Hey, how is everyone doing? Well, this is the newest addition to my fics, and it's dedicated to Nariosaw, who needs a little push in the direction of the Yuffie/Vincent shipping. I hope this fic is your boarding pass for the bus, hehe. Anyway, it may seem a little farfetched and out there, but hang with me, because all that goes on is essential for the plot. I'm guessing that this fic is going to be a three-part that I'm working on at the moment and it's a bit long for a first chapter, but like I said, I needed all the info that's packed into this first chapter. I hope everyone likes it!
Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VII or any of the characters used in this fiction. They are property of Square Enix and I am making no money off of them. Also, I don't own "Helpless When She Smiles," by the Backstreet Boys, I guess the song belongs to them. Hehe, I'm a teeny-bopper at heart…
Helpless When She Smiles
Chaos was gone. Had been gone for more than a year now, and his ex-host felt more at peace than he had in the past thirty-five years in his life, including those he had spent in the coffin at the Shinra Mansion. Though he still felt the weight of all the things that he hadn't been able to stop, he knew that Lucrecia would not have wanted him to spend the rest of his immortal life in darkness, repenting for his sins. She had saved him, even though Chaos had been a curse more than half of the time. She still lived on inside the girl, Shelke, but Vincent knew that the real Lucrecia was gone. There would be no substitute.
He hadn't seen much of the old AVALANCHE gang this past year, but he visited of his own accord. Cloud and Tifa were finally together, expecting their first child in about three more months, during the month of December, and Denzel was ecstatic. Barret had married Elmyra and they were living with Marlene in Kalm. Cid was also with Shera, and they were trying to come to an agreement as to what to call the baby that was due any day now. Both she and Tifa were having baby girls. Red XIII was conducting his research and still living at Cosmo Canyon, but he visited them all as well whenever he could.
The WRO, or World Regenesis Organization, was still headed by Reeve and he called Vincent a few times a month to help with some operations, and with taking care of some loose ends concerning Deepground. The only person he had not seen in this past year had been the girl who had always been there with a smile on her face, or trying to get a rise out of him by stealing his materia, or stealing the ammunition of his guns.
She had gone to Wutai to help her father rule, and to try return her country to its past splendor. She hadn't come to see him since, but she always found time for a phone call. Vincent answered all her calls, even when she couldn't sleep and decided that he didn't need sleep either. Though he would never admit it to her, he had missed seeing her smiling face. He had become accustomed to seeing her during their quest against Sephiroth, and then during the Deepground situation. She had become an important part of his life, almost as important as Lucrecia had been, but not in the same sense. He didn't love her. He was fond of her, but nothing more. He was brought out of his thoughts at the sound of his phone ringing. He opened it and waited for Yuffie to speak, since the screen had showed that it was her.
"……Vince?" her voice was shaky.
There was a moment of silence and he could hear the sounds of a struggle on her end. "Vincent, they're attacking the palace…… I can take most of them, but if there are more, I don't think I'll be able to handle them all!" She gave a choked sob. "I think my father is dead, and they're coming after members of the council and whoever is related to us…"
"Yuffie, who?" he asked, grabbing his gun and making for the door of his small home. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Vince, but…… they're killing everyone in the palace, so I'm next!" she said urgently. He could hear the sound of her shuriken cutting through the air.
"You need to get out of there! Do you hear me? I will be there as soon as I can," he said quickly. When there was no response, his gut clenched. "Yuffie?"
"Vince, hurry. I think… I think I'm surrounded…" she trailed off and the line went dead.
"Yuffie?" he asked once, but it was no use. The line was dead and when he tried dialing her number, there was no answer. He dialed another number instead.
"Who the fuck is this? I'm in the middle of something!" the man yelled into the phone.
"Yuffie is in trouble. It appears her father was killed, and she was being attacked. Where are you?"
Cid cursed fluently into the phone. "I'm about ten minutes away from your place, trying to… never mind, I can get to you in a few minutes. Who is attacking the brat?" he asked worriedly.
"I do not know. She called to tell me, but the line went dead. It appears that the palace was under attack. I do not know anymore," said Vincent.
"Shit. Do you think we need to get Cloud and the others?" Cid asked.
"No," Vincent said quickly. "We need to get to Wutai as soon as possible. There's no time to waste."
"The Shera is ready to go… oh and Cloud and Tifa just got here. Might as well bring them along. Where are you?"
"At my home," Vincent replied impatiently.
"Stay there. I'll be there in minutes," he said before he hung up.
Vincent sighed heavily and tried Yuffie's number again but the voicemail picked up automatically. He didn't want to worry. Yuffie was a ninja. But still… she was such a small girl, and if she was outnumbered…… Vincent didn't want to contemplate what could happen to her if they didn't get to Wutai on time. On foot, he would be there in hours, same as by Chocobo. Cid would get them there in under and hour with the new upgrades done to The Shera. He looked up when a rope ladder was thrown down to him from the airship and he grabbed onto it, climbing easily. He just hoped that Yuffie would be able to hold her ground until they got there.
