Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy 7, or 10, and as much as I wish I did, I'm just not that lucky. I have no claim to any of the FF characters, and you know it! I simply own the storyline of this story (geez, that's repetitive) and the original characters (duh!). Enjoy!



Yuffie Kisaragi groaned, wiping the water from her drenched eyes. It was a futile attempt, she knew, since the raindrops were only replaced by more of their brethren, who fell from the heavens in torrents. She cursed the Water God vilely even as she prayed deliverance from his deluge. Her light-feathered mount 'warked' beneath her, as if agreeing and sympathizing with her mistress' fervent, albeit colorful petitions to Leviathan.

She let out a light chuckle. "You tell 'em, Rikki!" She cheered, patting her chocobo lightly on her neck. Rikku 'warked' in response, shaking her head indignantly at the rain, even as Yuffie did the same. Although she didn't wark.

The young girl perked up as she sighted lights in the distance. {About goddamn time I found this @#$^#ing town! Gawd! This rain is driving me nuts!} Despite her harsh thoughts, however, the lights of a town had never looked more beautiful to her than at this moment.

The streets were quiet, although this was nothing new. Even in the best of weather, the town of Nibelheim was never exactly 'hopping'. She steered Rikku towards the first building, the Inn, and jumped gracefully down.

"You stay here, under this nice, dry porch, while I go see about some shelter." She cooed, patting her mount's head and offering her a green with her free hand. The golden chocobo grabbed it greedily enough, though her turquoise eyes glittered with affection as she did so. Yuffie grinned before heading into the building.

The warmth of the inn was welcome solace from harsh elements that whirled at Yuffie's back. She let the door close behind her with a slight jingle of a lone brass bell behind her. Not as musical as the bells in Wutai, but still a welcomed sound. She sighed, and headed towards the abandoned front desk. She rang the service bell once, quite politely, then amused herself by ringing it again and again, at high speeds, when she wasn't immediately answered.

"I'm coming, goddammit! Hold yer chocobos!" A voice called from upstairs.

"Gee, Mister, I would but I left her outside!" Yuffie called back. She continued to ring the service bell.

A very grumpy looking man took his place behind the counter and batted her hand from the bell. "Waddaya want?" He huffed, clearly not caring. Yuffie had no time to answer before he spat out "There ain't no rooms left, lady, so ya might as well bugger off."

"Well aren't you the gracious Innkeep? You could at least be decent to your customers, you old coot! I wouldn't stay here even if there was a room left now! Geez!" She punctuated each sentence with a ring of the bell and stalked off. Once outside, she turned to her Rikku and smiled grimly.

"Well, Rikki, this is a no-go. But never fear! I know someplace else here that's dry, at least. Come on, it's not far." Yuffie led the bird sulkily towards the only other shelter she knew in this town, the ShinRa mansion. The large building loomed against the sky, a void against the dark sky, almost seeming ready to engulf the young girl and her bird as they passed through its rusty gates. Yuffie shook her head to clear away her nervousness, though she hardly succeeded. Soon they had passed the threshold of the mansion and stood inside, girl and bird both blissfully aware of the absence of the merciless torrent of rain from their bodies.

"Wark!" Rikku chirped happily.

"Wark," Yuffie agreed, hugging her chocobo gently. "Gawd it's good to be outta that storm! C'mon, Rikki, let's find us a suitable room!" Yuffie remembered the insides of this mansion vividly. She and her companions had spent hours combing this place, trying to find the clues that had led them to meet Vincent Valentine. {That damn floorboard...} she thought sullenly. She'd always missed it by just a few steps...

She led Rikku up the stairs and off to the left, opting that the best room would be the one adjacent the one with the safe. The other rooms were to close to that creepy under-tunnel for her tastes. Although... {Hey, maybe Vincent's here! Probably back in that creepy coffin of his... Maybe I should check. Yeah, that's it! Can't sleep yet anyway...}

She turned to Rikku who was half-dozing in a corner. "I'm gonna go explore, Rikki," She told the bird as she slipped a blanket over it. "Don't run off, 'kay?" Taking the tired 'wark' for a yes, Yuffie crept down the dusty hall for the hidden passage. The stone door opened a bit loudly for her tastes, but since there wasn't much she could do about it she cursed it softly and continued down the spiraled stairs.

