Author's Note: I just want to apologize for this. I tried to give it some semblance of meaning, when I really should have just stuck to the smut. Oh well.

We didn't exactly get along.

I'm being generous in giving that statement, because the reality was that we had no use for each other aside from someone to ignore or to annoy or someone to blame for each other's foul moods. She was too loud, I was too quiet. She talked too much, I talked too little. She was too optimistic, me; pessimistic, and so on and so forth until we had made each other out to be our complete opposites.

We worked well like that, as teammates. Where my skills lacked, hers picked up and vice versa. I watched her back and she watched mine, both of us constantly criticising the other for their mistakes. It made us both grow stronger and more resilient.

I hadn't realized until sometime later that we had also grown dependant on each other. It wasn't until she was engulfed in Nero's darkness did my heart clench so tightly in my chest that I knew if I didn't save her, my world would never be the same.

When I later heard from Shelke of the extent of Yuffie's concern when I disappeared after the battle with Omega, I knew she felt the same.

To be honest I nearly turned right back around and stayed in the cave beneath the waterfall for another week or five. It had been my intention to hide and suppress that weakness I had felt momentarily when her life was threatened, and put all of my energy into being there and being ready the next time she needed me. No one would dare put a scratch on her body ever again.

But things were different knowing she had reacted the way that she had to the prospect of my defeat. Suddenly I was responsible not only for her physical well being, but I was also capable of affecting her emotionally, the way that she could affect me. However, at the same instant I realised I no more wanted to see her heart broken than I wanted to see her bleed.

For years I had meditated on my hatred and revenge, and I found it was tiring to think about something that could potentially never be solved. Something I didn't want to be solved. Once I figured out how to change myself from a soul bent on destroying to a man capable of building a future, I wanted to take what I had found and cherish it.

It was like learning how to walk, for both of us. Our preconceived notions of each other had been blown out of the water, and the safety of our well established relationship was shaken and made unstable by new feelings. We treaded carefully, and sometimes we fell, leaning on vices and others for support.

It was a challenge not to draw into myself and away from her. There were things about me I didn't want to taint her, but at the very same instant, I wanted to be close to her. I wanted to believe it was a purely selfless act, me wanting to spend time with her; gaining her trust, learning more about her, enjoying her company, as if it was a gift to her. I'm not sure if it was or not, but I can assure you it was not self sacrificing in motive. Every minute I spent with her was freeing. I could feel weight being lifted from my shoulders every time she smiled or laughed at me.

It was horrifying. I had found happiness, and it all hinged on one person entirely. This was why I had chosen to be aloof and stand-offish with most people. This was why I hadn't opened up until the day I came home after hiding out after Omega to find her on the front porch at three o'clock in the morning, claiming she'd had a feeling I'd be back; "You certainly know how to take your time, you lame-ass jerk face," and I wondered how many consecutive night's she had been kept up with this 'feeling'.

I owed it to her to smile and say "I'm sorry," and I owed it to her to not recoil when she lunged at me, locking me in a tight hug.

Yes, when I realized the great satisfaction I gained from being with her, my motives were certainly not selfless.

She was like a drug; the kind you get addicted to easily and go through withdrawal without. I didn't understand it, and I couldn't say I was bothered to find out. The only thing I was concerned about was how to get her, and how to get more of her.

The shift between a platonic and romantic emotion between us was subtle. So subtle, that I'm not sure that either of us could pinpoint the moment if you asked. All I was aware of was that she was close to me, and wanted her—in every way imaginable. I wanted her to be mine, and I didn't plan to share.

I'd been at Seventh Heaven that night, a decent drive from Kalm, but it felt like I spent more time where she was than anywhere else, and I liked it better that way. I engaged in her conversation, I touched her hand, brushed her hair from her face, danced with her quietly in a dark corner when she had asked. She kissed me goodnight, and I kissed her back, and it felt like we'd done the same thing every night for months.

She smiled up at me, not even a trace of blush on her cheeks. "Goodnight, Vinnie."

I kissed her again, because I couldn't bear to say goodnight and let her go back up to her room. Her lips were sweet like wine, and I was drunk off them. I couldn't figure out why I hadn't done this sooner.

