The door was brown, simple timber from a lumber mill. It had a light coat of paint, the handle a dull gold. Passed the door, across the lush beige carpeting, was a leather black couch - sitting pleasantly before a small cherry wood coffee table. A few coasters here, and ashtray there, a dying cigarette lay inside it among the burned out butts. There was the faint smell of coffee brewing, the silence not quite defeaning, but loud to the ears. The raven-haired man stood in the kitchen- adjacent to the couch- as he awaited his Foldgers, his arms folded across his chest. He wore a cerulean blue business suit, his tie hanging loosely about his neck. At that moment, a very large grey beast with straks of red fur on his face came bounding into the kitchen. He got on his hind legs and began to paw lightly on the man's pants. The man chuckled and leaned down some, scratching beneath the wolf's chin. His voice was deep and mellifluous when he spoke.
" Heh," He laughed, touching the dog's chin. "Django, where were you last night, hmm?" He asked, smirking. As he got no response, he stood up straight, thending to his coffee. Pouring it into a pastel blue mug, he added a bit of cream, stirring it. He smelled the coffee, closing his eyes as it's aroma filled him. Vincent smiled as he opened his eyes and took a sip. Django then walked off, returning a moment later with a black leash in his muzzle. Vincent look down at the grining dog from the corner of his eyes, the large grey tail wagging fiercely with the heavy breaths of his snout. Vincent then chuckled and kneeled, putting the leash on his collar. As he stood with it in his hand, he spoke. " Feeling a bit stiff?" He asked, taking a sip of his coffee. He then turned off the coffee maker and opened the door, Django squeezing through before him. Vincent almost fell over. "Damnit..." He said, steadying himself. He chuckled once more and closed the door behind him.

hr

As the two sat across the fire, "indian-style", the older of the two gestured with his left hand as he spoke, his voice clear, yet slightly raspy.

" Sasuke," The Kempo master began, looking to his companion. " I don't like the jewel to be in his hands." He contiued, the weary look of age and wisdom wearing on his face. Sasuke adjusted his position looking to the elder.

Sasuke then nodded. " It is understood." The ninja replied, folding his arms across his chest. "But are you absolutely sure? It shuold be a mistake to act too hastilly." He warned, looking concerned behind his half- mask. Lee nodded, and so Sasuke understood. "We will wait." He said in agreement with the elder man. They then took hold of their cups, the hot tea steaming. In turn, they simultaneously took a drink, as a seal of their agreement. Putting their cups down on the hard wood floor, they continued with their meeting.

" She grows stronger everyday," Lee said, looking to Sasuke. " You should be proud." This brought forth a heavy sigh.

" I am," He said, but something in his voice wasn't quite right.

" So then," The old man said, smirking some. "You see it too..." He took another drink of the tea and nodded.

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"Listen to me!" The spikey-haired, platinum-blonde man said, his hands upon the shoulders of a young girl, shaking her some. They were standing in the room of a sleezy hotel, the lights dim and the sound of the freeway humming in their ears. " You can't keep following me around like this!" He yelled, pushing her forward. He tried to push her out of the room, but his black leather jacket restricted such movement, and so the force she exerted knocked him down on the floor. She was crying hysterically, burying her head in his chest as she lay on top of him. He sighed and wrapped his arms around her, caressing the back of her head some.

" Ken..." The young ninja girl cried, throwing her arms around him. Godhand shook his head.

"Yuffie, you can't keep doing this... You can stay tonight, but tomorrow- you're gone." He said, sitting up with her. She looked at him, her eyes slightly puffy and red. The little ninja girl hadn't slept in days. " Jesus..." he said, looking at her. " You look like hell."

