Diamonds and Guns

Chapter Fourteen – This Life Is More Than Just a Read-Through

Defunct, the pistol that you pay for
This punk, the feeling that you stay for
In time, I want to be your best friend
East side love is living on the west end

Knocked out, but boy, you better come to
Don't die, you know the truth that some do
Go write your message on the pavement
Burn so bright, I wonder what the wave meant

Your image in the dictionary
This life is more than ordinary
Can I get two, maybe even three of these
Comin' from space to teach you of the Pleiads

Can't stop the spirits when they need you
This life is more than just a read-through

-- Red Hot Chili Peppers, Can't Stop

Author's warning: LEMON.

Yuffie had never been in the Lifestream before. Not counting, of course, the battle with Sephiroth or any of that.

It was noisier than she thought it would be. Everyone was talking; it reminded her of an airport or train station, with everyone holding their own conversations. Except that this was much, much louder.

After all, it was everyone on the planet who was ever going to live, and who had ever died.

She was surprised to find that she could still feel and move her body. She tried plugging up her ears but it didn't help.

"Oh, Yuffie." A voice said to her right. She turned, and there stood Aeris, smiling and laughing as always.

"Aeris?" She asked, hesitantly. This could, of course, be a dream.

"Of course it's a dream." Aeris said, serenely. "Nothing really happens in the Lifestream, it's all in your subconscious. Really, you're floating around in Mideel unconscious right now. Vincent's trying to rescue you without hurting himself. He almost jumped in after you but he thought better of it when he saw you go all limp."

"Vincent's there?" Yuffie said, automatically turning around. Aeris laughed.

"You can't see him here, silly. He's out there still. But he's there, trust me." Her face softened. "Yuffie, he loves you. It's so cute." A grin broke out across her face. "Cid cornered him in Bone Village. I was cheering the whole time; I didn't know he could be so eloquent!"

Yuffie smiled. "I wish I coulda seen it." Then she stopped. "So if Vincent was in Bone Village, what's he doing in Mideel?"

"Rescuing you, of course!" Aeris said, clapping her hands gleefully. "Actually, he came to make up with you but you went and jumped into the Lifestream, so he has to rescue you, first."

Yuffie felt a moment of panic. "Is he going to make it?"

Aeris shrugged. "Maybe. If not, you can come to the Promised Land with Zack and I. If so, you can make up with Vincent and live happily ever after. Time will tell, hm?"

Yuffie smiled, but it was a sickly smile. She didn't want to die, not yet.

"We all have to some day." Aeris said. "But really, I don't think this is how you're supposed to die. So I'm pretty sure Vincent'll work his magic like he always does." She hugged Yuffie. "Here he comes. Give my love, won't you?" The Ancient waved and Yuffie was suddenly yanked backward. She saw a rapidly disappearing Aeris and waved goodbye.

"...Bye..." She whispered.

Then it was dark.

- - - - -

The doctor from Mideel was astounded that Yuffie was in as good of physical condition as she was when Vincent brought her in. She was unconscious, of course, but she seemed to have suffered none of the physical problems one normally had when immersed in the Lifestream for long periods of time, nor any of the side-effects like drooling and incontinence.

No, Yuffie was perfectly healthy. She just wouldn't wake up.

To anyone looking in, she was fine. A heart monitor measured her heartbeats and an IV pumped her full of fluids, but other than that, she was attached to no machinery because she was breathing on her own. It looked like she was merely...taking a nap.

She even went through periods similar to REM, where her eyelids would jerk around unceremoniously. Vincent noted this to the doctor; after all, the doctor had to get rest sometime, and Vincent refused to do so until Yuffie awoke.

"I wonder what she's experiencing in there?" The doctor asked, after he'd come in for a check-up with her. He glanced down at Yuffie's countenance. "Is she all alone, or does she have friends with her?"

Vincent fervently hoped that she wasn't alone. That would be more of a curse than anyone deserved, especially Yuffie.

- - - - -

Yuffie woke up in a hallway. It was dim, just light enough to see.

"You're late." A voice said. Yuffie spun around and was face-to-face with Reno.

"Reno!" She said, excited to see someone familiar.

"Calm down there, kiddo." He grinned, a haunted little grin. "I'm almost, but not quite, a figment of your imagination. But you're late. Really late. We have to get going."

He started off toward the end of the hall, where a light was starting to shine.

Yuffie jogged up to him. "Late? For what?"

Reno shook his head. "We've gotta get going. No time for talk."

Yuffie frowned and Reno continued on. "You almost died. Because Vincent took so long getting you out of the Lifestream – congratulations, by the way – they have to decide if you're going to die or live. You've kinda got one foot out, one foot in right now. You have to go plead your case."

