Authoress' Note: Yes, yes, I know…I've been gone for a /very/ long time! I was cleaning out all my old story files (and getting them ready for transferring onto my new laptop!) and suddenly came across all my old fanfiction. I then had one of those, "Ah, hells," moments, and realized I hadn't updated anything in nearly six months…maybe more…

Basically, I have no definite excuse for the lateness. Would life be a good answer? So, until I get off my lazy behind and get back into the swing of writing, here is a little piece of story I was working on back around New Year's. It features the Great Ninja Yuffie, her thoughts and memories of living in Hollow Bastion/Radiant Garden, and meeting people from the past.

A warning, though…it's in dire need of editing, content shuffling, and plot rethinking. In short, it's VERY MUCH a rough draft. I plan on fixing everything in time, but for right now, it's just here for a fun read. Criticism on ideas and everything would be spectacular, though.

And when I wrote this, I completely forgot about Cid's liking of tea from FFVII, which was pretty obvious from his shouting at Shera about it…so, I apologize for that.

Oh, and Vincent Valentine makes a cameo appearance.

Summary: The Great Ninja Yuffie, and her thoughts on chocobos, tea, and the conversational habits of broody men. Purely for fun, rated T for the occasional—and rare—curse word.

Disclaimer: No owning of Kingdom Hearts in this little corner of the world. :)


Of Peppermint & Chocobos

By

Heartless Kittypet

(…formally Silverse, briefly Inspir Silvr, and originally known as LadyDarkDreamer...)


In the early morning light, Yuffie kicked her heels steadily against the stone wall beneath her, wondering what the day could possibly offer her.

The young ninja sighed, and tapped her fingernails against the stone; only just past dawn, and already her thoughts were running away with her. The fact that she was even awake this early was nearly an occurrence akin to that of Kingdom Hearts exploding into fireworks. But that had not yet happened, so…

Again, she sighed.

Among her peers in Radiant Garden, she was the least likely to be up at such an ungodly hour. That was the job for Squall – or rather, Leon – to worry about every day. As the official leader, he was always the first to rise, leaping out of bed while it was still dark, and already dressed in his leather pants and belts and various Griever paraphernalia. Well, scratch that one; Squall Leonhart never leaped anywhere. He had a calm, sort of brooding image to maintain, and…

…Yuffie frowned.

"What kind of name is Leon Leonhart?" she said suddenly, the rhythm of her tan boots on the wall reaching a pause. "That has to be the worst combination a guy like Squall could have come up with."

With that thought vocalized to nothing but the air and stone, the tapping continued again.

Anyway, Aerith was usually the next to rise, quieter than usual as she began to edge away from sleep. They usually gave Yuffie another hour, before someone came to wake her. Cid and Merlin they left to their own devices, because the mechanic was known to keep random hours, and everyone practically lived by the theory that the wizard never rested. Besides, it was dangerous enough to get Yuffie up in the morning. Any attempt to rouse the last two of the team – who were known for merely tolerating each other, unless a situation called for the help of both science and magic – could surely result in the world ending if the men were in a bad mood and forced to work together.

Another sigh, and Yuffie brought her hand to her forehead. She hated it when her thoughts tried to run away with her.

Though she was now nineteen, she was still petite for her age. And still a bit immature. But hey, that was part of her personality and charm. She had always been lighthearted, despite any situation she managed to get herself into. She was optimistic, she was sweet, and she was stubborn.

And her thoughts still managed to run wild, sometimes.

The day was growing brighter, and Yuffie's restlessness was beginning to fade with it. Leon and Aerith would surely be up and about by now, him checking over the itinerary for the day, and her perhaps fixing tea.

Upon the thought of tea, Yuffie almost immediately found herself craving a cup. Aerith made absolutely the best tea, actually taking the time to heat the water properly, using real tea leaves and a filter and everything.

Okay, the ninja really wasn't certain of everything that when into making tea properly, but whatever the process was, Aerith was an expert. And the herbal liquid always turned out better than when Yuffie tried to use a Fire spell, or that nifty box that you punched numbers into to heat things. Ansem's study and lab was full of the most interesting things, but still: Aerith rocked with the tea-making.

