This was intended to be a second chapter to follow on from Burning, one of my favourite oneshots. I've been away from my usual Vincent-orientated world and I've had the start of this chapter knocking around for quite a while actually. So I'm posting it. It follows Burning. like I said, so if you haven't read that DO IT NOW- because like I said, I love it, and I am proud of it.
As always, please leave me a review. I don't know how it got to 5,000 words, honestly. But its fluffy, and probably nothing special, but hey… Something to do.
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We never change, do we?
We never learn, do we?
-Coldplay, We Never Change
He hummed as he worked; perhaps a habit he would have never considered indulging in, once upon a time. Yet things had changed recently; Drastically so.
Tifa's new house wasn't necessarily new in itself, and upon inspection the previous day in an attempt to remain out of her overwhelming presence intermittently, he'd found several faults; some of which he would have been capable of correcting himself, and others that would require professional attention.
Last night had changed everything. He'd promised to help her move in, had assisted her in shifting around large and cumbersome furniture, and in moving boxes to the appropriate rooms. Keeping himself busy was his only saving grace right then; since he had reconvened with her in Midgar weeks ago, feelings which he had been harbouring for a while, ones which he thought he had battled into submission, came raging back.
He loved her. Plain and simple, for reasons that perhaps he didn't possess the articulacy to explain; he loved Tifa Lockheart, the beautiful and complex individual behind amber eyes and fighting gloves.
And it had been slowly killing him, the thought of living in the same town as her; he might run into her buying food at the local market, he might be invited to dinner once in a while, and he might even be expected to return the favour. Not that this displeased him; no, he just didn't trust himself to maintain the semblance of normality that was so easy to do, when meetings were few and far between.
But last night…
She had kissed him; gotten so close that he found himself holding his breath, whispered words against his ear sending a shiver creeping up his spine and across his scalp like a jolt of electricity, then she had kissed him. And, the epitome of self-control as he was, he kissed her back regardless. They'd fallen to the mattress, and in that moment, before she claimed his mouth that final, fateful time, he'd seen the fire in her eyes. He supposed that was the moment when he decided that there was definitely no going back.
He'd pushed back his fears, metaphorically bidding them out of the open window before exposing her skin to the cool influx of air by shedding her clothing. She was just as perfect, no, she exceeded every paradigm of beauty he had come across in his life; flawless ivory skin, round, firm breasts, and sharp, defined hip bones. Her thighs had been strong, trembling above him as she took him inside her, his mind shooting to a black void of oblivion. He was pretty sure that had been the first time he had cursed in decades. His name was a whisper on her breath, hovering just by his ear, and he couldn't grip her tightly enough, couldn't get enough of her mouth on his, her moist, darting tongue swirling around in his mouth.
He had dreamt about her before; waking many a night just sort of climaxing with her name on his breath and his body drenched in cold sweat. The phantom of her, only seconds before astride him, or so warm beneath him was gone, leaving his skin prickling, tantalised by the notion of her presence. But nothing, his dreams nor his fantasies could compare to this.
He had once urged to kiss the point beneath her ear, where her jaw met her throat. The sound she had made, the way her fingertips had grasped his hair tightly with pain-tingling pleasure, had all but shut down any resistance he might have considered. This was so much more than his subconscious could muster in the dead of night, fuelled by his hunger and his inner most desires, perhaps ones that he had not yet realised.
Her hips have moved over his, slotting their bodies together, and for a time they were one organism, breathing together, working towards the same point in oblivion, hands guiding each other with inexperienced urgency, mapping parts to memory.
He could have died that night, and have been satisfied.
Waking at some point in the early hours shivering, he shifted only to tug a handful of the blankets piled upon the bare mattress over them before returning to lie beside her. Sleep from that moment on remained elusive. He couldn't seem to stop watching her, finding her beauty captivating even in sleep. Her ivory skin was almost glowing silver in the moonlight, her long delicate lashes casting shadows upon her cheek, currently resting in the crook of his shoulder. Her breathing was steady, warming his chest as she exhaled steadily, her breasts pressed against him, their ankles tangled.
