Falling Snow

©®™ Lt. Commander Richie

Disclaimer: Four things before we get started. One: I woulda posted this a week ago, but my internets went kaput and decided they hated me. Two: I have a new computer. It runs on Vista. I hate it like I hate Mandragoras. And Teioh. And 'Wonderful' Chocobos. Three: This was originally six+ pages long. However, I just couldn't write a good ending, and it was getting really corny and kinda mushy. Four: I've got a limp that makes me walk like Gregory House. Dunno what that has to do with this, but it has a LOT to do with my probable inability to ski on Saturday. So enjoy your late Yuffentine-y Christmas goodness. Y'all prolly need it.

Chapter 1

Chestnuts roastin- KSSSHT -That's the Jingle Bell, tha- KSSSHT-ourself... A merry little Chr- KSSSHT -a blu-ue... Christmas... Witho- KSSSHT -miled at me, ba-rum bum-bum bum-KSSSHT -ome, all ye faithful... Joyful and trium- KSSSHT

"For the love of Da Chao's freakin' granite spleen!" With an angry look, Yuffie Kisaragi spun the dial for the radio in the Seventh Heaven with reckless abandon. It stopped on static, but with a few bits of fine tuning the small and very beaten radio began playing the Trans-Knowspole Orchestra. Outside the warm and toasty bar, snow fell in drifts so fine you could put your hand through one as soon as look at it. A small tree, its base sliced cleanly, put in a pot and submerged in water with a low-level Restore Materia thrown in for good measure sat in the corner with its boughs leaded down by ornaments and garlands. Yuffie sighed forlornly, tugging the black part of her blue and black shirt down farther over her stomach so as to provide herself with more warmth. The shirt refused to go any lower than it already was without exposing massive amounts of flesh that was already warm, and so with a huff that she sworeshe could see, the Ninja exerted herself just enough to go and find herself a blanket.

So there she was, curled up in a mighty fleece with only her eyes showing from a crack in the blanket and spinning slowly on one of the revolving bar stools like some kind of demented Bugenhagen. Not that the old coot wasn't already demented, but in a way Yuffie considered her current predicament of sitting with a hunched back under a giant Chocobob Featherpants-print fleece, next to a nearly broken and completely outmoded radio that had fared everything from Sector Seven's Plate crashing down, to Northern Crater and Meteorfall, to the second Reunion and the errant Summoning of BahamutSIN, to the near-ascension of Omega, slightly more demented than a hundred-something-year-old that was grandfather to a giant cat and floated around on a big green ball. The Ninja was a bit sullen, and as her stool came to a slow and squeaking stop in the dim light of the barely-there morning, she pouted in the worst way she could.

But then again, nobody could see it. Especially at three-thirty in the freakin' morning on Christmas Day. The station with the Trans-Knowspole Orchestra playing fuzzed for a moment, making Yuffie throw her body weight frantically around on the revolving bar stool in an effort to not move any more than she had to so as to fix the fuzzing receiver. As soon as she turned, however, the music started back up again. This time it was Mannheim Steamroller fuzzing from the beaten and burned casing of the small radio, and to anyone that would look in on whatever it was they wanted to see in a closed and darkened bar at half-past-three on Christmas morning, all they would see would be a gently tapping pile of blue and yellow Chocobob-print fleece, turning slowly on a revolving bar stool.

A bank of snow that was just too heavy for the roof slid down off of the overhang outside the front door, crashing on the pavement. Inside her fleece ball of warmth, however, Yuffie idly picked at a small run in her white stockings. Accidentally, the run got wider and suddenly lanced all the way to her ankle from her thigh. As the Ninja turned, she glared at the merrily twinkling tree in the corner of the bar.

"There'd better be a new pair of stockings under that tree, Claus, or I'm telling everyone that you don't exist." She muttered angrily, itching at the run in her stocking and making it worse. Her stool made another full rotation, and she continued to glare at the tree with the utmost in distaste.