So, with the urge to drink at least two cups of tea, Yuffie moved to stand. Aerith always made a generous amount, so everyone could have some. Hell, even Leon asked for a cup now and then, much to the surprise of everyone. And Cid, well…Yuffie smiled, because she could just hear him snorting in disgust.

"Tea? What the hell you drinkin' that blasted stuff for? Coffee, now there's a proper drink for wakin' up! All that caffeine and everything."

Of course, the almost-shouting from the engineer was directed at Yuffie, because no one shouted at the leader. Even if said leader was participating in the drinking of such a blasphemous beverage. And no one dared raise their voice to Aerith…ever. The normally kind woman would simply fix you with a stare that could send your soul to the fate of Nobody-ism, for your heart to wander the universe in search of a larger purpose, and your body to join the blue soil of Radiant Garden as ashes.

Okay, so the dirt in their world wasn't really blue. It retained a sort of roan, grayish coloring that Leon claimed was a result of misused magic and the castle exploding, and…

Yuffie shook her head, stopping her mind from running off like a chocobo upon an encounter with Cid's caffeine.

"Oh, great metaphor there, Yuff," she muttered, putting her hands on her hips. The view from the wall was quite good, and she stood there for a moment, just watching.

Despite what promise the day held, and all the cliché stuff, Yuffie still found herself feeling bored. Here she was, hanging out on the wall just outside the Bailey, watching the freaking sun climb higher into the sky. There was no logical reason for her to be up this early. She should still be in her pajamas, stumbling down from the small apartment she had beside Aerith's in search of peppermint tea. Or maybe chamomile, before taking a few minutes to enjoy the drink and then navigate her way back upstairs to get dressed—

The sound of metal scraping against the cobblestone path below met her sharp ears, and Yuffie froze. She quickly reached for her shuriken, jumping down onto the actually path beside the Bailey and crouching down. It wouldn't do for whatever was coming to see her outright. What kind of stealthy kick-ass ninja would she be if that happened?

The scraping continued, echoing off the stone. As it grew closer, Yuffie began to wonder what exactly it was. Heartless was the most likely, but their number had fallen greatly in the last two years. And the Nobodies had all but vanished since the defeat of the Organization – also two years ago. They hadn't seen Sora since then, but the kid sent them letters on nearly a weekly basis.

The footsteps continued, and it was then that Yuffie realized the security system hadn't yet activated. Had Cid fallen asleep and forgotten to set the system on auto-pilot?

No, that couldn't be it. Despite whatever odd hours the man kept, he was always up in the morning to greet the others. And the system was set to switch to auto control whenever Cid's computer was idle for more than ten minutes.

But still, why hadn't the system attacked the intruder yet?

It was then a tall figure slowly rounded the corner, partially concealed in the shadow of the wall, and the teenager was met with the sight of someone cloaked in black and red.

Yuffie raised her weapon, ready to make herself known and attack at a second's notice. She opened her mouth to demand to know who the person was, and she…paused.

There was something…very, very familiar about that stranger.

The brunette frowned, resting the shuriken against her shoulder as the chocobo in her head broke into a run with her consciousness on its back, intent of discover exactly why the cloaked figure was familiar.

And then realization hit her, and she nearly fell off the wall from the surprise of it.

Lowering her oversized throwing star, she called, "Vincent? Vincent Valentine, is that you?!"

The stranger halted, and looked around, dark hair falling past his shoulders. It was kept out of his face by a length of red cloth, one that Yuffie remembered well. She put her free hand on her hip, waiting for the man to discover where she was. Finally, he looked up, and she was met with pale eyes set in a fine-boned face. As those eyes met her own ones of shadowed purple, Yuffie found herself smiling.

"Hey, Vincent! Wow, it really is you!" she shouted, the excitement in her voice carrying. She waved to the man, though Vincent did not return the gesture. Typical; still, she continued onward, "Just…holy hell in a teacup, wow! This is wonderful! Who would have thought you'd show up here, of all places!"

Her greeting finished, Yuffie immediately looked around for a quick way off the wall. The stairs were too far by a small margin – at least in her mind – so she confidently chose a shortcut. This involved jumping down several large blocks of stone adjacent to the wall, which she accomplished with ease. When she finally came to the cobbled road, though, she lost her footing and fell, her back hitting the path. The breath knocked out of her, the shuriken skidded from her hand, and Yuffie gritted her teeth. As she rose into sitting position, she looked up at Vincent, and found his lips curved in a slight smile. But it was gone before she could be sure. Oh well, it had seemed more a half-smile, anyway.

