Chapter 1: Regret

"Breakfast Vincent?" Tifa asked sweetly, as Vincent silenty walked into the small dining room, sitting down stonily. Tifa wasn't sure how a guy could stay so silent and moody all the time, but from what she had heard from Cloud, he had every right to. A sharp pang sliced through her heart when she thought about Cloud. He had left to go 'find himself' and search for Aeris, like everyone else had predicted, yet she had been too blind to believe them. That's what had hurt so much, he had left when without a goodbye, and had crushed all her hopes of them having a happy, fairytale future. Maybe that was partly why he left, because he felt preassured by everyone else to marry her, or maybe it was because he just didn't love her. The last thought made the pan contianing the pancake mix blur. Noticing Vincent's stare on her back uneasily, Tifa forced another smile on her face. Oh yes, Vincent. She had no clue why she was here, only that one thought had fueled her to him. He understood lost of a loved one, and so naturually, she had thought that he would...what had she thought? That he would welcome her with open arms? With an indignant snort, she turned back to Vincent, a full plate of freshly cooked pancakes stacked on it. Setting them down in front of the stony ex-Turk, she smiled brightly. She knew that he didn't have to do anything that he did last night, especailly be so nice to her, allowing her to be his friend. Vincent said nothing, but began eating slowly and silently, like it was a mechanical thing. Unknowingly, her eyes strayed from her own breakfast to his golden mechanical arm, and she wondered briefly what had happened to him. He had been silent about that, not that he wasn't silent at all. She felt Vincent's piercing gaze on the top of her head, and she looked up, only to be lost in those endless pools of bright red. The only other color that came close was the color of blood... "Sorry Vincent, I didn't mean to stare!" Tifa said hurriedly, looking away, but she felt Vincent's discomfort in the way his aura shifted. Reading a person's aura had always been part of her martial arts tecnique, and her intuition told her he was uncomfortable. Without a word, Vincent got up, leaving Tifa to look after him forlorn. It would take a lot of effort to crack his shell, and Tifa wasn't sure that she had the skills enough to do that almost impossible task. That thought alone made her sad, longing for the simple days when she ran the bar in the horrible slums, and could brighten anyone's day. With a soft sigh, Tifa turned to the task of washing the dirty dishes, feeling horrible of making Vincent feel bad. After all, they were friends now...

Vincent's blood red eyes looked silently over the cozy bar, feeling as empty as the place looked. Tifa did try her best to keep the little bar/house clean, but it still was dirty no matter how many times she had cleaned it throughly. Vincent felt a small pang at how he had led Tifa to believe she had caused him pain, and that alone was another sin. He knew he shouldn't have agreed to come here after he had heard that Cloud had left her. He snorted in his mind. The blonde haired leader didn't know what treasure he had, throwing it away to look for a dead Ancient. Vincent felt no hatred toward the deceased Ancient, in fact, he felt her death had been a sin. His own love's son killed her, making him feel it ten times worse than any Avalanche member, even Cloud. Her death was another burden on his shoulders, another sin in the long list that he had to atone for, but probably never would atone for them all. He knew he should leave, he was endangering Tifa every moment he stayed here. Yet... something made him stay, like he was a tree, rooted in place and couldn't move. It had been a long time since anyone had cared for him. Lucercia... the thought of her name brought a warm fuzzy feeling, and a deep pang of regret and sorrow. He should never had fallen in love with her, and none of this wouldn't have happened. No sins to atone for, and maybe, just maybe, no Sephiroth. Vincent’s shoulders slumped with guilt. He couldn't deny the unmistakable resembelence he had shared with Lucercia's child, and it was obvious Hojo had nothing to do with his looks. Vincent closed his eyes, letting his head slump on the table, resting silently on his arms, a rare gesture of any emotions on his part. The stress and regret was building up in him, and he felt remorse for one paticulair thing right now, stronger than any other. He was guilty for not telling Tifa she was endangered by just being in the same house with him. For all he knew, they might already know where he was, coming to get him, and possibly kill Tifa. Vincent couldn't even imagine sweet hearted Tifa lying in a pool of her own blood, knowing that he would be the one to have brought that down on her. That alone would be yet another unforgivable sin that he would never be able to atone for. Never.

~*Author's Notes*~ That was sucky, I know. Sorry for spelling and grammer, but those are my worst subjects! But due to popular demand, *snorts indignantly* I'll continue this. I was just going to keep it as a oneshot, but people seem to like it, and there aren't many Tifa and Vincent ones out there, and I really like the couple...anyway, R&R! And this is extra credit, go read some of my other stories! Please! I'll be forever grateful! Well, til next time my friends, bye!

Chapter 2: Surprise, surprise!

"Are you sure he is capable?" a man puffing an obviously expensive cigar asked another man. The smoker was sitting in a plush black chair, his shiny black boots casually propped up in front of the younger man’s face, who looked about ready to flee in terror.

"I’m s-s-s-sure sir." The younger man stuttered, and the other man smiled, taking a long drag of the cigar, then blowing it in the man’s face, enjoying the discomfort the other felt and not being able to do anything about it.

"If he fails, it will be you who will die. Make sure you don’t, and I’ll make sure that the torture chamber won’t be readied for another death." The man stated smugly, as the other one moistened his lips nervously, his eyes darting around, sweat dripping down his brow.

"Sir, you forget, that this man is very dangerous and the woman he is with is also a force to be reckoned with." The man squeaked, and the other waved his chubby hand that was loaded with gold rings as if to say, ‘whatever’.

"I don’t care. You will get him to me, won’t you? You can have the woman if you want, but just make sure to bring me that Turk." The man commanded, his voice booming as the younger one shrunk back into his stiff wooden chair, as if he wished to be as far away from this man as possible.

"Yes sir." The man muttered softly, and the fat man smiled, leaning back into his chair, taking a thoughtful puff of his cigar.

"Good, then you’re dismissed. Make sure you capture that Turk, or you’ll be sorry." The fat man called after the other, his chilling laughter ringing out after the younger gentleman.

Vincent’s blood red eyes shot open as a loud clash of thounder and lightening lit up the dark night sky. It wasn’t the storm that was brewing that had awakened him, no it was something different. Normally, he would be out there, balancing on the roof, just pondering on the what ifs and maybes of his cursed life, but he hadn’t done that tonight. He had felt something bad might happen tonight, that gut feeling he had sharpened in his Turk days. Something was amiss, he could even taste it lingering in the air. Silently, like a shadow, Vincent slipped out of his room, checking the rest of the house/bar quickly and with careful precission, like he had done many times before in the past as a Turk. Nothing was out of place, nothing to be alarmed by, but Vincent was. He nearly jumped when a loud clap of thunder and a bright flash of lightening illuminated the small bar. Trying to ignore the loud thupping of his heart, Vincent slowly inched around the room, his eyes scanning it cautiously, one hand ready to reach and grab his gun in less than a second. These comforting sights didn’t help Vincent’s confused mind. He could have sworn that he had heard footsteps coming in from outside. Just then a thought hit him, with so much truth and dreadful fear that it made Vincent sway a little, like a drunk trying to walk. Tifa! When he reached her smooth wooden door, Vincent hesistated. What if she wasn’t in danger and they hadn’t found him? The unmistakable sound of a gun being loaded echoed in Vincent’s sharp ears, leaving no room for worry. He flung the door open, only to see Tifa sleeping peacefully, but the figure looming above her seemed anything but peaceful. Vincent’s Death Penalty was out before the enemy could say anything. Vincent’s eyes were narrowed, absorbing the scene. The window was fluttering open, and in the distance he could see streaks of lightening coming down, the windows billowing open as the curtians streamed in the moonlight, bathing Tifa’s face in a beautifully unearthly glow. Shaking those thoughts from his mind, Vincent glared angirly at the man who dare hurt his friend, the only one who could ever care for him. The man grinned, waving with his free hand, the other holding a deadly gun to Tifa’s sleeping form, looking like he saw Vincent everyday. Murderous thoughts began running through his mind, but nothing showed on his blank face, his eyes glaring the man down, intimidating him. Vincent wouldn’t let this man kill such an innocent, especially since it was him he was probably after. If Vincent let this man kill Tifa-no, he wouldn’t let him. Letting her die would be the worst possible sin that this tainted demon could ever do, and he could never atone for it, ever. Well, at least in Vincent’s mind.

