Before you ask, no...the chapter title has NOTHING to do with the story...I was just tired.
A/N: Inspired by an idea I originally wasn't going to go with but I seem to be rethinking that. I think I should be able to update more frequently now, I'm almost done with my stupid psych class. Anyways, thanks to all of you who review, I love and feedback and/or suggestions. Thanks for reading! ;) Ave.
:.As a side note, I don't actually know the first thing about hurricanes; I picked it because it's a big scary storm. So, forgive me for being either wrong or excessively vague with some details.:
"It appears that most of the damage has been localized along the shoreline, areas such as the Golden Saucer, a rather large section of Kalm, and Old Midgar have also been heavily damaged. Mideel, the famous chocobo ranch, and Gonanga Village are finally out of the worst of the storm and some residents have already begun to head back home to begin repairs. WRO officials released a statement early today stating repairs shall begin immediately, WRO chief has this to say…" A shot of Reeve Tuesti came up on the screen, Yuffie and Tifa giggled and cheered him on from their seat on the couch.
"Guys, Reeve's on T.V., hurry up and get in here!" Yuffie yelled to the rest of the house. They were soon joined by Cloud, Cid, Barret, Vincent, Shera, and Elmyra.
"There has never been a storm system of this size recorded, our emergency preparations and planning for the worst paid off as no lives were lost and the damage was minimal in all housing areas. We shall begin repairs in all areas affected immediately with the WRO reserve; Rufus Shinra has donated a large sum of gil and time to the restoration project, as has AVALANCHE-"Another cheer from everyone in the room. "We have a great staff, and many volunteers for this project. The great efforts made by all the surrounding towns has been just astounding, Wutai has sent supplies in the form of everything from food and building supplies to soldiers of the Wutaian army to help rebuild…It has truly been miraculous how all the world has come together for those less fortunate. Rocket Town, most notably, has put people up in all of their four hotels, as has the Golden Saucer, all free of charge. They've even gone as far as to feed the families staying their free of charge…" The short speech from Reeve ended. Yuffie did a little victory dance from her seat on the couch.
"Awesome! I freaking love my dad!" Yuffie said laughingly. Cloud laughed at her antics. Vincent gave a barely perceptible smirk at the young woman.
"Shut it, brat! Tuesti's still yappin'!" Cid grumbled, leaning closer to the television as he did. "I was hopin' he'd say more 'bout the Ranch, if Billy got back okay." His voice trailed off as he became more absorbed in the news cast.
"Surveyors, in the two most heavily damaged areas of both Old Midgar and Kalm, have been able to collect valuable data while the eye of the hurricane was passing over. One surveyor stated "There is hope for the old city yet, she has held together threw some of the worst the world could throw at her and she's just as beautiful now as she was forty five years ago." Well, I'd have to agree, looking at these photographs from both before and during the storm show that there is hope despite the seemingly terrible conditions of this storm." At that moment a series of snap shots of downtown Kalm, where 7th Heaven was, and to Cloud and Tifa's shared joy, still stood with nothing more than broken windows and a tree down over the front patio.
"Man! Even our bar is crazy tough!" Yuffie chimed in, almost as excited as Tifa that the bar had remained largely unhurt. There were a series of shots of Kalm and Midgar, everyone gasped and groaned at the sight of very few other areas being as lucky as the bar to escape harm. An entire block had been wiped out, it was terrible to see.
"At least we can help rebuild, right?" Cloud remarked, giving Tifa's shoulder a comforting squeeze. "This is nothing, a drop in the bucket, compared to the other things we've seen this world through. We can…we will rebuild and everything will be fine." Cloud smiled warmly at the wine eyed woman. Yuffie cringed inwardly, silently jealous for a moment, her attention was drawn away from the horribly heart warming sight by something much better.
