Waiting for Springtime.

Vincent's life began to change quickly after the Deepground incident. He finally felt able to put his past behind him. He felt freer. He was beginning to see that perhaps sins could be forgiven. His friends were very supportive of his attempts to move on; Cloud asked him to be best man at his wedding to Tifa, just a month after his return, and even more to his surprise, Cid asked him to be one of the godfathers to his baby son, Stephan. With some encouragement from Reeve, he'd taken a permanent position with the WRO and had brought a flat in Edge. His wandering days seemed to be over, for the first time in decades, he felt as if he was living a life with a purpose, not one swept up in events beyond his control.

Perhaps the biggest change was Vincent's friendship with Yuffie. It strengthened very quickly after his return from the battle with Omega, when one evening she called him out of the blue.


"Gawd, Vinnie, don't you ever say hello?" Some people don't need to introduce themselves, he noted dryly to himself.

"Hello, Yuffie," he said to appease her, and waited politely for her to continue.

"Heya! Are you busy tonight?"

"Why?" he asked flatly, and she laughed loudly down the line.

"So suspicious! Reeve's asked me to look through a load of files on Deepground and I was wondering, you know, since you were there too, if you would help me?"

He paused for a moment, considering. It wasn't as if he had anything planned, after all. "… Alright."

"Yay! Thanks, Vince. Have you eaten?"


"Great. I'll be there in about half an hour. See ya!"

She turned up forty-five minutes later with a huge stack of folders, enough Wutainese take-away to feed fifteen people, and a flowering cactus in a bright yellow pot as a housewarming present. A few hours after that found them both sat on the floor of his living room, his table and settee covered in folders and foil cartons. He'd opened a bottle of a wine at some point and the conversation flowed surprisingly easy between them, though whether that was due to the wine, the fact that most of the conversation was based around an actual issue rather than just small talk, or because he felt less disconnected from the people around him he wasn't sure. But he was a little taken aback by the fact he was actually having a good time and enjoying her company. Of course, Yuffie still totally monopolised the conversation, but he discovered that he was interested in her ideas and observations, and found himself responding much more than he expected.

They had always been friends, of sorts. Yuffie had always offered him her smiles and optimism and she had never judged him for his past sins (although she had occasionally accused him of being boring), but he had been so caught up in his regret for the past that he felt like he had not been able to be a very good friend to her in return. He had travelled and fought alongside her more than any of the others in AVALANCHE, and the trust that developed from that settled into a sort of bond he wasn't entirely comfortable with. After all, he was a monster. It seemed wrong to have a young girl look up to him, to trust him. But as much as he wanted to, he could never quite bring himself to fully push her away.

Perhaps it started because she had never been frightened of his transformations. The first time he had changed into the Galian Beast, the rest of AVALANCHE had backed away warily. Yuffie's reaction had been an unimpressed, 'pfft, you should see what my dad turns into when he gets pissed,' as she helped him to his feet. It wasn't until much later, when he and Cloud watched her climb the pagoda that he realised she was being literal. The fact that there was someone in the group who could meet his eyes without fear or disgust right from the start was comforting, though he could only just admit that to himself. It still didn't quite explain why he had tolerated her, though.

When they were together he felt human. Frequently, human and irritated, but still human.

Now, however, he could return her friendship in a way that she deserved. He no longer had to fight the lingering guilt that whispered he was tainting her simply by his presence. He felt as if he was capable of being a friend.

Reeve often paired them together for their WRO missions, especially the ones involving monster extermination. This meant that they spent a lot of time travelling together, and often had to share rooms in inns (Yuffie frequently complained that Reeve was stingy with expenses. Reeve claimed that he was just good at budgeting). In some ways, this reminded him a lot of their journeying to defeat Sephiroth, when they'd been put in a team simply because his constant silence got on everyone else's nerves as much as Yuffie's constant chatter. But now he actually talked back occasionally when she spoke to him. He learned a lot about her on their trips. He began to understand her hopes and plans for Wutai, and even admire them.