Cloud frowned as he and the others raced off of the airship and ran into Wutai. The streets were filled with people, going about their lives as if nothing were amiss. He turned to Tifa as she stepped up next to him, then he looked at Vincent. "Are you sure she didn't just prank call you?"
Vincent looked around as well. "We should find out," he said before making his way to the palace on the side of the largest mountain.
Tifa kept pace with them, even with her swollen stomach, though she had promised to make her way back to the ship if things were too out of hand. Behind her and Cid, a few of the WRO officers and medics were following, just in case their services were needed.
At the entrance of the palace, there were no guards, and no servants, halting their passage inside. Vincent found it strange, that and the fact that everything was eerily quiet. He unholstered his gun and took cautious steps forward, ignoring the soldiers who had also taken formation and were scanning the grounds for anything out of place. The lights were off inside of the great building, but he didn't need light to see where he was going; neither did Cloud, who had drawn his great sword. They moved forward quietly, but nothing stirred. His senses were being pushed to their limit, and still he could see no movement. Then an acrid scent hit his nose, and Cloud made a noise as he took it in as well.
Tifa made a slight gagging sound and moved closer to Cloud. "Is that… blood?" she asked, feeling her stomach roil. Though she wasn't a stranger to blood, her pregnancy had made her highly sensitive to many smells.
"Yes," replied Cloud, catching sight of the owners of the blood. Men dressed in all black were littered on the ground, next to guards of the palace. A bit further off, was a man they recognized immediately. "That's Yuffie's father," he said, running over to check for his pulse. There was none and he looked at his friends and shook his head.
"It seems no one is fuckin' alive," said Cid gruffly. Deep inside his heart was twisting at the thought of the ninja brat having suffered the same fate as her old man.
Vincent moved ahead of them and towards the throne room, checking the darkness and finding nothing stirring in their as well. Then he saw her. She was lying in a pool of blood, though he wasn't sure if it was her own or if it belonged to the bodies of her enemies all around her. He ran forward, not even bothering to see if Cloud and Tifa were following him. He dropped to his knees at her side, not caring that the red liquid was soaking into his clothes, and he felt her throat for her pulse, his fingers encountering warm liquid trickling over the skin. Cid found the lights and turned them on, hearing the gasp from Tifa as they took in Yuffie. There was blood trailing from her head and down one side of her face, and her throat…
"Oh god," Tifa gasped out. "Is she alive?" she asked, turning into Cloud's arms and trying to keep her tears at bay.
"She is," Vincent murmured. "But… she has been bleeding out for nearly and hour. We need to get her to the medical bay on your ship as soon as possible," he forced out, his eyes taking in the way her throat… the way her throat was slit and the blood that was still leaking out.
"Medic!" Cid bellowed, calling forward a WRO soldier so that he could tend to the wound before they got her to the ship.
"She's so pale," Cloud said numbly.
Vincent merely nodded and took in the way her breathing was labored and her skin was a pasty white. The medic shot her with a mild sedative and cleaned the wound on her throat as much as he could before wrapping the gauze firmly around to stop the bleeding.
"She will need surgery, but we must get her blood first, otherwise she will bleed out completely even before we can close the wound," said the man.
Vincent gathered her in his arms gently and stood. "Search the bodies," he said coldly. "Find any that are still alive and detain them. I will take her to the airship."
Cloud, Tifa, and Cid followed as fast as they could, but Vincent was all speed as he nearly flew back towards The Shera. "She'll live, sweetheart," Cloud reassured Tifa as he saw the tears trailing down her face. "She's Yuffie and you know how stubborn she can be. She won't give up," he said, wondering if he was trying to convince himself as well.
Ugh. She felt like shit, as Cid was so fond of saying after he'd been on a bender. Her throat was beyond dry, and her eyes felt as if they had been glued together. Well, at least she was still alive. But Godo wasn't. Her eyes watered and tears leaked through even before she could open her eyes.
A hand, gentle and warm cleaned the tears away and she opened her eyes, her vision blurry. All she could see was crimson and black, but she knew who it was, even without seeing him clearly. He had always had a unique scent of gunpowder and spice, and the fragrance was now invading her senses. She parted her lips to say his name, but no sound came out. Hmm, maybe she had been out for so long, her vocal cords were out of it. She rubbed her eyes with one hand and motioned for the water.
Vincent poured her a cup and placed a straw inside so that she didn't have to raise her head too much. "How are you feeling?"
Yuffie swallowed the cool water and winced when her throat twitched and a small pain raced up to her chin. She pointed to her throat and that was when she finally felt the gauze that was wrapped snugly around the wound she remembered receiving before she had taken care of the man for good. She looked at Vincent with wide eyes and mouthed the words when she could produce no sound. "Why can't I talk?"