"One of the most astonishing discoveries through the whole event has been this," A camera panned around, giving an excellent view of the buildings decrepit walls and decaying floor boards. The doors, which hung by rusty, exposed bolts, swayed gently of their own accord. Inside, the building appeared to have been gutted and was clearly in a terrible state of disrepair. For all intents and purposes it looked awful, until the camera panned around to the center of the chapel. The hole in the floor had filled with water. Lilies had forced their way through the floorboards, giving the building a sort of ethereal quality; it was as if Aeris herself had been there the whole time. Yuffie felt a sudden sorrow fill her heart, her eyes misted over, and an arm found its way around her shoulder. Tifa looked down at her with a knowing smile.
The announcer continued to explain the buildings history and background, including a certain ancient who had tended to a small flower garden all those years ago. The flowers were now flourishing thanks to all the rain; it appeared to be in the same shape it had been after the run in with Kadaj and his gang.
"The church is now a monument left in honor of the Cetra, Aeris Gainsborough, who was also a former member of AVALANCHE." The camera panned around to the rest of the church and ended on the flowers again. "These flowers are a testament to her, and as you can see, are thriving. Where much larger and clearly newer buildings, failed to stand and crumbled to the ground in this storm this church has remained up and appears to not have sustained any new damage thus far…" Tifa nearly squealed at the sight of it, it was more beautiful now than ever before. Vines, covered in smaller white flowers, traveled up the sides of the building. The lilies seemed to glow and shimmer in the early light of morning; the remaining supports were covered in a soft moss giving them a greenish tint.
"Well, that puts all my fears to rest. If her church can make it and our bar made it, our orphanage had to of made it. I had better call them and see how they're doing. They only went as far as Costa Del Sol, they didn't say if it was in the storms path or not, but I'm sure it's alright, they're probably just as happy as us to see everything is really ok…" Tifa rambled on, fumbling with the phone Cloud handed her. He smiled up at her as she continued to mumble excitedly as she dialed Sylph, one of the care takers who had taken care of all the children in the orphanage.
"It may be far enough out of the storms reach, it only went to the other coast, and over Midgar. I'm sure Sylph and the children are fine." Cloud offered a reassuring smile as he stood. He gave her a quick kiss, taking the remote from her.
"I'm sure you're right. I'm done with the news, I don't think Yuffie…" She glanced around, spotting her in the door way of the kitchen, laughing softly with Vincent. "…Yeah, Yuffie's done with the television." She smiled softly at Yuffie who had grinned like a Cheshire cat before leaving, Vincent close behind. "You guys can watch whatever you'd like." Tifa smirked as Cid hooted excitedly; Barret following suit and all three crammed themselves onto the couch, flipping to the sports channel. She glanced back to the door where Yuffie and Vincent had been standing, a permanent smile gracing her lips. She hit the send button, all worry fading the instant Sylph's accented voice echoed through the phone.
"Oi, Tifa! We're 'avin a bloody great time 'ere!" Tifa laughed outright as the woman giggled, trying to fight off the children as they formed a small swarm, all trying to get the phone at the same time. "'Old on, I'll put the bloody thing on speaker!" Tifa held the phone away slightly as loud cheering from all the children came through before Sylph's voice came back softly. "There, talk away luv." Tifa listened as every one of the children told her about the storm and how it "lighted up the sky" and "sounded like uncle Barret's stomach roaring!" She was surprised that the children seemed to take it so well, although they'd only caught the very edge of the storm, a short thunderstorm over one night. The other three days they'd been out swimming their hearts out in the crystal blue waters of Costa Del Sol's shores.
"So, who had the most fun?" Tifa felt her heart warm at the sound of cheering and giddy answers bubbling from the children.
Yuffie walked with Vincent upstairs and out onto the roof. He sat with his back against the window and she sat, carefully, between his legs, her back resting against his chest. Wordlessly, he engulfed her within his cloak, wrapping his arms around her small frame. They sat for a time, neither speaking. They sat motionlessly, save for the occasional flutter of the scarlet hued fabric.
