Disclaimer: This fanfic is old. Really old. I started writing it after I first beat the game, which was around four or five years ago (I think, anyway). That was before Crisis Core, Before Crisis, Dirge of Cerberus, and even before Advent Children. So this fanfic is oh so very alternate universe (now, anyway). Also, many of the characters might seem to be out of character, either because that's how I wrote them or that's how they seemed to me judging by the game. Some of the stuff in this will make you blink and think "what? That's not right!" – please just go with it.
Disclaimer 2: Oh yeah, this is a Yuffentine fanfic, aka Vincent x Yuffie. They were so much rarer back when I first wrote this! TT
Disclaimer 3: This fanfic is currently unfinished, and I'm not sure if I'll ever actually give it a proper ending or not.
Author's Notes: Again, if Yuffie's house seems a little weird, I apologize. I didn't pay much attention during the parts of the game where you got to go inside her house, and so I don't remember much about the layout or the furniture...so I just sort of made it up as I go along. And as for the Japanese...call me a Japanophile or an otaku if you want, but I really love the Japanese language. And considering the Wutai:Japan parallel, it makes sense that all of the Wutaian characters would have Japanese names and speak Japanese. And if that doesn't convince you, then blame a bunch of other Yuffentine fics where they speak Japanese. xD
Anyway, Vincent's Wutaian name, "Sha Geki" means "gunshot", which I thought was fitting.
"Shashin", which is the name of the samurai guy that was holding Yuffie's ropes, means "Photo". Ah, the joys of flipping open the Japanese dictionary and taking the first word that you see for a name!
The name of the auctioneer, "Kyo Bainin", literally means "auctioneer". Woot! I'm so creative. )
Vinnie's Parents: I just kinda made up their names, too. " Seijutsu, his father's name, means 'loyalty'. Vinnie's mother's name is 'Hane Hajimari'. Hane means 'flower', and 'hajimari' means 'genesis'.
Ko Shoku, the second-highest bidder, literally means 'lechery'. I come up with such interesting names for people, ne?
And about Cid's swearing...it's been a long, long time since I seriously wrote a fanfic and posted it on this website. Thus, I have no idea which characters aren't allowed and which aren't, and I really don't want to invest the time in figuring out which ones so I can have 'censored' swear words. So if you ever see something like this: " !" Cid swore, just assume I had a string of special characters like dollar signs and percent signs and the like.
...and I totally want a Disgruntled Moogle Plushie. :D
Also, there are three separate scenes in this chapter. Normally I would use a string of equals signs or the like, but as I said before with Cid's wearing, I don't know or care to find out which special characters are and aren't allowed on this website anymore. And I need to divide up the scenes, because otherwise the story reads in a weird way. So I apologize for my "page breaks", if you will. You'll know them when you see them.
Chapter Two: Yay! Presents! All For Me!
Fifteen hectic minutes later, Avalanche, Staniv and Chekov sat in Yuffie's living room, some piled onto the couch or in one of the many chairs, some sitting in dining chairs pilfered from the kitchen, and some simply finding their place on the quite comfortable green carpet. The large, plush white chair in nearly the center of the room was abandoned, reserved for Yuffie by the order of more than one person in the room. When Yuffie finally emerged from her room, she was wearing a long-sleeved purple shirt and the pair of jeans that Tifa had given her. It was the warmest, most modest thing she could think of to put on other than a kimono, and the shirt, which Tifa and Aeris had picked out for her all those years ago at the Golden Saucer, always made her feel better.
She announced her presence in the room with a sneeze, and wandered over to the chair, sinking into it in utter exhaustion, amidst the concerned questions of her friends. Vincent remained blessedly silent. Staniv and Chekov spoke in heavily accented Midgarian for the benefit of Avalanche. They had decided this when Cloud had attempted to tell them 'thank you' and instead said 'your kindness is unwanted'. (by saying 'arigatai' instead of 'arigatou').
Yuffie rubbed her temples tiredly, and Vincent decided to speak up, silencing his comrades, and Staniv and Chekov as well.
"I think Yuffie would prefer that you speak one at a time," he informed them. They all blinked at him. It was odd enough that he had, literally, bought Yuffie, but now he was speaking. Which brought another question to Cloud's mind...
