Last chapter, ladies and gentlemen!


The next time Vincent was lucidly aware of his surrounding, he was in the sickbay of the Shera, lying unrestrained in a comfortable bed.

He felt groggy and achy as well as a little dehydrated. It wasn't unbearable though, and he knew from past experience that the pain would leave him within a few hours. It took a few moments for the memories of what had happened to crystallise. Hine, and their demons, and pain, and then… Yuffie. It had shaken him to his core to wake to her standing over him; he had been startled and glad and horrified to see her.

Startled because he had not expected anyone to know where he was. Glad because she had come after him, and just because shewas there. Horrified because she was there, in the lair of a demon-possessed deranged psychopath. A psychopath who had gleefully pounced on her name when he had mumbled it in his delirium, who knew how much she meant to him.

Yuffie had come after him while he'd been all but helpless. He had left her alone with Hine and there had been nothing he could do. It didn't matter that he had been barely conscious and that Yuffie hadn't given him a choice but to leave her. He had driven her away to keep her out of danger, but she had followed him directly into it, and he had no idea what had happened to her.

The room was empty; there was no one he could ask. He pushed himself upright and waited for his legs to hold him, before gathering his belongings (his fingers brushed wonderingly over Cerberus; he vaguely remembered dropping it) and staggering out of the room. The ship was infuriatingly deserted, but he managed to find Cid in the engine room, making some noisy adjustments with a very dangerous looking wrench.

When he finally managed to attract his attention, Cid gave him a swift look of concern, quickly hidden. "You look like shit. Sure you should be up already?"

He ignored that pleasantry. "Is Yuffie alright?"

Cid frowned at him, the intensity in his voice obviously taking him aback, before shrugging. "Headed back to headquarters for a shower. She was covered in blood."

Fear sliced through him, and Vincent whirled away as fast as he could on still- unsteady legs, electing a startled curse from the pilot. "Whoa, calm down, Vince! Not her blood. Giant fucking spider blood." He turned back in time to see Cid grinding out the cigarette he'd spat from his mouth in his surprise. "The kid's just fine."

Nodding his thanks for the information, he turned away at a more sedate pace.

"Vincent." He looked back over his shoulder. Cid was lighting a new cigarette, his blue eyes focused on him. "Don't mess with her head." Vincent inclined his head in acknowledgement. He understood. Cid was a friend to them both, but he would look out for Yuffie.

He made his way quickly through Edge, feeling stronger with every step. Whatever Hine had given him; it was leaving his system, and didn't seem to have any lingering after-effects. He could still feel the demons within him, though quiet for now, curled up in the back of his mind like a basket full of napping puppies.

Hine - or whatever dwelt within him - had startled them into dormancy, but he knew better than to hope that it would last. But he took advantage of the relative peace within his mind to reflect on what had happened.

Yuffie had come after him, despite everything. He couldn't get over the way she had looked at him, so hurt and tender all at once, and what she had replied to him when he had asked why she was there, after he realised that she would have to confront Hine by herself, since he was certainly in no state to aid her.

You know why.

Did he? He knew what he hoped, but it wasn't the same as believing it. He had deliberately set out to wound her, and he had succeeded. It wouldn't surprise him if he had destroyed any tender feelings she had ever had for him, and had rescued him only due to a sense of responsibility to a fellow Avalanche and WRO member.

But his deception hadn't protected her. All he had done was cause them both pain. Was it really worth keeping it going? Every time he tried to do the right thing he only made everything worse.

Maybe it was time to be selfish and, if there was any chance she still felt the same, actually fight for something that he wanted for himself.

He took him a little longer to reach the WRO than usual, but as soon as he got there, he snagged a likely looking member of staff and asked for Yuffie's location. He headed straight for the medical centre when he was informed that Yuffie was undergoing her mandatory post-mission check-up.

The first room he checked was empty; the second contained a solider having what looked like broken ribs treated. Murmuring something apologetic, he tried the room next door, to find exactly who he had been looking for. Relief washed over him as he saw for himself that she was unharmed.

Yuffie was obviously in the middle of changing after her shower, her hair was damp and she was in a towel. She spun around in shock as she heard the door open. It didn't seem to reassure her to see him standing there.

