Yama Ren' Ai

Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts or anything in it. This honor is to Disney and Squaresoft.

Everyday is a new day
I'm thankful for every breath I take
I won't take it for granted
So I learn from my mistakes
It's beyond my control, sometimes it's best to let go
Whatever happens in this lifetime
So I trust in love
You have given me peace of mind

I feel so alive for the very first time
I can't deny you
I feel so alive
I feel so alive for the very first time
And I think I can fly

Sunshine upon my face
A new song for me to sing
Tell the world how I feel inside
Even though it might cost me everything
Now that I know this, so beyond, I can't hold this
I can never turn my back away
Now that I've seen you
I can never look away

Now that I know you (I could never turn my back away)
Now that I see you (I could never look away)
Now that I know you (I could never turn my back away)
Now that I see you (I believe no matter what they say)

                -Alive (P.O.D.-Satellite)


 Wind whistled past her ear, blowing up her cropped hair to flutter in her vision. The wind carried a poignancy of mountain laurels and freshly fallen snow. The scents swirled around her, soothing her frazzled nerves. It was peaceful up here.

 "Although I'm not one for the temperature," Yuffie growled, rubbing her arms languidly. The air was the cleanest in the land, the water the purest. But the cold was a complete bitch.

 She stood on the mountains of Hollow Bastion, about a mile from its peak. She had come here by way of water in a small makeshift canoe. With the assistance of Cid, she had picked up the oar and spent half of her morning paddling to the frigid cliffs of the mountains. She had then taken upon the task of treading herself across them. Getting on them was bad enough-shores were unheard of in such a location. In the end she had to stab through the rock with her shuriken and leave the canoe there with the rope tied securely around it.

 'It's so beautiful up here…' Despite the view, it completely eluded her why she had taken upon such a task. It wasn't like she was without anything to do. Reestablishing her father's dojo was well enough work for half of her lifetime. She also couldn't forget about the everyday meetings with her friends, where they normally went out to eat or just hang out. She just couldn't grasp why she had wholly devoted herself to spending her time up in the freezing mountains.

 Because. Her mind had a reason, but it wasn't a reasonable one. She knew why she was up here. It was so obvious she might as well have burned it on her forehead with a cattle prod. She was here because she believed that she could retrieve him.

 "No one has been able to persuade him to come down, so what makes you so special?" she conversed with herself, at a loss for anyone else to talk to. It was really sad that she was forced to be alone, because she had found that she had a tendency to speak with herself as if she had two personalities.

 "I'm not special. I just want to try and get that asshole out of his hellish slump." 'And there I go. I need a pen pal or something.' She had to admit though, at eighteen years old, she found it more than fascinating to be wishing for someone to talk to.

 Truth be told, no one knew why he had suddenly exiled himself into the mountains. It had been three years since the sealing of Kingdom Hearts, and he had seemed utterly fine, putting all of the sulkiness and apathy aside. Then suddenly, without a warning, he left, with no trace of where he went.

 It was by chance that they had figured out where he was, only because they had searched everywhere but the mountains, and had pinpointed his location to be generally in that area.

 "That was two weeks ago," Yuffie talked as if she was a tour guide at a museum. Now she had the responsibility of finding out what was wrong. She knew that he wouldn't tell her at first, or that she would understand if he did decide to talk. Frankly, at twenty-seven years old, she had never met any one of more of a paradox than him in her entire life. If females were rubix cubes, then he was the whole friggin' company.

  The wind whistled once more, louder and more stinging. She wished she could tuck her hands beneath her arms, but she needed them out for balance.

 "Bring a walking stick," Yuffie mimicked Cid, making faces as she did it. It was bad enough that she was in dire need of it now; it was even worse that she was once more facing the fact that she had been proven wrong. "I hate this."

 Further hitching up her bag, she unceremoniously shoved one foot into the leaden snow, its own gloomy look starting to rub off on her. From afar it was beautifully pristine; up close, it was dirty and sullied with tracks. 'They're not Squall's tracks though,' she reminded herself. They were the footprints of the creatures that inhabited the mountains. Creatures that she wasn't in the mood to deal with at the moment. Aside from that, she knew that Squall wasn't a moron. He knew how to cover up his tracks, and he did it damn well.  

 "I think you're getting soft Squall."

 Yuffie sighed at the memory from two years ago, when Sora had almost knocked him out upon their first meeting. She tugged on her thick sturdy gloves, shifting beneath the heavy winter coat that warmed her body.

 "You're not getting soft. You got colder."

 "Why am I doing this?" she further wondered, squinting as specks of snow flew into her eyes. "I know that ungrateful butt will do nothing but demand why I came. Gawd, I could be coming to save his ass from some rampaging bear right now and he wouldn't give a flying pig-"

 She faltered, staring disbelievingly into the air. It couldn't be… But it had to be.

 Slowly spiraling into the sky was a small wisp of smoke. It was completely unnoticeable, unless you happened to face it by chance. It gave her a nagging feeling that she would've never spotted it if she hadn't been complaining and staring straight ahead as she had.

 "That has to be him," she hissed, now taking long, careful strides toward the incline of pines. He had the ears of a cat, and all it would take would be one snapped twig to send him off running. Normally he would've considered running a cowardly act, but it kept him away from everyone else, so it was more along the lines of ridicule. That was how he saw it anyways.

 Yuffie smirked, agilely darting to hide methodically between two thick pine trunks. She could hear him shift his body, turning to stare hard at where she was concealed. 'He catches on fast. Too fast.'  If he could already tell that someone was hiding from him, then she knew it would be all over. She needed time to lure him out, not for him to discover her within minutes of finding him.

 'But he won't catch me,' she prided. 'He's fast, but he can't beat the speed of a ninja.'

 She could hear him picking up his Gunblade, the only thing that had stayed by his side for all those years. The weapon held his soul, knew who he really was. Now it had followed its master on his last escapade, in attempts to banish himself. 

 She bristled. She could not see what was going on. She knew that if she chanced a look, he would surely see her.

 Yuffie listened patiently, somehow soothed by his movements. She had always felt calm around him. He was so stoic and indifferent that it was hard not to become completely lazy around him. The feeling didn't last for long though.


 Her senses panicked, her breath suddenly quickening. He was loading the Gunblade. Normally she could handle fighting his sword, but she couldn't dodge bullets. Would he really be malicious enough to shoot her?

 'Wait! Oh Christ, he thinks I'm an animal.'  

 The thought struck her, barely able to make it though the myriad of flurried words flying though her mind. Of course. He had been living in the wilderness for fourteen days, and the only source of food for him would be to kill the wildlife.

 "I have to tell him," she mouthed, not daring to speak aloud, fearing it would provoke him to shoot. The snow crunched beneath his feet, coming so close she could actually hear his breathing. 'Too close…he's too close…'

 'Would he care if he shot only to find out it was me? What would he feel looking at me lying on the ground dead?'

 Her breath hitched so painfully in her throat that she felt like she was going to choke. Her body went on autopilot, and before she knew what she was doing, she darted out from behind the tree. She really couldn't explain why she had done it, just that she had gone crazed with fear at the thought of dying. Unfortunately, what she was faced with was Squall's Gunblade, with her staring down it. Upon coming from behind the tree, Squall had jolted slightly, eyes widening.

 Shock. Disbelief. Then anger. Squall's azure eyes turned a dark indigo, and Yuffie shivered, the effect having nothing to do with the cold. 'He looks like he really wants to kill me now…'

 "Yuffie you idiot," he growled. "I could've shot you. And what the hell are you doing here?"