Vincent looked at her. "I should call a doctor."
"Wait!" she would've yelled, judging by the expression on her face. "You can read lips?"
He nodded once. "It is a requirement for certain Turks. Are you in any type of pain?"
She shook her head. "How long have I been out?"
Vincent's gaze moved to the window. "You suffered head trauma. You have been in a coma for three weeks." At her gasp, he looked at her. "Can you tell me what happened?"
"I don't really know. My pops was nagging me that I needed to find a husband before my twenty-fifth birthday when there were screams out in the hall. We armed ourselves at my insistence and went to see what was going on. There were armed men fighting the guards, and my father and I went to help. But that's what they wanted. We could hear guns going off as they killed the members of the council. Of course I dispatched the ones after me and pops, but the old man was foolish enough to shove me into the throne room in order to protect me." She let out a shaky breath and tears leaked from her eyes.
Vincent watched her and listened in silence. Seeing her in tears made something in his chest twitch. The place that had been hollow since the day Lucrecia had chosen Hojo. But his eyes were intent on her lips as she took a deep breath and kept mouthing the words to him.
"Godo died. Then the men broke down the door and went after me, that's when I called you. I took all but five down. They cornered me and I attacked. I fought them tooth and nail, but they got some good hits in. They almost got me once or twice. I took them all down, but I was careless and one snuck up on me. That one slit my throat, and I was already at the brink of passing out. I lay bleeding out and wondering if that was the end of me, then I knew no more."
"The men who attacked were looking for revenge," said Vincent in a quiet voice.
"Just tell me."
"Your father owed them a lot of money. They were an underground group. Gambling, drugs, anything illegal. They had given him a deadline which he didn't meet. They killed off every member of your family. Only two of your cousins survived and are out of danger," Vincent told her, watching her process the information.
She swallowed hard and it looked like it hurt her. "My father gambled Wutai's money away? How… what if these men come back for us?"
"They won't," said Vincent with quiet viciousness. "They're all dead." Yuffie looked at him in confusion. "No one will ever threaten you again, Yuffie."
Her brown eyes widened and she blinked. Then a small smile found its way to her face. "When can I get out of here? My arm hurts."
"I will call the doctor," he said, stepping out briefly. He returned with Reeve and a man in a white coat.
"How are we today, Ms. Kisaragi?" asked the man.
Yuffie tapped her throat and shook her head. A look passed over the man's face that made her pulse jump. But he said nothing and checked her reflexes, her vitals, and her vision. Then he checked a scabbed wound on her head and made various notes in her chart. She looked at Vincent, but his eyes were on the floor. Her eyes moved to Reeve and he gave her a kind smile.
"It's good to see that you're finally awake. You had us worried for a moment," said her friend.
She nodded and looked at Vincent before turning her eyes to the doctor. "Why can't I talk?" she asked, hoping Vincent voiced her question.
"She wants to know why she cannot speak," said the gunman.
The doctor let out a heavy sigh and looked at her. "We tried to repair the damage done to your throat. You will be able to eat and breathe with no problem, but… your vocal cords held most of the damage… there is a great possibility that you will not be able to talk again."
Yuffie just stared at him, eyes wide and glassy. "What?" she tried, but no sound left her throat. She sat there, not moving, not looking at anyone, feeling as if her life had just been snuffed out.
"We can try surgery again to try to repair more of the damage, but there is no guarantee that it will return your voice," the doctor said. "We truly did everything we could. I am sorry."
A shaking hand touched the healing wound. She was alive… but her voice. Her voice. More tears came, and she let out a ragged gasp as Reeve and Vincent approached the bed. She shook her head and pointed at the door. "Get out! Get out!" she tried to scream, but there was no sound. There would never be any sound from her again. Wasn't that what everyone had ever wanted? For her to be silent? She fell back onto the bed and wept, curling onto her side, ignoring the men as they left the room. All she was capable of uttering were weak gasps as she cried and cried.
She stared at the scar on her throat. One line on the outside—with more damage on the inside—that had taken away something precious from her. Her friends had tried to visit her more than once in the last few days, but she had refused to see them. Even Vincent. She had communicated with the doctor and nurses through writing, and had ignored the looks of sympathy from them. She didn't need sympathy from anyone. She did feel sorry that she had made Tifa cry in her state, but that was it.
Yuffie was aware that it wasn't their fault, but she didn't want to look at anyone. She didn't want to go back to Wutai either, so she would hand over the country to one of her cousins so that they could rule it. Maybe they would be able to do something for the country that Godo, in his stupidity, had ruined. There was no motivation left in her to fight for her country. How would she address her people? How would she negotiate their freedom if there was ever a need? She brushed her dark hair once and pulled on her clothing. Today she would be released from the WRO hospital, and she would be free to do what she wanted with her life. Godo was gone. The damage was done.