When the sun starting to peek up over the mountains to the east, he somehow managed to tear himself away from her. With the dawn came his unease; what if she'd change her mind? What if she had simply made a mistake, had succumbed to a basic urge that he was only fortunate enough to be in range of? He couldn't lie there thinking about it anymore, with her warm body pressed against his.
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She awoke to the sunlight beating against her face, turning the world behind her lids a stark ruby red. Then she realised she was alone in her still unmade bed. Holding her breath to better listen to the noises around her, she deduced that he was still here, if the clattering in the kitchen was anything to go by. Smiling serenely to herself, she stretched her arms above her head and felt her bones pop, yawning luxuriously.
Considering her bed was not made, and it had been quite cool in her bedroom overnight, she had had the best night's sleep in a long while; since sharing a twin bedroom with Cloud wasn't the best recipe for sleep, and neither was sleeping in a different inn every night, or camping out under the stars. Though she recalled the latter times with fondness. It was the only time, when she was winding down from a hard day's travels and that battles that came with it, that she got to sit up with her friends.
For a short amount of time, she could pretend that she was just out camping with her comrades, and that in the morning, they wouldn't have to pack up and start their arduous trek towards uncertainty and inevitable doom. Under the vast canvas of the black midnight sky, dusted with so many stars she could probably read a book without the aid of the fire, she could simply forget. Though it seemed to irk her somewhat, that Vincent never seemed to be able to forget something. Whatever it was, it never seemed to leave him; that haunted expression was ever-present, etching his angular, pale face with anguish and longing. Perhaps she hadn't quite realised that as of late, in the rare occurrences that she had seen him wear it, it had been directed at her.
Digging around in a box to find herself some clean clothes, she was then equipped to take a shower.
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At the sound of the pipes gurgling, he assumed she was at last awake, perhaps making use of her new bathroom. He disentangled himself from his cramped position under the sink, trying to fix the leak in the pipe using a tube of sealant he had managed to procure. When she was dressed, no doubt she would want something to eat. He may as well start unpacking the boxes, and try to find where she'd packed her mugs and spoons.
Her footsteps sounded on the stairs too soon, and his solitude was interrupted by her arrival in the kitchen, smelling of soap and raspberry-scented shampoo. "Good morning, Vincent. Did you sleep well?" He raises a brow to himself, before turning to face her, a mug in hand.
"Yes, thank you." He responded quietly, not noticing her chewing her lip, to stop herself from laughing. Of course, she had expected that he would behave like this; it had been the same last night. Tentative, hesitant, and not daring to believe it was possible that someone like her could want somebody like him. "Would you like tea?"
She decided to leave him to it for a few minutes, if only to lull him into a false sense of security. "If you don't mind. Two sugars, and just a splash of milk, please."
She seated herself upon one of the wooden chairs at the small round table by the wall, just indulging in watching him; the way he seemed furiously intent on his task, how his mouth was pulled into a firm line, sealed tightly before whatever he was thinking and didn't want to say. She noted he would occasionally run a hand through his hair, whilst waiting for the kettle to finish boiling, though he never drummed his fingertips atop the countertop. Vincent was anything but impatient. She feared that he would take as long as possible to make that tea before facing whatever was bothering him.
Mussed up black hair the colour of a raven's wing, haunting ruby eyes and an equally haunted expression. One hand pale and slender, the other gold and glinting, both battling with the obvious discomfiture of their owner. He was beautiful, such a complex, intricate man, who had never seemed so wonderful to her.
"Alright, what is it?" She is on her feet suddenly, crossing over to the work surface and leaning against it, her arms crossed firmly over her breasts. He glances up, claret eyes wide at her sudden intrusion of his peaceful task of tea making. He holds her gaze, before dropping it with a sigh. The kettle clicks off. It has finished boiling.
"What do you mean?" Bluffing, really?
"You're acting weird. This is something to do with last night, isn't it?" He turned his face aside, though she didn't miss the furious blush he tried to hide from her. "Vincent, I'm not an idiot. And I'm also not some kind of predator. What happened last night was no accident."
