Author's Note: Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's been a long and bumpy road, and through all of the side-tracked drabbles, pathetic plot holes and poor grammar, we're finally reached out destination. I hope you guys had as much fun as i did! Just so you guys all know, there may or may not be an epilogue; I ADORE this chapter, and so going out with a bang would be awesome, and besides, I have big plans for a sequel to this baby, but it probably will not be started until June '09, seeing as I have school to contend with now, and I can't commit to any more big undertakings.
Anyway, I would love to hear from ALL of you on this final official Convergence chapter. Yes, even you quiet types. (That means you, Costa! haha, jk). even if you hated this whole story with a burning fiery passion, I want to know. ( I would wonder then at you reading this far, but whatever floats your boat).
Speaking of floating boats, this chapter is work-safe! Oh, i lied, I keep forgetting about Cid and his mouth.
"There was some swearing, but he got us here," Shera said, smiling and patting her husband on the shoulder.
Cid grumbled, mumbling around the Marlboro in between his lips. "Woman wouldn't shut up 'til I agreed. An' I figured, in her state an' all, I best not be agitating the beast."
The Shera was brought down in the Midgar Square, and the engines hummed as it was shut down, crewmen scurrying over her decks. Yuffie was standing with Vincent, watching as their friends got off the airship, one by one, chattering merrily to each other. Reeve brought up the rear with a small, almost sad smile.
Tifa ran to the ninja immediately, hugging her tightly. "I'm so glad you called us, Yuffie."
Yuffie hugged her back, unfazed by the martial artist's tight embrace. "Me too, Teef, me too."
"So why Midgar?" Barrett asked, looking around him at the still gloomy site.
Yuffie pried herself gently from her friend and looked at her fiancé, who was back in his regular outfit, minus his cloak, which was currently wrapped around the ninja. His eyes caught hers and he gave her a small smile, nodding her toward Barrett to answer his question.
"Well we wanted everyone to be here," she said, "You guys are family, and..."
She didn't need to finish, because everyone was well aware of what she was getting at.
Cloud, who had stayed back with Reeve, glanced briefly at the sky. "Aeris," he whispered. The commissioner's hand squeezed the swordsman's shoulder sympathetically.
"We thought, if you guys didn't mind, maybe we could get married in her church," Yuffie said, hugging Vincent's cloak around her tightly. When no one seemed to comment in the negative, but were all too aware of the subject to comment on their agreement, she continued. "Cid, if you could; I'd really like you to still walk me down the aisle."
Every set of eyes darted to the pilot, who was glaring, but surprisingly not in Yuffie's direction. "Ya'll are just jealous cuz she didn't ask any-a-you." He lit up another cigarette and nodded at Yuffie. "You're on, kid."
She smiled warmly and her gaze turned to Nanaki. "Hey Red, don't you have some kind of civil right to marry people in Cosmo Canyon?"
He made a light noise, resembling a laugh. "In Cosmo Canyon only, I have no jurisdiction in Midgar." When Yuffie's face fell, he chuckled again. "But you are getting legally married in Wutai, are you not? I will marry you symbolically today, if you'll let me."
Yuffie beamed, throwing another look at Vincent. As ever, his expression read complete compliance to her wishes on the subject.
Cloud took the unspoken charge, leading the group of warriors, friends, allies and children to the flower girl's church.
When they arrived they weren't surprised at the state of things. Since they had last visited as a collective, some of the precariously leaning beams had fallen, and the part of the roof that was missing had grown larger. Aeris' flowers were less plentiful than they had once been, but all along the edge of the pool of water simple yellow and white lilies grew heartily, their faces turned up to the sunlight filtering through the rafters.
"Hi Aeris," Yuffie greeted, smiling as the flower girl's presence seemed to engulf the room. "We've got big news."
The flowers seemed to perk up, and without having to say it, they all knew that Aeris knew what the news was; she'd been watching excitedly from the Promised Land this whole time.
Marlene skipped inside, and Denzel followed in toe, worriedly telling her not to get too close to the water and grabbing her hand. Past them, Nanaki hopped over wooden beams and rubble to get to the altar, sitting patiently as the rest of the group gathered themselves.
"Well, ya ready, brat?" Cid asked, motioning to the back of the church.
Cloud's hand landed on Vincent's shoulder and directed him toward Nanaki, and with a final look at each other, the lovers' hands slipped apart from where they had been clasped tightly beneath the red swirling mantle wrapped around Yuffie's body.