"Hey Vampy, long time no see." The man said casually, while Vincent internally flinched at the nickname he detested, but he replied evenly.

"Hello Reno." Vincent said stiffly, and the redheaded Turk grinned, his face portraying his surprise, but it was quickly covered up.

"Wondered when you would come. Well, since you know why I’m here, why not skip pleasentries and get right to business." Reno stated cooly, his gun still pointed straight at Tifa, and he grinned when he saw Vincent stiffen. This could be fun after all…

~*Author’s Notes*~ Behold! I have returned! Sorry for such a delay, but it’s been a busy week! Anyway, please R&R! The faster you do, the faster you’ll learn why Reno’s there, and why Vincent is always mentioning ‘them’. Please R&R!

Chapter 3: ‘They’ Attack

"They’re on your trail, Vampy." Reno stated casually, tucking his gun away somewhere in the blue suit he still wore, even though Shinra was no more, Vincent was sure it was something symbolic to Reno. Vincent’s eyes narrowed at his nickname, and also that his suspicions that were confirmed. He should leave now; get away before Tifa got caught up in this whole crazy mess. He shouldn’t have agreed to come here in the first place. It had just gotten him in trouble, and also now, Tifa. He inwardly flinched as every possible scenario that could happen flashed in his mind, all of which not very pleasant.

"Where is Rude and Elena?" Vincent asked, already knowing the answer, but wanting confirmation. It was just the Turk in him, and Reno knew, but even so, his grin faded. Instead, he looked stonily at him, like Vincent was sure he looked at everyone, and he had to admit, if Vincent was half the man he was, he would have been intimidated by Reno’s icy gaze.

"Captured. They got to them. I only managed to escape by the hair of my chinny chin chin." Reno said, covering up his true feelings with that sarcastic attitude of his. Vincent nodded slightly, lowering his Death Penalty. Vincent felt a little touched that Reno had actually came all this way to warn him, and now he understood why he had raised his gun to Tifa. They were probably watching the house every waking second, and they probably knew about Vincent and Tifa’s ‘friendship’.

"Thank you for the warning." Vincent said stiffly, and Reno grinned, stretching and yawning. He probably hadn’t had a good night sleep since ‘they’ had been on his tracks like blood hounds after a fox. Vincent certainly knew how that felt, and maybe that was why Vincent had come to visit his martial arts fighting friend, for the chance to finally lower his guard a little. Suddenly, thunder and lightening flashed, and a huge bang signified they were here. Tifa was instantly up, and looked surprised to say the least, to see the redhead Turk and the red cloaked ex-Turk in her bed.

"Okay, what is going on?" Tifa asked, and Vincent looked at her uneasily. Her stare pierced into him, like she could see straight through him, and he didn’t like that thought. Now he knew how people felt whenever he turned his piercing blood red eyes on them.

"We have to leave now. They are here." Vincent said softly, telling her only part of the truth. The less she knew, the better. The thought of sweet, kind hearted Tifa in a puddle of blood still haunted Vincent, and he didn’t want to make it an reality. If she didn’t know much, they couldn’t possibly have a reason to hurt the only person now who could be his last hope at some form of humanity.

"Who’s ‘they’ and why do we have to leave?" Tifa asked confused, and another bang signified they were getting closer. Too close for Vincent’s comfort. It was making him uneasy, and he felt the tugging feeling to slip into a dark corner now. He didn’t want to be caught by them.

"We’ll explain later. Do you have any chocobos?" Reno asked, and Tifa looked at him in mistrust. Given their history, Vincent wouldn’t have blamed her, but know was not the time for arguing over past matters.

"Trust him. We have to get out of here quickly." Vincent stated, and Tifa looked at him with complete trust, the look no one had given him since Lucy had, and it sent an unnamed chill down his spine. Did he mention those two were alike in many ways?

"In back. Let’s go." Tifa stated, reaching under her bed and pulling out a backpack, surprising the two Turks, though it didn’t register on their faces.

"Talk about prepared." Reno murmured, and Tifa glared at him, obviously not going to take any crap from him. The three of them silently snuck to the back, avoiding the creaky floorboards, lightening illuminating the now creepy looking bar, and Vincent took a cautious look out the back window. It was still storming outside, and in the distance getting bigger and bigger was a group of men in Shinra Soldier uniforms riding black chocobos. The very sight made Vincent uneasy, and it took a lot to do that to Vincent.

"Who are they?" Tifa whispered, and Vincent glanced at her, and she looked unearthly pale with the moonlight dancing across her face. It reminded him of when she had been sleeping, peaceful and blissfully ignorant to the world’s deadly clutches. Lucy used to sleep like that, but Vincent never had. He shook those musings out of his head, barely listening to what Reno said.

"Like I said, we’ll explain later. We need to get out of here." Reno stated, all business now that his life was in danger. He wanted to live long enough to go rescue his comrades. Creeping along the wooden floor, Tifa led them out to the back door, slowly opening it, Vincent taking a cautious look around, and when he was sure that it was safe, he motioned for them to follow. The chilly night air cut straight to Vincent’s bones, and he heard Tifa’s teeth chattering. Rain had calmed down to a light sprinkle, nothing much to be noticed by, but at least Vincent had his cloak to deal with it, but Tifa… Turning around, he saw that she was shivering, and taking a precious second, he unstrapped his warm cape and draped it around her shoulders, making Tifa look up at him in surprise. Tifa had to admit, Vincent’s show of kindness touched her greatly, but she didn’t want to embarrass or scare him off by saying thank you, so she smiled at him instead. Not saying a word, they entered the chocobo pen, where two chocobos sat, looking nervously at the slinking shadows that had entered their safe place. Quickly and silently, they led the chocobos outside, trying to stop their fearful warking, and then Vincent heard it. Gunfire. They had been spotted! Quickly mounting a chocobo, he jerked Tifa up in the saddle with him, and spurred the chocobo off, Tifa clinging around his waist. Reno was also following, turning in his saddle and shooting back, but his expertise was close range fighting, and he didn’t seem like much help.

"Can you use a gun?" Vincent asked, turning around to stare at Tifa, who shook her head. She never had much love for that particular weapon.

"Well, now is a good time to learn!" Reno shouted, and Tifa looked at them horrified. How could they expect her to hold a gun? They had killed so many of her friends in the Slums, and a stray bullet had almost killed little innocent Marlene in a shooting. A cry of pain escaped Reno’s lips when a bullet hit its mark. "D*** b*****s! Can’t leave a guy in peace!" Reno snarled, shooting back, while at the same time, trying to apply pressure on it with a hand.

"Take the reigns, Tifa." Tifa looked at Vincent, who was holding the leather reigns in front of her. She looked at them for a second, and then slowly took them, just as a stray bullet barely missed her ear. Startled, she covered her ears, and Vincent looked at her warily. "We need to switch places, Tifa." Vincent stated, and she looked at him worriedly.

"Okay, but how do we do that?" Tifa asked, and Vincent slowly unwound her arms from his waist, feeling her comforting warmth leave him, and even if he desperately wanted to feel the warmth again, he ignored it. He couldn’t think about things like that now. Turning around, he began shooting at the men behind him, an expertly aimed bullet ridding a chocobo of its rider. A bullet came streaming for him, but missed, thank the planet. The chocobo, scared beyond reasoning, warked, taking a hard right, almost making Vincent lose his grip, and jerking back a little, he felt a hand grab his arm, forcefully pulling him back up. Vincent eternally sighed in relief, waiting as Tifa scooted up as fast as she could, then taking a firm grip on the reigns as Vincent swung his leg over. Tifa sighed in relief, looking back as Vincent turned again; shooting another bullet, but it seemed the riders had become discouraged. They were no longer in sight, and Tifa thanked however was watching over them that none of them were hurt. As if hearing her thoughts, Reno cursed, gritting his teeth in pain. Okay, at least no one was dead.

"Anyone have cure on them?" Reno asked, blood seeping through the hands he had pressed tightly over his wound in a vain attempt to stop the bleeding. Tifa had to admit, she admired him for being conscious at this point in time, much less steering a chocobo.

"Will a potion do?" Tifa asked, rummaging through her pack, grabbing on and tossing it to Reno, who caught it. Biting his lower lip, he applied it to his wound, wincing as the past like substance began knitting his wound together.