She stepped out of the bathroom, ignoring the painful throb as she caught a glimpse of her scar again, and made her way out of the room. She was healthy enough to leave on her own, and she had asked her doctor not to tell anyone that she would be leaving today. Confident that no one would hinder her escape, she stepped out of the room and nearly slammed into Vincent. Not too far behind was Reeve. Great. She should've known that they would find out. After all, the staff was under Reeve's authority. She huffed and rolled her eyes. "What?"
Vincent gave her a dark look. "Is there a reason why you didn't want anyone to know you were being released today?" he asked softly.
Reeve took her hand in his and gave it a squeeze, it appeared that he could read lips too. Goody. At least more than one person would be able to understand her, Yuffie thought. "We care for your safety, Yuffie. We want to help," he said gently.
"Can you give me my voice back?" she asked, trying to place as much bitterness as she could into her expression.
"No, we can't," Vincent replied. "But we can help you find a way to get through this, if you let us."
"This coming from the man who wants no help in forgetting his dead girlfriend?"
Vincent ignored the jab, but Reeve spoke. "We're talking about you right now. Not Vincent. We know it's hard to get through something like this alone. Vincent lost… many things. I lost my mother. I was too busy being Shinra's lapdog to find someone to share my life and sorrows with. I didn't even have friends. It's not easy going through things like these alone."
Yuffie just looked away from them both and tried her best to not cry. She couldn't bear these two men looking at her with pity too. She had never been prone to tears, except for when Aerith had gone, but now was not the time to start. "What do you want from me?"
Reeve wrapped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. "If you don't want to return to Wutai, you can stay here. The WRO has given me an apartment here in Edge, brand new, but I prefer the little house I have away from the city. If you'd like, you can stay there as long as you'd like."
Yuffie thought about it for a moment and then nodded with a heavy sigh. "Okay. Thanks, Reeve."
The dark gunman looked at the young woman for a long moment and restrained from letting out a heavy sigh. She needed to be under supervision with the way she had been acting during the week in the hospital, if what the nurses said was true. And though he didn't much like the idea of baby-sitting, he would do it. The last thing he wanted was for Yuffie to hurt herself when he could've done something about it. It wasn't like he had anything better to do. "I will stay with you," said Vincent.
The ninja just looked at him and then shrugged. She didn't mind, as long as he kept to himself. Which Vincent always did. Reeve walked her to the nurses station and had her sign the discharge papers as a nurse brought over her pain medications and sleeping pills in case she needed them. She had been having a rough time sleeping the past week, and one of the nurses had discovered it since Yuffie hadn't bothered telling the doctor.
The drive to the apartment Reeve had talked about was a quiet and tense one. Reeve and Vincent didn't know what to say to her, and obviously, Yuffie couldn't snap at them or put them at ease about anything. They stopped at the grocery store momentarily and Reeve got out to buy her food while she settled into the apartment. Vincent sat in the car, not saying anything or looking at her as she sat in the back seat of Reeve's vehicle.
He didn't know what to say to her. He had never really known what to say to her before, when she had always pushed him to talk to her. Now she was the one who would never utter a word to him again. He realized now how much he would miss the sound of her voice. He could only imagine how it felt to her. When Reeve returned, he had about three bags full of things and the drive to the apartment was only a few minutes. Each of them took a bag of groceries and stepped out of the car, looking up at the massive building that had just been built and offered luxurious apartments as well as more economic ones.
"Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to have a house more than an apartment. Still, I get to keep this place and it's only gathering dust, so I hope you feel okay here, Yuffs," said Reeve as they stepped into the lavish apartment and he walked into the kitchen.
Yuffie looked around and sighed. It wasn't exactly what she would've wanted either, because her tastes weren't so classy or expensive, but it would do. She wouldn't be going back to Wutai. The furniture was in a mix of creams and mahogany, and glass tables. The paintings on the wall were abstract images of Midgar and Edge. She checked the rooms and found two bedrooms with their own bathrooms, and a small office with a computer in it, plus many books on a tall bookcase. There was also a terrace in both bedrooms and one by the dining room table.
Reeve walked over to her and gave her the keys and a tight hug. "I'm going to do everything I can to find a way to help you talk again, okay?" he asked. At her nod he smiled and let her go. "Don't let this get you down. You're Yuffie, the sun that kept us all going during troubling times. Don't let this defeat you," he said before saying goodbye to Vincent and walking out of the apartment.
"Are you hungry?" Vincent asked her as he began to set the groceries into their places in the refrigerator and cabinets. Yuffie shook her head. "The nurse at the hospital said that you haven't been eating or sleeping." She shrugged. Vincent walked over to invade her personal space, making her eyes look into his. "You won't be doing that while I am here. Understand?"
Her eyes narrowed and she stared at him stubbornly for a few seconds before looking away and nodding. "I want pizza."
Vincent nodded and went to the phone to place an order for the food. Yuffie lay down across one of the biggest sofas and closed her eyes as if to ignore his presence completely. The gunman just sighed and let her be. There was no point in arguing with her now, when everything was so fresh and she was at her most vulnerable.