"Say, Vincent, just how much did you have to bid for Yuffie?" Cloud asked, curiously. The others turned to look at the dark gunman as well, morbidly curious. Vincent coughed lightly.
"2 million, 620 thousand gil," he answered. Cloud's eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets, as the rest of the occupants of the room, barring Yuffie and Vincent, had similar reactions.
"Holy HELL!!" Cloud swore, and Tifa, who was sitting next to him on the couch, hit him lightly on the arm, reprimanding him for swearing. Cid turned to Yuffie.
"Damn, kid! I didn't know you were worth so much!" he exclaimed, a hint of mirth in his voice, and he smiled playfully at her. She sighed and shook her head, not quite up to Cid's take on being nice to her. The rest of the room turned to her as well, and there was a slight pause, as everyone waited on someone else to ask a question. Finally, Tifa decided to speak up.
"Yuffie, are you okay?" she asked, for what must have been the billionth time. Yuffie nodded.
"I'll...be okay," she said, in a tone that conveyed the fact that she DID NOT want to talk about what had happened to her. She looked over at Vincent, leaning against the wall near her door, and gave him a pleading look, silently asking him to remain silent as well. He nodded slowly at her.
"Do you need anything, Princess?" Chekov asked. Yuffie sighed again.
"I dunno...I...I'm kinda hungry?" she said, unsurely. Chekov nodded, and rose.
"I will go fix you and your guests some tea and sandwiches," Staniv also rose, following behind Chekov as they made their way into Yuffie's kitchen. Yuffie gave a small smile as she watched two of her 'guardians' disappear into her kitchen.
"Heyyy! I know what'll cheer you up!" Cloud exclaimed, and all eyes were now on the blonde swordsman, as he gave her a goofy grin. "Your presents! Today's your birthday, right?" Yuffie's eyes widened, and an almost alarmingly large grin spread across her face.
"Presents? You guys got me presents?! You're great!" she exclaimed, as Cloud shuffled around beside the couch, where all the presents had been hastily moved to when they'd arrived at her house. Most of the odd group had to smile at her sudden change in demeanor. A box, not-so-neatly wrapped in shiny green wrapping paper suddenly came sailing across the room from Cloud's direction, and Yuffie nearly had to jump out of the chair to catch it.
"Clo-oud! I'm not that TALL!" Yuffie mock-whined, before tearing into the present, caring not for the lime green wrapping paper as she viciously rid the present of it's covering.
"Woooww! Kunai!! And they even have Materia slots!! Thanks Cloud!!" she exclaimed, beaming the blonde a bright grin. "These must've taken you forever to find!" she exclaimed, examining the sharp metal objects carefully. Cloud waved the last comment off.
"Nah. Tifa drug me to the Junon bazaar last year, and I saw those. They were practically screaming 'Yuffie' at me, so I had to buy them," he said.
"Me next! Open mine next!" Tifa exclaimed, having retrieved her gift from Cloud. The martial artist bounced rather hyperly (for a twenty-one year old) over to the chair beside Yuffie's, previously occupied by Staniv. Yuffie eagerly took the large, neatly wrapped purple box from Tifa. Tifa's presents were always the best! This time, she took her time with the metallic purple wrapping paper, intending to save it for some odd thing.
The ninja 'ooh'ed and 'aah'ed, half for show and half in reality, as she pulled the various garments from the box. She ended up with several more pairs of jeans, a bunch of cool-looking shirts, and finally a green turtleneck tank top and a pair of khaki shorts, almost identical to the kind the ninja wore during her travels with Avalanche.
"ThankyouthankyouTHANK YOUUUU Tifa!" Yuffie exclaimed, glomping the older woman, who grinned.
"Most people are disappointed when they get clothes for their birthday," Tifa remarked, with a grin that was almost as big as the ninja girl's.
