Okay, so this piece came to me in the midst of writing evil Vincent for my current fic, "Princess of Thieves." It's so much fun to write him as this evil jerk who feels no guilt, but then I felt the urge to write our lovable emo-gunman. This is another take on Vincent's return after Omega, since in the end of DoC, Yuffie is shown asking Tifa for any news on him. It's kind of angsty in some sections, but not so much to be suffocating. Still it builds and ends into romance, or at least I think it does. I won't say more, so I'll leave you to it. Enjoy!

Warning: for language and adult situations in the next chapter. Be warned!

Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VII or any of the characters used in this piece of fiction. I am making no money off of them.

…………………………………

A New Beginning

…………………………………

"Yuffie?"

The ninja looked up from where she had been staring out of a window of Seventh Heaven and turned to Tifa, a small smile on her face. "Yeah?" she asked.

"Vincent is okay," Tifa said with a small sigh of relief.

"How do you know?" Yuffie asked, jumping out of her seat and running towards the bar.

Tifa smiled sweetly. "Cid is bringing him to Edge as we speak."

"Really?" asked the ninja, not able to contain her excitement and her relief. "Thank Leviathan. I kept having these ultra horrible dreams about him dead under a pile of rubble in Midgar. Did they tell you where he's been all this time? Did you talk to him?"

Tifa shook her head. "Reeve is going to be here before Vincent. Maybe he knows," she replied, washing a few shot glasses.

Yuffie sighed to herself and finally felt the burden lift from her shoulders at the knowledge that he was okay. She'd had many sleepless nights the past two weeks her secret crush had been gone. She hadn't really known how much he mattered to her until the knowledge that he could've very well been dead had entered her mind. Reeve, Barret, Cloud, and Cid had all searched for him relentlessly but there had been to indication that he had gotten away from the Omega battle alive. There had been nights when even Denzel and Marlene hadn't been able to cheer her up.

Now though, she felt as if her heart would jump right out of her chest in happiness and relief. She smiled and pranced around the bar, striking poses every few minutes as Tifa watched her from afar, a smile on her own face. It was a good thing that Shelke wasn't lurking in the shadows or something just as creepy. Yuffie couldn't say she cared much for the girl that Tifa had taken in—because no matter what they said, Shelke was a nineteen year old girl—but there was something slightly irritating about her. Maybe it was Yuffie's ingrained aversion for Lucrecia that fueled the dislike, but she had tried to be nice to Shelke, and so far they avoided crossing paths with each other.

The door to the bar opened and the commissioner of the WRO stepped in, a cheerful smile on his face as he greeted Tifa, and then Yuffie. He sat at the bar and thanked Tifa as she handed over a cool glass of iced tea. Yuffie did a little jumping dance and looked at Reeve as he took his sweet time, sipping on his drink. "Well? When is he going to be here? Is he okay? Where has he been all this time?"

"Calm down, Yuffie!" Reeve said with a smile. "They'll be here by nightfall. He's okay, since we had a medic check on him—against his will—and he's as healthy as he was before this whole Deepground thing started. Chaos is back in the planet, and he is one demon free." Reeve paused and stared down at his drink, avoiding Yuffie's bright eyes as he delivered the next piece of information. "He's been… he's been in Lucrecia's cave this entire time, healing on his own. Shelke went up there to get him, and she and Cid are bringing him back."

Yuffie stopped and stared at Reeve as if he had just slapped her, and in a sense he had. Vincent… had been with his beloved Lucrecia for two weeks while they worried sick over him? Hadn't he cared that they had all thought him dead, or mangled, or possibly buried in rubble? She felt her heart fall right into the pit of her stomach. Of course he didn't care. He cared only for his dead girlfriend and everyone else be damned. Well, everyone else except Shelke, who just conveniently had Lucrecia in her head.

"Yuffie, are you okay?" Tifa asked, noticing the look on her friend's face.

"I'm fine," Yuffie replied, plastering a forced smile on her face. She ended up looking like she was grimacing in pain. "I'll… I'll talk to you guys later. I gotta… I've got this thing to do…" she said vaguely, heading towards the door.