Yuffie had always been afraid that one of these rotting pieces of lumber would break beneath her weight, though after having held Barret so long ago she supposed she wasn't in too much danger. Unless he'd weakened them with his weight, of course. Despite her fears, however, her trip down and to Vincents's old room was uneventful.

The room was just as it had been all those long years ago. {Yeah right, as if it's been that long. I'm still only seventeen for Leviathan's sake!} Cobwebs lined everything in her sight, and there was no sign of life. {Although there hadn't been last time either...} She moved towards the coffin and rapped on the lid.

"Knock knock!" She called lightly. She settled her weight against the lid and pushed...

...And nearly died of a heart attack as something crawled up her back!

"AAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" She screamed, batting her hands against something warm and furry attached to her shirt. She practically ripped the soaking garment from her body in her panic before she threw it across the room. She stood in battle stance, her Conformer held ready as she eyed the moving shirt warily.

She was so occupied with her shirt, however, that she didn't see the dark shape flying towards her head until it practically flew straight into her face. She shrieked again, and fell back into the coffin behind her, the Conformer flying from her grasp as she went.



Vincent Valentine slowly became aware that something was amiss. He vaguely recalled having heard a scream, something that was all to common in his nightmares, but it seemed just a bit brighter in here now...

Another shriek was all the warning he had before something landed on him. Hard. Pain shot through his chest, and he struggled to identify the squirming thing atop him. His hands searched, moved across it, seeking information, and came to rest on two soft lumps... The previously struggling creature went stock-still.

He blushed slightly as he registered what these lumps were, and quickly removed his hands as he sought to sit up. He lowered his gaze from the ceiling, his mind having finally recovered from sleep mode, and saw dark hair. He wrapped his hands about the slender female's waist and lifted her from his coffin and onto the floor, where she rolled off towards something gleaming just beyond his vision.

"Halt," he ordered, Death Penalty in his hand and aimed at the intruder. He cocked the trigger.

At the sound of the gun, the girl stopped her progress instantly, as if frozen in place. She held her hands up, her back towards him, still crouched on her knees.

"Face me," Vincent told the girl, his voice calm and seemingly unfazed by the previous chaos that had awakened him.

The dark haired girl stood and slowly turned, her arms moving to cross her chest protectively. She wore no shirt, he saw, but a black bra and a pair of short khaki shorts and various little oddities that served as armor designed to hold lots of materia. Around her head, keeping her dark, almost shoulder length brown hair from her face, was a vaguely familiar headband, with two gleaming gems at the end. Her stormy eyes were wide, and also strikingly familiar.

"Talk," he told her, gesturing slightly with his gun.

"V-Vinnie! Hold it, it's me!" the girl exclaimed, eyes flickering from his eyes to the gun and back.

{Vinnie... Wait, Yuffie? How...?} "Yuffie?" he asked, more to himself than the girl.

"Yeah, me, Yuffie! Your friend? Compadre? Traveling companion, at least? We only saved the world together! Hel-lo!?" the girl, Yuffie, rambled on, outraged. "I mean, come on! I was the cutest girl there, remember? Don't tell me you forgot!?"

He lowered the Death Penalty and re-holstered it, keeping his eyes trained on his former companion. She'd really started to fill out, her form not quite the stick it once was. {But still slightly scrawny... Wait, why do I care?} He awaited an explanation for her presence.


Yuffie fidgeted nervously, keeping her eyes trained slightly to the right and a few inches below Vincent's face, so that she stared at his shoulder. She always did this around the dark man, his blood-red eyes unnerving her greatly. It was now that she remembered just how scared he made her. She couldn't take his scrutiny any longer, and the loss of her shirt made her feel vulnerable under his gaze, where normally it wouldn't have bothered her.

