I don't owe anything to do with square enix.
What Becomes of the Lonely Hearted
The bar was quiet for once; the lazy hours were long like the recent summer days and many customers were out enjoying the weather.
But not Tifa for she was enjoying a few minutes peace and quiet catching up on local news.
She was sitting at the bar on one of the stools, with the local paper 'The Edge' spread out on the counter before her, chewing absently on a pen as she looked at the crossword on the comic strip page, pondering the possible answer for 'A school of Dolphins' which was three down.
She mused this aloud and jumped when a deep voice answered.
"Pod, a school of dolphins is called a pod."
"Vincent!" Tifa looked over her shoulders to see the man walking around the bar to head to the stairs that lead up to his room.
Tifa and Cloud were adamant the gunman stayed with them whenever he was in the area and recently, due to intensive business with the WRO, both Vincent and Yuffie have been more like permanent residents of 'Final Heaven' Bar in Edge.
"How's your day?" Tifa politely enquired as Vincent slowed down enough to open a fridge beneath the bar and pick out one of his reserved bottles of wine where Tifa kept them stashed.
"Fine." Was his simple reply, there was a tinkle of glass as he took one down from the shelf and then he disappeared upstairs.
Tifa wrote 'Pod' in the three squares and went to ponder the next word when her eyes caught the lonely hearts column.
"Wanted. A man to mend this broken woman's heart. Likes long walks, cooking and poetry. Am a pretty blonde with a big smile."
A smile rose on Tifa's lips at the pure cheesy-ness of the adverts.
"Attractive man seeking a woman for friendship and more. Will wine, dine you and possibly 69 you!"
A chuckle erupted from Tifa as she read the last advert and with a sigh, she went to close the paper when somewhere in her head a light bulb went off.
Raising her eyes up to the ceiling above her, listening for any noises from her resident in his room as if he somewhat heard her inner voice organising her plan aloud, she grinned.
After all, it wasn't healthy for a man to stay in his room drinking fine wine with no one else to enjoy it with…
"I've placed the last barrel down in the cellar for ya!" Cid hollered as Tifa yelled her acknowledgement back to him. He seated himself at the bar and impatiently waited, first fiddling with the pen he found on the counter, then lit a cigarette, hollered at Tifa some more and finally started reading the paper she had abandoned on the counter.
He usually did Tifa's booze delivery for her twice a month, importing some of the finest alcohol on the planet to Final Heaven, making it a popular place due to its wide beverage selection, good atmosphere and great food.
Once he finished reading the comic strip, his eyes fell on the lonely hearts page and he cackled as he read some of adverts.
"What's so funny?" Vincent interrupted him.
"The lonely hearts crap…I mean listen to this! 'There was a man from Edge, to find true love was his pledge, if you pick me I'll take you on a date or two, and I'll bring you breakfast in bed!"
Vincent raised one eyebrow at the pilot who held his sides as he swayed dangerously on the stool as he laughed.
"Vampy, you should stick your advert here!"
The gunman slowly backed away from Cid who looked as if his idea was the best one ever.
"I have no wish to."
And then he was gone, disappearing into the kitchen to see if Tifa needed any help.
Cid jeered after him and sulked, and then spotting the phone number to place an advert on the lonely hearts page, he decided to set his plan in motion. Vincent couldn't technically kill him if he had his best interest at heart right?
Cackling to himself, he reached over the bar and picked up the phone. He was still chuckling after he placed the receiver down and cheerfully waved farewell to Tifa who looked at him, wondering what caused the change in mood in the normally pissed off pilot.
"But finding a Gongaga board is soooo hard!" Yuffie ranted as Tifa absently listened, whilst she chopped a lemon ready for a cocktail she was making.
"What's wrong with a normal surf board?" the barmaid enquired as Yuffie rested her arm and then her head on the bar counter and sulked.
