Title: Watching Eyes

Prologue

Author: LuNoin


Disclaimers: Final Fantasy VII and its characters are property of SqareEnix, praise be to SqareEnix.

Author's note: This is a newer version of an unfinished fanfiction I uploaded a LONG time ago. I have rewritten the storyline and some things will be changed, and some will not.

Timeline: This story takes place 4 years after FFVII and it does not take into account the Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus storylines.

"Normal" talking

"Italics" thoughts

Fandom notes: Yuffie appears in the Jump Festa Dirge of Cerberus trailer. I'm hopeful the game will contain some interaction between Yuffie and Vincent. I don't think it will be romantic in nature; but I'm sure it will help the fandom find some new plot inspiration. The NA release is in August 2006. Reserve your copy now!


Yuffie Kisaragi ran as fast as she could. It was raining relentlessly in the Kalm area. The cold rain she had welcomed at first, as a reprieve to her heated body, was now slowing her down. She knew she had to find shelter before her body would give out.

"I hate this," she muttered as lighting struck near. The flash of light illuminated her dark surroundings, and for the first time she could see a building a few meters in front of her. She ran to it noticing that it was an abandoned mansion. "It's not an inn, but it's good enough." She went past the old vine wrapped gates and took shelter in the entrance. To her surprise, she saw some lights inside the dilapidated building. Without hesitation, she ventured to knock on the door.

"The owner couldn't possibly deny shelter to a poor, defenseless, young woman in this pouring rain." Despite her exhaustion, she found energy to chuckle at the poor soul who would classify her as such.

No answer came. She knocked again. Her body was beginning to cool down and her limbs were starting to feel heavier and heavier. She leaned on the door to rest her forehead on it. She continued to knock on the door; each knock sounded quieter than the last, as exhaustion began to take its toll on her.

She finally slumped on the floor, her head still resting on the door. "I guess no one's home. I might as well rest here, at least I'm sheltered from the rain." She resigned herself and sleep began to overtake her. When the door jerked open she tried to lift her head as she felt strong arms wrap around her and turn her body upward. The task was too much for Yuffie's body to undertake and amidst her state she mentally snickered derisively at her earlier musings, "I guess I am poor, defenseless, young woman after all."

Deciding to at least try an act like the competent ninja she prided herself on being, she plowed through and made herself look up. Yuffie could only make out a chin peaking through a mass of long black hair. The man who held her did not seem particularly dangerous at the moment; and, truth be told, Yuffie was too tired to care. She let herself fall asleep.


Her dreams were plagued with blue-green eyes that ubiquitously followed her. She stirred back into consciousness. "Where the hell am I?" She thought looking around. It took her a moment to remember what had happened. "I passed out," she whispered.

"And what did we learn from this little stint?" She chided herself mentally. "Just because you're in a hurry, it doesn't mean you don't need to rest. Moron!" The room was dark, "Mustn't have slept that long, then." She watched the rain was sliding down the window at a rapid pace.

Her ninja training kicked in. As drilled into her at an early age, she began to assess the situation. She could move herself and, besides fatigue, felt no negative response from her muscles. She inspected the room she was in. It was an elegant bedroom, nothing stood out besides the fact that everything looked dusty. "Who would have such an organized room yet not even bother to clean it?" She wandered. The only clean object in the room was the bed.

"Don't have time for this," she muttered, coming back into opened the door and stepped into a corridor. There were no bright lights, just darkness and the sporadic glow of thunder that came through the windows. She made her way into the end and into a big hall. The hall was in the same state as the previous room. There was a sofa, a love seat, a tea table, and a chimney. They were all covered with spider webs and dust.

A light coming from an adjacent room caught her attention. She walked to it. Yuffie, still a firm believer in the attacking first and asking later philosophy, mechanically prepared to grab Conformer at the slightest provocation. "You don't have it on you, stupid." She cursed in her mind as she lowered her hand. A soft light coming from a candle illuminated two tall armchairs looking toward the window. From the left armchair she could see an elbow peaking from the right side. The person in the chair shifted slowly, she could now see a book dangling from the obviously masculine hand. "Hi-," her greeting was cut off by the stranger's smooth voice.

"How are you Miss Kisaragi?" he asked. The fact that he seemed to know her name didn't alarm her, the familiarity of the voice did. The man turned, his crimson eyes looking at her.

"Vincent Valentine," she whispered. He nodded, as a greeting or as an affirmation; she didn't know. "How… How are you?" she asked meekly, not knowing what else to say. A long moment passed before he motioned her to sit, at the armchair opposite to his. She sat down, never letting her eyes off him. With a few smooth and efficient movements, he marked a page in the book, closed it, and put it by the windowsill.

"If I may ask," his voice was low, yet commanding. "Why are you here?" The accusation behind the question was not lost on Yuffie.

"I was traveling and there was this storm," Yuffie recounted, "I ended here. I saw the house and knocked on the door. I didn't know this was your house, though." He watched her, curiously.

The long pause that followed irked Yuffie, but made it a point not to let it show. "You are in thin ice, woman. Smile at the creepy man." She smiled at him; he only raised an eyebrow.

"Where were you going?" he asked. This time it was she who kept silent.

