prelude in g major


for the prompt at 31days on lj: you bring out the sunshine underground. Warning for fluff, fluff, fluff, shameless fluff. Much WAFF occurs. Except when Vincent is being doomy gloomy, which is pretty much all the time, but Yuffie counteracts that with her brain-breaking awesomeness. Also: those easily offended by rough language, do tread carefully. Anyway, reviews would be love.

One day, Yuffie raids her neighbor's fruit orchard and draws on her father's face with a purple marker while he takes his afternoon nap. Satisfied with her handiwork ('Take me, I'm cheap' scrawled across his forehead in capslock), she nods, shoulders her rucksack of stolen apples, and walks out of Wutai.

That takes roughly two weeks, what with being thrown in jail over a teensy little misunderstanding concerning chickens and bananas and taffeta and then having to run from local authorities because they weren't feeding her properly in jail so of course she'd gone looking for better accomodations and then she got run over by some stupid herd of cattle and that hadn't been fun at all. She shows up in Nibelheim a little dustier and rucksack mostly empty, but still bright-eyed and chipper.

"Ah, Yuffie," says Tifa maternally over the phone. Tifa is fantastic at being maternal, thinks Yuffie very fondly. "You have emerged from the wilderness I see. Your phone's reconnected."

"Yup," says Yuffie, fiddling with a massive gate-lock. It's dark and heavy, iron-wrought with chains, rusting slightly but very gothic and depressing and entirely unpickable. She thinks Vinnie is so lame sometimes.

"Well, I'm just calling to see that you're all right. You are well, Yuffie? Your father's been bitching up a storm."

"He likes to do that," says Yuffie, giving up on the lock and scaling over the wall instead. "Anything in particular?"

"Er - " says Tifa.

"Er?"

"He wants to - know what was up with the facepainting."

"I," says Yuffie very practically, "was finishing up all my life goals. I made a list. Y'know - save the world, get filthy rich, kick ShinRa's collective ass. Spite my father in his dotage. I'm not going to have any regrets - none at all."

"Yuffie," says Tifa in a slightly concerned voice, "What are you planning to do? Cid already tried to blow himself up last week - trying to recalibrate something, Shera was fuzzy on the details - so I hope you're not thinking about -"

"Tch," scoffs Yuffie, "Cid? Please. That old man is lame. Don't compare me to him. I am going to get my heart broken today. Because, y'know - I'm Yuffie. And it's Vincent."

"Ah," says Tifa and there's really not much more to say.

-

"I've come," announces Yuffie, after prying open the coffin lid. Vincent looks at her with rather exasperated eyes. "I've come to profess my undying love for you." A pause, and then she titters. "Undying - kind of like you. Hee. I make really awesome puns, don't I? Don't I? Like - really?"

"Yuffie," says Vincent in his slow, morose way.

"No, no, no," says Yuffie, with butterflying hands, as if to shush him. Vincent shushes. "No. I know what you're going to say when you take that tone with me. Hear me out first, okay? Because you're probably all mad and shit because I disturbed your Sleep of Unrest or whatever but you've got like all of eternity to bum out in this basement. You can spare like ten minutes for me, no problem. Okay? You comfortable? Nothing you need to spit out? Ants? Bugs? Anything crawl up your nose? Butt?"

"Yuffie," says Vincent. He sits up. She smiles rather twitchily at him, as if anxious but trying very hard not to be. Yuffie toes the ground - tap-tap-tap - and then abruptly sits down, legs crossed.

"Okay. You're probably wondering how it began, my undying love for you, and I have to tell you: that's a pretty good question. I'm not really sure myself. I mean - I didn't find you attractive at all in the beginning - you were like old and gross and weird and you slept in a coffin. Okay? Very kinky. Hot kinky, yes," she raises a palm, pauses, and then raises the other, "but also sort of dead kinky." Yuffie shifts her hands up and down, metaphorical scales on a balance. Vincent looks at her blankly. "Anyway. So there was the whole saving the world shit but you were all gloomy doomy manic-depression, except manic-depressive sort of means something else but I think it should mean Vincent Valentine. Because you've got like - demons and that's just badass. But I'm getting off topic because I'm Yuffie and I tend to do that and the point is, you never really talked to me because you thought that I was young and immature and bratty and - after that materia fiasco, probably some sort of evil bitch, but I don't blame you for that because I kind of was. Water under the bridge now. You keeping up here, Vinnie?"

