Title: Love Story, Sort Of

Author: Calenlass Greenleaf

Disclaimer: I'm not Japanese. I don't work for Square-Enix. I'm not Tetsuya Nomura. I didn't create the FFVII world. I am, however, a fanfic writer borrowing the FFVII universe and its characters.

Spoilers: FFVII in general; story takes place between post-ACC and pre-DC.

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Angst, humor, and some romance.

Warnings: Angst, mild violence, use alcohol, use of swearing (censored) in order to keep some characters IC. No yaoi, yuri, or smut.

Summary: AVALANCHE may be good at saving the world, but they're failures when it comes to matters of love. Vincent notes this, and Cid is just Cid. But the night is still early, and a lot can happen…Gapfiller fic, in Vincent's POV.

A/N: I started this story in June. Yeah, it took me three months to write it out…


Love Story, Sort Of

"I thought you came here to get drunk."

"…I don't get drunk."

"Kinda like Cloud? You need a least thirty ta forty glasses before you get tipsy?"

"In a way, yes."

"Doesn't mean you can't try."

"I have no wish to have a hangover."

"F#$% you. That's not the point of getting drunk, Vince." Cid banged his glass down, wiping his mouth.

Vincent raised an eyebrow at this. "I know. One drinks to either celebrate—" He watched as the man called for a refill. "—or to forget."

"So what?"

"I neither wish to celebrate or forget."

"Gods, Vincent, but don't you have a helluvalot to forget?"

"…maybe." He folded his arms, leaning back in his chair. "But I don't want to right now."

"Just once?" Cid lit a cigarette. "At least I got Cloud to try it. Me, Barret, and him had this contest going. He won, of course, but he later passed out on the stairs. Yuffie got pictures of him, snoring on the stairs." He chuckled.

"No," he answered, flatly. "I have no wish to make a fool of myself."

"Are you callin' me a fool, then?"

"No," He didn't blink at this. "I meant to say I do not want to appear vulnerable—" He tapped the side of his head.

"Ah," Cid nodded. "You're afraid one of those demons are gonna cause trouble." He shrugged. "Nothin' we haven't seen before."

"I'm sure the people here won't appreciate it." Vincent said pointedly.

"They could use a good scare once in a while. Nothin' excitin' ever happens in Rocket Town, anyway."

Hah. As if he would do such a thing. He decided to change the subject.

"Tell me something, Cid."

"Sure, anything."

"Why are we here? I thought you usually spent Sunday nights at home."

"Well, yeah, but—" He took the cigarette out of his mouth. "I was bored, ya know? And did you really want to spend a boring night at my place, with Shera hovering?"

"I wouldn't mind." In all honesty, he wasn't fond of bars and taverns; the only one he felt truly comfortable in was at Tifa's Seventh Heaven.

He wondered why he was here. It was crowded, with loud music he didn't care for and an atmosphere that felt stifling. It was just another reminder of how he didn't fit in. How in the world Cid had managed to convince to come here was beyond him.

Because I needed the distraction? The voice in his head asked.

Shut up.

"Vincent? Your phone is ringing."

He fished his cellphone out from his clothing, glancing at the caller ID briefly before slipping it back.

"You're not gonna answer it?"

"It's Yuffie."

"Again? Didn't she try calling you two hours ago?"

He shrugged as it stopped ringing. "She doesn't listen very well."

"Hah, ha." Cid smirked. "Looks like you have an admirer. You and the brat…what a match."

"She does it simply to annoy me. Nothing more." He refused to believe that Yuffie could fall into the category of "admirer."

"Hey, Vince."

He tipped his head, eyes meeting Cid's.

"Ever wonder 'bout love?"

"What?"

Cid must be drunk. He had to be.

"…"

The man laughed nervously. "It's justa question."

"I've thought about it before." Hell, he even died because of it. The demons inside him were laughing, as they usually were when his mind strayed on a certain topic. "Why do you ask?"

"I dunno." Cid grabbed his glass and chugged it. "But I've always wondered."

"Do you want my opinion on love, then?"

"Depends on whether you'll share some deep, dark secret." He grinned.

"Then I'll put it bluntly." Vincent raised his glass and took a long swallow. "Love hurts. And I suppose we're failures at it."

"Damn, Valentine. That's harsh." But he didn't appear offended. "All of us? As in AVALANCHE?"

"Yes." Something in his crimson eyes flickered. "After two years, how many of us have formed relationships with someone?"

