Like They Never Met
Disclaimer: I don't own FFVII or ANY of the characters! I'm just stealing them for my own evil designs...mwuahahaha!
Author's Notes: When ideas take hold in my brain, I usually don't write them down. Then, I kick myself because it was a REALLY good idea! This is based on the random wonderings I had one day about what FFVII would be like if Vincent never met Lucrecia. Of course, since he spent 20 or 30 years in a coffin (I heard both), he'd be like forty or fifty by now...which wouldn't work with the ideal purpose of this fic which is Yuffentine. Pairing Yuffie with the game version of Vincent, who looks 20-something but is physically 50-something is one thing. Pairing Yuffie with an ACTUALLY 50-something Vincent is gross. So, I tweaked the rules a LITTLE bit, and made it so that exposure to Mako, which I think is a common practice for Turks and SOLDIER, makes the body unable to age, but slowly kills off the person's brain...or something. So, yes, Vinnie's still an old geezer in this fic, but he still looks like he's 20-something because of the Mako dealie. Okay? Don't shoot me!
Okay, in case anyone missed it, THERE IS YUFFENTINE IN THIS FIC. BE WARNED IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE PAIRING.
Like They Never Met
"Ummm..." the ninja started, looking over at her companion. Well, he wasn't much of a companion. Cloud had hastily split the now large group of eight into three groups. He, of course, went with Tifa and Aeris, and as Barret was his second-in-command, he had let the dark-skinned man choose the two members of his group. Not wanting to be stuck with a 'noisy lil' brat' or a 'vampire', he'd chosen Red XIII and Cait Sith. She rolled her eyes. Two cats were better company than she and Vincent were. Speaking of Vincent, he was ignoring her. Of course, she couldn't imagine that he was any more thrilled than she was about being them being stuck together for the duration of this trip to Rocket Town, but that was no reason to ignore her! Her! Great Ninja Yuffie, as she called herself. Besides, she'd been dying to ask him something ever since they'd discovered the gothic man in the basement of Nibelheim mansion, but hadn't had the chance until now.
Traveling across the plains toward the town that was supposedly in the distance, the two of them had happened upon a small grove of trees, a grove of trees which looked as if it had been inhabited. There was a small structure inside, and a well, which they had been more than grateful for since they had been quite thirsty.
Anyway, back to the point. They were resting, and now was the perfect time to ask him.
"Why were you sleepin' in that coffin?" she asked. She was never subtle unless it came to Materia stealing, so why should she start now? Her straightforward question seemed to snap him out of his reverie. He turned his creepy red eyes to her.
"That is none of your concern," he said. Was Yuffie deterred? No!
"But I wanna knoooowwww!" she whined, bouncing over to the rock he was sitting on. The gunman remained silent, looking off into the trees surrounding them. "C'mon! Tell me, tell me! It might be good to get it offa yer chest, Vinnie!"
His eye twitched. "Vinnie?" he asked, coldly. She grinned. She'd made up about fifty different degrading nicknames for him once he'd told them his name. She couldn't help it! He'd spoken his name in such a dark, self-loathing way that she had to!
"Just teeeellll me!" she pestered. He remained silent, eyes growing dark. She smirked. No-one had infinite patience. Even if it took her all day, she'd get his story out of him. "Pleeeassssee?"
"Your incessant whining is becoming very annoying," he told her.
"It'll just get more annoying unless you tell me!" she replied. He sighed, putting his head into his hands, carefully resting half of his face on his bronze claw.
"Does it have somethin' ta do with that weird claw of yours?" she asked. She jumped back when he suddenly rose to his feet, towering over her, with murder in his red eyes.
"I said it does not concern you," he growled at her. She suddenly shook herself out of her surprise, glaring back at him. Even if he was, like, fifty million times taller than her, she would not be intimidated.
"I don't care! I still wanna know!" Yuffie exclaimed, trying to be as tall and imposing as her scrawny little body allowed her.
"Do you? Are you sure you can handle knowing what horrors I've experienced?" he asked her, voice growing darker.
"Yes!" she exclaimed, defiantly. The man was silent, furious red eyes staring into her steel-colored ones for a moment, before he suddenly sat down on his rock.
And he told her. He told her of the woman he had loved, and how she had betrayed him for a man more interested in science than in her. He told her of what that very same man had done to the woman who loved him. He told her of what the man had done to Vincent when he'd tried to save the woman and her child. He told her of the demons that now resided in his mind.
A lot of things now made sense to Yuffie. Sephiroth...Hojo...those were names she'd heard before, from the others. Now she understood why Vincent had decided to come along with them. She understood why his eyes were that creepy red color. She understood why he was so guarded, so cold, and so silent. But there was one thing she didn't understand. When he spoke of that woman...Lucrecia...there was still so much love in his voice, despite the fact that she'd betrayed him. By all accounts, he should have blamed her at least partly for what happened to him.
"How...can you still love Lucrecia so much?" she found herself asking without her permission. She winced at the look he gave her. It was a cold, furious look on the surface, but there was such sadness underneath. He looked...pathetic.