And so, the gift-giving and recieving went on like that. Nanaki's gift was an elegant necklace, with a level 3 Restore materia for the centerpiece. Reeve, with his 'unique' sense of humor, gave her a disgruntled-looking Moogle plushie, who, when punched (and it MUST be PUNCHED) said a variety of strange things, in Cait Sith's voice. Yuffie, with her equally 'unique' sense of humor, found that repeatedly punching the poor thing in the stomach was a very fun experience, as eventually the poor Moogle cursed. Tifa shot Reeve a dirty look at that, and Cid shot him a proud look, making the CEO burst into maniacal laughter, followed by Yuffie. Barret's gift to Yuffie was his mastered Alexander Materia, which Yuffie accepted very happily despite the fact that she wasn't really a "Materia thief" any more. Cid gave Yuffie a bottle of 'motion-sickness pills' and a ton of GP from the Golden Saucer, which she was also grateful for. Finally, Vincent, in what Cloud described as 'too cliché', pulled a newly-mastered Ultima materia out of his armor and handed it to her. Chekov and Staniv had returned from the kitchen earlier, so the tea and sandwiches were quickly devoured at this point, Cid remarking that Wutai tea was "#in' weak compared to Shera's". Yuffie proceeded to hit him between the eyes with a GP token.
Eventually, Yuffie hauled the spoils of her birthday to her room, giving the disgruntled Moogle one last punch for good measure. Just as she was leaving her room, a loud knock on her front door silenced the conversation going on in the living room. The relatively calm peace that had descended on the small house was broken.
"GO AWAY GODO! I DON'T WANNA TALK TO YOU!" Yuffie shouted, giving the door and the man behind it a firey glare.
"You WILL let me in, Kisaragi Yuffie!" Godo shouted from behind the door. Avalanche cringed. Yuffie's frowning mouth suddenly twitched upwards into an evil smirk. She stalked past the silent Avalanche to the door, and opened it.
"Yuffie--" Godo started, but was cut off when a fist belonging to his daughter connected with his cheek.
"TAKE THAT, YOU SELFISH BASTARD!" she exclaimed, slamming the door and stalking over to her chair, grumpily. The entire room gaped at her.
"Y-yuffie, you really shouldn't--" Staniv started, but was silenced by a glare of doom from the small ninja. They could all literally feel Godo's wrath from behind the door.
"YUFFIE!" he roared.
"I SAID I dun' wanna talk to ya, pops! Now go away!" she exclaimed.
"Yuffie, OPEN THE DOOR, OR I'LL..."
"You'll WHAT, pops? SELL ME OFF AS A SLAVE? Oh wait, you already DID that, didn't you?!" the venom in Yuffie's voice was obvious, as was the pain. There was a pregnant pause.
"Yuffie...I'm sorry," came the unexpected reply from behind the door.
"Sorry isn't good enough! You went too far!" Yuffie shouted. Godo sighed.
"Yuffie, please open the door. I need to talk to the man who...bought you," he said. Emitting an aura of DOOM, Yuffie stalked over to the door and flung it open. Without even letting Godo get a word in edgewise, Yuffie turned around and stalked back to her chair, muttering curses that made Cid raise a blonde eyebrow and grin. She plopped into her chair and trained a death glare on Godo as he sighed and turned to Vincent, but not before giving her a disapproving look.
"Mr. Valentine...or should I say 'Sha Geki'?" Godo asked, with a skeptical edge to the last part of his question. Vincent surprised them all by matching the amount of vehemence in Yuffie's voice when he answered.
Unbeknownst to Godo and Vincent, all of Avalanche, Yuffie included, gaped at the gunman. They'd only ever heard him speak with such vehemence in his voice when he had killed Hojo, and they'd never heard him be as disrespectful as he had just been, and to the Lord of Wutai no less.
Godo bit his lip, trying not to let the stoic man's utterly, and purposefully, disrespectful reply anger him.
"I have recieved many questions from the townsfolk as to whether you are truly Wutaian," Godo replied.
"I was born Sha Geki of Wutai. My father was Sha Seijutsu, and my mother was Sha Hajimari, originally Hane Hajimari," Vincent answered. Godo gaped, and Staniv and Chekov looked at eachother in alarm. The rest regarded this with a confused silence.
"You..." Godo started, falling silent. "I thought you looked familiar. But there is no mistake. Younger, and with blue eyes, you would be identical to him...but..." Godo started.
"I stopped aging physically at twenty-seven," Vincent answered Godo's implied question. At this point, Chekov spoke up.
"Lord Godo, did you know this man?" Godo nodded.
"I met him a few times, before the Sha family moved out of Wutai. He was a few years older than I was..."
Yuffie suddenly burst out laughing, curling up in her chair. The entire room turned to look at her, confused and surprised.