"A Gongaga board is much better than a simple crappy surf board. It made of the finest material and has great flame work painted on it and get this…it even has a material slot!" Yuffie's hands came alive as she dismissed Tifa's statement in a flurry of motions and gestures.
Tifa looked at the ninja, confused. "Why would a surf board need a material slot?"
"'Cos it's amazing, that's why! And it's not a surf board…"
"A Gongaga board, right." Tifa interrupted with her deadpan expression across her face. She reached out and pushed the newspaper across to Yuffie, "Check out the back pages in the classified, maybe someone's selling one."
Yuffie took the paper and Tifa, thankful for a moment's peace finished serving her customers to find the young woman frantically circling adverts at random. Shaking her head, she headed to the kitchen to pick up a food order.
Bored already of looking at the adverts, she started reading the comic strip when something caught her eye.
Edge's Lonely Hearts page.
"Yuffie, tell Tifa not to save tea for me. Reeve just called me and I'm needed back at base." Vincent spoke as he walked to the door with a knapsack slung over one shoulder.
Before Yuffie could say anything, he was out the door.
Muttering at how the man's life seemed to revolve around working she resumed reading some of the lonely hearts adverts.
"40 something man seeking woman aged 21-30, looking for a good time gal to share the fun with…one word. Prevert!" Yuffie spat.
With boredom settling on her mind, she went to frown and sulk some more when an idea suddenly struck her.
"No way!" she tried to talk herself out of it but she knew it was pointless.
Giggling, she grabbed a piece of paper and began drafting a possible advert.
After all, there must be more to a man's life than work.
A distinctive shrill of his mobile made the gunman jump in his seat as he worked over some plans.
Pulling the phone from his pocket, he flipped it open and somewhat reluctantly held it up to his ear. Cid was calling and usually this wasn't a good thing.
"Vampy! You're going to be so pleased with me! I got you a date!"
He frowned, Cid hurried on.
"I put a lonely hearts ad in the paper and you were inundated with replies! But don't worry…"
"Cid. You put a lonely hearts ad where?"
"Have you seen Tuesday's paper?"
Raising his eyes to look at the overflowing trash can by Reeve's desk, he pulled out the four day old newspaper and spread it out before him.
"What's the page number?"
"Thirty two and it's the fifth one down on the right."
He flicked it open and ran his eyes down the column then blinked.
'Tall, dark and handsome, would like to get my fangs into you. Looking to meet a woman after dark for some night time pleasures.'
He blinked again. "What did you do Cid?"
"I got you a date!"
"Wait, you put this advert in on my behalf? Why?"
"It's not right man, you need a woman. How long has it been since you last got your rocks off?"
"I don't need a woman." Vincent growled, his claw tightening around the phone as he gritted his teeth.
"It's not right that a man like you should be without a woman. And I got you the perfect date. Her friends decided to set her up with you. They sent me a picture of her…"
"I'm not going."
"She looks hot." Cid sing songed back at him.
"Still not going."
"Damn it man, I'm trying to be your buddy and as your buddy, I demand that you go on this date and live a little. You're not dead you know!" This was followed by several curse words and names aimed over the phone at Vincent who silently re-read the advert.
"I think you could have put something nicer down in the advert, you make it sound as if I'm some kinky pervert."
"How do would I know that's what you dig? I mean, how would you know since it's been that long?"
Vincent remained silent.
"Please? I will ring you every hour of the day. I was only looking out for you as a friend and as a friend I say you need to get laid quick!"
"I swear I will make your life a misery…"
"Fine. What do I have to do?" Vincent pulled the phone away from his ear as Cid whooped. Once the pilot regained his normal senses, he gave Vincent the information he needed along with the instruction to leave the 'red comfort blanket and leather behind and dress like a normal person'.
"…At the Red River Resturant next Tuesday at seven…you're sure you got that?"
"Are you sure you're going to turn up?"
"For the sake of peace and quiet around here, yes. But Cid, if this turns out to be a horrible experience…I will make you regret it."