"What happened to her is my fault. I should have tried to reason with her. Even though she betrayed me...I will always love Lucrecia," he said. She opened her mouth to say something, but wisely closed it. She had almost called him an idiot, but she knew that doing that would only further upset him...and she wasn't too keen on meeting one of those demons any time soon. She abruptly turned to walk away, unable to think of anything to do or say to help the man. He closed his eyes, bowing his head.
"I told you...you couldn't handle it," he said. She suddenly took off, running toward the opposite end of the grove, fury in her eyes. Of all the things to say! She'd handled it well enough, but she was afraid of upsetting him after she'd already made him so mad.
She found herself at the well, on the opposite side of the wooden structure. She sighed, sitting down on the stone edge of the well, staring off into the forest. Well, it would be a while before she could face the dark gunman, she knew. Cloud was gonna be pissed at her, since they'd probably be really, really late to Rocket Town.
If she was in his position, she would have tracked down Hojo, kicked his stupid ass, and then yelled at Lucrecia. A lot. Assuming she was still alive, anyway. While the ninja was 100 certain that her companion wanted to kill Hojo, she knew that he would never do anything to upset Lucrecia. And that frustrated her more than anything.
"Stupid...noble-ass...vampire!" she shouted, kicking at a small rock beside the well. Unfortunately, the rock seemed to be rather well rooted into the ground, so in the act of kicking it she found herself losing balance and falling backwards into the well. Thankfully, her well-trained body managed to act without her commanding it to, her legs locking tightly around the stone lip of the well, and her hands grabbing onto both ropes, leaving her suspended above the well, as if she were lying down on nothing. She sighed, and her eyes caught on something on the underside of the small, wooden roof built above the well. She pulled herself up, thankful to be on level ground again and then carefully climbed onto the lip of the well, grabbing an edge of the wooden roof, and swung herself underneath the edge of the roof so she could examine what had caught her eye.
It was a piece of silver, glinting in the rare rays of sunlight that managed to penetrate into the roof from small holes in its structure. The glinting was what had caught her eye in the first place, but now she was busy examining something written on the silver.
"To whom it may concern...this is a wishing well. To make a wish, you must throw something of value into the well, and then say the wish aloud, clapping three times once you have finished. Each person is allowed only one wish," she read aloud. She swung herself out from under the roof and jumped off of the lip of the well, landing smoothly on the mossy ground nearby. Turning back to face the well, she regarded it skeptically.
"Huh," she said, and shrugged. "Might as well. Got nothin' better to do," she said to herself. She fished around in one of her pockets, pulling out a 10 gil coin.
"Well, it didn't say how much value it had to be, just that it had to be valuable," she said, tossing the coin up and catching it. Now, what to wish for? She could wish for a mountain of mastered materia, or she could wish that they were already in Rocket Town! Or maybe, she could wish that she'd never met Cloud, so she didn't have to tromp all over the planet on some quest to beat up a silver haired weirdo...or, maybe, she could wish that Vincent had never met Lucrecia. Hmm...
She grinned a little. Even if it didn't work, it was worth a shot. And, hey, if it did work, it might be for the better. She did think Vincent was kinda handsome, with his long hair and good looks...and even his eyes were kinda sexy, even if they were red. If he wasn't all dark and broody, she might actually enjoy this trip to Rocket Town. Nodding to herself, she made her decision. She tossed the coin into the well.
"I wish that Vincent had never met Lucrecia," she said, and clapped three times.
Years ago, in the massively tall Shinra building, a 10 gil coin flipped through the air, to hit a black-haired manon the head.
"Ow!" the man exclaimed, before glaring around. "All right, who threw that!" he demanded. When no-one answered him, he sighed, and stooped to pick up the coin. Thus, he completely missed seeing the blonde-haired woman dressed in a lab coat as she ran by him, jumping onto the elevator that he would have been on, just before the doors closed.
Thus, Vincent Valentine never met Lucrecia Hojo.
Yuffie frowned. No sparkles? No purple smoke? No dramatic music or flashes of light? How was she supposed to know if her wish had worked or not?
"Some mystical well you are," she said, sticking her tongue out at it.
"You know, if you keep talkin' to inanimate objects, people 'r gonna think you're insane," came a high-pitched voice behind her. She jumped, swiveling around to look at the person who was behind her. Or, rather, the stuffed toy behind her.
"That's great, coming from you," she retorted, then frowned. "Wait, why are you here, Cait?" Cait stared at her.
"I've been here, Yuffie. We found this grove, and you wanted to stop, so we stopped," he answered. She frowned. She'd found this grove with Vincent, not Cait.
"Whatever," she said, and started off for the other side of the grove. Cait Sith shrugged, following behind her. When she got within sight of the rock Vincent had been sitting on. She stopped, looking around for any signs of the gunman.
"Where'd Vincent go?" she asked, turning to the cat/moogle duo. He blinked at her.
"Who?" he asked. She groaned in frustration.
"Y'know...Vincent. Tall, dark, broody?" she asked. Cait continued to look at her like she was crazy. "Vampiric? Wears a big red cape?" she tried again.
"What was in that well water?" he asked. She threw her hands up.
"Whatever. Let's...just go to Rocket Town," she said. Maybe he had started ahead of them. Of course, that wasn't what she was thinking at all. She was thinking that maybe her wish had worked after all...