"I know," He sighs heavily, and his shoulders visibly sag under the weight of all that he has been trying to keep back from her, for as long as he can remember. "I just… I'm afraid. Sounds pathetic doesn't it? But thirty six years is a long time, and I feared I was so out of touch with life I wouldn't ever find a place within it. But with you…"
In his loaded pause, she manages to wriggle between him and the counter, slipping her arms around his neck, their noses barely inches apart. There, he couldn't hide from her; her presence served to give him strength, and reassurance. She was still here. And so was he.
"I never knew I could want something so much. I didn't know how much I needed you… until that day in Midgar." She recalled it well. His sudden display of affection had quite taken her aback. That was perhaps the first moment she thought something could be in the making. His hand had been cool, despite having just been removed from a glove, comforting against her cheek as he had swept away her tears…
The very same hands that had last night stripped away her clothes and skimmer her curves with unrestrained urgency, a man stranded in the desert who has suddenly stumbled upon an oasis.
"So why the long face?" She pulls her mouth down into the most exaggerated frown she can manage, delighted when his mouth quirks at the corner. Just ever so slightly. "What are you afraid of?" She adds, a little gentler.
"I just… I…" God, he was so close to just blurting it out, peering into her beautiful face and thinking that this, this moment right now, was bliss.
"You were worried that it was just going to be a one off, weren't you?" At his mute nod, something inside her melts a little. Underneath that stern exterior, the of pale skin and cobalt hair, was a man afraid of losing everything. Everything, that was so little, and yet so much. "Well, Vincent, I can promise you it won't be just once."
She leans closer, all warm breath and moist skin, and he feels he is teetering on the edge again. How is it she can do this to him? He is lost for words, unable to move, frozen to the spot on her linoleum kitchen floor. "If I do this…" He manages to force out his words, heavy on his breath like a whisper. "I can't do it in part. If I give myself to you, I give you everything."
She pulls back a little, a small frown creeping across her brow, marring her perfect face. "Vincent?"
His fingers grip tightly at the hem of her sweater. "I can't do this without you knowing the truth. If we are to carry on with this then I… I have to be honest. I won't make that mistake again."
"Vincent, we've both had a rough past." Her cool fingertips sweep at his hair, smoothing down his cheek and coming to rest at his shoulder. "I know that if I am to love you, and you me, we have to accept certain things. But I already think we passed that long ago."
His smile is soft and somewhat whimsical, though the sparkle in his ruby irises thrills her. "I already love you," He swallows audibly, both revelling in and recoiling from the flash of surprise upon her features. "It's far too late to turn back, now."
Inside her chest, her heart seems to catch fire, spreading warmth surging beneath her skin. "Oh, Vincent…" She wanted to say that she never knew, that she hadn't taken their mutual friendship back in Avalanche to be due to anything other than companionship. She wanted to tell him how she had changed so much because of him, because she wanted him to notice her. No words came.
"It's alright. You don't have to say anything. I don't want you to tell me you love me if… if you don't."
"You know something? I can tell already it's not going to be long." Her insides liquidise further as he tries to contain his smile. "Just promise me you won't go anywhere. Promise me you'll stay in Kalm, that you'll visit me, kiss me, and share my bed. Promise me you won't just run away and hide."
"I think we're past promises, don't you? I don't need to promise; because you know I will."
She toys with a loose thread in his shirt. "You're right, of course. I wonder what the others will say?" She battles with her amused grin, at the thought of Cid and Barret's reaction.
"Honestly; Cid spent the past year berating me to date you. I don't think he really know how I felt; I wouldn't give him that much credit for being observant when it comes to people's feelings."
"-No doubt Cloud will just raise a brow."
"He can do what he likes." Vincent shrugged, a nonchalant action she was pretty sure she'd never seen him do before. She was proud of him, for coming this far. Then again, she was proud of herself. She had been selfish for once, and boy, had it paid off.
"Well, Mr Valentine… There's much that needs to be done. Boxes to unpack and such. I was wondering if you could help me make up the bed? I would think we might appreciate the fresh sheets later." She is delighted by his flush.
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"Pretty nice place you got here, Tif." Cid was appraising the place, cigarette stuck dutifully behind his ear. "You say Vinnie found it for ya?"
