"Au Revoir"

By Chocolate Wolfie

"Along the street that had always echoed with our footsteps
The withered trees fading away down the road
Perceived the distance between the steps increase

The small falling leaves passing by my shoulders once more returned to the sky
and then I somehow loved even the violent wind
Gently I was smiling

"Au Revoir" Malice Mizer

"Ah… ah… AH-TIEU!"

"Damn it, girl, why do ya have to keep sneezing?!" Cid barked at the tiny ninja as they trudged along the barren outskirts of Midgar. The two made up half of a comical quartet consisting of an aging pilot, a petite teenager, a tall red-clothed ex-turk, and a mog-riding cat.

"Shut up, Cid… I feel like crap…" Yuffie mumbled, adjusting her scarf. The winter winds that whipped their faces pink were no place for Yuffie's usually belly shirt and booty-short apparel. The girl was dressed in a yellow hoodie with a pair of camel-colored oversized capris that flooded over a pair of light uggs. A bright red scarf that clashed with this outfit horribly was tied around her neck, covering her loud mouth and stuffy nose.

"The poor lassie 'as a cold!" Cait Sith quickly came to Yuffie's defense, "Be kind, she's sufferin'!"

"Yeah, I am suffering!" Yuffie agreed quickly, "Can we please stop in town for a rest?! My head feels like it weighs twenty-four frikken' bajillion pounds!" The dark-tressed girl brought a single hand to her temple, rubbing it.

"Quit yer bellyachein'!" The blonde snapped, poking the girl in the side with the blunt end of his staff before slinging it back over his shoulder, Yuffie squawked indignantly, which soon turned into a raspy cough, "We're supposed ter be lookin' for Sephiroth and all I hear out of your goddamn mouth is whining!"

"Why wouldn't you let me go with Cloud's group?" She moaned, grasping her offended side, "Tifa would've taken care of me!"

"That's exactly why!" Growled the man, glaring at Yuffie over his shoulder, "Cloud knew Tifa would've wanted to stop to take care of you and you would've held 'em up! Yer perfectly fine."

Yuffie scowled and went into a round of mock hacking and coughing, "Oh GAWD, I'm gonna die…" She melodramatically swooned backwards, colliding with Vincent's chest.

The raven-haired man blinked garnet orbs down at her before stepping around the ninja, letting her stumble backwards.

"And you!" Yuffie pointed an accusatory finger at Vincent before she promptly poked him in the back with it, "What do you have to say about this?"

To Yuffie's surprise, Vincent stopped, glancing over at the glistening metropolis that was Midgar. The ninja blinked in surprise- was Vincent really agreeing with her?!

"I think we should split up."

Yuffie's head fell suddenly in defeat. Fat frikken' change Vincent would even give two shits about her. All he cared about was his sins and that goddamn gun of his.

"Fine then, I'm taking the cat!" Cid grasped Cait Sith by the scruff of his neck, the cat wailing in surprise, "You two go look over there for Sephiroth!" He pointed straight foreword, "Over there. In that general direction. Away from me."

And before the teenager or the gunslinger had a change to agree or argue, the towhead was sprinting away, dragging Cait Sith and his giant, pink mog along with him. The cat's Scottish accent crying out in shock quickly faded in the violent winds and Vincent and Yuffie were left standing alone.

"I don't suppose you'd take pity on me?" Sighed the ninja, glancing at Vincent. He blinked at her once before turning on his heel and starting into the cold. Yuffie watched him, a scowl on her face; body bowed in shame and her arms hanging out before her limply, "Yeah, I didn't think so…"

The two traveled for a while in relative peace- save for Yuffie's constant coughs, sneezes, and sniffles. And Yuffie- being Yuffie- was not pleased with the constant silence and decided to make an attempt at a conversation.

"What the crap was Cloud thinking, sending us all the way out here in the middle of frikken' winter?!" Okay, not exactly as much of a conversation starter as it was bitching and moaning, but they were words, nonetheless, "I mean, honestly! What in Leviathan's name would Sephiroth be doing out here in the middle of winter? Skinny dipping in the nonexistent water?"