Yuffie briefly closed her eyes, taking in the feeling of the man behind her. The warmth of him, even through the thick leather he wore. But what most drew her attention…the steady, strong beat of his heart within his chest. It beat, unfaltering, relentless in its mission to sustain his life. She tried to think if she'd ever heard anything so beautifully tragic in her life. Forever…it would beat endlessly, tirelessly…forever. Yuffie thought about 'forever' and after a careful two and a half seconds spoke softly.
"Forever is an awfully long time, ya know." She shifted about for a moment, trying to find just the right spot. His firm hand gripping her hip stilled her movements.
"It can be…" He concurred, letting out a small sigh as she shifted against him again. He could never figure why she couldn't seem to sit still for more than a moment or two. She turned her gaze up to his, a question across her slight features. For the first time he really seemed to notice her almond shaped eyes, the way they seemed to glisten like the purest sterling. Her lips and their ever present grin, and the honey hue of her skin, which made her appear to glow no matter where she was, the simple curve of her cheek and her slender neck. Her lips quirked up into more of a grin as he continued to admire her unique beauty.
"You know, from the moment I met you I knew that without a doubt, you were amazing." She felt Vincent chuckle lightly behind her. "Anyone who has met you would agree, too, so don't deny it. You have this intrinsic goodness, despite the whole possessed by demons, flowy blood red cape, and vampire get-up. I've sort of always known you'd wind up sticking around, you've found somewhere you belong, where you're wanted and needed…where you're free." Vincent quirked an eyebrow, momentarily stunned by Yuffie's sudden eloquence. He'd always thought, well with the sudden and often times heart wrenching moments she'd shown that she truly was wiser than her now twenty plus years of life, he'd sort of known she was more than just a hyperactive, teenage ninja…girl. Alas, his silent reverie wasn't to last, for just as he was coming to all these sudden revelations she jammed her finger in his chest and with her trademarked 'I am ninja, hear me roar' glare spouted off, "It's been a hellacious journey to get your emo ass this far, so don't go crawling back to your stupid box!" He couldn't stop himself from smirking at her.
"I have no intention of returning there." He replied simply. She turned her back to him again, pulling herself closer to him.
"I always thought this was just something like a childish crush. I never realized I felt so…" Her voice was just over a whisper when she next spoke. She smiled at the feeling of him holding her, wanting her to be right where she was.
"Passionately…" Vincent finished his voice low and deep. She nodded in response.
"I feel as if I've always known it would be you. From the moment you saved me from Nero, when I thought…thought you were gone." She sucked in a breath as if to muster the courage to continue. "I'm just some silly teenage girl to you, I mean I was. I never, ever, thought you'd reciprocate my feelings. It's funny, too. I remember being crazy-"
"As do I." His lips quirked up at her giggle as she playfully elbowed him in the stomach.
"I remember thinking about you constantly, worrying every single day, hoping and praying that you were safe, and most of all…crying. I never really cry, at least not for nothing ya know? I thought you were gone forever, like forever ever kinda gone. It was…" She shrugged and made a motion with her hands, carefully picking and choosing her words. She let out a sigh, looking right up into his crimson eyes, searching for something, an emotion or rejection maybe? He wasn't sure; he only knew he couldn't move, even if he'd wanted to. She'd surprised them all many times over the years, but this took the cake, twice in the last forty eight hours she'd floored him... If she felt it odd to have such intense feelings for the gunman, she had no idea how tormented he felt. Torn between being three times her age, immortal, and enraptured with her purity. It was guilty, terrible, beautiful, and perfect. He was trapped…and for once it didn't disagree with him.
"It was terribly empty… it hurt to know you may never be there to haunt a corner, speak, frown, be angry with me…that…that I might never breathe again." She finished in a whisper, her voice breaking slightly. He felt his breath hitch as she shuddered against him, unable to exhale suddenly. She lifted her gaze up to his again, surprised to see his infamous mask of indifference had slipped and he was starring with equal parts compassion and surprise.