"Yuffie?"

That one word, and the sound his voice saying her name, brought back a whole bunch of memories. Memories of the past – of course, she thought to herself, what other kind could you possibly have? – from before Hollow Bastion was lost that first time. Back when strange meteor showers and a visit from a short king had prompted their leader, Ansem, to experiment. When Ansem had commissioned a ship from Cid made from the resilient material they called 'gummi', thinking it might be used for travel one day. When the experiments had led to the loss of their world, and all Squall Leonhart could do was rescue a few of his friends before they were swallowed by darkness.

Yuffie had grown up in that world, back when it had been the original Radiant Garden. She had had the same friends as now; Leon and Aerith had always been like older siblings, the ones she was closest to. But Cloud and Tifa had also been part of the group, however much they were distant. Cloud was the wandering type, and Tifa had always followed him. Not because she was that type of person, but rather because she cared for him, and worried. She was an independent type of girl, but searched for him nonetheless.

And then there had been Vincent Valentine. He was another of the quiet types that traveled through Radiant Garden, though quite different from Cloud Strife. Instead of blond hair and blue eyes, Vincent was the perfect example of the description 'tall, dark, and handsome'. Hell, he was probably the origin of the male persona every woman joked about longing for with her friends.

But it was an understatement, and a big one. Vincent wasn't just handsome, he was gorgeous.

"Yuffie? You're being awfully quiet."

At hearing his voice again, Yuffie's stomach fluttered, and she was quickly reminded of the crush she had had on him when she was younger.

Yes, Kingdom Hearts forbid, a crush. She had always admired him back when she was younger…well, really young. She had only been seven when Cid and Leon had shoved her into the gummi ship, where she had collapsed in tears with Aerith comforting her. She hadn't understood till later what had really happened to her home.

Still, could seven-year-olds have crushes?

Well, that didn't really matter right now. The truth was, she hadn't seen Vincent in over three years. He had been gone during the Heartless takeover of the world, along with Cloud and Tifa. No one had known what had happened to them. Then Vincent had just appeared in Traverse Town one day, before disappearing again. Over the years, he had shown up randomly, staying a little while before vanishing into shadows again without a trace or hint to where he was going.

And no matter what the time, Yuffie had always been happy to see him. Whatever the seven-year-old her had seen in the man, it had grown into something as time passed. Attraction, maybe? Hell, what woman wouldn't be attracted to a man like Vincent?

There it was again, her braining hitching a ride on a caffeinated chocobo covered in hot sauce.

…Wait, hot sauce?

Finally, Yuffie smiled up at Vincent, quickly getting to her feet. Doing the first thing than came into her spunky little mind, she leapt a step forward and hugged him. The embrace was tight, and she buried her cheek in the red fabric of his cloak. The fact that he was standing there, both arms wide from being caught off guard, didn't even dawn on her.

But then she moved a bit away, her arms still around his torso, and looked up. Vincent looked down at her, and there was something in his eyes the young ninja had never seen before: surprise.

Now this shocked her. She, the great ninja Yuffie, had surprised the expert gunner known as Vincent Valentine.

"It's good to see you again, Vince," Yuffie offered, with a crooked smile by way of apology for the sudden attack.

Vincent looked down at her, since he was still quite tall, and she noticed the previous emotion was absent from his eyes. Instead, there was something else there…amusement, maybe? Or contemplation? She had never been that good at guessing emotions; she usually just asked, or left it alone altogether.

"What're you thinking about?"

She hadn't seen the man in almost three-and-a-half years, a little before Sora had first appeared in Traverse Town. She could afford to be direct.

Vincent, after a long moment, finally returned her hug with one of his own. It was rather awkward, just a brief wrapping of his arms around her shoulders, but it was enough for her. As Yuffie smiled and gave the man a little space, he said, "That you are still the same…spirited…girl."

Yuffie laughed, and took a second to retrieve her shuriken.