It didn't even seem to matter that Tifa was looking at us from behind the bar with her mouth slightly ajar, or that Cloud was making wolf whistles from across the room. She just smiled into my mouth and wrapped her arms around my neck, presumably to reach around and flip the blond off, but I didn't mind.

She moved into my apartment in Kalm months later because she claimed she had worn out her welcome at Tifa's. It took me some time to offer, because I had been under the impression that the precise wording was required to make it go flawlessly, but in the end, she brought it up herself(ever impatient)offering to cook in exchange for a roof over her head.

The first morning she woke up in my home, I had already made her breakfast.

On the second morning she woke up in my bed.

I promise you it had not been planned that way, nothing that ever happened concerning Yuffie and I was ever planned in any way. I'd been adamant on respecting her space. She was given her own room, her own linens and I stayed out of her way as much as I could. I should have known she wouldn't appreciate it the way I would have. I should have expected her to confront me, hands on her hips and her face flushed as she irately informed me that I should stop avoiding her, and that if it was really that much of a problem that she was there, she would leave first thing in the morning.

She was surprised when I shoved her back against the fridge and kissed her, and rightly so. As a ninja, she'd been trained to see trends in her enemy's movements, so that when the time came to strike they could almost tell the story of their victim's defence before a move was made and knew exactly when and how to counter it. It seemed, by the way she froze when our mouths crashed together, that she had been expecting something very different from me. In truth, so had I.

And then she wrapped her arms around me, and when my rough and clumsy hands moved over her lithe and sparsely clothed body, she whispered "I'm sorry", and when one of those hands (the gentler of the two) slipped under her shirt, she gasped "yes" between our open and hungry mouths.

I didn't know how to stop, and I didn't know if I wanted to. I knew I should have, but I knew that if I did I would go back to my own room and sleep in a cold, cold bed without her, and I knew that wasn't what I wanted.

I wanted to promise her without words that I was in love with her, because every time (and gods, there were thousands of times) I had wanted to tell her, it had fallen dead on my tongue before it even left my mouth. I wanted to bury myself inside her, to claim her as my own, as an animal might claim his mate.

I tried to back out eight times. I know the number because Yuffie kept count, and keeps reminding me when it suits her arguments.

"I don't want to hurt you."

She just smiled at me. Her breasts were exposed, her dusky nipples peaked from my attention, but she just smiled, as if nothing changed or was changing between us. "Someone's going to eventually, Vinnie, and I'd rather it be you than somebody else."

I don't think any of my poor attempts to stall the progression of that evening would have done anything to stop the inevitable. I wanted her, like a hormonal teenager, which I ashamedly admit now only because it is the very truth. I licked and sucked on her soft flesh as though I had never tasted a woman before. My fingers trembled like an inexperienced seventeen year old, but she didn't know any better and my name left her lips like a prayer, over and over.

I don't remember when I had the idea to move to a bedroom, but it happened eventually, probably because my good senses kicked in for a moment long enough to remind me that taking her roughly against a refrigerator door was probably not the most romantic scenario I could come up with.

It had been gloriously awkward. She cracked jokes at the most inappropriate times, like when I pulled her shirt up over her head, or when her own nervous and trembling fingers tried to unbuckle the series of belts around my waist.

"Remember all those times I said 'hey Vinnie, why don't you wear normal clothes?' and you were all 'because Yuffie, my clothes are practical,' well I think I've just won that argument." She was laughing and her hands were shaking and I had to hold them and kiss each finger and then her eyelids and then her neck and shoulders as I replaced her hands on the belts and helped her to solve their puzzle.

"Holy Leviathan, finally," she gushed when the last of them were undone, and she was shivering.

"We don't have to do this," I reminded her, even though my body was long passed thoughts of stopping.

"Vincent Valentine, I never thought I'd have to say this to you of all people, but please, for the love of all things holy—stop talking."

Our lips touched again, and I smiled and whispered something cheesy against her mouth (the exact words I can't recall) making her laugh and ruin the moment entirely. I didn't mind, because it gave me a chance to scoop her up and deposit her atop the bed.