He had never really had a confidant before, and a few years ago he wouldn't have expected it to be Yuffie. But she could talk about anything, and he soon discovered that she could listen about anything too, in the rare moments when he felt the need to talk. He found himself able to share memories of Lucrecia with her, and discovered that although the memories weren't so painful anymore; sharing them had a cathartic effect. He really was moving on.

Yuffie brought actual fun into his life; she was like a bright beaming ray of light into a dark, stuffy room. She dragged him with her to explore materia caves, she pounced on him from behind when it was snowing, somehow managing to drop snow down the back of his neck before pelting him with snowballs as she ran for her life. The day Vincent realised he needed to buy some new clothes (as his work with the WRO sometimes required him to blend in a little more), Yuffie came along to the shops in Junon with him, trying to make him buy brightly pattered shirts and baggy ripped-up jeans. She snorted at his choices of plain white shirts and black trousers before dragging him to look in the materia and accessory shops. When he got home and unpacked his shopping bags, he found a pink flowery shirt and a pack of moogle-patterned boxer shorts that he obviously hadn't paid for (he suspected she probably hadn't either). He never wore them, of course, but every time he saw them in his wardrobe or his drawer, he found himself smiling.

One day, both he and Yuffie made the mistake of sitting in Tifa's bar and not looking busy, and so they had been volunteered into going shopping. Yuffie grumbled about this for a bit, since it was drizzling a little outside, but followed him and the list out into Edge. After they bought everything on the list, and after he removed all the junk food Yuffie tried to sneak into the basket, they began to make their way back. As they were walking back, Yuffie suddenly grabbed his arm and moved him so that he was walking on the other side of her. "You have to walk on this side," she informed him, gesturing to emphasise her point.

"Why?" he asked, puzzled by her seemingly random behaviour.

She waved at the slanted pavement, indicating that she was now on the higher part of it. "Because you are unfairly tall," she answered seriously. He felt the corners of his mouth quirk in amusement and Yuffie laughed in delight, reaching up to tug the collar of his cloak away from his mouth. "You're smiling?"

He didn't say anything, but he let his lips curve even more as an answer. Yuffie, still on her toes, smiled back, looking him in the eyes. "I think we should go and get some ice-cream or something to mark the occasion."

Only then he noticed how close she was to him, how her eyes sparkled as she looked into his and how warm her hand was on his shoulder. He knew he should have been uncomfortable but he wasn't. He didn't know what he felt, but it wasn't a bad feeling.

"… Yes," he agreed to her suggestion, despite the fact that he thought eating ice-cream in the rain was a little odd, letting her take his hand to lead him away.

A few weeks later, Vincent looked up from his book at the urgent knock on the door. Frowning at the clock, he wondered who on earth would be bothering him at almost half-eleven at night. He wasn't entirely surprised to see Yuffie, but he was startled by the frantic light in her eyes and the way she was fretfully shifting her weight from foot to foot. He stepped back to let her in, silently questioning her anxiety.

"Uh, sorry Vince, I know it's kinda late…" and that was another surprise. Yuffie always acted as if her presence completed a situation, no matter how inconvenient it actually was. He waved at a chair but she didn't sit, she remained shifting awkwardly, not meeting his eyes. After a few more minutes of this, he realised that he was actually going to have to initiate the conversation, something that he didn't usually have to do. He watched her as she bounced, wondering what could have disturbed her so.

"Yuffie?" he asked gently, and concealed his wince as she looked up. Her left

cheekbone was marred by an ugly yellow-green bruise. Earlier that week, they'd fought a huge monster in the ruins of Midgar. Yuffie hadn't dodged one of its claws in time and ended up flung into a distant pile of rubble. He'd been annoyed at himself, if he'd been just a second quicker… he didn't voice his irritation, however, knowing what Yuffie's reaction would be if he did. She'd disappeared for a few days after that. He hadn't been worried, but he was a little surprised that she hadn't let him know where she was, or phoned him at all in that time.

"Vincent… I'm getting married," she spat with sudden harsh vehemence. He took an automatic step back at her tone, but her words hit him like a physical blow.