"...We had poor first impressions of each other," Vincent says, flat.

"You make it sound so cliché. Anyway, after Midgar - and I kind of saved your butt with that whole sploding building but it was a very platonic comrade brotherhood thing except I'm a girl and I want you very aware of that - after Midgar, you never called or wrote or sent me flowers. So I couldn't have fallen in love with you then. Even though I called enough for both us, but you never answered so I don't even know why you bought a phone. And then Cloud's Family Reunion, which I have dubbed Cloud Fucks Up Big Time Because He Lost My Materia - okay, so you sort of talked to me that time. So maybe it was then but I don't think so because it was mostly 'Stop calling me, Yuffie' or 'Don't touch that, Yuffie' or 'This is his fight, leave him alone, Yuffie' and do you have any idea at all what a damper you are sometimes, Vinnie? Like - really? Don't answer that; you probably have a whole depressing monologue stored up for occassions like this and that's kind of lame too and I'm trying to figure out when you got struck with my kleptomania and ran off with my heart. It's really rude, Vinnie, it's really rude to steal people's hearts because it's a vital organ and I like my pumping blood, you know? You know?" Her voice cracks, embarrassing and raw. She tries to laugh - tries to be cool, kickass, indomitable, the Yuffie who never gives a fuck and she labelled her father a gigolo on the forehead that's how fucking badass she is - but her voice is breaking and her heart is missing and everything hurts so bad and vinnievinnievinnievinnie -

"And - and I don't know when I fell in love with you and I don't know what I'm doing here and I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about but everytime you say Yuffie my chest hurts so fucking much and it's horrible except I never want you to sto-op." Her breath hitches. She fights to continue. "I - I just want to know, Vinnie, I just want to know if you'll ever stop laughing at me for this - "

"I am not laughing," Vincent tells her very seriously.

"Oh God," she half rasps, half bleats and it comes out like a choking gasp-sob-laugh. "I promised myself I was going to be brave here and I don't know how to be brave really and you don't even care and Vinnie - Vinnie, can I have my heart back - ?"

He stares at her for a few minutes, very solemn and very grave. So, so old for twenty-seven but he's not twenty-seven and she thinks he might as well be like four he's such a retard and Vincent asks Yuffie, very practically, "How do I return it?"

A strange croaking sounding echoes in this dusty decrepit cellar and Yuffie thinks it's the sound of her shattering heart. Not even hers, really - and he's just hacking away at it with Cloud's Nine-In-One Combo-Sword, which sort of sounds like a fast food order and isn't it funny how she's thinking about that when her heart is breaking? Isn't that funny?

"That - that's the lamest rejection ever, V-Vinnie, you stupid asshole retard. You're supposed to be sensitive to girls when they're like this."

"My apologies," he says. "But it wasn't a rejection. You wanted your heart back and I don't know how to return it and - Yuffie. Must we keep speaking in metaphors?"

"That's the longest thing you've ever said to me and I can't even appreciate it. How pathetic is that? Do you love me, Vinnie?"

"I do not, Yuffie," says Vincent Valentine, which really is the truth because he doesn't, right now. He doesn't love anything right now.

"A-and," says Yuffie, and how she's grown, this girl-woman, not crying but the quaver in her voice is perhaps more telling than tears. "And do you think you ever could?"

"I don't know," answers Vincent, which isn't really the truth at all, because he wants and he needs and he must say no but it is yes forming itself tentative and kind in his mouth.

Yuffie lets out a shaky sigh, fists her hands for a moment, then clambers to her feet. "I'm sorry," she says, but it's really not an apology. "This isn't what I planned when I broke into your mansion today. I wasn't going to ask you for anything. Because - because I don't know shit about your problems and you don't really want to tell me and whatever, that's okay too but maybe, I thought, maybe you'd get over them one day and - and I don't know. I don't know. I love you. I do. Really love you. Can you - can you just accept that?"