"Y-you mean that Vinnie is Godo's elder?!" she managed to choke out, before her speech was consumed by her fit of giggles. Godo coughed, glaring at his daughter momentarily before turning back to Vincent, attempting to ignore her now evil cackling.
"A quick trip to the town records should prove your Wutaian blood...now, about the payment for--" he started. Immediately, the laughing stopped, and was replaced by outraged yelling.
"DAMMIT, GODO! Don't tell me Vinnie REALLY has to pay that outrageous price! Gawd! Just let it GO!" she exclaimed. Godo fixed her with a stern glare, which she returned an angry glare of her own.
"Yuffie, if he doesn't pay, won't that mean that...umm...the next highest bidder would..." Cloud started, faltering slightly in the last part of the sentence. Yuffie turned to him, and then screamed in frustration, burying her head in the side of her chair. Godo turned back to Vincent, who in turn looked to Cloud, who blanched.
"Oh yeah...I did kinda promise to pay out of Avalanche's bank account didn't I?" he asked, sighing and pulling out his PHS.
"Hold on Cloud, I'd like to help pay too," Reeve spoke up. Cloud looked over at the CEO.
"Well, since I took over Shinra company, I also took over the bank account...so..." Reeve trailed off, grinning over at Yuffie, who returned his grin with a small, grateful smile.
"So...half and half, then?" Cloud mused. Reeve nodded.
"Sounds good. But...it's so late, you probably won't be able to get ahold of your bank," Reeve pointed out, and Cloud sheepishly put away his PHS.
"Right...so, tomorrow then? I guess...Cid, if you're up for it, we can take the Highwind to Midgar and pick up the money..." Cloud said. Cid gave Cloud a thumbs up. Godo nodded, and swept his eyes over the room, before stopping on Yuffie.
"Yuffie...this isn't over," he said, before turning and walking out the door, pulling it closed behind him. A large, white cushion hit the door with a loud 'thump!' a second later, and all eyes traveled back to a livid Yuffie, who was standing on the two arms of her chair, growling at the door, after having hurled the chair's cushion at the door. Muttering darkly, she walked over to retrieve her cushion.
All of Yuffie's anger seemed to melt away, though, when she found her cushion being handed to her by a golden claw. She blinked, and smiled up at Vincent.
"Thanks Vinnie!" she exclaimed, taking the pillow and nearly skipping back to her chair, leaving the occupants of the room to wonder about her mental health after the rapid change in mood.
"So...since Vince actually went and 'bought' her, and me and Cloud are paying for her, does that mean the three of us get to split Yuffie?" Reeve asked, innocent smile belied by the pure, mischievous EVIL under his words. A second later, he was smacked in the face by a large, white cushion, as he laughed. Yuffie, however, was smiling this time, glad her friends could make light of her current situation.
Yuffie's house was not very big. This became quite an issue with the discussion of where Avalanche was going to sleep, prompted by a long, loud yawn from one Cid Highwind.
At first, the Wutai hotel was suggested. This idea was quickly dismissed for a number of reasons. Firstly, Yuffie didn't feel like going out in public right now, in order to get the hotel to let them stay for free, and she was stubbornly unwilling to have her friends paying to sleep in 'her' city. Secondly, no-one really wanted to leave Yuffie alone. Some of them wouldn't admit it, but they were all concerned for the ninja girl. Thirdly, they didn't really want to split up the group, and Vincent would have to stay behind with Yuffie. When Yuffie quirked an eyebrow and asked 'why' at this, Tifa smirked.
"Well, Vincent kinda owns you now, and if he's not even gonna sleep in the same house as you, what'll the townspeople think?" she asked, causing the ninja girl to blush and glare at her.
"Oh, shut up. Vinnie doesn't own me," she protested.
"No, not yet anyway. He still hasn't paid for you," Reeve added, causing her to glare DEATH at him and almost carry out the threat that her glare was conveying.
The Highwind, which was parked just beyond the village, was suggested as well, but Cid seemed to be the only one eager to get back to the airship.
At last, it was decided that they would all stay at Yuffie's house. This was the part of the conversation in which the size of Yuffie's house was brought up.
