Disclaimer: I don't own anything. All rights belong to Square Enix.
Author's Note: I rewrote the ending of Dirge of Cerberus. I always hated the Shelke/Vincent ending. First off, after all the damage Lucrecia did, no one with any part of her inside them needs anywhere near Vincent. And not that I really have any problems with Shelke but she has alll the emotional warmth of an ice cube. Yuffie and Vincent seemed close in the game, hell she even kinda got him to chuckle, and I've always felt it should have been her with him at the end. Vincent doesn't go to the cave. Instead, the group searches for him and finds him after Omega returns to the planet.
I've revised this so even if you've already read this chapter I suggest rereading it. Let me know what you think.
Yuffie thought she was prepared. She was wrong. Nothing could have prepared her for this. "Oh, planet," she whispered hoarsely blinking back tears, "Vinnie."
Distantly she heard the horrified exclamations of Cloud and Tifa behind her and then Tifa's shaky voice contacting Reeve on her cell phone giving the WRO commissioner their location and a request for immediate medical assistance.
Forcing leaden feet to shuffle forward, Yuffie crouched next to the man to whom all of Gaia owed their lives. Vincent's clawless arm was stretched out beside his head bent at an unnatural angle. Blood pooled behind his head and ran from a large gash in his forehead. Blood leaked from the corner of his mouth. Carefully running a hand over Vincent's chest and stomach, Yuffie could feel that many if not all of his ribs were broken the jagged edges poking at the skin. The ninja was relieved at the small moan that the gunfighter gave at the touch because it mean that no matter how bad of shape he was in he was alive.
Ignoring Cloud when he knelt beside her the White Rose resumed her evaluation of the ex-Turks condition. Yuffie continued to run her eyes and hand over her friend's battered form. Vincent's clawed hand had landed under him the sharp talons piercing the tender skin of his lower back.
Suppressing a whimper Yuffie lifted Vincent slightly and pulled the claw free from his flesh laying his arm gently at his side. Despite her attempts to be gentle, Vincent awoke with a sharp cry causing her to rear back in surprise.
Unable to stop himself, Vincent let out another scream at the excruciating pain that wracked every inch of his body. It didn't matter how fast he could heal. There was simply too much damage for his body to fix on its own. Gradually Vincent became aware of a frantic voice calling his name and gentle hands on his cheek and forehead.
Letting out another moan, Vincent forced his eyes open and blinked rapidly willing them to focus. It took several long moments but eventually Vincent was able to make out Yuffie's pretty features hovering above him.
"Yuffie . . .?" Vincent whispered before gritting his teeth to stifle his cry as another wave of pain swept through him. She's crying . . . why?
"Sshh, Vinnie," Yuffie soothed, smiling through her tears, "You'll be okay. Help is on the way. Just stay still, 'kay?"
Reflexively trying to move his arms Vincent let out a hoarse scream as he tried to move the one that was broken. Yuffie hands fluttered nervously longing to comfort but unsure of where to touch.
"Yuffie," Cloud said shifting closer to Vincent's broke arm, "He's too badly hurt for materia alone, but we can at least set his arm. I've got a Cure 3 that should take care of at least that much. I don't want to heal his ribs until a doctor takes a look and sees what's going on in there. I could do more harm than good if I did it now."
"What do you need me to do?" Yuffie asked anxiously.
"Just hold him still," Cloud ordered. Gently pulling Vincent's arm out into a position that would allow him to set the bone, the swordsman hesitated and glanced over at Vincent.
"H-has to be done," Vincent rasped.
Without delaying further Cloud pulled the bone back into place wincing sympathetically as Vincent grunted and jerked with the pain. Yuffie held Vincent down and whispered soothing nonsense as the swordsman worked.
"There," Cloud said softly, "Just hang on a minute, Vincent." Pulling his Cure 3 from a pocket, the blonde cast Cure on Vincent's arm sending as much healing energy into the appendage as he could. Satisfied at last, Cloud brought Vincent's healed arm to rest against his battered body.
Laying a hand on his friend's shoulder Cloud said, "Just hold on. Tifa's gone to meet Reeve and lead the medics here."
Painfully nodding his understanding Vincent's mind cleared enough for him to ask, "Omega?"
"He's gone back to the planet, Vinnie," Yuffie told him, her pride in the gunman's actions apparent in her voice, "You saved us."
Sagging in relief, Vincent's eyes closed again but opened a moment later at the feeling of someone removing his bandana.
Dabbing gently at the gash on Vincent's forehead and the blood that trickled down his chin Yuffie babbled, "You're a mess, Vince, but don't worry we're going to get you all fix up. You'll be as good as new in no time and back to your broody old self. And when you're better we're taking a vacation. You've earned it."
Vincent let Yuffie's voice wash over him, touched because he knew she did it to cover her worry. If the pain he was in wasn't an indication of how badly he was hurt the concern plastered on Yuffie's and Cloud's faces would have made it abundantly clear.
All this time I thought I wanted to be alone . . . now I'm merely grateful to have friends like them. Vincent looked intently at Yuffie's face and felt his heart twist as a single tear fell from her brown eyes and slid down the soft skin of her cheek. She's afraid for me, Vincent realized. The ninja's hands were infinitely gentle as she fussed over him trying to make him as comfortable as possible.
"Yuffie," Vincent called softly.
Blinking, the ninja looked down at the injured man. "What is it?"
Opening her mouth to reply, Yuffie stopped when Cloud stood abruptly.