"Vampy! What made them stop, you think?" Reno asked, and Tifa supposed that was his way of saying thanks without having to direct it to her. She felt Vincent shrug, and oddly, she was comforted when Vincent wrapped his arms around her. It felt nice for someone to hold her like that. It made her feel protected, even if Vincent wasn’t aware of it. A huge explosion answered the question, and Tifa tugged back on the reigns as the shockwave shot through the ground, turning the chocobo around to see what had happened. In the distance, a building had been set on fire, and from here Tifa knew what building it was. Her bar had been set a flame, the fire hungrily burning it to the ground as Tifa watched in shock and horror.

~*Author Note’s*~ I’m really sorry it took this long for me to update. My com broke down and I didn’t have internet for a week. *gasps, and begins fanning self* It was the most horrible week of my life. J Okay, I really didn’t tell you who ‘they’ were, but you probably have a pretty good idea, right? And those mean, nasty people burned down Tifa’s bar! I’ll just have to show them who’s boss… anyway, R&R! I’d really appreciate it. Till next time, bye!

Chapter 4: Apologies

Silence. The uncomfortable thing surrounded the trio, each lost in their own thoughts. Reno was looking straight ahead stonily, which was a bit improvement on his part, Vincent noted. Maybe Elena and Rude being captured had something to do with it? Tifa on the other hand… Vincent looked down at her, completely unsure of what to do, and that was saying a lot. He was usually in control, and knowing what to do, even if his brooding over the past was his favorite ‘hobby’ as Yuffie had so lovingly put it. Her eyes were currently closed as of now, but she wasn’t asleep, just deep in thought, and Vincent inwardly flinched at last night’s troubling events. He remembered how she had sat there, numb with horror as the beloved bar she had slaved over was burned to the ground, all without a reason, all without knowing why it had happened. Vincent looked down at the top of her chocolate hair covered head guiltily. It had been burned down, a demonstration that they knew what she meant to him, and how they would kill anyone just as close to him as her. The flames had taunted him as they rose higher, cackling merrily while he heard Tifa let out a dry sob and look away, not wanting to see anymore. Vincent had turned around too, not wanting to see the flames laughing faces.

"Yo! Tifa!" Vincent was jolted out of his broodings when Reno hollered, looking at the red haired man critically. He might still be wounded, asking for another potion, but a quick look at his wound assured Vincent that wasn’t the case. He looked a little beat up, but he still managed to press his winning smile on his face.

"Yes?" Tifa asked warily, but Vincent heard the threatening tone in her voice. She wouldn’t put up with any s***, he knew and Reno did too. Reno just leaned back and grinned, looking at Tifa, like he hadn’t heard her hidden threat.

"I was just wondering… could I borrow this big bird? It’s easier than walking on foot, and I need to get a head start if I want to get away from that…" Reno said, gesturing vaguely in the distance, the way the bar had been until it had been… destroyed. Vincent looked back at Tifa in concern, but her chocolate strands made an impenetrable veil. Vincent wondered briefly if she would say no and glare angrily at the Turk. He wouldn’t say he would be surprised, given the whole Sector Seven incident he had heard Tifa talking about. But… it would also clash with her kind personality- why was he even thinking about this? He couldn’t really care about how Reno traveled around, even if he had warned Vincent. He knew Reno would get around; Turks weren’t trained to be cunning and sharp for nothing.

"All right." Tifa said after some time, sounding defeated, or tired. Either emotion Vincent could understand perfectly. Even if he had spent thirty years in a cobweb dusty coffin, he still felt mentally tired. All the sins he had to atone for always beat at his self consciousness, hardly ever allowing him peace. But then again there was always Chaos to do that too… Chaos… that demon that was fused with his soul hadn’t acted up in a while, ever since he had gone to visit Tifa. Vincent’s red eyes narrowed. That demon would be sure to plague him sooner or later. D*** Hojo for putting Vincent through h*** and back.

"Wow! I didn’t think you’d really let me." Reno said, grinning madly at Tifa, who still hadn’t looked up. "Thanks a bunch, now I’ll leave you two alone." Reno said, spurring his chocobo in the other direction with a whoop, and Vincent shook his head. And they had made someone like him a Turk…

"Vincent?" Tifa’s inquiring voice jolted the ex-Turk out of his thoughts, and he looked down at her to see her looking at him with big garnet eyes that seemed to stare straight into his soul. Not showing his discomfort, he looked straight at her, and eyebrow raised. She would still talk to him, after she knew that he was the reason her precious bar was burned down? "Who were ‘they’, and why are they after Reno and… you?" Tifa asked in a soft voice, and Vincent’s first impulse was to say nothing. After all, if they caught her- no, he’d protect her; he owed it to her as a friend.

"They are with a company that still believes in Shinra. They feel that if Shinra were here, everything would be easier, so they set out to track down past members, in hopes of rebuilding the company once more. As you know, I was once… a worker of Shinra." Vincent stated softly, feeling a little awkward after what was like a speech for him. Tifa was silent, and that also unnerved him. Should he say more?

"I… see." Tifa said after awhile, nearly making Vincent jump. He hadn’t expected her to say something after his little speech. "I’m sorry, Vincent." She said, and he looked at her in surprise. She hadn’t done anything worth apologizing over. He should be the one apologizing. "If it wasn’t for me," Tifa stated plainly, like she had thought over this all night, "you could still be in hiding, so they won’t come after you. Sorry." Tifa said in a near whisper, and Vincent felt the need to release a rare chuckle, so he did, his shoulders shaking a bit. Tifa looked back at him, clearly annoyed. "What? So now you’re laughing at me? Geez Vincent! I apologize and you laugh? No wonder you slept in that coffin for thirty years! If Hojo had apologized to you, you’d probably have laughed yourself silly!" Tifa said huffily, and Vincent looked at, his eyes narrowing unconsciously at the mention of Hojo. Tifa’s eyes grew wide, and she clapped a hand over her mouth, stuttering apologizes, but Vincent shook his head.

"You have nothing to apologize for." He stated plainly, and then he turned to look at the sky. The sun would rise soon, and they would undoubtly come searching again. They needed to find cover before then. ‘They’? He mused, thinking about Tifa and himself. Usually he only had to worry about himself, but now that Tifa was with him, he should be more cautious. It wouldn’t do to get her caught up in the middle of this. Well… anymore than she was. "We should get to an inn soon." Vincent said in monotone, and Tifa nodded her head, a little drowsy all of a sudden. Last night’s events had taken a toll for the worst on her, and she would rather be blissfully asleep than awake and worrying. With a slight nod of the head, she fell asleep in Vincent’s arms as he spurred the chocobo forward.

~*Author’s Notes*~ Okay, I know this chapter is kinda weird and short, but I was watching T.V while doing it! Yea, that’s it. Anyway, hopefully it wasn’t that unbelievable. My brain kinda stops working when I’m on summer vacation, and all I want to do is sleep most of the time. Well, anyway, read and review! I would appreciate it much!

Chapter 5: Musings

Tifa gave a small groan, blinking rapidly to get the sleep out of her eyes. Where was she? With a sigh, she slowly sat up, the warmth of the bed still surrounding her. Wait, bed? Wasn’t she on a chocobo? Where was she? Well, by the looks of the rundown room, it was an inn. Hmm… Vincent was no where to be seen, and she wondered briefly if he had abandoned her. Just like Cl- Stop it Tifa! No use comparing Vincent to Cloud! She sighed, looking up and giving a startled shriek when some shadows in the corner moved.

"Vincent!" Tifa scolded, shaking her head and wagging a finger at him. "You scared the living daylights out of me!" She exclaimed, putting a hand over her heart, trying to stop the erratic beating that pounded in her ribs. Vincent looked at her blankly, his red eyes showing nothing.

"I apologize." He said in monotone, stepping out of the shadows with a liquid grace. It was times like these Tifa started to worry about him. Honestly, standing in a dark corner for who knows long, watching her.

"It’s all right." Tifa sighed, planting her feet firmly on the wooden floor and running a hand through her chocolate tresses. Suddenly, she turned and looked at Vincent, a happy grin on her face. She always seemed cheerful, no matter what happened. Even if her bar was burned down… Vincent mentally winced and looked away, not sure if he could take her obvious tries of comfort. "You should smile, Vincent." Tifa stated, still grinning at him, which unnerved him. She looked so…happy, even though she had just gone through a big ordeal last night. Having one’s home is burned down in front of your eyes was not a deal to laugh at. He looked away, not able to bear it.