"There's Cloud and Tifa…"

"Marlene told me they have yet to kiss."

"Damn kid doesn't see what in front of him. Barret?"

"Widower."

"I forgot. Eh…Yuffie?"

"Running around, stealing materia, and ignoring her father's wishes to get married and give him an heir."

"You?"

"…I spent twenty-one years atoning."

"I thought you were over that. But—me?"

"…does the name Shera ring a bell?"

Cid's face reddened a little. "Err…"

"See?" He wondered if he should ask for a refill, then remembered that at least one of them had to be sober. "Is that why you're getting drunk?"

"Maybe." He waved his hand a little. "So you think I'm a failure at love."

"I never put it that way. I said I suppose we are."

"I think you're evading my question."

"What question?"

"Do you think I'm a failure at love?"

Persistent, and impatient. He sighed. "You did not ask me that."

"Vincent, stop it. Just give me the damn answer already."

What was he supposed to say?

"I…I don't know."

Cid swore. "I hate it when people don't give straight answers!" He sighed. "At least you can tell me why love hurts, and why you suppose we're failures at love."

Vincent looked away, staring the various posters on the wall without really seeing them. "It hurts because it's blind."

"You really believe that?"

"I never thought I would until it happened to me." He began fingering the edge of his cape.

"Isn't love supposed to be just liking a person and telling that person you want to spend the rest of your day with that one person?"

"Not really."

"I don't believe you."

"I don't care if you don't." It wasn't his problem.

"You're a cold-hearted bastard, aren't you?"

He shrugged. "I may be cold-hearted, but I knew my parents, so I can't say I'm a bastard."

"Gods, just what happened between you, Hojo, and the Lucrecia lady?"

Simply hearing that name made his heart twist, but he kept his face mostly stoic.

Cid appeared not to notice. "Twenty-one years in a coffin…what made you do that?"

"I would prefer not to talk about this, Highwind."

"Whaddya gonna do if I don't let you off, Valentine? Kill me?"

Vincent shifted his feet, letting the dim lighting glint off his gun. "Perhaps."

"Ha, ha." He put out his cigarette. "Then I want a no-frills funeral, without all that s&%** ceremony. You can cremate me and scatter my ashes over the place where I dumped the Tiny Bronco."

"I will tell Shera that."

"See that ya do." He raised an eyebrow. "So, grant me my last request and answer my questions?"

He considered it for a long moment. Cid was uncouth, rough, and loud, but he wasn't one to talk. Neither did he treat Vincent different—he gave everyone that 'Dammi, sit down and drink your damn tea' sort of attitude.

It wouldn't hurt, he finally decided. "As long as what I say does not reach anyone else."

"Can do." He tipped his chair back and lit another cigarette. "Now why'd you say we're failures?"

"Because we either have been in a relationship, or we haven't been in one."

"Not committed, you mean."

"Yes." Without thinking, he took another gulp of his drink. "And I wonder when any of us will."

"I'll bet that Cloud and Tifa are close."

"Hn. I wonder." He shrugged one shoulder. "But what about you, Cid?"

"Ah…" He grinned lopsidedly. "I'm, uh, lookin' into rings."

"Really?"

"Oh, f*&$ off, Vince," he growled. "She doesn't love me."

"How would you know?"

"I'm not telling you."

"I think she does."

"Brilliant deduction on your part, Valentine?"

"You could say." He did know. He could tell…

The look she has in her eyes when she talks to him…it's the same look I had for her. Hesitant, wanting to say those three words…it's all too familiar to me.

"Look, I can't just walk up to her and say, 'Marry me, Shera.' It won't work." Cid gritted his teeth, chewing on the end of his cigarette.

"Are you afraid she'll throw you out?"

"Maybe."

"That's why we're failures." He blinked slowly. "All of us are too afraid to act upon our feelings. Instead, we wait until our time runs out."

"Your time ran out?"

"…yes."

"So you became that crazy scientist's guinea pig, and when you were done with that, you stuffed your a$$ in a stinkin' coffin for twenty-some years." He leaned forward, tapping his fingers against the worn wood of their table. "What if you had told her?"

Vincent turned his head slightly, letting his hair fall down the side of his face. "Things would be different," he replied softly. Very different. If you changed one thing, a hundred other things would also change.

"Tch. You think you wouldn't have so many batty people tryin' to take over the world?"

"Perhaps."

"Well, why didn't say anything?"

Hn. He used to ask himself that question. If.

If.

He looked straight at Cid. "Because I played the fool instead of the gallant knight."

