A/N:I simply felt 'in the mood' to write something else about my favorite pair. Just a little summary…or whatever…this is four years after, Vincent has a personality that is neither dark nor dreary. I'm aiming for a sort of quiet type with a bit of a twist…yeah, I know…he's way out in left field now…or worse.
Four years had come and gone since the fall of Deepground and Weiss. Hojo was finally truly dead and Chaos had returned to the planet, taking Omega with him. The hero's had all gone their separate ways, some for better and some not so much. They still stayed in touch via the WRO. Occasionally there were gatherings, always small, and they were able to reconnect again.
Tifa had taken up caring for the Church Aeris left behind, essentially rebuilding it from the ground up. It was nearly returned to its former glory, the floor was still gutted in two places, and at Tifa's insistence, that was how it would remain. One hole was overflowing with the lilies that only seemed to grow in that building and absolutely nowhere else in the world. The other was a bubbling spring, the very one that had saved the world from Geostigma. Tifa adamantly refused having either of those places even touched; they were sacred to those who knew her.
Cloud had taken a job working with Reeve as well as serving as Tifa's delivery service. He was a commander in the WRO, working alongside Cid, Barret, and Vincent. Cid had quit smoking and Barret had finally settled down with Elmyra, who was expecting her first child. It did not come as a galloping shock that it was both a girl, and named after the Cetra. Aeris would be born in early spring and everyone made plans to be there.
Yuffie had taken a drastic turn, and not necessarily a bad one. She'd begged Godo to release her of her duties to Wutai, so in her place a cousin stepped in…Tseng, former Turk and right hand man to none other than the son of the man who destroyed Wutai. It had been a controversial exchange of power, and yet the people of Wutai accepted, if not welcomed, the young heiress' decision and made little in the way of complaining. If there had been complaint about a Turk ruling Wutai it was soon overlooked as the new Emperor immediately threw all his attention and resources into the rebirth of Wutai. He was fair, Yuffie knew that, and logical…which was an obvious quality he'd had from very early on, given his chosen profession. It wasn't for lack of love in Wutai; Yuffie had found another path she truly felt called to follow, working for Reeve and on a more global scale, which really fit her and her insatiable appetite for travel, as well as giving her an opportunity to stay in close contact with all her friends.
Rufus had donated substantial amounts of gil toward the Wutaian restoration fund and had pulled all his fathers former tourist gimmicks, vowing never to let anyone disgrace Wutai again. Yuffie, for her part, had become the Chief Intelligence Officer of the WRO, Reeve's second in command, and the primary negotiator between all nations…most notably Wutai. She'd bloomed into a talented and beautiful woman, a far cry from the thieving teen ninja they'd met five years ago. She'd grown into herself, her hair now fell just passed her shoulders, she'd grown another few inches, she'd become the epitome of beauty in the WRO, a beautiful, exotic, intelligent young woman. She often surprised everyone with her intense sense of duty and professionalism she expressed while working for Reeve.
For years many assumed she and Reeve had been involved, given their constant close proximity. Those rumors were put to rest, however, when Reeve announced his engagement to Shelke Rui earlier in the year. Yuffie kept in relatively close contact with everyone, constantly keeping tabs on Cloud and Vincent. She was the glue that held the group together now, acting as a sort of medium for most.
Spring was well on its way, Yuffie could tell the air was starting to warm and flowers were beginning to bloom. She'd been traveling most of the winter months, checking up on Barret and his oil refineries. Oil would soon take over as the new source of energy for all mechanical implements, which in turn would relieve the stress on the planet that mako energy had caused. She also made her way to Rocket Town to check in on Cid and his aeronautical research facility, Cloud and Tifa's bar/delivery business was really taking off, Tifa had never seemed so happy as she did then and there with Cloud constantly near by.
She was going to make her monthly stop in Nibelheim to visit Vincent and then would normally head back to HQ to update Reeve. She'd just made it to the old town, and after three days of camping and riding she was good and ready for as shower and some sleep. She approached the old mansion; smiling at how beautiful it was now that it was fully restored. New paint, a decent fence, and even a garden all made it seem like a real home as opposed to the tomb it once had been.
She knocked twice, tucking her hair behind her ear, her clothes still smelled of camp fire and earth. She'd worn a green t-shirt and loose black pants she'd bought in Rocket Town, emblazoned on the side read 'Highwind Aeronautical Design, inc.' they were her pride and joy and she wore them proudly.