"You've…grown up, considerably, in the last few years." Vincent felt a slow burn building from his finger tips to somewhere in his chest, like an impulse he had to fulfill. Impulse? He didn't have impulses; he had that trained right out of him. Surprise number three. He dipped forward before he knew what was happening, his lips brushing against Yuffie's. He felt her smile into the gesture.
"You think? I still feel kinda…well, immature. And Cid still calls me 'brat'." He kissed her again, cupping her cheek with his metal gauntlet. "Tifa says the same thing though, Cloud thinks I'm a little batty from all my time al…" another kiss cut her off.
"Yuffie…" He whispered before dipping in for another gentle kiss.
"Hm?" She nipped at his lower lip, earning herself a chuckle from the gunman.
"Be quiet…" She chuckled softly as she playfully punched him in the shoulder as she nodded her consent.
Rain fell like tears from the heavens. Yuffie sat quietly, staring somewhat forlornly out the window as the torrential down pour continued, despite her silent pleading. She sat, swathed in little more than a slight frown and a soft bed sheet, Vincent sleeping beside her, snoring softly. With her worry over her country, how her father was handling everything with her gone, and whether or not Edge would even be there when they got back, crowding her mind there was little room left in any part of her to even consider the events of the night previous…though she had no reason to worry that she'd done something she'd soon regret. In fact, that was the furthest thing from her mind.
At the thought of him she turned her gaze back on him. Watching him as he slept, the slow inhale and exhale, the warmth his body radiated. She idly thought him something of a space heater, their windows were still slightly fogged and the room was a good ten degrees warmer than even the adjoining bathroom. She smiled warmly down at him as she gently brushed his obsidian locks away from his face. He absently turned into the touch, mumbling something incoherent as he did.
"Who would've thought…me 'The Great Ninja…' whatever." She chuckled to herself before continuing. "That I, Yuffie Kisaragi, klutz extraordinaire, the 'brat'...that I would have you." Yuffie kissed his finger tips and threaded her hand with his as she slid back into place beside him, relishing that very fact. 'He's here…he's really, really here.'
"I did not take part in the name calling, and I believe you to be quite talented as far as ninja go." His voice was a thick whisper, still heavy with sleep, her eyes immediately locking onto his.
"You do?" Her voice was a tiny whisper. He nodded wordlessly as he tightened his grip around her waist, eyes still closed. "…Thank you, Vincent." He opened one eye, watching her. She ducked her head, a shy smile gracing her features. Her cheeks were slowly tinting a lovely shade of pink and she made sure not to make eye contact with him.
"What is it?" He questioned, shifting to lie on his side and face her. "You disagree?" She shook her head slightly in response. "Why, then, do you shy away from a simple compliment."
"It isn't that simple. First, it isn't everyday that Mr. Tall dark and twisty goes around complimenting people. Second…no one has ever said that before." Her voice trailed off slightly. She instantly felt childish, regretting ever saying anything. He sighed, pulling her closer and closed his eye again.
"Hm…Perhaps others are simply unable to appreciate you." He answered simply, kissing her shoulder lightly. "I am not dark and…twisty." She smirked at that, gently kissing the crown of his head.
"Are too…" She let her eyes close again, relishing the feeling of his arms around her and allowing herself to sleep for a little longer.
"Have you told Yuffie we're leaving yet?" Tifa carefully stacked her bags together, along with Marlene, Denzel, and Cloud's.
"No, I'll go tell her." Cloud turned and walked to the stairs. "YUFFIE GET UP, WE'RE LEAVING!" He turned to Tifa, who stood with her mouth agape. "What? I don't want to go running up the stairs all the way to her room.
"Cloud! People are still sleeping, what the hell…why? Pack this up and get it on the 'Sherra'…please." Tifa huffed, dropping his bag unceremoniously on the floor. He scoffed as she dodged his attempt to kiss her, swatting him away.