On the other end, Cid went pale with Vincent's threat, "H-hey man, just call this as a nudge back into reality. You gotta get out more." And hung up on the brooding gunman before another threat was issued.
"Vinnieeeee!" Yuffie cried, her voice carrying and echoing around the WRO building as Vincent stepped off the escalator and into Yuffie's path.
"You're gonna love me! Not in that way but platonically speaking…I got you a girlfriend." Yuffie grabbed his arm in a overly-friendly gesture and Vincent allowed her to glomp him, knowing full well that deterring the ninja to respect his personal space was rather like convincing Cid to give up smoking.
Not going to happen.
"I don't need a girlfriend." Vincent somewhat awkwardly walked with Yuffie still attached to him.
"I got you one, you're going on a date! As future Empress of Wutai, I recognise the need of my local subject to 'get a life' and took the matter into my own hands."
She thrust a piece of paper into his hand.
It was an advert ripped from a newspaper and Vincent recognised it as a lonely hearts ad due to the little cutesy hearts and cupids framing the four lines of the ad.
Already dreading her answer, Vincent nether the less had to ask.
"What did you do?"
"I got you a date with a woman by placing an ad in the paper! Isn't that the greatest?"
Vincent limply read the ad.
' Ugly frog looking for his princess in search of his happy ever after, give me a chance and a kiss and let me be your prince.'
Mentally he cringed but his face was impassive as ever.
"You gotta go, I spoke to her on the phone she sounds really nice! And I organised it for you two, all you need to do is turn up and hit it off with her."
"Pleeeeeease? I did it out the goodness of my heart. If you say no, you'll scar me for life which means I'll never do a good deed ever again for anyone, not even you."
She pouted, sticking out her lower lip and made her eyes look big and teary.
Vincent weakly nodded, not having the strength to believe this anymore. He suffered a few deathly hugs from Yuffie and accepted the piece of paper with her written instructions for his second date next Wednesday, the day after Cid's date, at the funfair held in Edge to celebrate the coming of Christmas. She also instructed him to 'comb his hair.'
He shook her off him and told her he was heading home to the bar, "It's been a trying day." He glared pointedly at her, she shrugged it off and grinned at him.
"You won't regret it."
He trudged wearily into the bar, locking the door behind him as it wasn't opening time yet.
He heard Tifa exit the kitchen and turned to see her standing behind the bar with a smile.
In response, he held out his hand and tilted it back and forth, "So-so."
"What is it Tifa?"
"I did something that I now think wasn't such a good idea as I thought." Tifa chewed her lower lip as Vincent walked over and sank down into a booth.
She joined him, "I placed an ad in the paper to see if I can get a date for you."
She looked dumbstruck when Vincent groaned, leaning his head back to rest on the cushioned backrest and closed his eyes.
"I'm really sorry. I'll ring the woman and cancel the date."
Opening one eye, he saw Tifa's face was pink with shame and felt guilty.
"When is it for?"
Cid's date at the restaurant on Tuesday, Yuffie's on Wednesday and this one on Friday…
"I only wanted you to have a chance to be happy." Tifa placed the page from the paper before him and helpfully pointed at the circled ad.
'Attractive man in late 20's looking for friendship, possibly more. Likes walking, reading and wine-tasting.'
Simple and straight forward.
No dodgy innuendoes, no tacky limericks.
It was almost something he would have placed himself.
"I'm not late twenties."
"If I put down late sixties no woman going to answer. Beside you look late twenties and it doesn't matter does it?"
He sighed, seriously regarding the page before him and then looked up at Tifa who still looked down at the table, worrying her lip in distress.
"It's ok, I'll go."
He simply shrugged.
"Oh Vincent! This'll do you a whole world of good. You need to get out here and enjoy yourself. You deserve it!"
He grunted, resting his head on his hand and looked forlornly at the ad.
What have he let himself in for?