For Ana.

So, yeah. Um, the characters are probably very OOC in this oneshot, since I didn't make Yuffie her usual happy-go-lucky self and I don't know Zack's character. At all. But! Ana wanted a Zack-Yuffie friendship fic from me, and, even though that idea kind of got warped throughout this, I did my best. So, here it is, finally uploaded now that ffnet's stopped having attitude problems!

Disclaimer: I own neither Kingdom Hearts nor Final Fantasy.

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Shadows slipped over the bricks as she dangled upside down, her fingertips sweeping against the dust on the cobblestones, her hair falling away from her face. She swung back and forth, expelling a bored sigh from her lips, just rocking in a rhythmic pendulum and idling the hours away. Night had fallen over Hollow Bastion, and she should've taken the roof route back to the castle by now, away from predatory eyes and pitch-black shadows. But she didn't want to go back there yet – to where the silence echoed off the winding walls, the carpets couldn't hide the stain of blood, and every pair of eyes dodged her own, in the hopes that she wouldn't ask them why.

As her lip trembled angrily, a stray tear trailed from the corner of her eye down to her temple. She just wanted to know why. But even Aerith wouldn't hold her gaze for long.

The clouds above throbbed, roiling with the threat of a storm as they gathered into a gray mass against a sky had long since faded to black. Still she swung, though, too afraid to go back to empty halls and even emptier rooms, where memories haunted every crevice and questions suspended themselves in the air. Even with the first slap of water against the cobblestones, followed by the slick, steady fall of rain dousing her through her meager clothing, she couldn't be persuaded to move beyond her meditative swaying. She simply stared with boredom at the wall, her hands clenching and clenching beyond her head, her hair becoming thick and scraggly as it absorbed the thickening rain.

It was cold, of course. The sheen of water that coated her bare arms provoked goosebumps her skin, and the hairs on the back of her neck rose as she continued to rock, eyes salty with tears, lips pursed with frustration. Back and forth, back and forth she lulled herself to senselessness, keeping her eyes on those shadows on the wall, keeping her thoughts from the ache in her heart.

It was the sharp click of footsteps, however, almost indistinguishable amidst the pitter-patter of rain droplets, that alerted her back to the full danger of her surroundings. Her entire body stiffening, she sucked in a breath and flipped backwards off of the wall, landing on her feet with her left knee brushing her chest and her right leg spread in an arc across the cobblestones. In her hand she had her shuriken readied for an attack, but still her heart thrummed beneath her breast, and she clenched her teeth against her rage. She felt clammy, and cold, and alone. And all she could do was wait.

A shadow fell across the entrance to the alleyway, too big to be a heartless and too familiar to be an enemy. Still, she drew herself up with hesitance, fingers biting into the blade of her weapon, chin tilting with suspicion as the rain coursed down her face. She didn't secure her shuriken onto her back again until Zack Fair stepped into the half-light, his blade catching the glint of the falling water and his hair matting slightly to his face.

"Hey, Princess." A fond smile smoothed the line of his lips, and he lingered in front of her with arms crossed and head tilted. "What're you doing out here all by your lonesome?"

Shoulders sagging, she drew her fingers through her plastered locks of hair and glowered at his feet, giving a small pout as she kicked at the ground. "I can't stand the castle. It's too quiet. And you're not there," she accused, hands clenching in their stubborn way, her eyes snapping to his face as she dissolved into childish glaring.

In response, he laughed. "I have things to do, kiddo. There's no time for me to make house calls."

"They miss you."

She watched as his smile fell for a moment and a contemplative look overcame his face. All too soon it was replaced, however, and he turned his head as he rubbed the back of his neck, saying quite simply, "Yeah, well, there's nothing I can really do about that, Yuff."

"I miss you."

His gaze trailed back to hers, and it softened with her insistency. She could feel him taking in the sight of her, drenched pathetically in rain, doing her best to hide the tremble of her lip as she raised her chin and took on a façade of steely maturity. She could feel him understanding, in the way that no one else in Hollow Bastion seemed to grasp these long days of battle, where everyone was so busy carrying out personal missions and forgetting the ones who clung to their strength for support. Teeth clenching against the wave of grief rising within her, she lifted a clenched palm and brushed it beneath one eye, sweeping away the pool of warm tears that had slowly begun to flow down her cheek.

"Hey. Chin up, little lady. No tears on my account. That doesn't suit you."

Angrily, she stomped her foot, shaking her head against his falling smile and saddening stare. "Shut up! Everyone's leaving! Everyone! They're leaving me behind! It's such a stupid war! A stupid, stupid--!"

Through her hysterics, she hadn't heard him approach, but she was aware of his presence now, as he swept her into a hug and crushed off the rest of her outburst. Eyes wide and body shaking as she felt her cheek pressing deeper into the folds of his clothes, she jerked her arms with a spasm, not sure if she wanted to claw herself away from him or press herself more tightly into his embrace. At last, as his scent washed over her and his warmth coaxed away the numbness in her body that she hadn't been aware of – leaving cold, and pain – she was wracked by a most tremendous sob, and with a jerk she grabbed forcefully at the clothes at his back, nearly screaming and almost collapsing as she sobbed into his chest and felt the tears burn a path down her face.

"It's not fair! It's not fair, it's not fair, it's not FAIR!"