"What?" he asked, almost breathless with surprise. She glared at him, her eyes tired, angry and almost hopeless.

"I'm getting married," she repeated quietly, the words flat and oddly final. Her shoulders sagged with exhaustion, snapping him back into reality. He put his hand on her shoulder, gently pushing her down into an armchair, before going into the kitchen with the intent of making a cup of tea. Instead, he opened up a bottle of red wine and poured two glasses.

Yuffie took several large gulps of her drink. Red wine wasn't her favourite drink, but he supposed she was too stressed out to really care. He sat opposite her, sipping at his drink and looking at her over the rim of the glass, waiting for her to feel ready to speak.

"Godo phoned me the night after our mission," she began abruptly. "Asked me to come home. The old man actually said 'please' so I figured it was important." She frowned into the liquid for a while. "He's kinda sick, Vinnie, and needs to take a step back. I wouldn't mind, but apparently, I can't rule on my own. I need a man to guide me." The last part was said with a bitter sarcasm that didn't suit her.

Vincent took a breath, wondering why this news disturbed him almost as much as it obviously did her. "Do you… know who? Or when?" he asked her, not really wanting to know.

She snorted sourly. "His name is Kito Matsuri. I've not seen him since I was nine years old. I kicked his ass one day in ninja class so he threw his juice at me. Gawd, he was like fourteen at the time."

"He's unlikely to do that again," he pointed out, hoping to smooth out the discontented twist of her mouth.

She gave him a reluctant half-smile. "Well, no. But he's not even a ninja!" she said, as if it was a crime. Vincent knew that it was unusual for Wutainese noblemen not to have some sort of military training. "He flunked out of ninja training and has been learning to be a diplomat or something. Guess that's why Godo chose him."

She drained her glass and looked around for somewhere to put it down. Vincent took it from her and poured her another drink. "I always knew I'd have to get married, Vinnie, but I thought I'd have more time. I don't want to marry him. What am I gonna do?"

Vincent hesitated. He wanted to tell her to refuse the marriage. The idea of her marrying someone she didn't want to, of her being unhappy, made something twist unpleasantly inside him. But what right did he have to tell her to refuse her duty?

"You have a life outside Wutai, Yuffie, if you wish it," he pointed out softly, after a long moment of thought.

She didn't reply, but he could tell by her far-away expression that she was considering it, the life she could have, one of total freedom. Then she shook her head. "I can't, Vince. There's no-one else. I've spent my whole life fighting for Wutai. I've always said I'd do anything to make us great again, I can't take that back just because it's something I don't wanna do." Her voice was quiet and sad, but very sure. He reluctantly nodded his head.

"And… when?" he asked, struggling to keep his voice neutral, already burning with anger at this unknown boy.

"Not for a while," she replied, and he could hear the relief in her voice. "Godo has decided to let us get to know each other first. But he wants me to move back to Wutai, he said that working for the WRO is making me ugly." She indicated the bruise on her cheek, pulling a face. "I really don't wanna do that. If I move back to Wutai permanently I might not be able to ever escape."

"Your father is expecting you to protest this marriage, yes?" he asked, and Yuffie nodded, looking at him curiously. "Since you have already accepted it, why not use it as leverage? Godo will be so surprised at your agreement he will be more likely to consent to your other requests."

She stared at him in shock before starting to laugh. "Ooh, sneaky, Vince! I like it." She sipped at her drink, looking much happier. "Hey, when I'm empress, do you want to come and work for me? I'll pay you more than Reeve does." He shook his head in amusement, making Yuffie smile, then sigh. "Sometimes I just wish that Godo would be my dad, you know, not just lord of Wutai."

There was nothing he could say to that. He didn't remember his own father very well, but he knew that he had both loved him as a father, and liked him as a person. They remained quiet for a long time after that, until Yuffie realised how late it was. She squeezed his hand as she left, laughing off his offer to walk her home and thanking him for listening. When she left, he stayed awake for a long time, still feeling anger towards Godo and Yuffie's fiancé.