Vincent's eyes snapped up and his heart sank in his chest when he saw Reeve step forward.
"What is it, Reevey?" Yuffie giggled, she seemed unfazed as the commissioner approached her, his mouth drawn.
"I just..." He glanced briefly at Vincent, wincing at the look he received. "You can't get married without a bouquet," he said, his voice considerably softer. From behind his back he produced a bouquet of white roses, tied together at the stems by a red ribbon.
The ninja's smile widened and she looked up at the older man with a joyous expression.
"White roses for the princess," he whispered. He slowly pulled one of the roses from the bouquet and snapped the stem, shortening it. He took a breath and lifted it to her hair, tucking it in just above her ear.
As soon as he had it secured, Yuffie hugged him tightly, the flowers held aside so they would not be crushed. "Gawd, Tuesti, you're too good to me."
He swallowed hard and forced himself to step back.
Vincent watched the entire exchange with a swiftly softening expression. For some reason he couldn't find it within himself to feel anger toward Tuesti, frustration toward Yuffie, or fear for himself. She wouldn't ever leave him.
"Yuffie," it was Tifa's gentle voice, and Shera's hand on her shoulder, guiding her back from the hug.
Confused, she looked up at Reeve and caught sight of the pained look on his face. "Reeve?"
"Go on, princess," his voice was gruff. "It's time." He risked opening his eyes, and he caught her surprised gaze.
Instantly she looked at Vincent, remembering their conversation in the car on the way to Junon. This was who had fallen in love with her? "Oh Reevey," she sighed.
"Yuffie..." Tifa's voice seemed more strained; she was glancing back and forth from Vincent to Reeve to Yuffie, occasionally looking at her husband for some support.
The ninja was not to be deterred, however. The sly, dangerous look on her face was back and she stuck up one finger in front of Reeve's face before darted off to Vincent, standing on her tip-toes to whisper something Wutaiin in his ear.
He didn't know whether to laugh or cry at her proposal. "You want to do what?" he hissed back.
"Just one, Vinnie, unless of course you're still afraid I'm gonna run off."
He could, for the first time, honestly deny the accusation. "I'm more concerned about you toying with his emotions."
"Oh yeah, because me getting married to you isn't a clear sign of my intentions."
Vincent rolled his eyes, but didn't argue.
She grinned. "I love you."
She pulled away from him and he sighed. "You had better." He dropped a chaste kiss on her lips before she turned and scurried back to Reeve, who looked thoroughly perplexed.
"Vince just reminded me of something, Reevey."
He sighed. "What's that, Yuffie?"
"Well, in Wutai, it's customary for the presiding ruler to kiss the bride before she is married."
He glanced warily at Vincent.
"And since you're the president of the WRO, I'd say you're the closest thing to it!" She was grinning, and her flowers were cradled gently in her arms. "So, what do you say?"
She had already passed the roses off to Shera, who was watching with wide eyes, and she put her hands on both sides of the commissioner's handsome face. "Ready? One, two...mmrph!"
His lips were on hers hungrily, and he tipped her backwards, tongue slipping passed her lips when she made the mistake of opening her mouth to scream. Her yell subsequently turned into a long moan, making every uninvolved member of AVALANCHE look at Vincent to see his reaction.
They stared, and he just laughed.
Cloud, for one, was convinced that this was the last straw (a guy could only take so much pain, right?) and that Vincent Valentine had officially gone batshit crazy.
Yuffie was making little mewls of protest now, her fingers clutching at Reeve's coat, half to keep from falling backward and half to push him away. Reluctantly the WRO commissioner pulled back, and turned his flushed face away.
Yuffie, for all her efforts to stay upright, fell into a clump of flowers, staring at the high arched ceiling. "Holy Jenova," she whispered, planting her palm on her forehead.
"Come on," Cid muttered gruffly, shooting a glare at Reeve and offering Yuffie a hand up. "Let's go get you married to Valentine, here, remember?"
Yuffie managed a weak nod as she was hoisted to her feet and swiftly escorted to the back of the church.
Cloud's eyes were wide. "Well that was unexpected. Reeve... Vincent... Are we all okay here?"
Reeve shook his head, a smile replacing he once sullen frown. In his hand was the rose he had placed in the ninja's hair. He closed his fingers around it and looked up, winking at the gunslinger. "It's good to be President(1)."