Well, that elicited an odd look from Vincent, so it was better than nothing.

"Gawd, I'm starting to hate this…" Yuffie drew her sleeve across her nose, ignoring the fact that it was already booger city, "I'm cold. I'm tired. I feel like shit. I just wanna go home. "

Silence. Yuffie glowered at the man walking beside her, "And its not like I'm getting comfort from any of you retards, anyway. Nobody really seems to care that we have a sick, suffering child on our hands-"

Suddenly, a hand clamped over Yuffie's mouth and Vincent pulled her behind one of the many rock formations that surrounded the silvery city. The ninja screamed into his palm, thrashing violently.

"Be quiet." Vincent ordered emotionlessly, allowing her to pull his hand off of her mouth.

"Vincent, what the hell-?!" Yuffie shrieked, pulling herself up slightly. Her eyes widened as she caught a split-second glimpse of a terrible… thing lurking a hundred yards away before Vincent pulled her back down, "What is that?!" Yuffie whispered urgently, her brown eyes wide and horrified.

Vincent glanced at her calmly, pressing a finger to his lips, "I don't know." He said under his breath, so softly that Yuffie had to strain to hear him, "We can just let it pass. Just don't make any sudden noises."

Yuffie nodded earnestly and wrapped her arms around her knees, watching Vincent closely. He stared straight foreword, his body tense, as if he were keening to listen to see if the creature had left.

And then it happened.

A small tingling in her nose was the first thing that gave it away, Yuffie's eyes bulged and she pressed her hand to her mouth. Vincent turned to stare at her incredulously. She attempted to hold back the sneeze, her body trembling with the effort. Vincent stared at her. Yuffie stared back.

And it passed.

But, as luck would have it, the urge returned a second later with no warning whatsoever.


Yuffie jumped, leaning foreword. Great. There was a giant string of snot connecting her hand to her nose. But the good thing was, the thing- whatever it was- hadn't seemed to notice her sneeze.

A sudden shadow soaring overhead thought otherwise. Yuffie stared at the creature's belly in disbelief as it landed before her and Vincent, spinning to a stop with a small skid that stirred the brown dust around its paws.

She'd never seen anything like it. It seemed to be the size of a large horse and had the body of a comically oversized wolf. Its eyes blazed aureate against the sheer darkness of its body, which seemed to radiate off of it in obsidian tendrils. It bore yellowing fangs at them, the hackles on its back standing up as it crouched to pounce.

A clicking noise brought Yuffie back into reality. Vincent's gun was out, and he was aiming a one-handed shot at the ebony beast. He fired several times as Yuffie quickly unstrapped her oversized shuriken from her back, hopping away from the rock as to get a good area to pull her hand back. She flung the silver blade at the creature in a graceful arc. The beast snarled as the shuriken grazed its hind leg and traveled back to Yuffie's awaiting hand. Yellow eyes blazing with battle lust locked with the ninja's horrified brown eyes before the thing charged.

With a tiny gasp, she leapt backwards onto one of the rock formations; flinging the weapon at the beast again- it narrowly missed as the beast jumped to come face-to-face with the unarmed teen. Red took over Yuffie's line of vision and there was a pained howl as Vincent's golden claw connected with its muzzle. Yuffie leapt upwards to grab her shuriken as it flew overhead and landed on the creature's back, vaulting over it and spinning on her heel, she grinned deviously as she stared at its unprotected back.

Inhaling deeply, Yuffie channeled her energy forth before darting as quickly as the wind towards the creature. She moved with short spurts of energy, almost invisible to the naked eye. Every time her shuriken connected with the creature's obsidian flesh, a crackle of purple energy sprang forth from her shuriken. She darted about its body as fast as she dared, attacking every bare inch of flesh before leaping backwards, heaving exhausted, labored breaths.