The reaction of the rest of the group when Yuffie shared her news was predictable, loud exclamations of surprise and protest. Perhaps that was why she had spoken to him first; she knew that his reaction would be calmer.

"But Yuffie," Tifa objected. "You're only nineteen. That's far too young to get married!"

"Not by Wutainese standards," Yuffie replied. "I'm practically an old spinster! I already have a house full of cats," she joked. Vincent noticed that she had hidden from them the true extent of her reluctance; she had buried her distress under humour. He thought it was strange that he was the one she always chose to confide her true emotions in.

Yuffie returned to Wutai, but managed to persuade her father to let her come back to Edge and to take on the occasional mission for the WRO. She had snickered mischievously down the phone to him when she repeated the conversation.

She spent most of her time getting to know Kito Matsuri. The only thing they really had in common was their desire to restore Wutai, but they had very different ideas on how that should be done. Their furious arguments turned into heated debates which developed into genuine exchanges of ideas, which turned into plans. Over the following few months, the opinion she gave of him changed from 'tradition-bound idiot' to 'maybe not that bad' to 'okay, he has some good points.'

Somewhere along the way the two of them fell in love, their shared passion for Wutai and all the emotion they put into their work creating a hugely strong bond between them. Yuffie didn't realise it was going on at first. It took Tifa to point it out to her. On one of her carefully negotiated monthly visits to Edge, Tifa asked, quite casually, "how's it going with Kito?"

To everyone's surprise, Yuffie blushed a fierce scarlet, making Tifa smile knowingly. "So, what happened?"

"Well, we were arguing about stuff as usual when he suddenly launched himself at me and stuck his tongue down my throat," she mumbled, embarrassed. Tifa laughed, but Vincent stirred, not liking the idea for some reason he couldn't pinpoint.

"So, did you punch him out or kiss him back?" Tifa asked delightedly.

When Yuffie blushed even more, Tifa laughed. "I knew it! It was only a matter of time- if you were school kids, he'd be pulling your hair and you'd have pushed him into a puddle by now."

"What?" Yuffie asked, confused.

"You obviously fancy him!" she exclaimed in exasperation. "Well, don't you?"

Yuffie pulled a truly impressive face. "I dunno. Can you want to kiss someone and kill them at the same time?"

"Yes!" Tifa, Cloud and Cid, who were all listening, answered as one.

"Maybe you should make the best of it, Yuffie, since you have to marry him anyway," Tifa suggested practically.

Yuffie snorted, and then laughed. "I guess. He's not that bad. And he's kinda cute, in a geeky way. I just don't want to admit that Godo was right about something for once."

That remark was greeted by laughs and eye-rolls. Vincent excused himself briefly and went outside to get some air. He felt something almost akin to anger at the conversation and he honestly could not tell why.

She followed him out a little while later. "You okay, Vince? You're being awfully quiet, even for you."

"I'm fine," he answered distantly, not looking directly at her. He could still feel that odd anger curling in his gut. She sat next to him on the steps, leaning her elbows on her knees and propping her head up with her hands. He could feel the warmth of her body along his left side. Her eyes glinted silver in the starlight as she stared up at him and for some reason, he couldn't meet her steady gaze.

"Liar," she accused cheerily. "When you wanna tell me what's really bothering you, I'll listen."

He said nothing. How could he explain his annoyance to her when he couldn't explain it to himself? After a few more silent moments, Yuffie stood, tugging at his cloak until he rose as well.

"Come on, I have to go back to Wutai tomorrow. If you're not gonna talk, we can play cards instead." So they did, and he won two games of poker with Yuffie and Cid, what with him having a natural poker-face, and he firmly pushed that peculiar emotion away.

After that, he observed their progress with a sinking feeling he didn't understand. He got monthly updates whenever they met up in Edge, sometimes she would call him if she was really excited, and he would be forced to listen to her chatter on and on and on and on… but he didn't have the heart to interrupt her. He didn't like it. He didn't understand why listening to her talk with delighted astonishment about the fact she had actually fallen in love with the man she was going to marry (something she had never expected) filled him with something that was almost anger. He met Kito once and found that he was perfectly nice and clearly adored Yuffie, Vincent honestly couldn't figure out why he didn't like him. He'd just dismissed it as over-protectiveness on his part. Yuffie was one of his few friends. Of course he didn't want her to be hurt.