Tifa and Reeve watched her go in worry. "I think she didn't take it well, knowing that Vincent had spent all this time in that cave," the bartender murmured.

Reeve nodded and sighed sadly. "Maybe it's better for her to just realize that she dreams an impossible dream, now, before it gets too painful."

"You think it's impossible? I've seen her with Vincent. He tolerates her more than he cares to admit. There's something there, Reeve, but they're both too stubborn to actually try to work something out," Tifa said with a sigh.

Reeve shrugged. "I don't think it would be appreciated on either side if we were to interfere. Now, where are the children? Denzel told me that he wanted help with his science project and I am more than happy to help."

"He's upstairs," Tifa said uncertainly. "Reeve… you better not help him build something explosive. The last thing I want is for Denzel to get expelled from school," she warned.

"Don't worry about us, Tifa. We're coming up with something quite interesting," he said with an easy grin.

Tifa had never trusted handsome men who smiled like that. She just made a small noise in her throat and moved on to take care of a few customers who walked through the door.

………………

Stupid Vincent, and his stupid handsomeness, and his stupid ability to make her feel stupid. Yuffie had promised herself she wouldn't cry, but she was feeling like a total idiot, but more like some type of crybaby. She had thought that… that Lucrecia wasn't that much of a big deal anymore. She had obviously been deluding herself, since Vincent would never stop loving the woman who broke him and his heart, but… but…

Might as well go home, she thought to herself. She had been wandering Edge for hours now, just stopping to grab a slice of pizza from a small restaurant in the heart of the growing city, and then perusing the weapons and materia stores. The sun had gone down nearly an hour before, and it wouldn't take long for the city to fill with fog and drop in temperature as it usually did. Rubbing her hands up and down her arms to warm herself, she quickened her pace back towards Seventh Heaven.

She had run out on Tifa and Reeve before they'd had a chance to notice anything out of the ordinary. Only Tifa knew about her crush on Vincent, but she didn't need one of the guys finding out too. Reeve would blab to Cid, and then Cid wouldn't be able to keep it to himself, no matter how much he claimed that he wasn't a gossip, but the point was, they couldn't find out. Yuffie couldn't risk Vincent learning of her feelings too.

She often wondered if he had known from the very beginning and had shacked it up to teenage hormones on overdrive. Still, even as she grew out of her early teens and closed in on twenty, Yuffie found that she couldn't deny that what she felt for Vincent was something pure and honest. She was in love with him. Of course, he wouldn't ever believe her, least of all see her as someone who could be in his life and who wouldn't hurt him the way Lucrecia had.

Yuffie sighed heavily as she neared the bar, and stuffed her thoughts right back into her head. She noticed that the sign read 'closed,' and that there was music coming from inside. As she stepped in through the unlocked door, she found that all their friends were there, even Shera and Red XIII. Her eyes took in all the relieved and happy smiles, and towards the bar, she could see that Cid, Barret, and Reeve were sitting with her impossible dream.

"Yuffie, Vincent is here," Tifa said unnecessarily, noticing the solemn look on Yuffie's face.

Yuffie's eyes drifted over to the gunman, and brown met crimson. Then, to everyone's shock, she turned and walked off towards the stairs without a backwards glance or even a small welcome. They were all quiet for a long moment, only the music playing in the background, but Cloud's eyes met Tifa's and she gave a little confused shrug.

"What's wrong with the brat? I was expecting her to throttle ya from the moment she saw ya again," Cid said around a toothpick, a glass of alcohol in his hand.

Vincent realized that he hadn't been expecting that reaction from Yuffie. He had been bracing himself to hear her yell, whine, or curse, but absolute silence and indifference? It was throwing him off. He didn't understand why she had reacted that way, but from what Cid had been cursing about during the trip back, Yuffie had been asking for him every single day, harassing them all and pushing for their friends to find him. He did feel guilty for leaving them wondering if he had been killed after the battle against Omega, but they should've trusted him enough to know that he could take care of himself without anyone else helping. He had always been independent and having friends who worried about him after thirty years of solitude had been something to get used to.