The creature thrashed in pain, wheeling around to face her before it charged, a grotesque, oily liquid oozing from its wounds. Vincent's overhead gunshots were nearly drowned in its horrific cries; he landed besides Yuffie a moment later. He glanced at the ninja as she held her shuriken to her chest, swaying from foot-to-foot before his eyes, blazing brightly with red, met with the creature's smoldering ones.

Vincent's cape whipped around him in an unseen whirlwind as he allowed himself to become overcome with the battle lust. His cloaked spiraled around him, flourishing out behind him in a whip of wind into two bat-like wings. Black skin glittered violet in the pale sunlight as Chaos's scarlet orbs snapped wide and it flew foreword, tainting its ivory claws black with the creature's oily blood. The canine snarled and reared up to its hind legs, digging its dirty claws into Chaos's shoulders. Vincent's alternate form roared back with surprising force and pinned the creature to the ground, rearing back its clawed hand and sending a wave of ebony blood into the air before its ruthlessly tore away at the creature's chest, roaring in defiance and power.

With one final slash, the wolf lay dead and Chaos hovered over it, scarlet eyes boring into the dead flesh before its head fell back, red wings encasing itself and spiraling around it until they were once more the scarlet mantle of Vincent Valentine, whom landed gracefully before the beast, his chest still heaving slightly in the fading battle lust.

He looked over his shoulder at Yuffie, whom was still standing in the exact spot as before, her arms hanging out at her sides. Her eyes stared, unseeing, into the gray, overcast sky as she swayed slightly in place. Vincent started towards her, growing slightly concerned.

"Are you alright?" He inquired.

"I'm fine." Yuffie said, still staring blankly at the sky before she swayed a little too much to one side and fell onto the dusty ground.

"Yuffie." Vincent said urgently, despite himself. He rushed over to the ninja, kneeling beside her fallen form before he reached under her, scooping her upper body off of the ground. Her head lulled back, she breathed though her mouth, labored and wheezy. Vincent's grip tightened around her shoulders as he shook her, "Yuffie." The girl did not respond.

Vincent reached into his cloak, groping around for a phoenix down. He found one of the soft, scarlet feathers and placed it on the air above her, letting the feint sparkles rain down on her. The girl's eyes fluttered slightly and she gasped for air, choking in her sleep. Vincent glanced around wildly, whacking her in the back before her breathing fell into a regular pattern and she slumped in his arms again. She must have been very ill for a phoenix down not to wake her.

Vincent stood, holding the tremulous ninja close to his chest. He glanced down at her face, which was red from the wind and fever before he pressed his hand to her brow. She was burning up. Vincent hurriedly unbuckled his mantle from his neck and wrapped it around the shivering girl, cradling her to his chest with utmost care before he began his trek into Midgar.

Chances were, the ninja had been much more sick than the group had originally anticipated- her cold most likely had developed into a sort of pneumonia. Guilt stabbed through him like a white-hot knife. Yuffie had been right when she had asked to take a rest somewhere… maybe if he had listened to her…

Vincent shook himself. Why was he fretting over Yuffie so much? All he had to do was get her to Midgar and make sure she was healed as soon as possible… but there was that constant itch in the back of his mind that urged him to care for the girl in her illness, to worry and to fret over her well being.

It was odd; Vincent felt as if it was supposed to be a foreign feeling for a self-absorbed monster such as himself, but it came almost like second nature to him as he stared down at the small ninja, her pink face screwed in pain even in her sleep. Something twitched inside him. Maybe it was humanity, clawing its way towards the surface.

Vincent decided that he didn't care. He pressed on towards Midgar.

Yuffie dreamed. It was about the hottest day she'd ever experienced- it was the summer when she was nine years old. Her hair fell over her eyes and the very ends of it stuck to her neck as she sprinted through the woods- odd voices weaved in and out of her dreams and she traveled.

"-very high fever-"

Despite it being violently torrid, a powdery snow fell from in-between the trees; Yuffie screamed, not understanding what was happening, before she broke though them, into a graveyard. Her mother sat upon the steps of her white marble tomb, dressed in the ivory robes Yuffie had seen her buried in.

