A/N: Set after AC (or even just FFVII in general). I wanted to write Vincent. I also wanted to write angst. D: Another maybe-this-idea-applies-better-elsewhere fic but...oh well. Here it is. First of three parts, the rest to be uploaded sometime.

Leaving Eden

The Apple (Before)

The door is broken when she shows up and proclaims her arrival, but there is something disconcerting about the way she smiles and inclines her head, something dangerous about the way her bag weighs so heavily in her hand. The slope of her body has changed, the mischievous quality of her eyes the only feature in her face that has not become more slender, or pretty. When he attempts to shoo her away his tongue sticks to the roof of his mouth and he cannot finds the words, so she shoves past him in a great display of comfort and settles down on an ill-kept couch.

She seems to intend to stay, and he distracts himself by asking her what she has been doing, to which she readily replies materia-hunting and Wutai-esque duties, although the real question is probably what she plans to do.

"This is truly unexpected," he mumbles, and she replies,

"Yay for surprises. I can't believe I actually caught you off guard."

Her voice is still pitchy and perky, but her words a wee bit more articulate, and when she starts to unpack he feels a shiver run up and down his spine in cold waves, but he cannot think how to stop her. She makes her own choices, now, he tells himself. What right do I have to send her away?

What right does she have to stay here?

None, but she kicks off her shoes and he sees the blisters on her soles and the cracks on her heels and thinks that it might be gracious of him if he lets her stay for a while. She rubs lotion over her toes and asks him if he likes the smell of green tea, and when he makes no reply she admonishes that he has never been flirted with in his life. "You know, Vinnie, it's more fun if the guy flirts too," She says with no real anger, half-comical, but he has to look away when she stretches.

"It has never been my interest to accost you."

"Not even now?"

He does not want to answer that when Chaos spits obscenities into his mind, and the situation worries him more and more, but then she falls asleep and he is forced to lift her from the couch to the bed and take her place on the former, although he does not sleep at all that night. He decides that he will send her off the next day, only he doesn't – she stays another week and another, they subsist on meager groceries and on her findings from her day job, scouring the nearby grounds for materia. He doubts that they incur much value, and frequently poses the idea that she might look elsewhere, but she hastily changes the subject whenever he does.

One day she tells him that she will make an apple pie, because he never cooks any deserts, and while he grinds the graham crackers into crust she slices the apples and she says, she admits, "I'm not really sure why I'm staying here."

He does not choose to answer, and she cuts her thumb by accident. She gives a hiss of pain and heads for the sink, where she washes out the cut. Through the sputter of running water he makes out her careful whisper, "I think it's because I love you."

He stops grinding the crackers immediately – everything in him stops, his breath, his mind, his heart, because this cannot be happening.

She knows her confession was heard, and forgets to bandage her finger before resuming her task, silent as he is. After a moment he catches himself forgetting to live and lets his eyes slip towards her. There are tears running down her face and spilling into the apple-cuts, and her lips are trembling, although she appears not to notice. He starts towards her and she backs away, sucking on her thumb because the blood has not stopped flowing, and the motion makes him think that she is still so much a child.

"Forget I said that," she laughs. The sound is made worse by the fact that there is no way either of them can forget; he shakes his hand free of crumbs and runs to catch her before she crumples on the floor, eyes leaking worse than ever.

"I am sorry," he says,

"S-sorry," she cries,

and every slight passable feeling of peace is clouded by an acute sense of guilt on his part, and pain on hers, because they both know it's close to impossible.

It is impossible.

After a moment they collect themselves; they finish making the pie and he starts on dinner while she excuses herself for a shower. The younger Yuffie would not be so composed, she would not take the situation with so much grace, but she is not the younger Yuffie. Her hair is still wet from her shower when she comes to the table, her face in a determined, albeit hard, smile. He sets her plate before her in silence, she blesses it with the graces of a Wutaian god, and before she has taken the first bite she attempts to start conversation, but nothing she says matters. They are shy and shifting and he thinks that things could not possibly get worse between them.

He pauses before a drink of wine, wonders if he will dare, and he does. "Why?"

She does not attempt to dance around it, does not try to avoid an answer, another thing the younger Yuffie would have done. "Gawds, Vinnie, of all the questions. I can't give you a good answer."

"You can try," he pushes, and he is unrelenting.

"Because I think you're lonely?" She tries a giggle; it dies in her throat. "Because I have nothing better to do? No, it's because, because it makes me sick that you're just staying here when you could be doing so much more, because you shouldn't live this way, because I can't help it, all right, 'cause I've liked you since I was sixteen, 'cause you matter so much to me, 'cause" – she draws a breath - "cause maybe I can make you laugh and get you out of here, maybe I can't, but I want to try. I am trying," she gestures wildly at nothing.

He keeps his stare indifferent, but he feels broken inside, all of a sudden.

I never meant for this to happen.

She excuses herself and goes outside. He decides to go to sleep. That night, she pushes him off the couch and tells him that she won't stay on his bed anymore because it's his, so he'd better get his hiney off and let her stay on the couch instead. He tells her he will do no such thing. They study each other for a moment, and then she kisses him and wrestles him against the cushions, and for the second time that day he forgets to breathe, and wraps his arms around her waist – and almost in the same second he pulls them away and calms himself. "We will share the bed, but that doesn't mean anything."

"I know that," she says stoutly, but she doesn't seem to; she hugs him from behind when it's a little past midnight, and he knows that this will be a long affair.

The weeks bleed into months and that is not the last time she kisses him, but he will not allow himself to return them, ever. Lucretia matters too much, his pain is too great, and Yuffie is too precious, too silly to know what she is doing.

The door remains broken.

A/N: I know it's very short - all three parts combined don't even reach 4000 words - but it seemed neater to divide it this way. I wrote this after I wrote the middle part, actually, so it's a little bit confusing; but all of them can actually stand as oneshots. Oh well. I apologize for the symbolical allegories. x.x For the record, I don't think their love story (after DoC and all possible sequels Squaresoft cooks up) would ever be this angsty - I don't think Yuffie would permit it - but this is just a take on how things might be.

Comments are always very greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading. :D