It only added to her suspicions when she and Cait arrived at Rocket Town to find Cloud and the rest of his motley crew, in addition to a short, blonde-haired man with a cigarette perpetually in his mouth, but no Vincent. When she asked Cloud if he knew what had happened to the gunman, he only gave her a look similar to the one Cait Sith had given her.
Once again, Yuffie found herself lying. It generally came with the business of being a Materia Thief, and so she was quite good at it. She hated lying to this bunch of lovable goons, especially Aeris, but business was business.
"I think I heard something about a Keystone once in Wutai,"
And so the group, back up to eight (though only in Yuffie's eyes, as no-one else seemed to remember Vincent at all) with the addition of one Cid Highwind, was making slow but steady progress toward the island nation of Wutai, aboard the Tiny Bronco. Yuffie was seasick and throwing up the entire time, so she considered it her punishment in advance for what she was going to do to them in Wutai. She groaned. She hated planes and she hated boats, so it made sense that a plane turned into a boat would make her the sickest of all...just her luck.
They soon landed on the only beach they could on the island of Wutai, fighting off an Adamantoise as they did. Eventually the teams were picked and, not surprisingly, she was stuck with Cait Sith. It seemed that the group mentality was "stick the most annoying team members together". Not that she cared. She liked Cait. He had a very...unique sense of humor. One day, she wanted to meet the guy that was controlling him. But, for now, she just stole his materia with a speed and efficiency that made him look like a snail on valium. With the stuffed toy none the wiser, she ditched him.
She couldn't believe that those morons had come to help her. Granted, they were probably after their materia and not helping her, but she still couldn't believe it. Here she was, tied to the face of Da Chao by that sleazy, pond-scum Don Corneo, along with that blonde-haired Turk--Elena was it?--and there they were, glaring at Corneo with fierce animosity. Yuffie had no idea that for four of them, that animosity had less to do with her and more to do with a certain event that forced Cloud to crossdress...
In any case, she suddenly felt extremely remorseful for what she had done when she had to watch the seven of them battle the huge dragon-like monster, Rapps, without any Materia. She struggled as hard as she could against her bonds, trying to free even one hand to throw Materia down to them. When she saw Aeris get hit by an Aero3, she suddenly found the strength to pull her arm free, and with all her might she chucked a Restore materia down to them. Unfortunately, because of the way the ropes were, she couldn't get to most of the rest of the Materia, and so she was only able to throw a low-level Fire materia and a pretty much useless Enemy Skill materia down to them in addition to the Restore materia. They helped, but the battle was no where near over.
"I'm sorry!" she shouted down to them, "but I can't get to any of the rest of the Materia!"
Cloud grunted, using his sword to deflect one of the dragon's claws. "That's okay, Yuffie! You've done enough!" he answered.
"No! I haven't! I'm so sorry!" she wailed. Don Corneo laughed.
"Just for that, you little tart, once my Rapps is done slaughtering your friends, you'll be first!" he exclaimed, grinning lecherously. Yuffie grimaced, cursing at him. Suddenly, a familiar-sounding gunshot cracked through the air, and the dead form of Rapps fell out of the air to the rocks far below. Yuffie's eyes went wide, as everyone fell silent.
'I know that gunshot!'
"Corneo, you have one of my comrades. Let her go," the voice of Vincent Valentine declared from above the two captive girls.
"Boss!" Elena exclaimed, from beside her. Yuffie looked at her, startled.
"Boss?" she asked, and finally looked up. There, on the top of the Da Chao statue, stood Vincent Valentine. Except...he wasn't Vincent Valentine. His red headband no longer covered his forehead, and his hair was now pulled back neatly, a few loose strands settling around his eyes...which were now a startlingly bright blue, nearly the same shade as Cloud's eyes. Gone was his ridiculously big red cape, and gone was his golden claw...there was now a human hand in its place. He wore the same suit as the rest of the Turks did. Yuffie frowned.
'Vinnie's a Turk?' She snapped out of her thoughts with the realization that there was conversation going on. One of the other Turks, Reno, had cornered Corneo at the edge of Da Chao's hand, and the other one was busily rescuing Elena. Reno asked Corneo a question, and Corneo apparently answered wrong, as he was suddenly falling from the hand of Da Chao, to join Rapps in death.
"...and the Keystone?" Cloud asked. Her gaze never left her sneakers, ashamed.
"That was a lie," she said. Cloud threw his hands in the air, exasperated.
"Why would you lie to us like that!" he demanded. She suddenly looked up, surprising them all with the tears in her eyes.
"I didn't have a choice, okay? My old man sent me out to steal Materia for the good of Wutai. I joined you all with the intention of stealing your Materia, once we came here. Only..." she looked down again. "I'm sorry, okay? I gave it all back, except what was mine to begin with. You can even have that if you want...just don't hate me any more!" And the tears finally fell. The group was silent.
A sudden hand on Yuffie's shoulder made her jump, and she looked up to see Aeris smiling at her.
"I forgive you, Yuffie," she said. Gradually, Yuffie smiled back. The moment of peace was interrupted, however, by a familiar annoying laugh. The group turned to see Reno standing on a rock nearby.