 "To come and get you! Everyone is worried sick about you!" She gritted her teeth at the apathetic look he shot her.

 "Go away," he growled once more, lowering his arm and dragging the Gunblade through the ground as he trudged back to the small fire. He placed the weapon back into its case, taking out the bullets and popping them into the specially made slots, directly below the Gunblade's slot. He acted like she wasn't there at all, like she wasn't fuming at his turned back.

 "I knew you'd do this," she yelled, stomping up to him and standing behind him, hands on her hips. "Look at me!" she demanded, slamming her foot into the snow. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, snapping the case shut and standing up. He was still inches taller than her, her head only coming up to his shoulder. It did wonders for her confidence, and she felt like shrinking back like she always did when he glared at her, like he was now.

 "Give it up Squall," she said with exasperation, glaring back just as vehemently. 'You can't scare me this time.' "This whole thing is stupid."

 He snorted, narrowing his eyes at her. It was common knowledge that he hated her, and it shone now in his eyes.

 "What stupid is sending the brat to get me," he hissed, taking a step toward her, "and believing that she could actually bring me back."

 Yuffie's chest tightened at the hurting nickname that Squall had often called her. Even now, it made her want to run away from him as far as she could, until she was crippled from exhaustion. She hated that name, always had. At sixteen, he had still persisted to call her that, and now he did it at eighteen. Neither times did she believe she deserved it.

 "I am not a brat," she said slowly, trying to control her emotions. "If there is anyone who's childish here, it's you! You run into the mountains without even telling us, you never tell us what's wrong, and when you are finally found, you tell me to leave you alone! For the record, grow up Squall!"

 When he said nothing, just stared down at her, she stepped far enough back so that she can jab a finger at his chest. "As for being sent here," she continued to hiss, "I chose to do so of my own accord. Whether I was able to bring you back or not was completely irrelevant to them. They all believed I was going to fail, and I'll be damned if I prove them right!"

 "So you're saying that you aren't going to go back until you have me in your custody," Squall murmured monotonously, simultaneously slapping away her finger. She glowered at him as if he had committed a serious offense with that action.

 "Exactly." She didn't know whether to be happy or not that her resolve had broken through to him.

 What he said next wasn't what she had expected at all.

 "Well you can plan on staying here forever because I'm not leaving."

 Yuffie watched in incredulity as he turned away from her. With one swift kick, snow piled onto the fire, immediately extinguishing it. He might've said something during the progression of him packing, although she wouldn't know. Everything was blocked off from her, and all she could do was watch as he shoved his belongings into a tough-looking hide bag, strapping it onto his bag. He threw the Gunblade case over his shoulders, putting his hands on either side of it to carry it on his back like a farmer would for two buckets of water.

 "Wait!" she managed to half-scream, half-gasp. He was already about thirty-five paces from her, having it taken her around five minutes to snap back into reality.

 He shifted slightly, somewhat of an acknowledgement to her outburst. Moments later she was scrabbling after him. He wasn't going to waste his time waiting for her though. Within minutes, he was almost a speck in her vision.

 "Bastard," she hissed to the ground. It was getting near noon, and the sun was starting to glare painfully on the pasty snow. She had conveniently forgotten to bring sunglasses (just like the walking stick) so all she could do was stare down into her shadow. Thankfully though there were clouds to once in awhile blot out the sun, but that was never for long.

 'I can't keep up with him,' she realized. 'I'm going to lose him. Again.'

 The mountain was getting dangerously steeper, and she felt herself struggling to keep a foothold with each step. Her cautiousness greatly slowed her pace, and she felt herself panting with frustration and exhaustion. How could he do this to her?

 "Because he wants to get away," she answered herself. "Because he doesn't care what happens to me."

 As she struggled higher, the sun faded away completely, but now she had another problem. The atmosphere was becoming thinner, and she was having trouble breathing through the painfully cold wind. She could no longer see Squall, and she kept catching glimpses of figures darting from behind the expanse of snow and trees.

 'I can't do this,' her mind whined. 'It's cold. It's steep. I'm too weak.'

 "Squall," she cried, making the mistake of taking a step forward and up without digging her hands into the snow first. With a cry her feet fell out from beneath her, and she crashed face forward into the snow. She gasped as her face came in contact with the frigidness. She forced herself up again, but it was all in vain. She slipped once more, crashing down and falling backwards in the process. With a pained howl, she went tumbling down a ways, until her back came smashing against a jagged rock, stopping her movement.

 "Ahhh," she cried once more, feeling the sharp onyx digging into her back. Her wrist felt twisted and sprained, but she was pretty certain it wasn't broken. The rock was sure to leave some nasty bruises, and her whole body felt numb. "Move Yuffie. You have to."

 Suddenly, as if waiting for this most inopportune time, the figures that she had seen before came looming closer, glowering at her from behind the trees that were a few feet from her. They had shining yellow eyes, so much like a Heartless, and yet so different. She could barely make out what kind of animals they were, or if they were animals at all.

 "What are you?" she whispered, her voice coming out cracked from now bleeding lips. She stared at them longer, her eyes widening as they edged closer. She couldn't tell what they were exactly, and all she could see were their silhouettes. She reached her arm out, beckoning them forward. "Come on-"

 Suddenly a body was over her, grabbing her arms and securing them flush against her chest. He covered her body completely with his, yelling something unintelligible to the figures. They inched back slightly, but did not leave completely.

 "What do you think you're doing?" Squall demanded, his voice hot on her ear. Her only response was a groan.

 "GET!" he yelled loudly, turning his head toward the shapes. This action caused her head to become nestled in his neck, slightly blocked by the furry hood of his coat. He smelled of pines and sweat, but somehow she knew that that wasn't his normal scent. She clenched her eyes shut as he shifted above her, trying to block out the throbbing pain in her back.

 "What are they?" she whispered, turning her hands up to grasp at his coat. His weight was starting to make her feel strangled.

 "Timber wolves," he hissed shortly. She frowned, staring at the wolves that were moving closer. There were about six or seven. "They're vicious in packs."

 "How big are they?" she whispered, her face going more pallid.

 "For heaven's sakes, does it matter?"

 "Well maybe they're not that-"

 Squall groaned with vexation.

 "Really Yuffie, your eternal amazement about wildlife is ridiculous. Of course they're vicious."

 Yuffie slowly pushed him off of her, but he moved to keep a firm grip on her arm. He was swiftly unsnapping the locks to the weapon case with his other hand, watching them with unblinking eyes. She realized that the only thing that he was moving was his arm and hand, and he was keeping his body stock-still.

 "Yuffie, when I say so, I want you to move behind those trees that are to our left," he said with a hushed voice, but full of directive. Her eyes widened, remembering her sprained wrist and hurt back.

 "But Squall-"

 "Yuffie! Agh, Yuffie, I will strangle you. Just do it!"

 She frowned in slight hurt, but didn't attempt to argue with him.

 'What about you?' she asked mutely. 'Can you handle this alone?' Of course he could, she thought logically. He never needed anyone. His feelings were too far away to breach, and the façade he kept up guarded him from virtually anything. Or at least, that's how it looked.

 The wolves were getting edgy, and they were becoming bolder. One of them chanced to move within a few feet of them, dodging back before Squall could even open his mouth. 'They're testing us,' he thought, narrowing his indigo eyes. 'Soon they'll be moving around us.'

 "Yuffie," he started.