The gunslinger gave the man a curt nod, smirking slightly.
"Vincent, I will be needing you up here, please," Nanaki instructed, and in moments everyone was in their places; Tifa, Shera, Barrett, Reeve and Cloud congregated with the children by the water, Vincent was standing with Nanaki at the altar and muffled curses and yelling could be heard from where Yuffie and Cid were hidden in the back.
"Okay!" Tifa called. "We're ready for you!"
"Did you hear that, Cid? They're waiting!"
"Well come on then!" He stuck out his elbow impatiently, but Yuffie crossed her arms indignantly. Vincent's cloak had been taken off and she looked much more grown up without her usual short-shorts and tank-top. Not that Cid would ever admit such; she was basically pouting at him anyway.
"Not until you lose the cancer stick, Highwind."
He rolled his eyes. "Fuckin' brat; the only woman I take orders from is Shera and that's only because she's fuckin' lethal when she's pissy—Ah! Hey, bitch!"
Yuffie had snatched the cigarette from his mouth in the middle of his rambling and was now stomping it out under her heel. "All better, now hurry up! Let's go!"
"Fuckin' brat!" he cursed again, letting her hook her arm in his and drag him into the sanctuary. Their bickering died off when everyone's eyes turned to lock on them.
Yuffie didn't seem to notice them, even though Cid was awkwardly conscious of it. Her eyes were fixed at the front of the church, which seemed oh so far away to the young princess. The object of her attention had been looking at Nanaki before she had burst through the door, and when the animal's attention was drawn to the beautiful young Wutaiin warrior, Vincent too was inclined to lift his head and turn crimson eyes on his bride, walking slowly toward him.
There was no familiar wedding march; in fact there was no music at all. Aeris' flowers rustled softly around Cid and Yuffie's ankles and under the flowing satin of Yuffie dress. The healing water lapped rhythmically at the edge of the pool, and they would all later swear they heard Aeris' distinct giggle among other laughter and smiles when Yuffie got impatient and held her skirt up dashing toward Vincent, pulling Cid along with her, hopping over a misplaced church pew, a loose floor board and ducking under a fallen beam.
Her face was flushed and beaming by the time she got to him, and he... well his friends had never seen him look so happy.
"Friends," Nanaki began.
Cid, out of breath from his little jaunt with the ninja returned to his wife, an arm around her shoulder and one hand on her swollen belly. Cloud and Tifa held hands, keeping Denzel close, Marlene was on Barrett's shoulders, and Reeve was standing close by a slightly more encouraging and familiarly friendly smile on his face. The white rose from Yuffie's bouquet was still cradled carefully in his hand.
Red XIII spoke about friendship. He spoke about Yuffie, and about Vincent, and about Yuffie and Vincent, and the things he admired about them individually and admired about them as a pair, recalling times during their journey, as well as their friendship since then.
"Had I been given more time to prepare, I should have liked to formulate some complacent lies, to tell you about the perfect match these two would have made, even from the first day they met; but seeing as we were all witness to the event, it would have done no good to lie anyway. But as important as first impressions are, what shaped Yuffie and Vincent into the couple they are today was the devotion of friendship, and the trust they found with each other. I need not speak of them individually, we all know their stories well enough to agree that there was an act of fate at play when our parties crossed paths. We needed them, the Planet needed them, but most importantly, they needed to find each other in order to find themselves."
Crimson eyes gazed into lavender, and they knew their friend's words to ring true.
"Vincent, Yuffie; are you ready to recite the vows with me?"
Vincent took Yuffie's hand gingerly in his own and they stepped carefully toward the altar. The step was broken, and the tapestry hanging behind it was torn, but they could hear Aeris in the rustle of flowers and the trickle of water, and their hands tightened on one another's.
They repeated the vows that Nanaki recited for them: vows that spoke of love, and care, and complete devotion. "Yuffie Kisaragi, do you take Vincent Valentine to be your... um, well... symbolically wedded husband until you get properly married in December?"
She laughed, her face lighting up. "I do."
Nanaki chuckled and turned to Vincent. "And do you, Vincent Valentine, take Yuffie Kisaragi to be your symbolically wedded wife until you get properly married in December?"
The hand holding Yuffie's threaded their fingers together as a smile curved his lips. "I do."
"Can we have the rings, please?" Nanaki glanced up at Vincent. "Do you have rings?"