"We may have helped you out before, but that doesn't mean we're not your enemies now!" he announced. Elena and Rude came up behind him, Elena glaring at them and Rude stone-faced as usual, his gaze locked on Tifa. From behind them, an all too familiar voice made everyone, Yuffie especially, jump.
"Besides, we have our priorities. We've come for the Ancient," Vincent said. Yuffie gulped. He really was different. The sadness was gone from his eyes, replaced by something she could only describe as mocking cruelty. He looked deadly, as his apparent status as leader of the Turks implied. Yuffie almost shivered. He was so different from the Vincent that she knew...but then again, she hadn't really known Vincent all that well to start with. Maybe he wasn't so different?
Cloud snarled, stepping protectively in front of the flower girl.
"You just try it, Turk! You'll have to go over my dead body!" he yelled.
"Cloud-" Aeris started, but Tifa also stepped in front of Aeris.
"Yeah, mine too!" she exclaimed. Vincent narrowed his eyes, and hefted his gun, aiming it at Cloud's head. Everyone drew in a collective breath.
"As you wish," he said. Again, Yuffie acted without thinking.
"NO!" she shouted, throwing her shuriken. Vincent wasn't quite fast enough to react, and the spinning blade knocked the gun out of his hand, one of its sharp edges going straight through the barrel and pinning both weapons to a nearby tree. The gunman snapped his furious gaze from the tree to the now unarmed ninja.
"Bitch!" he swore, and with a speed she didn't know he possessed, he was throwing a punch at her that she was hard-pressed to dodge.
"Yuffie!" Cloud shouted. The ninja did an awkward handspring backwards, and suddenly Cloud had placed himself between the girl and the gunslinger, his sword ready to slice into Vincent.
"Not another step," the swordsman warned.
When their leader sprang into action, the three Turks behind the party had chosen that point to do the same. Barret had quickly taken action when Cloud had jumped to defend Yuffie, and shouted orders in the swordsman's place. Tifa was left to guard Aeris, who was told to assist with healing spells and magic only. Barret had the task of fighting Rude, while Red XII fought off Elena, and Cait Sith and Cid both faced off against Reno.
As the battle raged on behind them, Cloud, Yuffie and Vincent were locked in their own struggle. Vincent had managed to land a punch on Cloud, but was forced to retreat when Yuffie, quite gifted in martial arts, had nearly hit him with a powerful roundhouse kick. He jumped back a few feet, and was forced to dodge as the ninja and the swordsman both attacked. Without his gun, he could not fight them both and succeed, this he knew. So he stopped, and whistled loudly, making the other three Turks stop fighting as well, and back off. Vincent glared at the two of them.
"You've won for the day, Avalanche...but you've haven't won the war!" he told them. He looked over to where Reno, Rude and Elena were slowly and cautiously making their way toward him. He locked eyes with Reno for a second, wordlessly telling him something. He then turned back to Avalanche.
"This isn't over," he told them, and suddenly reached into his pocket, withdrawing something that the group realized, a little too late, was a grenade. Effortlessly, he pulled the pin and tossing it into the middle of the clearing, sending Avalanche scrambling to get away. In the confusion, Reno suddenly jumped behind Yuffie and grabbed her arms, pinning them behind her, as Rude grabbed her legs.
"HEY! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!" Yuffie protested as the two Turks hauled her away, to where Vincent was standing.
"Yuffie!" Aeris exclaimed. The rest of Avalanche readied their various weapons. Vincent smirked at them.
"You want her back? Fine. We'll give her back, in exchange for the Ancient," Vincent said. Avalanche's eyes widened.
"AERIS, NO! DON'T DO IT!" Yuffie cried, before Elena silenced her by tying a handkerchief around her mouth as a gag.
"You have a PHS, no? We'll be contacting you soon about where the trade will happen...until then!" Vincent said. Cloud suddenly stepped forward.
"Hey!" he shouted. Vincent turned back to him. "You'd better not hurt her!" Vincent smirked.
"I wouldn't dare," he said, and with that the Turks were gone, taking the ninja with them.
Thirty very uncomfortable minutes later, the Turks threw Yuffie down on the metal floor inside the back of a large van with "Shinra" marked on the side of it, climbing inside and shutting the doors. Yuffie's hands were bound behind her back, but her gag was removed, much to her relief. She cursed at them loudly for a few minutes, before grumpily settling into the most comfortable position she could settle into, glaring at the three of them. Only Vincent was absent. He, apparently, was in the front of the van. She looked up from the three disgruntled Turks when she heard the creaking of metal against metal, and saw Vincent ducking through a small doorway towards the front of the cargo area of the van. He shut the door behind him, straightening to his impressive full height.
"Yuffie Kisaragi," he said, moving toward her. She blinked.
"How do you know my last name?" she inquired. He smirked.
"I suppose I couldn't expect you to remember me. After all, you were very young when we last met...princess," he said. She gasped. If he was a Turk, it was fully possible he had been involved in the Shinra-Wutai war...
...but she'd cut her hair on purpose, to make sure no-one recognized her on her travels. She looked down at the floor, and finally looked back up, questions popping into her mind.