"When I have a reason to smile, I will." Vincent stated, more coldly than he had anticipated, and he inwardly sighed. Tifa was his friend, no need to snarl at her when she was only trying to cheer him up, even if the effort was fruitless. Instead of Tifa looking hurt, which he had expected, she merely smiled a wistful smile.

"Well then, I suppose we’ll just have to find that reason, right Vincent?" Tifa said, hopping off the bed, and with the bright smile she was famous for, she winked at him. "C’mon Vincent! Let’s go!" Tifa said, with an almost childish demeanor, which amused Vincent, somewhat. How could she be so care free, now that she knew her life was on the line, just by being with him? Vincent raised an eyebrow as Tifa bustled about, packing meager belongings and remaking the bed out of old habit he presumed. "Vincent?" Tifa’s voice snapped him out of his musings, and he looked at her silently, trying to figure her out. They may be the same in many ways, but somehow she still managed to remain an enigma to him. "Ready?" She asked softly, and Vincent wondered why she wasn’t intimidated by him. Out of all the members of Avalanche, only she had asked him what he felt, how he was doing, just because she really wanted to know, not because she felt she should. Genuine concern for a friend. Hm, that was a term that was foreign to him. Seeing that Tifa was waiting for an answer, he nodded slowly, following her out of the inn and to the chocobo stables, mounting the only chocobo they had, which Tifa said was named Haru. The ride was uneventful for an hour, Tifa making small talk here or there, but usually falling silent when she realized Vincent needed to think, or to her brood. Tifa was convinced to the fullest that Vincent brooding over the past wasn’t the least bit healthy. It sure hadn’t helped him one bit over the last few years, and he needed to get out and smell the roses. She was sure that Lucercia wouldn’t want her lover or friend or whatever they used to be, waste away like this. She certainly didn’t want him to. Sure, Vincent was cold, and rough around the edges, but she could tell he was a genuinely loving and caring person. Not many men she knew would still love a woman for thirty years even after she had gotten married to some mad man like Hojo. Silently, she turned around in the saddle to give him a brief look, one of which he noticed and raised an eyebrow at. Tifa just smiled brightly, shaking her head as she turned back around. Poor Vincent having to suffer for so long. It was really quite romantic though. Tifa giggled slightly at her own thoughts. Geez Lockheart! Your bar gets burned down, you’re on the run and most likely wanted, and all you can think about is romance! Hopeless! She mentally chided herself, but she felt a great deal happier than she had in a while, as strange as that seemed.

Vincent too, was lost deep in thought. How could Halidon know where he was after so long? What could have possibly given him away? He looked down at Tifa, who had turned in the saddle to look at him, and when their eyes met, she smiled brightly before turning around and shaking her head. Tifa and Lucy were alike in some many ways, it startled Vincent sometimes. Vincent looked behind them, the sun rising high in the sky, bright and cheerful as always. He remembered Lucercia had always gotten him up early just so they could look at the sunrise together, and how beautiful it had been. The sky turning a cheery red before fading into bright yellows and oranges. The sight never ceased to amaze his beloved Lucercia, as she had never ceased to amaze him. Vincent sighed, closing his eyes, not bothering right now to hide his pain. After so long, it still hurt to think about her, the bright smile, her sparkling eyes, how could he forget? With another pained sigh, Vincent tried to push her from his mind, but as always, it didn’t work.

~*Author’s Notes*~ Eeks! Sorry that chapter was so horrible! Oh, so sorry for not updating earlier, but I had a bad case of writer’s block. Yucky. Well, that and school’s starting, and my sis, and friend, and me have decided to make a website! Hehe. Coming to an internet link near you. Be afraid, be very afraid! Oh well, enough of my excuses. Please read and review people! It’d boost my spirits! ~*Fudgie Angel*~

Chapter 6: Kakyuu

"You let them escape!?" The man roared, his thick neck straining to keep up with his booming voice. Again the younger man cowered against his stiff wooden chair, sweating profusely.

"B-B-B-But sir! We-" The younger man stuttered, but the chubbier man cut him off, his eyes blazing.

"You failed! I told you what would happen if you did!" The older man snarled, pushing a button hidden under his desk drawer. The younger man screamed, pleading for his useless life but the other man just lit a cigar and began puffing lazily as two men in black suits came in, dragging off the smaller man.

"Boss?" One of them asked, and the man continued to puff on his cigar, a thoughtful look on his face for a second.

"Find them. Do whatever you want with the girl, but bring the Turk here, alive." The man stated in a deadly voice, and the black suited man nodded, walking out briskily.

"So any clue where to next?" Tifa asked, and Vincent shrugged, still in his brooding mood as Tifa had identified it. They had been riding hard for the last three days, to no obvious town or destination, just riding. "Vincent! C’mon, you can trust me. Besides, I’m curious to see where we are going." Tifa said, looking up at him with a half scolding, half smiling face. Vincent looked down at her silently, not sure if he should. True, she was his friend, but many of his friends had often turned on him, and Turk training wouldn’t allow him to trust anyone besides his comrades. But, she was his comrade. Wasn’t she? Vincent sighed again, deciding to trust her for once. She wasn’t another Lucercia, she could take care of herself, and she was strong willed. She would be fine.

"We’re going to an acquaintance. He’ll be sure to help us." Vincent said bluntly, not sure why he placed so much trust on one person. He hadn’t seen Kakyuu in over 15 years, what made him think he’d remember someone like Vincent?

"Really! Great! I love Haru and all," The chocobo warked at the sound of her name, and Tifa grinned. "But I’m starting to get sick of riding. What about you?" Lately, Tifa had been asking questions on how he felt and everything, trying to coax sentences out of him. He was somewhat touched by her efforts, but now, now; he just wanted to think in peace, to sink deeper into his own world again. But, no, she wouldn’t let him go back, and he didn’t know if he should be grateful or annoyed. Vincent gave a small, indifferent shrug, looking straight ahead, not wanting to see the hurt in her burgundy eyes. "I…um…hope your friend helps us." Tifa said, as much to herself as to Vincent. She too, was worried about them, it supposed. Them, more than one. Vincent thought the next time he’d think about another in a worried way was a sure sign the world was going to end, but now, he wasn’t so sure. It felt…nice to have someone care for you, even with its ups and downs.

"If we hurry, we can make it by sundown." Vincent stated, catching Tifa’s now shinning eyes as she smiled once again at him. How could she stay so cheerful even in the darkest of times? He looked away, suddenly feeling very burdened. His sins started weighing heavily on his mind.

"All right then! Let’s go!" Tifa cheered happily, spurring the chocobo forward, her eyes shinning with excitement. She had missed the adrenaline rush of adventure and now she and Vincent were on one of their very own. She grinned widely, turning to Vincent, trying to see if he too, was excited, but as always, he was as poker faced as usual. Well, if we find something, or someone special, maybe he’ll finally smile. When he does, I’ll make sure to have a camera! Tifa silently whooped, grinning wider still.

A knock jolted Kakyuu out of the nice, pleasant dream he had been having.

"Whoever it is will get a nice little surprise when I open that door!" Kakyuu hissed angrily, shaking a fist and trudging sleepily through his jungle of a bedroom to the living room, opening the door with an angry yank. "Whadda ya want?" He snarled angrily, raking a hand through his messy blonde hair.

"Nice to see you again, Kakyuu." A monotone voice said almost pleasantly, and Kakyuu looked up and grinned.

"Well, speak of the devil. Is that really you Vinnie? Hah! Why’d ya come to visit this time?" Kakyuu asked, and note even bothering to wait for an answer, looked over Vincent’s shoulder and glanced at Tifa. "Who’s the babe?" Kakyuu asked, giving Tifa a grin and a wink. "D*** Vinnie, didn’t know you started puberty this late." Kakyuu stated, chuckling as he hit Vincent’s shoulder lightly as Vincent frowned at the last comment. "Well, what are ya waiting for? C’mon in! Sorry ‘bout the mess. Didn’t know I’d have company comin’." Kakyuu stated, kicking a pile of clothes across the floor, making an almost usable trail to follow. Tifa looked around the small cabin that was obviously not in good car. The walls were old and worn, as was the floor, and it was unbearable dusty, and to someone who like neat as much as Tifa, it was a compliment to call this place a pig sty. "So, what’re ya doin’ here Vinnie? Last time ya stopped by was oh, ‘bout fifteen years ago?" Kakyuu stated, and Vincent looked around the cabin, not seeing much change since he was last here.