"It was a good thing you brought her to rest."

"Mama!" The girl cried, falling into her mother's lap. The woman entwined her fingers in Yuffie's short tresses, stroking her forehead with her thumb, "Mama, what's going on?"

"-would've become much worse-"

"I don't know, Yuffie. But it will be fine." The woman said softly, Yuffie sat up and faced her. The woman kissed her daughter's forehead before glancing over Yuffie's head, smiling serenely, "I see you've found someone to watch over you."

"-needs rest- will be fine in a few-"

Yuffie sat up, turning her head to where her mother was looking. Vincent stood at the edge of the forest, resting against a tree.

"-were correct in assuming she had-"

"Vinnie!" Yuffie beamed, leaping out of her mother's arms to run towards him. Her fingers brushed against her mother's before she reached out to take Vincent's outstretched hand. As she entwined her fingers with his, she realized that she was no longer a child, but a beaming young woman. Vincent smiled at her softly before she turned to face her mother, whom waved cheerfully at them. Yuffie turned back to Vincent, laughing jovially.

"-a case of pneumonia." The odd voices weaving in and out of her tangled thoughts finally came into a hazy reality, "Try to wake her up in a few hours to drink some water and maybe take some cough syrup." This voice was unfamiliar: a scratchy, male voice.

"Should she have anything to eat?" This one she recognized. But who was it?

"Yes, some soup or yogurt, if you can get her to eat." The unfamiliar voice said.

"Thank you very much for coming on such short notice." Who the heck did that voice belong to?!

"No problem at all, Mr…?"

"Valentine." Wait… that was Vincent?!

"Ah, yes, Mr. Valentine."

And Yuffie fell into another deep sleep.

"-right here. The doctor said she has Pneumonia."

Yuffie shifted slightly, her head felt as if it was full of hot water. Noises and images were swimming in and out of her awareness.

"Tell Tifa she'll be fine. She's resting." Vincent said calmly. Yuffie felt something cool come into contact with her burning face. She sighed slightly at the relief.

"I'm going to wake her up in a few minutes to give her some medicine." Suddenly, cool fingers threaded themselves through Yuffie's hair.

'Oooh… that feels nice…' The ninja thought contently as Vincent stroked her soft hair.

"I'm still trying to get a hold of Cid and Cait Sith, however." Vincent explained, continuing to fondle her short tresses.

Then, everything clicked in Yuffie's mind.

'Vincent… petting my hair? Oh Gawd, I must be sicker than I thought…' Yuffie wiggled under the heavy covers that she found covering her, reveling in Vincent's cool touch, 'But it feels nice, so I'm not complaining.'

And she slipped away once more.

Vincent unscrewed the lid on the cough syrup, nervously pouring out the directed amount of the orange liquid into the small plastic cup before he set it beside the bottled water he'd gotten at the store in the lobby along with the syrup. He didn't know why he was so anxious. Usually nothing bothered him in the slightest. But just the sight of the sickly ninja did something to him- sent a ripple of unsettlement throughout his body.

He glanced down at Yuffie as she lay, cocooned in the heavy covers before he reached to brush her bangs out of her eyes. Why did he have this persistent feeling to watch over her? Why did Yuffie, of all people, make him feel?

Once more, Vincent shook off his concerns and gently prodded the teen awake, "Yuffie." He said gently, shaking her shoulders, "Yuffie, wake up."
Brown orbs fluttered open, starring up at him in slight confusion before a small smile bloomed on the girl's face.

"Vinnie…" She croaked in a scratchy whisper. There it was, that odd chord she struck inside him. Vincent reached under her and scooped her into his chest, grasping the cough syrup off of the floor beside him and pressing it to her mouth, tipping it slightly. Yuffie downed the medicine, weakly licking her lips.

"Are you thirsty?" She nodded slightly before he grabbed the water bottle, removing the cap and pressing it to her lips as well; she drank several gulps, a small stream of water slipping out of her mouth and sending a dark streak down her chin. Vincent set the water back down and wiped it away from the side of her mouth as she coughed slightly.