Vincent tried to look but ended up coughing instead. He only made things worse when he reflexively tried to curl up as his ribs protested the disturbance. He was dimly aware of small hands easing him onto his back once more.
Gripping Vincent's hand, Yuffie yelled, "Over here! Hurry up already!" Tears flowed anew at the sight of the WRO squad picking their way through the Midgar debris. Tifa and Reeve lead the part but were followed closely by Barret, Cid, Cait Sith, and Shelke.
"Shit!" Cid cursed laying eyes on the bloodied man before him.
Eyes wide, Reeve motioned his squad forward. "For planet's sake, help him!"
Gently, Cloud grasped the ninja's shoulders in order to gently move Yuffie out of the medic's way but Vincent wouldn't let go of her hand. Red eyes pleaded.
"Stay . . . w-with me?" Vincent didn't think he could bear the pain if she let go of his hand. And he knew he wouldn't be able to bear the attention of the medics without it. Hojo had made sure that Vincent would never really trust doctors ever again.
The girl glanced up at the medics. "We should be able to work around you for now," the woman in charged answered, sweeping her blonde hair back over her shoulder, "Just keep him calm."
Nodding, Yuffie smiled down at Vincent. "I'm not going anywhere. I promise."
Vincent's grip on Yuffie's hand was painful as the medics poked and prodded and went about attaching IVs in preparation for moving him to a medical facility but Yuffie didn't complain.
"It . . . hurts," Vincent whispered.
That small admission brought fresh tears to Tifa and Yuffie's eyes and even the eyes of the men were suspiciously bright. Unable to process the new emotions Shelke shifted her gaze to the ground. Vincent never complained . . . ever. If he was admitting to the pain then it must be terrible.
"Okay, Mr. Valentine," the head medic said, "We're going to put you on a gurney now."
A strangled scream left Vincent's lips even though the medics were as gentle as possible. Once he was settled, the exhausted man could do little more than gasp for breath, the effort extremely painful because of his injured ribs.
"Let's get a morphine drip started here!" the woman barked, "Now, let's get him to the chopper without shaking him too much. Move!"
Yuffie walked besides the gurney her hand still gripped tightly in Vincent's. Despite the painkiller he was still unable to slip into the welcoming blackness that hovered at the edges of his vision. Each bump no matter how slight was an agony.
"We're all here, Vinnie," Yuffie reminded him, "You'll be alright. We're going to take care of you, you'll see."
"I-I know you will, Yuffie," Vincent whispered, teeth gritted against the pain.
Smiling sadly, Tifa reached for Cloud's hand. Pulling her closer, Cloud placed an arm around her shoulders. "He'll be okay, Tifa," the ex-SOLDIER assured her.
"I know," Tifa whispered, "I just wish he hadn't had to do this alone."
"He's not alone anymore." Though Cloud spoke in his usual soft voice there was a resolve in his voice that made it clear his words were a vow.
Surrounded by his friends, Vincent was loaded onto the chopper. The head medic told Cid where Vincent would be taken.
"You just take it easy, Vince," the pilot said, "We'll follow in the Shera. Yuffie is going to go with you. Just hang in there and we'll see you soon." Cid punctuated his words by squeezing Vincent's should briefly before herding the others away so the chopper could take off. The sooner Vincent reached the medical facility the better.
As the chopper took off, with Yuffie by his side and still tightly gripping his hand, Vincent finally allowed the darkness to sweep him into its comforting embrace.
Long, dark lashes fluttered over high cheekbones. Vincent slowly became aware of a distant beeping noise as well as hushed whispers. His mind was clouded and his body ached but he forced his eyes open. It took several long moments for Vincent to realize that he was alive.
"Hey there. About time you woke up."
Turning his head towards the sound of Cloud's quiet voice, the gunman found him standing next to a chair by his bed. Tifa and the others hovered behind him, joyous smiles lighting their faces now that they knew their friend would be all right. In the chair curled up almost into a ball, and still gripping his hand, was Yuffie.
"She hasn't left your side, you know," Tifa informed him, "You've been asleep for three days, Vincent."
"Scared the hell out of all of us, Vince," Cid's gruff voice called out.
"I'm s-sorry," Vincent whispered his voice hoarse from lack of use. Despite the fact that he answered the others his eyes never left the sleeping princess.
"This is the first time Yuffie has slept," Reeve added.
"W-where are we?"
"At our temporary base of operations," the WRO commissioner replied, "You're going to be sore for a while but you're going to be fine, Vincent. We'll give you to the full story once you're feeling better."
Vincent wanted to thank his friends for coming for him and for worrying about him but his eyelids were becoming heavy as his body slowly dragged him back under for some much needed rest. Yet, he couldn't take his eyes off the small girl who had kept constant vigil over him. She never left me, he thought in wonder.
"We'll let you get some sleep," Tifa said, "We'll be back to see you later."
"Wait," Vincent said, painfully shifting his body over in the bed. Red eyes glanced from the sleeping girl to Cloud and back again. Yuffie cannot be comfortable in such a position. After three days she must need to rest as much as I. It's the least I can do to thank her.
Understanding what Vincent wanted, Cloud gently lifted Yuffie and settled her next to Vincent on the bed. Immediately, Yuffie curled up against Vincent one small hand resting on his chest.
Smiling, the others filed out of the room and Vincent closed his eyes letting Yuffie's warmth lull him back to sleep.