Title: Make Me What You Are
Warnings: Implied vampirism
Rating: PG for language and stuff
"We've been over this before. I can't."
The words struck Yuffie in the face as if Vincent had slapped her - with his claw. Just shy of thirty, she was much stronger, much improved with words and action, and still just as willful as she was at twenty-one, when she had argued her point until it drove home - She didn't care how old he was, he was not a monster, and that she would love him until she drew her final breath.
But then came the realization nearly years later. The hopes that had been instilled into all of them, the group of friends who defeated Jenova and Sephiroth, the ones who stuck together to back Vincent up in the Omega incident, who held on to each other as the years passed and they grew, had been shattered.
Though he began at "twenty-seven", Vincent had not aged a single day, even after Chaos left his body.
The others, of course, didn't know of the demon that still resided within him, but speculated that it might have been the other ... things.. inside him yet, the ones that offered him their strength when he reached his Limit.
Yuffie had remained out of those discussions, knowing well enough, even through all of their hopes that enough immortality had been drained away.
But Hojo had done his work well.
Vincent lived on, eternally at twenty-seven, his mind unstable, his emotions less stable than his mind, and his body resisting anything short of being crushed, shot through the head, shredded, or blown or ripped into small pieces.
Not that these things had not crossed Vincent's mind, but that's another story altogether.
Once Vincent realized that she would grow older, and that he would remain unchanged, he tried to back away, knowing that it would break them both to endure it.
Yuffie took the opposite route, insisting that the moments of happiness they shared would be worth it in the end.
And then after a frightening evening when he actually 'attacked' her, and pulled away, begging for forgiveness, it dawned on her. She'd read the books. She'd read Hojo's journals right alongside Vincent, when they demanded answers about his conditions.
He had the power to change anyone - out of legends, in similar ways.
She looked at him for a long moment, and said it aloud. And he stared at her, shaking his head, flat out telling her that he would never be able to exist with himself (as he never called it "living") if he turned her into the monster he was.
And the argument raged for four years. She would bring it up to catch him off guard. He would put her down.
This time, she was not going to let it lie.
"You can't, or /won't/? Vincent Valentine, listen to me, I don't want to leave you here on your own when I die. I don't want you to go back to being morose and I don't want you to stop /living/. I never want to see the light that's in your eyes /now/ go out again." Yuffie put her hands on her hips and gave him what she certainly considered a death-glare.
Vincent stared back at her, crimson eyes narrowing slightly. "You wouldn't -have- to. By that time you-"
Yuffie snarled, cutting him off. "I would what? Be dead? Senile?"
"I would be far enough away from you that-"
"I'm -NOT- leaving you no matter what you do to me! How many times do I have to tell your stupid ass that/DAMN IT/, Vincent, why would you walk away from something that makes you so damn happy?" As angry as she was, the hurt crept into her voice, and she shook her head. "I don't understand you."
"Why let this go on when we know it's futile in the end, Yuffie? Look at us."
"I /am/ looking at us. Unlike you, I see the way your eyes light up when we have fun. I see the way you smile at me. I see the shroud that was over you until the Omega incident lifted, and you letting others in, I see the shy way you've crept into us. Not just /me/ Vincent - the others too. You and Cid, and your animated talks over shots - the way you and Cloud discuss experiences of the past, and laugh, even when there is little to laugh at - the way you softened around Marlene and how Barret named you kid-sitter - how you and Tifa discuss the quality of wine - how you and 'Naki spend hours in the observatory when you're in Cosmo Canyon, and the way Reeve confides in you like no one else. You think I'm /blind/ to all this? THEY don't care. They, like me, are enjoying the time they spend with you as it comes, treating you like you're just another person because you /ARE/, Vincent. Just because one of us is going to die one day doesn't mean we're going to stop being how we are. ANY of us could die tomorrow, does that mean we're going to stop talking right -now-? No!" By this time, Yuffie's hands had clenched into fists and were shaking, and tears streaked down her cheeks, eyes boring into Vincent's. "And it wouldn't matter with us, Vincent. You said you would stay, but this gives us the chance to do that for the rest of eternity. We both know it can be done, and you know I would do anything to stay by your side."
Vincent took a step backward, his eyes dropping from hers, his heart aching. "I won't turn you, Yuffie. I don't know what it will do."
"I don't /care/ what it does - we know it would grant me the immortality that-"
"It wouldn't give you the same thing. I could shoot myself through the stomach right now and I would heal within hours. I don't know if that's the Demon genetics, Jenova remnants, the warped vampiric structure or a combination of them all. HOJO didn't even know - he didn't realize exactly what he'd done when he and Lu.. Lucrecia did what they did to me. Don't you realize that?" Though his words were quiet, the anguish and self-depreciation were clear. "For all I know, turning you would make you a -true- Vampire and you would never see the light of day again - you would be sustained on blood alone, and everything would /change/. I won't do that to you. I /can't/ do that to you." He took the steps toward her to close the space and gripped her shoulders, his eyes glowing slightly with anger, overbrightened by unshed tears. "You don't realize what you are to me. You have shed light where there has only ever been darkness. You have made my existance, even before Omega, brighter. Ever optomistic, ever chattering. At first I found you irritating and more than once I was tempted to let Chaos eat you. But you kept pestering me, drawing me into the group when others only saw me as cold, you saw that I was just reluctant. You saw through it all. You saw me behind everything, understood what was happening, and after the Omega incident, you dragged my by my nostrils into the life I was hiding from. I never felt like -this- with Lucrecia. There was always a shadow unseen there. There is no shadow here. Every moment I spend with you is like a new life, like the dawn of a perfect day. How could I turn you into something that can only see or feel darkness? How could I turn you away from the sun, when you practically /are/ sunshine incarnate? Do you realize what you're asking me to do?" His breath was anything but calm, and the tears spilled, leaving warm tracks against his cheeks.
Yuffie looked up at him, her eyes determined. "I want to take the chance, Vincent," she whispered. "I'll do anything it takes. /Whatever/ it takes."
Vincent stared at her, stunned into silence. For several moments, they stared at each other, Yuffie's eyes determined, Vincent's pleading. The sound of their breathing broke the crushing silence that was the aftermath of their words.
Vincent looked away. "I can't do this-"
"Don't deny me this, Vincent."
"I don't want to chance destroying what you are-"
"No matter what happens, I will still love you."
"I could kill you."
"I trust you."
"Yuffie I don't know what this would do!"
"I'll take responsibility, Vincent, if it goes wrong, what's the worst that can happen?"
Vincent stopped. "I don't know. That's what frightens me. We're doing something Hojo never counted on, never thought of, and never documented if he did."
Yuffie drew a deep breath. "I want to take the chance. If it fails, it fails and we go from there."
Vincent sighed, but his eyes softened slightly, his hand lifting to cup her cheek, holding her gaze intently. "Are you absolutely certain you want this, Yuffie? Once I do this, there is no way back. If I slip, you will die. If the timing isn't right, you will die. If you try to back out, you will die."
"I trust you, Vincent, you won't slip, and we'll be fine. I won't back out, no matter how scared I am," Yuffie said, determination in her voice and her eyes now.
Vincent leaned to press his lips against her forehead softly. "All right, Yuffie," he relented, his voice tired. He nearly mentioned that the others would surely notice that she wasn't aging if this worked, but... on reflection, realized he didn't care. The others didn't need to know.