But… he had seen a look in Yuffie's eyes that spoke of sadness and disappointment. He didn't want her to look at him that way. Though he wasn't entirely sure he preferred that look he had seen in her eyes on rare occasions when she thought that he wouldn't notice. He didn't know if he would ever be ready to accept anyone after Lucrecia. His worry grew a little more when nearly three hours later, she still hadn't come down to speak to him.

All their friends were already mellowed and some singing to the music, but he was restless. Yuffie's lack of response for his return was still stewing in his head and it bothered him. Making sure that no one noticed him leave—which was possible because of the amount of drinks they had all enjoyed already—he slipped up the stairs and towards Yuffie's room there. He knocked twice and listened for her footsteps. None came, and he knocked once more. "Yuffie?" he asked quietly.

There was no answer and he debated whether to just go back to the party, or invade her privacy in case she was in her room and ignoring him. He tried the doorknob and it turned, allowing him into the neat mess that was her home at the moment.

What he meant by neat mess was that the clutters of things were in piles out of the way, not completely in the way, but not as nice and organized as Tifa liked to keep things. He looked around and saw no sign of her. The bathroom door was open and the lights off, but he did see that the window was wide open and the curtains were billowing gently with the cool breeze. He moved towards it and poked his head out. He could see her feet dangling over the side of the roof, but the rest of her was out of his view.

Letting out a small sigh, he climbed up the water drain and jumped up the roof with quiet and quick stealth. He noticed she was staring into the distance, eyes unseeing and mind far away. It appeared that she hadn't even noticed that he was there, next to her. "Yuffie?" he asked once more.

The ninja blinked slowly and then turned those usually expressive eyes to his. She said nothing again and just stared at him. Then she turned to look back at the distance and Vincent had the distinct impression that she was trying to ignore him, or pretend that he wasn't there. He didn't know why it bothered him so much when a few years ago he would've jumped at the idea of being invisible to her. Yuffie was his friend, and as such, he had known that nothing good could come of the crush she'd had on him as a teen.

She had matured so much and grown into such an amazing young woman, he didn't want to taint her innocence. She deserved better. She deserved someone whole and able to love her the way she was supposed to be loved. He wasn't that someone. "I guess… I owe you an explanation," he murmured.

'You're damn right you do,' Yuffie thought inwardly, but offered him no reply. She had thought of it the moment their eyes had met downstairs. She wouldn't talk to him for as long as she could hold out. That would teach him to hold her—all of them—for granted. They were his friends and they deserved so much better than his inconsiderate attitude. She just wondered if she'd be able to keep her own mouth closed. It would be a challenge, but she would try her hardest.

When she didn't reply, Vincent frowned and stared at her, taking in the sweep of her cheekbones, the arch of her eyebrows, the dark eyelashes, and her straight nose. He'd seen his fair share of beauties, and even though Yuffie cared very little about her looks, she was one of the prettiest women he had ever met. She wasn't quite like Lucrecia, but Yuffie had her own charms. He had eyes. He was a man.

"Won't you even look at me?" he asked her. Yuffie blinked once more and then looked at him briefly. That look unsettled him. Her behavior was making him anxious. It was so unlike the Yuffie he was used to, he didn't know how to really handle it. "I needed time alone."

'Don't you always?' Yuffie asked inwardly, trying very hard to keep it to herself.

"I didn't… I didn't want to worry you all, but I needed time to think, to come to terms with Chaos leaving, and with finding out some things about my father and Lucrecia. Solitude always served to make me clear my mind," said Vincent, eyes on the dark horizon now.

'Wow. That was the most I've ever heard him say,' Yuffie said to herself. 'Still, he ain't gonna convince me that easily.'

When he received no reply, he let out a small sigh and realized that her hands were clenched against her boots, since she was sitting with her legs bent and crossed at the ankles. "I'm sorry if I upset you."