"Woman, Vincent, young woman," she corrected playfully. Her eyes then darted to take in his appearance, and the subtle change in outfit he'd gone through since she had set eyes on him last. "And you're still the same stoic, yet sexy almost-vampire, I see."

Sexy? Oh gawd, I sound like I'm fourteen! Back, hormones, back, damn you! I am a ninja, the greatest in the world, who could ruin the very wall behind me with a powerful strike of my magic and shuriken! Okay, maybe not the wall…

Yuffie silently cursed at herself, hoping that Vincent would think nothing of the comment. It had just…fallen out of her mouth before she could stop it. True, she had been joking, sort of. Vincent would probably take it as sarcasm, however much the description was kind of true.

This made Yuffie wonder: did men who looked that good actually know they, well…looked that good? Or was their own physical appearance lost on them beyond the basics of showering, brushing hair, cleaning teeth, and maintaining good skin?

Vincent…shower…oh, f—

Yuffie squashed the thought right there, noting that Vincent's only reaction to her words were dark eyebrows arched above his eyes. He was giving her a questioning look, but it faded quickly, like all his emotions usually did.

"So, it's been over three years! What have you been—?"

Her words were cut off the movement of shadows just behind Vincent. Yuffie frowned, then recognized the yellow eyes watching her intently. The Shadow Heartless quickly took form, and leapt for Vincent's back a split second after Yuffie jumped forward to push him out of the way. The man was usually more attentive to his surrounding than this, but then again, Heartless were sneaky enemies.

Yuffie nearly lost her balance again, but Vincent caught her as he stepped backward. Safely on her feet, the ninja raised her throwing star and tossed it without pausing. The weapon left her right hand, arcing to the left and hitting the Shadow before returning to its owner. Jumping in the air, Yuffie caught it with ease as the Heartless dissolved and a red heart floated into the air.

The more Shadows began to gather, and Yuffie took a step away, finding herself standing back-to-back with Vincent. As the Shadows took shape, she felt a determined smirk alight on her face.

"You've got a weapon, right?" she asked, as the Shadows surrounded them.

The only response she got was the flutter of Vincent's cloak against one arm. She could only guess that meant he was reaching for a gun.

With that, the smirk dissolved, and she threw the shuriken again.

Together, they made fast work of the Heartless. The skirmish was quick, all movement and enemies fading, gunshots and a red cape floating at the edges of her vision. When her weapon returned to her hand as the last Heartless faded, Yuffie jumped high in the air. She was smiling when she landed, adrenaline rushing through her system from the fight.

"That'll show 'em!" she called, turning around to look at Vincent. The gun he had fought with was still in his hand, resting at his side.

He head turned towards her, and he asked, "Heartless here, as well?"

"Troublesome little things!" Yuffie said absently. She hopped over, resting her shuriken on her shoulder. "And yeah, here too. They're always around, though not as many as there used to be."

Vincent made a noise that sounded like an agreement, or the equivalent of a nod. "That's good to know."

There was a brief period of silence, so Yuffie filled it as quickly as she could, "Okay, so like I was asking before, what've—"

Once again she was interrupted, but this time by the sound of shouting, and a fireball heading straight for them. Both jumped back as it hit the cobbles, Yuffie immediately falling into her battle stance once more. She tightened her grip on the shuriken, looking around to see where the attack had come from. It was probably one of those Heartless that carried around oversized books, and shot spells from it.

Yuffie turned as she heard footsteps running towards her. To her surprise, instead of some crazed Heartless, she found herself watching Leon approach from the stairs, gunblade at the ready. Following close behind him was Tifa, and that was another surprise in itself.

She didn't even have time to ask what the hell was going on. Leon simply brushed past her, heading straight for Vincent. He swung the gunblade in a downward slash, and Vincent leapt backward, high into the air. He landed lightly on his feet a few yards away, and Leon paused to consider him. The brunette made a sound as if to brush aside the maneuver of his opponent, and moved forward.

Yuffie, quite stunned by the sudden attack on her friend, finally shook herself out of it. She went to run between the two men, but a gloved hand caught her arm. She turned to find Tifa holding her just above the elbow. The older woman shook her head, her hair falling around her face.

"Tifa, what the hell is—"

Tifa shook her head again. "Don't worry, we'll jump in and help when Leon's worn the guy out a bit. Patrol wasn't that interesting, sadly."