"Thirty." Vincent corrected automatically, used to his friend’s mismatched memory.

"Right, fifteen. Well, make yourself comfortable, I’ll heat up some soup if you want." Kakyuu said, disappearing into the other room, as Tifa sat down in a hard wooden chair silently, looking around. The dining room doubled as a living room, and there were two small rooms in the back, one Kakyuu’s and the other probably a bathroom. "So, what brings you here Vinnie? Bad news I suppose, eh?" Kakyuu stated, and Vincent nodded, not even bothering to tell him not to call him ‘Vinnie’. It never worked anyway.

"They’re stirring again. They’ll find you if you don’t get the resistance back up again." Vincent said calmly, and that sparked a roar of laughter from the blonde man.

"Always the skeptic, eh Vinnie? Well, why don’t you stay the night? I’m sure the lovely lady would like to rest also." Kakyuu stated, grinning as Tifa blushed and looked down. Kakyuu was always the player, and in many ways, he reminded Vincent of the redhead Turk, Reno.

"No, I’m fine. I…uh…want to know what’s going on, if that’s all right." Tifa said, and both men looked at her, an almost shocked look on Vincent’s face. He hadn’t expected her to want to know what was going on, because that would mean she wanted to get deeper involved, and he couldn’t- wouldn’t let her. Again, the image of Tifa in a pool of blood assaulted Vincent, and he closed his eyes and looked away, not wanting to think of it. That would be the worst sin he could ever commit, not protecting Tifa, who was so innocent, more than he could ever be.

"Ah! So the lady talks! Well then Vinnie, seems like you might have to talk in a sentence!" Kakyuu stated, sliding a chipped wooden bowl filled with soup in Tifa’s direction. With a careful sip, Tifa grinned. Even if it wasn’t the best looking stuff in the world, it was good.

"Mmm, this is good." Tifa complimented, and Kakyuu grinned, waving a hand.

"Think nothing of it. Now, Vinnie, tell me what the h***’s goin’ on here?" Kakyuu asked, and Vincent shrugged, also seating himself in a wooden chair opposite to Tifa. "Maybe you’d want to start at the beginning?" Kakyuu asked in an almost sarcastic voice and Vincent glared at him.

"Halidon found me out. They burned down Tifa’s bar," Vincent said softly, gesturing to Tifa, who had suddenly grown quite, "And shot another Turk who was with us. Reno. We escaped, but just barely. No doubt they’ll be after us soon." Vincent stated, and Kakyuu nodded, shaking his head silently.

"So they are moving faster than we expected. How many captured in the last raid?" Kakyuu asked, no longer goofy, all business now.

"Two. Elena and Rude." Vincent stated, and Kakyuu sighed, leaning back in his chair, looking very tired all of a sudden.

"I see. Well, I can’t do much for ya, Vinnie, but I’ll help any sure way I can." Kakyuu stated, getting up, shaking his head and muttering.

"Thank you." Vincent said, and Tifa could have sworn that there was some emotion in Vincent’s usual monotone voice. Kakyuu smiled tiredly, a small sigh escaping his chapped lips.

"Think nothing of it. I’d do anything for an old comrade. Well, best get some sleep, and I’ll send ya on your way in the morning." Kakyuu stated, stretching and yawning. "Ugh, what a night. The blankets are in the closet over there, and the couch pulls out into a bed." Kakyuu grinned ruefully. "Sorry, if I’d know there’d be company, I would have gotten the place all fixed up for ya." Kakyuu said, scratching the back of his head.

"No, it’s all right. Thank you for everything, Kakyuu." Tifa said, smiling as Kakyuu grinned back.

"Wow! A looker and polite too, and if I’m not mistaken, a fighter! You sure know how to pick’em, Vinnie." Kakyuu laughed, turning and walking back to his room as Vincent looked down at the floor, seemingly not hear him. Tifa gave a small smile, shaking her head as she took out the spare bed supplies, walking back to the couch to see Vincent already cozy on the floor.

"Oh no Vincent, you are not sleeping on that dirty floor!" Tifa exclaimed, and Kakyuu’s muffled ‘hey’ was heard. "No offense Kakyuu, but you really need to straighten things out." Tifa stated, while Vincent looked at her blankly, though his eyes always seemed to be in a glare. "Don’t give me that look Vincent." Tifa scolded, and Vincent was instantly reminded of Lucy, of how she always scolded him, chided that he should smile more often and have fun. Oh how much he missed her.

"It wouldn’t be proper for us to share a bed." Vincent said blankly, and Tifa sighed, blowing up her bangs in exasperation.

"Well, if we both can’t be comfortable tonight, I guess we’ll both sleep on the floor." Tifa declared, spreading out the bedding on the floor while Vincent glanced at her, keeping the shock off his face. This wasn’t expected. She was supposed to use the bed, and he could sleep on the floor, not them both!

"I suppose, just for one night." Vincent stated softly, taking off his cloak and hanging it on a nearby peg with deliberate slowness. Why had he just agreed to that? The only other woman that he had shared his bed with had died because of him. Oh shut up Valentine! Vincent snapped to himself. All you’re going to do is sleep, and nothing more! With a huge grin of smugness on her face, Tifa spread the blanket on the worn bed and plopped on her side, closing her eyes at the blissful feel of the warm bed. Just what she needed after a long ride on a chocobo. The bed creaked, signaling Vincent’s presence as he scouted as far away from Tifa as he could, without falling on the floor of course. Tifa sighed and turned around, only to meet Vincent’s back.

"Vincent?" Tifa asked, and only got a grunt in response. "What’s wrong? Aren’t you uncomfortable in that position?" Tifa asked in concern, but Vincent didn’t say anything, nothing at all. Tifa would have been satisfied with at least a grunt. With a soft sigh, Tifa turned her back to him also. If he wanted to ignore her, she could do the same. With a soft sigh, Tifa closed her eyes and fell asleep.

~*Author’s Notes*~ Oh, sorry for such a sorry chapter, but it was fun writing Kakyuu. Maybe I can write more about him in the future… Oh right. Anyway, expecting Tifa to coax stuff out of Vincent, didn’t ya? Though it would have been cute if she gave him a hug, hehe. It’s a bit long, kinda a make up for the two other short chapters. Dang writer’s block! Um anyway, hoping for more action in the next chapters. Well, till then, read and review! ~*Fudgie Angel*~

Chapter 7: Sleep

The smell of bacon and eggs wafted through, instantly waking Vincent, who turned over to find Tifa missing. With a small stretch, he worked the kinks out of his neck, finding Tifa was right, that was an uncomfortable position to sleep in.

"Yea, he always was a stony b******!" Kakyuu was laughing, Tifa with him, giggling as she made scrambled eggs. "Well speak of the devil! Hey Vinnie! How’d ya sleep?" Kakyuu asked, and Vincent shrugged, not feeling up for conversation.

"Breakfast is served!" Tifa chirped happily, serving the two men as she sat down herself, and began to eat her food. Kakyuu grinned and began wolfing down the food quickly, and Vincent only looked down at the food, unsure if he should join in. He wasn’t that hungry. "Something wrong, Vincent?" Vincent looked up to see Tifa’s curious gaze, he faltered. Maybe he should eat, just to make her happy. He didn’t want her to think there was something wrong with her food. With a slow motion, he began his mechanical method of eating slowly. Tifa looked at Kakyuu, who shrugged as if to say, ‘that’s how he is’, and went back to eating. Tifa also shrugged, and looked back at the ceiling, already finished with her meal. Where were they going now? Kakyuu had mentioned something about ‘sending them off’ somewhere and Tifa would really like to know what was going on. From what Kakyuu told her, he was another Turk from Vincent’s day, the rookie or something. "So, um, where exactly are we going?" Tifa asked, trying to break the suffocating silence that had descended the table since Vincent had seated himself. Darkness and silence seemed to follow the man everywhere, but that was how Vincent was, Tifa supposed.