"I-I just came in to get outta the storm," she explained. "And then I thought, since I couldn't sleep, that maybe I should see if you were here." She grew bolder at the sound of her voice. "You know, a little adventure to tire myself out! I never actually thought I'd find you, though. I really thought you'd be at that waterfall."

"And you sought me shirtless because...?" his voice sounded vaguely amused.

Yuffie felt her face redden. {Why am I getting so embarrassed? I'm wearing a friggin bra! I never get like this around anyone! But him... Is it because he...?} Her thoughts strayed back, in the coffin, when he'd groped her breasts so suddenly. She hadn't even known he was in there, those creatures had surprised her before she could look in... And the feel of his hands, silken skin and metal... She shivered slightly.

"Something crawled up my shirt while I was pushing that ungodly heavy lid," she explained, collecting her thoughts. "So I took it off and threw it against the wall. Then somthin' went and swooped at my head and knocked me on top of you! Then you had ta go feelin' me up..." she glared at him, trying desperately to ignore the memory of his hands again, "And the next thing I know there's some weirdo Goth with a gun to my head! Gawd!"

She stamped off towards her discarded shirt and prodded the forest green material with her boot. A lump moved and she stared as a large gray rat scampered out.

"A %$#^*in' rat?" she raged, grabbing her garment from the floor and shaking the dust from it. "All that commotion over a goddamn rat? @#$%!"

"I see Cid's taught you well," she heard Vincent's deep voice behind her. Monotonous, as always. Geez, wasn't their any variation to how he said things? Listening to him speak had always lulled her into a sort of trance, his rich, steady voice washing over her senses like a tsunami. She had a feeling that if she looked into his eyes she might be hypnotized. Well, vampires were supposed to have that effect, right?

She pulled on her shirt, her back facing him. {But is he really a vampire? Aren't they supposed to, like, melt in the sun? He never had. But what if Hojo, you know, added stuff? Immunities and crap.} She shuddered as she imagined a race of super-vamps, all immune to light and garlic and holy water... {Grossness! Glad that nut's dead...}

"Um, like, sorry I bothered you, Vinnie," she said, scratching her head as she picked up her Conformer. "You can, um, sleep some more or somethin'. Whatever. But... I think I'm ready to leave this creepy tunnel."

She left the room, her heart beating abnormally fast, and sighed. Talking to Vincent always had that effect, and she was sure she wasn't the only one to feel it. Aeris and Tifa had both shared her feelings and even Cloud had been nervous around him. {Man...}

She was halfway down the hall when her ninja senses detected that she was being followed. She turned to see Vincent behind her, his deep garnet eyes locked on hers, and she forced herself to break the eye contact to stare at his shoulder again. {Geez, was it always this hard to look him in the eyes?}

"Hey, Vinnie!" she smiled cheerfully, confused by his presence. She began walking once more, and heard his metal boots clink softly behind her. "So, where ya headed? Don't tell me; you couldn't bear to see such beauty slip through your fingers, right?" She joked, more to distract herself from her nervousness than anything else.

"Hmph. It's time for Auron's dinner," she heard him respond softly.

"Really...? Huh, I thought you might've sold him or something. I'm flattered you kept him." Auron was a black chocobo that Yuffie had bred during their exploits. A fast, beautiful bird, he had been quiet and somewhat aloof in nature, and Yuffie had thought he suited Vincent's personality perfectly. She had bred enough chocobos to suit every one of her friends, all in pursuit of the elusive gold chocobo. She had raced every chocobo her companions owned, and Vincent's Auron had been the only one able to match her golden Rikku in speed. Even Rikku's brother, Cecil, another gold that Yuffie had gifted Cloud with, couldn't match their speed. It had been due to her efforts that they possessed the Knights of the Round materia, so she had kept the original, mastered version while Cloud was given it's offspring.