"Patrol?" Yuffie asked, confused. She finally shook her head, and struggled against the grip holding her. Nearby, Vincent blocked another slash with his gun, jumping in the air and firing two bullets in Leon's direction. When Tifa wouldn't let go, Yuffie growled. "Let me go, Tifa! Leon doesn't know what he's doing! Don't you know? That's Vincent his fighting!"

A frown crossed Tifa's face, and she looked to the battle that was currently waging. Another bullet was fired, and Vincent caught the point of the gunblade on the back of his right hand.

With Tifa failing to act, Yuffie sighed heavily. She fought against the hand holding her, surprised to find that Tifa's grip had loosened a touch. Taking the opportunity, Yuffie wrenched her arm as hard as she could from Tifa, and actually stumbled forward from the force of it. Pushing her short hair out of her eyes, she scowled as she watched the fight.

Taking a deep breath, she purposely marched into the middle of the skirmish.

"What the heck is wrong with you two?!" she shouted, shooting a brief glare at Vincent, before blocking a horizontal slash from a surprised Leon. The strength of the impact felt like in pulled something in her arm, but she simply flinched and ignored it. Turning her attention to Leon, she continued her rant, "And you, Squall Leonhart, of all the people in this town…when have you started going around attacking people without good reason?! It's not like he's a freaking Heartless or something!"

She let this sink in for a moment, before half-turning to look as Vincent. She looked to Leon, and pointed to the man carrying the gun.

"I could have sworn you were a smart guy! Hells, Leon, it's Vincent Valentine! Can you not recognize a person you grew up with before we left Radiant Garden? And who visited us in Traverse Town a handful of times before we left that place too? It's kind of hard not to remember him! All that red and black and broodiness!"

Everything went quiet then, save for the sound of five people breathing. It then hit Yuffie that she had walked straight into a duel between two of the best fighters in Radiant Garden…and somehow managed to come out barely scathed. She looked to each of the men, and saw one end of Vincent's cloak was smoldering slightly. Leon seemed to have two slashes on his leather clothing, one on his calf and another on the sleeve of his jacket.

Oh well, things could have turned out worse. But they didn't, so she moved on.

Finally, Tifa walked forward, her hand covered her face. "Jeez, Leon, we messed up this time, didn't we?"

Leon glanced in her direction, slowly standing and lowering the gunblade.

"I…apologize," he said, speaking for the first time, "I thought…with the battle, another Heartless…" The man clad in leather paused then, getting a good look at the one in the red cloak, and…was Vincent also wearing leather pants?

Hot damn; these men really knew how to dress! And catch a girl's attention.

Ew, Yuffie, just…grossness! Vincent…okay, fine, you can think about him all you want, I'll give my subconscious that, she told herself, but Squall?? Oh, no, no way…he's been the brother your only-child self has had the last…like, twelve years. Longer than that, even. Sure, he's handsome, but not your type. Soooooo not your type, and…why am I thinking about this?

"Is that really you, Vincent?" Leon asked. To Yuffie, the question came out of nowhere. Well, she had been swimming in her own thoughts the last few seconds, missing a bit of reality.

Vincent shook the smoke out of his cloak, looked at Leon, and shrugged. "Yes, I believe so."

A pause from the so called 'leader' of the Restoration Committee. "It's been awhile."

A sharp exhale from Vincent. "Nearly three years and six months, as Yuffie pointed out."

Leon shouldered his gunblade, and nodded. "Good to see you again."

A return nod from Vincent.

Yuffie looked to Tifa, her eyebrows raised in disbelief at the simplicity in which the two men talked. Two men who had just been engaged in combat not five minutes ago. Tifa caught her look, and smiled, shaking her head as if to say she didn't understand it either.

"You still have your heart, right?" Tifa suddenly asked, crossing her arms under her chest. She shifted her weight to one side, and waited.

Vincent's eyes darted to her. "I do."

"Good, then at least you're not a Heartless. It would kind of suck to have to kill you if you were one. Then again, I guess you wouldn't have helped Yuffie out if you had become one, right?"

A shrug in reply.

Yuffie interrupted the conversation with an exaggerated sigh, shouldering her shuriken for at least the third or fourth time that morning. A sharp pain traveled through her wrist and up her arm, causing her to winch.