"Learn how to knock, weirdo!" she snapped as he turned around to forestall an argument. He didn't think it was the best time to remind her that he had seen her in much less than that before now.

He waited until the sounds of rustling fabric had faded before facing her again. He couldn't help but notice that her shirt was shredded in a very interesting way, but didn't say anything about it. It was enough to have her in front of him, perfectly undamaged and bristling with irritation.

He didn't say anything for a long moment, content just to gaze at her. He'd missed her, more than he had allowed himself to realise. Yuffie however, fidgeted beneath his eyes and soon got annoyed with his silence.

"So… you're up, then," she said, just to interrupt the quiet. She wasn't looking directly at him; her gaze was focused over his shoulder. "You look… better." She flicked her eyes to look at his arm, for some reason, before returning to her contemplation of the wall behind him.

"Are you hurt?" he asked, needing to hear it from her.

Yuffie shook her head. "No," she answered abruptly.

He had no idea how to make fix things to make them less awkward between them, but he knew he needed to try. "What happened to Hine?" he asked, genuinely wanting to know.

She shrugged and turned away. "He's dead." He waited for details, it wasn't like Yuffie not to brag about her ninja skills, after all, but it was soon clear that she wasn't going to elaborate.

"Cid said he transformed?" he tried again, wanting to make her to talk to him.

"Yeah. He did." He'd never heard Yuffie say so little, ever, and didn't know how to react to it. He hated knowing just how much he had hurt her.

"I wanted to… thank you," he said, but she shook her head, cutting him off.

"You can thank me by giving me my Exit materia back," she informed him shortly. He had pre-empted this, and had made sure to pick it up before leaving the Shera. He removed it from his gun and held it out to her.

She made no move to take it from him, regarding him with the wariness of a wild animal expecting a trap. After a moment, he realised that she wasn't going to take it from his hand, so stepped forward to put it on the table between them. She took a step backwards at the same time to maintain the distance between them.

It hurt, although he deserved it. "Yuffie," he began slowly, but she shook her head.

"I've gotta go," she mumbled, "Reeve's expecting me." She darted forward to snatch up the materia, and then went to dodge around him to get to the door.

He side-stepped, blocking her way. He knew that if he let her go now, he would lose any chance he had of making this right with her. She huffed, exasperated, and crossed her arms defensively.

"Look, you've done your duty and checked on me. What more do you want?" she grumbled, disgruntled

"Yuffie," he said as gently as he knew how. "When you said that… that I knew why you were there…" she wrinkled her nose, but he was reassured when she started blushing. "Do you still…" he trailed off, not quite knowing how to phrase it, but she understood what he hadn't said. She always had, even before he had realised it.

He saw the lie form on her face; the instinctive desire to protect herself. Her lips parted to say the words, before she paused, her eyes suddenly flashing. When she spoke, months of anger, hurt and resentment came pouring out of her like poison being drawn from a wound.

"Gawd, I wish I didn't! I wish I could just forget you! I wish we'd left you mouldering in that stupid, stinky coffin! I wish you would just leave me alone!" Her voice got more high-pitched with each aggravated word and it took everything in him not to wince.

But strangely, he felt almost elated by her outpouring of emotion. It was a very negative way of declaring her affection, but it satisfied him. There was still something between them that he could work on. It was the easiest thing in the world to love and hate someone at the same time; after all, they were just different edges of the same well-honed blade. The fact that he could rouse any emotion from her other that that terrible, wounded sadness reassured him.

Besides, this was the reaction that he had expected from her all those months ago. He liked that she had regained her feistiness.

He moved closer to her. "Yuffie," he murmured softly, but now that she was angry, she wasn't in the mood to listen to him.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" she snapped, slapping away the hand that had begun to reach out for her. "Don't even think that you can come and find me for a little stress-relief just because you're not dead."

"Yuffie!" he protested more harshly than he had meant to, though he knew she was entitled to her anger. "I'm trying to apologise to you."

"Didn't think you knew how," she sneered. "Don't bother. You might choke on it." She stepped more determinedly around him. "I'm leaving now."

This time, he took her arm in his gloved hand and turned her physically to face him. In response, she punched him in the mouth. Hard. He didn't let go of her, even as he felt his lip split, start to bleed, and then heal itself.