'Try keeping me awake at night for two weeks, sleepless and wondering if you were dead somewhere, while really, you were off with the woman who cursed you with Chaos and broke your heart.' She couldn't bear to even look at him, otherwise she'd give in and tell him just how worried she had been when he hadn't come home after the battle. She couldn't tell him how much she had cried that night, alone in her room, at the thought that he could've been dead.

"I understand that you're angry with me. But… I appreciate our friendship, and I don't want things between us to remain like this. I will reside here until you wish to speak to me again," he said before standing, his eyes noting the faint tremble of her shoulders. He made up his mind before he could really think on it, and unbuckled his cloak. He draped it over her shoulders and gave them a squeeze before disappearing over the side of the roof.

Yuffie watched him go and felt the stupid tears blur her vision again. The heavy material over her shoulders was warm and smelled just like him. Like gunpowder, trees, and earth. It was a wonderful scent. She basked in it for a long time, until it was truly too cold to remain outside, and her cheeks felt as if they had been frozen on her face. She crawled into her room and into bed, still warm and toasty inside the cloak and just laid there for a while, staring at the well and taking in Vincent's scent. She went to sleep in her clothes and with the cloak wrapped around her.

………

When Vincent walked down from his room and into Seventh Heaven, he found his cloak neatly folded over the back of a chair. He brought it up to him, and out of curiosity sniffed it tentatively. Yuffie's unique scent was there, a cross between cherry blossoms and the polish for her shuriken. As he pulled the material over his shoulders, he watched as Cloud walked down, followed closely by a very annoyed looking Cid. "I need some damned coffee," said the pilot sleepily.

Cloud just smirked at Vincent and walked off to get the coffee started, since Tifa was still asleep. "Did you and Yuffie make-up?" he asked as Vincent followed them into the kitchen.

"She was still not speaking to me when I saw her last night," Vincent replied evenly. There was a small ache somewhere in his chest at the thought that he may have forever damaged their friendship.

"What's the big deal? We all know that the brat ain't the most stable of people. She'll get over whatever is eating at her," Cid put in, taking a heavy seat at the breakfast table.

"Where is she? Is she still in her room?" Vincent asked as casually as he could.

Cloud merely raised an eyebrow at the gunman, and they shared a look that Cid missed while he sulked at the table. "What's with the sudden worry over Yuffie? Is there something we need to know?" he asked.

Cid's head popped up and he gave Vincent a critical look. "Ya trying to get into the ninja's pants? Think again, Valentine. Ya don't touch her unless you're serious about her," he said darkly.

The blond swordsman leaned back against the counter and watched the cool look on Vincent's face. "There's no shame in admitting that you like her. She's young, and it's about time you finally moved on."

Vincent felt a headache coming on and wanted nothing more than to shoot both men in the foot. Not enough to kill them, but enough to make them hurt for saying things that made him uncomfortable. He wasn't even sure that he felt anything at all for Yuffie. "She is just a friend," he said in a monotone.

Cid was the one eyeing him now, a look of suspicion on his face. "Why does it bother ya that she won't talk to ya then? If I were you, I'd be happy that she's finally shut the hell up."

Cloud noticed the growing annoyed look on Vincent's face and knew that he would just turn and leave if he and Cid didn't stop badgering him. "She left early this morning. Said something about asking Reeve for work because she didn't want to be here anymore," he said quietly.

Vincent mulled that over for a moment. She had left because of him? The news caused all kind of unpleasantness in his gut, starting by the fact that she didn't want to be near him. What was going on with her? Why was it so hard to understand that he had needed time alone to think? He stepped away from the wall and looked at his comrades and friends. "I will be back later," he said, walking off before the other two men could say anything to him.

Cid looked at Cloud and shrugged. "Should we be worried?" he asked, taking a sip of the coffee Cloud had just handed to him.

"Yuffie's a grown girl. We can't keep treating her like a child. She may very well show Vincent that she's a woman capable of taking care of herself. Maybe he'll even make a move on her," Cloud said with a shrug. "Or maybe she'll make a move on him."

Cid narrowed his eyes. "Since when did ya become so insightful and shit?"

"Tifa," Cloud said simply, a hint of a smile on his face.