"Yes, he did." The pilot was unaware of her smile, currently busy analysing the photo frames on the fireplace as she busied herself with the kettle. It had been three months or so since she had moved in, since that first night with Vincent. And it had been the best three months of her life.
"Meant to ask; don't matter if its personal, but how come you came to Kalm anyways?"
She says nothing for a moment, stirring the mugs of tea, to dissolve the sugar. "I needed to be selfish for once, to use Vincent's words."
"He said that?" The pilot sauntered into the kitchen at the sound of the teaspoon tinkling against porcelain, seating himself heavily at her table.
"Hm." He muttered a thanks as she set his tea down before him, sitting in Vincent's usual place, adjacent to Cid. "Well, actually, that's why I asked you here."
"Huh?" One brow shoots up over the rim of his mug.
"I… I don't know how to tell you this but…" At that point, there is a tap at the front door, one she had come to recognise, not to mention get frustrated at; she'd given him a key a while back, yet he still insisted on knocking. "Ah, Vincent is early."
Swallowing down her trepidation, surfacing and threatening to make her lose her nerve, she gets up from the table, passing through the small lounge to admit Vincent entry through the front door.
She can't help but grin when she sees him, resisting in throwing her arms around his neck, for fear of ruining the surprise on Cid's face. He smiles warmly at her, a smile that she was pretty sure he could knock any woman off her feet with, back in his Turk days.
"Mornin' sunshine!" Cid stands to greet him, giving him his customary slap on the shoulder. "How the hell are ya?"
"Great, actually." Vincent takes Tifa's previous seat, or rather his usual seat. She starts to make another cup of tea for Vincent; strong, with one spoonful of sugar.
"So, how is life in Kalm for ya? Somewhat brighter now Tifa's 'round, huh?"
Tifa smirks to herself once again. The moment she sets down Vincent's tea, there is another knock at the door, this one much more energetic.
"Who the hell?" Cid frowns a little, noting the sudden shared smile between his companions. "Why do I get the feelin' something is going on?"
Moments later, a bouncing Yuffie enters the kitchen, hugging everyone, babbling on about how it was going to be 'just like old times'.
"What the heck is going on, here? Is Barrett going to fucking pop up next?"
Tifa shares an amused glance with Vincent, who she notes is looking a little more nervous. "Well, not today. Vincent and I wanted to talk with you two specifically first."
Yuffie's green eyes go wide with delight as Tifa takes Vincent's hand. The raven-haired ex-Turk manages to look somewhat sheepish as he says, "We're going to get married."
"What the fuck!" Cid exclaims, over the clamour of an over-exuberant Yuffie hugging Tifa and squealing something along the lines of 'it's about time'. "You knew about this?" He brandishes an accusatory finger at the Shinobi girl.
"Not my fault I saw something I shouldn't have. But I promised to keep quiet." Tifa laughs in memory; Yuffie had arrived in Kalm a few weeks before on a surprise visit. she had caught Tifa bidding a rather contact-heavy goodbye to Vincent at her front door, following dinner one evening.
"Married?" Cid repeated, somewhat shell shocked.
"I wanted you both to be witnesses. And I wanted to ask if you could pick up Barrett and the kids."
"Well yeah, sure I don' mind. But… what about Cloud?"
"I've already spoken to him," Tifa said, somewhat tight-lipped. "He knows when we plan on marrying. If he comes, he comes."
"Well, fuck me. I'm happy for ya, I really am. You're both great folks. You deserve happiness."
"I never knew you could be so sentimental," Tifa teased as she pressed a chaste kiss to one stubbled cheek, enveloped by the scent of nicotine and engine oil.
"Yeah well, I'm a sucker for romance, ain't I?"
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He didn't know what had made him say it. He hadn't even gotten a ring. The past three months had whizzed by, or so it seemed. His world was filled with Tifa, and he needed nothing else. His worries about awkwardness and unrequited feelings were dashed quickly; they saw each other almost every day, and at the moment she told him she loved him he knew he was in it for life. That's when he had blurted it out one night. Lying in the dark together in her bedroom, fingers linked, bodies still recovering from the toils of passion, he'd said it.