She was quite simply the most beautiful living thing I had ever laid eyes on.

"Stop staring," she had hissed half-heartedly, crossing her arms over her bare chest.

I vowed (quite spitefully) in that moment that I would never take my eyes off of her so long as I lived.

"Yuffie," I had uttered, unsure and completely exposed. Here it was; it was that moment in the films where the happily-ever-after started; the point of no return. It was far from perfect, far from the scripted moments on television, and not nearly as romantic as the way it happened in novels.

But you've got to remember who we were, who we are, and that romance and fairytales didn't happen to us. We wrote our own story, and the penmanship was like chicken scratch and the characters were poorly developed, but they leaned on each other, clung to one another, and didn't know if the ending would be happy or sad.

She broke the silence with a squeak of my name, and my eyes refocused.

"I..." I hesitated because I was a coward, but I continued because of the look of pure trust on her face. "I want you to know," I began, kneeling on the edge of the bed, "that I am, and have been, very much in love with you, Yuffie."

There was a moment of stillness and then her hand that had once been shaking very steadily lifted to touch my face. "Wow."

I snorted.

"I've never been in love before," she whispered. "I had never even thought I was a candidate. I figured it was more suited for the tastes of Tifa or Aeris or Cid, because he's a giant puff-ball-softy, and I certainly never thought I would fall in love with you."

I laughed quietly and kissed her, planning to guide her backward into the massive pile of pillows at the head of the bed, but she pulled away abruptly, eyes searching mine.

"I'm in love with you," she uttered, as if it had only just occurred to her.

Maybe it had. Maybe for once I had been the one who had things all figured out long before she did. Shiva knows that if this was the case, it was probably the first and the last time.

She was a little less frightened of me after that point. She was still nervous, but it was a nervous excitement, and in her lusty passion she very quickly learned to ask and direct and explore.

"Again," she said, breathlessly, as I tongued her clit, having stroked something responsive while my fingers delved inside of her. "Nn, gods, Vincent, yes."

I ached for her. Gods she was beautiful and perfect and sexy and loud. When she cried my name, it sent shivers down my spine.

She, natural to her character, was impatient with my teasing, and begged me to give in. "Please." She was rasping for breath and her fingers were tangled in my hair as my tongue did things to her that no other would ever do. "I want you inside me."

I drifted away from her curls to press a kiss to her hip bone, letting my fingers dip inside her again, testing and teasing; making her writhe against the palm of my hand. "I know, Yuffie," I said softly. "Be patient."

"Damn you and your patience, Valentine," she growled.

My wrist snapped once, finding the spot inside her that made her moan and I relished in the frustrated cry that rang out in the room. Over and over and over and over my fingers pressed into her until she came, and I groaned at how sweetly and tightly she clenched around them.

Somewhere along the way the rest of my clothing was lost; some I pulled off myself-- my boots, socks-- and some were tentatively removed by Yuffie, her curiosity overcoming her fear. Such was the general case with Yuffie, and it made worrying about her a full time effort.

She commanded me to stand, and I did so next to the bed as she perched on top of it, her fingers hesitantly coming to undo the button at the top of the fly.

I remember noting that my hands were shaking just as much as hers.

She boldly pressed a kiss below my navel, and with a shuddering breath let her fingers explore the straining bulge in my pants. Upon the first brush of her fingers I involuntarily jerked, and she tore her hand away, looking up at me worriedly.

"Did I do something wrong?"

I could have cried and laughed all at once. "No Yuffie, it was very good." My voice was thick and clouded. "Touch me again."

She did, less hesitantly as time went on. I think she was fascinated by the sounds she could procure from my throat, and did things repetitively to hear them again and again. Eventually she tugged down the zipper and pushed the black leather down off my hips, her head jerking back in surprise as I was freed.

"Holy fuck. Well, hello there."

I smirked immodestly, because I have a dog in my head, and primal instinct far outweighed gentlemanly behaviour, given the situation.

And then her fingers wrapped around me, and I was reduced to nothing. I was at her mercy, mewling like a kitten (which was embarrassing enough for me, let alone Galian), urging her helplessly. My eyes widened as she kissed the head, her tongue sweeping over the tip, instinctively knowing exactly what do and yet looking up at me for some sign of direction.