In one of their monthly gatherings in Edge she followed him to the roof of the bar where he'd escaped for a few moments of peace, and handed him an elegantly addressed envelope. "Hand-delivery," she announced with a smile, indicating that he should open it. It was an invitation to her wedding, written in both Wutainese and Midgarian, setting the date for the next month. He stared at it almost as if it had bitten him, feeling an odd hollowness in his chest.

"You can RSVP now, if you like," Yuffie said, flopping backwards to look at the stars.

"… I do not know if I will be there," he replied quietly, re-reading the invitation and wondering why he felt so strange.

Yuffie pushed herself abruptly upright, and faced him with an open look of hurt. "You're not coming to my wedding?"

He shifted awkwardly. He wasn't sure why he didn't want to go, and it felt a little odd that Yuffie would be upset if he wasn't there. He was still unused to having friends, and had even less practice at being one. "I…"

"Is it because I didn't ask you to be a bridesmaid? Coz we can work something out…"

Vincent sent her a flat look, and she grinned, but still looked troubled. "Seriously, what's up?"

He relented. He didn't want her to be distressed about it. She had more important things to consider. "I meant only that I have to check with Reeve. I'm sure he'll give me the time off."

She smiled in relief. "He had better, or I'll be introducing my Conformer to some interesting parts of his anatomy!"

"I see your diplomatic skills are improving," he commented dryly, striving for balance.

She giggled and slapped at his arm playfully. "Very funny, Vince. So, you're coming, right?" He gave a brief nod and she grinned. "Yay! But you can't wear this," she added, tugging on his cloak. "My wedding kimono is red and I don't want you upstaging me."

He sighed. "Very well."

"Something smart," she ordered firmly. "And not made of leather. Or metal," she finished, flicking the toe of one of his metal-tipped boots.

He nodded his acquiescence and she sighed in satisfaction, wrapping her arms around her legs and resting her head on her knees. They sat in a comfortable silence for a little while, but Yuffie was not one for sitting quietly as a party was happening. She bounced to her feet and stretched, before offering him a hand to stand up.

A small smile touched his mouth, but he shook his head at her offer. "I'll be in shortly," he assured her as her eyebrows scrunched together in disapproval. She smiled then, and left him in peace to wonder why her invitation affected him the way it did.

A few weeks later, Vincent was sitting with the other male members of AVALANCHE in the pagoda of the five mighty gods, all looking awkward in their dress clothes, standing out in the middle of a crowd in traditional Wutainese dress. As ordered, Vincent had left off his cloak and was wearing a smart suit, his hair held off his face with a black bandanna. Tifa and Shera had provided the clothing for all the men, apparently not trusting in their collective dress-sense. He was still wearing his gauntlet though; he wasn't comfortable with the thought of being totally unarmed. Tifa let it go; she knew when she was fighting a losing battle. It was a beautiful early spring day and Vincent felt horrendously out of place.

"Vincent!" Tifa beckoned him, dressed in a simple, stylish kimono; her bridesmaid dress. Her hair was tied into an elegant knot on the back of her head. He went over unwillingly. He didn't want to be here. He raised an eyebrow at her enquiringly.

"Yuffie wants you," Tifa said, beaming with excitement. "She wants a male opinion on her dress." Why me? he thought dispiritedly, but didn't have time to object as Tifa was already leading him away.

They made their way to Yuffie's house where Shera, Marlene, Shelke, and a young Wutainese woman he didn't know were all waiting, wearing similar outfits. "Vincent's here, Yuffie!" Tifa called, bustling over to fix something on Marlene's dress. He could hear padding footsteps from the room behind him and turned around reluctantly.

"Hi Vince!" Yuffie exclaimed, sounding hyper and excited. "Well, how do I look?" She struck an exaggerated model's pose in the doorframe.