"Do you want to get married?" Just like that. She'd laughed at first, and he thought perhaps he'd gone too far. That was until he noticed she was crying.
"You're serious aren't you? Of course, yes! Yes I do want to marry you. But don't you think people will say-" He stopped her there.
"People can think what they want. I love you, and I want to be with you. Everyone else can…"
"-Fuck themselves?" She suggested, propped up on her elbows.
He swept her hair up and away from her shoulders, skirting his fingertips along her bare shoulders. "Exactly."
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He was staring at her again. He couldn't help himself; she was so beautiful, caught lost in thought, toying with a strand of her hair or nibbling at her bottom lip. They were sat in companionable silence by the fire, reading. It was late evening, and earlier Tifa had cooked a fantastic three course meal that had filled him beyond satisfied. She had perhaps been a little quieter than usual all day, though he put it down to being tired- last night had been a late one, after all.
They had been married three months- it still sounded strange to say that out loud. The ceremony had been small, and cosy. He'd worn a white cotton shirt and suit pants, and Tifa had surprised him with the modesty of her dress. He should have known really; She have specifically stated that she didn't want any fuss. Periwinkle blue had never looked so good on her, and Marlene had looked adorable in a dress of the same colour, more or less. It was a warm spring day in Kalm, no different from many, yet it was one he wasn't likely to ever forget. He still smiled when he would pick up any post from her doormat in the morning. He suspected he would never really get used to seeing 'Mrs Valentine'.
Cloud had showed, albeit briefly. He was glad at least, on Tifa's behalf more so that his own, that he thought enough of her to turn up to see her get married.
At the end of the chapter, Vincent set his book down on the table in front of him, stretching before turning to look at his wife, currently glancing up from her book at his sudden movement. "Finished?" She slotted her bookmark into place.
"Do you want to go up to bed? You seem tired." He got up and moved around to the armchair where she was seated, running his fingers through her hair. She sighed at his touch, letting her head rest back into his capable hands.
"I'd like that."
"I'll just go and put the dishes away, then. I'll follow you up." He kissed her on the forehead before collecting their empty coffee mugs from the table en route to the kitchen.
"I've been thinking," She started, getting to her feet and crossing to the foot of the stairs. "You should rent out your house or something. It's not like you stay there anymore, and there's plenty of room for us here." It was true, he'd not really bothered to do anything will his old lodgings across town. Somehow he had ended up living here, perhaps without realising it.
"I suppose I could sell it. I'd just forgotten, if I'm honest." He shrugged, swilling around water in the mugs to wash out the residue of coffee.
"I've been meaning to talk to you for a few days actually, about me not feeling well."
"Oh? You think you should go to the doctor?"
"I already did. Yesterday."
Vincent frowned, turning around to face her from his place by the sink, coffee mug still in hand. "You didn't say anything about that."
Her grin was a mystery to him. "Yes, well, I was worried."
"I'm… I'm two months pregnant, Vincent."
The porcelain slipped from his fingers, breaking into a hundred pieces as it met the ground at his feet. "I thought… I thought I couldn't-" He looked horrified for a moment, as if perhaps he had done something wrong.
"I stopped taking my tablets a while ago," she admitted, stepping over the shattered mess before him to guide him out of the kitchen and into the living room. "I didn't think it would matter, seeing as you told me you couldn't… you couldn't have children." That conversation had been a grief-filled one, to say the least. She had assured him it didn't matter, that there were other means with which to achieve the same end, and that it was far too early into their marriage to consider such things. They were still young, or rather, Tifa was still able, and would be for a long while yet. He had tried not to let it bother him too much, for her sake.
"But you are definitely…"
"Yes. And don't look so guilty- it's not like we aren't married." She slipped her arms around his neck, pressing her body close to him. Perhaps he is imagining it, but her stomach does feel a little rounder, pressed up against him like that.
" I never thought I would see this happen. I was sure I had found evidence that Hojo had… damaged me." He shook his head slowly, not really seeing her.
"We should call it Mist. Short for 'mistake'." Tifa chuckled into his shirt, smoothening out the fabric with her palms.
"It's the best mistake I've ever made."