 "Squall," she countered. She couldn't just let him do this. She was fairly certain that he had fought them before, but not with such large numbers. What if there were others just waiting where they couldn't see? It would all be for nothing if he were killed by a pack of wolves.

 "Dammit Yuffie-" he cut himself off, squeezing her arm so hard it hurt.

 "Ok ok…just…" she paused, feeling like a lovesick teen in a drama movie. "Don't die."

 Squall rolled his eyes, and it looked like he wanted to strangle her again. But there was something somber behind his exasperation, and she did trust it. Tightening her bundled hands against his coat, she silently demanded him to give his word.

 "I won't die," Squall said finally, his eyes flickering with some unnamed emotion. "Now…" he paused for a few seconds. "GO!"

 He rolled off of her, and she was stalled by the cold wind biting at her body. She hadn't realized how much she had been relying on Squall's body to keep her warm. Within seconds, she was scrabbling to her feet and clumsily running into the area of pines, that would supposedly protect her from the pack.

 A gunshot and a vicious howl startled her so badly that she fell face forward into the snow. The impact made her bruised wrist scream in protest as she threw them out in an attempt to stop her landing.

 "You better not die," she seethed, feeling angry and scared for him at the same time. It was hard to have such conflicting emotions, especially at such a time. She had been in love with him for eight years, but she also hated him for never showing any sign of mutual affection toward her. He had saved her numerous times, but all she were positive had been out of plain heroism, not something more personal.

 She lunged out of the snow, ignoring her arm and using both to push herself up and forward. Her heart was pounding hard enough to tear through her chest by the time she had reached the trees. She felt like kicking herself and silencing her damn heart. The stupid organ was pumping so loudly that she could barely hear what was going on with Squall.

 'I can't believe I actually listened to him' she fumed. 'Does he think I can't fight a bunch of measly dogs?' As her heart started to calm, (although still loud) she was able to make out the sounds of growls and howls. Lots of them. 'Too many,' she added in, scrunching up her face. With already one taken out, (she assumed so when she heard that first gunshot) there would only be about six or five. So why did it sound like ten?

 "He'll be ok," she tried to console herself. If he knew he had needed assistance, he wouldn't have sent her away. He was headstrong, but he wasn't complete blinded by brashness. He would've asked her to battle, although rudely he would. "He'll be ok," she repeated, her teeth chattering as a gust of wind slammed past her. "Ok…"

 More gunshots reached her ears, and she tried to calm her frazzled nerves. She shakily pulled off her right glove, gently pushing up her thick sleeve as benignly as she could. She winced as she spotted the swelled wrist where it had twisted to most. Frankly, she was surprised that she was lucky enough to come away with just a sprain. She knew there had been more than just that rock she had smashed into, and her dying back proved it.


 Yuffie spun around, staring at the two large wolves that were moving toward her. The smaller one was gray and the larger one was black, with slightly white and graying fur. They were both quite large though, with blood caking their gums and large canine teeth. They looked absolutely livid. Her mind recalled how she had supposed it to be an ambush. She had been right. 'The one time I'm right and I don't even feel good about it.' The smaller gray glowered at her, baring its long, pearly teeth.

 "You're digging your own grave," the ninja warned as the gray dog growled again. He lowered his body, his hind legs coiling back like springs. He was going to attack her. She had never been fond of fighting animals, but if this one was willing to kill her, so was she.

 "So be it," she smirked as the dog howled menacingly, leaping toward her. Faster than the eye could see, she whipped out a shuriken, flinging it brutally at the dog. It yelped it pain as the shuriken buried itself into its skull. It took a step forward, mouth foaming with blood, before collapsing onto its side. She turned to the larger black one. It was just standing there. He arched his back, howled once, and dove at her. She threw a shuriken but by some unknown force, it was able to avoid it, instead having it bury itself into its left paw. It growled and walked back into the forest, eyes shining. She didn't believe why it gave up so quickly but she couldn't think about that at the moment.  

 Yuffie nodded, turning away from the bloody site of the one wolf she had killed. She never enjoyed seeing the metallic substance…

 She had more important matters to attend to. By the size of it, the one that had attacked her had only been about a teen, although a big one at that. The ones attacking Squall were wholly adults. Her eyes widened as she saw the state he was in- bloody arm, and a slash mark on his left cheek. They had completely surrounded him.

 'I can't kill them all with shuriken,' she thought. With about eight of them coming at her, she knew she would freeze up. She always did under pressure. 'But if I don't go out there now, they'll maul him to death.'

 Once more, having the same disorderly control of her body as when she had faced down Squall's Gunblade, she ran out from behind the trees. Not only that, she ran out waving her arms and screaming.

 'WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?' her mind screamed. But that was just it. She wasn't thinking. She had gone completely crazy. She was an official loon. Somehow, thinking of Squall dying had frozen over any logical thoughts that had formulated in her mind, leaving her with sightless inanity.

 That's what love makes you do, she guessed.

 "Stop stop STOP!" she screamed, along with other words she never thought she knew. She yelled words in every language she could think of, waving her hands in the arm and doing obscene motions with them. The wolves looked taken back by this newcomer, and were actually pausing to stare at her wild motions.


 She jumped, forgetting about all of her vociferous actions. The pack had decided that she was relatively harmless, and they were charging at her, obviously willing to take her down. The male had been difficult-he had killed four of their brothers. But the female…

 She was weak and small. Not to mention crazy.

 'Shit shit shit!' They were running some kind of formation around her, though how she knew that was completely beyond her. She didn't think she would even be able to think. 'SHIT!'

 Hands shaking, she hurled a shuriken at one of the wolves. It caught it in its neck, and blood spurted from the open wound. It fell behind the others, finally falling to the ground in a heap. Seeing another of their brethren killed, the wolves slowed their running, growling at her with deep altos.  She growled back, knowing it was extremely unwise, but feeling reckless enough to do it anyways.

 "Take that!" she yelled throwing another one, and another, taking down two more of the dogs. The third one that she attempted to kill had caught on though. Just as she reached in the small holder at her side for another shuriken it dodged out of the way, the weapon embedding itself into the snow inches from its hind paw. It growled sinisterly, silently laughing at her. She grimaced. If they found out how to evade her attacks, then she was done for.

 The same wolf that had just dodged her shuriken lunged at her, teeth sinking into her one good arm. She cried out and angrily kicked it in the rib cage, winding it. It stumbled back, gasping and panting. Shaking its head, it bared its teeth and pounced again, only to be sliced cleanly in half by Squall's Gunblade. It lay on the ground, blood exploding everywhere.

 "OH GAWD SQUALL! That's gross-AHHH!" she yelled as two more dogs dove at her, one managing to get a lock onto her pant leg and the other leaping up to clamp around her throat. She quickly managed to stab the one leaping at her in the eye, pulling out another one and throwing it at its head. Knowing it would fall within seconds, she turned her attention to the one practically gnawing through her leg.

 "Agh," she moaned as she felt its teeth penetrate the rough hide of her pants and mar her skin. She swung her other leg to kick it, but it expertly let go of her leg and sank its teeth into the foot that was supposedly going to wind it. Another shrill cry was emitted from her, and she grabbed five shuriken, balanced proficiently between her fingers, and chucked all of them at the animal. It yowled, spit blood at her, and buckled.

 She turned around, seeing that Squall had killed the remaining three. She hated how he looked barely effected with the whole state of affairs that had just occurred. It seemed that he could still walk and function fine. She, on the other hand, felt like she had to be hospitalized for years, and maybe go into a coma while she was at it.