He stared at her in disbelief. Gone was her usual casual ensemble of shorts and a crop top, she was wearing a full, formal kimono embroidered in rich reds and golds that suited her perfectly. Her hair, rather than being held messily out of her face with a headband, was as smooth and glossy-black as raven feathers, elegantly framing her features. Her face was lightly made up, grey eyes glittering and full mouth smiling. His breath actually caught in his throat. She was so beautiful, in every way.

As he looked at her, bubbling with happiness in her wedding dress, he realised that he was in love with her. The shock hit him like a punch to the stomach.

"Vinnie? You still there? Or have I struck you dumb with my amazing sexiness?" He could hear the grin in her voice. He had a feeling she would be bouncing on her toes if her dress wasn't so heavy.

"You look… truly lovely, Yuffie," he replied honestly. Yuffie didn't hear the unusual hesitancy in his words but Tifa did, and her head turned to him in alarm. He couldn't even bring himself to care.

Yuffie smiled, glowing at the compliment. "Aw, thanks Vinnie! Hey, you've gotta dance with me later, okay?" She saw the refusal in his eyes. "It's my wedding day! You have to be nice to me, it's the rule!"

"As you wish," he murmured, still in shock. They could hear a change in the tone of the crowd outside.

"You better take your seat, Vincent," Tifa said calmly, coming to join them. She placed a supportive hand on his arm. He nodded once, actually appreciating the simple gesture. He couldn't believe this was happening to him again.

He half-turned to leave, and then paused. "Yuffie… congratulations." It was the hardest thing he had ever had to say, and that surprised him.

"Thanks, Vincent," she replied with a gentle smile. "I'm really glad you're here."

He nodded again, feeling her heartfelt words like a knife, before leaving to find his seat with the others. He felt Tifa's eyes on his back as he left.

When he sat down, he saw that Kito was already waiting at the altar, looking as nervous as Yuffie had looked excited. His outfit complemented hers. He had to physically restrain himself from glaring at the younger man.

Fortunately, it wasn't too long a wait before the music started and Yuffie walked down the aisle on her father's arm, her bridesmaids following her like butterflies around a flower. She looked so beautiful, so undeniably happy. When Lord Godo placed her hand in Kito's, he had to look away from his tender smile, instead focusing on Yuffie as she stumbled over her vows, then laughed about it.

It was just like Lucrecia all over again, he thought bitterly as he watched her radiant face, but just as suddenly that bitterness faded. This was nothing like what had happened with Lucrecia. Yuffie had never led him on; she had offered him nothing but friendship, enthusiasm for life and her unending support. He knew, absolutely knew, that even though it was her wedding day, if he were to pull her aside and ask her for help with something, she would do everything she could to aid him. She was his closest friend, the best friend he had ever had, and he was stupid for not realising before now exactly how much she meant to him. If he had spoken before, if he had known, there might have been a chance for them… but he hadn't and there wasn't.

Was he really so much of an asshole that he was going to hold this against her, feelings he hadn't even been aware of until now? Of course not. He did not want to dilute her happiness in any way.

He was in love, again. And it was unrequited, again. But at least this time, he had Yuffie as a friend. He knew she cared for him, even if it wasn't in the way he wanted. And after all, it wasn't as if she had chosen another man over him. She just hadn't been aware that he was a choice. Hell, he hadn't known he was a choice.

Vincent sighed as he watched Kito slide the ring on her finger. It was probably better this way anyway, he reasoned miserably. Yuffie was so bright, so full of life, she deserved a young man who could love her truly, who had no shadows in his past and no blood on his hands. No matter how hard it was going to be for him.

He sat at the sidelines during the reception, silent, not even picking at the food. None of the rest of AVALANCHE seemed to find anything unusual in this, although Tifa kept shooting him sympathetic looks, which he refused to acknowledge. He couldn't even find any amusement in Cid blatantly leering at Shera in her kimono, as he was evidently unused to seeing his engineer wife in such feminine clothing. He was still reeling in shock, but he knew that the shock would soon crystallise into pain. He was very experienced at unreciprocated love, after all.