"Hey, if you've got Auron, does that mean there are some stables nearby? I need to get Rikku out of that room before she decides to do her business."

"There are... a few suitable stables. Bring Rikku, I shall wait at the front door."

"Hey, that's the longest thing I heard you say all night!" Yuffie cheered. "I'll go get her."

Waking the golden bird and convincing her to go back in the rain was one of the most difficult challenges Yuffie had faced since the battle with Sephiroth. Yuffie sympathized with her; she didn't want to go out there either. Yuffie finally had to coax her out with the promise of sylkis greens, and those were expensive @#$*&ing greens.

The stables weren't far, by the side of the mansion, actually, but the tempest still raging outside made them seem much farther. Yuffie was shivering when they finally made it to the stables and was pissed because Vincent seemed unfazed. She ushered Rikku towards a stable adjacent the occupied one and set about comforting Rikku and coughing up the promised greens. She then stood beside the busy Vincent to say hi to Auron.

"Yo, Auron, been awhile!" She giggled as Auron paused his feeding to grace her with an affectionate butting of his dark head, much like a cat might do. "Wow, your eyes got much darker. They look a lot like Vinnie's now!"

Vincent trained his before-mentioned eyes on the cheerful ninja.

"W-what?" Yuffie fidgeted nervously before his gaze again, feeling the heat rising to her cheeks as it so often did when he stared at her. "It was meant as a compliment..." She shivered involuntarily, the cold of the weather and the heat of his gaze confusing her body. She lowered her storm grey eyes to his shoulder.

"I wonder how you know," he mused, lifting her chin so that her eyes had to meet his garnet ones, "if you never look at my eyes? I find it slightly unnerving when people speak to my shoulders."

Yuffie drew in a slight breath and released it in a small sigh. The warmth of his hand spread like fire through her chin, and she found herself drowning in his endless gaze. His calm voice was dulling her senses, and the coldness of her body was forgotten. Somewhere her mind told her that he was hypnotizing her, like she feared would happen, but she didn't care. Her eyelids drooped and she felt her body go slack. She felt herself falling towards the ground, but couldn't bring herself to support her weight anymore. She fell.

Or, she would have fallen if Vincent hadn't wrapped his arms around her, sending her body on red alert. She saw worry crease his brow as he shook her softly.

"Yuffie? Yuffie, what's wrong?" he asked, his voice still swirling through her senses.

"I..." she tried to tear her gaze away, but failed, "Don't know... Nothing... I guess."

He lifted her into his arms and trailed his crimson eyes ahead to his destination. And in that instant, Yuffie felt the mist lift from her mind. {What happened? Did-did Vincent really hypnotize me? Maybe he really is some sort of super-vampire!} She felt the rain and wind sweep over her briefly before a scarlet cloth shielded her. She snuggled closer to the warmth his body offered her cold frame and felt her face flare up again. She could feel the taunt muscles beneath his thin shirt rippling as he walked. {Yeowch, didn't know Vinnie was this built...}

Her scrutiny of what lay beneath his shirt was cut short, however, as she felt him deposit her on something soft. His cloak fell away from her body, and she saw she was in the same room she had first left Rikku. Without Vincent's body to warm her, the chill of the room caught her and she shivered violently, wrapping her slender arms around her rain-soaked frame. She watched as the pale man bent near a fireplace and pointed a finger.

"Fire," he murmured softly, and a green materia sparkled on his glove as a small flame leapt into the structure, kindling a blazing fire to heat the dismal room. He then turned towards the trembling girl, and sat beside her on the bed.

"Are you all right?" he asked, setting a musty smelling blanket around her shoulders.

"Y-yeah, I guess," Yuffie mumbled, staring off into the flames. She wasn't sure if she was, though. How was one supposed to feel after being brainwashed? "Probably just this journey catching up to me. I'll feel just fine once I catch some Zs, I'll betcha!" she smiled, her voice gaining confidence with each word she uttered.