Tifa casually made her way to the younger woman's room. She made to knock when the door swung open revealing Yuffie, in a plain white t-shirt and jeans, and Vincent in his usual leather sans the cape. Yuffie had been about to tell Vincent he should go back to Edge for a while when Tifa squeaked meekly as the taller gunman nearly walked right over her.
"Pardon, Tifa, I didn't realize you were standing there." Vincent politely steeped around her. Yuffie smiled at the bartender.
"What? You look flustered." She smirked.
"Cloud's an idiot…are you all packed?" Tifa shook her head ruefully.
"Yes, we were just on our way down. Vincent is going to stay in Edge for a while, get a new apartment and everything." Yuffie babbled excitedly as the trio made their way downstairs.
"Yuffie! Billy left you a note!" Marlene came flying through the back door, a scrap of paper held in one hand.
"Ooh, I wonder what it says. When did he leave?" Yuffie glanced up a Tifa with mild concern.
"Yesterday I think, sometime in the afternoon. Since the weather was better he wanted to take the chocobos over land. There was a ferry last night heading back toward Midgar." Tifa absently began fixing Marlene's hair as the girl stood out of breath, obviously proud of her findings.
Yuffie opened the note and began reading aloud. "Dear Miss Kisaragi, Thanks for your help. See y'all back at the ranch! And Billy signed it with a little stick choco, see?" She showed the drawing to Marlene, who giggled at the silly picture. "Not a man of many words I guess." Tifa chuckled at Yuffie as she stuffed the note in her pocket and collected her bag from the pile Cloud was trying to make.
"Hurry the hell up! It's time to leave!" Cloud jumped as Cid came barging through the same door Marlene had, barking orders. "C'mon, y'all aint the only ones wit somethin' that needs doin'!"
"Honey, please use your indoor voice. It's much to early to be shouting and such." Shera smiled sweetly at the pilot. Cid bowed his head, slightly embarrassed, nodding his consent before heading out the door and back to the 'Sherra'.
"Well, off to rebuild Midgar?" Tifa glanced at those present. "Where are Barret and Elmyra?"
"On the ship already, so's Nanaki, Cait, and all the food! C'mon, Denzel's waiting!!" Marlene stamped an impatient foot before running out the door. Tifa laughed lightly as the girl barreled back out the door, shouting something at Denzel, who in turn bolted for the airship.
"Well…let's mosey." Cloud smirked, holding the door as Tifa, Yuffie and Vincent made their way out to the airship. Shera was already on the deck, standing beside Cid, waving down at the four. Yuffie was anxious to see how badly the other side of the world had been damaged, was anyone dead, lost? How many would be without homes? She was also a bit nervous about seeing her father. She'd left as Empress, having no husband, and now she had Vincent, who was not a full blooded Wutaian, a former Turk, and possibly a vampire. She smirked deviously to herself. Ok, so maybe he wasn't a vampire...per say...but he was immortal and he wore black leather with a kick ass blood read cape, that just screamed vampire, at least to Yuffie it did.
For the hundredth time she glanced at the gunman beside her. They were standing on one of the outer railings, watching the world go by, they had been out there almost an hour and so far, nothing was completely destroyed. Maimed, yes, but all of it was fixable. She watched him, his hair danced in the wind, caressing his cheek. His cape had been left in the galley with everything else. He turned to glance at Yuffie, the barest of smiles gracing his lips.
"So…what are we?" Yuffie turned away, blushing furiously.
"What aren't we?" Vincent countered, leaning onto his elbows. "We are…whatever you'd like us to be. What is they call it? 'Boyfriend?'" Yuffie laughed at this.
"That hardly seems like something you'd ever be…" She spoke softly, her face falling slightly. "An Empress hardly has the right to be bedding just anyone…not that it wasn't special, but you know what I mean, right?" Vincent nodded in understanding. "I am supposed to be...uh, 'whole' for whoever my husband may be, so even though the rules have been bent for now, I will still have to be careful." Vincent thought for a long moment, staring blankly down at the railing. He looked up finally, turning to her with a rather serious look on his face.