The pilot let out a gruff laugh and patted his friend on the shoulder. "You and Tifa, and now Valentine and the brat. What is this damn world coming to?"

…………

Yuffie rolled her shoulders as she walked out of the WRO training room, her hair damp from a refreshing shower. She had kicked a lot of ass, and had very few bruises to show for it—which was a good thing. As she rounded the corner, not watching where she was going, she bounced off of someone's chest. She looked up, lips parting to expel and apology, when she came face to face with Vincent. She shut her mouth closed and moved to the side to keep walking.

"Yuffie," he said impatiently, taking her arm and nearly dragging her back when she fought against his hold. "How long are you going to not talk to me?"

She shrugged but wouldn't meet his eyes. 'Until you realize what type of jerk you are for not seeing me.'

"Will you at least explain to me why you're acting this way?" Vincent questioned.

Yuffie gave him a withering glare and walked away from him. As she rounded the corner, she let out a sigh and convinced herself that she had a right to treat him this way. She loved him and he didn't care. And yes, she had just said love, because her crush had changed without asking for her permission. Still, it didn't really matter. At least to Vincent; all he cared about was his love for the scientist. She nearly barged into Reeve's office, just as he was opening the door.

"What can I help you with, Yuffie?" he asked pleasantly.

"I need to go on a mission. I need to get away from here. Away from people," Yuffie said quickly, pacing and looking very much like some type of caged animal.

"And people would be codeword for Vincent?" Reeve asked smartly.

"No. I just feel crowded. Do you have a mission for me, or not?" she asked impatiently.

Reeve flipped through a few papers and noticed the tenseness in Yuffie's shoulders. Something must've happened to make her feel that way. Suddenly a plan formed in his cunning mind, and he knew exactly what he had to do. "Be ready by tonight. You'll leave at midnight."

"What's the assignment?" Yuffie asked with a sigh.

"I just need you to follow someone for a few days. Watch his movements and report to me if there's something suspicious." At her look, he shook his head. "It's all I have at the moment. A lot of my employees or on a very deserved vacation, so missions are down to a minimum," Reeve said cheerfully.

Yuffie nodded then. "Okay. I'll go see Tifa to tell her I'm leaving and then I'll come back."

Reeve nodded and waved as Yuffie walked out the door. He took out his phone and dialed. "Hello? Vincent? Is there any way that you can come to my office now?"

………

Packing her things as Tifa watched, Yuffie smiled at the wary look on her friend's face. "Don't worry about me, Tifa. I just need some air. I need to get out of Edge while… just because."

"Were you going to say 'while Vincent was here'?" Tifa asked.

Yuffie shrugged. "He keeps trying to get me to talk to him, and I won't," she said vehemently. "He left us. He left us worrying about whether he was dead or alive, and for what? To spend all this time with a dead woman who ruined his life? Does he really expect me to just forget it all in a space of one day and be all happy and cheery with him?"

"Those are a lot of questions," Tifa said lightly. "Why not ask yourself why you can't forgive him?"

The ninja shook her head. "Because I feel like he betrayed us in some way. We've been his friends all these years. We helped him in the battle against Omega and he still he won't let us in," she said in a furious whisper, not wanting to be overheard.

Tifa understood then what was going through Yuffie's head, and in fact that when Yuffie used the word 'we,' it actually meant, 'me.' Maybe she wouldn't admit it to her or anyone, but she was in love with Vincent. They weren't talking about a tiny crush, or obsession—which some of their friends thought Yuffie felt for Vincent—but she was truly in love with the gunman and that was why she stayed away. If Yuffie gave up and began to talk to him again, she would probably blurt out all that she was thinking and feeling towards Vincent.

"Well then, please be careful while you're out there, and come back soon. You know that you'll always have a home with us," Tifa said with a warm smile.

Yuffie nodded and hugged her after slinging her bag across her shoulder. "Thanks Teef. You're the best friend a girl could ever ask for," she said before moving away and out the door.

Tifa walked with her and waved as Yuffie left the bar. She just hoped that Reeve's plan wouldn't backfire on him; he had called to tell her about it earlier. They would be going on an official mission, but it wasn't something important. They just had to keep tabs on a man who handled a small band of criminals in Junon. Hopefully during that time, Vincent would be able to get Yuffie to talk to him.