I let my mind decide, instead of my heart.

He had loved her so much that it hurt. His mind and heart argued with each other. In the end, his mind had won out.

'As long as she is happy.'

She.

Not himself.

He had told himself it would be for the best.

But the months after that had been painful. He had watched her smiles and laughter disappear, little by little. How pale and weak she became. The shadows under her eyes, the way her hands trembled from time to time.

'Did I do the right thing?' He had often wondered. 'Doing what I thought best for you?'

Did you…even return the love?

I was supposed to protect you. But I didn't. I couldn't.

And you've slipped away.

"Vincent?"

He sat up straighter, shrugging. "Yes?"

"If you had a second chance, would you do things differently?"

"Life doesn't give second chances of that sort."

"Yeah, well, what if it did?"

He didn't even have to think about the implications; he had already spent too much time on that. So he sighed and gave a quick, sharp nod.

Of course I would.

"You know what, Vince?" Cid curled his fingers up and his hand up to rest his chin on it. "Maybe I'll go an' propose to Shera tonight." He finished the rest of his drink and set his glass down with a thump. "We just need to go pick up a ring, and I'll be set."

"You shouldn't, not when you're dr—"

"F*#$ that," he said. "I ain't drunk." He stood up, wobbling a little. "At least I'm not dead drunk. Not yet, heheh."

Vincent raised an eyebrow. "You are."

"Nope."

"Cid, I know a drunk man when I see one." Gaia knows how many times he's gotten drunk when he was a Turk. "You should sleep it off and go see her tomorrow morning."

He shook his head. "I can't let her wait."

"A couple hours doesn't make a difference."

"It does."

"It—" he stopped; there wasn't any point in arguing when Cid wasn't thinking clearly. Vincent sighed. "Let's go."

"To my home. Not anywhere else."

He didn't even bother replying.

*:*:*:*:*:*:*:*:*

In the end, he finally did manage to convince Cid that Shera wouldn't appreciate his proposal at eleven-thirty, and that his appearance was sadly lacking. They found a hotel, and Vincent dragged him up four flights of stairs and dumped him on a bed.

After making sure he was asleep, Vincent opened the window and climbed to the rooftop. Rocket Town was by no means a polluted town but it was bogged down by the smell of machinery and gasoline, which he found oppressive if he stayed in it too long.

He crouched down on the edge of the flat roof, letting the wind tugged at his hair and clothing. The moon and stars were out tonight, unhindered by any clouds. He tipped his head up, watching the twinkling of the stars.

You didn't tell him everything, Chaos spoke in his mind, making him flinch.

He didn't ask for anything else, he replied.

You're still a coward sometimes.

I don't need you telling me that.

Back then, you could have done something.

I didn't though.

Because you were afraid.

Chaos, he growled. Shut up.

Valentine, you sometimes can be so blind. And then he was gone.

Blind?

He glanced down at his left hand, where it was covered by the claw-like gauntlet, one of the many reminders.

Ah, yes. Blinded by love.

It was love that turned me into the person I am. He remembered his life before it went wrong, but it seemed so far away.

So many sins, and none of them forgiven. But he's already paying; he's immortal, and it looked as if the world wouldn't be dying for a long, long time yet.

Scrabbling sounds made Vincent stiffen and turn. His sensitive hearing soon picked out that someone was trying to climb up the side of the hotel. It was to his…left. Yes, the left.

He stood up and pretended to stretch, when in reality he was getting a glimpse of the side of the building. He narrowed his eyes: The flash of a long strip of cloth dangling in the wind along with the glint of a blade…

Vincent sucked his breath in annoyance.

"Yuffie?"

She looked up and gave a squeak as she lost her grip. "Eep—Vincent!"

He resigned himself to his fate and jumped off the rooftop, mentally cursing his bad luck as he transformed into his flying mode (1). Easily, he caught her, wincing when one of her flailing arms struck in the face.

"Thanks, Vinnie."

"Vincent."

"Shut up, you vampire. I can call you whatever I want."

"…that's not very polite." He set her down on his feet, leaning against the wall.

"But it's just for fun."

"Your definition of fun does not fit my definition."

"Does yours include sleeping in a dusty, emo coffin?" she muttered under her breath. He pretended not to hear her.

"What were you doing, Yuffie?"

"Climbing?" She gave him an innocent look.

"Why?"

"I wanted to know why you were up there." The ninja folded her arms and tipped her head to one side. "People don't usually sit on rooftops at night."

