Stuck together during a storm, Vincent and Yuffie learn to deal with each other and Yuffie visits someone dear to her. AC spoilers, very mild.
Notes: Written in a span of almost a year, so the later parts might seem different in style. This is also very long, kind of an apology for taking so long to write.
"This is all your fault," Yuffie Kisaragi informed her silent companion. When he failed to answer her, she frowned. "OK, maybe Reeve's too, but Reeve's not here so I'm gonna blame you. Do you understand?"
"Yes. I understand."
The reply didn't appease her as he hoped it would. She planted her little fists on her waist and stared up at him.
"Don't make fun of me, Vincent. I'm not in the mood."
"Obviously," he muttered more to himself than her. Technically, the situation they were in, was Reeve's fault. He had called Vincent few days ago, asking him to help out with an investigation of the damage the silver-haired Sephiroth wannabes had caused. While WRO workers were fine for searching ruins of Midgar with the help of Cloud and Tifa, Vincent was asked to head to the City of the Ancients, seeing as he spent a lot of time there anyway. The request was sound and logical. Then Reeve told him that WRO's head of intelligence showed an interest in joining him. The fact that Vincent had prefered to keep to himself and not to take too much interest in the personal affairs of his teammates turned against him this time. Where he had expected a middle-aged nondescriptive man with glasses he had gotten almost nineteen years old, loud, perky and slightly annoying ninja with a penchant for calling him Vinnie and picking up on his way of life. In few words, his partner was none other than, quoting: Great Ninja and Materia Hunter Yuffie Kisaragi, the stealthiest sexy thing on the face of the Planet and you should thank heavens that I'm coming along because I'll be the bright ray of sunshine this mission needs.
And bright ray of sunshine she had been, at least until the sun above hadn't disappeared behind dark clouds and heavy and steady downpour of rain had started. Her mood changed to fit the sky and she was scowling all the way throughout the forest until they reached the Forgotten City. There they seeked shelter in one of the better faring houses which structure was still intact to keep the raging storm outside. Upon getting inside Yuffie voiced her thoughts, well, more like complaints, aloud. She was drenched and cold and therefore miserable. Her clothes, shorts and sleeveless top covered with a sleeveless jumper, weren't as bright as her former attire but did nothing to cover and warm her up. She turned and shot Vincent a death-glare.
"Did you say anything?"
Vincent didn't reply and instead moved further into the house. Her glare didn't leave him for one second as he went around, gathering some wood and placing it into an old hearth in what once had been kitchen. He muttered "Fire 2" and the kindling immediately burst into flames.
"It seems the storm is going to last for some time. We'll stay here."
"Hey, who made you a boss?"
"You!" Yuffie growled but Vincent cut her off.
"I was supposed to undertake this task alone. You made me accept your presence but it was my mission from the very beginning. Therefore I am the leader here. We'll stay."
"All right, no need to bite my head off, I just asked," she muttered sulkily, rubbing her arms subconsciously to warm them up. Vincent stood there for a moment and then undid clasps on his cloak and placed the fabric around her shoulders. She looked up in surprise but his face showed nothing. Then she noticed something else. The cloak was slick with rain water on the outside but inside it was dry. One look at Vincent's clothes confirmed her suspicions. The damn thing was water-proof. She debated with herself whether to blow up on Vincent for making her trudge through that stupid forest in the stupid rain or not when she realized another thing. He had all of his weapons hidden underneath the cloak and seeing as all of them were guns - long rifle, smaller side-arm and that three-barreled Cerberus - he needed to keep them dry. She, as a ninja, had no such problem with her shurikens. If they got wet, they were harder to catch but didn't malfunction.
Okay, chewing Vincent out for not giving her the cloak sooner was out of question. But she needed to complain about something to show that she didn't appreciate his behavior much.
"Why did you give it to me?"