………………

Cid dropped her off in the outskirts of Junon, telling her to be careful and to have fun. Yuffie had given him a very rude hand gesture and had walked the rest of the way into the city. First, she rented a room at the nearest in, and then looked over the file that Reeve had given to her that held all the basic information on the man she was supposed to be watching. She pulled on a jacket and a hat that hid her face and allowed her to blend in with the crowd before making her way onto the street to start with her mission.

No one paid her any mind as she strolled down the street; she looked like just another kid wandering around, looking to get into trouble. She neared a restaurant where her mark usually had lunch, and she stopped half a block away to purchase an ice cream cone and to wait and see if the man walked out. He did, and she followed at considerable distance, noticing what building he stepped into—which happened to look abandoned—and at the fact that the man who had opened the door for him looked mighty suspicious.

As she slipped into an alley to continue observing, she felt as if she was being watched herself. Her eyes scanned the alley, and then moved up towards the roof, thinking that she caught a flash of crimson. Her eyes narrowed and she wondered if she was seeing things. She shook herself and went back to watching the building, taking in the various exits, the people who entered what was supposed to be an abandoned place, and filed every little detail she could for Reeve's report. She turned to walk away, but before she could go, she felt someone come up behind her. She sighed in irritation and turned, noticing a man not terribly scary, and who needed work on looking intimidating.

"What's a cute girl like you doing alone in a place like this?" he asked with a drawl.

Yuffie gave him a flat look. "I'm taking a piss. Beat it, will ya?" she snapped, turning to go.

"Not so fast, sweetheart," he said, grabbing her arm and turning her around forcefully.

"Don't touch me!" Yuffie snarled, sending a fist into his face and then running her knee into his crotch. The man went down with a painful cry, but out of the darkness, two more thugs emerged. Yuffie sighed in irritation and glanced wearily at the blades they produced from inside their coats.

Then her eyes widened as a curtain of crimson and black descended from the roof and proceeded to bash the two men's skulls against each other. Yuffie watched him with a roll of her eyes and turned to walk away, but not before kicking the other thug on the ground once more for good measure. What was Vincent doing there? Why couldn't he just stay away from her for some time?

He caught up to her just as she rounded the corner and made her way back towards the inn. "You're still not speaking to me?" he asked her. Yuffie just ignored him and tried to keep walking, but his grip on her arm was like steel. "Won't you at least tell me what you're thinking?" he asked as they reached the door to her room and she took out the cardkey.

Yuffie shook her head and entered her room, shutting it in his face.

…………

More than a week of watching over her and doing his part in watching the man they were supposed to spying on, Vincent lay in the bed, in his room at the inn. A week of not hearing a word from her, of following her like a shadow as she moved into a slightly dangerous section of Junon. It wasn't so bad, but every city in town would always have some type of scum, trying to suppress the honest workers and the good people.

He had thought that going with her on this mission would ease the tension and she would eventually break. That she wouldn't last so long without talking to him because this was Yuffie. How long could she really stay silent and cold around him? It was unlike her, and he felt as if he had lost a good friend from the moment she had refused to even look his way. He didn't know what else he could do and he couldn't quite figure out why it bothered him that she was angry/disappointed/anything-else at him. He just wanted things to go back to the way they used to be.

The times he tried to approach her, she would just give him a look to acknowledge him, and then she would turn away and ignore him for the rest of the time while they carried out their mission. He had tried talking to her, and Vincent had come to realize that this was the first time he had ever willingly talked so much. It also seemed as if their roles had been reversed, since he was the one talking and she was the one ignoring him. Well, he'd had enough; he stood from his bed and walked out of the room, holstering Cerberus as he went. He knocked twice on Yuffie's door, but once more was encountered with silence. Either she was ignoring him—as usual—or she was out of her room.