To Vincent's surprise, instead of settling back down into the plush futon, Yuffie cuddled against his chest. The gunslinger made a slight noise of surprise in the back of his throat before wrapping his other arm around the girl and lying back down onto the futon, feeling insanely awkward there with her.

"Thanks Vinnie…" She whispered under her breath, and was lost to her dreams.

Vincent looked down at Yuffie's sleeping form, her once pained face now content and peaceful. He made a concerned sort of noise in the back of his throat. What was this girl doing to him?

He caressed her hair once more, looking down at her fondly. She was an annoyance, yes. There was no doubting that. But there was something about her, a sense of blissful youth and sheer joy that seemed to have become her essence. The girl was so… so alive.

Vincent cradled Yuffie's head to his chest. He'd be damned if he let that be taken from her.

The next time Yuffie awoke, her head was considerably less foggy. This would've been cause for a celebration if it weren't for the fact that Vincent was gone. Yuffie sat up, a wet cloth falling from her forehead into her lap. Bad idea. She fell back into the futon, moaning loudly. Ick, her head still felt all heavy and her nose was still all gross. It also felt like somebody had rubbed her throat with sandpaper.

Rolling over, the girl found her bag laying next to the bed along with a bottle of water, some cough syrup, and a note written in scratchy writing.

Went for dinner. Take 2 tbsp of medicine. –Vincent

'Bitch. He better bring me something back.' Yuffie thought grumpily as she grabbed the medicine, sloppily measuring out two tablespoons of the orange liquid. She tossed her head back as she downed it, enjoying the sticky sweet taste.

Suddenly, Yuffie realized that her arms were cold. She glanced down to see that Vincent had removed her yellow hoodie, and she was dressed in the gray tank top she had underneath. She threw back the covers. Oversized camel-colored capris and stocking feet. Good. She'd kill him dead if he'd undressed her.

She flopped back into the futon, pulling the covers back up to her nose. Well, at least her fever had gone down. That was a good thing. Vincent must've taken good care of her. The ninja's eyes scrunched in concentration as she recalled several foggy instances. Two people talking, one Vincent… Vincent talking and petting her head… and Vincent giving her medicine and water and then cuddling with her.

Yuffie figured that the part with the doctor and the medicine were real and the rest were her illness-induced hallucinations- either that or he'd taken one too many Hypers.

'I wonder how long I've been out…' Yuffie thought, grasping her bag. The last time she'd checked, it had been about two-o-clock. According to her PHS, it was five-o-clock-

The next day.

"Wow…' Yuffie whispered hoarsely. This tickled her throat and sent her into a violent coughing fit. She grasped the bottle of water desperately, unscrewing the cap and downing as much as she dared, surfacing moments later with the last of her attack.

"Are you alright?"

Yuffie started, yipping in shock, and then wincing in pain. Vincent stood in the doorway, holding a plastic bag and blinking at her calmly.

"I'm sorry, did I scare you?" He asked, starting into the room. He removed two cartons from the plastic bag along with some napkins and plastic spoons.

"Nah, you're just quieter than the walking dead.' Yuffie giggled nervously, Vincent pulled the lid off the container, revealing hot, steaming soup. The ninja hovered over it, attempting to sniff it, but coming up with a grotesque snort. Vincent glanced at her with a raised eyebrow as she chortled once more, which turned into a mild coughing fit.

"Its chicken noodle." He said, handing her the container. Yuffie thanked him, accepting it along with the spoon. Vincent nodded and opened his own soup, which, by the looks of it, was beef stew.

"Mmmmm…" Yuffie hummed pleasantly, even with her dulled sense of taste, the soup was still delicious. She would've commented on it, but not having eaten in more than twenty-four hours, she was feeling quite hungry.

"Slow down." Vincent said softly, touching her gently on the shoulder. Yuffie almost jumped, and turned to stare at him incredulously.

"What?" The red-clothed man inquired. Yuffie shook her head slowly.