"Plead my case? To who? Who decides if I live or die?"

"The Ancients, of course." Reno said, smiling down at her, a little condescendingly. "You're lucky, though, you've got Aeris on your side. They may go easy on you."

The end of the hallway was near now. A white door was glowing faintly, and it swung open to admit them.

"Here you go, kiddo." Reno said, smiling at her. It was a fake smile. Yuffie wondered if he'd lost his case.

"Nah. I never got a chance to plead. I just...haven't gone on yet." He looked past the door, in at something. "Someday...maybe I can." He gave her a thumbs up and closed the door between them.

"Kisaragi Yu-Fi?" A voice said. She frowned and turned around.

"That would be Yuffie Valentine, thank you very much!" She said, walking to the place she assumed she was to sit at. Yuffie had never liked her Wutain name and when she'd changed her surname from Kisaragi to Valentine, she'd changed her first name to Yuffie from Yu-Fi, officially. She refused to go by anything else, even in the afterlife.

"Very well." The voice said. The lights dimmed a little and she saw some people standing there, regarding her. She didn't quite recognize any of them. One did seem vaguely familiar, though...

Behind her was a whole room of people. Zack and Aeris stood in the corner, Zack with his arms crossed and a frown gracing his features, Aeris biting her lip. Her father was there also, holding a baby. Her baby, she realized. The child she'd miscarried.

They'd never even given it a name.

The shock would have left her breathless, were she in her physical body. Obviously, she was not.

Bugenhagen was there, too, floating several inches on the floor. He smiled at her. Her mother was standing next to her father, waving. She looked just as she had all those years ago.

Shalua and, oddly enough, Rosso the Crimson, were seated in chairs near that group. None of the other Tsviets were there, and Yuffie wondered if none of them had been at peace enough to go on.

Even more astounding was the presence of Sephiroth. His form was greatly different in the afterlife. His hair and face were the same, but he wore jeans and a T-shirt, odd from such a person. He seemed at peace, watching the proceedings interestedly.

The thing that shocked her the most, though, was Lucrecia. The woman sat there, next to Sephiroth. She looked peaceful, but upset at the same time, if such a thing was possible.

She turned back to the Ancients regarding her. One woman, who she took to be Aeris' mother because she looked so like her, spoke.

"Yuffie, you are here because you jumped into the Lifestream. Most people commit suicide when they do that, but you were rescued. Your soul is now part of the Lifestream and we need to know why we should relinquish it to join your body again." She smiled gently. "Explain."

"But..." Yuffie said. "What...what if I want to stay? What if I want to stay with them?" She pointed to the people behind her. Her mother...her child...

"There is something that ties you to the other world, Yuffie, and we need to know what it is. If you wish for that tie to be severed, we can do that, but you must plead your case, either way." Aeris' mom said. Ifalna. That was her name.

Yuffie pondered that. Vincent. Vincent tied her to the other world. She felt a painful shock at the idea. She didn't want to leave him.

So she explained. From start to finish. How she'd turned to drugs after Godo had been murdered, and how she'd been saved through Vincent's efforts. How they'd fallen in love and what it had taken for them to admit to that love. How she'd miscarried and how he'd left out of, she assumed, depression and confusion. How she'd thrown the ring into the Lifestream and how she'd jumped in to save it. How she knew he'd rescued her and was willing to be with her now.

"I don't want to die." She whispered. "I didn't mean to jump in. I..." She sighed and closed her eyes. "I miss everyone that has gone on. I miss my family and friends."

Ifalna nodded. "You may call witnesses, if you wish." She said. The group seemed undecided.

"I..."

"I'll speak." Aeris said, softly, from behind her. She took a seat next to Yuffie. She reached down and squeezed Yuffie's hand gently.

"More important than Vincent is a little girl Yuffie saved." Aeris said softly. "Both Vincent and the little girl will suffer unnecessarily if we keep Yuffie here. This girl was harmed and must be put right again. Yuffie and Vincent are the only people who can do it. I ask the council to take that into consideration too."

"I will speak as well." A voice said. Yuffie turned and saw Lucrecia walking from her seat near her son. She sat opposite Aeris, on Yuffie's left side.

"As you all know, I have only recently been able to pass on." Lucrecia said, with some difficulty. "This was because of the harm I had inflicted on Vincent. I could not let it go and because of that, couldn't even die properly. Once I did, I was stuck in between the worlds of the living and dead, not ready to pass on yet until I could let go of the things I had done. Unspeakable crimes, things I had done to Vincent. This girl allowed me to pass on by healing that damage. I ask that the council also take that into consideration. She saved me from an eternity of living hell. That has to count for something."