"So where ya taking me, Vinnie?" she asked. His eye twitched in a familiar way.
"Vinnie?" he inquired, fury in his voice. She grimaced, wishing she had better control over what came out of her mouth.
"Uh...sorry," she apologized, lowering her eyes to the floor. She frowned as she heard Reno speak up.
"Vinnie? Heh, that's funny!" he exclaimed.
"Silence," Vincent growled at him. He stooped before her, firmly gripping her chin in one hand and forcing her to turn her head to face him. The anger was evident in his eyes and on his face. He really hated that name for some reason. He suddenly smirked at her, and said something that made all of the color drain from her face.
"You know, it's a shame I promised that blonde-haired leader of yours that we wouldn't hurt you. I could have some fun with a cutie like you," he said, and she didn't fail to notice the way he accented the word 'fun'.
'Oh Leviathan, he wants to rape me...he's nothing like the old Vinnie...' At the wide-eyed look of terror on her face, he suddenly laughed, and released her chin, standing up. Reno and Rude were laughing, and Elena was making disapproving noises.
"Just kidding. We tell that to all of our prisoners...just to scare them," he said. She gulped.
"Sicko," she spat. He really was quite different from the Vincent she knew. The Vincent she knew was far more polite, and would never make such a lewd comment...and only to scare someone, at that! But, at least he was talking, and didn't seem to have an aura of perpetual sadness and regret hanging over him like a storm cloud. She wasn't sure which Vincent she should like, if either.
The four Turks and their unfortunate prisoner were greeted in Midgar by Tseng, who bowed respectfully to Vincent before inquiring why they had failed to capture the Ancient, but captured this ninja instead.
Despite the fact that she was a hostage, she was treated rather nicely. She was quite rudely shoved into a very large, lavishly decorated room, which she was told would serve as her temporary living quarters for the next week. She shrugged. Hey, it beat the cheap hotel rooms AVALANCHE had been staying in, that was for sure. She sighed, flopping onto the bed. She'd stay here forever if she had to, to keep Aeris out of Shinra's hands. And, she fully intended to. Of course, staying cooped up in the room, even as big as it was, was not her idea of fun. She counted her blessings, though. She had a television in her room, with cable TV nonetheless! She was given three large meals a day, and there was an adjoining bathroom with a nearly infinite supply of hot water. Four days of almost complete isolation, except for the occasional maid that cleaned up her room or gave her her meals, left her bored to no end, TV or no TV.
Therefore, when Vincent knocked on her door on the morning of the fifth day, she was almost ecstatic to see him. He stepped inside, shutting the door behind him.
"I apologize. I have been busy for the last four days, and so I haven't had time to come see you," he said. She blinked.
"But I'm a hostage. Why would you wanna bother?" she asked. He smiled warmly at her, and she had to concentrate to remain standing, and not collapse in a drooling heap on the floor. His smile was absolutely gorgeous!
'If he smiled like that more often, he could be a candidate in one of those 'hottest guy on the planet' contests that go on every year in Costa del Sol,' she found herself thinking. She shook her head, and decided to listen to what he was saying.
"...doesn't mean you need be treated like a prisoner. Besides, I meant what I said in the back of that transporter...or at least part of it. You really are cute," he said. Her cheeks suddenly turned crimson, and now she couldn't keep standing, she had to sit down on the bed in embarrassment. A thought suddenly struck her.
'How many years did Vinnie say he slept in that coffin?'
"Aren't you s'posed to be fifty-somethin'?" she asked, suddenly, looking up to find him frowning and blinking.
"...how do you know that?" he asked.
"I...er...uh..." she fumbled. If she told him the truth, he'd think she was crazy, but...
"You've never met a woman named Lucrecia, have you?" she asked. Yep, he was staring at her like she had two heads.
"Who?" he asked. She sighed.
"Never mind," there were a few moments of silence, before he spoke up again.
"In any case...yes, I have been alive for over fifty years, but my body stopped ageing thirty years ago, when I was twenty-four," he said. She gave him a confused look, and he continued. "I'm sure you have heard from Cloud what Shinra did to the SOLDIERs...they showered them with Mako, to increase their fighting potential. You may or may not be aware that exposure to Mako slows down the normal processes of the body, including aging," he said. She nodded, absorbing this information.
'So that's why Spikey's eyes glow like that,'
"I was involved in prototype experiments for the SOLDIER program, thirty years ago. I was one of the few who was submerged in Mako...and survived. Therefore, I have not aged in thirty years, nor will I for quite some time," he explained. She stared at him, surprised.
'I guess it beats havin' demons stuck in your brain and havin' your arm chopped off and replaced with a claw...'
"Now that I'm done giving you my life's history..." he said, taking a few steps toward her and holding out a bag that she had just noticed he had been holding. Giving him a wary look, she took the bag and pulled out its contents: a sleeveless, light blue dress and a dark blue pair of Chinese-style shoes. She gave him a quizzical look.
"I thought you might need a change of clothes...and I also thought you might want to look nice, as I'm taking you out today," he said. She nearly choked on the very air she was breathing.