"And people usually don't climb buildings at night, either, unless they were robbers."

"Hey!"

"Shh, keep your voice down." He glanced around them, looking pointedly at the other buildings.

"So what were you doing, Vince?"

"Thinking."

"You're always thinking." Yuffie frowned. "You think, then you disappear, then you come back without any notice."

"That does not give you permission to call me whenever you feel like it."

"Well, you can't stop me, not unless you get a new phone."

He was not going to waste money on another phone. "Can't you bother someone else, Yuffie? It's nearly midnight—shouldn't you be sleeping?"

"Leviathan, how old do ya think I am, Vince?" She stamped her foot. "I'm an adult, and I can do whatever I want?"

"Does your father know you're here?"

She waved a hand. "Yeah, yeah. He thinks I'm at Edge with Cloud and Tifa."

"Yuffie…"

"I am going to visit them. Right after I visited Cid and Shera." She winked at him.

He wasn't impressed. "Do you have a place to stay?"

"Whoops, I forgot. And I guess it wouldn't be nice to bother Cid."

"Cid is at the hotel." Vincent resisted the urge to close his eyes and sigh. "You're not going to stay out here, are you?"

"Are you inviting me to your room?" She grinned cheekily as she said this.

"Yuffie!" Did all girls have sex on the mind these days? Exasperated, he decided to stop talking. He tugged her by the arm. "Let's go."

"Whoa, wait—are we really going to your room?"

"Do you mind keeping it down? Cid is sleeping and I do not think he wants to be awakened by you."

"Fine. I'll shut up." Another grin. "As long as you put me in the same room as you."

He held back another sigh.

*:*:*:*:*:*:*:*:*

"Jeez, this is such a sucky hotel." She flopped down on the only other free bed and dumped Conformer on the nightstand, knocking the phone down.

Vincent winced at the clatter and pointed to Cid.

"Shh."

"Sorry." The girl pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. "Where are you going to sleep, Vinnie?"

"I'm not sleeping."

"I knew it—you're a vampire."

He was getting tired of that. "I don't drink human blood," he said, flatly.

"You sure?"

"Quite sure." Vincent was getting a headache from just listening to her. "And if you want to make it Edge tomorrow, I suggest you let Cid sleep so that you can talk him into taking you there tomorrow."

She shot the man a glance. "Wow, did the old geezer get himself wasted? Serves him right for drinking tea all the time…he must have bad tolerance or something."

Vincent turned around and unbuckled his holster from his leg, setting his weapon down on the drawer. He half-listened to Yuffie's chatter.

"I thought he would be home."

"He forced me to go drinking with him."

"Ooh, what's he like when he's drunk?" She flung herself down on the bed and propped her head in her hands. "Does he swear even more than usual? Does he do crazy things that announce he's going to build a new airship?"

"No." Vincent pulled his cloak off and let it drop on top of his gun. "He gets emotional."

"Emotional? Don't tell me he started crying."

"No, he did not." Gods, why was he even having this conversation? It was utterly pointless.

"C'mon, Vinnie, tell me what he's like, then."

He considered glaring at her.

Maybe I should just tell her to get her off my back.

"We discussed love."

"Ergh, thanks for the bad mental images."

What? "Yuffie, it's not like that." What was it with teenagers these days? "Cid had Shera on his mind."

"Not you?"

He folded his arms. "Shera," he emphasized.

"Well, sheesh, can't you take a joke?" She yanked off her shoes and dumped them on the floor. "You're too serious, Vincent. You should try laughing at a joke once in a while, or else people'll think you're emo or something."

"I don't care what that they think."

"That's your problem." Yuffie sat up, untied her headband, and draped over Conformer. "You think that you can sit still while the rest of the world by, right?"

"I don't mind."

"You don't mind. You don't care," she repeated. "Then what do you care about, huh? Lucy in the cave? Is that it? Or—"

"Don't go there." His left hand curled in a fist. The evening was already a bad one. Did Yuffie have to make it worse?

"You're a sitting duck. An old, depressing duck that smells like mothballs," she pronounced, without a hint of a smile on her face. "And occasionally you go 'quack,' and then we all have to jump up and listen to you while you waddle around and explain why things are better your way."

He blinked at this. He, Vincent Valentine, ex-Turk and AVALANCHE member, was being compared to a duck. "Wha—"

"You're a grumpy duck. Like that duck in the cartoons—the one who's filthy rich and bosses everyone around." Yuffie continued to ramble. "You think you know everything, don't you, Vincent?"