"Coming from you though…."
He laughed abruptly, giving her a squeeze. "I'm sick of your cheek, Mrs Valentine. I'd watch it, or I might divorce you."
"Likely. 'Cause I'm going to sell your house first so you can't go anywhere else. Then I will claim all your money in the divorce settlement to feed our estranged child."
"May as well stick around then."
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Two months later, Tifa came out of the clinic where she had had her first scan with a white face. "What is it? Is everything alright?" He couldn't go in with her for the scan; something to do with radiation and his high mako exposure. Cid had accompanied her instead, leaving him alone with Yuffie in the waiting room. The Shinobi was unbearable with excitement. She was already dreaming up day's out and cool things she could do as Auntie Yuffie.
"You're going to need to sell that house, at this rate." Tifa said after a moment, resting a hand on her swollen belly as she eased herself slowly into the seat next to him. Cid was grinning from ear to ear.
"You're not making any sense, Tifa."
"Well, let's just say when you married her and stopped usin' protection… you got more than you bargained for, mate." Cid chimed in, beside himself for being able to keep both Vincent and Yuffie squirming in their seats.
"Tifa, what is it?" He was really nervous now.
"We're having twins."
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"Dad?" That tiny voice brought him out of sleep immediately; that instinctive urge to protect roused him as though cold water had been tossed in his face. He opened his eyes to find Heather stood at his bedside, clutching her favourite teddy bear (a brown one wearing a pilot's hat and some goggles- two guesses as to who bought her that), looking bleary eyed.
"What is it Heather? Is Reese talking in her sleep again?" He automatically shifted and raised the sheets to allow his four-year old to slip into bed beside him. She wrapped her tiny arms around his neck, burying her face into his t-shirt and nodding to confirm that it was indeed Reese's night-time ramblings that had aroused her from sleep.
Reese was in every physical sense her father's daughter; startling ruby eyes and raven hair, yet her temperament was much like her mother. She was stubborn, and had perhaps spent a little too much time around Yuffie than was good for her. Heather was Vincent's daughter still, through and through. Small, and timid, and so much like Tifa it was almost laughable; soft caramel curls, and eyes the colour of honey.
Tifa herself was sleeping through the whole ordeal, snoring softly at his side. She couldn't help it; the newest addition to the family, still growing inside her belly had been giving her trouble.
"What's going to happen when your brother is born, hm? He might keep you awake, too."
"I can always come to sleep with you, though?" Honey eyes went wide, perhaps entertaining the thought that she might not be able to indulge in sharing her parent's bed, once her brother was born.
"Of course you can, Heather." He kissed her soft forehead. "Now you should get to sleep, We've got a busy day ahead tomorrow."
"I can't wait to see uncle Cid and Auntie Shera, or go on the big, big ship again!" As the child continued to babble, he sensed her sleepiness slipping away. Not good.
"What's going on here?" Tifa mumbled, rubbing at her eyes. "Oh, Heather sweetie, is that you?" She turned rather laboriously onto her side, reaching over Vincent to stroke her daughter's cheek. "You're going to be tired for the beach tomorrow, if you don't go to sleep."
"Ok, I'm going to try." She nodded, closing her eyes and burying down a little into the covers for effect. Vincent shared an amused glance with Tifa before kissing her goodnight.
When he woke in the morning, it was to find knobbly knees in his stomach and a sharp little elbow in his back. "Reese? Is that you?"
The child only snored lightly in answer. "I think we need a bigger bed, don't you?" Came Tifa's amused voice from the doorway. She was up and dressed, leaning against the doorframe. He extricated himself from the tangle of tiny limbs, slipping an arm around Tifa's waist as they watched their daughters sleep, arms and legs stretched out about them.
"I can't believe it," She said after a moment. "We made those two beautiful girls."
"I think you can take credit for that. They both have your profile."
"Reese is too much like you, though. She's fiery, I'll admit, but… They're going to make great big sisters for this one." She ran a hand over her stomach.
"Three months to go, if you're lucky." With the twins, she had gone post-term, and had to have an emergency induction.
"Ah yes. Maybe this time things will go to plan."
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