Disclaimer: I own nothing.

A/N: I'm NOT dead, I promise. College man, down time is something I use to take naps in. I'm sorry it took so long to get this up, but this starts the beginning of the end. I hope you like this chapter as much as I did.

Perhaps Not Her Finest Moment

by Miranda Panda-chan

Chapter XI

"Yuffie Kisaragi." The sound of her name sent adrenaline pumping through her veins. She'd been dead to the world—she hadn't slept like that in months. Leviathan, she was so tired all the time nowadays, she missed the beds in the inns or even her futon in Wutai.


"I have broken through the firewall and the encryption codes. Is this what you were looking for?" Yuffie stood up, rubbing bleary eyes and staggering toward the screen to try and actually read what was written there. Five minutes later, she was making plans to kill one extraordinarily trusting and naïve and gullible Reeve Tuesti. She slammed her hand against the red button hidden underneath the table.


"Vincent! Get up here—and bring Reeve, I'm gonna kill'im." Her voice was hoarse, but that didn't stop her from threatening. She almost here the pseudo-vampire roll his eyes over the intercom.

"Is Shelke still with you?"

"Does it matter? Just get your emo-ass up here, Vincent!" it was rare that she used his proper name rather than her own bastardized deviations of it. He left without another word, walking up to the control room where Yuffie and Shelke waited behind locked steel doors.

He hoped she had found something useful, something that would finally put his mind at rest, something they could hold all use to clear her name both legally as well as emotionally.

The doors opened, too slowly in his opinion, and suddenly he had an armful of Yuffie who looked worse for wear.

"It took you long enough—ugh! C'mon!" She dragged him, holding on his clawed hand, making him more wary and nervous than before. Her blatant disregard for his personal space was something he'd come to accept, her blatant disregard for her safety on the other hand (from him or anyone else) was another matter entirely, one that he was still coming to terms with (and not doing very well at it, either).

"Vincent Valentine, we've discovered a covert hidden file amidst the coding of one of the Shinra documents that connects a-."

"Just let him read it," her voice was harsh, a certain amount anger and weariness mixed into one. White words on a blue screen showed themselves in mass. Yuffie couldn't help the sudden grin that came to her face as she read it the first couple of sentences over again. Vincent would have to believe her now. He and the rest of AVALANCHE would trust her again!

She continued reading, the beginnings of anger and righteous fury flooded her veins. This bastard had been the reason she no longer had a mother. He was the reason her old man had stopped being so much of a father as an emperor…

He was the reason she'd been thrust into the world at the tender age of 16 to steal and find all the materia she could get her hands on…by any means necessary.

He was the reason she'd had to grow up and live with being called names like 'Wutai flea', 'Wutai scum', and watched her precious home fall from glory. She couldn't help the smugness that welled inside when it came to her attention that the mission had been dubbed a failure. Despite slaughtering hundreds, their ambush had been found out—they'd lost far too many of their own men for Shinra to call it a victory—the cocky bastards. She'd been the reason the ambush had been found out. She'd been practicing her shuriken throwing when she'd heard voices. She'd seen the helmets, the guns, and the uniforms. She wasn't too young to understand what they meant. She'd known what was happening even as a seven year old. She'd ran back, waiting till she was halfway home to start yelling at the top of her lungs to the first guards she saw as she blurred past them.

At least they'd had a fighting chance, not that it had helped.

The leader of the mission, Kain, had backed her into a corner, her mother dead not but a few meters away. Her house in flames, and Godo nowhere to be found—she'd thought it would be the end of her. The man who'd been barking orders to the others was going to kill her…

And suddenly Godo had burst in, Chekov behind him, looking angrier than he'd ever been (and she'd seen him at his angriest—most of the time, it'd been her fault).

Sword in hand, they'd fought as Chekov grabbed her and took her down the path to Da Chou. She'd not seen the end of the battle, but the lack of immediate concern of a second attack (which had happened a month or so later) had given her the idea that the evil man was thoroughly dead.

Obviously, she'd been wrong, as had her father.

The man, Marcus Kain, had lived, and had gone on to become a weapons' manufacturer on the surface and arms dealer in the underground—spying on Wutai (and her, evidently) and world politics though his connection, probably Saldin, in the WRO. The idea made her skin crawl, that someone like him had outlive her old man.

"Yuffie?" his voice brought her back to Gaia. She looked at him, vaguely startled at the amount of concern she could there. Then she became aware that she'd been gritting her teeth, fists clenched and shaking slightly with righteous fury.

They'd been played like puppets. This evil man was making money off her dead kinsmen! "I'm fine," she grit out. She looked away from him, turning her gaze to the floor. The hell she was just going to sit back and let the WRO handle it. No, this wasn't their fight. This was between Wutai and this arrogant asshole that needed to be publicly shanked. And she'd be sure he got what he deserved.