Yuffie only had one bedroom, one bathroom, a kitchen, a living room, and a basement. It was immediately decided that Yuffie and Tifa would share Yuffie's room. Nanaki also announced right away that he would be sleeping right where he was: laying on the floor in front of one of the couches. Speaking of the couches, there were two rather large couches in the living room, where two more people could sleep. Yuffie immediately announced that Vincent got one of the couches, as a thank-you to him for, literally, saving her earlier. Of course, he protested that he didn't really need to sleep, but she ignored him. The remaining four men decided to play a game of paper-rock-scissors to decide who got to sleep on the remaining couch, and Cloud won. This left Barret, Cid and Reeve to sleep in the basement.
When they actually descended into the basement, they discovered that it was not as horrible as they had remembered it to be. The large, steel cage was gone from the ceiling (though how she got it OUT of the basement was a mystery). There was a large furnace on one side of the room, which Yuffie used to heat the entire house during the winter. After lighting the furnace and moving a few piles of junk out of the way, she retrieved a bunch of blankets and pillows, and the three men set to the task of getting comfortable.
Once the sleeping arrangements were settled, Yuffie and Tifa started on the task of preparing dinner, as Barret had begun to complain that "the pansy-ass tea and that dinky lil' sandwich from earlier done wore off!". Staniv and Chekov had long since gone home, so Chekov was, sadly, not there to get annoyed by that little remark (and kick Barret's ass).
"So, Yuffie," Tifa started, as she was tossing various vegetables and chunks of meat into a large wok, "What are you going to do now?"
Yuffie answered, head buried in one of her cabinets, looking for some hidden spice contained within.
"About...what happened earlier," Tifa answered, carefully. Yuffie sighed, emerging triumphantly with the Wutaian spice that Tifa couldn't pronounce.
"The first thing I'm gonna do...is murder that auctioneer. And the old geezers that kept bidding on me," she said, sprinkling a little of the spice in the concoction in front of Tifa, and making stabbing motions to emphasize the word 'murder'. Tifa shook her head, chuckling a little.
"Sounds like something you would do," Yuffie returned to the cabinet, replacing the spice, and retrieved another one.
"Guess so," Yuffie answered after a little while. Tifa stirred the concoction thoughtfully, careful to avoid the hot oil as it began to spit out of the wok.
"What about...Vincent?" Tifa asked. Yuffie darted over to her, with a new spice, which Tifa could pronounce: pepper.
"What about him?"
"Well...ummm..." Tifa started, as Yuffie began to sprinkle pepper into the concoction, which Yuffie noted was actually starting to look like it was supposed to: like stir fry.
"...since he bought you, doesn't he have to marry you?" Tifa asked. Yuffie suddenly stopped moving, dropping the shaker full of pepper into the wok. All the color drained from her face.
"Ack!" Tifa exclaimed, quickly grabbing the pepper container out of the wok, and turning to her friend, concerned. Yuffie suddenly animated herself, turning to look at Tifa with a half panicked, half angry look on her face.
"You're kiddin, right?!" she demanded. Tifa backed up, raising her hands in what she hoped was a placating gesture.
"Umm...I heard that the auction was for your hand in marriage, so I thought..." Tifa said, but she went unnoticed by Yuffie, who was now laughing, but not in humor.
"Me? Married to Vinnie? He's like...three times my age! No frickin' way!" Yuffie said. Tifa laughed a little, nervously.
"Yeah, but seeing as how he bought you and everything..." Tifa said, mentally smacking herself as she realized she was only making things worse. Cloud chose that moment to enter the kitchen.
"Hey, Tifa, Yuffie, how's the cooking coming? I'm star...umm, why's she rolling on the floor, laughing like that?" Cloud asked, stepping into the kitchen and next to Tifa. Tifa turned to look at him.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but since Vincent bought her, doesn't that mean that she and Vincent have to get married?" Tifa asked. Cloud, caught off guard, suddenly blanched.
"Oh no! That's right! I never even thought of that!" he exclaimed. Then another thought caught him. "Ack! I was only kidding when I said that earlier! I hope Vincent didn't take me seriously!!" Tifa sighed.
"Of course he didn't...I don't think he's thought of this yet, either. I think all he was concerned with was making sure Yuffie didn't fall into the hands of some old lecher...but..." Tifa trailed off. She and Cloud turned to the ninja, who was now pounding on the tiles of the kitchen floor, laughing as if someone had just informed her that Sephiroth had been reincarnated as a ballet dancer.