"You seemed to be cold," Vincent said as he continued to scan the room. He acted strange, she noticed. Why? There was a flash of light as lightning stroke the ground nearby, immediately followed by a deafening crash of thunder. Yuffie saw as Vincent tensed and wondered for a short, fleeting moment if he was afraid of the storm. Nah, he was Vincent. The guy wouldn't be distraught by Judgment Day happening right next to him. So she carried on with their conversation, one-sided as it was.
"But now I can't complain. See, if you didn't give it to me, than I could bitch about what a jerk you were for making me freeze while you were warm in the cloak. That way I could amuse myself while we waited the storm out and none of us would get bored because you would be busy trying to ignore me. But now I've got your cloak and I'm not freezing anymore and can't complain so we're going to die out of boredom here and haunt this place with the ancient ghosts of the Ancients," she giggled at the pun. Vincent looked at her with somewhat incredulous look.
"So your point is," he started as he tried to comprehend her thought processes. "I shouldn't have offered my cloak to you when you were clearly cold, so you could harass me for not giving it to you? And the only benefit gained through this action would be not being bored?"
Yuffie pondered the question. When he phrased it like that... If she said yes, she would look like a petulant child who thought only of her own amusement. If she said no, she would disregard what she had said before. What to say, what to say?
Vincent gave up. There was no talking to her when she was like this. Like he didn't have enough on his plate already. The storm was complicating things very much. He was afraid of it but for vastly different reasons than one could think. The weather was making demons in him restless. They demanded to be released. They wanted to play. Having good idea what their idea of playing looked like, he put a lot of effort into suppressing them and he needed to concentrate on it, not to argue with the young girl who was another complication. If he was alone there, he might have let them out, one by one. They were easier to control for weeks following such periods of freedom, as he had found out. That was one of the reasons he kept visiting the ruins of the city. There had never been anyone demons could have harmed. But with Yuffie there... Inspite of her occasional bratiness - her own term - he liked her and didn't want her to get hurt. Not if he could help it. He'd just have to wait it out.
He sat down, crossing his legs and closing eyes.
"Are you going to sleep?"
"Yes," it wasn't exactly a lie and hopefully it'd keep her quiet.
"Oh. Then good night. At least one of us is emotionless enough to not care about our predicament. What a joy," she muttered bitingly.
"Yuffie?" he opened one eye and looked at her. "We wouldn't find anything in this weather anyway. So please, stop being a brat."
She grimaced at this and Vincent felt a pang of regret and something else which he rather didn't dwell on but with Chaos and Hellmasker commenting in the back of his mind how they would shut her up if only Vincent let them, his way was much safer. For both of them.
"Fine," she plopped down facing him and then mirrored his position, closing her eyes as well. "You didn't have to be such a jerk about it, you know. You could have said it nicer and be less cold about it. If I bother you, just say so. I'll try to stop."
"I'll remember that," Vincent replied, glad that she wasn't too mad with him. Yuffie, on the other hand, was thinking. Something was seriously wrong about him. He was more... irritated than usual. Not at all like he usually was, like something was bothering him really bad. She snucked one glance at him. He had both eyes closed and looked as calm and collected as he usually did. Then the blazing tempest outside made its continuous presence known to them again. If she hadn't been watching Vincent closely, she might have missed the slight twitch of his hand but she caught it and again started to wonder why the thunder and lightning bothered him so. She opened her mouth to ask him when she remembered how he had reacted before and closed it again. She settled on watching him from under half-lowered eyelids, hoping she would figure it out sooner or later. Save for the occasional rumble of thunder outside and neverending patter of raindrops everything was silent for some time.
Yuffie stirred and opened her eyes. She had dozed off sometimes during her Vinnie-watching and she had no idea how long she had been asleep. The fire almost died down and Vincent was no longer sitting across from her. She looked around the dwelling and saw him standing near the door, gazing off into distance. Looking past him, she realized the storm hadn't relented yet. Well, so much for getting out of there soon. What in the hell had possesed her to go with Vincent on this investigation? Oh, yes. She had been curious and wanted to find out what Vincent had been up to. So far, she had only managed to annoy him to the point where he called her a brat. Good job there, Yuffie, she thought to herself. She stretched out her legs which were protesting against the long time they had been folded underneath her and stood up, letting the cloak slide down. She quickly crossed the space separating them.