"I should have done that ages ago," she muttered disparagingly, shaking out her arm.

"Yes," he agreed. Her surprise at his agreement halted her struggle to free herself. He took her distraction as an opportunity.

"Yuffie… I've lost control of my demons." It wasn't nearly as hard to say as he had expected it to be. Whatever she had expected from him, it wasn't that. Her anger temporarily faded into thoughtfulness.

"What do you mean, Vinnie?" she asked. He hadn't thought the use of a nickname that he hated would ever feel so good.

Briefly he explained about Chaos, and the struggle to keep the rest of his demons within his mind. Then, with a little more difficulty, he told her about waking up as Death Gigas. She listened to every word with a frown on her face. "I was afraid I would harm you," he finished.

"So, instead of telling me about all this, you decided to hurt me and make me feel like I was nothing - like I had just stolen your materia again and you hated me - and you thought that this was a good idea," she confirmed, in a worryingly calm voice.

He nodded cautiously. "I was trying to protect you."

"You're an idiot," she said bluntly. "I don't need your protection, Vincent! I just kicked giant demon-spider ass, I think I can smack Galian Beast on the nose if I have to!" He tried to explain further, but she cut him off, growing steadily angrier. "And if you were trying not to hurt me, you failed miserably!"

"Nobody dies of a broken heart, Yuffie," he said, repeating what he had told himself a thousand times since he had ended things between them.

"How can you say that, Vincent?" Yuffie asked, frustration in her voice. "You've been dead where it counts for decades."

"Yuffie…" he had no defence for that one, other than that now he was here with her, he felt frighteningly alive. But she didn't give him a chance to speak. She pulled herself out of his grasp; to his shame, he could see bruises forming from his fingers on her arm.

She shook her head at him. "I don't care anymore, Vincent. I really don't." She reached for the door handle and he nearly let her go. Some wounds don't heal, some things can't be fixed by words alone, and some hurts cannot simply be forgiven. He knew that better than most. He'd tried, at least. He'd learned that much from his past mistakes.

He would have let her go, if it hadn't been for his demons.

Throughout their conversation, they had begun stir once more, but for once they did not interfere, or take the opportunity to try and force a transformation while he was distracted. In fact, he received the impression that they were listening intently.

When Yuffie's slim fingers wrapped around the door handle, three voices in his mind cried No! Before he had even realised it, he had reached out and dragged her back to him, his demons' impulses so closely matching his own that he could not fight it.

She staggered into his chest; his hands steadying her at the elbows, her eyes wide with shock as he leaned forward. Seething with desperation and anger, he bent so that his face was close to hers. "I did it because I love you." He hissed the words practically into her mouth.

She gaped at him, for once lost for words. He had never told her that before, had told her the complete opposite, in fact. It was probably the harsh, unromantic way he told her that went any way towards convincing her.

"I love you," he repeated, finding the words easier the second time. "I know I hurt you… I'm sorry." She was listening now, and he could see that she actually believed him. Perhaps it was relief that made his words too careless. "It hurt me too, to see you with another. If I can forgive you, can you not-?"

"Forgive me?" she snapped, and he realised that he had pushed his advantage too far and angered her once more. "You dumped me, remember? That means what - or who! - I do is none of your business anymore, Vincent Valentine." She jabbed him hard in the chest. "Perhaps you should have thought of that before-"

Filled with the type of clarity he had only ever felt in battle before now, he cut her off with a kiss, using the hand she'd been poking him with to pull her close. She struggled for a wild moment, he could feel her heart pounding against his chest, but he didn't let go. He kissed her gently and persuasively and hungrily until she couldn't help but kiss him back. She bit his lip savagely, re-opening his earlier wound, before she gave in and opened her mouth in response the pressure of his.

It felt like coming home.

He clamped his gauntleted arm around her waist, holding her close and up on her toes at the same time, while his other hand caressed what skin he could reach, checking for himself that she was unharmed. Her hands went round his neck, for balance, and tangled in his hair. The sharp tugs felt good and they urged him on.

He gently eased her back towards the table, until she was sitting on it, and he was standing between her legs, both hands cupping her face. He kissed her softly, apologising without words. He had never been any good with them, anyway.