"Yuffie," says Vincent. He doesn't know if that's a refusal or an acceptance.

"Okay," she nods, taking it as consent. She tries to smile, half-succeeds. "That's - that's enough. I mean - I'm a tough girl, right? Of course I am. I'm Yuffie Kisaragi. I'm not going to go suicidal or pull a Vincent or anything if you don't love me back. I'll be fine. Because I'm well-adjusted and kickass. I'll be okay. So - so don't feel all special or anything because I love a lot of stuff: like - like materia and apples and making fun of my father and trees and cats and Tifa's cooking and shiny stuff and yarn and pointy weapons and money and baths and ice cream and prank phone calls and bar fights and skimpy clothing and your shampoo and subsequently the smell of your hair and your cloak because it's like the coolest rotting thing ever and how it matches your eyes and I think you have really pretty eyes and what the hell, Vinnie. What the hell. You're supposed to say that sort of sentimentality to me. You're supposed to tell me what dark lovely eyes I have because that's how it goes in fairy tales. Except I don't really believe in fairy tales and I'm not asking for a happily-ever-after, Vinnie, but if you don't mind, I'd really like a once-upon-a-time."

"I see," he says.

"That is a shitty reply to a love declaration, Vinnie. Really shitty. Combust with shame."

He frowns a little, looking thoughtful. "Well," he says, awkward and inelegant. Terribly twenty-seven and it's not old and it's not young and all that really matters is that it's Vincent. "Well, I suppose - once upon a time, you braided my hair while I was asleep and I never killed you for that."

He's trying, Vincent Valentine, Vinnie. He's trying for this child-warrior ninja, this girl and this woman called Yuffie Kisaragi. He's trying and he doesn't know why but she doesn't know why she loves him and maybe reasons are not so important as being.

"Gee," says Yuffie. "Gee, Vinnie. Good times, I know, but not really romantic, what?" She smiles, though, crooked and lopsided and rather toothy, but incandescently bright.

He isn't quite sure what to do, what to say. He's really not sure how to breathe around her, honestly.

"I - " he says, uncomfortable, but the entire conversation had been uncomfortable and he thinks she ought to know. "I am not romantic, Yuffie." This is probably a lie. "And - I am not kind or nice. Or Good." This is mostly truth. "I am not really even alive and I can't be what you want. I'm dangerous - I can't - I can't - " and he doesn't even know what he cannot. His eyes are flinty and bleeding and broken when he looks at her, and she thinks that's why his eyes are red: because he never stops breaking, never stops bleeding inside. Never stops hurting and Vincent Valentine is such a lame retard.

"I don't need you to be nice or kind or Good," she sneers with inimitable Yuffie charm, "Geez, Vinnie. I go around stealing and breaking and causing trouble and not even because I have psychopathic issues like you. I do it because I like it. You think you're special or something? I broke at least eighty-seven laws in various villages on my way here from Wutai. I am just that badass. So I really don't understand the point you're trying to make because I am Yuffie Kisaragi and I am not scared of you."

"I will hurt you," he tells her, like it is a simple fact. Maybe it is. The sun rises, the fish swim, and I hurt those I love.

"You can fucking try," she responds, the statement less about his supposed danger and more about her supposed bravery. I am not scared of you.

"Yuffie," he says, helpless and desperate, caught in her inexorable will. "Yuffie, Yuffie," and she's so young, he thinks, she's so young and she doesn't understand and she must understand and he can't, he can't he can't he can't -

"Vinnie," she says, very young and very wise. "Vinnie - I know I said I wasn't going to ask for anything, but I think you're being very stupid right now and I have to fix that and if you don't love me, can you try? Can you try for me?"

"Please don't ask me, Yuffie," says Vincent. And that's pretty much equivalent to a 'no.' He's trying, trying so hard, to be kind, this undying monster who almost remembers what is was like to be a man but maybe he's not trying very hard to remember and maybe memories aren't important in the end and maybe loneliness hurts very, very much but he thinks she knows that.