"Yuffie…" he breathed, taking a fistful of hair in his hand, smoothing circles onto her back. Sobbing again, she pressed her nails into his skin, wanting to feel the comfort of his flesh, wanting to know for certain that he was there. "Yuffie, we all hate to see you cry. You're too beautiful to cry."

Her heart breaking, she relinquished her nails from his back, wrapping her arms fully around him as she pressed her body flush against his. Blushing, sobbing, she clung to him, wanting to never let go of this moment suspended between them. It had been too long since she'd been calmed by his level breathing whispering into her ear,too long since his hand had pressed against the small of her back and had supported her through her sorrows. She'd missed it – had missed him. More than she'd thought was ever possible.

"Z-Zack…" she choked, feeling him shift beneath her touch, feeling him press his palm against her head for just a moment's touch longer, before he had to go, before he had to leave her on her own again. Instinctively, her arms tightened about him, and she shuddered, the tears pooling at the base of her chin. "You can't…" Inhaling sharply, she shook her head. "Just stay. Just stay. Please. We need you h-here."

His hands, upon grazing the side of her face, fell to her shoulders, and she was forced out of his embrace, away from his warmth. Sniffling, she scrubbed at her eyes and tried to avoid that affectionate look on his face, tried to avoid the maturity in his features and purpose in his stance. But his fingertips tapped her chin upwards, and immediately she was hopelessly lost in the swirl of his stare, tears falling from her lashes and rain mixing into her hair.

"Yuffie, you know that's not true."

"What about Aerith?" she protested, even though it broke her heart to say the Flower Girl's name, to admit how deeply his love still ran.

And, as she'd expected, he winced at that name, his fingers digging slightly into her shoulders. "She's…moved on," he whispered, before he bared a painful smile. "And I couldn't pick a better man to look out for her for me." To emphasize this, he winked.

She wasn't satisfied. "You can't…" Breathless, she grasped at the loose fabric of his shirt, and her brow furrowed angrily as she shook her head. "You can't leave me!" she cried selfishly, her voice spiraling into a high pitch, her fingers embedding themselves into his soft shirt.

But his hands grabbed her wrists, and again he freed himself from her grasp with ease. In his hold she fell limp, head hanging in defeat, wet bangs sticking in a mess against her face. His rough fingertips stroked her wind-whipped cheeks, now raw from the cold, but she jerked back slightly with a shudder, closing her eyes against the feeling.

"Yuffie." His voice was soft, close. Against her will, she glanced up to see his face inches from hers, his smile dazzling and yet heartbreakingly sad in their dim surroundings. "Listen to me. Not everyone is going to leave you in this war."

"S-Squall did." Her voice broke as she said his name, her tears again breaking forth from their dams and tumbling down towards her lips. Shaking violently, she could taste the salt, the bitterness, and her nails bit into her palms as she ducked her head down angrily and submitted once more to her hysterics. "H-he was stupid. H-he protected me. A-and now he's--"

A hand roughly cupped her chin, and her head was swiftly jerked up, to where her lips met his in a dizzying clash of passion and utter sadness. Gasping, she reached for his rain-drenched locks and fisted them, pressing herself flush against his body once more, entangling his legs and ankles with her own as she tried to feel all of him beneath her fingertips. Her tears mixed with their lips, followed the line of their tongues, and as the rain drummed with a hollow sound against their bodies she crushed herself more against the warmth of his, trying to memorize every pulsing second that slipped away.

Too soon he untangled himself from her, breathless, eyes storming, nails sinking into her elbows with urgency. "Don't ever think it should've been you," he whispered in a harsh voice, even as his eyes remained kind and tender. "Don't ever think any of us would want that for you."

"What if I want it?" she hissed in return. "To be with him. With you, Zack." Her furious expression shattered. "With you. Forever. Away from this hellish--"

His fingers touched gently against her lips, silencing her. Shuddering, she didn't bother to suppress her tears, merely staring into his eyes as he began to distance himself from her again, began to leave.


Tilting his head, he retrieved his fingers from her lips and placed his hand at the back of his neck, a sad smile curving his mouth upwards. "He loved you."

Tears flowed with further urgency down her face. "I loved him."

Zack nodded, his eyes still sorrowful as he smiled. "I know."

"I just…loved you more."

His face crumbled, and he took a step towards her; but he stopped himself, just as her heart leapt, just as she began to hope that he wasn't simply an apparition. "I know," he whispered, heartbroken smile bleeding at last back onto his lips.


"I have to go, Yuffie."

"Zack, stay."

Lifting his hand into a regretful wave, he smiled for her and then touched his sword, tipping his head in a farewell gesture. "You'll make it, beautiful. Just stop clinging to the past."

"Zack, I love you!" she shouted as he began to walk away, hoping that her words would tie him to the present, would link him back to her. He did, in fact, hesitate as he headed back towards the entrance of the alleyway, but his will was strong, and he at last urged himself to keep on walking. Even as she shrieked his name, running after him belatedly, he didn't stop again, and he disappeared into the night before she could reach him a final time. Sobbing in grief, Yuffie fell to her knees, not caring for the pain that shot up her legs and sank into her bones. Fists moving to press against her eyes, she screamed to the stars, hating him, hating Hollow Bastion, hating the war.

Because of it, every man she'd dared to love had died.

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I kind of like it. I guess. It's still weird. But please review!