Neither of them heard the door open, but the pointed throat-clearing from behind them made them both jump apart. Yuffie blushed as she met Reeve's eyes. Vincent probably would have joined her, if he still could.

"I'm glad to see you're feeling better, Vincent," Reeve said dryly, his mouth twitching slightly, as though he didn't know whether to be pleased with this development or not.

Yuffie slid down from the table. Vincent felt a little bit of inappropriate pride when he noticed that her knees buckled, but that faded when she looked at him with stricken eyes, conflicted between hurt and hope.

"I'm taking that holiday you promised me," she announced abruptly to Reeve, slipping past him and ducking behind Reeve on her way to the door.

"Yuffie… we're not finished," Vincent informed her. He didn't quite mean for it to sound so threatening.

She didn't reply, and moments later he could hear light, ninja footsteps running down the hall. He sighed, and looked at Reeve's expectant face. "… You promised her a holiday?"

"Apparently."

Vincent sighed. He wanted to follow her, but he could tell that he had overwhelmed her. If he didn't give her time to think she would only lash out at him. It just meant he would have to track her down, and that could take a while. Yuffie was good at covering her tracks.

"Vincent, what's going on?" He had almost forgotten that Reeve was there. "I didn't want to interfere before-"

"But you are now?" Vincent asked sharply. He still wasn't used to openly discussing himself.

"Yes,'" Reeve said matter-of-factly.

Vincent hesitated for a moment. His first instinct was to simply leave. But if he had accepted Reeve's help and advice in the first place, Yuffie would have never put herself in danger. Reeve was his friend; he was motivated simply by concern. It was about time that he started confiding in the people around him.

So he told Reeve, as succinctly as he could, about the problem with his demons. Reeve listened thoughtfully until he was finished. "Well, that's easily solved," he announced when Vincent stopped talking.

"What?" Vincent couldn't help demanding. All of these months he had struggled alone when it could have just been fixed?

"Talking to people does have its advantages, Vincent," Reeve laughed, though he quickly sobered under Vincent's impatient glare. "I've been reading through some of Janus Hine's research notes, and some other similar cases. While I can't get the demons safely out of you, I can contain them by fusing certain types of materia together - it would be sort of like your protomateria. You could wear it on an armlet if you didn't want it physically within you."

"How long would it take?" Vincent asked, unable to believe that the problem he thought he'd spend the rest of his long life struggling with had such an easy solution.

"A couple of months. I'd have to gather the right sorts of materia and it might take a while."

It felt like an anvil had been lifted from Vincent's shoulders. "Please. Do it."

Reeve smiled. "Of course, Vincent." His smile turned curious when Vincent rose to leave. "Where are you going?"

He would have thought it was obvious. "To find Yuffie."


Yuffie's first stop after she left the medical centre was to her locker. The only other clothing she had with her was her WRO uniform, which would attract just as much attention as her ruined shirt, but with much less chance of getting her arrested.

Then, she left the building, hoping that Reeve would distract Vincent long enough for her to get a head start. She felt overwhelmed and raw, as if a scab had been torn from a barely-healed wound. So she did what she always did when something was troubling her; she ran away until the world started making sense again.

This time, she ran to the most boring place on the Planet, and therefore the last place anyone would ever look for her. She headed to Fort Condor.

She stopped only once, at the Chocobo Farm, to "borrow" one of Cloud's golden birds. It wasn't as if was using them after all, he was on his honeymoon! If he was spending it worrying about his chocobos then he had a lot more issues than she had ever suspected.

It was getting dark by the time she reached Fort Condor and she was practically falling off the chocobo with exhaustion. It'd had been a long day, what with the late night, all the fighting, and Vincent. She was too tired to even take in all the things that he had told her, though his declaration still echoed in her head, and she could still feel the imprint of his lips against hers.

She was admitted to the Fort without question, as the guard remembered her from her part in the battle to protect the giant bird egg. She ate the bland but filling stew they served her, before falling across the bunk they provided. She didn't even have time to remove her boots before she fell asleep.

She was woken up too early by the sound of her PHS ringing. Scrabbling blindly through her belongings, she answered it with a garbled, sleepy murmur.