Well, he didn't tell her to shut up. It was a good sign.
"What time is it?"
"Around one a.m."
"Ah. Would you mind me asking something?"
"It depends on the question."
"Well," she fidgeted somewhat. "Are you afraid of the storm?"
He was silent for a long, long time. Yuffie shuffled her weight from one leg to the other and finally, Vincent spoke.
"Why do you ask?"
"Uhm, you know, you've acted pretty strange before, I mean, even stranger than usual and I've noticed that you kinda... tensed... everytime there was a thunder and so I thought that you might be, I dunno, afraid," she waited expectantly for his reply. He lowered his head, as if thinking and then walked past her to sit down in his previous spot. "You don't have to answer me of course. I'll just keep wondering what the hell is wrong with you. Is that fine with you? Or you don't care what I think at all? If you're afraid and don't want the others to find out then you could ask me real nice - and I mean nice, like with a smile and please and everything - and I won't tell them. But only if you ask really nice."
"Sit down, please."
"Wow. That's it Vinnie. Your smile needs some work, though. You have to move your mouth, especially the corners, upwards."
"Yuffie," the warning was clear and Yuffie plopped down and stuck out her tongue. Okay, maybe she was a little childish - a lot - but she was stuck in a place with not so many pleasant memories attached, not to mention the whole deal with the storm and rain and Vincent's strange behavior, so how could anyone blame her for being somewhat... cranky and difficult?
"I'm listening now."
"Your assumption regarding my fear of the storm was uncorrect. I'm not afraid of it. To put it right," Vincent paused but she was in AVALANCHE. She knew about his predicament and realized the threat the demons posed, having witnessed them in the battle and he was sure she held them in respect. And knowing his trouble, she might decide to be of help and let him concentrate. He picked up where he left off. "I am aware of the danger it posseses. The demons in me like this kind of weather. According to them, it is fitting. I need to keep them at bay and that's why I was cross with you before."
"Gawd, I'm sorry Vincent. I didn't mean to make fun of you. Are you still in control?"
"It's all right and yes, I am but I need to focus on it. That's why I need you to keep quiet."
"Okay," Yuffie piped up and true to her word, a blessed silence covered the room. Then Yuffie shifted to one side. Five minutes later, she stretched out her legs just to fold them back after two minutes. She moved the straps that kept her shuriken lower on her chest. Then higher. And lower again. She undid them and put them back on. She stretched her right leg. Inspite of the quietness of these movements - she was a ninja, after all - Vincent was well aware of them. And because she kept moving, it was distracting him. He stood up.
"This isn't working."
"I was quiet!" Yuffie stood up as well.
"Yes, you were. But you weren't still."
"Oh," Yuffie realized that her fidgeting had probably similar effect to her chatting. Than she got an idea. She picked up the cloak. "Can I borrow this?"
"Yes, you may."
Vincent watched her as she put it on and draped around herself. Then she twirled around and he could swear she mumbled something about getting one for herself in a smaller size.
"I'm going to visit someone. You stay here and concentrate, else I'll have to kick your butt from here to Midgar. Okay?"
"Who are you going to visit?"
She smiled but it was a sad smile.
"Aeris," and she was gone, entering the storm outside without hesitation. "I'll say hello for you too," he heard her shout before her steps died away. Vincent let a small smile cross his lips. He should have known.
The rain seemed to be more gentle in the heart of the old city. Yuffie lifted her head to gaze around at the only remainder of the once great civilisation. Would Midgar be the same in a couple of hundred years? Only ruins where life had once thrived? It was well on its way as it was but still...
Yuffie shook her head to rid herself of those thoughts. They were useless in her situation. She had a different goal in mind, coming here. She didn't want to ponder past and future. Live for the present, that was what she did. Kneeling at the edge of the lake that was flower girl's last resting place, she cupped a handful of water letting it trickle down in between her fingers.