Something pricked him at the back of his spine, a feeling, or maybe his instincts. He walked out of the inn and towards the building where their mark would go into and not leave until late in the night. Using his agility and ability to jump great distances, he moved onto the roofs of the buildings and jumped from roof to roof, staying out of sight. Jumping directly onto the roof of the building they had been watching, he nearly collided with the ninja.

"What are you doing here on your own?" he asked her darkly.

Yuffie grit her teeth and decided to talk to him, just to inform him what she had just found. "They're gone. I couldn't sleep—I came to check on them and found that the building is deserted. They took everything with them and there's nothing inside."

Vincent gave her a cool look and realized that she was speaking out of necessity, more than actually wanting to. Then his nose took in the scent and the heaviness in the air before he felt anything out of the ordinary. He had only a second to pull Yuffie into his arms before the world literally exploded around them and they were falling through the air. He had tried to jump off of the roof, but it would be a close call. He landed on the street and covered Yuffie with his own body as flaming debris fell all around them and smoke obscured his vision. The heat was near suffocating, and his lungs burned with every breath he took, despite all of his enhancements.

Moving to his knees, Vincent checked on Yuffie as the smoke cleared, noting that she only had a few cuts and bruises that weren't too dangerous. He would be able to tend to them back at the Inn. Her eyes were wide in a face covered by soot and smoke, but she was okay. He cupped her cheek and rubbed away the tear that trailed down her cheek, clearing a small path as it went. "We're okay," he whispered.

She just nodded but offered no words, even as he helped her up from the rubble of the destroyed building they had been standing on only minutes before. Any sort of evidence that they could've found on the men would be gone, incinerated, and she had to wonder if they had known that someone had been watching them. That meant that she had done her job wrong. That this was her fault—and Vincent's, for not leaving her the hell alone—but she was grateful enough to realize that if he hadn't been there and the bomb had gone off…

"We should leave," Vincent said, hearing the sounds of sirens as someone alerted the police and firefighters. She was still on shaky legs and she nearly face planted with the ground when he pulled her along. She resisted when he pulled her into his arms and picked her up, nearly running towards the inn and slipping in through the window of his room, which he had left unlocked before leaving. "Does anything else hurt?" he asked her quietly, grabbing a first aid kit he kept in his rucksack. When she refused to answer, Vincent sighed in irritation.

Yuffie just watched him with eyes still a little too shiny for her taste, but said nothing. Even after saving her life he didn't deserve it. She wouldn't give in. She wouldn't give in! Her breath hitched in pain when he mercilessly dabbed at her cuts with the alcohol, but instead of yelling at him the way she normally would, she slapped at his hand angrily.

"I have to clean your wounds," he said impatiently, a little anger showing through the cracks of his usually expressionless face.

"I can do it myself, I'm a grown woman," she blurted before she could stop herself.

"Funny, it doesn't seem like you're a grown woman to me. You certainly don't act like it," he snarked.

Yuffie pursed her lips and stood, marching towards the door and walking off towards her room. Vincent sighed heavily and stood to follow her, the first aid still in his hands. He wedged a boot in before she had the chance to slam it in his face again. Despite all her efforts to close the door, his strength was something to be envied. "Get out!" she finally yelled, voice cracking a bit. She didn't want to cry. Not now, and especially not in front of him. She walked straight into her bathroom to wash her face of soot and dab at the little cuts with a towel.

"No." He stepped into her room and shut the door. "I've had enough of all of this immature behavior," said Vincent darkly.

"Immature behavior," she muttered derisively. "Tough shit. I'm sick and tired of your behavior too, so I guess you can join the fucking club." She stormed out of her bathroom to glare at him.

Vincent wondered where her sudden anger was coming from—as well as the Cid-like language. She had been ignoring him and acting completely aloof for the past week, had she finally reached her limit? "Why don't you tell me what's going on?" he asked quietly.

Yuffie's breath shuddered a little and she stepped back when he approached her once more to clean her wounds. "I don't know why you suddenly seem to care so much. You made it more than clear in the last two weeks that you were gone that you didn't want anyone around you. Why are you here? Why accept this mission in the first place when it's so obvious that you care so little for your friends?"