Some murmuring was heard from the council, but they still looked undecided.

"I will speak." A deep voice said. Sephiroth stood from his place, arms crossed. "This girl saved the world from me and my disciples. If she doesn't deserve a second chance, who on the Planet does? She saved all life from death – three times. She deserves to go back if that's what she wishes."

"Yeah!" A large group of the assembled said. Shalua nodded, fiercely.

"She defeated those of us who's only purpose was slaughter." Rosso's heavily accented voice said. "She did it selflessly. She has earned the right of passage!"

The door at the back of the room flew open, and Reno walked in. There was confidence in his face; had he passed on?

"Sorry to interrupt." He said, smirking. He sat next to Sephiroth. "Just saying, though...if you guys don't let her go back, there might be a bit of an uprising here. Think of it. The ethereal planes in chaos. Honestly, I think it'd be fun to see, but we know how much you guys like order around these parts..."

The room dissolved into utter chaos at that point. Everyone was talking to each other and the noise rose in waves.

"SILENCE!" The man at the center of the council shouted. Everyone quieted.

The council began whispering amongst itself. Finally Ifalna nodded and turned to Yuffie, smiling gently.

"Yuffie, as we can see, you have the support of a great many of our most powerful subjects. These are people who, in life, would not have thought twice about killing you. As you can see, you helped bring many of them to peace." Yuffie's returning smile was half-hearted. "We have also decided that as your jumping into the Lifestream was to save your wedding ring, it was accidental and not suicide. That is another mark in your favor."

The murmuring behind Yuffie grew in pitch.

"Therefore, we have decided to send you back. This is your only second chance, Yuffie. Do not waste it."

"When can I go back?" Yuffie asked, standing. She had to shout over the cheers behind her. "When?"

"When you're ready, Yuffie, just go through the door." Ifalna said. "Go through the door and down the hall. Don't spend too much time here, saying goodbye, or the hallway will be gone forever."

Yuffie gulped and turned to Aeris, hugging her. "Thanks." She whispered.

"I had really hoped it wouldn't come to this." Aeris said. She drew back from Yuffie and smiled. "But it came out alright anyway!"

Yuffie had to rush the goodbyes, of course, but she found everyone she'd lost and said goodbye; Reno, her parents (with her daughter, who they were calling Yuffie after her), Bugenhagen, Shalua – everyone. She even said goodbye to Sephiroth and Rosso, who seemed to find the whole thing kind of amusing.

Finally, she was at the door, and there was only one person left.

Lucrecia smiled at Yuffie. "Make him happy, Yuffie. Happy like I never made him." She opened the door and gestured for Yuffie to exit.

"I will." She said. Then she left the room and the murmurs died down to nothing.

"I will." She repeated. She started down the hallway, determinedly.

- - - - -

It was nighttime, and Vincent was keeping watch over Yuffie, just like he did at all other hours of the day. He needed a shave and a bath, but that didn't stop him.

Some day Yuffie would wake up, and then he'd concern himself with such worries as a bath, a shower, or food. The nurse had left a bottle of water for him and occasionally he sipped that. It was his only sustenance.

If she never woke up, that was one more thing on his shoulders. One more thing he'd have to live with.

However, that just wasn't meant to be. Yuffie stirred and then her beautiful gray eyes looked up to meet his crimson ones.

"Vincent!" She exclaimed, sitting up and hugging him. Then she pushed back and wrinkled her nose. "Ew, you stink!"

Vincent, still coming to terms with the fact that she wasn't in a coma anymore, was blinking and staring at her. She laughed.

"You need a bath." She sniffed. "So do I."

"Yuffie..." Vincent said. "You're awake."

"Little slow on the uptake there, Vince." She said, grinning. "I'm awake and alive and I'm never leaving again." She hugged him, smell and all.

"What...where..." Vincent was having trouble articulating his thoughts.

"I got sent back." Yuffie said. She leaned back in her bed. "I got a second chance, Vince. You should have seen it. Everyone was there. My parents...our daughter...Sephiroth...Aeris...even Lucrecia. Everyone. I got to say goodbye." She closed her eyes and smiled, completely at peace. "We made a cute kid, Vincent. You'd have loved to see her. My parents are taking care of her."

"You mean..."

"What I mean, Vincent..." And Yuffie sat back up. "Is no more sins, no more burdens, no more guilt. Our slates are clean, and we can start over." She smiled at him and kissed him, then sat back. "No more acting the martyr for either of us. We're okay."