"Are you okay, Yuffie?" Leon asked, noticing the flinch. Yuffie smiled, and simply waved him off.

"Fine, fine," she said, though she knew it was a lie. Okay, not a full lie, since she wasn't badly injured or anything, but still a half-lie. One of the little ones with white cream-cheese icing to make it seem harmless. There was something wrong with her wrist, but she really didn't want to bother everyone with it. Aerith, at their resident white mage, could surely take care of it.

At the thought of Aerith, Yuffie's mind made the connection to tea. Nice, hot, soothing tea.

"Anyone up for breakfast?" the ninja asked, already turning towards Merlin's house. She'd get the first cup, even if she had to break her other wrist and bite someone's ankles off to get it.

-x)(X-x-X-x-X)(x-

As it turned out, she didn't actually have to injure anyone to get her tea. All Yuffie had to do was play the cute card, and thank Aerith from the depths of her young heart, and she was rewarded with a steaming up of chamomile tea. One with honey, lots and lots of honey.

Aerith was surprised to find both Vincent and Tifa following the young ninja inside, but she smiled happily and offered then some food and drink. Leon came in long enough to grab some of the coffee Cid had made—

"Oh, come on, Squall! How can you resist Aerith's fabulous tea?"

—before claiming he had things to check up on in town, and disappearing.

And so, Yuffie slouched in her chair, thoroughly enjoying the tea that was burning off her taste buds and helping to clear her head.

"Yuffie, your right hand has been shaking for the last ten minutes. Did something happen?"

Hearing Aerith's voice, Yuffie looked up, the question unexpected.

"Huh?"

Aerith laughed softly. "Your hand, Yuffie; you seem to be having trouble holding the cup steady. Did you get hurt?"

Yuffie, still clueless, looked down to where she was holding the mug in both hands. It was then she remembered blocking Leon's gunblade, and the dull pulse traveling up her arm that she's been successfully ignoring the last twenty minutes.

"I, uh, kinda walked into a fight between Vincent and Leon," Yuffie confessed, looking up to meet her friend's green gaze. When worry etched itself on Aerith's face, the youngster shook her head vigorously. "No no, they didn't mean it; it was just a misunderstanding. And I blocked the last slash Leon made just as I walked into the battle. It was an accident, but…it might have, um, messed with my wrist."

The older woman watched her for a long moment, and Yuffie blinked. "And you were going to tell me about this, when?" Aerith offered, eyebrows raised in question.

Always a healer, Yuffie thought, but she was grateful. Aerith was always aware of the others around her, and compassionate and understanding. When she had been younger, Yuffie has always wanted to be like Aerith when she grew up.

"After I had tea?" Yuffie said meekly, giving Aerith a soft smile. Aerith returned the smile, shaking her head as she came to sit beside the girl at Merlin's small table. It could fit four people, though, so no one complained. As Aerith gently took her wrist, Yuffie looked around the room. Tifa was sitting across the table from her, and Cid was over in his computer corner, messing with something. Vincent was leaning against a wall near the girls, subtly eyeing some of the food Aerith and Merlin had made.

"How long has it been since you've eaten, Vince?" Yuffie asked, simply because she was tired of the whole 'dark-badass-polite-look-at-me-in-my-sexy-leather-pants' demeanor. The conversation between Squall and the gunslinger had been enough to fill her quota for the day.

Vincent's eyes darted to her, as he replied, "Eighteen hours, perhaps. Not that long."

Yuffie snorted, and sipped her tea. "If you're hungry, Mr. Valentine, please eat. The food's there, and it would be a waste if it didn't make its way into someone's stomach."

Again, she received a long look and raised eyebrows, but Vincent pushed away from the wall. He carefully picked up a plate and put a few simple items on it, before sitting down at the table with them. Yuffie counted a plain bagel and a few strips of bacon, but that was it. She didn't say anything though, feeling she had bothered the man enough for the moment.

Before beginning to eat, Vincent produced a small, dark pack from underneath the cape, and set it on the floor. Everyone was quiet for the next few minutes, except for Yuffie, who hissed in pain when Aerith applied pressure to her wrist. She downed the last quarter of her tea to stifle the noise, nearly choking as she did so. All eyes were on her as she spent the next thirty seconds coughing, and Aerith continued to check her wrist.