"Suppose I was to 'court' you…as any potential suitor might?" Yuffie felt her heart hammer in her chest, she almost couldn't breath from the sheer excitement.
"You mean you'd…you'd-" Vincent captured her lips quickly, in a gentle kiss, smiling a secret smile just for her. She felt like squealing in delight. "You don't think we're moving too fast to you?" He shook his head.
"We do not have to marry tomorrow, if that's what you mean. We could wait a while…after all, I have plenty of time." His smile faltered only slightly, anyone else would have missed the change and passed it off as the blink of an eye or a momentary distraction. Yuffie knew better.
"We'll find a way, Vincent, we'll find a way to change whatever is going on with you. Reeve and Rufus have the most advanced laboratories, more so than Hojo's lab…we can fix this." Vincent's smile had completely fallen, he stared with a look she'd never seen. It looked like…hope. He had hope for the first time in a long while. "I love you…" He couldn't stop himself, he held her firmly against himself, kissing her with all the passion he could muster.
"Thank you…" He whispered hoarsely, kissing her again, unable to speak anymore.
Tifa had been about to go out and ask if the pair wanted lunch when she witnessed what had to be the most amazing display of affection, or really any emotion, from the normally stoic gunman. She smirked and decided against interrupting them and made her way back to the galley.
"They comin'?" Cloud sat another tray of sandwiches down. Tifa shook her head, a silly grin seemingly stuck on her face.
"Say, when was the last time we went out on a quest for something? Does Sephiroth count, or was it the whole thing with Deepground?" Tifa cocked her head to one side, her brow furrowed.
"Deepground and all that with Vincent wasn't so much a 'quest' as it was killing them before they killed us. Sephiroth…that was more quest like I guess, as it involved all of us and we were actually looking for something." Cloud kept setting food out and setting drinks down. Barret, Cid, and Nanaki came in the door laughing, Cait Sith sat atop the fire cats head, arms crossed in what one might assume was frustration.
"Why do you ask?" Cloud turned around, suddenly Barret, Cid, Cait, and Nanaki were watching her intently. She smirked, shrugging her shoulders.
"I was just thinking I agree with Yuffie, and it's high time we went questing for something, just one more time before we all grow old and are forced to live vicariously through our grandchildren." Tifa ruffled Marlene's hair.
"Y'know, that aint a bad idea." Cid replied thoughtfully.
"Yeah, I 'gree wit da cap'n, what we lookin' fo?" Barret smirked, adjusting his mechanical wrist.
"I believe I can answer that." Nanaki never looked more like a cat than when he grinned the way he was right then. "You wish to seek a cure for Vincent and Cloud." He stated matter-o-factly.
Tifa nodded. "What do you say? Even if we don't find anything," She smiled sadly to Cloud, "I think it'd be worth a try." They all cheered their agreements. Cloud leaned forward and kissed Tifa sweetly on the lips.
"Even though we've come to terms with it?" He asked simply, a faint smile gracing his features.
"Well, I wouldn't want to say I never tried." Tifa shrugged, smiling back. Cloud kissed her once more, more passionately this time.
"Eeew, we are trying to eat here, y'know." Denzel whined, causing everyone to burst into peels of laughter.
"So that settles it, once we've finished helping Reeve and made proper arrangements we'll set off." Another chorus of cheers and whooping erupted from the gang, earning everyone a death glare from Denzel. Tifa couldn't wait to tell Yuffie, she was almost possitive the little ninja would go off on her own otherwise, and besides...this was something that kept everyone together.
A/N: I didn't know exactly where I was going half way through this so it's a little effed up, but whatever, hope y'all like it at least a little. The Vincent/Yuffie business was to make up for my uber sad chapter. The next few probably wont focus really at all on any of relationships going on, it'll hopefully be full of awesome plotness…or something. Read…review…enjoy ;)