Living with this new Yuffie had been unnerving, Vincent thought as he walked out of his temporary bedroom and towards the kitchen for a glass of orange juice. He stopped when he saw Yuffie sleeping on the couch again. Well, at least she was getting some sleep. He had seen her light on a few times since they had moved into the apartment two weeks ago. Usually he knocked her door and asked her to go to sleep; though whether she turned off the light and pretended to do so was another thing.
Their communication had been short, since it seemed that with the loss of her voice, she had lost her will at doing anything. She didn't go out, she didn't interact with him. She did nothing, literally. And he was getting tired of it. Now he was the one getting tired of the one sided conversations. He walked over to her and shook her slightly, coming to a resolution. She started slightly and would've turned away from him, but he held her shoulder and kept her in place.
"Get dressed and eat something. We're going out," he said, watching as her eyes darkened in displeasure. "This is not a request." Their eyes battled for a full minute before she finally stood and walked into her bedroom, slamming the door after her childishly. Vincent let out a sigh and walked back to the kitchen. When had he turned into the one who annoyed someone else?
Twenty minutes later, he was walking Yuffie towards the WRO headquarters, watching her squint at the sun after not being outside in nearly two weeks. She hadn't asked him where they were going, nor had she offered any type of difficulty. That worried him more than her silence. When they arrived at HQ, he took her directly to the shooting range used by all of the soldiers and checked out a hand gun and some ammo.
At that, she gave him a questioning look. Finally a reaction. "You can't sit at home and waste away to nothing. I won't allow it. I decided then, to bring you here and show you how to shoot a gun. And yes, I know that ninjas don't need to learn how to shoot. Still, you need something to occupy your time."
Yuffie shrugged and took the gun when he offered it, contemplating on whether or not she'd be able to escape if she shot him in the foot. Not likely, since there was a possibility that the bullet might bounce off the metal of his boots and hit her back. Besides, Vince was superhuman. He would just heal and then he'd be very angry. She looked at the target, and was barely able to tell where it was. "This is stupid."
"Not anymore stupid than laying around all day, doing nothing productive," he replied. He then proceeded to explain how to remove the safety of the gun and how her hands were supposed to be positioned. "Now shoot."
She did and couldn't really tell if the bullets hit the target until the magazine was empty and Vincent pushed a button so that the target could zoom towards them. She rolled her eyes when she saw it. Vincent smirked to himself and pointed at two bullet holes. One was way off and the other one was near the edge of the target.
"At least one was close," Yuffie mouthed.
"If we were in trouble and you had to shoot your way out, you'd be dead," he said calmly. "Try again," he said, handing her the magazine and placing a new target up. He showed her how to change the magazine and then pushed her hands a little higher.
Yuffie shook her head in irritation when the target came back much the same as the last one, though this time there were more bullet holes in the thick paper. She gave him a less than amused look, which he chose to ignore. He changed the target again and then gave her another magazine, which she changed herself. She held the gun up again, but this time everything was different. Vincent stood behind her and placed his hands over hers, forcing her stance to change to one similar to his when he was shooting. She was distracted by the feel of his hands on hers, the gloved one and the cool metal of the gauntlet on the other. She was so much smaller than he was, to the point where it felt like a very intimate hug. He was trying to keep his body at a distance from hers, but she shifted slightly and her bottom rubbed against him slightly.
Yuffie closed her eyes and took in slow, calming breaths as he moved her fingers to pull the trigger. The brush of his soft hair against her shoulder made her squirm and she had no doubt that probably all of the bullets would've strayed from the target, even with his help.
Vincent took in the scent of her hair and almost closed his eyes as their arms lowered, but he did not release her. She smelled like lavender and freshness. He let go of her arms and she turned around to look at him, her eyes questioning and slightly confused.
"Did I get the target?" she mouthed.
Her companion pressed the button again and took a look at the target. Yuffie turned around and looked it, a small smile on her face when she noticed that more bullets had hit the target and others were still on the paper but way out of place. "Much better," he murmured, taking the gun from her hands and turning to walk away. "That's enough for today," he said, walking off to turn in the weapon and the ammunition that was left.
Yuffie followed him with a frown on her face and tried to shake the feelings that had resurfaced from the hidden place she had kept them. She had always liked Vincent, had always felt that maybe she had been a little bit in love with him as well, but she had shut the feelings away. There had been no time for her to dwell on them and she had known that they would never be reciprocated. She had had a duty to her country, to marry a good man to help her rule once her father stepped down, so feelings for a friend would've led to nowhere. But she was no longer heiress to the Wutai "throne." She wouldn't be marrying for duty anymore. But the question now was, would Vincent ever be able to return her feelings?
