Call me weird, but Moths and Butterflies are a small delight that I enjoy from time to time, though I have to say, I'm of Vincent's opinion in this little fic. A little implied romance, and I wouldn't call it fluff.
Enjoy, and review. (Revised March 2013)
Of Moths and Butterflies
I. At the Gold Saucer
Someone had told her once, that moths were more beautiful that butterflies. As a child, whose mind was generally only capable of generalisations, she thought they'd been wrong. Butterflies were creatures of the day, gentle, all colours of the spectrum, unable to incite fear into anyone. But moths belonged to the night. She associated darkness with negative things; monsters, evil, the unknown. They were ugly. Nowhere near as majestic, or beautiful as the butterfly.
The adult of Tifa Lockheart was stood by the monorail in the Gold Saucer, the screech of steel on steel sounding in the distance, as she waited for Cloud, Yuffie and Aeris to disembark the roller coaster. She'd not really felt like it; something to do with her stomach and having only just recently eaten.
The night was cool, and she found herself wishing she'd brought a jacket along; her breath rose in a fine mist before her face, and she stamped her feet to keep the blood rushing to her extremities.
"Cold?" She whirled around to face the source of the voice, and finding Vincent, the newest member of Avalanche, stood behind her. His eyebrow was raised; something he seemed to perpetually do whenever he was around her, and he was offering her his jacket. She smiled, taking it tentatively.
"It's a little cooler than I expected," She admitted.
"I should be glad to leave this place." He eyed the garish lights with distaste, and she noted how the play of the neon lights on his pale skin made him appear sickly. "I dislike the noises."
"It's not exactly my idea of a break, either." She laughed, turning, inviting him to walk with her. He walked beside her in silence for a while, a living enigma in black, as they approached the stairs which would take them to other locations in the park. "Where to?"
"I would suggest somewhere quiet, though I fear that would be too much to ask." She laughed again, pleased to see that he was able to muster at least a half-smile. "Perhaps somewhere with less harsh lighting?"
"Again, I don't think you're going to get that here. Um… oh, hang on…"
She dragged him by his sleeve towards the staircase on the right, which bore a sign directing them towards a bar that had recently opened in the park. "A bar?" His brow piqued again.
"I'm thinking low lighting and perhaps tasteful music."
"A wise decision."
They descended the dark stair well, greeted by silence for a moment as the brick walls cut off the background sounds of the park around them. As Tifa had estimated, the bar was lit in amber and red, gentle mood music playing over the speakers. "How's this?"
They settled in a booth in the corner, and she felt comfortable enough in the climate controlled space to remove Vincent's jacket. A candle flickered in the centre of the table, illuminating their little space in a bubble of amber. Vincent had closed his eyes, head resting back against the booth, exhaling slowly.
"Why I never found this earlier…" She muttered to herself, stretching out a little in her seat.
"I was starting to contract a headache." He told her, pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. "Thank you for rescuing me."
She chuckled a little, ordering two glasses of red wine from the waitress who had made her way over to their table. She said nothing for a moment, taking the opportunity to examine her companion, while his eyes were closed. She didn't really know that much about him; he rarely spoke, though she probably was one of the only people to have had prolonged contact with him, if it could be called such.
He was pale, his hair a direct contrast to his skin, a shock of black strands that all seemed to be a different length. His nose was straight and narrow, though a tiny bump half way along the bridge lead her to belief that perhaps it had been broken, at one time. He had a sensitive mouth, currently pulled into a thin line, and long dark eye lashes, casting shadows on his fair cheeks.
The waitress returned, setting their wine before them, bowing her head respectfully as she departed. His delicate fingers pinched the stem of the glass, bringing it up to his lips and taking a sip.
"I never drink wine, usually." She stared into the bottom of her glass, swirling the ruby liquid around, the candle light bouncing off the turbulent surface. She was reminded of Vincent's eyes. "I had you down as the sort who would appreciate a good vintage."
He gave a snort of derision, setting his glass down carefully, gracing her with a true smile. "Indeed? Interesting, what stereotypes you have. "
She flushed a little under his gaze, scowling at his flippancy. "Well, speculation is all I have, I'm afraid. I don't know you that well."
"Touché." He regarded his folded hands carefully. "Forgive me, I am used to finding solace in solitude. I have much to learn about company, especially the kind you keep."
"Are we that… bad?" She blanched at her fail at articulacy. Whenever he spoke she was always mindful of how eloquent he was. It made her self-conscious that her slum years might have detracted from her Nibel Education.
"I find your company to be pleasing." He flicked his eyes up to meet hers, fingertips flexing on the table top. "You seem to try your best to engage me. I wonder, why try so hard?"
She shrugged. "I just… I always have. I guess I just expect people to be just as open as I am. I forget that not everyone is like me, at times. So you'll have to forgive me."
He half shrugged, head tilted to one side, eyes gazing behind her, out of the window. "Now, that you don't see often."
She pivoted in her seat, eyes whirling around to find the source of interest; a large black and white butterfly was crawling across the window pane, though it seemed to be having difficultly, slipping down a few inches every so often.
"A butterfly? What is it doing inside? Aren't they only about in the day?"
"It's not a butterfly," He stated, kneeling on the seat to lean over, and cup his hands around the creature. She averted her body slightly, curled fingertips clutching her chin. "It's a moth." He stared through the gaps in his fingertips, before seating himself again. "Look." He opened his hands, and the creature stood still, as if it wanted its beauty to be fully appreciated.
Black and white patterned wings, intricate circles and lines made by tiny little hairs along the surface of her wings. Her legs were hairy, too, and she had two black eyes, below twitching antennae. "You can tell by how they fold their wings. The fold downwards, not outwards, like butterflies."
"She's… cute." Tifa admitted, examining her funny little insect face, and the strange projections from her antennae. "These are different…"
"Butterfly antennae are clubbed. Moths are kind of… feathers."
"How do you know all this stuff?" She grinned, looking up from his palm to realise she was leaning a little closer than she had intended. His eyes were striking in this lighting, pools of dark red, unfathomably deep. She drew back a little, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear defensively.
"When I was little I used to catch them, using a lamp and box." A reminiscent haze descended upon his face. "Then I'd draw them for my mother. She used to put them up on the wall, in her study."
"I always thought moths were ugly; you know, all blacks, greys and browns."
"Well, you'd be wrong." He cupped the moth in his hands again, shuffling out of his seat to set her free out of an open window. Tifa watched her flutter away into the night. "Where I grew up, the moths were probably just as beautiful as the butterflies; Bigger, and more colourful. I once caught a Luna moth." He smiled a little to himself, standing by the window, gazing out onto a scene that she couldn't see.
"Wow. Sounds like I missed out." She stood to join him, passing him his temporarily forgotten glass of wine. "I'd love to see more of them."
"Maybe if we ever pass through the plains of Wutai, I… I could show you."
She hid her smile of triumph in her wine glass as she took another mouthful, swirling in around her tongue, enjoying the flavours. "I'd like that very much. It's nice to know that all things that come out of the darkness won't frighten me."
There went that eyebrow again."I didn't think there could be much that would frighten you."
"Oh, there are lots of things." Too many to mention in fact. Before now, one of those things had been him. She'd known there was something underlying, something… different about him, when they'd found him in the ShinRa basement. Tonight, though, she'd seen a different side of him; a side that smiled of memories of childhood, a part that spoke with enthusiasm, a part that laughed and smiled.
Moths weren't always scary, or boring. And they were just as beautiful as butterflies.
Revised March 2013. JJ