Vincent stared at her. "You can't possibly think that of me," he said softly. "I care," he muttered, tone a little put off.

"Right. You think that spending two weeks out there, without a word to any of us meant you cared? You think having many sleepless nights, worrying about whether you were dead or alive was something your friends deserved? Geez Vincent, I have to wonder how it is that you truly love, if this is how you show you care. Leviathan, maybe Lucrecia deserves more sympathy than I thought," she jabbed.

Vincent's eyes went cold in an instant, but he couldn't help the twinge of hurt at the wary look in her eyes as she stepped away from him. How could she possibly think that he would physically hurt her? 'You've already hurt her in every other way possible. All that's left is for you to physically hit her,' echoed a voice in his head that sounded very much like Chaos. He shook off the eerie sound. "You know nothing about me Yuffie. Do you think that I came along on this mission for my own benefit? Can you at least stop to think about… what would've happened if I… hadn't been there tonight?"

Yuffie wanted to hold on to her anger—she'd been doing a good job at it the past week—but the look in his eyes made her hesitate. "I doubt your word because you don't let anyone in. At least this way you've been able to see how I feel when you ignore me. When you don't consider me—or any of us—" she rushed in, trying not to blush. "—in your plans. I've tried to be a good friend, but you don't care, and I've had enough of being invisible."

"You're not invisible," he muttered, looking a little confused.

"That's not the point!" she yelled, impatience adding to her resentment. "I haven't gone back to Wutai because of you! I haven't seen my father; I haven't seen my people, and all for what? For a man who doesn't even appreciate it. I stopped my entire life for you, and you can't see…" she trailed off, not meeting his eyes in fear that she would burst into those foolish tears she could feel so close. "Vincent, just leave. I don't want to deal with you right now."

She looked so tired and defeated, he didn't know what to say to her. Well, he had hardly said anything to her before, when they had still been friends and on speaking terms. He couldn't bear the thought of them parting ways and not fixing the rift that had formed between them. "I never meant to cause you all grief," he murmured.

"I never meant to fall in love with you either," she muttered under her breath.

Unfortunately for Yuffie, she forgot that Vincent just happened to have enhanced hearing as well, and he caught her words quite clearly. "… love… what?" he asked, words failing him.

Yuffie looked up and shook her head. "Nothing. You heard wrong," she said quickly, standing and walking towards the door.

He stopped her, a hand on her wrist. "What? No. You must explain to me what your words meant."

"What's so hard for you to understand?" she yelled again. "Geez, do you purposely make yourself this stupid?" she sneered.

Vincent tightened his hold on her wrist and pulled her forward. "I'm a monster, Yuffie. Is that so hard to understand?"

"Oh, cut the bullshit. I'm a monster this, I must repent for my sins that. It's the same tired old song. You treat me like I'm the child, but you seem to act like one yourself. You're a sixty year old man, Vincent. Grow up!" she snapped, her tears long gone with the wave of anger that once again filled her.

His eyes had darkened to a smoldering crimson, like lava as it poured over the side of a volcano. Neither of them could figure out who made the move, but in the end Vincent hoped that it hadn't been him, as their lips crashed almost painfully. He couldn't forget who she was, and what he was doing, but the need to make her see that he cared far more than he was comfortable with won out.

Okay, so this was supposed to be a oneshot, but it turned into a two part. I didn't mean for that to happen, but it turned into twenty something pages, and it was too much for just one chapter. So it will be split into two, and the next chapter will have the smut. I'm fairly happy with this one so far, but the next section needs a little bit more work. So how is it so far? Too fast? Too boring? Too unlikely? Feel free to let me know and I will do my best. Still, I hope everyone enjoyed it so far.

I will try my best to have an update for PoT tomorrow, for those of you following, but I can't really be sure. I'm taking a few classes, and I still don't know how it'll impact my writing time yet. Remember to give me your honest opinion here, but I do hope everyone enjoyed. Also, special thanks to Aveira, if she reads this, for all her kind words in our messages, you made it easier for the inspiration to come(read her fics people. They're all great!). Have a great weekend everyone!

Joey