Now it all made sense. He looked over at her, quietly studying her as she sipped the water. The party had been to Wutai during their adventure, had chased Yuffie through the streets of her imperial homeland and had even met her father, Lord Good Kisaragi. Yet even so, with her spunky attitude and her hijinks it was easy to forget that Yuffie was actually the princess of Wutai. And as such, it was entirely possible that the father she could rarely see eye to eye with would marry her off to some high ranking lord in their homeland. It wouldn't matter the man's age, his rank would be sufficient enough to net him the hand of Wutai's only heir.

Such a thing made Vincent's blood boil and the familiar itch of his inner monstrosities to stir within him. The thought of some rich old lecher putting his hands on his sixteen year old teammate was enough to cause him to clench his teeth together in frustration. Vincent was an outsider and thus had no right to challenge the emperor of Wutai himself, but he could entertain Yuffie's promise. If the young ninja was set on adventuring with Vincent until he felt he could rejoin humanity, he'd make sure to take his sweet time. Eventually Yuffie would have to return to rule her homeland.

Hopefully, they'd have a plan by then.

Not that she was savvy to his realization, but he couldn't be too careful. For now, Yuffie was looking forward to the adventure they were about to have. Just then, she turned to him with a cheeky grin and wiggled her eyebrows. "What'cha staring at, Vince?" She asked, batting her lashes at him, "Thinking about the fact that I'm legal in Wutai? You perv."

His face turned red as a beet and he buried it in his hands with a groan, humiliated.

This was going to be a long trip.

Once again Yuffie was in her usual spot on the Highwind, bent over and trying desperately to keep from retching up the contents of her stomach. Tifa's food was delicious, but it never tasted as good when it was coming back up. She moaned pitifully even as her ears picked up heavy footsteps approaching her position. Must be Barret. She thought to herself as the steps halted at her side.

"You okay down there girlie?" He asked gruffly.

Her stomach protested loudly in response and she hugged herself, attempting to will away her motion sickness. He grunted in response and, after a few awkward moments, carefully patted her back with his human hand. It wasn't as if they weren't friends and comrades-in-arms, after all. Sure, they liked to yell and argue and talk shit about each other, but it was usually all in good fun. And in comparison to her real father, the big man felt that he needed to look out for her. There was no way in hell he'd ever admit that to her out loud but sometimes it felt like he didn't have to. Besides, when it all boiled down to it, she was a good kid.

Suddenly, an idea came to him and he perked up.

"Hey! Why don't I tell you about the early days of Avalanche? You know, back when we were a big organization!" He looked down at her pale face and took that as a sign to continue. "So back in the early days before we started blowin' up mako reactors and fightin' that crackpot Sephiroth, we was doin' skirmishes and fightin' Shinra's grunts."

The creaking of the Highwind drew her attention away from Barret's story as Yuffie felt the Highwind tilt ominously as it made a turn mid-flight. Well, ominous for her. Her stomach lurched threateningly and she squeezed her eyes shut, taking careful breaths through her parted lips. Whatever her big buddy was blathering on about, she didn't know. It had faded into an obscure droning as she focused on not barfing up her breakfast.

Yuffie kept her mind trained on the breathing techniques and Kuji Kiri hand signs that had been passed down through the generations of her family. Her fingers shifted and formed the signs slowly, one by one as the breath hissed between her teeth. For Rin, she laced the last three fingers of her hands together, touched her index finger together in a point and folded her thumbs flat towards her index fingers. Pyo had her lace the last two fingers of her hands and point the first two pairs upward, then fold her middle fingers over top of her index fingers and have her thumbs laying flat once more. To laced her first two pairs of fingers together and have her last two pairs of fingers pointed together, while her thumbs pointed towards herself.

The Highwind shifted with the turbulence in the air and dropped, causing her stomach to pitch and she felt a little dizzy. Suddenly, Barret's voice caught her attention at the worst possible moment in his story. "BOOM!" He yelled flinging his arms outward as he regaled her of his tales of the past, "We didn't even see it comin'! The explosion sent the whole group flyin' everywhere! I looked over to my left an' there's Charlie lyin' in a pool of his own blood! He says to me: Barret! Barret, I can't feel my legs! So I look over an' they're gone. I tell him: Charlie! You ain't got no legs!"

At this, Yuffie's stomach threatened to expel its contents on Cid's shiny floor.

But when she looked over to him, Barret took it as a sign to continue. "He only had two stumps where his legs had been and they were goin' like this!" He wiggled two fingers quickly to give her a good idea of the gruesome imagery, "There was blood and guts and spittin' ass everywhere!"

She threw up before the big guy could say anything else and he snapped his mouth shut, realizing belatedly that perhaps the story might've been too much. "Uh, maybe I'll just go get you a tranquilizer." Barret offered, then shifted his muscular frame to head towards the medical supplies as the poor girl emptied her stomach.

On the bridge of the Highwind the airship crew had taken up their usual places and had the ship running smoothly. They were just coming up on Kalm so that they could pick up Marlene when Vincent calmly surveyed the area. From the sounds of it, Cloud and Tifa were going to spend some time in Costa del Sol at the villa that Avalanche had purchased. The two of them would need some time alone to figure out how they wanted to move forward with their own inner struggles and with each other. Perhaps they might eventually return to Nibelheim, perhaps they might not. Either way, it was none of Vincent's concern.

Red XIII, or Nanaki as his grandfather had called him, would return to Cosmo Canyon while Barret and Marlene would start off in Corel. Cait Sith would return to the outskirts of Midgar where Reeve was setting up a new headquarters for a movement he dubbed the World Regenesis Organization – WRO for short. According to him there was a massive amount of work to do, but many of the evacuated residents from the former metropolis were willing to volunteer to help. And it was a given that Cid and his crew would return to Rocket Town to work on their next big project, whatever that may be.

"So." Cid eyeballed Vincent as the man occupied his usual spot on the bridge, "Where d'ya want me to drop ya?"

"Wutai."

Blue eyes narrowed in suspicion. "You stopping in for a tour or are ya hangin' out with the brat?" Not that Cid meant anything too bad by calling her that. It was more of a fun, shit-talking thing between himself, Yuffie and Barret. If Vincent was annoyed, he showed no signs of it.

"Both."

Cid's eyebrows shot up, surprise written all over his face. "On purpose?"

Vincent's expression was unamused. "It's not as though I have any pressing matters to deal with currently. Besides, it'll keep her from too much trouble. He explained and, without elaborating, turned away from the pilot. During their quest, Avalanche had learned very quickly that once the ex-Turk turned away from someone, he was finished talking to them. So Cid realized he wasn't going to get anything else from the conversation and decided to honor the request.

Whatever was going on was not worth Vincent's temper.

He just hoped they knew what they were getting themselves into.