"Okay." He repeated.

"Definitely okay." She wrinkled her nose. "Except that we both need baths. Do they have a shower here?" She looked around. "Where are we, anyway?"

"At the clinic in Mideel." Vincent said, softly. "The others are all staying at the inn."

"Others?" Yuffie asked.

"Avalanche." He said. "Cid and Tasha used the Tiny Bronco to help get you out of the stream...and once Cid and Tasha knew, everyone knew. They've been in to see you every day."

"Then they'll have a hell of a surprise tomorrow morning!" Yuffie said, dancing in her seat. "Anyway, where's the doctor?"

"At home, sleeping. I was watching you." Vincent said. He still seemed a little bemused.

Yuffie smirked and pointed to the bathroom. "Well, then, Mr. Valentine, shall we get a shower?" She winked at him and he flushed.

"I don't think that's wise." He said, drawing back.

She kissed him again. "Everything's going to be okay, Vincent. Trust me. And if your paranoid fear of knocking me up is going to keep me from having sex with my husband for the rest of my life, you are going to be dealing with one very angry Yuffie Valentine. So shut up and let's go." She stood up and guided him to the bathroom.

They got clean first; the water was warm and soothing and really, just what both of them needed after mucking about in their own filth for God knows how long. Yuffie washed herself while Vincent waited at the back of the shower, politely. When she was done she insisted on washing Vincent too, which embarrassed him until she started kissing his neck after she'd rinsed it off.

That was the way it went. She slowly cleaned off his body and kissed it, sending shivers through him. She soaped up his hair, running her fingernails across his scalp and making him almost mewl in happiness.

When she'd finished putting the conditioner in, he surprised her by kissing her fiercely. She could tell he'd missed her. She smirked.

Then he knelt, her body between him and the shower spray, and flicked his tongue lightly at the juncture of her legs. She gasped and held onto the handicapped bars on the sides of the shower, glad they were there.

She let him dwell there for a few moments, just getting her as hot as he could without orgasming, before she pushed his head down, effectively splaying him out on the floor of the tub.

"My turn." She said, smirking. "I'm in charge now." She leaned over and kissed his neck, and descended, leaving a white-hot trail down his chest and pelvis. She spent a little time pleasuring him before pulling herself up and impaling herself on his member.

Vincent gasped as Yuffie sat on top of him, getting used to the feeling again, flexing herself around him. Then she started to move and both of them were lost to words, only the occasional gasp or groan escaping their lips.

She leaned forward and grasped his shoulders as she moved, clenching so hard she left marks on his skin. Vincent watched in fascination as blood dripped from the wounds, but for some reason her sudden fierceness didn't turn him off at all. He wanted her more.

He grabbed her hair and pulled her face toward his, letting her continue her ministrations while molesting her mouth. She moaned and sped up.

Vincent shifted as much as he could, trying to help, when she shifted her hands down to his hips, effectively forcing him to stay still while she did the work. The sight was gorgeous; Yuffie, naked, dripping wet, sliding herself up and down on his organ. She was biting her lip and her head was thrown back, her waist-long hair stuck to her back. Her breasts, slightly larger than usual due to her short stint as a pregnant woman, bounced, throwing water into the air.

The sight set him off. He could feel her moving up and down on him, he could hear her gasps, and then everything went silent as his collective being burst out of him.

He reached up with his human hand and grabbed at the tiles, gasping her name futilely.

Yuffie, looking at him coming, felt her orgasm, spurred on by the way he was calling her name out. She tightened around him and threw her head up, holding on to the handicapped bars again, lest she fall over and hit her head on the faucet fixture.

Vincent, recovering, saw her go. He could almost do it all over again just seeing her come. It was a beautiful sight.

When she was done she collapsed on top of him, his spent member still inside of her, resting her head on his shoulder. The warm water pelted them from above, and the conditioner still in both of their hair made them slick.

"We should probably rinse off." Vincent said, regretfully. Yuffie nodded and sat up, wincing slightly as she pulled herself off of him.

They rinsed the conditioner out of their hair and off of their bodies, and then stood there for a few moments, holding each other as the water cleansed them.

"Don't leave me, ever again." Yuffie whispered. Vincent shook his head.

"I don't plan on it." He whispered back.

When they were done they got out, searching for the linen closet until they found it, stocked with huge, warm, fuzzy white towels. Yuffie took two, pulling her hair up into a turban before toweling herself off. Vincent did the same and she giggled at him before kissing him slightly.

Their clothes were filthy so they wrapped themselves in the towels, using the doctor's washing machine to wash their clothing. Vincent made a mental note to leave he man a huge sum of money for the use of his facilities.