"Good morning, Yuffie," Reeve's voice greeted her, far, far too cheerfully. "How's Fort Condor today?"

"Damn tracking device," Yuffie muttered. "Is there a reason you're stalking me?"

"Vincent's looking for you," Reeve said, as casually as he could. Yuffie groaned, screwing her eyes tightly shut. She definitely hadn't had enough sleep to deal with him.

"… Please don't tell him where I am."

"Ah," Reeve replied. There was sympathy in his voice. "Of course not. But… you will have to talk to him eventually, you know."

"I know. Just not yet." She yawned widely, making Reeve chuckle down the line. "Was there something else you wanted, or were you just meddling in my love-life, Reevie?"

"Actually, yes. I was hoping that you would do me a favour. I need several high-quality samples of unclassified materia, and I was hoping that you could find them for me."

"Unclassified materia?" she questioned, trying to remember where she had heard about that recently. Unclassified materia was pure potential, newborn materia that had not yet developed a specific ability but that was full of power. It was particularly hard to get hold of as it needed harvesting at exactly the right moment. It was only really useful in materia fusion, however.

Of course. That's where she'd read about it. "Is this something to do with Vincent's demons?" she wondered.

"Did you read his files?" Reeve asked disapprovingly.

"Duh. Of course." At Reeve's sigh, she couldn't help laughing. "Hey, you pay me to be nosy, remember? Besides, I didn't understand a lot of it."

"Of course, Yuffie," Reeve agreed tolerantly. "Will you do it?"

"I dunno…"

"It might take weeks to find enough of it. You could be out of Edge for a couple of months, even," Reeve pointed out persuasively.

"Fine!" she said in defeat. How could Reeve always get her to do what he wanted, and then make her think it was a good idea? If she had that talent, she could rule half the world, let alone Wutai. "I'll start in the morning."

"It is morning, Yuffie," Reeve pointed out.

"Then I'll start later. Night-night!" She hung up before Reeve could talk her into something else, and curled up to get some more sleep.

But she couldn't switch off her mind. She kept recalling Vincent's words to her the day before. She still wasn't sure whether to believe him or not. Not about his demon-problem, she could understand that after seeing him half-transformed on Hine's table.

The other stuff. That he loved her. That he had left her to protect her. Vincent was dumb enough to think he was doing her a favour by hurting her, she could convince herself of that, but he had crushed her so badly that she was afraid to trust in him again.

Sometimes hope was a frightening thing. She had got over him once, just about. She didn't think she had it in her to do it again.

And being in Fort Condor didn't really help much, either. It had been here, just before the battle with the Shinra troops almost four years before, that she had realised that she had started to fall in love with Vincent. Being here again reminded her strongly of that moment.

She rose with a sigh, ready to start Reeve's mission. She obviously was never going to get back to sleep now.


It had taken her a couple of months to track down enough unclassified materia for Reeve. She hadn't gone back to Edge, but she'd sent the samples back via Strife's Delivery Service. Cloud only charged her a little extra to make up for stealing his chocobo (not that she cared, since she was sending the bills to Reeve) but he did let her keep using it while she was travelling. He'd obviously acquired a good mood along with a nice tan during his honeymoon.

She was waiting in a materia cave just outside Junon to collect the last sample. It should be ready to harvest in a few hours. It needed just the right moment, too soon and it wasn't powerful enough, too late and it turned into a regular materia. She'd missed the moment a couple of times, although she had got some pretty awesome materia out of her mistakes.

It was raining outside, so she and her chocobo took shelter in the cave, drying themselves by a small campfire that bounced strangely off the green cavern walls. She was drowsy, but she didn't want to risk oversleeping and letting the materia grow too mature. She didn't really want to have to find another sample.

She was ready to go back to Edge and face her demons. Well, her demon-possessed man.

She had started to understand Vincent's decision as she travelled. She still thought that he should have told her the truth, but that was Vincent. He took too much on himself, always had. It probably hadn't even occurred to him to confide in her, just in case it endangered her. She could just about accept that.

Even Reno had accepted it, when they had spoken over the phone during in their semi-regular conversations. In between hearing about his new conquests (which she could listen to without the slightest hint of jealousy) he had helped her to figure out the incomprehensible maze that was the male mind.