"What!" she demanded. "Taking me out? Like on a date!" Vincent nodded, smiling at her again.
"I realize that Midgar is not as popular a city as Costa del Sol or Junon, but I thought that you might at least want to take a tour of it," he said. She let out a breath, and stood up with the dress and shoes in hand, making her way to the bathroom.
"O...okay," she answered. How...
'Pushy? Straightforward? Candid?' she considered, before choosing the second thought. The old Vincent would have never done something like this. As she changed into the dress, she idly began to wonder if the old Vincent would be nearly as sexy as this new one if he smiled. She blushed, shaking her head.
'C'mon, Yuffie, you're a hostage!' she reminded herself. 'He's probably just being nice.'
Two things could be said about the city of Midgar. One, it was HUGE. Two, it wasn't the prettiest city on the planet, perpetually covered with a layer of smog from the Mako Reactors surrounding the city. Yuffie and Vincent were currently on one of the trains that circled around the upper city on the plates. Remembering that Cloud, Barret, Tifa and Aeris had all mentioned something about living in the Midgar slums, she decided to ask about them, and Vincent's reply was a rather arrogant "Figures." She frowned at him, but he didn't seem to notice. That was another difference between this Vincent and the old one: the old Vincent probably didn't even know the meaning of the word 'arrogant'.
Some time in the late morning they arrived at their first destination: the famous "Mall of Midgar". Now, Yuffie didn't think she was much of a shopper...well; actually, she hadn't had much of an occasion to shop, except for that one time at the Golden Saucer when Aeris and Tifa had dragged her with them to shop for clothes. She'd had fun then, but shopping with Vincent was an entirely different story, one she didn't think she would enjoy as much as she did. At first, she looked around at the crowds warily. That is, until she spotted the Materia shop and Vincent nearly lost her in the crowds as she temporarily forgot about him in her enthusiasm. Browsing through the shop's rather large selection of Materia, she plucked various kinds of the orbs from their places, fully intending on stealing them. She didn't even remember that she was here with Vincent until he calmly took the Materia from her and up to the cash register, returning a moment later with the Materia in a bag.
Free Materia was free Materia, but he'd really taken the fun out of 'shopping', she thought as she accepted the bag uneasily. They left the shop, and before she could decide on the next shop she wanted to explore, she felt Vincent dragging her off with a smirk, into a clothing store.
She had to admit, shopping with Vincent was fun. His differences with the old Vincent were not purely bad, in fact, many of them were good. He joked with her and went out of his way to make her laugh, even going so far as to try on a big, frilly pink dress, which made her giggle madly and wish for a camera. He let her pick out a few articles of clothing, and then handed her a few that he'd picked out, insisting she try them on. When she got to the changing room and realized that one of the articles Vincent had handed her was lingerie, her entire face turned red and she very nearly dashed out of the room to attack him. She supposed that it was payback for her making him try on the dress earlier...
Aside from shopping for clothes (which, really, was much more fun than it should have been), they browsed through the other stores in the mall, and toward the late afternoon he led her into the movie theater built into the mall, where they watched a nonsensical but very funny movie.
After the movie, they both discovered that they were hungry, so they left the mall, at Vincent's insistence, and boarded the train again. They arrived a short time later at a small but fancy restaurant, with a great view of a large part of the city, which did look rather beautiful, lit up with artificial lights. Once inside the restaurant, Yuffie ordered something that consisted of noodles and sauce, which the waiter called "spaghetti", and Vincent ordered chicken. Dinner passed quickly...after they got their food, that is. To Yuffie, who felt like she was going to starve to death, it seemed like hours before their orders came. They ate quickly. (and when she finished, Yuffie was proud that she hadn't spilled any of the sauce on her dress!)
"Where to now, Mr. Tour guide?" Yuffie asked as they stepped out of the restaurant. He seemed to think for a moment, before pulling her off in one direction.
"The garden!" he announced. She blinked.
"This place has a garden?" she asked.
"It's grown artificially...but yes, there is a garden. The upper class decided one day that they were too lazy to travel outside of Midgar to see 'wilderness'," he explained. She shrugged.
"So, this garden's nearby?" she asked, not really wanting to get on the train again. He nodded, much to her relief.
After a ten-minute walk, or so, they arrived at the garden, and Yuffie sucked in a breath. For being artificial, it was pretty. Light posts dotted the garden, illuminating the paths that cut through the lush foliage, only adding to the stunning beauty. Vincent smiled, and held out his arm to her. She giggled, and looped an arm through his, and he escorted her through the garden. She had to catch herself to keep from stumbling when he abruptly stopped in the middle of a small bridge that went over a stream. He unlinked their arms, turning to her.
"What?" she asked, suddenly self-conscious.
"You know, you look beautiful," he complimented. She blushed, and looked out at the water.
"Awww...stop it," she replied, swallowing. He stepped in front of her, and she looked up at him. He suddenly placed one hand on her shoulder, the other hand gently under her chin, and leaned down, kissing her. Her eyes widened in surprise at first, but slowly slid shut as he deepened the kiss a little. She couldn't believe Vincent Valentine was kissing her, and she couldn't believe how good it felt. 'Ooh, Leviathan, what is this feeling?'