As the afternoon wore on the reception became less formal, but Vincent still refused to participate. When dusk fell, the bottom floor of the pagoda was cleared and the band started playing. Yuffie and Kito danced first of course. Neither of them could really dance, especially not Yuffie in her heavy clothing, but they swayed slowly in an irregular circle, arms around each other, Yuffie's head resting on his chest. Vincent could tell that he was whispering something to her, and he frowned and looked away.

After her first dance, she danced with Godo, who was looking frailer each time Vincent came to Wutai. After she made sure her father was seated comfortably, she approached him with a huge, cheeky grin and pulled him up by his hands.

"C'mon Vinnie, you promised!" she exclaimed brightly, leading him on to the dance floor. "Just don't stand on my feet." He put his gauntleted hand on her waist, careful not to snag the expensive silk, and took her hand in his human one, making sure to keep her at an appropriate distance. He twirled her cautiously, aware of the restrictive nature of her dress. He was concentrating very hard on not giving himself away, and was taken aback when she started sniggering.

"What?" he asked, following her gaze. Reeve was dancing with the Wutainese bridesmaid he hadn't known, and they were very obviously flirting with each other.

"Kito's little sister," Yuffie explained, smirking. "Didn't see that one coming."

"No," he agreed softly, trying to keep his voice normal. They danced in silence until the end of the song, when Yuffie surprised him by going up on her toes and throwing her arms around his neck.

"Thanks for coming, Vince," she whispered. Despite himself, he memorised the smell of her hair and the way her body fit against his, knowing it would be his only chance. Gently, he eased away from her.

He stared down into her sparkling grey eyes, taking a deep breath. "Be happy, Yuffie," he murmured, finding it in himself to really mean it.

She gave him a softer smile than the ones he was used to seeing from her. "Thanks, Vinnie," she replied quietly. "By the way, you're looking sharp," she added, returning to her usual cheekiness, and straightened his tie for him. He wasn't sure how to respond to that, so settled for raising an eyebrow, making her giggle. He kept his eyes on hers for a second longer, before handing her over to Reeve, who was demanding the details on Kito's sister. He sat down and closed his eyes briefly, resigned.

Yuffie danced with all of the male members of AVALANCHE, including Cloud once Tifa made him. When she was finished, Kito came over and took her hand. "Time to go, Yuf," he announced with a small smile. This led to cheering and catcalls from their friends, making Yuffie blush slightly. She kissed Godo goodbye, and waved at her friends, before following Cid and Shera who had agreed to give them a lift to the Gold Saucer, where they were having their honeymoon. Vincent turned to leave. He had stayed to see Yuffie married, like he promised. He had no obligation to stay further. He nodded his goodbye to his remaining friends, then turned and left. He had come by golden chocobo; he had no need to wait for a lift.

"Vincent, wait!" He turned back at Tifa's urgent call. She hesitated under his flat glare.

He wasn't in the mood for sympathy, or reassurance, or comfort. He just wanted to be left alone, to try and collect himself. "Look… just don't disappear on us again, okay? We're your friends, Vincent. All of us."

He nodded once, but that was all that Tifa seemed to need. She gave him a sad smile, before returning to Cloud who was watching them curiously. She tugged on her husband's arm, breaking his gaze and leading him back to the dance floor. Vincent left the pagoda, collected his things from Yuffie's home and left Wutai on his chocobo. He didn't look back, and he ignored the sound of the Shera as it flew overhead.

A/N- I've not actually played DoC so please forgive me if I make any mistakes or don't mention it much.

I'm not really sure where this came from, but I've read a lot of fics where Yuffie's waiting for Vincent to get over his past and ones where Yuffie marries some loser and Vincent rescues her, and that's all good but I just though it would be interesting to do the opposite. Sorry if it started a bit slow, but I was trying to show Vincent and Yuffie's friendship developing over time, the same with Yuffie falling in love. There will be more details on that in a later chapter in Yuffie's POV.

Please review! Try and be nice though, I need cheering up as I have just discovered, despite the fact I am only 22, my hair is actually going grey. :(

Oh, obviously I don't own FF7.