"So, Vincent, what brings you to Radiant Garden?"

The question came from Tifa, though it wasn't at all surprising. Yuffie had been wondering the exact same thing, herself. Though, she was too distracted by her wrist sending thorns and prickles up her blasted arm. Aerith did something to her palm that didn't hurt, but then did the same to her wrist again, and it felt like the ninja had burned herself with a powerful Firaga spell. She grit her teeth to keep from hissing this time, though.

"I…am not exactly sure," Vincent replied, "I was traveling, and ended up here. The place looked familiar, like it used to, before…"

All three females nodded, knowing exactly what he was talking about. It was still hard to for any of them to mention that day, even know.

"Would this be like a homecoming, then?" Aerith asked, glancing up from her inspection and torture of the youngest person at the table. "Are you here to stay?" Her words were light and curious, not at all demanding or overly prying. She simply wanted to know, for the sake of knowing and nothing else.

Vincent gave another classic shrug. "It would seem so. I saw the people in the town, but I never expected to find all of you here as well. I thought you might still be back in Traverse Town."

At this, Yuffie shook her head. "Nope, not anymore. We haven't been back there since Sora cleared Maleficent's witchy butt out of this place and we started rebuilding. We brought Cid's gummi ship over to help out, and haven't left."

"Sora?" Vincent asked.

Yuffie looked at him for a moment, then realized that Vincent had, in all likelihood, never met the young boy. "Young teenager, brunet, legendary chosen wielder of the Keyblade. You know, that story Ansem always used rant about."

Understanding quickly filled Vincent's face, and he nodded. "So, it's true?"

"The story? Yeah," Yuffie replied, fiddling with the mug her tea had been in. "To make a long story short, Sora helped us get our world back, and destroyed a bunch of baddies along the way. He's been back in his home world for the last two years, though. We get letters from him and his friends often."

Finally, Aerith gave the ninja back her wrist. "It's not that bad, just overstrained. You should keep it in a sling for a few days, or at least keep from moving it. It should heal right up with a few Cure spells and potions."

Yuffie nodded, and then suddenly realized what Aerith had said. "Wait, a sling? This is my dominant hand, though! I need it to fight Heartless!"

"I really think you should rest it, Yuffie," Aerith said, giving her that steady gaze that could halt Leon in his tracks. And that was on a bad day, not that Aerith had many bad days. "Or at least have someone with you that can fight, if you have to go out."

Tifa smirked. "With her amount of energy, it might be bad to keep her inside."

Hearing this, Yuffie couldn't help but smile. She met Aerith's gaze for a second, before nodding. "Alright, alright, I'll stay inside. But no sling! I don't want everyone staring at me and thinking that I need help."

Aerith's eyes brightened, and she nodded, helping herself to more tea. She filled Yuffie's cup as well, almost as a way of bribing the elder teenager. If so, it was working, because Yuffie quickly reached for the cup and drank a good bit of it. Aerith turned to Vincent then, her hands folded in her lap. "If you're going to be staying for awhile, we need to find you a place to sleep," she said, in a matter-of-fact way.

The room was strangely silent at the mention of room arrangements. It wasn't like it was an uncommon topic of conversation. Heck, every time Sora and his gang had come by for more than a day, the entire committee relocated themselves without much complaint. After sharing hotel rooms in Traverse Town for weeks, and then finally finding a decent place to live in after Cid had opened his shop, the group was used to it. But for some reason, right this moment, the subject had become awkward.

"Well, he ain't staying with me," Cid suddenly piped it, buttons still clicking away on his computer. And that was that.

Yuffie glanced briefly at the pile of books that blocked the man from sight, and then back to those at the table. Hell, there was little chance of Leon sharing his room either. He had the smallest apartment of the ones they had built and restored, claiming the girls needed more space. Up until three months ago, on her last birthday, Yuffie and Aerith had shared the largest room. It was the only room with two beds, but the gang had restored another apartment just for Yuffie, as a birthday present.

All of the so-called apartments, located just outside of town and on top of Merlin's house, were accessible by two stairways. One was inside the wizard's place, the other secluded by the wall. They had been built to house the Restoration Committee and anyone who was currently helping them, but they still only had three in good condition at the moment.