2

"So, Django." Vincent said, strutting down the street. It was quite hard to keep pace with the beast, his excitement dragging the tall man along. "You going to tell me yet?" He asked, raising a brow. A flicker of silver caught his eye from across the street. As he turned his head slightly, following the trace, his eyes fell upon the back of a silver- haired man. "Se-" He then found his world "rocked" as he smashed into a haulted Django, sniffing at the feet of a blonde teenager. She was silent as she stood there, broken chains at her wrists and ankles. She looked like a just-escaped criminal, yet calm, cool; confident. As Django began to circle the girl, Vincent was only forced to follow. Stalking about the girl, he was too busy trying to catch a glimpse of the man's face to notice her own- which was blank, unalarmed. Django made a slight purring noise, awaking the former Turk from his struggle for sight.
"Hmm?" He asked, looking down. He had just noticed the girl. His hand flew behind his head, rubbing it embarassed. "Pardon us, he's a little friendly." He said, trying to pry the dog off. He had began to lick at her feet. She didn't seem to care, but Vincent began to turn slightly red at his failure. Finally, Django gave way, falling over on Vincent. The teenage girl did not laugh. She seemed to be expressionless- as if she were above it all. Standing up, he held a hand out, the other clutching the leash for dear God. "I'm sorry." He said, but his hand was not taken. And so he took it back. "Did he scare you any?" He smirked, raising a brow some. She just stood there. Django seemed to be infactuated with the blonde, his torse rubbing against her left leg. "Django!" He shouted, and gave the leash a firm tug. "I'm sorry, I don't know what's gotten into him." He said, and began to introduce himself. "I'm Vin-" But the German girl turned her head, walking down the street. He watched her as she left, cold in her presence. "That was a bit rude..." He said, one hand on his head as he sheilded his eyes from the light. He was trying to get a good look at her, but his eyes wandered across the street. "Gone..."

hr

A masculine growl sounded from the throats of a large man, his fist seen before his face. As it connected with the large sand-filled punching bag. It swung slightly, but not so far. More grunts and growls were followed as the bright red punching gloves pummled the bag, a bandage wrapped foot getting in a kick or two as well. He twirled, his right foot extended, making the bag swing as it impacted. He then held his hands out to hold the bag still.

"So, the punching bag has lost it's nerve." A quite pale, and very large, Japanese male stepped from behind the shadows. He took his rest against the ring in the foreground, folding his arms over his chest- his ankles crossed- as he grinned some. "Last I remember, it dared to pummel you back." He said, laughing some. He was in a finely tailored grey suit, his black tie a bit loose around his thick neck. It fit his frame perfect- which had to be quite difficult for a man his size. It was obvious money was *not* a problem.

"Yes, but I have not." The darker man said, turning to face the professional wrestler. He was wearing green shorts that slightly flared at his knee, gold designs glittered about it. "Long time no see, Inoba." He said, walking forward. He held his hand out, only to be clasped by the other's two.

"Well met." He said, nodding some. "You've been working hard, Doza." He admitted, bringing him into a hug. The British kickboxing champion gave the man a pat on the back, releasing him then.

"I try." He said modestly, shrugging some. He removed his gloves, tossing them behind Inoba and onto the ring. "What brings you here?" He asked, leaning against the punching bag. He had this vibe of "cool", this higher-than-thou air. That is, until the punching bag no longer supported his weight, leaving him on the floor. The larger man laughed, a jolly, haughty laugh, before walking over and extending a hand.

"I needed the entertainment." He said, pulling the man up. The brown haired Prince nodded, running a hair throw his moehawk. He had a few facial tattoos along his left eye.

"Well then, you've come to the right place." He said, standing akimbo.

"Good. Let's get down to business, shall we?"

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"You're kidding me!" The yellowish-blonde haired man shouted, his hand slamming down on the counter. He almost made the drink beside him spill.

"I kid you not, my friend." The bandana-clad man said, polishing already clean glasses. Han Daehan- former movie star- was now bartending. A washed up star because of a tragic accident, oh so long ago.

"So then..." He said, looking down some. "Tifa won't remember me." Cloud let out a sigh, his hand rubbing his spikey hair some.

"Word on the street; Vincent didn't want her hanging around anymore. So he used it on her." He said, putting the glass away. He leaned forward now, his voice a hushed whisper. "Trust me, Strife... It's better this way." Cloud looked up, shaking his head. His fist came down on the bar top once more.

"No! It's not!" He yelled, standing up now. His hands seemed to be bracing his shaking body on the counter. "I'll make her remember me." He said, calming down some. The patrons at the bar had been staring at his sudden outburst, and so he sat down. "And if not... Vincent will pay." 3
Arriving home, Vincent closed the door behind himself, a very sober Django strutting about the living room. As dark-haired man turned, he kneeled down, taking the leash from Django.

" There you are," he said, folding it as he stood. Django walked passed him and perched upon the couch- as if this were his domain. And infact, it was. Vincent was meerly another pawn - a player - an *obstacle* in the way of victory. Vincent sat down beside him, leaning forward to take a half-burned cigarette from the ashtray. He picked up the lighter from the simple coffee table and the flame spurt up in orange brilliance. He puffed a few times, the smoke rising some. He then set the lighter back in it's spot and picked up the remote. All My Offspring- no. He hated soap operas. Muffy: The Corperate Lawyer - hardly! He then flipped to the news, taking a draft from his cigarette.

