I had always loved his hair. Ever since I met him, I'd loved his hair. There was just something about it—the texture, maybe, or the way it got in his eyes every time the wind blew—that made me want to run my fingers through it. Yeah, like Mr. McBroodster would have let me do that while we were fighting off a monster.
Regardless, I loved his hair. For the longest time I had been jealous of his hair. I had never been able to grow out my hair, much to Godo's disappointment, so I kept it very short to spite him. When I decided I wanted to be a ninja, I cut my hair even shorter to keep it out of my eyes while I was training, which made Godo even madder. When my hair reached my shoulders, the ends would fray and split, causing it to tangle instantly when I moved.
My fondest memories of my mother, who died when I was a little kid, were of seeing her style her impossibly long hair in the mornings. I would always beg her to let me brush it our for her, and she would always hand me the big, silver hairbrush and let me stand on her bed so I could reach her scalp. I would never do more than five or six strokes, because the brush was heavy and my mom's hair was very thick. After I gave up, she would take a small comb off of her vanity and bring it through my short crop of hair. I always felt like a small failure for my regrettably short hair, and my mother would see it. She'd hug me and ask what I had learned from my sensei recently.
Maybe that was the reason I felt so attached to Vinnie's hair. Maybe, deep down, it reminded me of my mother.
I remember the first time I ever touched his hair. It was right after our latest battle with Sephiroth a la Kadaj, right after Aerith's Great Gospel had healed Geostigma. We were all sitting around a table at Seventh Heaven, having a well-deserved drink (or in Cid's, Barret's, and Reno's cases, four or five drinks). Nobody seemed to notice the Single White Underage Rose of Wutai was sneaking sips of everyone else's booze. Or maybe no one cared. The conversation soon turned to Cloud's battle with Sephiroth. Cloud told us about the insane conversation they'd had. Eventually, we started talking about our first battle to save the Planet. Vincent, who was the only one of us who hadn't had any alcohol, quietly excused himself.
I, of course, followed him.
He told me he didn't want to talk about it. I ignored him and asked again. He didn't want to talk about it, Yuffie.
"You can't just keep your feelings all bottled up like that, Vince!" I scolded. "One day, something's gonna happen that's totally not a big deal, and you're gonna explode, take it all out on one innocent person—who's probably gonna be me, and I don't feel like seeing you go boom, so let me in, Vincent!"
His only response was, "I believe that's a record even for you, Yuffie."
I stuck my tongue out at him, still feeling a little peeved at his reticence. He looked away, hiding his grin in his cape, and an awkward silence settled over us. After what seemed like forever, I asked him if I could touch his hair.
"Excuse me?" he asked in surprise.
I tried to explain, but my words all ran together and became mush. I got tired of trying to explain, so I blurted, "Indulge me, Valentine!"
He nodded slightly, and I reached out and petted his scalp. It was softer than I thought it would be, if a little greasy, but I loved the way it felt under my fingers. It was unkempt, but not ignored. He took good care of it. It was beautiful.
"Beautiful" was not normally a word I would have applied to Vincent. "Broody," yes; "emo," yes; even "scary" sometimes, especially when one of the beasties took over. "Beautiful" didn't immediately come to mind when I looked at him. He was downright frightening sometimes, had been experimented on, had had demons put inside his head, and had been locked in a coffin for thirty years. "Tortured" and "broken" applied, but…"beautiful"?
Yeah, you could call Vince beautiful, even if you were only talking about his hair.
"Thanks, Vinnie," I said, letting my hand fall to my side.
"You're welcome, Yuffie," he'd replied quietly. He looked down at me and smiled. He tried to hide it in his cape, but I saw it. Before I could stop myself, I threw my arms around his chest and squeezed as hard as I could. I felt the sting of tears behind my eyes, although I didn't know why.
"Thanks, Vinnie," I repeated as I released him.
"You're welcome Yuffie."
Tifa called us back inside then, and completely ruined the moment. Vincent once said that was the moment when he knew I loved him. I'd been held over heels for Vince since I was sixteen. I'll always remember it as the moment I knew that Vinnie knew that maybe he wasn't the monster he used to think he was. He wasn't completely convinced, and he wouldn't be for another year or so, but he was beginning to realize. And that was good enough for the moment.
I felt motion from the man lying in bed beside me, and it distracted me from my train of thought. I lifted myself off of my human pillow and sat up against the headboard. Instead of getting out of bed like I thought he was going to, Vincent rolled onto his side and leaned up to kiss me. I loved Vincent's kisses, especially the ones he gave early in the morning: they were soft and passionate and quick-but-not-too-quick and a perfect segue into wake-up sex. Almost unconsciously, the fingers of my right hand tangled in the hair at the nape of his neck and pulled him in for a little more. After a moment, his lips drifted from my mouth to the side of my neck. I muttered, "I hope the baby has your hair, Vince."