Later that evening, they had dinner together, but the silence was tense, no matter that she couldn't do anything but be silent. For some reason, she couldn't bring herself to meet his eyes as they ate their food. But she couldn't help but notice how attractive he was without his cape, boots, and gauntlet. He looked… relaxed. Too bad she couldn't enjoy the view for fear of getting caught ogling him.
She pushed around the food on her plate and placed her chin on her knuckles in boredom. She wasn't even remotely hungry anymore, though for the past few days, Vincent had been almost threatening her to eat three meals a day and sometimes a snack. What the hell was he? Her personal nurse? The fork she was holding clattered back onto her plate and she stood, grabbing the dish before walking off towards the kitchen to throw away the remains and place it in the dish washer.
Vincent followed her and did the same. She faintly felt his presence behind her before he was gone. She let out a breath when she heard the front door shut behind him as he left. Yuffie supposed that pressuring her and watching over her 24/7 was a tiring and irritating job. Vincent had signed up willingly, but she knew her attitude had to be aggravating to him. She couldn't help it though.
Losing her voice had been a big blow to her pride, her emotions. She was incapacitated, regardless of what Reeve said to her. No one but he and Vincent could understand her unless she had a pen and paper within reach. That was the main reason why she refused to see the others. Tifa had wanted to be there for her, but for once, Yuffie did not feel the need to be coddled and babied. In her emotional state, she wouldn't be able to handle it.
Maybe time would change her way of thinking, but for now all she needed was time alone. Maybe even some time away from Vincent. She sighed to herself and walked to her room, laying down in the dark, without even bothering to change her clothes. It seemed that with the loss of her voice, she had lost her spark and she doubted anything else would be able to bring it back.
Another two long weeks had trudged by, and to Yuffie's annoyance, Vincent was still hovering, forcing her to live her life when she didn't feel like it. 'All that's left for him to do is force food down my damned throat,' she thought darkly. She had gone to see the doctor who had operated on her for a follow-up, and again he had told her that they could try a surgery but that there was no guarantee that she would be able to talk. She had just shaken her head and left the office, not even bothering to tell Vincent what the doctor had told her.
A week ago, Shera had given birth to her baby, and surprise surprise, it turned out that the doctor had been wrong about the baby being a girl. Cid was now the proud father of a little boy, who they had named Sean. Cid had left a message in her voicemail to let her know, not even bothering to hide his complete happiness. Though his voice had become more somber when he has asked her to visit them because they all wanted to see her.
So now, Vincent was out once again, probably seeing Reeve because of some mission, and Yuffie was making her way to Tifa's bar, where Cid had told her they would all be visiting that Sunday. Shera had given birth at a hospital, there in Edge and was staying with Tifa and Cloud while she regained her strength enough to go back home.
Yuffie stared up at the sign of Seventh Heaven and let out a deep breath. It was now or never. Now, before Vince realized that she wasn't home and he decided to look for her. She let out a sigh and opened the door, scowling when the bell jingled and the woman at the bar looked at her with a big smile. Tifa walked to her, her stomach bigger than Yuffie remembered, and wrapped her into a hug. Yuffie pushed back her tears and hadn't realized she had missed her friend so much.
"It's great to see you," Tifa said, placing a hand on her belly to soothe the little person kicking her from inside. Yuffie nodded and patted the swell of Tifa's stomach, giving her a questioning look. "The baby is fine. She's growing and healthy, though Cloud has started to doubt our doctor's word when she says it's a girl. We're not picking out anything pink or blue until the baby is born."
Yuffie smiled and grabbed the notepad and pen on the bar counter. Can I see Shera and the baby?
Tifa smiled and called Cloud out from the kitchen. "Take over while we go see the baby," she said with a smile. He nodded and kissed her cheek after giving Yuffie a reassuring smile and a soft spoken, "Welcome back."
The ninja followed the brunette up the stairs and led her to one of the guest bedrooms. They knocked and when Shera spoke, they entered. Yuffie smiled when she saw a tightly wrapped bundle in blue on the bed. Shera smiled happily and hugged them both. "Oh, it's so great to see you again Yuffie. Come over to see Sean. Isn't be precious? He looks like Cid!" she said excitedly.
Yuffie would've cackled out loud if she could. She felt sorry for the kid if he looked like his old man. But then she peered down at the baby and felt a smile tugging at her lips. He looked more like Shera than he did Cid, and he was a little blond cutie. She took the borrowed notepad to write something short but meaningful. Congrats! He's such a cutie, and he doesn't look like Cid!
Shera giggled and nodded. "Do you want to hold him?"
What if I drop him?
"You won't. Just have a seat and hold his head," said Shera as she motioned Yuffie towards a comfortable chair by the window. She picked up the baby easily and then placed him in her hesitant arms. "Babies smell so wonderful, don't they?"
Yuffie smiled and leaned forward to take in Sean's scent. Shera was right. He smelled of baby powder and innocence. Then the boy started to squirm like a little worm in her arms and Yuffie blinked in alarm as he started to make little noises. Then a full blown cry had her panicking. Shera grabbed him again and shook her head.