"Speaking of which..." his quiet monotone rang almost melodiously at her side, lulling her towards that strange half-trance, "What brings you to this town?"

"Oh, just the usual materia hunting," she said shrugging. "Sort of a showy test to 'prove myself', I guess. Although Godo already knows I'm worthy to take the friggin' ritual, it's traditional that all ninjas search for and bring back some sorta offering. Usually it's some kinda relic or other, but I think a rare materia would work, too. I'll know it when I see it, I guess." She grinned up at soft-spoken gunslinger. "Feel like helpin'? It'd be nice to have some company, and you really shouldn't spend so much time moping about that coffin. Auron's probably dying from boredom!"

"...What sort of ritual?" he asked, completely ignoring her offer. She fumed a little, but she hadn't expected him to agree anyway. She shrugged and leaned back nonchalantly, resting her weight against her arms.

"Some ritual to make one an official Ninja," she said proudly. "I've been honing my skills to prepare, though I could've taken it last year. Nobody's ever really told me what happens, but I just know it's gonna be a piece of cake! After all, I saved the planet! Well, you all helped of course."

A small chuckle drew her out of her rant, and she glanced up at Vincent, giving him a strange look. His blood red eyes caught her gaze and held it once more. "...What's so funny?"

"You regain your energy quickly, for someone who almost fainted so recently." She thought she saw concern flicker in his gaze as she began to spiral into his eyes once again. She was aware of the cover slipping from her body, but where the icy draft of the room should have bit into her damp skin she felt only vague discomfort.

"Yuffie...?" The red haze consumed her mind entirely and she knew only him.

"Yes...?" she asked, her voice sounding distant.

"Perhaps you should sleep," he suggested, worry slightly laced in his words.

"Okay..." and Yuffie could feel herself falling forward, the world going black...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Vincent leaned forward to catch the falling girl in his arms, asleep even as she fell towards the floor. He pulled her small figure against his body as he pondered over what had happened. It made no sense. One minute she was laughing and energetic, and the next... she was swooning beneath his gaze. Twice. He'd never remembered Yuffie to do that before.

*You're perplexed.* a voice rumbled in his mind. *Why?*

Chaos... {Something strange is happening... Why is Yuffie acting so strangely?}

*Yuffie...? Oh right, that hyper little thief. She's always been odd, hasn't she?* Chaos's voice took on a suggestive tone. *Or have you been too receptive to her body to notice her mind?*

{I'm not that shallow. I've barely even looked at her until now.}

*Do you like what you see?* Chaos inquired, seeming to take delight in the discomfort of his host.


Chaos erupted into gales of boisterous laughter. *I knew it! So the heart of ice can be thawed! Or at least the body it resides in can be heated!*

{Don't be absurd. Yuffie must be about thirty years younger than me.}

*So...?* Chaos took on a different tone of voice then. His sly, teasing voice became its previous low grumble. *But I am worried. I sense changes in you and I grow troubled. Changes that started before even the girl awoke you. I know not why they are happening or the extent, but...*

{Well? What- how can I figure out what's wrong with me}? If Chaos was worried then Vincent should be scared shitless. As it was, however, it was not in Vincent's nature to be particularly afraid for himself, so he settled on being distraught and slightly annoyed. {Do you know...?}

*I- am not sure.* Chaos seemed to be in deep thought. *But I do recall, when Hojo did his experiments on you, that he occasionally had an assistant. I can't recall who, though...*

Vincent sighed, brushed a few strands of ebony hair from his face and shifted the sleeping girl in his arms slightly, bathing her face in firelight. {Well, I suppose I could search his research files some more. Perhaps there will be some mention of this 'assistant' there.} He felt Chaos's mind shift back into the recesses of his consciousness and gazed at the dark-haired girl in his arms.

"What made you swoon like that?" he asked her softly, as he prepared her for bed. He didn't know why she'd fainted, but he felt vaguely guilty.

~*~End Chapter~*~

Heh, not too bad for my first fanfiction, I hope! Please review and tell me what you think!