Without fail her nerves would kick in every visit, and only just at the moment she had to knock. Well…maybe she felt nervous every time she came to see the gunman, she couldn't quite decide. As it was, nothing had changed where her feelings toward him were concerned. She was still attracted to him, and it never got any easier. She'd see him for a day or two, discuss politics, food, the latest fashions of Junon…none of which interested either, but the silence was, for once, too much for either of them. She'd come here this time with a goal, to bury her feelings once and for all. This time she'd managed to make it before dusk, unusual for her seeing as she usually didn't show up until midnight or in the wee hours of morning, which never seemed to catch Vincent by surprise. He'd always been awake when she'd come calling.
The door knob clicked a few times before the door slowly opened, revealing a man in black cargo pants and a fitted black t-shirt. She nearly gawked at him, he looked amazing in normal clothes, though she was somewhat biased. He could walk around naked as a jaybird and still look great to her. His body aged, much slower than most of the others, herself included. Cloud, Tifa, and he had all experienced massive amounts of mako poisoning and it had caused their cells to regenerate at an incredible speed, thus allowing them to stay young longer, which Yuffie didn't much mind; it meant she'd have someone to grow old with as opposed to playing catch-up.
"Hey, Vince, how's life?" He offered a small smile as she greeted him the same way she did every time for the last four years.
"I am well, Yuffie, come in." He motioned for her to enter, closing the door carefully behind her. "How have you been these last weeks?" He made to offer her tea, which she nodded enthusiastically.
"I've been…tired." Her face fell slightly, as if simply saying the word encouraged the feeling. "I need a break." He nodded in understanding.
"That would not be a bad idea, you work yourself too hard with all your traveling." The rich timbre of his voice always struck a chord in her, what's more was the fact that he showed concern for her, something he didn't typically offer the others.
"I plan to; just don't know where I'll go. Home, maybe? I guess I could ask Cid to shoot me off into space…mmm, to be that far away from work!" She laughed lightly as she spoke, her voice like bells on summer breeze, refreshing to any soul, tortured or otherwise. What was better than her laugh was his, a low chuckle that she could almost feel from somewhere inside.
"I have a feeling he'd support the idea." He set a small mug of tea before her, offering her sugar.
"No thanks, I'm sweet enough." She replied with a cheeky grin. "What about you? Are you going to travel any time soon?" She took a sip, savoring the bitter earthy flavor, suddenly missing Wutai more in that moment than she had in the last year she'd been away. "I'd like to travel…" She remarked a bit offhandedly, the cliffs of Da Chao looming in her memory and she could almost smell the sea.
"It had been a thought…" He led her to the living room, motioning for her to sit with him on the couch. "I would like to go back up to the Northern Crater." Yuffie had a hard time sitting still; though from all outward appearances she seemed cool, calm, and collected.
"It has been quite a while, hasn't it?" She sipped her tea, smiling at the warm feeling it gave her. She could suddenly smell the dirt and sweat she was covered in. "Whew, I need a shower. Has the Inn been busy? Maybe I'll get a room and shower…" She waved her hand under her nose with a look of disgust.
"You are welcome to shower here, though I haven't any clean clothes that would fit you." Vincent gave a cursory once over, sizing her up as she sat there. "You've lost weight." It was more of a statement than a question, he eyed her with something akin to approval, her body was obviously in peek physical condition, again a far cry from the lanky girl she'd once been.
"I have? Well I brought my things with me, I didn't anticipate staying here, figured I'd be on the go just as soon as I said 'hi', gosh I haven't stopped much since-"A ring from the other room startled her enough to make her spill her tea, she cursed under her breath as she jumped up from the couch. Vincent chuckled at her, taking a towel sitting on a nearby table and dabbing her thigh where she'd spilled. She smiled back at him, carefully placing her hand over his, wiping her leg down herself as he left to answer his phone. He returned a moment later with a frown.
"What seems to be the problem, Mr. Valentine?" Yuffie quirked an eyebrow up at him, he smiled strangely at her.
"Mr. Valentine? When have I ever been that to you?" He looked back at the black phone in his hand. "It was Juno; I was expected to see her this evening." Yuffie felt her knees go weak, and were it not for her excellent skills in deception he may have noticed.
