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They Bring Out the Best and the Worst They Can Be

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01 - Comfort.  Less than an hour after waking from a prolonged nightmare, Vincent’s entire resume of personal and professional failures had been soundly mocked by a brazen teenage girl.

02 - Kiss.  When Vincent spoke about himself, Lucrecia, and Hojo, everyone in AVALANCHE listened, their faces drawn with sorrow — that is, everyone except Yuffie who mimed playing the world's smallest violin and blew mock kisses toward Vincent’s sin-stained heart.

03 - Soft.  Despite speaking to him in a whisper, Yuffie’s words sounded of fingernails scraping down a chalkboard when she said, “I only trust the dead, not the living, because the dead have nothing to fear.”

04 - Pain.  Vincent gripped Yuffie's shoulder with his claw, squeezing tightly to cut off circulation while she bit down on his gloved hand and Cid stitched a gash running the length of her forearm.

05 - Potatoes.  One, she stole the oddest assortment of things during their walk through the market: a thorn from a bouquet of roses, a shoelace from a boot, two sticks of chewing gum from a pack of ten, a lumpy russet potato covered in eyes.

06 - Rain.  Two, after stepping inside she shook the rain from her hair the way dogs dry themselves: without a single care in the world that he stood within her splash radius.

07 - Chocolate.  Three, she had the nerve to unceremoniously crash land on the sofa, plop her feet in his lap, and proceed to slurp her hot chocolate, grin at him, and then lick the chocolate milk mustache from her upper lip, all while never once having the courtesy to ask if he also wished for a hot drink.

08 - Happiness.  Yuffie played the same game with him every evening, although each time she conjured a new name for him: “Okay Mr. Zipped Lips Depresso-espresso Valentine-ee-nine, I am not going to tell you where I hid your materia until you name not one, not two, but three—yes, three,” she waggled three fingers in his face, "three things from today that had the power to twitch your lips ever so slightly in any direction, preferably upward, but given that this is you we are talking about, I will make no distinction between a hint of a smile and that of a frown."

09 - Telephone.  Vincent learned the hard way why it was best to let AVALANCHE pair Yuffie with him lest she make prank calls on the PHS the entire time they were apart.

10 - Ears.  Upon regaining a human sense of consciousness, Vincent fell into a deep pit of shame once he realized he was curled up like an injured dog with his head in Yuffie’s lap while she scratched behind his ear and tipped a potion into his mouth.

11 - Name.  “Vinny, Vincent, Vince, just listen to me, just listen, puh-leeeeeese just listen: you. are. not. a. monster.”

12 - Sensual.  Sitting as still as a statue trapped in time, Vincent blocked the entirety of the world from his senses; Yuffie assuaged her boredom by plaiting a lock of his hair.

13 - Death.  Vincent’s mind spun circles around the comparisons between himself and Lucrecia and Cloud and Aerith while Yuffie sobbed and hiccoughed and pressed her face into his shoulder.

14 - Sex.  Yuffie was tightly cocooned in at least three blankets when she gave his shoulder a shove and awkwardly kneed him in the back while climbing into his bed, all as she said, “Vince, we both know you are a proper gentleman so don’t even think about worrying yourself for no reason because there is nothing here to get worked up about, so will you please just move over?”

15 - Touch.  Acting as a thief in the night, Yuffie’s fingers slipped against the inside of Vincent’s wrist just long enough to take his pulse while he pretended he was still asleep.

16 - Weakness.  Yuffie was impervious to the word ‘no’ and she mistook everything else as an open door of assent, thus Vincent had no choice but to accept whatever whim occupied the ninja’s mind when they were not in battle.

17 - Tears.  Chaos appeared as a devilish mirror of Vincent, deviously familiar in both speech and mannerism, yet the moment Yuffie touched his arm the fabric of the world ripped open, leaving her dizzyingly unmoored to the point that she lacked words that described her sense of displacement.

18 - Speed.  Within the fraction of a second it takes to blink, a foot could slip, a spell could fail, defenses might fall, blood could spill, and this is why neither of them ever blinked in unison.

19 - Wind. As carefree as the wind, Yuffie’s lies cut through others with regular frequency so whenever she spoke the truth only Vincent knew to believe her.

20 - Freedom.  She ran when he let her stay; she stayed when he wanted her to run.

21 - Life.  Vincent couldn't fathom what to do with his immortality so he left the others with no more than a mumbled goodbye, yet before even a minute passed Yuffie sped after him and he prayed — actually prayed — that she would return to them on her own volition. 

22 - Jealousy.  For two years Vincent wandered the planet’s hinterlands like a beast, waiting for the world to tell him what to do while he remained trapped until the end of time inside a monstrous host of a body.

23 - Hands.  For two years Yuffie tried to apply herself to anything that would help Wutai, yet everything she touched turned tail or tried to bite her.