"Uhhh… nothing…" She said slowly before resuming her dinner, 'Why is he being so frikken' nice? That's SO not like Vinnie… I can't believe I was out for that long… GAWD I have to pee…'

The ninja set her soup down- in a normal instance she would've hopped up out of bed, but it came out as more of a pitiful roll before she pushed up off of the ground.

"Gotta pee." She said matter-of-factly to Vincent over her shoulder. He stared at her blankly as if to say 'Thanks for sharing'.

Yuffie grinned in spite of herself and plodded over to the bathroom, closing the door behind her before staring into the mirror. Puffy eyelids hung heavily over brown orbs, which seemed to lack their usual, cheerful luster. Her face was considerably pale compared to the rose she'd glowed when she'd had a high fever- and there was a lovely trail of dried drool going down the side of her mouth.

"Um, eww." Said the girl, blinking at herself in disgust before twisting the sink knob on and splashing her face with warm water. She wiped it dry a moment later, sighing gently before going to use the toilet.

The ninja emerged from the bathroom moments later, wiping the last of the water on the thighs of her capris. Vincent sat in the exact same position as before, however, he'd put down his soup momentarily and was holding a heavy novel, bound in ebony.

"Watcha reading?" Yuffie inquired, plopping down onto the futon. Vincent glanced up to her, as to reply, but the teen promptly plucked the volume from his hands, beginning to flip through the pages.

"Yuffie, that's-" He began, a hint of warning in his voice.

"Its not even in English." Yuffie stated loudly in a raspy voice, "Why-?" Her question was cut short as she flipped a page and her face became mangled in disgust at the illustration.

"Marquis De Sade." Vincent said gently, clearing his throat briefly before he plucked the book out of her hands, "Its French- and it's an acquired taste."

"Grossness!" Gasped the girl; she coughed, finding something lodged in her throat during the sudden intake of air. She gasped for breath, wheezing loudly as she did so, hacking violently. Suddenly, she found a gentle hand on her back; another hidden behind a clawed gauntlet pressed a water bottle to her lips. Yuffie gratefully gulped down the water, gasping for air and coughing several times before she pushed it away, wiping her mouth off with her lower arm.

"Maybe its best you rest your voice." Advised the ex-turk, setting the water down as Yuffie nodded silently, obviously embarrassed. She settled down into the futon, dragging the plush blanket over her chilled shoulders before turning on her side, grasping her soup and pulling it near, swearing not to spill a drop upon the soft futon.

Vincent returned to his novel, holding it open with his clawed hand whilst he ate his stew with the other. Yuffie watched in silence for a moment before he glanced up at her, blinking- she felt heat rush to her cheeks and averted her gaze to her soup until she was finished. The ninja let her spoon fall into the Styrofoam cup before placing it on the hardwood floor, resting her head upon the large pillow provided.

"Where did you learn to read French, anyway?" She whispered delicately, as to not irritate her throat, Vincent looked up at her with his expressionless garnet orbs.

"In school." He explained, "It was also required for Turks to speak at least two languages besides their native tongue. I also speak Wutianese."

Yuffie's eyes widened, "Wow. I didn't know that."

"Not many people do." Vincent said, his eyes snapping back to his book. Yuffie's heart fluttered in her chest s the warmth returned to her cheeks.

'Wow. I know something interesting about Vincent- something he usually doesn't share with people. He let me in. He talked to me. He's taking care of me… I wonder if he's on crack.' Thought the shinobi, burying her face within her pillow, as to hide her growing blush. She couldn't help but revel in the feeling that he was telling her this- it made her feel special.

"Are you bored?"

"Hnn?" Yuffie peeked up at Vincent, whom was staring at her with his dark red eye, a flawlessly emotionless expression on his face, as usual.

"You don't seem to be the kind of person to stay still whilst you are ill." Explained the raven-tressed man, "Do you want to watch television?"

"Nah, I don't really like the channels in Midgar." Yuffie shrugged, feeling insanely odd that he was actually attempting to be nice to her.