"Shelke, can you track him down?" Shelke nodded hesitantly, unused to hearing the Wutain princess so angry. She began typing furiously as she always did, when suddenly the screen shut off. They both looked up, startled, one gaze questioning, the other livid.

"It's been a long two days," he said matter-of-factly, "we could all use some rest before we," he seemed to stress the word, "start planning our next move," she resisted the urge to scoff. Vincent and teamwork were never compatible, and she didn't believe for a second that anything had changed. She knew the vampire-esque man better than anyone alive…except maybe Shelke…who knew far more than she did about the red-caped man because of Lucrecia's memories…which still really irked her…but that was sooo not the point.

"Bullshit, Vincent! Turn it back on," she stared at him defiantly, but he made no move to do as she demanded, "NOW!" she hit the wall, the bang echoing in the metal. She growled lowly to herself, wanting to punch the apathy right out of his pretty face.

"Yuffie, you need sleep. We can handle this in the morning."

"You'll be gone when I wake up; don't feed me your bullcrap. Damn it, Vince—this isn't your fight for once!" she took a deep breath, realizing the consequences of what she was about to say, but knowing that a low blow was the only way to win this battle, "We let you get your revenge—now by Leviathan, let me get mine!" She knew it was a low blow, she just kept getting better at managing to him in particular below the belt (she'd only managed it once literally, but figuratively worked just as well, she supposed).

Vincent was a strong man, however, stronger especially when it came to the safety of his friends…even more so with Yuffie, who so very often placed herself in danger. He was a strong man with as much enviable determination as possibly Yuffie herself. Crimson eyes turned steely as he stood his ground, taking her blow like the full-fledged murder-machine Turk he'd once been. He didn't move.

"This is different," he bit out, daring her to say anything more on the subject, staring her down like the petulant child she consistently insisted upon acting like. Yuffie, arms crossed, her own steely-eyed determined face in place went into full ninja mode in an instant at seeing his unmoving stance; her face suddenly a blank slate as she unfolded her arms and shrugged in mock defeat.

"Fine, but you should know of all people, McVinsters: this little set back will do everything but actually stop me." She stood there staring at him—war had taught her a trick or two, and dealing with Vincent had always been her forte…although, she would agree, this was different from any time before. This wasn't just about playful games or stealing. This was about her life…and his…and deciding fates.

Shelke merely stared at them both, trying to decide what exactly the best course of action would be. Vincent caught her eye and motioned with his head for her to please leave. Shelke nodded hesitantly, not having full confidence that Chaos's ex-vessel wouldn't end up simply killing the ninja princess. She got up, exiting the extraordinarily tense room.

"What? Don't want your prodigy to see you taken down a notch?" she was just being spiteful now. He didn't budge or respond in any way, she tried again—anything to get a response out of him, "Why can't you just let me do this my way, Vincent? I've done it your way so far, and I haven't seen any-!"

"Because your way will get you killed," his voice was hard, and Yuffie tried to repress the lovely shiver that it sent down her spine to hear him talk like that to her. The concern in it put her on guard, however.

Angry Vincent? Yea, she could deal with that. Sad Vincent? That was his default, he was always moping and grieving about something or another. Happy Vincent? …that would make her life if she ever saw it. Concerned over Lucrecia? See Sad Vincent. Concerned about being a burden to his friends? Ditto on that, too. Concerned over Yuffie specifically? It was becoming more frequent, and she was becoming more inclined to believe it was genuine…more so because it wasn't simply concern, it was concern and…something else. And that something else was…something she might've dreamed about…but she wasn't sure she handle it in real life especially not right now and-!

…and all of that combined scared the ever loving shit out of her.

"I'm stronger than you give me credit for, Vince. I've stayed alive for nearly a year now without your help."

"And here we are in WRO headquarters…after you've only just narrowly escaped the executioner's axe."

"Don't be so melodramatic, Vinnie—I'm certain that they're much more inclined to shoot me than behead me." He was there in a flash, gripping her arms and being too close for her to breathe because suddenly everything smelled so much like Vincent.

"This isn't a game, Yuffie," there was that tone of voice…the angry concerned and something that was incredibly un-Vincent like with anyone who wasn't named Lucrecia. It put butterflies in her stomach and made her want to run and hide forever at the same time. "Your life is not something to be thrown away because of your childish antics." And there she was again, backed into a corner by one Vincent Valentine. It was seriously becoming a problem with him, and she really needed to stop putting herself in situations like these…but she was still Great Ninja Yuffie, the White Rose of Wutai. The hell she'd ever let him manhandle her on a whim.

"Now you listen here! I'm not gonna die—sure, it's a possibility, but really, it's war—death is just one of those things. Why are you so damn sure I'm gonna kick it, because really, it's-."