 She stared at her ambiance. Blood was splattered everywhere, much to her distaste. The air was putrid with the metallic liquid, and the snow was anything but white. If felt wrong, in some way, to have tainted such a pristine place. Overhead, geese flew, loud honking noises being made, sounding almost accusing. Had they done something wrong by defending themselves?

 Squall picked himself off of the ground, the Gunblade covered with red. He was undeterred all of the blood and geese, the opposite of her. He cracked his neck to one side, eyeing her with what had to be amusement-cynical amusement that made her blood boil.

 "Still think they're not vicious?"

 "F you," she sighed tiredly, her body aching all over. "This sucks, and I'd have to say it's all your fault."

 Squall raised his eyebrows, examining the stained weapon. "How so?"

 The ninja bent down, taking on the disgusting task of removing her shuriken from the animals. Normally she would've hurled them in her typical boomerang-like fashion, but when it came to killing, she was forced to throw them full-tilt, instead of angled for a return. She also didn't bring any more weapons, and all of them lay in the insides of the wolves.

 "Well," she began, scowling as she picked the vaguely obtruding ninja star from a wolf's neck, "If you had just come with me in the first place, then maybe I wouldn't have had to chase you up this damnable mountain, sprained my wrist, and gotten ambushed and nearly mauled by a pack of timber wolves." She exhaled noisily, making small noises as she was forced to dig slightly into the creature's side to retrieve another. Squall hadn't said anything about her complete censuring of how it was his stubbornness that had gotten them almost killed. He was too busy watching her doing her gruesome task.

 "You look ridiculous doing that," Squall said in an offhand voice. His eyes were now focused on her body, in general. He could see the blood starting to stain the bottom of her pant leg, as well as her right arm. Her right shoe had bite marks in them too. From what he had heard, he left arm wasn't in much shape either. She looked exhausted, worn down, and plain frustrated, just to add to her onerous burden.

 "Thanks," she spat bitterly, tearing out another shuriken, her anger built into that action. 'What is his problem? I'm practically crippled from pain here, and he insults me. Doesn't he realize that this is all his fault? I mean, first not listening to me, totally telling me off, and then sending me to hide like a little kid! If we would've just stuck together, fought back to back…'

 She closed her eyes briefly, remembering when they had fought back to back. Of course then she was always by his side, helping to extinguish any Heartless that dare cross their path. He had watched her back, and she, his. 'What happened?'

 "That's what I came here to find out," she murmured, feeling her determination return to her. As she reached down to pull a shuriken from a dog's skull, a gloved hand reached from behind her, pulling it out for her.

 "Find what out?" his breath was gentle and caressing against her ear, and she barely noticed him handing her the weapon. She could feel his hair falling across his face to tickle her own, soft and delightful.

 "Why are you helping me?" she asked evasively. She had a nasty habit for prevaricating. What made it worse was that he saw through them all, and always forced her back on subject.

 "You came here for answers." She slowly straightened herself, the back of her head lightly hitting his chest as she did so. She could feel his eyes staring at her brown locks, which now reached only somewhat past her shoulders.

 "Why are you helping me?"

 "I told you," he whispered, his mouth coming close to her ear once more. "You looked ridiculous."

 She would've been quick with a comeback, if it wasn't for the tone of almost unnoticeable affection in his voice.

 'Squall, affectionate with me? You're losing it.'

 "Whatever," she fairly stuttered, moving away from him. The loss of body warmth once more stunned her, and she braced herself against the chill. Almost instantaneously he noticed this, sadly.

 "You don't belong up here," he informed her, taking out a cloth from the case and wiping the blade clean. He was packing up once more; completely oblivious to the bloody chaos he was leaving behind.

 "Neither do you," Yuffie sighed, pocketing her shuriken without cleaning them. She would do so later. "No one does. You belong with civilization. People."

 He snorted, a bitter look in his eyes. "When have I ever belonged with other people?"

 Yuffie didn't have an answer for this, and somehow she felt like she had failed. He needs an answer, she thought. All his life he had been secluding himself, and now people believed so too. If only she had said something…

 Regardless of her bruises and his apparent want to be done with her, she followed after him, faintly limping. Limping proved to be as fruitless as walking though, because her left leg was bitten into, as was her right foot. She really had nothing to balance on without it stinging in protest.

 He was climbing toward a cave of some sort, she realized, as a small opening in the mountain came into view. As they neared it, it became obvious that it was not small, but a rather large opening, about ten feet wide and seven feet tall. It was easily obscured from anyone's vision, hidden methodically behind trees and out jutting rocks. It was a perfect place to hide.

 A place that he wasn't willing to share.

 "Yuffie," he sighed, turning to face her. Once more she saw that same flickering his eyes, something passing through that she couldn't name, and doubted that he could either. "Go home."

 "No!" she snapped resolutely, crossing her arms over her chest. Her chest was tightening, and she had the fearful sensation that she was going to cry. 'But why?'

 "Go home," he repeated, sounding like a broken record player. His eyes looked almost…pleading.

 "What are you so scared of?" she practically screamed. "TALK TO ME DAMMIT!" her vision was going blurry, and she knew that she was going to be sobbing soon.

 He wouldn't tell her anything; he wouldn't share his feelings and emotions with her. She had tried for years just to get him to open up, and he rejected her. Was this what it was now? The sting that she was feeling, was it akin to rejection?

 "I'm not sc-"

 "Well then what is it!" she was yelling again. She felt pain both physically and mentally, and she hated him for just being able to stand there and act like she wasn't struggling with herself.

 "It's complicated."

 She groaned, throwing her arms up. She then regretted she hadn't when she felt the electric-like pain shoot up her arm, but she forced herself to disregard it. "Well if you would take the time to explain it, then maybe it won't be!"

 She wanted him to argue some more, to see why he had exiled himself. But he said no more, turning and stalking into the cave. She felt faint and unbalanced watching him, like her inner equilibrium had been horribly messed with. One minute she felt herself teetering forward, the next, tilting backwards. She could feel blood dripping down her leg and arms…

 The door slammed open, startling her from her position. Sora's eyes became wide with fear, as was hers.

 Yellow glowing eyes, long, ominous claws…

 Sora's voice faintly nervous, with Squall yelling at her…

 "Yuffie! Go!"

 "You've saved me so many times." Could he hear her talking? Did he care to listen? "Why won't you let me save you?"

 The wind was so biting cold now, and she was sure that she had taken on a bluish hue.

 'I can't hold it in anymore.' She didn't know if it was the shock of the cold, the blood, or of his disregard for her. But whatever it was, it broke her, and it broke her badly.

 She felt it streaming down her face, dripping onto the lapels of her thick coat. She hadn't cried in years-she never found a relevant need to do so. She wasn't even sure if now was a relevant time, but it was too late to think of that now anyways.  She let out a strangled sob, watching as he slowly turned to face her. 'Let me save you.'


 He looked obviously startled to see the tears running down her cheeks. She was stumbling toward him, and before he knew what was happening, she was in his arms, her own arms wrapped tight around his waist. "Squall," she whimpered again.

 "Yu-" he stopped, a feeling similar to awkwardness taking over his body. She was sobbing against his chest, obviously there because she expected to be comforted. He clumsily patted her back, feeling her thin shoulders shake beneath his hand. He suddenly became intensely sentient to how fragile she felt, even at the age of eighteen. She was too small for her age, he thought critically. Had she been starving herself in the weeks he was gone?