" Breaking News - Wolf girl Jo has escaped from the E District prison. Blonde, blue eyes, and a muscular figure is how surviving prison guards described her. Be on the look out; she is unarmed, but lethal. If you see her, do not try to confront her. Contact your local police."

"Jesus..." He said, dousing his cigarette on the bottom of his shoe. He then turned the tv off. "Funny, how it's so very convinient to run into the criminal *before* you're aware of it." He said, shaking his head in disappointment. Django hopped off the couch, walking into the kitchen.

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"Yoko, I'm glad you could make it." The long-haired brunette said, opening the door. She was wearing a red skirt that barely reached mid- thigh, her white shirt so clasping, her breasts threatened rebellion.

" I'm glad I could be here." The young girl said, walking into the door. She closed it behind her, turning to shut it. A pair of slender, fair skinned arms wrapped about her waist as soft pink lips brushed her neck. She could feel the sweet breath- like butterscotch- gracing her neck and ear.

"Lock the door." Tifa said, and Yoko did so. Tifa then began to pull her away from the door, her mouth over the crook of the young girl's neck. Yoko leaned her head to the side at this, apparently ticklish, and turned- wrapping her arms loosely around Tifa's neck. Meeting her lips, Yoko gave quite a prolonged kiss before releasing her, stepping back. She wore a slight blush on her cheeks- by no means artificial.

"Congratulations." Tifa said, releasing her. She then put a hand on her hip, wiping her mouth gently with the back of her hand.

"Thanks." Yoko replied, folding her arms behind her back.

"Top of your class- you must be worth something." Tifa said, winking. Yoko blushed and Tifa chuckled, walking further into the room. It was a lounge, a maroon colored couch in the middle. She sat down and patted the seat next to her. "Come have a seat with me." Yoko nodded and walked over, gingerly sitting beside her. Her tall, slender companion slipped her hand into her lap, trailing up her thigh. Yoko jump up, chuckling nervously.

"I-I just remembered I have to use the bathroom." She said, but Tifa stood as well.

"Allow me to escort you." She said, a slight grin on her face. She stepped forward to Yoko, but she also took a step in turn. Tifa stopped and stood akimbo, any former trace of humor just that- former. "Alright." She said, watching Yoko intensely- like a hawk. "Find it yourself." She said, and walked back to the couch. Yoko hurried up the stairs, almost tripping on her way up. "Kids..." Tifa said, shaking her head.

***

"Word spreads quick around here..." Lee Shuwen said, allowing Sasuke into the dojo. The inside was dark, which provided much contrast with the early morning's kiss of sunshine. The skilled ninja stepped in, bowing to his most gracious host. "This is why I have come." He replied in agreement as he stood erect. Lee closed the door, once more enveloping themselves in darkness- spared only by the row of candles. Lee approached him, and they sat down. "And so?" He asked, folding his legs as he sat upon the hard wooden floor. "You were right. I will have someone take it before it slips into the wrong hands." He sat across from him. His face held no trace of humor. "No, I don't." Sasuke spat, but regained his composure, having nothing but respect for the old man. He looked at Lee's eyes through his own mask. It seems that his rejuvenation problem had been temporarilly retarded. Yes - the man held powers capable of life changing things. " Even though he has proved himself worthy..." Lee asked, watching him tensely. The fire danced within the eyes of the ninja, his eyes truly *did* look like burning coals. "Your first words rang true. But now-" he said, shaking his head as he looked down. "They come in great numbers. Large groups. Determined- ambitious-" "Dangerous." Lee interrupted, glancing to a candle that seemed to waver. "I'll send a dispatch." Sasuke said matter-of-factly. "Will you send *her*?" He asked, watching his face intently. Sasuke's age was not as old as his wisdom portrayed, his flawless face hidden be hind a half-mask. Lee knew- Sasuke held so many many knowledgable things, and so many of those memories lost. That, as well as his *true* identity. "Perhaps. I would like to think she is ready." He said, folding his arms across his chest. He could see Lee's mind was elsewhere. "But," he said, a sigh escaping him. "You think differently." "Yes, I do." Lee said, shifting. "Well?" Sasuke ased, gesturing for him to continue. "Well what? You've got your answer." He snapped, and slowly stood. Sasuke stood as well. "I trust we understand eachother." He said, walking him to the door. Sasuke stood in the frame of the open doorwa. "Is it really necessary? To waste such a good-" "You'll make the right decision." Lee interrupted, and slowly closed the door. He then clutched his chest, feeling the change. He was aging again- and in the wrong direction.