Finally, he pulled away, leaving her breathless. The two just stood, looking at eachother, neither saying a word. He put an arm around her shoulder and began to lead her off of the bridge, through the rest of the garden. She just sighed and leaned her head against his shoulder. They walked in contemplative silence until they emerged from the garden onto one of the streets of Midgar. Vincent let go of her slowly and took one of her hands, leading her over to one side of the street, toward a fancy-looking building. At first Yuffie thought it was a restaurant, but on closer inspection she realized that it was a tavern. She stopped, making Vincent stop as well and turn to look at her.
"Umm, I'm kinda underage," she said. He smiled.
"The bartender knows me. He'll overlook that," he replied, and started to head back toward the tavern. She refused, and shook her head. He sighed. "Okay...I'll get you some wine, then. It's barely alcoholic--you'd have to drink an entire bottle to get drunk," he said, reassuring her. She finally nodded, and allowed the black-haired man to lead her into the tavern. He sat her down at a table, and left for the bar, promising to return shortly.
"Bartender, two glasses of wine...except, I want a shot of the strongest alcohol you have in both of them," Vincent said, a small smirk on his lips. The bartender nodded, disappearing behind the counter and returning a few moments later with two glasses of red liquid. Vincent paid him and took the glasses over to the table where Yuffie was sitting, fidgeting nervously under the stares of a few drunken patrons of the bar. Said patrons immediately went about their business when Vincent sat down, glaring coldly at them, and handed her a glass of wine. She sniffed it nervously, but eventually took a sip of it. Vincent smirked again, but hid it by taking a drink of his own wine.
Two glasses of 'wine' later, Vincent and Yuffie departed from the small tavern, Yuffie wobbling and laughing, and Vincent grinning at her. They'd had the same amounts of liquor, but there was one major difference between the two: Yuffie was drunk, and he was not. This was due to the fact that he was very practiced at holding his liquor, while Yuffie hadn't even had a taste of liquor before. Yuffie hiccupped, and laughed at herself.
"So, where to now, Vinnie?" she slurred. Vincent gave a purposefully dramatic sigh.
"Well, I was planning on going somewhere else, but you seem to be drunk, so..." he trailed off.
"I am NOT as think as you drunk I am!" she protested. He just patted her on the head, sighing.
Yuffie's head was foggy. So foggy, in fact, that she wasn't alarmed at the fact that it was foggy. Not that she was paying attention to much, anyway. Currently, she had all of her efforts focused on walking in a straight line.
'Was it always this hard?' she thought, and blinked as she heard that very same question aloud. She didn't realize that she'd forgotten to think the question, and actually voiced it. Vincent considered asking her what she meant, but decided to leave her to her own devices. That is, until she tripped over nothing and nearly fell. He deftly caught her, and decided to carry her back to Shinra headquarters, where she had been staying.
"Heeey! Vinnie, put me doowwwn!" she protested, but he simply shook his head.
"No, I think I'll carry you," he replied. She pouted, and he smiled at her.
About an hour later, after a rather disastrous train ride, Vincent carried her down the hallway to her door, and sat her down on her feet, hands lingering about her shoulders for a second longer to make sure she could stand on her own two feet. Opening her door, he gently pushed her inside and stepped in behind her, shutting the door. The 'click' that signaled that he had locked the door behind him did not register in Yuffie's mind, as she was currently fumbling around for the light switch. She jumped a little when Vincent grabbed her hands and spun her around, pinning her against the wall. Before her beleaguered brain could think of a protest, he had pressed a passionate kiss to her lips. He grinned at her when he pulled away, and she dazedly returned this with a smile. She cried out in surprise when he suddenly swept her legs out from under her, carrying her over to her bed and placing her down on top of it. He kissed her again, a lustful kiss, and climbed on top of her on the bed.
"Vinnie-" she started once their lips were apart, but he attacked her collarbone with his lips, and her protests died down. She tried to get her tired brain to think straight, but all she could think was 'Vincent's going to make love to me...'
She awoke the next morning with a headache, but it was quickly forgotten when she realized whose arms were wrapped around her stomach. She felt her cheeks heat up, and a wide smile spread over her face. She'd never been happier than she was.
Vincent had taken her out on a date yesterday. They'd shared her first kiss, and then he'd brought her back here, and made love to her. She was practically giddy. She wouldn't mind the whole 'staying here forever to keep Aeris away from Shinra' thing if it meant every day was like yesterday. She sighed, contentedly. Feeling Vincent shift behind her, she turned over to face him, grinning at him when his eyes opened.
"Hey, you," she said.
"Yuffie," he said, and her smile faded at the tone of his voice. She knew they'd been drunk last night, but...
"Yuffie, I don't love you," Vincent said, unwrapping his arms from around her. Her eyes went wide, and all the happiness she had been feeling just a moment earlier faded away. Clutching the blanket around her, she scooted away from him.
"I--" she started, but he beat her to the punch.
"Last night was just a one-night stand, understand?" he told her firmly, sitting up. Tears started to form in her eyes.
"No I don't!" she exclaimed, sitting up also, keeping the blanket tightly around her.