There was a slight pause, in which Vincent glanced away, a foreign emotion playing across his face, "Would you like me to read to you?"

Yuffie's eyes bulged and her heart skipped a beat, "Uhh… sure… just not from that book."

Vincent's eyes widened a fraction of an inch as he quickly glanced at his Marquis De Sade novel, "Of course not." He reached for his own dark pack and removed a smaller novel, "Have you heard of Othello?"

"Umm…" Yuffie squinted, as if she were attempting to remember something, "I think we were supposed to read it last year in school… but I forgot to and failed English. The teachers didn't make me read, anyway. They knew I was stupid and figured it was a lost cause."

Vincent quirked an eyebrow and opened the book, "It's a famous play written many years ago. It begins in a distant land called Venice."

Yuffie listened quietly as he spoke, never having been so entranced by a novel before. Vincent stopped constantly to make sure she understood, patiently answering all of her questions and explaining the definition of the Old English words. After awhile, she found that it wasn't so odd that Vincent was actually acknowledging her and offering a shred of kindness.

"So, in the end, it turned out that he never escaped the prophecy, right?" Yuffie inquired in her hoarse voice, "Its pretty sad, he went through all those measures to avoid it, but in the end, destiny came to bite him in the butt."

"That's… one way of putting it." Vincent nodded. Yuffie yawned, snuggling deeper into the covers, "Are you tired?"

"Yeah, I think 'm gonna hit the hay." Nodded the ninja, her eyelids feeling heavier by the second, Vincent nodded and stood to click off the lights. Even in the darkness, Yuffie could see the dim glow of his garnet orbs, watching her silently. She smiled to herself, not minding it.



"You're not stupid."

"What'cha talking about?"

"Earlier tonight, you said that your teachers thought you were stupid." The gunslinger explained in his dark voice, "You aren't stupid."

Yuffie's heart squeezed in her chest, sighed, and fluttered, "T-thanks."

"You're welcome."

Vincent watched Yuffie slumber, her arms splayed out over the futon beside her head. He frowned, pulling the comforter up to her chin. The ninja mumbled in her sleep, shifting around before settling.

Slowly, he reached out to thread his fingers through her short tresses of deep brown, feeling disgusted in his covet of the teen… but there was that liveliness about her that made him want to protect her so badly… he wished to befriend this girl and find what made her so blissfully cheerful. Why did nothing seem to bother her? She was a mystery to Vincent.

Secretly, he envied her. Yuffie wore her heart on her sleeve- she let the world know what she was feeling and never held back. Also, her optimistic outlook on life was… endearing, and yet, confusing at the same time.

Not to mention, that ripple he felt whenever he was around her. Vincent had avoided Yuffie for that very reason ever since he had joined the group. But now that he was spending more time with her, he found it almost intriguing, and not to mention pleasurable… and yet it killed him a little more inside every time it happened.

"Why do you do this to me?" He asked in a low whisper, brushing dark tresses out of the teen's face.

In her sleep, Yuffie smiled.

"Vinnie, are you comin'?"

Yuffie stood in the lobby of the hotel, dressed in her winter apparel; her pack slung over one shoulder and oversized shuriken strapped securely to her back with worn leather straps. The lucid glow had returned to her eyes after another twenty-four hours, and her hoarse throat was slowly recovering.

"In a moment." Vincent nodded over his shoulder at her, turning back to the woman at the front desk, "Thank you for your hospitality." He handed her the set of keys from the room. The woman smiled placidly.

"You're very welcome, sir. I haven't seen met such a gentlemen in years." She peeked over his shoulder at Yuffie, "You're very lucky to have him."

"I am, aren't I?" Yuffie beamed, not understanding what the woman had meant. Vincent blinked, surprised, before he turned on his heel once more and headed for the door, holding it open for Yuffie, whom smiled at him pleasantly in thanks. He was silent.

