The Man Behind the Cloak

Chapter 3: Hellos, Obsessions, and Farewells

Obsession is an unhealthy thing. Especially if it's an obsession with something you'll never get. It's like a childish mania for sweets. Yet, what I'm obsession over is something so much more delicious than candy and chocolates. It's Vincent Valentine. Mr. Untouchable. Mr. Complicated. How I hated him, how I longed to grab him by the red collars and hiss insults in his face, and how I wished to feel his soft lips on mine…..I mean, how I prayed to have the chance to rip those pale, soft, cold lips off his face. Day and night, he never seemed to give me a rest, and I hate him for it.

It's not an obsession. No, it's not. Not at all. No, no, no, no. I preferred to call it passionate curiosity. I am perfectly capable of living without him. Perfectly capable, yes I am.

I've never seen him so…vulnerable and still. Yes, he may seem dead and motionless half the time, but there were still signs of life: the occasional flicker of the red eyes, shift in stance, flip in hair, or if you're lucky, the blunt 'humph', but only if you're lucky. Now, he's not even twitching, or breathing, or…anything! I was the one twitching on the other hand. Twitching, pacing, fretting, and fussing, as if all my extraneous movements might make him wake up.

I studied his body again, trying to detect some sudden movement. Nothing. He had a good size hole in his chest, dear Leviathan, is there any reason why he should still be moving? Oh, try not to be too sensible, Yuffie! Of all the time to become mature, now was not the time. Besides, this is the Vincent Valentine. He survives through anything. Anything.

I went back to pacing again; occasionally taking a misstep that sends me hurtling to the side of the moving vehicle. The driver was almost as bad as Cid. Turning, I thought I saw the stoic man moved. I dashed over to his side, eyes leveling at his chest. And there was another twitch. Was it the truck? No, don't let it be the truck! No…Yes! It's not the truck! I jumped up, whooping. Vincent Valentine was breathing again. In front of me, the hole on his chest closed, all by itself, replacing not only skin and muscles, but the cloth too. Mr. Valentine is a miracle worker. And I was the one who saved him. Pacing does help.

It's been a few weeks since we finally found him. A bit hesitant in flocking there ourselves—after all it was Vincent's special place—we had sent the single person that Vincent might not mind: Shelke to fetch him. I wasn't a bit jealous that Shelke, cold, cold, steel blue eyes Shelke was the one sent. Not a single bit. Everyone of the Avalanche greeted the missing man with enthusiasm, patting him on the back, smiling, and laughing. Even Shelke was smiling, shinning with radiance that I was not envious of, nope, not at all. And Vincent? Well, I could see hints of a smile on his pale, flawless face. He had changed.

Now, weeks later, upon entering small hallway of the airship, trying not to loose my stomach's contents—not that there was any in there in the first place anyways, I had learned not to eat before riding on Cid's airship—I found myself standing before Vincent Valentine. Putting away that sour, sick face I replaced it with a weak grin. My stomach was grumbling again, and this time, it was not from airsickness. I was having a horrible case of déjà vu.

"Hello, Vinnie," I called, giving an unconvincing wave. He looked down at me, an indifferent look on his face. Just because he had changed doesn't mean he had changed…if you know what I mean.

"It's Vincent," he answered in that deep god-like voice of his. Not obsessing, I am not obsessing. Silence. I'd have to admit that it's quite rare for me to have moments where I'm tongue tied, but like I said…Vincent's a miracle worker.

I looked around; there seemed to be no one around, giving me another wave of déjà vu. Creepy. Something always happens when we're alone together.

"You still—"

"I've been—" we both fell silent, as if afraid to go on. "You can go first Yuffie," he told me, once again hiding his chin beneath the red collar. I frowned but resisted my urge to reach forward and pull down that red cloth so I can see his carefully sculpted chin.

"Fine," I sighed, trying to find a way to say this. Was I regretting this? Yes. "You still owe me."

He frowned, his perfectly shaped eyebrows scrunching together and his beautiful red eyes peered down at me in slight confusion—no, I'm not obsessing.

"You were not the only one searching, Yuffie," he answered, and for a second there, he had me confused too. Then the 'OHHHH' look crossed my face. "No, no!" I shook my hands and head at him, then finding that a bit dangerous for my health at the moment and maybe Vincent's clothes too; I slowed, pausing for a minute to cease the spinning. "I wasn't talking about that."

"Remember?" He gave me a blank look. Should have known…. "When you were fighting that weird lady wearing red?" I saw the light slowly come into his face. Trying to imagine the 'OHHHH' look on his face, a small grin crept onto my face.

"Yes?" The man seemed reluctant to truly admit that he knew what I was thinking of. I rolled my eyes and gave him an unappreciative look. "I saved your life! You owe me one!" Crossing my arms, I tapped my finger on my arm impatiently.