"Hi Aeris. I hope you can hear me here. Cloud was saying something about you being in your old church but you're in Lifestream so, theoretically, you should be anywhere where it is. And this is a special place, as well. Probably not full of nice memories," Yuffie grimaced, "but still special. And important. You know about Kadaj and his bros, right? After all, you helped us somehow or so Tifa says. Speaking 'bout Tifa, she and Cloud are still taking their time getting together. Unbelievable, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is," a laughing voice answered and Yuffie stood up in shock.
"Who else, silly?"
"But I thought you were in Midgar, in church..."
"But you said so yourself. I am in Lifestream. So I can visit here, especially if someone calls me."
"Aeris. It's really you," Yuffie got into her previous position on the edge of the lake. "What is it like in there? In Lifestream."
"Green," was a dry reply and Yuffie laughed though her eyes were stinging with tears.
"You must be a sight then, in those pink dress."
"Please, not you as well. I get enough from Zack."
"Zack? Oh yes, your boyfriend and Cloud's best buddy, right?"
"You seem to be well informed."
"Oh, you know me," Yuffie waved her hand around. "Sneaking here and there, I'm bound to hear a lot of interesting things."
"Speaking of interesting," Aeris' voice turned mischievous. "Isn't that Vincent's cape you're wearing?"
Yuffie swore at herself as she blushed and Aeris' melodic laughter filled the space around them and Yuffie decided to get back at her. She was a good actress. After all, the skill was necessary for a thief.
"Oh, well, I guess you could be the first one I tell but you have to promise to keep it a secret," the laughter stopped and Yuffie grinned before sighing wistfully. "Vinnie and I are getting married."
"Yes, we were dating for a while in secrecy but then..." Yuffie swallowed hard to keep herself from laughing and ruining it all, "we kinda weren't careful and I ended up pregnant. So to stop my father from killing him, we have a ceremony next week. It's a surprise for everyone so if you talk to Cloud before that, don't mention it."
"I... of course..." Aeris stuttered. "Con... congratulations. I think."
"Thank you," Yuffie bowed her head demurely, desperately quelling the urge to laugh her head off. "What do you think I should name the baby? I kinda like Ayame for a girl and Takeno for a boy. Of course, Vinnie might want non-Wutain name. We should really talk about it but everytime we are alone, well, you know..."
"I... I think I heard enough," Aeris spoke weakly. Yuffie giggled. "That's not funny," Aeris spoke reprimandingly. "It was a shock to me," Yuffie giggled harder. "I really don't see what's so funny about you getting married without telling anyone and-"
Yuffie lost it and roared with laughter as she couldn't control herself anymore. She shook with the force of it and the cape slipped off her shoulders, pooling behind her as she took in large gulps of air.
"I... I can't... believe... that you... that you fell for that..." Yuffie got out in short gasps, desperately trying to gain breath. There was an indignant huff as Aeris realized she had been fooled.
"That wasn't very nice Yuffie."
"You... you asked for it with that comment," came Yuffie's breathless reply. "And honestly. Can you imagine me and Vincent ever getting together? It's about as likely as... I don't know, something unlikely," she managed to keep the disappointment out of her voice.
"Hmm, I don't know. Stranger things happened," Aeris mused but Yuffie shook her head, finally able to talk properly..
"Not going to happen and anyway, I've got his cape because it's raining so you can get your mind out of the gutter or romance novel or wherever it is. He lent it to me for practical reasons."
"Okay. Speaking of Vincent, how is he?" Aeris asked.
"The same old Vincent as always," Yuffie shrugged. "Oh, he says hello to you, I almost forgot 'bout it."
"He didn't want to come?"
"Well, he can't. As I said, there's a storm and he needs to focus on controling his demons. I left to give him some space. Apparently, I was too much of a distraction."
"Couldn't keep your clothes on?" Aeris teased and Yuffie froze. To turn her own joke against her that way...
"You, young lady in the pink," Yuffie started, "are one devious, dirty-minded woman and I'm shocked at your behaviour."