 "Tell me," she bawled, starting to pound her fists against his chest when his mouth refused to form the words. With each swing at his chest he could see her wrist become a darker shade of purple, almost turning black. Her other arm spurted more blood, and it stained through her coat, running down her arm.

 "Calm down," he attempted, not sure if she was still miserable or just angry now. He slowly stepped backwards, bringing her with him, until they were a safe distance inside the cave. She took a second to drop her bag from her back, stepped back, and kicked him in the shins.

 He couldn't tell if it was remorse that made her face tighten, or her own pain. She had kicked with her bitten foot, but she had balanced on her other (also bitten) leg, so she looked pretty aggrieved.

 "Christ," he groaned, bending over slightly. In spite of her injuries, he still felt the full force of that blow. "Can you keep your limbs off of me long enough for me to catch my breath?"

 Yuffie glared at him, this time she being the one refusing to speak. She felt stupid standing there, as she knew that every moment more blood was seeping out of her wounds. The crying had made her vision bad, and her nose was stuffed. Her injuries and blood loss-just to top it all off-were making her dizzy and tired.

 They glared at each other for five minutes, until Yuffie finally gave in and collapsed to the cold ground, clutching her aching leg as she did so. It was a miracle she had been able to walk all the way here without breaking the bone.

 "You need to be bandaged."

 "Thanks for the obvious." She still felt angry at him for making him cry, but she was starting to notice that she often felt angry at him for little things like that.

 "I have a short amount of gauze and bandages so we may have to use some of our clothes if necessary," he said with a connoisseur tone, ignoring her last snide comment. He glanced meaningfully at her wounds. "You'll have to remove your outer clothing for me to bandage them properly."

 "What makes you think I can't do it on my own?" she demanded, while at the same time already unbuttoning her hide coat. As she slipped out of her pants she wondered if he would care that she would be standing there in her underoos.

 Not bloody likely.

 She exhaled, pulling her thick red turtle neck off, which was torn and dirtied beyond repair. He was still digging through that small first aid kit that he must've stolen from somewhere. Feeling bared and retarded standing there behind him in just her bra and underwear, she grabbed her coat, wrapped it around herself, and plopped onto the ground, trying to cover herself up as much as possible.

 "Squall?" she asked tepidly. He glanced over his shoulder. "I'm done undressing now." She fought down a blush, something she had learned to do over the years of hanging around him. With eight years of being ignored under her belt, the last thing she needed was to be blushing like some randy teen every time she got excited around him.

 "I wasn't waiting for you to do so," he commented uselessly, though she doubted it was for conversational purposes. He walked over to her, kneeling at her side. She heard him make a small clucking noise as he reached for her injured leg.

 "What? Is it bad?" Truthfully, she hadn't looked. When she had bent down to grab her coat and sit down, she had squeezed her eyes shut, too afraid to even take a peek. If her leg looked anywhere near as bad as it felt, she would faint.

 "You have deep lacerations," he sighed. "You need to get it cleaned and stitched."

 Was she dreaming, or did she hear a hint of concern in his voice?


 "But they're just bites-" he shook his head, and she jumped from the stinging contact as he leaned over and gently picked up her leg with his hands.

 "It ripped most of your skin out it had let go to grab a hold of your foot. Speaking of which," he settled her leg down, and tenderly pulled off her boots, if that was possible. Again, she refused to look, although now reminded of it, her foot started to burn like crazy.

 "This isn't nearly as bad. The shoe blocked most of the serration of the teeth. You only have slight bite marks, and they didn't dig in too deep."

 "Lucky me," she laughed sardonically. "At least I don't have any broken b-YEEOWCH!" she snapped, wanting to slap Squall, but not having the strength to. He had returned to her leg, and had just squeezed it, making her mind cloud with throbbing tenderness.

 "Sorry," he murmured shortly. Her leg really didn't look good. The pants she had been wearing had been unusually thin, and the teeth had quickly broken through. He was somewhat flabbergasted that she hadn't said anything during their whole trek to the cave. The wound looked like it evidently hurt.

 "Let me see your arm."

 Yuffie looked like an animal caught in the headlights. She was clutching at the coat with a very weak grasp, and she couldn't put up much of a fight as he pulled it away, revealing her full body. He didn't spend any time staring though, eyes widening upon seeing her arm. It was in the same condition as her leg, if not worse.

 That was settled then. He would use all of the bandages on her, then take her back to see a doctor. He could live with his bruises-they shrank in comparison to Yuffie's slashes and blemished flesh. It was now palpable that she could not handle such animals in numbers, as he was trained to do.

 "Disgusting," he heard her mutter critically. He looked up at her face, seeing that she had chosen to stare at her wounds for the first time. "I look like a leper…and they hurt like a bitch."

 'More like a rabid bitch in heat.'

 He wanted to stay in the mountains. Candidly, he had been planning on staying here forever, living off the wildlife and in complete solitude. They wouldn't know where he was and-at the time- believed they wouldn't care. 'Then she came…'

 He didn't understand why she chased after him, why she tried. Too many times to count had she tried to talk to him, to get inside his head. But he had pushed her away each and every time, falling deeper into his own self-loathing as he did so. Still after all these years…

 He had actually considered taking his own life several times. The thought, though fleeting, had unfurled deep, morose feelings inside of him that he had taken comfort in. He didn't care what people had thought of him, and he was sure that the feeling was mutual. He remembered the way people had always stared at the long scar between his eyes, and the way he had glared back. He considered the scar as a reminder back then. Now he wasn't sure what he was supposed to remember, or if he wanted to.

 Yuffie. 'Why do you believe in me so blindly?' Even as she stood back there, Gunblade nicking her nose, she had hope in her eyes. She had believed that he could come back with her, tell her everything, and say it was all over and OK.

 He knew his feelings were becoming jumbled and he wasn't certain that he was in the right mind anymore but…

 Her confidence in him, the way she never gave up and argued with him enough to drive him insane…

 He loved and hated her for it.

 They were two dangerous emotions that, when put together, could be explosive. Fire and ice, hot and cold. He had no other way to describe it. Somewhere, deep down, he knew that he had always loved her, although he had done a damn good job at denying that. As a child he had loved her as a sister, as he got older, sister and friend. 'What is she to me now?' 

 'I want to give up so badly…to leave this world…but…'

 'She still believes in me, and I can't leave this place being burdened with knowing that.'


 Her voice was small and vague in the distance, despite his ear being right next to her face. For the first time in his life, he felt nervous around her. Did she still think that he would stay there, and force her down the mountain? Did she ever think that?


 "Yes?" he managed to ask, jolting back to reality. He stared at her beautiful face, her small eyes narrowed and her cheeks slightly puffed up.

 "It's really starting to sting," she was whispering it, leaning over and clutching her leg. It looked like she wanted to clutch her arm too, but she was unable to do both at once.

 "Hang on."

 While she had been sitting silently in pain he had been talking to himself about his emotions. 'Brilliant, you empty minded dolt.'

 He snatched the gauze, some tissue, and a small bottle from the kit beside him, removing her knuckle-white hands and pouring some of the liquid from the bottle onto the tissue.

 "What's that?" she inquired, shivering horrible. It was freezing cold! This was the last time she sat near naked in a cave in the mountains with a lacerated leg and arm, and not to mention, a completely hot man.

 "It'll clean the wound." He could hear her nervousness-she had always had a fear of antiseptics. "It will sting a bit." Regrettably, he had to tell her. It was either hear her disappointment and whining or hear her scream when she found out first hand.