"Yuffie—"

"And you think you're better than everyone else, right? Better than Cid. Even better than Cloud."

"Yuf—"

"Just because you're older doesn't give you the right to sound like a damn sitting duck who keeps on saying, 'Oh, I'm sorry, I have sinned. I'm going to keep on punishing myself for things I didn't have control of.' I—"

"Yuffie!" He strode forward and grabbed her by the shoulders. "Stop it. Please."

"So you're finally listening." She finally smiled. "Vince."

"…what do want me to do, then?" He felt frustrated, wishing he had never stopped at Rocket Town tonight. "As you seem to think I am getting old and senile."

"I dunno." She shrugged. "Live a little. Do crazy things like stealing materia. Answer your phone more often. Stop putting yourself down because you didn't help Lucy."

"Are you telling me to forgot?"

"No!" she nearly shouted, before she looked over her shoulder at the still sleeping Cid. "Leviathan, stop taking my words to the extreme. You don't have to forget her, but if you stopped regretting, then maybe it wouldn't hurt so much."

"And if I can't?"

She twisted her lip and shrugged again. "You won't get anywhere if you don't take a chance."

Silence, except for Cid's snores. Vincent had the distinct feeling that he had had this conversation before with someone else.

'Can sins be forgiven?'

'I've never tried.'

'I'll try it…'

'I tried it, Vincent.'

'And?'

'It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.'

'Even if you were sliced to pieces by your enemy?'

'Yeah, even if.'

But it's different for you, Cloud. You had it easier than me.

'You won't get anywhere if you don't take a chance.'

He looked at Yuffie. She raised an eyebrow. "What?"

"I'll consider it. Except for the materia stealing part."

She closed her hand in a fist and pumped it. "Yes! I succeeded in my mission to get the vampire to agree to something other than moping."

"Moping?"

"What you call sitting on top of a roof."

"I was thinking."

"Thinking, my a$$." She snorted leaned back against the headboard of the bed, making it squeak. "Excuses."

The faintest of smiles crossed his face for a moment. "I don't give direct answers."

"You wouldn't be Vince if you didn't." She searched his face. "But honestly, you should lighten up some. You brood too much, and I'm afraid you're going to thinking about jumping off a bridge or something like that."

"In other words, you worried about me."

She sputtered. "What—I-I—"

"Don't deny it." Even in the dark, he could tell she was blushing. But he had to give her credit for audacity. Few people dared to walk up to him and tell him, flat out, what he should do with his life.

He spoke, putting an end to her stammering. "However, I do not mind it, so as long as this conversation is kept private."

"I'm a good secret keeper."

"I'm sure you are, Yuffie."

"You guys never trust me…" She pouted.

"When you grew up, we will."

"I don't want to bloody grow up."

I don't want you too, either, he thought. This surprised him, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized that it was because Yuffie still saw some things as a kid, and didn't have that complex way of thinking. And the fact that she worried…he didn't realize that AVALANCHE cared so much about him.

"If you don't mind, Vinnie, could you get off my bed so I can sleep?"

He quickly stood up, not even remembering when he had sat down. "I apolo—"

"Shut up with the apologies already."

"It's only polite."

"I laugh at politeness, Vince." She yawned. "Anyway, g'night, and have fun staring out the window until morning." Yuffie pulled the covers over her head. "And go yell at that stupid receptionist for me, will you? He was looking at us as if we were crazy people invading his precious…h'tel."

"That's not—" He stopped talking when he realized she had already fallen asleep. "Good night." He crossed over to where the couch was and lay down on it, crossing his arms behind his head.

What a crazy evening. All he had assumed was a drink and then sleep. He hadn't expected two different discussions on love...and on him, in particular.

He glanced over at the sleeping Yuffie and Cid.

I suppose I should thank the both of you.

Even if an "old, grumpy, sitting duck" is a rather harsh thing to say.

But Yuffie was Yuffie. Maybe she did like him, but that didn't matter. What mattered was the way she viewed life and how she confront him without considering the implications of his anger.

And not a lot of people can do that.

He had to smile at all of it.

Gaia, this sounds like a complete sappy love story.

But, it seemed his life was a love story.

Sort of.

Owari.


A/N: Well, this isn't a true Yuffentine. But it's close; I may or may not write a follow-up to this…it depends on how many ask for one. ;)

Other:

(1) How he rescued Cloud. SE still hasn't explained it, not even in ACC.