She wants to cry.
No one knows, but she remembers everything. Everything.
Seeing him for the first time in the mansion, his sorrows and anguish dripping like tears from his lashes. Grinning stupidly as she offered him back his materia and then sulking when he took it wordlessly and walked away. Biting her tongue to keep from begging him for reassurance as they clutched to the control room table inside the falling Highwind.
She remembers watching him in Lucrecias cave, and swallowing her jealousy first, then her disgust for being jealous at all. She remembers Meteor, Geostigma, saving the world, only to lose it to something cruel and lifeless something cruel and heartless.
She remembers the darkness, and the Lifestream dumping Aerith out onto cold, wet earth That Day as the Planet screamed for vengeance. Cid dragging her towards the airship and Chaos wings ripping the sky to pieces-
She doesnt know why because she tries not to, but she remembers.
And it hurts, hurts so much that she feels like the life has been sapped from her. She has become two-dimensional, like paper.
Youre so happy all the time, she tells Squall, trying to get a rise out of the laconic swordsman. Its gross. Really.
Hes not listening, staring down at the streets below, his eyes glittering. He looks on the outside like she feels on the inside.
But shes not allowed to cry.
Its a rule. It might even be written somewhere, and as the weeks stretch into months and the distance between Wutai and Traverse Town becomes something real and tangible, she prefers to ignore reality and think about all the possibilities.
Her rule could be etched, red and ominous, in one of the thousands of musty volumes at Hollow Bastion. It might be scrawled between the cobblestones outside Cids store. Maybe it edges the pristine wings on Squalls jacket, curving with the painted feathers like the simplest of labyrinths.
It could be anywhere.
Mostly it lingers in her thoughts, and she knows it, keeps it stashed away with a million other precious rules regarding mention of her life before. Its split up, you know, before and after, and she knows the order of happenings precisely. Her mental catalogue of events seems so original, but then again not.
That Day is the exception, somewhere in the middle. Not precisely in the middle because she doesnt want to contemplate it long enough to label and file it away. Occasionally shell be jabbering to someone about lemon tea or imbalanced shuriken or those dumb friggin ducks that live down the street, and suddenly shell stumble over the words, disconcerted, a clearly remembered but never spoken name on the tip of her tongue.
She doesnt think about That Day because That Day is terrible, awful, the ruination of her life and her Planet and everything that was hers, but all that could never come close to the horrible knowledge that he is gone because because
She doesnt know. Maybe because he is everything else and she sees him each night, all that was never and could never be hers- bitterness and mystery, fears and nightmares wrapped in a tattered cape and scarlet eyes and the way he moves like a skeleton, the imagined touch of tarnished gold against bare flesh and the shiver of heartbeats in darkness.
She cries in her dreams but not in real life. Squall doesnt like it when she acts like a girl, which is pretty much all the time cause hello, Captain Obvious. Still, he tolerates her, and although she knows theres nothing more to it than that, she lets herself forget, the same way she lets herself forget that Vincent Valentine hardly knew her name.
Sometimes, Squall is so like Vincent that its too much, and her paper heart rips in half, then again, and again, until she can imagine it fluttering around in her ribcage like confetti before it comes to rest unceremoniously in the pit of her stomach.
Sometimes, though, its just enough. Shell go out onto the rooftop where he sits and drape herself over his back as he leans over the edge, so far out hes in danger of falling, but she doesnt care because if she slides her small hand under his leather jacket she can feel the slow, steady beat of his heart.
When hes still and she leans against him and closes her eyes, its almost like hes not Squall and shes not here, and if she inhaled right at that moment she could smell the dust on Vincents cloak, think about all the things she wanted to say to him but never did because everyone knew that she was just a pesky kid, an annoying girl-ninja with nothing better to do than tag along on the heels of heroes.
Then she really will inhale, and its like shes doing it double-time, with Vincent before and with Squall after, only Squall is real and Vincent is dead, and Squall smells like leather and loneliness while Vincent was always blood and regret.
Its a painful jolt of reality when he shrugs her off, muttering something under his breath. She doesnt understand his words and doesnt really care to. Kindness is not in Squalls vocabulary. He is honest, brutally so, and she prefers to keep to her ideas of secret rules written in obscure places, and torn hearts taped back into some semblance of normalcy. Honesty is wasted on her, because her own thoughts are so much safer.
She is not a child now, despite her gangly limbs and cheerful, silly demeanor. She wishes that she could go back before, still be the way she is now, with what she knows now, and tell Vincent how she feels.
She gets her wish, every night. He acts in some contradiction to her memories of what he was really like, accepts her affections without question, silently apologizes for never noticing. He holds her hand as they watch the sunrise, and offers sweet, unspoken nothings in penitence for his ignorance.
You talk too much, Vincent, she tells him, and his mouth quirks at the corners. No one ever listens, but the perfect-Vincent-in-her-dreams notices that she always means exactly the opposite of what she says.
His smile makes her alive again, three-dimensional once more. Ninja revived.
It is only when she opens her eyes, and there is the darkness of Traverse Town surrounding her, that she remembers the truth. There is no sun, and her paper heart is still in pieces.
In the first moments of morning, she blinks away her tears and pulls on her sneakers, tying and re-tying the knots until she is satisfied that the rabbit ears are looped just right.
When she goes out to the rooftop, Squall is there.
She sits beside him, arms wrapped around herself. The darkness is heavy, and their shoulders are close but not touching.
Yuffie closes her eyes and tries not to remember.
All That Glitters Is Cold 3 Fanfic Competition
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