 "A bit?" she muttered dubiously. "I can remember a few times when that was proved wrong."

 "Yuffie, I'm not going to lie. It will hurt. A lot. Just bear with it for a few seconds ok? I'll wash it off with water." She noticed the small bottle of water next to him and nodded, albeit uncertainly.

 "Wait!" she cried, almost startling him to dump the whole bottle of water he was holding in his hands. "Test it on my foot first….please?"

 'Is she that scared that it'll hurt? Well, by the looks of her wounds, it'll probably burn like hell…'


 He moved to her right foot, and dabbed the tissue over the bite marks. What he wasn't prepared for was the ear-piercing scream that was loud enough to start an avalanche. He prayed that wasn't true.

 She actually had tears in her eyes once more. Was it that bad? He put down the tissue and bottle down, moving up to become eye level with her. Her eyes were begging him not to do it again.

 "It burnt…it stings like hell," she gasped, saying what he had been thinking minutes ago. What was worse was that that wasn't even a deep wound, and he knew that he had to clean her leg and arm with it. "Don't….don't you have anything else?"

 "No," he sighed guiltily. She was shaking badly, and he had no idea what to do. Hesitantly, he reached up and stroked her cheek, wiping away her tears with his thumb. She flinched slightly, as if trying to decide what he was getting at. The last thing she wanted was to be played with.

 'There it is again.' That flickering of his eyes. Did he know that there was a fire burning behind them, screaming to be let out? He was suppressing something, something that was becoming angry and impatient. It wanted to be known.

 As for herself, she didn't know what to feel. His warm hand on her cheek, brushing away her tears almost made her melt and forget about the pain. Almost.

 Squall had always been a pillar of strength to her, and now she wanted to prove she could be too. She knew that he probably thought she was a big crybaby, screaming at what had to be a barely harmful antiseptic on a barely harmful wound. But it had burned. She didn't know how to explain it, and didn't want to out of embarrassment. She knew it would sting, but she didn't expect that. He might've just had a wolf bite her again for all the pain that that small cleaner caused her.

 'But I have to be strong…I'm the Great Ninja Yuffie.'

 It made her lips tremble, but she managed to get it out.

 "Do it fast."

 He stopped stroking her cheek. She wished he hadn't. "What?"

 "We both know it needs to be done. So open up the tissue and lay the whole thing on my leg. Do it fast."

 "Yuffie-" She could hear a tone in his voice that she wasn't used to hearing. It was respect.

 "Don't worry. Believe it or not, I've faced worse."

 "I know that." He made a move toward her leg, but she grabbed his arm. 'Say it,' her mind grated at her. How she wanted to just tell him but she was so nervous of being rejected again…

 'You're eighteen years old. You can deal.' She took a deep breath, looking deep into his cerulean eyes. He really was handsome. She never cared about the nine-year age difference between them. Oddly enough, she felt as if love didn't care about age, as she felt the same. Besides, his looks made up for it, as he looked very young, mostly because of his lean body and long hair.

 "I'll let you clean my wounds without screaming but-" 'Here goes.' "But you have to kiss me when you do it."

 As soon as she had said it, she felt like taking it back. It was her obvious response. She had hid her feelings for years, and it felt…illicit to just emit her emotions like that. Of course she hadn't specifically said that she loved him, but it still caused her much anxiety.

 She didn't dare look at him, didn't dare breathe. She could feel his eyes burning a hole into her head, and she was too ashamed to meet his gaze. 'He's going to say no. That I'm crazy. Or call me an ugly idiot and send me away…'

 'No no no no. Don't say it Squall. Just spare me. Don't say anything at all. I'll understand. Agh…'

 As if by some demonic force working against her, he spoke, his masculine voice doing weird things to her insides.

 "If it helps, then yes. I will do whatever is necessary."


 She knew that tone of voice. It was the same one he used as a leader of their group. It had always been his job to protect others. It was a job that demanded perseverance, an unsentimental personality, and a disregard for your own feelings. To him, being a leader meant that his thoughts didn't matter. His comrade's feelings were the ones he was to put into consideration. It saddened her to know that she was just another comrade on one of his missions, not something deeper and personal.

 She grimaced slightly at the thought of the pain that was sure to come, barely able to be blocked out at the prospect of kissing Squall.

 "I've never been kissed before," she confessed. He just nodded. She didn't know which hurt more-knowing and lying about it, or having Squall know and not really care.

 "I doubt this one will be memorable," he sighed somewhat mordantly. It was a soft sigh though, and she could tell he didn't mean the sarcasm that he was so implying at. "Besides…I've never been kissed either."

 He had to be kidding.

 Contrary to what she thought she would've felt when he finally confessed something about his love life to her, she felt the opposite. She wanted to faint, or go into a room, slam the door, and then light the room on fire with her in it. Quite horrifying feelings.

 "Say that again."

 "What? Did I stutter?" he arched his brows, and she knew he was mocking her. She felt like arguing with him at the moment, something she realized she had become fond of. She secretly reveled in getting him all fired up, because he always looked best when he was frustrated with her.

 "Ahhh," she hissed, as if suddenly remembering the condition of her body. For a few moments the pain had been gone, too absorbed in Squall and his confession. Now her limbs refused to be ignored and demanded to be treated. "Squall its-"

 Before she could finish her sentence, his lips were on hers, putting just the right amount of pressure, but not enough to make it feel too uncomfortable. She knew her lips were cracked and bruised but she didn't care. All she could think about were his delectable lips-

 Then there was the pain.

 She struggled and gasped against his mouth as he pressed to tissue against her wound. It burn, it stung, it set her flesh ablaze. Her blood felt like lava and she wanted to cry all over again. 'Take it off!' her body beseeched. But she knew she had to live with it, as much as she hated it. Desperate for a distraction, anything, she opened her mouth, wondering if Squall would take the hint. Fortunately he did, and he slowly slipped his tongue into the heated cavern of her mouth, tasting her. She wasn't really sure what to do with her own tongue, and at that point, didn't care. 'TAKE IT OFF!'

 As if hearing her muted screams, he quickly threw off the now completely bloody tissue, pouring water over the cleansed wound. Instantly the stinging dissipated, and she let out a whoosh of breath she hadn't even known she was holding in. He had broken his lips away from hers, and she was watching the water slide off her leg. She half expected it to sizzle.

 "I think I felt that," Yuffie said, trying to lighten the mood. Squall knew she was just trying to keep optimistic, but you could tell that alone was killing her.

 "We still have to do your arm," he pointed out. "And we have to bandage your wrist and foot."

 "Oh just rain on my party," she gritted as he wrapped her leg in gauze. It certainly felt better, and it didn't look completely horrific covered in white wrapping.

 "Party? More like funeral."

 "Oh gee, thanks."

 He placed a finger in his mouth, tasting something. Noticing her eyes on him, he shrugged. "I got some of your blood in my mouth from your lips."


 What was she supposed to say? She turned her attention to her next wound.

 Yuffie glared contemptuously at her left arm, knowing it had to be done. "Evil little limb," she blamed it, as if it had betrayed her. "Just couldn't stay outta that wolf's mouth, could you?"

 Squall rolled his eyes, watching her accuse her obviously-not-listening-and-therefore-not-going-to-answer arm.

 "Don't look at me like that," she snapped to Squall, knowing that he thought she was off her rocker. "Haven't you ever talked to yourself?"