"Gawd... Where's that freakin' red house invader? There's no more presents under that freakin' tree than there were when I went to bed!" More snow fell to the cement with a heavy smack, making the Ninja jump in slight alarm. Again, the radio fuzzed out, and Yuffie threw her weight frantically to fix it. She reached out her gloved hand, figuring it would stay the warmest, and adjusted the small and slightly broken antenna attached to the thoroughly-beaten radio. As the station playing Mannheim Steamroller came back into focus from the otherwise loud and rather obnoxious fuzz of in-between channels, Yuffie pushed herself back into a slow and lazy circle. Every time she turned, she would see the tree in all its green glory, a plate of cookies next to the radiator. Marlene had begged and pleaded to be allowed to put out cookies, even though there was no fireplace. If there had been one, rest assured that Yuffie would have started a fire in long ago. She could almost see the little girl running downstairs with a fire extinguisher.

"What's this, Santa flambé?"She would yell, spraying the fire with the vengeance of a child that still believed in Santa Claus. But life wasn't like a comic book, of course. Comic books didn't take place at three-forty-five on Christmas morning, and they certainly weren't about Ninjas wrapped in Chocobob Featherpants-print blankets and making themselves sick from spinning on a bar stool. But either way, it would be more than likely that if the red-garbed and fat house invader was coming, he wasn't coming while she sat there making herself sick on the bar stool.

It took a while, but slowly the stool came to a halt. By then Yuffie had managed to fall asleep in her crouched position on top of the bar stool, her head lolling gently to one side. The fleece blanket still rested over her head like a hood, her grip becoming lax on one edge and letting it fall slightly open.

It wasn't that the snow was cold, or that his feet were nearly numb; or that every time he took a step he had to shake snow from the tops of his elongated metal shoes that made the trip to Seventh Heaven any worse than it could have been if it was summer. No, it was Christmas, and even though he didn't look it, Vincent Valentine was perfectly content with the world as it was. It was still somewhat dark, barely-there light filtering through the skyscrapers of Edge and the ruins of Midgar to cast sparkling spots of light onto the snow. Snow fell in small flakes and very sparsely, but still they managed to alight on every extreme surface of Vincent's hair that was not warmed by body heat.

So it wasn't the snow that was slowly drifting in his hair, or that he could have been followed by any and all creepers that had it in for him because they could follow his path in the snow, or the extreme cold exuded from the fluffy white stuff surrounding him that made the rather stoic gunman breathe a misting sigh of relief. No, he had seen the stylized seven surrounded by two wings and twelve yellow swords, and with it came the slight overhang above the front door to the bar. Shifting the large sack he had slung over his left shoulder to a better position on his back so that one of the objects inside would quit stabbing him in the spine with a sharp corner, Vincent managed to get one gold-plated foot onto the bare concrete under the overhang before the unthinkable happened.

With a mighty HUH-FWUHNK, a heavy overhang of snow fell onto the unsuspecting gunman. After all, Murphy had to get his kicks from the Lifestream somewhere, and what better time and person that four-something on Christmas morning, and dropping ten pounds of snow on Vincent Valentine's head? The gunman let out a very intelligent "Gah!" and dropped his sack, pulling cold and quickly-melting snow from the collar of his cloak and out of his hair. Unfortunately, a sizable amount had managed to get into the back of his shirt,and it was resignedly that he picked up the sack once more and fished around in one of his pockets with his human hand to pull out a ring of keys.

Awkwardly, he tried the front door handle of the Seventh Heaven. Locked, like any cautious person that had seen the dangers of the world would do. He fumbled with his small ring of keys for a moment, finally picking out the only key with a rubber top to it shaped like the heads of a Chocobo and a Moogle. One of the dangers of not being there on the day that front door keys were handed out was that Vincent had ended up getting the one with the Choco/Mog Summon on it.

With a cold grumble, the gunman managed to get the door open and deposit his sack on the floor. He closed the door carefully, re-locking it for good measure. He started suddenly, his right hand straying to his gun as he looked around for the source of a sudden noise. Red eyes strayed over a pile of blankets on one of the bar stools, and next to it the battery radio that had accompanied AVALANCHE on its trek around the world.

SantaSSSSSSSSH to town... He seeSSSSSSSSSHu're sleeping, he knows when ySSSSSSSSH knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake! With a small sigh, Vincent reached over the pile of blankets and turned the radio off. Pausing for a moment, he picked up part of the large blanket with intent to fold it from its crumpled form and put it somewhere other than the top of a bar stool. When he pulled it back, however, a groggy and still very somewhat-asleep Yuffie nearly tumbled off the stool. In a lightning movement, Vincent lunged forward, catching her to keep her from hitting her head on the various things around in line with her head on its trip to the ground.