"Hm, am I keeping you? I have to be going anyways." She didn't quite rush passed him, but she hurried quickly enough to miss the strange glance he gave her. "Well, I'll let you get back to what you were doing, thank-"
"What seems to be the problem, Miss Kisaragi?" Vincent lifted an eyebrow at her, smirking at her flustered behavior. She gave him a confused frown before laughing at him.
"Nothing, Vincent, nothing at all." She offered him a hug, which he warmly accepted. Now, to assume that this had been a common occurrence between the two would be incorrect. It had only been the last few times she'd seen him that he'd actually allowed her to touch him in such a way, the laughing had been the first change, then the jovial attitude, which she was apparently the only one privy to, and finally he surprised her by letting her hug him. "I'll call next time; sorry if I set you back." He smiled down at her, his hands resting on her hips. Unbeknownst to her, he had been toiling away in his mind. Everything about him was so different, and every year he changed and opened up a little more. Four years had seen him through a few drastic changes, his first hair cut in thirty six years, well maybe less…Yuffie wasn't one for numbers. Hers had grown longer, his grew shorter, she'd blossomed into a fanatical workaholic, he began to look forward to her visits…she smiled differently at him and he felt a sense of something akin to joy every time he noticed it. In fact she'd done many things just for him; things he hadn't realized were so intimate until much later. Cooking for him, cleaning when she stopped by, he fell ill with the flu one year and she was there in a heartbeat, taking care of him without complaint or expecting any sort of compensation…which was unusual for the little thief. He realized a little too late that she felt more than friendship toward him, and that did make him nervous. He always did something foolish when he was uncomfortable.
"If you would like to accompany me to the Northern Crater, I would enjoy the company, that is if you don't mind being interrupted every so often." He held the phone up in some sort of explanation. "Juno expects updates regularly."
"I…I wouldn't want to intrude on anything, Vince. She might be uncomfortable with you traveling with a young woman, or at least I would be." She eyed Vincent oddly a moment.
"She doesn't worry about such things." Vincent's voice had an odd tone and Yuffie realized he felt a little guilty speaking of the budding relationship between himself and Juno. "She is a scientist working on a cure for mako poisoning; I was asked to head up to the crater and retrieve some samples. I was expected to meet her and some of her colleagues this evening to go over some of the details." Yuffie stared thoughtfully at him a moment longer, he could almost see the wheels turning as she mulled over the chance to go out on a pseudo adventure.
"When would we leave? I'll have to get a few things out of the way first, I would need at least three weeks or more before I could even think of going with you." Her expression fell at the thought of him not being around in a month when she came calling.
"She hasn't set a date yet so I do believe you'll have time. In the mean time you may stay here, if you wish." Vincent said slowly, nodding to himself as he worked out the sentence.
"She won't mind me tagging along?" Yuffie's eyes lit up in excitement.
"Of course not, you'd be a welcome addition, and I would appreciate the help." Vincent glared at the phone as it rang in his hand. "She's rather…persistent…though." He muttered darkly.
"Well, she doesn't sound anything like me now does she?" Yuffie giggled as Vincent chuckled and stuffed the offending phone back into his pocket. She didn't think he'd noticed his hand still resting comfortably on her hip and she wasn't about to tell him to move it.
Vincent smiled, hiding the thoughts running through his head as he stood there, eyeing Yuffie out of the corner of one eye. She'd grown, that much was obvious; she'd replaced much of her childish physique with well toned muscle. At nineteen she'd accomplished more than most had in their entire lives. Saved the planet, twice, ruled an entire nation alone for a short while, was Reeve's right hand girl, and had turned out to be a rather spectacular spy. And now at twenty three she was a master of disguise, a clever thief, and an intelligent and well spoken diplomat. Though the spying and thieving had been useful prior to Deepground, she often found clever ways to hone her skills. She was taller, reaching just under his chin, and her hair was catching up to Tifa's in length, though much straighter and certainly darker. Her hair was the color of coal, dark enough that it seemed to almost absorb light. Her form was…agreeable. She'd grown into her body finally and was no longer an awkward teenager but a graceful young woman. Currently he had a hand resting on one of her shapely hips, he hadn't realized it had landed there when she stepped back a moment ago, but he also made no motion to move it.