Both the gunslinger and ninja looked pointedly at their friends, and after a moment's delay, Cloud jumped with a "Shit!" and fished around in his pockets. "I've got them!" He darted away from the group, hopping precariously from beam to beam and over piles of rubble until he reached the altar, passing respective rings to the proper owners. He stood there a moment, scratching the back of his head awkwardly. "So uh. Yeah."
"Thanks, Cloudy!" Yuffie chirped. She skipped to him to kiss his cheek, hand never parting with Vincent's.
He blushed. "Sure thing, Yuff."
"So," Red continued. "Does anyone have anything to add?"
Yuffie and Vincent glanced at their friends, who all had nothing to say except to smile like idiots, tears leaking down the occasional cheek.
"Go ahead you two."
Vincent took the wedding band in his palm and poised it at the tip of Yuffie's finger. "With this ring," he murmured lowly, eyes flashing up momentarily to catch Yuffie's. "I thee wed," he finished, pushing the ring the rest of the way.
Yuffie laughed lightly, gulping away the sudden desire to cry out for joy. She tossed Vincent's wedding band up in the air and caught it again, wiggling it enticingly. "With this ring, I thee wed," she echoed, and looked down at Vincent's left hand, laughing loudly when he set to work unclasping the gauntlet's armour around his forearm. Tears started to race down her cheeks and she giggled at him, and helped desperately get the damned thing off. It fell with a clank on the ground, bouncing down the altar steps unnoticed as the ring was immediately shoved onto his hand and with a hurried rush of sighs they were suddenly attached at the lips, Yuffie laughing and crying in the same instant as her hands dove deep into her lover's hair.
And their world disappeared in that moment. She couldn't feel the floor beneath her feet, but she could feel, oh so acutely, Vincent's hands sliding around her waist, the cool addition of the ring startlingly obvious.
Nanaki shook his head. "I pronounce you husband and wife," he said to no one in particular, although, it seemed the pair's kiss grew deeper with the confirmation of their unity.
There wasn't anyone in that church who wasn't smiling; even the flowers seemed to open their petals in warmth of pleasure in the heartening, almost heart breaking sight.
"But most importantly, they needed to find each other in order to find themselves." Nanaki was a wise being, although young for his kind and he could see past the shallow surfaces of multidimensional parts of life. Reeve found himself questioning his own ability to see past the hollowness of his own feelings. He watched, awed, as the couple finally parted, foreheads resting against each other, eyes wide open, taking in the new facade of no longer just a comrade, friend or lover, but spouse.
They found they looked comfortably the same, and yet excitingly new.
Nanaki left them, elegantly manoeuvring down from the altar, joining his friends who were also quietly removing their attention from the gunslinger and ninja.
Their breaths came heavily, Yuffie gasping for breath around shaky sobs as Vincent's fingers tenderly wiped tears from her cheeks. He was whispering to her, and although she only caught fragments of phrases she knew he was telling her he loved her.
Vincent struggled with his words, for the first time since they had been together. He could string together lovely compliments and declarations of his affection when they were together before; he would whisper beautiful poetry in Wutaiin when they made love, and could calm her troubled mind with only a syllable should it be required, but as he repeated "I love you," as he removed her joyous tears with his thumb, fingers, lips, he was troubled: Never had he not had a word profound enough to truly express his emotion.
In his attempt, he shook his head, trying to make sense of it. "It's so right. We are like one and it feels so perfect."
"Yeah," she whispered, gently touching his face and guiding him to her mouth once more. Eyes half lidded she murmured quietly, lips brushing his: "Look at how perfectly we fit." (2)
"Hey, save it for the honeymoon, would ya?" Cid barked. He was immediately elbowed in the stomach by Shera.
Yuffie laughed, hesitating a moment before tearing her eyes off of Vincent and sticking her tongue out at the airship pilot. "Go to hell, Cid!"
His middle finger shot up in the air in response. "Congrats, Valentine, you snagged yourself a real brat."
(1) Reference to Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights, as well as MysticSpiritus' fanfic: Won't Go Home Without You. (Great story, btw, go read it, if you haven't already)
(2) Reference to Where We Collide which is part of this story arc. Read that one too, while you're at it.
Author's Note: There you have it.
Just want to take a second to thank everyone again, your reviews and support have made me the happiest person liek evar. Thank you all for reading and helping me get through this- I owe you a ton!
Once again, I'd love to hear from all of you.
Love, for the final time,