That was a great way to spend four-something in the morning, with snow down his back and crouched in a very uncomfortable position as he tried to keep Yuffie from either waking up and seeing him, or falling any farther. Unfortunately, the former was exactly what happened. Groggily, the Ninja opened her eyes to slits. Well, sort of. What could be seen of gray irises were clouded over in sleep.

"Shtuhd'edhashndah..." She mumbled, and it was only through experience that Vincent knew that she had said something more along the lines of 'stupid red house invader'. He gave something that was almost a smile, and with that it was very carefully that he reached around Yuffie's still and sleeping form and picked her up off the bar stool. He traversed the few feet to the long couch along one of the walls, the fleece Chocobob Featherpants-print blanket she had wrapped herself in trailing silently behind them because of the edge caught on the buckle on her top. One of her feet bumped a table, and Vincent stood stock-still as he waited for the outcome. All the Ninja did was reach one dangling hand up and grab onto a part of his shirt, squirming onto one side in an attempt to get at the warmth he exuded.

It was extremely quickly and with a relieved sigh that could barely be heard that Vincent laid Yuffie down on the couch. He followed the tangled blanket to its source, but stopped and settled for simply bunching the blanket over her feet and around her shoulders once he realized exactly where it was tangled. Any observer would see that he was flushed, nearly the same color as his cloak, but in the situation it was more the melting snow down the back of his shirt than the woman he had just laid down on the couch. It was a while before he moved, glowing ruby eyes watching the Ninja for any signs of wakefulness. When he did, however, it was to simply bend forward and place his lips on her temple for barely a second, before turning and making his way across the room to his sack. With a barely-there grunt, he lifted the bag and brought it to the Christmas tree, pulling it open and taking out present after present.

He wasn't playing Santa Claus... Not exactly. Every year, presents that were too important and well-sought-after would be wrapped and then brought to the Mansion in Nibelheim, and Vincent would bring them on Christmas and put them under the tree before anyone would wake up. If Barret had a present he couldn't find a hiding place away from Marlene for, he would send it to Vincent. If Cid had something he wanted to give Shera, but it was too big or too noticeable, to Vincent it would go. Tifa could hide nothing from Cloud in the bar, and vice versa, so to Vincent they went. Of course, any of the presents for him were given the best hiding places that any other gift would go. That was, if he ever got any from anyone besides Yuffie or Tifa.

The bag was almost empty, and from it he drew a wooden box of Ninja weapons and scrolls he had found in a small village on one of the islands near Mideel. They were probably completely useless when compared to the abilities of the woman sleeping on the couch, but the thought was what counted in any case. He placed the box on top of the pile around the Christmas tree, stepping back and surveying his handiwork. Wrapped boxes stacked as high as half of the tree, shoved behind the tree into the wall so as to not take up much space on the floor and all around the tree blocking the view. Satisfied that every single box, from the largest to the smallest, was set out, Vincent resigned himself to one of the bar stools.

With his metal-plated hand he tapped the small white and very beaten radio on the counter on it's power switch, and a soft fuzz filled the room. With one finger, he lazily played with the dial until a clear station came in. The Trans-Knowspole Orchestra began to play softly, and Vincent moved his clawed hand away from the radio cautiously so as to not upset the dial. He crossed his arms on the bar and laid his head down, the collar of his cloak bunching up and serving as a pillow against the cool metal of his gauntlet. Fatigue from the journey and the slow and leeching warmth of wet cloth sticking to his back were what eventually led the man to slumber, his back to the radiator. At some point during his present-setting he had taken the time to investigate the lone plate of gingerbread men with terribly malformed heads that he had seen when he had first come in, only to get closer and realize that the one on top was supposed to look like Cloud. Needless to say, he searched the pile until he found himself, and then proceeded to nibble both its feet off like some sort of confectionery Voodoo doll. The song switched, the station becoming fuzz, but Vincent was too bothered with sleep to care. The radiator behind him was delightfully warm, if a little old and rattly, but soon he was completely dry. Nothing could really ruin anything like Christmas, especially not ten pounds of snow to the back of one's neck.

No second chapter. I'm notorious for unfinished fiction and one-shots.