Shortly, the clothes were cleaned and they donned them again. Neither was tired, and the tropical night was warm and inviting. They stepped outside, watching the night sky over the glow of the Lifestream.

"She--" Yuffie gulped. "Lucrecia told me to make you happy, Vincent. She told me to make you happy like she'd never been able to before." She closed her eyes and looked like she was going to speak again, but Vincent interrupted her.

"Yuffie, you have made me more happy than Lucrecia ever would have been able to." He drew her to his side. "I..I love you. She could never compare to you."

Yuffie's face squeezed up and she buried it into his chest, hugging him. He patted her head, face leaned toward hers, murmuring her name occasionally.

"Aeris says hello and sends her love. Reno says congratulations." Yuffie blurted out into his chest. Vincent chuckled slightly, kissing the top of her head before they both relaxed and looked back out into the sky.

"Our daughter...looked happy?" Vincent said, softly. She looked up and finally realized that he had actually been looking forward to possibly having a child.

"Very much so." Yuffie said. She laughed. "We never got to name her...so mom and dad named her Yuffie. She'll be very happy there, where there's no suffering and no homelessness and no hunger."

Vincent swallowed and nodded. The sun was starting to come up over the mountains and he smiled.

"We probably ought to warn the others that you're alive and well again. Sorka will be very happy to see you."

"She's here?" Yuffie asked, stunned.

"She was. Tifa took her back to Edge after..." Vincent frowned. "She was very distraught."

Yuffie bit her lip and nodded. "Let's get our stuff together and...get something to eat. I'm starving!" She smiled but there was a look of unease in her face.

Vincent closed his eyes. Everything was alright.

- - - - -

One year later.

"Vincent, I'm home!" Yuffie said, throwing her purse onto the table near the door. She closed the door behind her and walked in, Sorka in tow.

Tifa and Yuffie had talked, after Yuffie had come back from the Lifestream, and both had agreed that while Tifa was the orphan-taker-in, Sorka would do better with Yuffie and Vincent. It was true. In the one year since they'd adopted her, she'd developed leaps and bounds – she was nine now, and actually looked it, having shot up in height over the past year. She was getting along with men easier and Vincent adored her. Every now and then she'd slip and call him "Dad" and he'd freeze, an odd look coming over his face before he continued on with whatever it was he was doing.

Yuffie thought it was adorable. Sorka so loved Vincent that she'd grown her brown hair out like his and wore it up in a hairband. Yuffie would occasionally tease Vincent by referring to Sorka as "Vincent, Jr."

Yuffie's old room was now Sorka's. It was decorated to Sorka's taste with Sorka's things. The only thing that remained was Yuffie's old sketch collage, which Sorka refused to take down.

"Sorka, go do your homework and then we'll start making dinner." Yuffie instructed her. Sorka made a face at Yuffie but headed down the hall to do as she'd been told.

Yuffie headed to her and Vincent's room, where she was sure Vincent was at. Yep. There he was, laying on the bed sleepily, despite the fact that it was three in the afternoon.

"Where'd you go for so long?" Vincent asked, sitting up.

"I had to pick Sorka up from school, and I had a doctor's appointment." Yuffie said, kissing his nose as she bade him to sit up.

"Oh?" Vincent asked, only mildly concerned.

"I'm pregnant."

Vincent sat up, so fast he cracked his head on hers. "What?"

"Calm down." Yuffie said, holding her hand up. Vincent closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

"How-"

Yuffie shushed him again and he resolutely clenched his lips.

"I'm pregnant, and I'm keeping it." Yuffie said.

"Are you insane?" Vincent hissed.

"I told you to calm down!" Yuffie said, grinning at him. "Listen to the details, Vince, before you jump ahead of yourself!"

Vincent shut up.

"It seems as though the dip in the Lifestream fixed everything down there." Yuffie said, pursing her lips. "The embryo is healthy and viable, three months along, and a boy. I decided to keep it."

Vincent stared at her as if he'd never seen her before. "Everything's...okay?"

Yuffie grinned at him before throwing her arms around him. "Yes, Vincent. Everything's okay."

Author's Notes: I wasn't expecting the story to end this chapter, but I'm gonna tell ya, I have very little control over the creative process. My muse decided that 14 chapters was enough, and that's that!

I was never really intending the story to end this way, either, but it just sorta came out like that! I hope everyone enjoyed it. I had fun writing it! We shall see where my muse takes me next. Probably not a Yuffentine, though, I've had an idea kicking around in my head for a while...

Read? Review!