I could offer nothing more than a moan of appreciation, and my own fingers joined hers on my shaft, gently easing it away from her. "Wait," she said. Her dark eyes looked at me meaningfully. "I don't think that..."

I leaned over her, pressing her back onto the bed, capturing her lips lovingly, tasting salty precum. "It's okay," I promised her. "It's okay." And it was. She had gritted her teeth against the pain, and once I was inside her she took a deep, slow, concentrated breath.

"It's good," she whispered, apparently surprised.

"Yes," I groaned. I hadn't realized that abstaining from carnal activities for over thirty years had been a stupid idea until I was buried to the hilt inside her, breathing heavily, and afraid to move lest it be over before it had even started. "And it gets better."

I was settled between her legs, trying to get a hold of myself, scattering breathy kisses over her chest and shoulders. She (ever impatient) moved subtly beneath me, her hips shifting ever so slightly upwards, her muscles quivering around me. "More," she pleaded.

I was never one to say no to her, especially when she was lying naked beneath me, begging for me to move inside her. I complied, and she was moist and warm and tight and made the most painfully beautiful sounds in my ear each time I gently thrust into her.

Looking back, I wonder why it had taken me so long to get this whole ordeal sorted. How it was so hard for me to accept that she was the person who was going to bring me back to the light? I suppose it really sank in that evening, while our bodies were connected and our fingers were entwined and we whispered hot words of encouragement, praise, and adoration in each others' ears. She moved with me, and together, we were complete. I had in my arms the person I wanted to live the rest of my life for; the reason I had to move on, and the missing piece of me that I had once been afraid that Hojo had cut from deep inside of me.

She cried, afterwards, when we lay tangled and spent, and my heart broke. I kissed her cheek, her mouth, whispering "Please," trying to gather her into me and wipe away her tears. "I'm so sorry." So terrified she had realized she had made a mistake.

She did not resist when I pulled her into my arms, and she tucked her head into my shoulder. For a fleeting moment I didn't know what to think. My entire world hung in limbo, and everything hinged on the next tear that rolled down her cheek. It fell, cold, on my neck. I held my breath.

"Thank you," she said, and it occurred to me that maybe I wasn't the only one who needed to be put back together. Maybe I wasn't the only one who felt like they were split in half when we were apart.

I held her closer, because it felt right.

To this very day I cannot compare the feeling that swelled in my chest when I opened my eyes the next morning to see her curled up against me, her head resting on my shoulder and her arm draped over my waist. Her skin glowed warm in the early morning sunlight filtering through the window and her soft breaths tickled my skin.

Since then I have never felt anything quite the same. Every morning I woke up beside her I smiled, but there was something about the first time that was momentous, something that has made me remember the way her eyelashes fluttered when my fingers touched her cheek and the way she stretched like a cat, curling up against me again and complaining about being sore.

I had laughed. "I'm sorry."

"Pfft, yeah right you are," she accused. "You'd do it again at the drop of a hat."

Neither of us had a hat, but we settled for my bandana, which, for some reason hadn't been torn off with the rest of our articles of clothing the night prior.

I felt vulnerable; but in the good way, if there is such a thing. I wanted to throw caution to the wind, but at the same time I felt safe doing so. I loved her openly and freely, and she was Yuffie and I was Vincent and she was mine. We lived for each other, and I would have given her the world, because she gave me mine.

We still fought like cats and dogs-- we were still as different as night and day and she was still the most stubborn woman I'd ever met. She couldn't understand why I'd rather stay at home with her rather than go to Seventh Heaven to see Tifa and Cloud, and she really didn't get why I apologized so often.

"You're not supposed to say 'I'm sorry,' all emo-like, Vince. You're supposed to say 'No Yuffie, you're a towel,' and then we have really hot make-up sex."

"I'm sorry."

We'd come a long way from where we started; wanting nothing to do with one another, but I still wouldn't call it getting along. We were in love, and we couldn't help it, and it was just one more thing to fight over—but she was lively, and I was insatiable; she was eager, and I was compliant; she needed me, and I needed her, and so on and so forth...