"Because if you die, I'm not sure what I'll do." She stopped, looking at him wide-eyed, her breath caught in her throat. She took leaned against the wall, feeling like her limbs were made of lead and that her heart was going to jump out of her throat where it had somehow managed to recently take residency. It's not that she hadn't thought of it, she thought of him…and her…together…all the time. It was something she'd talked to Tifa about what seemed like a lifetime ago before the war had started, before she'd ever returned to Wutai. Tifa had been supportive, but had also told her not to get her hopes up. She'd entertained many the thought of this exact scene (it had happened much more awesomely in her head, and if she ever figured out to rework her mouth, she'd be happy to tell him of how it should have gone). Here he was though, saying everything in a single sentence that didn't even have the dreaded L word…but she knew him…and she could read between the lines enough to know the meaning.

He'd been watching her since he'd said what he'd been meaning to tell her since many a WRO mission past. Every time he'd watched her get in over her head, every time she'd flirted with danger a little too much, and every single time he'd saved her, protected her. Not because he felt an obligation, although that had been the original reasoning, but because he didn't want to see her die…and it wasn't just that…he wanted to see her live. The idea of his world, that had been saturated in her presence for so long it was becoming harder to remember what life without her had been like, without her was something that kept him on edge every single WRO mission, whether he was assigned to it or not.

The emotions that kept swarming in her eyes, flashing lightning from one thing to another. He couldn't tell if it was good sign or not that she'd finally stopped talking, gaping like a fish instead. He watched her even more when she finally seemed to have good sense to shut the gaping hole on her face, and seemed to slump against the wall. He took a step back for propriety's sake, old habits die hard…and no one had managed to kill off his more chivalrous ones. She seemed to breathe again once he wasn't a hair's breadth from her face. It wouldn't startle him if she did find him repulsive, but he'd be damned if he just let her get herself killed. He wouldn't stand for another woman he loved to die when he could still save them.

Yuffie may have been nothing like Lucrecia, but she was beginning to pick up more of her unforgiving traits as time passed.

"Um…" Yuffie struggled for some semblance of control, some line she could rattle off and not sound like he'd just scared her shitless, "I'm…not…entirely sure what you mean." She said, it was only partially a lie. She had an idea, but she knew where assuming lead people, and this was a precarious subject on its own—it didn't need the help of untruths based on sheer gut feeling. He stared at her for a moment, but she continued on, "I think I know, you're a pretty straight-forward kinda guy, ya know? But I mean, maybe we're not on the same page, and that would suck. Heh heh, so I mean if you could, ya know, maybe explain a little bet—mmph!" There was a warmth that spread from her head to her toes, the feel of his lips against hers, the warmth of him pressing her against the wall behind her. The entire world seemed to stop as she closed her eyes slowly, enjoying the feel of it (although seeing Vincent's face up close was never a bad thing, that man was gorgeous, even if she did call him girly). He was there, and real, and oh Leviathan he was kissing her! It was a sort of internal fangirling despite herself that made her anger at him dissipate slightly and fall back to be categorized under 'forgotten until further notice' file.

They parted though, the lack of air beginning to impede any further action. She looked up at him, her arms having found their way to tangle in his hair, and smiled.

"I'm glad we're on the same page, then." She couldn't the dazed breathy sort of way it came out, really, it was more his fault than hers, he'd been the one to assault her face in a completely wonderful and socially, not really, acceptable way. She couldn't help the smile that seemed to be stuck permanently on her face. He smirked, because it was Vincent, and she didn't mind because he was always beautiful.

"I'm not going to let you stand in the way of me keeping the remains of my heart intact." The smile receded slightly, knowing she would stand in his way, because it was still her fight, but knowing that now it was going to be so much harder. She poked his nose, startling him, but she gave him a reassuring and teasing smile.

"You're far too corny for me to take that entirely seriously, even you should know that." There, she'd technically already told him she was going to make a run for it. Sort of, not really, but she'd have caught it if she'd been the one on the listening end of it. Maybe.

He wouldn't be pleased when he found out, but really—not even Leviathan would stop her now. She'd come back alive with the justice that she longed for and the stench of blood marring her Conformer. The hell she'd let someone else take of her life-long mission: to bring Wutai back to glory.

But first, she had an army to catch, and a man to ditch….and the latter would be hardest of the two.

A/N: So I'm pretty freakin' proud of this. I won't lie. Also, the next chapter, this was all Yuffentine fluff, the next chapter I'm recapping what's been going on the past couple of months that Yuffie was in prison-because her army was no stuffed in there with her, ya know? And they've been up to stuff, all sorts of stuff. Who knows what kind of stuff? ...I do. But you'll have to wait for it.

Much love, everybody! Thanks for everyone who's stuck with thus far! Please don't give up on me yet!

And if you loved this chapter or hated it, you should tell me in a review! Because reviews are happiness, and happiness is sunshine, and it's cloudy where I am right now.

Panda out.