"He shouldn't have been such an ass about it, but he was just trying to protect you, babe," he'd concluded one night, while she'd been staring into a different campfire.

But even though she understood his point of view, a little, she wasn't sure if she wanted to start up their relationship again. Loving Vincent had always been a risk, just not in the ways that he would think.

Being with a man who had been so devoted to another woman had always been a gamble, even for a ninja who generally saw risk as being part of the fun. She'd loved him for years before he had really begun to notice her. It was unrequited, but she was fine with that, she wasn't the type to pine away over a man she couldn't have.

But once he had started to return her feelings, even a little bit, that had changed. Every smile she had coaxed out of him was a victory, every kiss a triumph, every moment of contentment she'd caused him a joy. After all that, being told that she was merely an afterthought to a woman who had broken his heart hadn't just stung, it had been like a knife wound to her heart. And her pride. It didn't matter that he claimed it hadn't been true.

She wasn't sure if she was up to taking the risk again. She could face physical danger any day and laugh about it, but she couldn't face having her heart broken again. Only an idiot made the same mistake twice; that was why she was now proficient in rope-escape techniques.

But whatever happened, she would talk it over with Vincent first. She owed him that much after running off because he told her he loved her.

She had been half-dozing, lulled by the flames, when she heard a scraping sound at the entrance of the cave. She scrambled to her feet, holding her Conformer ready. It would just be her luck for a behemoth or something to wander in out of the rain.

Her eyes were slightly dazzled after looking into the fire for so long, so it took a long moment for her vision to clear and for her to recoginse her visitor.

"Vincent," she whispered, staring at him in shock. She hadn't expected to see him, she was totally thrown off. He was wet from the rain, but it just made him look sexy. Her hair hung like limp, straggly strands of seaweed because it had got wet. Life wasn't fair sometimes.

"Hello Yuffie," he murmured, his eyes sweeping intently over her. She suddenly felt shy.

"How did you find me?" she asked, slightly shakily. "Did Reeve tell you where I was?"

Vincent shook his head. "He wouldn't tell me… but he said if I found you myself it wasn't his fault, and left me alone with his computer and tracking device." She couldn't help a laugh. That was typical Reeve.

"You found me from that?" she asked, surprised. He nodded. "Wow. It wasn't that long ago that you couldn't even switch your PHS on."

"Hn." He hadn't taken his eyes from her once. "May I come in?"

The absurdity of asking so politely for permission to enter a cave, after he was already inside, made her snort with inelegant laughter and broke the mounting tension. Vincent relaxed a little and came and joined her by the fire, removing his cloak to spread it out and dry it.

"Are you well?" he asked her after he was settled.

She nodded. "Yeah. I've nearly got all the unclassified materia Reeve wanted."

His eyebrow rose in surprise. "It was you who found it?"

"Do you know anyone else who could find so much rare materia so quickly?" she asked him lightly, laughing again when he shook his head.

"I suppose not." And just like that, the mood grew serious again. "I've been looking for you."

"I didn't want to be found," she admitted. Vincent sighed. "I was planning on coming home tomorrow, though."

"I see. Did you… have time to think about what I told you?" In the firelight, his red eyes looked unusually young and hopeful.

"Yeah." Her voice cracked. "Vincent, I don't…"

She didn't need to continue. Without his cloak, his hurt was clear on his face. There was only a trace of it, but on Vincent that was the equivalent of another man burying his head in his hands. "I see. Is it… Reno?" The thought clearly pained him.

Not so long ago, she would have used that knowledge to wound him like he had wounded her, rubbed his face in the fact that she had found someone else. Now she just shook her head. "We're just friends," she told him. There had been enough pain between them.

Maybe she was growing up.

"I thought… but didn't you…?" he didn't know how, or didn't want to, phrase the question.

She sighed and nodded. He really was a masochist sometimes. "Yeah, we did. But what did you expect, Vincent? Locking yourself in a coffin for a million years is not a normal response to being dumped."

He winced, though whether it was because of what she had just told him, or because she had trampled uncaringly over his Big Issues, she wasn't sure.