His mouth paused and I felt him smile against my skin. He lifted his hand off the sheets and placed it gently on my belly. "I hope the baby has her mother's eyes instead of her short attention span."
I rolled my eyes at him. "Levianthan, I'm not that bad anymore. Am I?"
"No," he replied, lying on his back again. I curled up into his chest and he put his arm around me. He shifted our positions so that we were laying on our sides facing one another. I closed my eyes, feeling him stroke my stomach gently as he whispered reverentially, "I am going to be a father."
"You sure are," I said. "And nobody's gonna be around to experiment on it or me. I won't let them. I'll All Creation their sorry asses before they can even think about touching us."
"They would have to get through me first."
I sighed. I let myself contemplate what it would be like to raise the baby without its daddy for a moment. I didn't like it. I said, "Okay, Vince, we gotta change the subject. You're making me all depressed and crap."
He glanced up in the general direction of the nightstand on his side of the bed. I groaned a little. He was looking at the clock. "We need to get out of bed, Yuffie. It's almost seven-thirty."
"Gawd, I remember the days when I could sleep until noon and not feel a thing. Now, if I don't get up at the crack of dawn with you, I feel like I've wasted the entire day."
He laughed softly, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. He wore a loose white shirt and a pair of black silk boxers. Vincent always wore those clothes to bed, even in the summertime when it was a thousand degrees outside. I think it was because he didn't like for me to see his scars, the reminders he carried of a past he would rather forget.
I, on the other hand, slept in nothing but a smile.
"I doubt Cloud and Tifa will be up yet," I said, pulling on the clothes he handed me. "So there's really no point in tromping around downstairs and waking them up."
"I don't think making breakfast is quite that loud," he countered, opening the door for me. "Did you have plans for the day?"
"I've outgrown my jeans again," I sighed. "And I need to get some more stuff for the baby anyway."
He nods slowly as we come to the steps. I reach out my hand and grab his arm. My normally keen ninja senses were out of whack now that I was pregnant, as was my balance, and it kinda pissed me off. Hopefully things would get better after the baby's born. If not, I'd probably go crazy. When we got to the bottom of the stairs, Vincent's fingers threaded through mine. Leading me into the kitchen, he offered to make breakfast for both of us, which was a rare thing. We usually just made our own breakfasts in the morning, because I was really picky about my food and Vince would eat just about anything you set before him.
I felt oddly attached to him for some reason. I sat on the kitchen counter as he cooked eggs and bacon and made toast. I ran my fingers through his hair as I waited. I loved the way his hair felt like silk under my fingertips. It was so long and smooth. It fell well past his shoulders now, the longest bits of it almost reaching his elbows. It needed trimmed.
Then when we sat down to eat, I made myself comfy on his lap, my fingers still gripping his hair. I was probably giving him a bad headache with all of my tugging, but I couldn't stop myself. He didn't seem to mind. I wondered briefly what he did to keep his looking so good. Did he use conditioner? Surely it wasn't this gorgeous naturally…?
We spent more gil that day on the baby than on clothes for me. I bought just enough to get by for a few more weeks, until we had an actual space of our own to put all of our stuff in. We were trying to find out own place, but nothing felt right. Cloud and Tifa had told us that we were more than welcome to stay, that it was enough to know the baby was somewhere safe for now, but I knew we couldn't stay there forever. Vince and I made horrible houseguests. Vincent had jokingly suggested moving back into the mansion in Niebelheim, but there was no way I was ever gonna step foot into that building ever again. Especially now that we were having a baby.
After we got back, I fell asleep on Vinnie's lap. We were talking to Cloud and Tifa and the next thing I knew, I was nodding off. Vincent knew better than to wake me up while I was trying to take a nap.
"You played with my hair the whole time you slept," he told me later. I apologized quietly, even though I wasn't at all sorry. I was pretty sure he knew it, too.
Over dinner that night, we discussed possible names for the baby. Denzel and Marlene thought we should name it after one of them, or after Cloud or Tifa. We both vehemently rejected the idea.
"You could just call it 'Vincent Jr.'," Tifa joked.
He rolled his eyes at her. "Absolutely not."
"I want the baby to have your eyes, Uncle Vincent," Marlene said.
Vince looked over at me, that small, secret smile on his face. I wanted the baby to have his eyes too, but he hoped for it to have my grey ones.
"As long as they're not deformed, I don't care what color they are," I lied.
The conversation dissolved into silence after that, and for the rest of the evening, Vincent didn't speak. We washed our dishes after dinner, bathed, and dressed for bed, but he stayed quiet. Just before I drifted off to sleep, my hands reached up and curled around the back of his head. I thought again about how I had admired his lock from day one. About how much it still to this day reminded me of my mother. How much I just plain loved Vincent Valentine.
And I knew from the moment our baby was born that I would love her too. She had Vincent's hair.