"I see," she says, "And if I were to kiss you right now, would you kiss me back?"

"I do not think so," he says, but thoughts are not truth and he knows. Thoughts are not truth but you still have to speak your mind and how carefully Vincent speaks, choosing each word with meticulous care because she believes that happily-ever-afters all begin with a kiss.

"Will you leave this basement then?" There is a hard light in her eyes, equal parts Yuffie and Kisaragi, thief and royalty. "Will you stop angsting in your damn coffin in this creepy basement? Will you do that, Vincent?"

"Yuffie," he says, but she had called him 'Vincent.'

What right have you to barge in like this, he thinks, grim, confused and angry and resentful and grateful because she cares, that's all he knows. What right have you to disturb my sleep and what right have to ask all this of me and what right have you to expect 'yes' and why, Yuffie, Yuffie, Yuffie, why must you care?

I am not afraid of you, she'd said. I am Yuffie Kisaragi.

"Go back outside with me," she says. "Not even with me. Just - tan a little. That's not too much, is it?" She smiles, courage in that expression because love hurts and you don't always get what you want but love isn't about you anyway. "'Cuz, man, Vinnie, you need melanin like pronto. Like real bad. And - and I'll make sure you get sunburnt in the most ridiculous embarrassing places and I'll cornrow your hair because even if you can't love me, we're still fr-friends, right? Right, Vinnie?"

"Yes," he says, low but certain. "Yes." And yes. And yes. And yes.

"And you'll buy me ice cream and - and if I try to make you fall in love with me, you'll let me have a chance, Vinnie? You'll not stop me from trying? I - I'll try real hard, promise. I'll woo you and I'll court you - "

"Yuffie," says Vincent in a pained sort of voice. "Yuffie, you're a princess."

"Yeah, well - you're not exactly being a Prince here Vinnie and I'm sorry to say but it kind of sucks!"

"I can't, Yuffie." Frustration, now, in his voice, exasperation, emotion, feeling, and what special talent she has. "I can't make you happy, Yuffie - why can't you understand? I can't be with you. I can't love you and I can't stay with you. I can't die, Yuffie - " and that's a special brand of loneliness, isn't it?

"I don't care," Yuffie tells him, stubborn and proud. I don't care, just like that. Like a child, I don't care, and he can't understand, cannot possibly comprehend. Like dandelion fluff, death and loneliness and grief, because I don't care, I don't care, I don't care. "I don't care, because that's not what's important. Will you come outside with me, Vinnie?"

He doesn't know what to say. He doesn't know what to say or how to answer but he thinks that if he were to say 'Yes' (and yes. and yes. and yes. and yes. and yes.) to this, to her, he'd never stop. He won't be able to refuse and if she were to ask him to love her afterwards - well, that'd be dangerous and he'd rather not be in that situation. He can't say 'Yes' then but he can't say no either, not to this, not to her and Vincent Valentine is frightened like he's never been frightened before in his life.

"Help me," he says, very soft.

"I will," she promises, hearing. And, because that had been a sort of acceptance, she takes his hand. She takes his hand and pulls him to his feet and drags him through his basement. He follows, and thinks wonderingly that maybe it isn't Hades and Persephone after all. Maybe Orpheus and Eurdyice instead but Yuffie won't look back. Yuffie won't look back.

She never regrets.

"Yuffie," he says, just to say her name. To taste the movement of it on his tongue. "Yuffie."

"Vinnie," she replies, and though he cannot see her face, he can hear the smile, the laughter in her voice, merry and warm and golden, like everything he remembers summer and sunshine to be.

And then she leads him out of his basement, outside into the bright light.

(but nothing so cliché as out of the darkness)

-

This is not a love story. This is not a love story but maybe it is the prelude to one. Yuffie insists and Vincent does not resist and though it is not really a beginning, it is not really the end either. Somewhere in the middle, then - messy and complicated and glorious. Vincent does not kiss her that day but it's all right, because when Yuffie turns around, grinning so merrily under the yellow sun, Vincent, creakily and dustily, out of practice but trying for her sake, smiles back.

Which is a happily-ever-after onto itself.


Reviews would be lovely.