She was staring at him, the way she did when she had something she really wanted to say but wouldn't. He knew if he asked what was on her mind she'd lie, she often did to him. He couldn't for the life of him figure out why. He had always prided himself on being the one and only person she confided her deepest darkest secrets in, and now there was something she wouldn't tell him, or maybe she couldn't. She could be in some sort of trouble and didn't want him involved. He wouldn't have that; he'd demand she tell him what was wrong…that usually did the trick. He didn't know what it was, but she'd never been one to deny him much…save his coffin. She'd burned that not even a day after the defeat of Sephiroth.
"No looking back…" She'd said that she'd done it to stop him from going back to a life of nothing. He had something, she'd said, something that was worth living for…he didn't know what, but she seemed fairly convinced of herself so he'd gone with it.
"At what?" Yuffie made to turn, controlling a chill that suddenly made its way up her spine at the feeling of metal tips trailing across her skin.
"What's that?" Vincent removed his hand, tucking it into his pocket.
"You said 'no looking back' and had a weird look on your face, did you see something?" She turned again, staring out the window. "Should I go? This is kind of an off day for me too; I think maybe I came by to early." He smirked at that.
"You are here much earlier than your usual time." He replied, nodding in emphasis. "Well I am not due out until seven, feel free to shower and clean up if you need." Vincent nodded toward the upstairs. "Towels are in the cabinet in the bathroom." Yuffie nodded, taking in one last look at him before turning and making her way upstairs. She was glad to be invited on his little trip, especially to the crater, but she was moderately concerned about meeting another scientist with an affinity for mako. It had been her experience that they were either crazy or heartless…or both. The fact that Lucrecia had been one such scientist hadn't helped any either, Yuffie felt her heart still hammering away in her chest, just the thought that this woman could…could? Vincent was a good looking guy, could wasn't the operative word here. She was more worried at how far their relationship had made it. 'Is she pretty? Does he see her often? How come he didn't say anything last month? Or the months before? This can't be just a spur of the moment thing…' That floating feeling Yuffie usually had around Vincent had gone and she felt like a burden again. This wasn't how today was supposed to go…
She focused on the warm water; maybe she was just exhausted after working too hard for the last year? She stood motionless as she watched the dirt melt off her skin and spiral downward through the drain.
"Stupid girl…stupid, stupid girl…" Yuffie muttered, sitting on the cool tile of the shower.
Vincent passed the room she was in, stopped, and went back in. He had taken her bag upstairs and placed it in her room, just the fact that she had her own room never ceased to amaze him. How she'd wound up with it was, in his mind, her greatest display of ninja ability he'd ever been privy to. The bag rattled and made some clanging noises much like the sound of heavy metal on metal, curious he opened the bag. A dismantled shuriken sat there. It was made of dark steel, adamantine or some sort of infused metal by his guess. He imagined what the thing would look like were it all in one piece. The blades at the edges curved out much like a throwing star, however each tip split down the middle. In the center of each tip of the star like points were jagged, almost tooth like, edges. This was by far the worst of Yuffie's assassin stars yet. He could smell some sort of poison, and anything she used was generally fatal even if one had a mere scratch from the weapon. This shuriken looked…evil.
"It's called 'Darkstar' and it isn't evil, it's old." Yuffie spoke softly, Vincent turned slowly to look at her with mild concern. She was still in an oversized towel, leaning on the door frame. Her hair was braided and hung over her shoulder, she smiled softly at him. "I've never used it until this last month. It was my mothers forever ago when she was young, and no she wasn't an assassin…she was a ninja like me." Yuffie spoke in a softer voice than usual, which lead Vincent to believe that this was difficult ground for Yuffie to cover.
"You never speak of your mother…" He remarked, his voice reverberated off the walls and through her.