"Sending ya off to a trusted friend of mine. He’ll be sure to tuck you two safely away until this whole Halidon mess blows over." Kakyuu said, his voice neither reassuring nor foreboding. Tifa nodded, showing she had heard, and she sighed. How did she get caught up in this mess? One night she’s in her bar sleeping, and the next she’s sleeping next to stony, ‘must-atone-for-my-sins’ Valentine in a cabin of a former Turk. What exactly was going on?

"If Halidon is so powerful, why can’t they just start where Shinra left off, and not revive Shinra at all?" Tifa asked, hoping for some response, anything to break the condemning silence that offered too much time for thought. She didn’t want her thoughts to lead to Cloud, like they usually always did when she had time to think.

"We don’t know Halidon’s motives." Kakyuu said softly after a while, no longer his happy, care free self. "All we know is why they want Shinra executives and that they are fiercely loyal to Shinra. Meager information, but it’s better than nothing, right?" Kakyuu asked, giving a small grin, and Tifa nodded, forcing a smile and looking back down at her empty plate. It was useful to know at least a little about your enemy.

"I should get going. The longer I stay, the more I endanger you." Vincent said, startling Tifa out of her reverie as he got up. ‘I’? Didn’t he mean we?

"Wait Vincent! Where do you think you’re going?" Tifa asked, jogging after the stony ex-Turk as he fastened his cape on.

"You shouldn’t come. It’s dangerous." Vincent stated, walking past Tifa, trying hard to banish the thought that haunted his every waking moment. He wouldn’t let another person who was close to him dying again. He wouldn’t let Tifa die just because she wanted to make sure of his welfare. "Thank you Kakyuu, for your help. Please take care of Tifa for me." Vincent said, and with a flick of his cape, he turned and walked out of the small cabin, leaving Tifa fuming. They were supposed to be friends, yet here he was leaving her behind just like…just like… Tifa straightened, clenching her jaw as she walked after Vincent.

"No way are you leaving me behind Vincent Valentine!" Tifa snapped, glaring at Vincent, daring for him to say he would force her to stay. Vincent looked down at her with his probing glance, and suddenly Tifa wasn’t so sure if she wanted to go. Sure, he was a friend, but he was still hostile, and Kakyuu was much nicer. Ugh! Don’t back out now Lockheart just because he’s staring at you! She mentally snapped to herself as she returned his probing glance. Without a warning, Vincent walked over to her and titled her chin up so he could search her eyes with his intimidating gaze, but Tifa looked back, just as intimidating. Then without warning, Tifa felt sleepy, but wait, she’d just woken up an hour ago. He’s casting sleep on me! Ugh Vincent! Tifa thought angrily, collapsing into Vincent’s outstretched arms as the spell took full effect.

"That wasn’t necessary, you know." Kakyuu stated softly, and Vincent said nothing, walking back into the cabin and deposited the sleeping brunette on the bed.

"I won’t let her waste her life for me." Vincent said stonily, and Kakyuu shook his head, grinning slightly, and then turned all business.

"You should trust her, Vincent." Vincent looked up at the sound of his name. If Kakyuu said his name instead of the usual ‘Vinnie’, he really meant something to come up serious and meaningful. He had Vincent’s full attention as he gently tucked the covers around her, knowing she’d be upset when she woke up and found him gone. "She’ll probably wake up and follow you anyway." Kakyuu said, shaking his head as Vincent turned and walked to the doorway, feeling burdened, and not just by his sins. Somehow, going back to his solitary life on the run didn’t appeal to him anymore now that he had tasted the sweet taste of friendship.

"Take care of her for me." Vincent said simply, and with a flick of his cape, he was gone.

~*Author Notes*~ Eek! Sorry it’s getting worse! Vinnie left Tifa behind! Nooo! Well, anyway, it is part of the story, so it isn’t plot less. Hopefully, um…right. Forgot what I was about to say. Hehe. Um, please read and review! ~*Fudgie Angel*~

Chapter 8: Kidnapped

Tifa groaned, stretching her long limbs, trying to remember everything, but her mind was fuzzy, she couldn’t concentrate, and she couldn’t see straight either. Soon, the form of Kakyuu swarmed into her vision, and she blinked rapidly, feeling a pounding headache coming on.

"Ugh. What happened?" Tifa asked thickly, even her throat felt weird. What was going on? Had she been drugged? Looking around sluggishly, her memory slowly floated back to her. Kakyuu, Halidon, Vincent casting sleep on her… Startled, she jumped up, looking straight at Kakyuu. "Vincent? Where is he?" Tifa asked, searching around. How could he? Just dump her here and ride off to who knows where?

"He most likely went to our friend’s place. Kojin runs a resistance against Halidon, and he houses anyone who used to work for Shinra." Kakyuu stated, stirring something in a big pot and lifted the laden and pointed it at her. "Want some soup?" He asked, and Tifa forced a grin, swallowing the information.

"The house specialty?" She asked softly and Kakyuu nodded, grinning with a sheepish shrug.

"S’pose it is." He stated, ladling some into a bowl with a grin, then he stopped, his eyes suddenly clouded over with concentration. "Tifa, go out the back window now. Do it quietly." Kakyuu said, the grin off his lips and instead there was a frown.

"Kakyuu?" Tifa asked in surprise, feeling the hairs on the back of her neck stand.

"Do it now. Don’t ask questions." Kakyuu hissed, drawing a gun from his pocket, and Tifa’s eyes widened as she eyed the weapon. He wasn’t serious… "Now!" He hissed, his eyes on the door as he slowly inched forward. Tifa nodded, following his lead as she inched toward his room, where she could see a window open. Suddenly, there was a deafening bang, and Tifa cried out in surprise, being thrown on the floor with the force of the explosion.

"Who’s there?" A rough voice snarled through a small opening in the door, his hand ready to slam the rotten wood plank back into its place.

"Vincent Valentine." Vincent stated stonily, and an eyebrow raised as the man snickered behind the door.

"Right, and I’m Rufus Shinra. Now who are you?" The man snapped. He didn’t have time for some man’s foolishness. The party was in full swing, and he had his eyes on a blonde and couldn’t wait to get back to wooing her for the night.

"Shadow spawn born from the darkest of nights. I crawl in the shadows and strike fear in the hearts of many in the name of one company’s greed, yet I remain soulless, a useless lap dog." Vincent stated softly, and the man instantly looked at him in a new light. He had hope that this old Turk saying would get him somewhere. Kojin had probably said it often, for he was the one who started it.

"Why didn’t you say so? Come in!" The man stated, shoving the door open and letting Vincent in, clapping a hand on his shoulder. "A Turk are ya? Well, Kojin would like to talk to ya, that’s for sure!" The man crowed, leading Vincent to a wooden door. "He’s in there, just drop in and say hi, and if you’re up to it, you can join everyone at the party." The man stated, disappearing back into the crowd. Vincent opened the door slowly and cautiously, Turk training getting the best of him. The room was dark, but Vincent’s glowing eyes were like a flashlight, scanning the room cautiously. A sudden whoosh of air can crashing down, and Vincent rolled to the side reflexively his gun already drawn and pressed hard against the man’s temple.

"See you haven’t lost your touch, Vincent." Kojin said, brushing his dark brown hair out of his face as he grinned, his brown eyes sparkling. "Nice to see you after all this time. Thirty years, they’ve gone by so quickly." Kojin stated, and Vincent nodded curtly. "So, what have you been doing the last thirty years, and where?" Kojin asked, flipping a light switch and seating himself in a black plush chair. Kojin always asked questions, unlike Kakyuu, who was more carefree, but Kakyuu had still made a good Turk.

"Locked away in the Shinra basement." Vincent said coldly, and Kojin nodded, not seeming to find that piece of information odd in the least.

"I had a feeling you’d be there. Do you know how many times I went there, searching for you? Pity really that Hojo was the only one to survive." Kojin said, seeing the flinch that Vincent gave, at the mention of Hojo’s name. "Ah, always knew that b****** was the one to do you in. No one else was crazy enough to try. Oh well, good thing he’s dead and gone. Vincent nodded in agreement, not really interested in what Kojin had to say about Hojo. He soon found his mind wandering to how Tifa was doing.

"S***!" Tifa shrieked, jumping up from the floor, seeing Kakyuu shooting down some men in black suits. She rarely found the need to swear, but d***! This wasn’t the time for a surprise attack.

"Get out now Tifa!" Kakyuu shouted, kicking a guy in the ribs.