"Yuffie, I meant what I said in the transporter. And, sex with a willing partner is much more enjoyable than rape," he told her. She paled, staring at him with wide eyes full of horror.
"But...but why me?" she asked. He turned back to her, with a dark smile that looked inappropriate on his face.
"I couldn't get you out of my head, ever since I met up with you and your...friends five days ago. I had to get you out of my system," he explained, every word making Yuffie grow more and more appalled.
'No...this is...this is wrong! This isn't the Vincent I know!' she protested, swallowing. He turned away from her, standing up and pulling on his pants.
"In any case, we've negotiated with Cloud to release you today. Get dressed," he ordered. She finally turned away, sobbing into the comforter. He pulled on his shirt, and ran his hands through his hair, before pulling it back into a uniform ponytail.
"You..." she said, weakly. He turned to her, with a blank face. "You..." she said again, into the blanket. Suddenly, she threw down the blanket and turned to face him, standing. "You're not the Vincent Valentine I know! The Vincent I know would never do something as horrible as this!" she shouted. She closed her eyes tightly and clenched her fists. He started to say something, but it was lost in her screaming. "GIVE HIM BACK! I WANT THE OLD VINCENT BACK!"
The confused look on Vincent's face froze, and the world around her shattered.
She opened her eyes, to find that she was back in the grove, frozen in position, about to throw the coin into the well. She suddenly caught the coin before it could leave her hand, clutching it to her chest and sobbing.
A dream? No, it was a vision. The wishing well hadn't granted her wish, it had shown her a vision of what might happen. She suddenly turned and ran away from the well and around the rotting structure in the center of the grove of trees. Intense relief washed over her when she caught sight of the gunman still sitting where she'd left him, stewing in anger and sadness, the same as always with his bright red cloak and bronze claw. He turned to glare at her, no doubt still hurt from their 'talk' earlier, but stopped when he noticed she was crying.
"Yuff-" he started, concerned, but his question turned into an 'oof!' as she collided with his chest, burying her face into his chest and sobbing, clutching at his shirt.
"I'm sorry, Vinnie! I'm so so sorry! I like you just the way you are! Your claw, your eyes, your demons, they don't matter! They make you who you are, and I like you just the way you are!" she sobbed. His concern was shoved abruptly to the back of his mind when he heard that.
He hadn't realized how badly he'd needed to hear those words. Even before he'd met Lucrecia and Hojo, no-one had bothered to tell him that. While he was alive, his father had always expected more of him than he was capable of, and the same was true of his supervisors at Shinra. No one in his entire life had ever told him that he was fine the way he was, that he didn't need to be any more or less. Waves of emotion suddenly hit him, and he buried his face in her messy brown hair.
"Yuffie...thank you," he said, wrapping his arms around her tightly. Her sobs slowly faded, as she realized that everything was all right now.
"Vincent, can you do me a favor?" Yuffie asked. Vincent looked down at his companion. Illuminated by the green light of the Lifestream coursing through North Crater, she looked frail and helpless.
"That depends on what it is," he answered. She looked up and smiled at him.
"I know it sounds stupid...but it might help calm my nerves...could you smile, Vinnie?" she asked. He blinked. "And not one of those sad smiles that you sometimes have when you think I'm not looking, either," he blinked at her. She was more observant than he thought. He would have blushed in embarrassment, if it was customary for him to do so.
"I do not know if I can," he answered. She pouted.
"Well...people must have a reason to smile, Yuffie," he explained. She stood up.
"Oh, c'mon now! You're alive, aren'tcha? And you're here, alone in the dark with a beautiful girl!" she said. He might have laughed, if he were anyone else.
Well...she did have a point. In the part about being alive, anyway. He wasn't sure if simply being alive was enough to make him smile for her, but it was a start. So, he focused on being alive. He focused on the people he had come to call his friends, and on the ninja specifically. He found himself thinking back to the words she had spoken that day, words he had been contemplating ever since. He was suddenly aware that Yuffie was grinning happily at him, and found that he had begun to smile.
"Yeah, yeah, like that! That's it, Vinnie!" she exclaimed. He smiled wider, and Yuffie had to sit down. He wasn't just as sexy as his 'evil twin' from the wishing well's vision, he was sexier. He was gorgeous. His crimson eyes only helped. He sat down beside her, his smile not fading, and not fake either.
"Gawd, Vinnie, never change," she said. He laughed lightly, glad for her words.
It took time, but with the trust they developed, Yuffie's and Vincent's friendship eventually blossomed into love. Their romance was nowhere near the fairytale-turned-nightmare of the vision Yuffie was shown by the wishing well. Their first kiss was quite awkward, and it did not happen on a bridge in a garden, but on the Highwind after escaping from Northern Crater. Yuffie was the first to confess her love, Vincent following suit weeks after. Their first time together was not a drunken tryst, but a chaste celebration of love on their wedding night. Yuffie had been twenty-one when Vincent had finally proposed to her, but propose he did, and in front of the rest of AVALANCHE, nonetheless. Yuffie was sure that Tifa cried more than she did.
End Notes: I might write an epilogue if I feel like it, but I think that for now this is as good a stopping point as any. Please leave a review if you liked it!