"Don't worry, he's hungry, so it's normal for him to cry," she said.
Tifa, feeling that Yuffie would be uncomfortable is Shera decided to breastfeed the baby right then, stepped over took the ninja's hand, pulling her to her feet. "Let's give them some privacy. Sean has to breastfeed."
Yuffie nodded quickly and gave Shera a thumbs up before she and Tifa were out the door. Tifa pulled her to the room that had once been Cloud's office and opened the door to usher her in. Yuffie gasped at the complete turn around from the dingy place it had been before. Now it was a full blown nursery, and it was so whimsical and cute, Yuffie was 'awwwing' in her head. It's so cute! She wrote down for Tifa.
"Cloud, Denzel, and I have been working on it from the day we found out that I was pregnant. You see the paintings there?" she asked, pointing towards a wall that had various zoo animals beautifully drawn. "Denzel made those."
"Wow," Yuffie mouthed, and Tifa understood.
"We went with pastel green and yellow because we didn't know what the baby was at first. Then the doc told us that it was a girl, but we kept the colors this way. Even the clothes are colors that can be worn by either a girl or a boy. Though honestly? I'm rooting for a girl. We'll name her Lilly. Lilly Aerith Strife," she said fondly. "Cloud has already started calling her Lils, for short, though he's still a bit weary about our doctor saying that we're having a girl when it could be a boy."
Yuffie smiled too and took a seat at the couch located at one corner of the room when Tifa motioned over. Sorry I haven't been much of a good friend to you. Things have been hard on me. Vincent has been on my ass about eating and sleeping and I feel like my life left me when my voice did.
Tifa looked at her with feeling and nodded. "We understood what you were going through, but we just wanted you to know that you're not alone. We're your family Yuffie, and we love you," she said, a few tears trailing down her cheeks.
Yuffie hugged her and felt a few tears trail down her face as well. I still need time. She gave her friend a pleading look.
Tifa nodded. "That's okay, but I want you here when my baby is born. I want you to be her godmother."
"Yes," said Tifa.
Yuffie nodded and smiled wider than she remembered smiling in the past month, not even aware that in the shadows in the hallway, stood Vincent, watching them. Though she did feel that tall-tell sign that someone was watching her as the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She turned towards the door and let out an irritated sigh. Did he honestly think that she would purposely get lost in the street? Geez. I swear, if he doesn't back off I'm going to kick the living crap out of him. I don't need a baby-sitter, she wrote to Tifa quickly.
The pregnant woman merely raised a brow and shook her head with a smile. "Hello Vincent, how are you?"
"Good," he replied. "I see the child is growing every day," he commented.
Tifa nodded happily and stood with Yuffie's help. "Can you guys stay for dinner? Cid should be here with Barret, Elmyra, and Marlene in just a few minutes anyway."
Are you sure it's safe for you to cook with that bulge in front of you?Yuffie wrote with a smile.
Tifa giggled. "It's perfectly okay, though I have been teaching Cloud how to cook and he's not half bad."
In that case, maybe the vampire and me should go eat some safer food.
Tifa gave her a mock glare. "You'll stay then? Please? Pretty please?"
Yuffie hung her head and nodded, grinning to herself when Tifa hugged her and walked out of the nursery, leaving her and the tall gunman alone. She gave him a dry look and made her way towards the door without a single explanation as to why she hadn't let him know that she would be there at the bar.
When Yuffie reached the bar again, she was nearly bowled over by Marlene, who latched herself onto her waist and squeezed the breath out of her. The only thing that kept her standing, Yuffie discovered, were gloved hands on her shoulders. She knew those hands, she knew those gloves. But she ignored them and gave Marlene a squeeze as she patted her head. "It's so great to see you again Yuffie!" the girl said with a big smile.
Yuffie made a sign over her heart and nodded as she pointed at Marlene. Then her eyes moved to the two men in front of her and she felt a lash of anger at the look of pity on their faces. To their credit, they didn't offer any words of encouragement, and neither did they ask her how she was holding up. Barret and Cid simply weren't those type of men. And she thanked Leviathan that they didn't tease her either. Cid merely patted her shoulder and told her it was good to see her bratty self again before going off to see his wife and son.
Elmyra hugged her and told her it was good to see her again after such a long time, then she and Barret moved on to Tifa. Marlene squeezed her again before letting her go. "You'll be coming to see us again, right?"
Yuffie looked into those big brown eyes and found herself nodding. The girl smiled in satisfaction and then ran off to latch herself onto Cloud's waist next. The ninja turned to look at the man who had remained at her back like a dark shadow and frowned. "Please stop hovering," she mouthed. "Even though I've lost my voice, I haven't lost my mind. I don't need you to go everywhere with me."