MORE TIME PASSES
It was late. Really late. As Cid would, delicately, put it, 'dawn's ass-crack early'. It wasn't light yet, but it would be soon. Yuffie couldn't sleep. She hadn't slept at all until now, and it was only now that she decided that fidgeting around in her bed wasn't helping her at all. So, she got up and, using her mad ninja skills, snuck out of her room without disturbing Tifa. Silently she crept through the living room and into the kitchen, and outside the back door of her house. She jumped onto the wooden rail framing her porch, and sat down. Exhaling a breath, visible in the cold air, she sighed and stared at the dark form of Da Chao. Wutai was peaceful at night during the fall, a welcome change from the noise of the cicadas of the summer.
Lost in her thoughts, she didn't even notice Vincent until he was beside her and saying her name. She jumped, and barely stifled a scream. She did not, however, manage to keep her balance on the wooden railing, and fell backwards, to be caught by the dark man.
"Are you all right?" he asked, setting her down on the porch. She shook her head and calmed her accelerated breathing.
"Vinnie! You scared the crap outta me!" she berated, and jumped back onto the railing, once again sitting down. Vincent simply leaned against the railing. Even with her sitting down on the railing, which was a little shorter than she was, Vincent's head still came up to her shoulders. She snorted.
"Tall freak," she said, teasingly, and ruffled his hair a little bit. He just sighed.
"Why aren't you asleep?" he asked, in that creepy monotone of his. This time, she sighed.
"I can't sleep," she replied. He looked up at her.
"Why not?" he asked.
"I'm afraid...I'll have nightmares," she replied, simply. He blinked.
Funny...that makes two of us.
"You need to sleep," he said.
"I know," she sighed. Then she turned to look at him. "What about you, Vinnie? Why aren't you asleep?"
"I don't sleep," he said, shrugging his shoulders a little. She quirked an eyebrow.
"Well...I guess I wouldn't sleep either, if I spent thirty years sleeping in a coffin," she replied. He winced a little, and she realized her mistake.
"Ooh! Sorry, I didn't mean to..." she trailed off, shoulders slumping in defeat.
"No...it's okay," Vincent replied, after a few minutes of silence. Yuffie let out a breath that she didn't know she'd been holding. Yuffie looked away from him and at the looming Da Chao.
"Y'know, you're bein' awfully talkative...for you, I mean," she said. He simply nodded. "Any special reason?" she wondered.
"No, not really," he said. There was a comfortable silence as they both looked out into the wilderness surrounding Wutai. Suddenly, the sky behind the Da Chao statue began to lighten. Yuffie grinned.
"Lookie, Vinnie! The sun's gonna rise!" she said. Again, he simply nodded. The two watched the sky gradually lighten as the new day approached. The canvas of sky slowly lightened to a brilliant shade of sky blue, as the sun's rays painted the clouds beautiful pastel shades of purple, pink and orange. Yuffie found a grin making it's way onto her face as she watched it. She almost never got to see the sunrise, but she never ceased to be amazed those precious few times when she found herself up early enough to do so.
"Yuffie...later today, why don't we track down that auctioneer?" Vincent suggested. Yuffie turned to look at him, and grinned viciously, both surprised and strangely happy.
"Really, Vinnie?" she asked, grinning quite evilly. He nodded. She jumped down off of the railing and glomped him. "Aww, you're the best, Vinnie!" she exclaimed. As she started to let go, she felt Vincent's arms come around her, and blushed, looking up.
"Uh, Vinnie?" she asked.
"It'll be okay, Yuffie," was all he said, but when she looked into his eyes, she saw a lot more behind the words. She suddenly felt tears brimming in her eyes, and looked down to hide them.
"Thanks," she said, soberly, and when he let go of her, she nonchalantly brought a hand up to rub the tears out of her eyes, trying to make it look like she was rubbing her eyes tiredly. Vincent looked down at her with a small, sad smile. Then he placed his human hand on her head, and ruffled her brown hair.
"Short freak," he said, before walking past her. She turned around to gape at him, tears forgotten.
"Did Vinnie just make a joke?" she asked him. He just kept walking.
"You should get some sleep, Yuffie," he simply said. She walked after him, mouth still agape.
"I think you did, Vinnie! You made a joke! This is, like, the news of the century!" she exclaimed, sliding in the door to the kitchen after him, leaving the porch, bathed in the golden light of the new sunrise, behind.