"I saved your life too." Oh how that answer….I glared at him, and he stared back, unaffected. "You're made to save lives, Vinnie, so that doesn't count!" He raised an eyebrow, and his arms crossed, tight leather squeaking, a mirror reflection of mine.

"Is that true?" He asked, deep voice vibrating my entire body. "What is it that you ask for then, Yuffie?" I blinked, arms dropping to the side. He was actually playing along with me. Once again, I was lost for words. I could see that Vincent was slightly impatient, his eyebrows moved down slightly, his eyes narrowed by a mere fraction, and the corners of his mouth twitched. Before, you can never ready anything from Vincent's body language. He didn't have one. But now…he seemed to have adopted one, though subtle in its ways.

"If you are not going to speak…" his body tilted away, signaling to me that he was about to leave. I jumped forward, perhaps a bit too many steps, stopping right in front of him. "No, wait!" the head turned back so I could see both deep red eyes. They were waiting.

"I…um…." How to say this? No other way than just to blurt it out. "I want a kiss from you…as a favor for saving you," and what a bold favor to ask. Did I learn my lesson from last time? Apparently no.

How nice it would be to just melt into the ground, or stare at the ground forever as Vincent leave for the third time. I stared at my reflection in his shiny golden boots, waiting for them to disappear. But I forced myself to be brave. I am Yuffie the Ninja after all. I looked up, expecting the same look I had received almost three years ago. That look had imprinted itself in my brain. I know every single detail of that upset, distraught stare. It was the first real expression he ever showed me.

He leaned in, raven black hair creating a curtain, and I felt my knees buckle and all the other fireworks one get when kissed. This though, this was ten times better. There was no sign of desperate lust in this new kiss. It was simple, and real. This was our first kiss. Vincent pulled back, his normally pale complexion slightly scarlet, and he averted his eyes. I was still experiencing the cliché fireworks.

"That's my final step," his whisper was barely noticed, it was the gloved hand that pushed a strand of my brown hair aside that finally pulled me back. He stared into my chocolate brown eyes, conveying the rest of his message to me through his now readable eyes. I understand everything. Sins can be forgiven.

"How do you think I did?" He was asking for reassurance. Me of all people. I felt a shiver of excitement run down my spine.

"Perfect," I answered back, flashing a toothy grin and giving him two thumbs up. A shadow of a smile appeared on his lips, and he placed his gloved hands on my shoulder, running his thumb over the goose-bumps on my skin.

"Thank you," he said in his deep, dark chocolate voice and patting me on the shoulder, turned to leave. I blinked and suddenly cried out. "Wait a sec!" The no longer so complicated man stopped and looked over his shoulder. For a moment there, I thought I saw the look of guilt grabbed at his features. I gave him a serious look, and he frowned. He must be slightly fearful of what he had done to wrong me now.

"The last two times," I said slowly, drawing out the suspense. "You were the one who left." He gave me a classical Vincent look that spelled, 'AND?' I approached him and held out my arm. "This time it's my turn."

After much convincing, I had the infamous long red cloak on me, sagging at the shoulders, half my features hidden by the floppy collar, and the tattered tail trailing on the ground. It smelled of fresh soap and the scent that was no longer a mystery to me, and I buried my head into the collar like a turtle so only my eyes showed from above the line. Vincent stood behind me, frowning deeply, and looking quite naked without his usual oversized red cloak.

"Hurry," he rushed, arms crossed in annoyance. I grinned in victory and turned to face him, making sure that I don't trip over the tail. The collar was also a hindrance to my sight. How the heck does he see out of it anyways? I grabbed the cloak with one hand, wrapping it around myself.

"Someday….maybe someday," I deepened my voice, which was slightly muffled by the collar, trying not to giggle at the same time. Then I turned, flipping the cloak out dramatically. The crisp whoosh it made as it flapped that sounded so similar to what the raven haired man love to do excited me even more than the face that I was wearing the Vincent Valentine's cloak. Walking a few steps, I stopped, tilting my head slightly towards him, eyes averted and a grim look of despair on my face. "Farewell, Vincent Valentine," I whispered dramatically, then walked down the hallway, still trying not to trip over myself. The collar was also a hindrance to my sight. Behind me, I could hear a deep chuckle and my grin got wider.

Farewell Stranger Behind the Cloak, hello Vincent Valentine.

And that is IT! Whew, all three chapters completed. How do you guys like the ending? Strange, right? Well, I have to thank Mercury Project for giving me the idea of Yuffie walking out on Vincent. Mercury Project asked for a sad ending but well…I just couldn't do this to the two after all that, and so I tweaked it. Yuffie walks out on Vincent and the rest of you get your happy ending. Woohee!

Now go and review!