"I can’t just leave you here alone!" Tifa shouted back, getting in a battle stance, and breaking a guy’s nose. "After all, its payback time for what they did to my bar!" She shouted, kicking on hard in the stomach, sending him crashing into a wall. Despite the circumstances, Kakyuu laughed.

"Ah that’s the fiery girl Vinnie chose eh! Well don’t just stand there! Kick a**!" Kakyuu shouted, shooting another man in the chest without batting an eyelash. Tifa grinned, flexing her fists. The rush of battle! How she had missed the adrenaline rush after months of peaceful life. With a yell, she pivoted and slammed her fist into a guy’s stomach, finishing with a sweep kick, jumping up to upper cut another guy behind her. "Tifa! Look out!" Kakyuu yelled, and Tifa turned around quickly, only to see a sneering face.

"Say good night girly!" He snarled, his club coming down to smack Tifa on her temple, making her crumple to the ground unconscious.

"Tifa!" Kakyuu exclaimed, moving forward before the same man smirked, throwing a smoke bomb in Kakyuu’s direction, the remaining Halidon goons running off in the night. Kakyuu gave a cough before stumbling, dropping hard on the floor, clutching his throat as tears began covering his eyes. With another cough, her fell to the floor, his hand going to hit a red button under his up turned couch.

"Hmm, that’s strange." Kojin said, stopping his one sided conversation with his old comrade. Vincent looked at him, an eyebrow raised, and Kojin pointed to a chart, a place on it blinking with an urgent red. "It serves as a communication device. If a Shinra working is in danger, they hit that button and one of our resistance will go with a squad." Kojin got up and looked at the spec closely, his head tilted. "Very strange indeed. Who could have found Kakyuu?" Kojin asked, and Vincent’s throat tightened. Tifa… was she all right? D*** it all! If he hadn’t left her in the first place… Stop it Valentine, she’s a trained martial artist. She’s fine! Vincent snapped mentally to himself, chiding himself for caring, but if he lost her friendship, he might as well lose what was left of his growing humanity. Kojin walked to his intercom and put the power on. "Stage 1 alert. Location 4283, Walker! Get a squad together and get their ASAP!" Kojin snapped, and Vincent stood up.

"I’d also like to go with your squad." Vincent said, trying not to let his reasons show on his face. He couldn’t let Tifa or Kakyuu die; it would add to his already endless list of sins, but Tifa, he didn’t want her innocence wasted because of a dark demon like him. He owed her enough to go there now, as a friend if nothing else. Kojin raised an eyebrow, but said nothing, nodding and activating his intercom again.

"Walker! Valentine’s coming with ya! Listen to any of his commands, you hear Walker? He’s a fully trained Turk!" Kojin yelled into his intercom, and Vincent raised an eyebrow. People doing his orders? Usually it was the other way around, but he supposed it was in the past. "You go to her, Vincent. I hope for your sake she’s safe." Kojin stated, and Vincent looked at him, a startled look almost presenting itself on his usual poker face.

"She…?" Vincent asked, wondering how Kojin would know about Tifa. After all, he was certain he hadn’t mentioned her in the conversation. Kojin just grinned.

"As much as you are loyal to Kakyuu, I don’t think you’d be that eager to see him. I hope you have better taste than that Lucercia woman." Kojin chuckled, and Vincent wasn’t sure if he should be offended about what he said about his beloved Lucy, or confused. Vincent shrugged, walking out the room, not sure why he was doing this. Sure, Tifa was a friend, but enough to risk his life coming out of hiding just to make sure she was all right? Suddenly, Vincent felt very burdened, and would have gladly locked himself in that ridiculous coffin for another thirty years of nightmarish rest. At least they didn’t give him the sickening feeling he was experiencing right now.

~*Author’s Notes*~ Love it? Hate it? Trying to redeem myself here. *oh big word! Proud of self! Hehe. J * Well, I know some people will be mad I got Tifa kidnapped, but like I said before, it has a point in the story. And sorry they’re so OOC! I think I lost my touch. Umm, that’s about it. Hehe. Well, read and review like always! Bye bye! ~*Fudgie Angel*~

Chapter 9: What a mess

"Yuck, what a mess." Walker, the man who had opened the door, said in a rough voice, kicking a piece of loose floorboard.

"I wonder why they didn’t take Kakyuu." The medic said, kneeling beside the man, proclaiming he was okay, just unconscious because of all the strain.

"Well, we just have to wait until Kakyuu gets back up, and we’ll probably have some information we need." Walker stated, sighing a running a hand through his hair, then straightened, looking around the destroyed cabin. "Where’s Valentine?" Walker asked, and the medic shrugged.

"Probably went over that way." The medic stated, pointing to Kakyuu’s room, and Walker nodded, reaching the room in five quick strides. There in the midst of the chaos and rubble, stood Valentine. He seemed to blend in with the desolation and emptiness, if that made any sense. The silence seemed to embrace him, and for the first time, Walker was certain that the statement he had said to get into the resistance was something that described what was left of his soul. Suddenly, the room was flooded with sorrow, anguish, despair, washing over Walker in waves, all generating from Valentine. What was going on?

"You okay buddy? Kakyuu’s gonna be fine ya’know." Walker stated, trying to fight the rush of regret flowing from this man. Vincent gave no sign of having heard him, still looking out the window with a blank face. What was with this guy? Shouldn’t he at least be happy or relieved his friend was okay? "Hey Valentine, you all right?" Walker tried again, and Vincent grunted, and Walker shrugged, not sure if he should be pleased he got some kind of reaction out of the man.

"Walker! Kakyuu’s coming to! Says he wants to see Valentine!" The medic shouted, and Walker nodded again, turning back to the brooding figure of the man.

"Hear that Valentine? C’mon, might as well go see your buddy, eh?" Walker stated, walking out of the room, listening for Vincent’s foot steps, and surprised to actually hearing them come after him. "So how are you feeling, Kakyuu?" Walker asked, as he saw the weary Turk sitting up, rubbing his temples.

"Like s***." Kakyuu stated briefly, wincing when he saw Vincent walk into the room. "I tried to get her out, but she wanted to stay and help, and I couldn’t very well force her. She’s just as stubborn as you, Vinnie." Kakyuu stated, Vincent’s glaring red eyes turning on him, making him flinch. Those f***ing eyes scared the s*** out of him.

"Where’d they take her?" Vincent hissed, obviously guilty, and pissed at the same time. Not a good combination, Kakyuu noted.

"To their headquarters, where else? She’s bait Vinnie, you know that. They’ll capture ya if ya go after her." Kakyuu stated, waiting for Vincent’s reaction. Vincent just continued to glare at him, his red eyes seemed to expand and pierce right through Kakyuu, and though he’d never admit it, a pissed off Valentine wasn’t something to laugh at. Kakyuu had to admit, he was kinda scared of the b****** in this state.

"I’m going." Vincent stated simply, turning with a flick of his cape, going for the door.

"Vincent." Kakyuu snapped, and Vincent stopped, not really curious at what his old comrade had to say. He should go rescue Tifa as soon as possible. Who knew what they were doing to her. Please, don’t let her be dead; I couldn’t…bear that sin. Vincent prayed mentally, not sure why he even bothered. Why did he care so much? "Go for it, but not alone you won’t. I won’t let ya have all the fun. I’m goin’ with ya, whether you like it or not, and Kojin would be sure to go too. Like old times, eh, Vinnie?" Kakyuu asked cockily, and Vincent shrugged, leaning against the last standing wall in Kakyuu’s house, deep in thought. He hoped Tifa was all right, wherever she was. Tifa, I’m coming for you. Vincent thought, closing his eyes as he leaned his head against the wall, his sins banging against his thoughts. He wouldn’t let her die, it would be on his list of sins for eternity; the sin he could never atone for.

Tifa groaned, feeling her head ache and throb. The guy who had whacked her had smacked her pretty hard! Tifa gave another groan of pain, trying to open her eyes, focusing them in the dim light. Ugh! The second time she woke up like this! With a sigh, Tifa tried to run a hand through her hair, only to find it chained back to the wall. Godd***mit! A sound of frustration escaped her lips as she sighed, leaning her head back against the wall. Did anyone know she was captured? How was Kakyuu? What about Vincent? Did he make it to safety? So many questioned flooded her thoughts that Tifa sighed again, wanting to bang her head against the wall out of sheer frustration. Not knowing anything was driving her crazy! Suddenly the doors opened, and the blinding light made her squint for a second.