 "Do I really have to answer that?"

 Yuffie pouted like a four-year-old, the expression looking odd on her eighteen-year-old face. 'Not to mention her eighteen-year-old body…'

 Stop staring, Leonhart.

 "Ok, can we get this done sometime this century?" her nervousness at another wave of pain was making her impatient. At the same time though, she felt giddy to be kissed by Squall again.

 'She's anxious.' About which one he didn't know. He smirked as she started to gnaw at her lip. She was extremely eager now. He knew that he shouldn't, but he felt like doing it anyways. He never really had been able to pass up a chance to embarrass or harass her, even at both their ages.

 "Crimmies," she muttered. "I swear I can live with it if we just chop it off now instead of the whole cleaning crap. Squall?"

 He wouldn't look at her, and Yuffie yelped as he straddled her waist, his body fitting together smugly with hers in the most inappropriate of places. If she thought that kissing him caught her cheeks alight, then she couldn't bear to see what see looked like now. Probably a ripe tomato with red paint and ketchup smeared on it.

 "Ok," she giggled nervously. Had some kind of crazed lust taken over him? Had he forgotten about her damnable arm, which desperately needed wrapping? "Calm down boy…" she patted his shoulder awkwardly, as you would a dog.

 "Yuffie, I'm not a dog," he said brusquely, startling her. So he was still in the right mind. With that settled, what the hell was he doing?

 "What're you doing? Besides straddling my near-naked body," she added, feeling like a child who had just discovered the horrors of puberty.

 "Fixing your arm."

 "Fixing? So the whole, 'Cutting Off of Yuffie's Arm' is still in progress?"

 "No. I'm going to clean and bandage it."


 He retrieved a few more tissues, which were a lot sturdier than they looked. She had wished that he might've-by chance- ran out of the antiseptic, but no such luck. There was at least three-fourths left.

 "Uh, ya know, you could've done all this without sitting on my lap." 'That's right Yuffie. Sound like you're implying it, but don't say it outright.'

 "Perhaps," was all he calmly replied. She wanted him off of her, or so she thought. There was another voice, mostly her physical part of mind that wanted him to stay there, to do more than just straddle her. There was a tingling sensation that was swimming in her stomach, and a little lower. It was a new feeling for her, because she had never bothered exploring anything sexual with anyone.

 "Kiss me," she blurted. 'Really, I should make a movie out of this.'

 If he was surprised by her eagerness to feel his lips on hers once more, she didn't show it. Wind whistled through the cave as he stared at her face, realizing that he had forgotten they were even in the mountains. His mind had mostly been focused on her, the way she felt beneath him, the sound of her heart beating quickly, her breath coming it swift gasps.

 "Kiss me," she repeated. And he did.


 He had still been straddling her as he wrapped her arm, quite sloppily to preserve some of it for the rest of her injuries. She had her hand on his waist, tugging and playing with his belts while he busied himself with her arm. She was surprised that he still had the damn things, even without his leather pants. His warmth had been an easy welcome too, especially from the screaming cold and frigid rock she was forced to sit on.

 He wrapped her other wrist without having to clean it, much to Yuffie's relief. Neither had said anything about their proximity of their bodies, and neither made a move to push the other away.

 As he was about finishing up her wrists, she laughed, a musical sound that sounded forbidden in such a hollow place.


 Yuffie smiled her little mischievous smile, a trademark she was never seen without. It was a welcome from her pained faces she had been making minutes before.

 "Oh nothing, just, I never thought I would be doing this so soon." She glanced meaningfully at a particular part of their bodies that had been fastened together for quite some time. She had that old teasing glint back in her eye again, and Squall didn't know whether to be elated or frustrated.

 "Really, I thought you'd want to have kids," he said bemusedly, smiling on the inside. He knew that she would be yelling within seconds. She constantly got pissed off because he was always so laid back when it came to topics like this, while she was loud and embarrassed.

 "No," Yuffie said, and he realized that she must've taken him seriously. "I hate 'em." She stared at his chest perfectly concealed by his heavy coat. She really wished she was wearing one too.

 "Anyways," she started again. "Since I am going to be stuck here for some time, as you said, I think it's safe to tell me why you came up here."

 Squall turned his head away, long brown bangs covering any expression that he might've shown. "You're not going to stay here."

 Was he evading her question again, or was he actually serious?

 "Really?" Now that she had been mostly bandaged, except for her foot, she felt much inclined to talk again. "Why?"

 "I told you. You need stitches. Those bandages won't stop most of the bleeding, and your skin is unable to heal itself completely on its own. I will be escorting you down the mountain as soon as you are properly bandaged."

 "But-" she hesitated, staring at the slashes on his arm and cheek. Of course she had noticed them all this time, but decided not to comment on them. Neither looked that deep, but she was still worried about him.

 "I'll be fine. Just worry about yourself."

 He was wrapping her foot now, cutting off some of his own coat to tie it up. He had gotten off of her lap to do so, and she longed for his body once more.

 "Why did you exile yourself," she demanded again. She refused to let him get away with not answering!

 "It…was stupid, really," he confessed, finishing up her foot. "You can put your clothes back on now."

 "Stupid?" she asked, staying on subject while she reached for her pants. "Like how?"

 "It was just-lets just say….it wasn't worth running away for," he said finally. Yuffie frowned. She badly wanted him to tell her what it was.

 "What had you been planning on doing up here?"

 There was a pause, uncomfortable and gloomy. "I was going to kill myself."

 Yuffie stopped halfway through slipping on her half-mangled turtleneck, eyes going wide. He had been planning on taking his own life. She couldn't believe it.


 She knew she was asking too many questions, that she was pushing it with him. But she wanted to understand, something that he had never allowed her to do.

 "My life was…empty. There was nothing worth living for anymore. Everyone had something to go back to, or they had someone to run to. I had nothing and no one. So I figured that I could just die."

 Yuffie wasn't answering, and Squall feared that his confession had freaked her out. He was about to turn around and apologize when a kick was landed squarely on his shin.

 "Holysonofa-" he groaned, almost falling over. "Is there some kind of shin-conspiracy that you have that I don't know about?"

 "Don't know about? I'll tell you what you don't know about. You are blind, Squall, really. You think you can just run off and commit suicide without anyone caring? Did you really believe that we would just forget about you and move on?" She walked over to the wall, smashing her fist into it. His eyes widened as he saw her knuckles start to bleed. Was she trying to lose more blood?

 "People care about and respect you. Remember when we were in Traverse Town? Do you know what they said about you?" She cut off whatever he was about to say. "It's not what you think. They said 'You don't have to worry about getting attacked by Heartless because Leon will save us!' Does that mean anything to you?"

 Now her voice softened, and she walked up to him, resting her head against his chest. She could feel him shaking beneath her. Was if from anger?

 "If you would've killed yourself….I might've done so too." She paused, and his sharp intake of breath was not lost on either of them. "I…well…" she paused again, feeling exasperated. "COME ON!"

 Squall jumped, surprised by her angry yell.

 "Don't you know how I feel about you?" she demanded, banging her head against his chest. "Everyone knows. Don't you?!"

 "I'm sorry," he admitted, feeling asinine. "I…I never knew."

 With a frustrated yell, she ripped herself away from him. She was standing about three feet away from him yanking on her brown locks as if to rip them out. She certainly looked like she had the motivation to do so.

 "Gawd Squall-you-how could you-" She tried again, realizing that she wasn't going to get anything out by stuttering. "All these years," she sighed with exasperation and loss. She really couldn't believe that he had been in the dark all this time. For crying out loud, even the Dalmatians knew.