Well, this certainly presented a problem.

Tifa had usually stayed with Aerith and Yuffie, with the youngest giving up her bed and sleeping on the couch. Well, there was a small sofa in her own room right now, and she had enough room.

"Oh, it's not that big of a deal guys, sheesh," Yuffie said, poking a hole in the silence. "Tifa, you can stay with Aerith like you used too. We all know Leon's room is too small, so Vincent will stay with me. I've got a couch, so I'll sleep on that." And with that, she returned to her tea.

Instead of agreement, she as only met with several stares and more silence.

Looking up, she asked, "What?"

Then, Yuffie actually thought about what she had just suggested. What had seemed to be perfectly rational solution to a plan, now seemed a bit…odd. Okay, well, if she was coming from where Aerith or Tifa was, the suggestion seemed odd.

So, Yuffie sighed, and set down her tea. "What is with everyone today?" she asked, to no one in particular. "Everybody is acting weird! Come on, guys, you know what I meant! I'm an adult, old enough to drink and fight for myself and curse. I think I can handle having a roommate."

"Hmph, you ain't old enough to drink yet, girl," Cid commented.

"Yeah, yeah," Yuffie replied, wishing she could glare at the man. "I'm sure you laced that bitter coffee with whiskey or something over there before you drank it."

A snort echoed through the room. "If I did, you better hope I slipped some into Leon's as well. This is going to be a long day otherwise."

Yuffie and Tifa burst out laughing, and Aerith just smiled. Humor was hard to find for the Committee, between longs days of fighting Heartless, making sure supplies were shipped in and going out, and that the restoration was continuing at a steady pace. But still, they managed to hold on, laughing whenever they could and turning normally stressful situations into funny ones.

Vincent hadn't yet given his opinion on the proposal, which worried Yuffie a bit. But she pushed the feeling from her mind, figuring he would say something sooner or later. So, she stood up, and helped herself to a bagel and some scrambled eggs. While her back was turned, she heard Tifa ask, "Well, Vincent? What's your view on the situation?"

As was customary, Vincent took a moment to gather his thoughts, before saying, "There doesn't seem much more to say. You know the how the living arrangements work, and where you can fit visitors. I don't mind sharing with someone, but if it might cause a problem, I can stay elsewhere."

"There aren't many other places to stay," Tifa said, smirking. "There's Merlin's floor, the back room of the shop the moogles own, and…well, more of the floor. Yuffie's place seems your best choice."

Vincent nodded, his decision seemingly made. Yuffie finished her breakfast quickly, taking everyone's plates and cups, and helping Aerith to clean them. When they were put away in one of Merlin's crooked cabinets (that, strangely, never seemed to fall, and the dishes didn't sit at an angle at all), Yuffie went to fetch her shuriken. Once glance from Aerith, though, made her grab it with her left hand. She also settled her right arm against her stomach to appease the white mage.

"Shall we go?" Yuffie asked, directing the question to Vincent. "You can leave your pack in the apartment, and I can show you around the town. Maybe we can find Leon and bother him a bit."

"Alright," Vincent said, moving to stand. As he pushed back his hair, Yuffie headed for the small stairwell that would lead to a balcony on the second floor, and to the apartments.

"Don't go causin' trouble, you two!" Cid called after them. "Last thing we need is Leon havin' a heart attack!"

Yuffie's laughter filled the room. "Sure, Cid, sure; because we all know I was planning on throwing the last of my dignity to that Cerberus creature in the Underworld, and jump Vincent while he sleeps."


End Note: So…kind of abrupt ending, surprising lack of typos, and quite possibly a great bit of out-of-characterness. That, and lots of sarcasm, pretty much sums everything up. Oh, and maybe overused K.H. humor, and plenty of random thoughts on the part of Yuffie...but, I mean, don't we all have a completely out-of-nowhere thought process on occasion? Hopefully you guys enjoyed reading this, and if so, let me know via the review button below. :D And if you didn't, well, let me know that, too! Suggestions, comments, anything is welcome and needed. This story WILL get edited and fixed and updated soon…and more fanfic-age will be on the way in the next few weeks!

-The surprisingly

silver-oriented

Heartless Kittypet-