"What do I tell him?" she thought clearly distressed. He seemed to understand her hesitation as he changed the topic. Her eyes flashed gratefulness, but he did not seem to notice.

"I imagine you will stay the night." He stated. As opposed to general opinion, Vincent Valentine was not about to let a comrade, even the annoying ninja in front of him, brave the raging storm outside. He narrowed his eyes at her, "on the other hand, if she tries anything…" He did not continue the thought, as she did not seem to refute his statement.

Yuffie looked out the window; it did not seem the rain would stop tonight. Deafening thunder roared outside and she was quite glad to be indoors for once. "Thank you," she said casting her eyes to her feet.

Vincent watched Yuffie as she continued to stare at her feet as if they were the most interesting things in the world. He had never seen the ninja quiet for more than a few seconds and this demeanor seemed quite uncharacteristic. Her eyelids were half closed now and she was swaying softly back and forth. "She must be falling asleep." He concluded. Having no wish to carry her again to the bedroom, he said, "If you need to sleep, you can use the room where you were earlier."

His voice seemed to awake her from her trance and she nodded. "Thank you for everything." He just nodded as she slowly exited the room, half sleep. She had taken a few steps into the hall when he heard her rapidly step back into the room.

He watched her look around the room, as if looking for something. "Do you want something to sleep with?" he asked. She blinked at him, confusion written on her face." Not understanding her reaction he added, "I would have changed you into something dry, but it didn't seem proper." She looked down at her wet clothes as if it were the first time she's seen them. Understanding dawned on her.

"Actually, I just was wandering where my bag was." She said, blushing at the thought of him changing her clothes.

The blushing young woman in front of him was something Vincent was not prepared for. It had been more than 30 years since a girl had blushed at him. A lifetime ago… Back when he was a Turk, he wouldn't have thought twice at the gesture; but that was a part of his life that, like many others, he thought dead.

Yuffie watched the pensive man in front of her. "Is that an expression on his face?" she thought with incredulity. If it were any man other than Vincent Valentine, she would have sworn she saw nervousness in his face. She then remembered her bag. "My bag?" she demanded, taking him out of his reverie. "Where is it?" He seemed surprised at her outburst and she quickly added with a tense smile, "My clothes are in my bag."

"The hall," he answered relieved, abandoning his train of thought. She dashed out the room and returned with the wet bag in her arms. She sat in the armchair again and quickly emptied the contents of the bag in the floor. She then scurried through the amorphous mass of damp clothes and weaponry. "Where is it?" She was beginning to panic, until she found a small canvas bag. "I thought I lost it…" She clutched the object in her hand as she calmed herself. She looked up to see Vincent watching the spectacle in front of him. A scowl quickly turned into his usual glare as she sheepishly smiled at him.

"He must think I'm crazy now…" She thought starting to put her belongings back in the bag. She could feel his cold eyes burning a whole into her back. As she shoved a fistful of her clothes in the bag she noted that it was underwear. She paled as she looked underneath her and could see more underwear sprinkled on top of the pile. "I hope the earth swallows me alive!" Her face blushed in seven different shades of red as she quickly took all her clothes and put them into her back. "Did he see them?" She frenetically asked herself as she finished the task. She swallowed and looked up at him, trying to look as natural as possible.

He did not even look at her as he left the room. He stopped for a second at the door and added. "You will stay in the room you woke up in. You can hang your clothes to dry in the adjacent bathroom," he said exiting the room. No response came from Yuffie and he did not wait for one. She heard his voice as he retreated to the hall. "The lights went out because of the storm. Take the candle if you want."

She stood there for a full minute, not knowing what to do. She then took her bag and rested it on her shoulder and grabbed the candle. She could have left the candle; she had already navigated through the house in darkness. But she took it anyway, hoping it would prevent any further embarrassment. Sadly the candle could not protect her from the fact that she had forgotten to ask for dry clothes to sleep in. She toyed with the idea of prowling around the house to take up Vincent's offer of dry clothes but decided to against it. "Today was a long day. I better cut my losses and fall asleep quietly before I make a fool of myself... again."

Thankfully the clothes in the bag were only partly damp as opposed to the wet clothes she had on. She changed into a pair of short black pants and a bright yellow shirt. She laid the rest of her clothes around the bathroom to dry them out and held on to Conformer and the small canvas bag.

She unceremoniously plopped herself on the bed and let Conformer fall on the floor beside her. She then lifted the right side of the mattress and squeezed the small canvas bag into the space. She hoped the rest would do her good. "Who knows if I'll get the chance to sleep in a bed again soon?" she told herself, "Might as well make it count." She yawned one last time before tucking in for good.

Sweat deposited itself on Yuffie's brow as she kept tossing between the sheets. When she opened her eyes she found herself suddenly jerking into a sitting position. She put her hand on her chest as if trying to restrain her wild beating. She grimaced as a ray of light that came through the window hit her straight in the face. "I need to stop having the same crappy nightmare every night." She joked to herself, even snorting at her feeble attempt to compose herself. She knew she would eventually have to get up from the bed, but she hoped that the bed would swallow her up and she would not have to face the oncoming day.