"Oh, Yuffie. But you asked for it with that comment," Aeris said innocently before laughing and Yuffie joined her. "Although, it was a good prank."
"Better than making Cloud think you and Tifa were a couple so he would take me out in Golden Saucer?" it was one of Yuffie's secrets and she had never told the girls how she got Cloud to go with her.
"That was you?"
"So that's why he kept giving us those strange looks for a week anytime Tifa and I talked."
"Yeah and he almost strangled me once I confessed to what I did."
"Can't say I blame him."
"You know you all love me anyway," Yuffie shivered a little and put the cape back on. "He now knows the truth, though, so I don't really know what he's waiting for. It's obvious how he feels for Tifa. And she's as bad as him."
"Maybe they need a little push in right direction."
"What do you have in mind?"
"A little matchmaking never hurt anyone."
"I think I like the way you're thinking," Yuffie cackled to herself. This was going to be so much fun.
It had been two hours since Yuffie had left and thirty minutes since the storm had turned into a rain. Vincent sighed in relief as he felt the pressure on his mental shields decrease until it disappeared entirely. He felt slightly better now and once again crossed the room to stare out. His eyes caught the flash of red and he watched as Yuffie practically skipped down the road. She seemed to be in better mood then before. She waved at him before a mischievous grin passed over her lips and she started to run towards him.
It didn't take him long to figure out what she planned to do and he quickly stepped back just as Yuffie landed in the large puddle of water, sending drops of it everywhere with the exception of him.
"Vinnie!" she pouted at him. "Why did you step back?"
"I did not wish to become drenched."
"You're no fun. Aeris thinks so too," she finally shook off the excess water and stepped inside. "I am to say hello for her but I don't think I will since you are so mean to me. Unless..." Yuffie trailed off.
"You don't even know what I want to ask."
He didn't need to know. Just the fact that her mood had improved so dramatically was proof enough that he shoudn't inquire as to what had pleased her so much.
"You should get some rest. Today's going to be a long day."
"Aw, c'mon Vinnie. Aren't you curious? Not even the tiniest bit?" Yuffie frowned at his lack of response. "Fine. I'll tell you anyway and then you will want to help too. Aeris and I are going to get Cloud and Tifa to admit their feelings for each other. Great, isn't it?"
Vincent shuddered to think about the horrors awaiting Cloud and Tifa. Yuffie was a she-devil capable of persuading even the perfect angel Aeris to conduct whatever strange plan she thought up.
"And how do you plan to do that?"
"Well, we're still working on that part. And I told you you would be interested in helping."
It's not that I'm interested. I'm just trying to figure out how much time I'm going to spend as far away from Edge as possible, wasn't probably a good answer. After all, he was going to spend at least another two days in Yuffie's company. It was time to make a deal.
"I won't help you," before she could protest he continued. "However, I won't inform Tifa nor Cloud about this under the condition you stop asking for my help."
"I guess that's the best I can hope for. Fine," Yuffie sighed deeply. "You've got a deal," she offered him her hand to shake on it and after some hesitation Vincent did so. Yuffie grinned widely at that. "And that makes us partners in crime so no backing out of the deal now."
"I always keep my word," he reminded her. "And you really should get some rest. I guess you could have two hours of sleep before we head out."
"Aww, you're concerned for me? That's sweet."
"No. I just know what you are like without sleep."
Only when her eyes widened Vincent realized he had said it aloud. And suddenly, the cranky Yuffie from earlier in the evening was back. She hurled his cape at him and stomped over to her bag, pulling out a blanket and huddling close to the dying fire. She revived it with a well placed, if slightly over-enthusiastic, fire spell. Only after that she glared at him.
"This is all your fault. And Reeve's so going to have his ass kicked once we are back. Of all the mean, depressed, emo guys..."
Vincent put his cape back on and tuned her out. It seemed that once one storm ended, another one began. At least, this one he knew he could handle. It was all thunder and no rain.
And an occasional lightning bolt. This was going to be a long and stormy night.