 "What are your feelings…as of now?" he inquired with some hesitation, not willing to be open for another shin-attack.

 Yuffie turned around, and her hands came up to cover her ears, as if to brace herself of her own screams that were sure to come out. She was completely dressed now, all thoughts of how they had been so intimately intertwined fleeing from her mind. Not only had he never known what her feelings were before, he didn't even know now.

 She wanted to calm herself, to slowly say a composed, completely mature and reasonable answer. She could do that right? Just say that she no longer had deep, unrequited feelings for him and thought of him as just a friend and absolutely nothing more-


 Great going Yuffie.

 Then of course she knew uncomfortable silence would ensue, followed by the two of them not meeting each others gazes and not talking to each other for what could well be hours. So she said it again. Five times.

 "Oh-" she managed to say after the sixth time. She took one look at his blank face, blank eyes, blank posture, and ran.


 This is what I was meant to do, she thought. Run. She had always been a fast runner, easy being able to lap everyone had they been in a race. Now she used her agility and ninja-like grace to carry her down the mountain, her feet looking flurried. Her leg was making her run slightly in a crooked line, but as long as she was going down, she didn't care. She had left her bag with her clothes, food, and other rations in the cave with Squall, but she didn't care about that either.

 'Oh Squall.' Why had she told him? She had been able to hold it in for eight years, but something had compelled her to tell him back there. When he had confessed about wanting to commit suicide, she couldn't take it. She thought if he knew about her feelings, he would understand that people cared about him. But to tell him like that…

 While they had been in the cave a new layer of snow had fallen, and it felt soft and light. It was a nice change to the hard packed snow that she had fallen into several times only a few hours before.

 Stop thinking; just run. She couldn't find it in herself to cry. Not again she wouldn't. She felt defeated, as if he was standing back there now, laughing at his clever plan of getting rid of her. 'He probably is laughing,' she thought bitterly. 'Laughing at how stupid enough I've been to fall in love with him.'

 She could see the edge of the water now, just barely. How long had she been running? It felt like ages since she had confessed her love and fled from the cave. She couldn't take his gaze. He had looked at her like he didn't believe her, like he wasn't willing to register what she had said.

 'I've failed.' Her chest tightened. She was getting a stitch in her side, and she was sweating so much she felt like throwing off her coat. 'They're going to see me walking back without Squall and they'll know I had let them down again.' She would have to face their disappointed faces. Then they would go back to their own lives, leaning on the ones they loved for support as they sent others in attempts to bring him back. But she would be left behind, without one to love. She already loved someone, and he was unwilling to return it.

 She wasn't really sure how, or what it was, but one way or another she found herself being tripped. Her run started to take on this awkward gait, and she suddenly couldn't control her own legs. She was going too fast to stop her own motion. The mountain was too steep for her to glide to a stop. Her leg cried out as it was forced past its limits, and she could feel it bleeding again.

 She closed her eyes in an attempt to block out the snow that was flying at her so quickly it stung. She didn't know how long she had closed her eyes; she only knew when she had took a chance to open them to mere slits had she seen something blocking her path. It looked like a tree or a rock, or something like that.

 Whatever it was, she threw up her arms, closed her eyes, and braced herself as best she could. She couldn't stop herself from smashing into it now-she just prayed it wouldn't take her life.

 Within seconds, she crashed into it, and to her surprise, it too went rolling down the hill with her. She kept her eyes closed, not sure if she was rolling with some kind of bush, or what. After a minute or two, she came to a gradual stop, making a soft thump at the bottom. She had almost rolled completely over the cliff and into her canoe.

 Her vision was hazy and she wanted to throw up. She hadn't rolled nearly as much as when she had crashed into the rock. What was this thing? It was lying on top of her and it felt quite heavy…and was it breathing?

 Apparently, this thing talked too.

 "Yuffie," it gasped.

 Yuffie shook her head, trying to clear her vision and upset stomach. Her bruises were bleeding and hurting all over again, much to her dislike.

 "Yuffie," it said again, and she realized it wasn't an "it". More like a "he".


 He winced slightly. He too, seemed about ready to empty his stomach out of dizziness. His hair was covered with snow, as were his clothes. He looked quite disheveled and winded.

 "You…chased after me?"

 He didn't answer at first, just panting softly against the valley between her breasts.

 "Yeah," he gasped finally, his hands gripping at her shoulders, hanging on as if she would flee again. "You run fast," he added with pain, groaning. "Even with two injured legs, it was hell trying-gasp-to catch you."

 Yuffie too was panting, although mostly from fear than anything else. "Why?"

 "Is that your favorite word?" Squall had a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth as he pulled himself off of her, brushing off all of the snow. "You left in a hurry without hearing what I had to say."

 Frankly, she didn't want to hear what he had to say. She knew what he would say, and she wasn't thinking optimistically.

 She watched him stand up and run a hand through his long hair. He had refused to cut it, only agreeing to trim it once in a while. It still went slightly past his shoulders, as it had three years ago.

 He's beautiful, she thought, without any shame. In the end, staring at him, she realized that no matter what he said, she would still love him. She wanted him, damnit.

 "Ok," she said daringly, letting him help her pull herself up. "Let's hear it." She stood tall, taking in deep breaths, waiting for his words.

 "You say you love me," he began stepping toward her, a deep ruminating look in his eyes. "But this is what I have to say. So listen."

 Yuffie nodded her head mutely. 'I can handle this,' she thought. 'It's not like he's gonna start screaming at me or anything.'

 "I'm listening," she agreed with him. He smiled softly, walking straight up to her and cupping her cheek with one hand.

 "Then listen well," he whispered, before capturing her lips with his own, wrapping his arms around her shocked body. She melted instantly, kissing him back with just as much vigor. Her hands tangled in his hair, and his went to her hair, and the other to her waist. They stepped backwards slightly, and she could feel their balance being shifted. With a light cry of laughter, both he and her tumbled into the canoe, making cold water splash onto their faces as they weighed it down.

 This time she was on top of him, laughing. Her laughter was infectious, so he went right along with her. She managed to reach over him without completely tipping the small boat over, long enough to remove her shuriken and set the canoe off. She leaned against him in wonder, already knowing how he felt.

 As the canoe floated away from the majestic mountains, figures moved within them. The wolves beautiful black and gray coats shone in the now darkening sky, the endless blue becoming dotted with small stars. They watched the small boat float away, listening to the odd, soothing sound of the human's joy. They tilted their heads to the sounds of their voices. The same creatures that had slain their brothers were now joining in an archaic gesture, the musical sounds of their laughter echoing through the barren mountains.

 A lone wolf, black fur now turning white and gray with age, watched as the two floated away from the mountains. He gave a toothy grin and bent down to lick its bruised left paw. He could identify the soft females voice as the one who had given it to him. He then raised his grandiose head, opened his mouth, and howled into the star-filled night, just as Yuffie's voice whispered through the air.

 "Squall? Can I listen again?"

 A/N: My first one-shot. The title means mountain romantic love in Japanese. Or at least I think it does. T_T;; It is dedicated to one of my friends, Kuro Chocobo. I hope you liked it! If any of you noticed, I got some of the scenes and lines from the book Wolf Star. It is an amazing book, and it made me crack up a lot. ^_^  

 Please review! You can rant through the whole thing about naked monkeys and flying rhino's for all I care. Just REVIEW.