"Hm, I never really had cause to. She died when I was very young, my father raised me and I turned out like…" She gestured at herself with a hand. "She taught me to throw a shuriken, throwing star, and some two weapon stuff…but I was nine when she passed. She'd contracted the Consumption from some gaijin passing through." Yuffie spit the word out like it was poison. "We had never had that kind of disease afflict our own, we were beyond ill equipped…she really didn't stand a chance once we discovered she was ill." Vincent stood motionless, watching her carefully. Yet another thing he assumed only he and Lord Godo knew about her…
"…I believe you've become an intelligent, successful woman. Your mother would be proud to see you now." Vincent bowed his head slightly, taking his leave and allowing her to dress. She made her way to the spot he was standing; she could almost smell him, an earthy musk that made her head spin. 'He complimented me…' the thought floated around her head for days afterwards, which made it easier to face the fact that Vincent did indeed feel more than the professional sort of feelings toward Dr. Juno. She'd seen the way he sat talking to her, relaxed, laughing easily with the beautiful woman. She'd been very polite to Yuffie, asking how she'd feel about traveling back to the crater, and thanking her for assisting 'Mr. Valentine' on his endeavor. She missed, completely, the small smile of pride Vincent could hardly contain every time Yuffie spoke. Eloquent, polite, beyond well spoken and she had truly impressed Dr. Juno with her vast knowledge of Mako and the effects on the body. Furthermore, it was a delight, to the doctor and Vincent, to hear Yuffie fully supported the project and if need be would bring it up with Reeve.
Vincent had never been one to feel or express much, if anything, the last thirty some odd years. Prior to being shot, possessed, and locked in a coffin and left for dead…or undead depending on how one looked at the situation…he was a rather expressive young man. He was hot headed, ran his mouth, and generally led with his heart. Yuffie expressed every one of his faults and made them into some of her most desirable attributes. He felt accomplished, hearing her talk at length with Dr. Juno. Ever since she'd started visiting him, they'd begun to have long talks about anything and everything, not that he'd been particularly interested in most of the conversation, but there were times when he realized she'd been listening to him and picking up little things he had been talking about…she'd listened and learned a lot from him by the look of things and that in itself was a gift she hadn't even known she'd given him.
The first week had been spent not seeing much of one another. He heard maybe two or three words out of her at a time and she was busy twenty five of the twenty four hours a day, but her energy never seemed to leave her. She remained happy and upbeat, finding time to enjoy a cup of tea with Vincent at night and calling home every other day to check in on her father and Tseng.
"Yes, Reeve, as a matter of fact I did take care of everything. No, I- No…damn you, Reeve, shut the hell up!" Yuffie snapped at the phone in her hand. "Well, Leviathan's holy hide, let me talk will you?!"
Vincent chuckled at her from his seat in a rather comfortable chair beside the fire, not so completely engrossed in the novel sized packet of information Juno had last given him. She rolled her eyes at him, pointed exasperatedly at the phone.
"Yes, yes I'm well aware of the- no that isn't- no, I believe we could only further our research with-but-and-…" Yuffie held the phone away from her ear, took a sip of tea, and smiled winningly over at Vincent. The sounds of Reeve protesting whatever argument Yuffie had been trying to make sounded oddly meek from the receiver of the phone. "I swear he argues just for the sake of arguing." She remarked at Vincents slight upturned lip and quirked eyebrow. "He thinks I should not go to the crater, there couldn't possibly be anything of value-" The phone made a noise of protest. "Sorry, I didn't catch that last part. No…FOR THE LOVE OF LEVIATHAN IT'S FOR TWO DAMN DAYS!" Vincent smiled at her as she continued to convince Reeve he'd live without her for two days. He knew she was a vital part of the WRO, he didn't realize Reeve was incapable of functioning without her, it rather amused him to see the former technology guru throwing a rather childish fit over Yuffie taking her first two days off in four years.
"Don't you just get time off?" Vincent queried from his seat without looking up.
"Apparently not…" Yuffie whispered back, rather amused herself. "Ok…will do, thanks Reeve." She flung the phone away from her person, not caring who or what it struck in its haphazard flight across the room behind her. "Seriously…I think I may just take up a job flipping Chocoburgers after this crap…" He smiled at her reassuringly but said nothing. "Quit smiling all the damn time, makes you seem like you're freaking happy and full of good feelings." Yuffie smirked to herself, laying out on the couch with her eyes closed. Vincent eyed her a moment before speaking.
"Maybe I am happy." He replied simply. She didn't have a sarcastic reply for him this time, she simply smiled and lay quietly enjoying his company, silently thanking every god she could name for giving her the chance to hear him say those three magic words.
'He's happy…finally.' She stood, excusing herself for bed, and heading up the stairs to do just that. Sleep.
A/N: Seriously, this is the worst crap I've written yet. I'll likely delete it soon, but I felt the urge to post it even though it is grossly unfinished and in desperate need of refinement. Flame away, I'll understand XD