24 - Taste.  Yuffie became so overjoyed when Vincent boarded Cid's airship that she ran straight for him and almost smacked a messy kiss on his cheek just to annoy him, but when she saw a hint of a smile flash on his face, she stopped in her tracks and began stammering the first excuse that came to mind: airsickness had caused her to barf up her guts and nobody deserved to hazard a whiff of the godawful taste in her mouth.

25 - Devotion.  “Gawd, Vincent, you’ve been wandering the world all by yourself for the past two years while using this horrid materia set up?!"

26 - Forever.  Whenever Yuffie looked into his eyes just an instant too long, too hopeful, Vincent’s throat tightened and he would pray she returned to cracking jokes at his expense or that she'd ramble about something amusing yet completely irrelevant.

27 - Blood.  She promised him the best materia anyone could ever find as she twirled a shuriken that cut him and then she laughed as blood trickled down his arm.

28 - Sickness.  Vincent’s stomach plummeted as he listened to the casualness of Yuffie’s tone as she spoke of her work in Wutai with geostigma patients because suddenly he could imagine her using the same tone of voice while lying in her deathbed when old age or illness finally took her.

29 - Melody.  His phone's ring tone reminded him that people thought of him but he always let the calls jump to voicemail.

30 - Star.  One day Yuffie declared she was a comet traveling in an irregular orbit that looped around the faint star burning inside him.

31 - Home.  Once every few weeks Vincent would sit in a roadside restaurant and order hot chocolate, but rather than drink from the steaming cup, he let the aroma tickle his senses as he listened to dozens upon dozens of phone messages, most of them foolish absurdities designed to shock him.

32 - Confusion.  Two days after Vincent settled in a quiet apartment Yuffie appeared on his doorstep without warning, but she disappeared a week later after taking over his room and making him sleep on the sofa, shattering two wine glasses, and swiping the book he had just begun to read.

33 - Fear.  Both believed in rationing hope in strict moderation, else their sense of hope might birth an overwhelming monstrosity that threatened to consume them.

34 - Lightning / Thunder.  Some nights Yuffie watched Vincent as he slept on the sofa and when the urge to be honest overtook her, she’d strike like lightning, leaving a kiss on his cheek; a few seconds later a distant groan would rumble from him as he shifted and reached out, sometimes for her, sometimes for his pillow.

35 - Bonds.  Cloud’s gang referred to Vincent as their friend even though he had little in common with them and less than anything to add to conversation, but whenever Yuffie sidled up to Vincent, he felt a pang of discomfort for she was another drifter battling the past, which made them far too similar in ways they silently understood.

36 - Market.  Vincent would purchase one honest response from Yuffie for a thousand gil if only someone were willing to sell it to him. 

37 - Technology.  Only half her belongings were gone from his apartment but her cell phone number had been disconnected.

38 - Gift.  Unbeknownst to either of them, Reeve had been the first person among AVALANCHE to notice that Yuffie had the ability to soften Vincent's stoney expression.

39 - Smile.  When words of comfort and gratitude slipped from Vincent’s lips, Yuffie balked at the sheer nakedness of his response and laughed it off as a joke.

40 - Innocence.  In a moment of need they would sacrifice their lives for each other without a thought, but after the moment had passed they stood face to face with this truth.

41 - Completion.  Although Vincent wouldn’t call it acceptance, he had come to terms with what he was, so he thanked Lucrecia and vowed to get on with his life.

42 - Clouds.  Vincent had always been different, which was what Yuffie reminded herself of again and again, as she refused to let herself believe that he had become nothing more than vaporous mist amongst the clouds.

43 - Sky.  During the hullabaloo on the evening Vincent returned to Edge, he and Yuffie said almost nothing to each other, but after everyone else had gone to bed they climbed up onto the roof and silently watched the night sky.

44 - Heaven.  Yuffie managed to pin him on his back and bind his hands, and then she tickled him mercilessly until every nerve in his body exploded with the sensation of being.

45 - Hell.  She lost her balance and jammed her knee into his groin. 

46 - Sun.  One morning Vincent stripped naked and exposed every mark that Hojo and Lucrecia had left on his flesh, whereupon Yuffie gave him a visual once over, flashed a mischievous grin, and wrestled him across the room before tackling him onto the bed.

47 - Moon.  “Oh, come on, you know it would feel so good to do it — just stick your bare ass out the window and wave those cheeks in the direction of the old Shinra HQ.”

48 - Waves.  Neither wanted to make waves much less give anyone reason to fuss over their decision to quell inquiries from family far away, so they left the WRO office at noon one Friday and returned two hours later, acting as if they had gone to lunch with old friends rather than attend an appointment with two witnesses and a city judge.

49 - Hair.  Vincent cleaned up the mess from yesterday evening's take away; Yuffie tossed her cell phone aside and tied Vince's hair into a tidy ponytail.

50 - Supernova.  “Hey Zombie Loverman O’Mine, I finally found my own way to become immortal!” Yuffie exclaimed as Vincent’s emotions rushed a rollercoaster of elation, fury, and panic as he tried to decide if he even dared to believe her.