This silence continued on for a long while as the two made their way out of Midgar and finally into the vast wastelands that surrounded it- finding a small rock formation to wait for Cid and Cait Sith at. They dropped their packs at the base of the dusty rock, leaning up against it. Yuffie folded her arms behind her head and stared into the gray sky, relieved that the winds were not blowing as violently as before.

"Hey, Vincent?" Inquired Yuffie.


"Why did you take such good care of me?"

Vincent was silent, he glanced away from her, staring at the dusty ground. He struggled to find a suitable answer, "I… We are allies, are we not?" He stared back at her, brown met with garnet, "It is my duty to take care of a fallen ally. I could not just leave you to die when you were ill."

Yuffie's chocolate orbs took on a pained expression, her brow knitting slightly before she looked away from him, choking out an "Oh."

There it was again. That ripple throughout his body… accompanied by clenching pain in his chest. Vincent closed his eyes, his brow furrowed in deep concentration as he clenched his fist. He pushed away from the wall, grasping Yuffie's shoulder and spinning her to face him.

The tall man pulled her close; her incredulous brown eyes met his serious garnet ones as he placed his hand on her cheek, caressing it as his eyes softened.

"Vin-?" She was silenced as he pressed his lips to hers, moving softly up against them as his clawed hand sought out the small of Yuffie's back, pulling the small ninja near. Yuffie was frozen for several seconds before she leaned into the kiss, wrapping her small hands around his neck. They pulled away with a slight noise, Yuffie staring at him, her eyes still wide in disbelieving.

"That's why." He said softly. Yuffie made several small noises, poor attempts to begin speaking. Vincent kissed her again, wrapping his mantle around her and pulling her to his chest.

"Vinnie…" She whispered, feeling her cheeks heat up once more.

"Are you mad?" Vincent asked, deeply ashamed of himself.

"No!" Yuffie cried, glancing up at him, "No…" She said softly, "I just… thank you."

He felt a small smile pull at the edges of his mouth before he kissed her forehead and they stood, embracing in the cold, Vincent's scarlet cape billowing slowly around him.

"'An what the hell is goin' on here?" A gruff voice shouted. Vincent was suddenly poked in the back. He glanced over his shoulder to see Cid scowling at him, holding out his pole.

"We-" Vincent began slowly.

"I was cold, so I hugged Vinnie!" Yuffie quickly came to the rescue, "He tried to fight me, but I'm so strong that he was forced to submit to my awesomely great will." She peeked around Vincent, "So don't worry, old man."

Cid gawked at her before waving the spear above his head angrily, "Damn it, you little-!"

"Be kind to the poor thing! " Cait Sith interjected quickly, his mog bounding in-between them.

Cid narrowed his eyes suspiciously at the couple, "What the hell ever. We needa get goin'."

Vincent and Yuffie broke away, however, the gunslinger sought out Yuffie's fingers and entwined them with his. She gave him a timid smile, and he smiled back, softly so, before wrinkling his nose.

"Ha…ha… HACHOO!"

Author's Note: Hi everyone! So sorry for the ginormous delay in fanfics or updates here. I've been enormously busy with school, not to mention I'm lazy and I've also been poking around with the idea of (gasp!) my own original story. I came up with this little diddy when I was home from school with the hella weird virus. It was like, I had a sore throat that came and went away along with this random exhaustion. It was reaaaaly weird. But, I wrote the majority of this that day and finished it up tonight. I think I liked how it turned out, especially since there was a (LE GASP!) battle scene! I haven't written a battlescene in... wow... six months? I'm usually lazy when it comes to battle scenes and I just make my co-writer do them when writing with her. But I actually felt the need to put one in, and actually enjoyed writing it. I even put limit breaks in! I feel so proud of myself! I'm also proud because I made it through the entire story without making one singe dirty joke, which is nearly impossible for me whilst writing romance. I can't seem to not have cussing in there, however... hmm... and I also apologise if people are going "WTH, this never happened in the game- NOT CANNON!" I'm sorry, but it just felt like it would belong in the game timeline, so nyah. Anywho, much love, and see ya soon!

If you liked it, PLEASE REVIEW!