100 Fic Challenge.
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006 : Hours
The shimmering crystal had never before looked so foreboding, but he had never known before that this would be the absolute last time he would ever look up into the downturned face of his symbol of atonement. He had repented his sins, he'd forgiven himself, and he'd learned that loving wasn't a one-time affair. It could be (had been) rekindled, and he no longer found the need of the anchor that kept him firmly rooted to the past.
At least that is what he told himself as he marched into the cave, and what he kept telling himself more than five hours since he arrived there.
"I don't need you."
"I'm so sorry."
"I've moved on."
"Damn it, Lucrecia!" The cave was suddenly eerily quiet. He sighed. "She actually loves me."
It was softer, more diluted by the sound of the waterfall crashing outside. "I'm so sorry."
It was the fourteenth time he had tried to leave, but this time he made it out into the sunlight, and he took a deep cleansing breath. "It's done," he whispered to himself. He made to head back to camp, back to his friends, when he was alerted to another presence by the sound of boots on the gravelly rocks.
He turned, surprised as red eyes locked with grey. "Yuffie?"
She was stretching her arms above her head and picking up her backpack from where she had been sitting against the rock face, waiting for him to be finished. She didn't demand to know why he was in there, or wonder what took so long; the look on her face was both encouraging and forgiving.
As she walked past him her hand slipped into his, and she gently pulled him along, commenting happily about the weather, and that they should hurry; Tifa will think they were killed by caturars.
007 : Days
She was crying. Planet help him, she was crying and he had no idea how to fix it, let alone what caused it. He could only assume it was his fault, even though he could not reasonably recall having done anything that may have been perceived as offensive. He raked his fingers through his hair as he paced in the kitchen, occasionally glancing through the doorway at the woman curled up on the couch, hugging her knees, staring at the television and bawling.
He considered calling Cloud, hoping he would have some idea how to console a crying woman. He doubted, however, that the blonde could possibly help, and made the decision to go in there and ask her what was bothering her.
'Don't be a coward. You were a Turk, for Leviathan's sake,' he reasoned, taking a deep breath and heading toward the living room. He stopped in his tracks when he saw Yuffie enter the kitchen, eyes puffy and red, and her cheeks stained with tears.
"Yuffie?" he ventured, unprepared and to be frank, rather frightened.
She wiped at her eyes and smiled weakly at him. "Heya Vinnie." She moved past him to the fridge, flinging open the door and rummaging through it.
His jaw dropped. "Are- are you alright?"
She straightened, pausing, and swallowed heavily before turning and throwing herself into his arms, milk carton still clutched in her hand. "Gawd, Vinnie," she sobbed, face buried in his chest as his arms settled around her trembling form. "You better not leave me or so help me..."
Vincent's eyes widened and he pulled her closer to him. What impression had he given that he would leave her? "Yuffie, I'm sorry," he said, petting her hair. "I'm so sorry, forgive me."
She sniffled. "Why, Vinnie?" She sobbed loudly before he could reply. "Oh gawd, don't leave me. I was watching Days of our Lives and... and... and... these two people, they were in love, but he DIED Vinnie! He was hit by a bus being driven by his step-brother's ex-wife, because she wanted to have an affair with his twin and she thought he was him, but Vinnie, he DIED!!"
He blinked. "Days of our Lives? Yuffie, that's not real." He looked down at the top of her head and the very real tears staining his shirt. "That's not even good fiction."
"Yeah but... yeah but... HE DIED, VINNIE!"
008 : Weeks
They were living in the same house, sharing the same bed, eating the same food, breathing the same air, but they had not spoken a word to each other in weeks.
It had been so long Vincent had forgotten why they were angry. Pride so far had not let him be the one to end the nonsense; but he missed her. Unfortunately, Yuffie was the most stubborn person he knew, next to himself.
Two weeks turned into three, and he noticed she was spending less and less time at the house. On more than one occasion he had called Cloud to discover Yuffie was at the bar, helping Tifa, or that she was going to be spending the night there. He bristled at the thought of an empty bed and once again chided himself for not just biting the bullet and ending this ridiculous stalemate. It took him one night alone in a cold empty bed for his decision to become final: even if they had not touched and lay stark still next to each other, at least he knew she was there.
"Yeah, she's still here."
"I need a favour, Cloud."
"That's new. What can I do for you?"
"Tell Yuffie she needs to come home."