"I know." Aside from the crackling of the fire, there was silence between them. She glanced at his face, and then away. She could give him that privacy at least.

"Reno said to tell you that you're an idiot," she informed him helpfully, awkwardly breaking the long silence while he gathered himself.

"It pains me to agree with him," he replied in that very dry tone she had eventually learned was a form of bleak humour. After a while he spoke again, his voice composed. "If not Reno, may I ask why?"

She hugged her knees to her chest. This was more horrible than she had expected it to be, and that was pretty damn horrible. "Because I can't get over you again."

She heard the creaking of leather as Vincent moved closer to her. She felt the fingers of his gauntlet, cool and careful, against her chin as he turned her to face him. "What?" he asked, and there was so much longing in the word that she gasped.

"The next time something happens; some danger you don't want me to face, or an argument you can't get over, or even when you just get sick of me being annoying-" he started to murmur a protest but she just spoke louder to cut him off. "And you know there'll be something. I won't be able to bear it when you push me away again, when you say things to make me go…"

She blinked, her eyes feeling curiously hot, and to her surprise, she felt tears streak down her cheeks. She had not cried throughout those whole miserable months, no matter how much she had wanted to. She hated crying, and she couldn't believe she was doing it now, in front of Vincent. He brought his good hand up to wipe them away and she felt his fingers tremble against her skin.

"Yuffie," he whispered. "I didn't mean any of it. I swear it."

"It doesn't matter," she sighed. "You still said it."

He drew his hand away so she shut her eyes and curled up tighter, not wanting to watch him leave. Instead, he settled next to her, so that their shoulders and thighs were pressed together. She turned her head slightly to peep at him with one eye.

"I missed you," he offered. "Every day. I think my demons missed you too."

"Really?" she asked, feeling a smile quiver on her lips.

"Really," he confirmed. "Especially Death Gigas."

She snickered a little. "I always thought Hellmasker would be the kinky one."

Vincent's shoulders heaved. She wasn't sure if he was sighing or holding back a laugh. "Yuffie… I love you. I never thought I had it in me, but I do. You've… rescued me, in so many different ways." She sniffled, and unconsciously leant her head on his shoulder. "I can't promise that I'll never hurt you again… but I can promise to never do it deliberately." He carefully reached out and took her hand, winding their fingers together. "If you still want me, I will… prove to you that you can trust me. I promise."

Yuffie knew that Vincent didn't make promises lightly, but she was still unsure. Until she looked into his eyes. They were steady and fierce and loving. She had never hoped, four years ago, that he would ever look at her like that, and it made the wounded, fearful part of her feel stronger. She hadn't stopped loving him. Maybe she really could start trusting him again.

"I'll make you jump through hoops, you know," she told him, her voice shaky. It was only fair to give him warning.

The corners of his mouth twitched, just a little. "I know."

"And grovel."

"As much as you like."

"Well, just as long as you know…"

She trailed off as he leant towards her, but before he could kiss her, she leapt to her feet, shrieking in alarm. "The materia!"

She dashed over to the pool of mako, hearing Vincent follow. They hadn't missed the moment but it was very close. "You distracted me!" she accused. He smirked, clearly not sorry. He crouched behind her to watch and wait.

Just a few minutes later she saw the materia glow with energy, and just before it changed colour, she reached out and snatched it up. She examined it carefully for a moment before handing it to Vincent. "What do you think?"

His hand cupped hers over the materia that would provide him peace and he leant down to give her the kiss she had interrupted, one full of hope and promises.

For the first time in ages, she felt like things were going to be alright.

Vincent smiled gently at the dazed look on her face when he drew back. "I think we should go home."


A/N: And we're done! Wow, even though this was a late entry, it's still the quickest I've ever written anything. Ugh, though. This chapter went on forever. Vincent just wouldn't shut up, and how often can you say that? I did consider making them not get back together, but I feel I'm far too mean to them both and need to make it up to them.

I don't know if unclassified materia is an actual thing, or if I've borrowed it from someone, or if I've actually made it up! If it is someone else's idea please let me know so I can credit them.

Please let me know what you thought. Also, if you haven't already, please vote in my poll, it's still deadlocked. Thank you to everyone who has commented so far!