"I would be inclined to believe that if you didn't need threats to get out of bed or out of the apartment. I have to nearly force you to eat your food. You're acting like a child who needs to be prompted to do everything you had already learned how to do on your own. I will stop hovering when you act like an adult," he said in a low voice before walking away from her.
Yuffie stared after him in shock and huffed to herself. He had the nerve to actually…… well, he did have a point, but she had never asked him to do anything for her! He was being such an ass. He had to understand that losing her voice hadn't been an easy experience for her and she was trying to deal with things as best she could. But she had to admit that his words had hurt the vulnerable part of her and she hated him for it.
During dinner, when Tifa tried to sit her next to him, Yuffie had shaken her head once and Tifa had understood and had sat her on the other end of the table. If Vincent noticed, he showed to sign of it bothering him. But the married brunette did notice that she hardly touched her food and was lost deep in thought. She also noticed that Vincent would dart his eyes to the young woman to see if she was eating whenever he thought no one was looking. Tifa smiled knowingly to herself and rubbed her stomach where her baby was kicking, as if agreeing with her. She felt Cloud place his hand over hers, and she smiled. She had a feeling Vincent and Yuffie would find their way to each other pretty soon.
Vincent stood, gazing at the stars from the back porch of Tifa and Cloud's home. The environment inside was warm and suffocating, and he couldn't stand Yuffie's small glares every time their eyes happened to meet. Which had been too many to his liking. He supposed that he had overstepped his boundaries, but that was what he got when he tried to help willingly. Though he shouldn't have been surprised. This was Yuffie, and she was not the most stable of people to begin with. He just didn't know how much more he would be able to take from her.
He felt his eyes slip closed as a cool breeze blew at his hair. He had never been one to give up, but Yuffie was wearing his patience thin, the way only she had ever been able to do. He had realized a few days ago that he hadn't been to Lucrecia's cave in more than a month, ever since Yuffie had been hurt and he didn't know whether to feel guilty or somewhat relieved. His eyes snapped open when a familiar scent drifted to his nose. Sometimes she smelled of lavender and now she smelled of cherry blossoms.
Vincent turned to look at her as she stood at the top of the few stairs, gazing at him. "I think I owe you an apology," she mouthed, and though it was dark outside, with his enhanced eyesight, he could still read her lips.
"For what?" he asked, feeling slightly petty and wanting to really know what she was apologizing for.
"For snapping at you and for being ungrateful. You're taking care of me when you don't have to, and I've been acting like an idiot. I'm sorry. I'm trying to get through this as best I can, but I don't know how."
She moved towards him and closed the space between them as he watched her with impassive eyes. Then he stiffened slightly when he felt her arms wrap around him and squeeze. She hugged him tightly, and Vincent was forced to either stand there, limp, or return her embrace. Yuffie let out her breath when she felt his arms ease around her shoulders, hugging her to him.
Vincent closed his eyes and savored the feeling of her in his arms. She was so small and soft, and she smelled like a fresh flower. It had been so long since he had held a female this way, and there had been much reluctance on her part. But Yuffie was holding him as if he would disappear if he let her go. There was no reluctance here. He didn't even know what made him tilt her head up so their eyes could meet. Gods, it was like being a teenager all over again. He felt the confusion bubbling in his chest as he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers gently.
Yuffie's brain short circuited then, at the taste of his lips and tongue in her mouth. She had gone outside after him in an attempt to make things right between them, and she had never imagined that things would go this way. A kiss from Vincent had always taken place in her fantasies and she had never imagined that it would happen in real life. Oh Leviathan, he was doing something with his tongue and… and she couldn't breathe, but she didn't want to stop him.
Vincent eased his hands up her back and continued to kiss her, feeling her heart beating rapidly against his own, and he didn't want to stop what they were doing. He didn't want to think that what they were doing was wrong, even as one of her hands tangled in his hair and the other dug into his shoulder. He was lost and there was no going back, but for her sake, he would try. He didn't want to hurt Yuffie, but for now, he would give her this.
Nothing would change. Nothing could change.
Even with his superhuman senses, he wasn't aware that they were being watched by a smiling bartender, who was hoping that he wouldn't hurt Yuffie anymore than she had already endured. Tifa feared that if anything else went wrong in Yuffie's life, they would lose her sooner or later.
keeps her secrets in her eyes
wraps the truth inside her lies
when I can't say what she's done to me
She comes to me and leads me back to paradise
She's so hard to hold
But I can't let go
In case someone didn't notice, the italics are Yuffie mouthing the words to Vince, and the bold words are her writing. Anyway, how was this first chapter? Any comments and suggestions are great appreciated, as well as criticism, as long as it helps me make things better. I know that a lot is happening, and though I don't know much about a person losing their voice, lets just say that things are believable. Also, I'm debating as to whether I should or shouldn't include a smut scene between our favorite couple in the next chapter, so if you want to see it, let me know, I will let the readers decide whether you want it or not.
Thanks for taking the time to read my fic and have a great week!