There was a pause and then a long sigh from the other end. "Fuck you."
Vincent blinked at his PHS. It could be heard through the line.
"I'm not getting in the middle of this. If you guys aren't talking to each other, but you want her back, you better throw your pride aside and talk to her yourself."
He blinked again.
"She has her PHS on her. Call. Her." The extra emphasis made the gunman wince slightly.
"You're stubborn," the younger man said, a hint of sadness in his voice. "I know."
Vincent snorted quietly into the phone. "Is she there now?"
Cloud paused briefly and hesitantly admitted that she was.
Vincent took a breath. "May I speak with her?"
The blond sighed again and there was a moment of shuffling as the PHS was shifted to Yuffie's possession. She brought it to her ear and waited.
Vincent took a breath and closed his eyes. "Yuffie?"
She seemed to exhale in relief. "Vincent?"
His forehead rested on the jamb of the doorway he was standing in, the weight of weeks of silence lifting from his burdened shoulders. "Come home," he whispered.
He heard her sniff on the other end, and her choked voice replied quietly: "Kay."
He paused again. Normally such a conversation would have been more than necessary, but clutching the phone tightly and leaning heavily on the doorframe for support, he added "I miss you."
He could almost hear her smile through the phone line.
009 : Months
She was such a child of summer it hurt sometimes. He'd watch her from the shade as she leapt from trees, rolled in the grass and basked in the sunlight; all the while genuinely smiling like her face was permanently fixed that way.
Yes, in the summer months, Yuffie Kisaragi was in her prime, and she shone so bright as to rival the warm July sun.
Yet every crop has its season, and though Yuffie's was summer, July and August were relatively short compared to the long facing months of autumn, winter, and spring.
He would watch from the shade, under the turning leaves, as her smiles waned and her escapades grew shorter along with the days. He could sympathize: although he was more of an autumn person himself (bury yourself, earth; hide under a blanket of leaves and wait for death to take over the Planet) he too was a wanderer, and a wanderer felt trapped when snow and the cold kept them from straying too far from shelter.
The circles of the forest and garden would get smaller as the temperature dropped, as soon she was forced to huddle under his tree beside him, staring up at the rust coloured leaves above them. He didn't say much, replying with one-word answers to her many-word questions.
"So, Cid and Shera are going back to Rocket town after their wedding. Pretty cool, huh?"
"And Barret and Marlene are going to Gongaga for vacation. I heard they're going to be returning to Corel. That right, Vinnie?"
She nodded, looking out over the yard. "Tifa and Cloud are taking Denzel to the Gold Saucer."
"I heard." He glanced over at her while she was looking away, noting the uneasy look on her face and the absence of her summer smiles.
"And you're going back to Nibleheim."
It wasn't a question, simply an observation, so he did not reply.
She leaned back against the tree, her eyes cast downward. At her side, she grasped a handful of leaves and crunched them between her fingers.
"Everything changes," she said.
A gust of wind shook the branches and red and orange leaves cascaded from the tree around them. She closed her eyes as they washed over her.
A gauntleted hand tentatively reached over and pulled a yellow leaf from her hair. "Summer always returns."
For once, she didn't reply, letting the silence and the chaos speak for itself, along with the comforting fact that he hadn't yet left.
010 : Years
Vincent stared, wide eyed at Yuffie's retreating form. Beside him, Tifa materialized as if from thin air.
"She... loves me?" he asked, eyes squinting slightly as her form got smaller the farther she went.
"Always has," Tifa said solemnly, "For years Vincent."
His brow knit. "And does she know..."
"About your feelings for her? No, I haven't told her."
He glanced at her, surprised. "I was not aware that she was in such pain, why didn't you..?"
Tifa gave him a look, reprehending him. "I didn't tell her just like I never told you, Vincent. I'm a friend to you both, and they are secrets that needed to be kept. Only you can tell her how you feel, Vincent. I told Yuffie the same thing."
He stood straighter and took a breath. "Which leaves us where we are now."
Tifa nodded and looked in the same direction that he does: A swinging screen door and a ninja quickly dissolving into a crowd of people on the city streets. "Go get her Vincent. She's yours now."
011-015 next week
Author's Note: Thank you everyone for your kind reviews. I'm really pleased that you are all enjoying this. They're really fun to write: a great break from cramming for finals, that's for sure. Last exam is tonight! Wish me luck!