"You sure this is the room?" A man’s voice asked, and there was a grumble, but an obvious reply. "Oh, great." The man muttered, stepping into the room. The light hid his features for a moment, but when she finally adjusted, Tifa couldn’t help but let her jaw drop.

"Cloud?"

~*Author’s Notes*~ Mwahahaha! Didn’t expect that did ya? I brought Cloud back, ah, the joy. *grins* Oh right, fair warning, I don’t really like Cloud, but I’ll be nice, so don’t flame me if you like Cloud okies? Anyway, read and review! I would like opinions peeps! Pretty please!

Chapter 10: Like Old Times

"The Halidon quarters are here," Kojin stated, pointing to a map sprawled across his desk, "right where the old Shinra building used to be."

"Isn’t that a f***ing coincidence." Kakyuu snapped, shaking his head, and cracking his knuckles. "So, let’s get this show on the road! I’m anxious to kick some Halidon a**!" Kakyuu roared, and few people in the room murmured in agreement. Kojin shook his head.

"We shouldn’t be so hasty." Kojin stated, ever the practical one. Kakyuu scoffed, but was silent, deciding if he listened, he’d get to kick some a** faster. "The stairway will most likely be guarded, and the front door even more so. What I am proposing is we get through on the roof." Kojin stated, looking at Walker in the crowd, a veteran pilot as well as an experienced fighter.

"Air strike! Whoo hoo!" Kakyuu stated happily, not noticing some people had begun to look at the Turk strangely. Vincent sighed and shook his head, amused. Typical Kakyuu, excitable at the thought of a mission. His Turk comrades hadn’t changed much over thirty years.

"We slip through their defenses, and take down as many as you can, but make sure to head to the fifth floor. That’s where the prisoners are kept." Kojin stated, ignoring Kakyuu’s outburst. Vincent winced at the thought of Tifa being one of those ‘prisoners’. Who knew what Halidon had done to her? Vincent closed his eyes, trying not to think about the horrible torturous things they could have done to kind, caring Tifa. He’d never be able to forgive himself if they, if they… did something horrible to her. Death wasn’t something he wanted to associate with Tifa at all.

"The helicopter’s ready if you guys are done." Walker stated, nodding toward Vincent before turning and walking out, tucking a gun in his coat pocket. Kojin nodded gratefully, also turning to Vincent.

"Are you ready?" He asked, somewhat curious. He’d have to meet this girl stony Vincent Valentine was going to risk his life for. She must be quite a catch. Vincent grunted in response, and turned to follow Walker outside, and Kakyuu looked at Kojin, a small grin on his face.

"I think our little Vinnie here’s got himself smitten all over again." Kakyuu drawled, and Kojin rolled his eyes.

"Just focus on the mission Kakyuu." Kojin stated, brushing past the ex-Turk as Kakyuu grinned and saluted.

"Yes sir!" Kakyuu stated, jogging after Kojin with a silly grin on his face.

"What are you doing here?" Tifa stuttered, looking at her childhood friend, still shocked that he was with Halidon, or whatever this company was. Tifa sighed and looked down, not wanting to know. All of the hurt and pain he had caused her when he left to find Aeris resurfaced, and she bit back the bitter tears that wanted release. So this is where he had been all along, but why? Wasn’t he off searching for his, ‘precious Aeris’? Don’t get her wrong, she had nothing against Aeris, but still, after trying so hard to win Cloud’s affection, it was kinda depressing to lose to a dead woman. Cloud just smirked, a very un-Cloud like gesture as he squatted down before Tifa, lifting up her chin so she could look into those mako blue eyes she had fallen in love with.

"They will revive Aeris, Tifa, if I work for them. I’ve seen what they can do! They revived Tseng, Lucercia," Tifa stared at him at the mention of Vincent’s past lover’s name, unable to feel depressed all of a sudden. Somehow she felt like she had lost to that deceased woman also. She was always second best, no matter what. "and they’re all living copies Tifa! Who says they can’t revive Aeris? Think about it, I’ll finally see her again!" Cloud said excitedly, just like a school boy. It hurt Tifa so much to see Cloud like this, but not as much as she suspected. She was still trying to get over the fact Lucercia was still alive. Would that mean Vincent wouldn’t want her around? He probably wouldn’t open up to her anymore, just ignore her and leave her in the dust. That thought stung Tifa more than the thought of Cloud and Aeris together, though she couldn’t figure out why. Surely she should be happy that Vincent would be reunited with his former lover?

"Cloud it’s probably all lies! They’re just mindless clones, not revived, living, breathing people! Can’t you see that?" She asked, and instantly Cloud’s dreamy expression turned angry.

"You don’t know what you’re talking about." Cloud hissed, his voice dangerously soft, even more so the mako eyes bore into hers, reminding her of an angry Vincent. In this state, Cloud was no one to mess with. "You’re just jealous because I’m going to love her and not you. Well news flash Tifa, I never loved you! I hated putting up with your b****ing and moaning! Aeris is the perfect saint, and she’s more real than you’ll ever be!" Cloud snarled, and Tifa felt like she had been slapped. This wasn’t Cloud, it wasn’t him at all. Even though that realization sunk in, tears began to flow freely down her face, leaving a burning liquid trail. She cried for Cloud, how he could turn this way, twisted by Halidon’s lies, Vincent because all his pain she could feel now, forced onto her by Cloud, but for some strange reason, she cried because she would never fully understand Vincent, because he would never be her knight in shining armor. No one would save her, and she’d be left all alone here, with this hateful Cloud. Seemingly pleased he had caused her some distress, Cloud smirked again, and turned, walking out, shutting the door, the metal door banging shut kept replaying in her mind. Shutting the door to Cloud’s heart, Vincent’s friendship, and any knight who would rescue. Banging shut, banging shut, banging shut…

"There it is! I see it!" Kakyuu shouted, glad for once that no one lived in the Slums anymore. It was a horrible sight, twisted rubble, nothing left but a few barely distinguished buildings, but one stood out like a sore thumb, even if whoever designed it tried to keep it hidden. The old Shinra building was rebuilt to its former glory, but not as tall as it once had been, about half and disguised with the same metal that littered the once proud Midgar. It wasn’t that noticeable to the casual observer, but to a trained eye, it was hard to miss.

"All right, let’s get in closer Walker, and be careful. There might be guards on the roof as well." Kojin ordered, and Walker nodded, taking the helicopter in a dip. Kojin looked at Vincent again, not surprised his companion had said nothing about the recent events, but then again, he was never one for casual conversation. The landed the helicopter without incidence. Obviously Halidon was so confident they needed no guards on the rooftop.

"This is almost too easy." Kakyuu stated, his face blank as he opened the roof door cautiously, peeking around with his gun drawn as he slipped in, all silliness reserved for later. Now, he was on an important mission. As if jinxing it, a squad of men in black suits arrived, mako guns drawn.

"Intruders!" On snarled, and another was radioing a full alert on the building, alarms going off all of a sudden.

"D***!" Kojin snapped, motioning for the rest of the squad to split up, that the three Turks would take care of this.

"Like old times!" Kakyuu crowed, taking out his gun as the three men in black suits, known more properly as ‘Demons’, began firing with deadly aim. Kakyuu reached deftly into his pocket, drawing out a grenade. "Fire!" he yelled, and instantly Vincent and Kojin drew back as the grenade was unleashed, letting out a deafening explosion, clearing the hall of the Demons. "Sad clones of Turks really." Kakyuu stated, giving a small grin before following Vincent in his sprint.

"He seems eager to get to his friend." Kojin stated, and Kakyuu grinned.

"She’s quite a woman she is. I’m not surprised Vinnie got her first, or else I would’ve snatched her up myself!" Kakyuu stated, running after the man.

"I’ll just have to see for myself than." Kojin stated, shaking his head as he helped Kakyuu rid the hall of Demons while Vincent hurried forth, oblivious to his surrounds, only the thought of saving Tifa fueling him.

~*Author’s Notes*~ Oh, what do you think? Sorry to all you Cloud fans, but I didn’t mean to make him so mean! Honest! Even looking back know, seems way too OOC, maybe even Vinnie too. *sigh* Oh well, look out for the next chapter. Hopefully another surprise is coming up. Hehe. I’m so evil. Well, read and review!

 

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