Hey everyone! Just to let you know, this is the final chapter, and it is a long one. I'm toying with the idea of writing a hurt/comfort story featuring Vincent and Yuffie next, so let me know if there's any interest on the subject. Hope you enjoy the last chapter, and please review!
When Yuffie and Reno reached the final floor, it was pitch black. The only light came from outside, flashes of lightening that brightened the sky. The muffled howling of wind and hammering of rain leached through the cracks of the house.
In short, it was creepy.
Reno wondered when the weather had taken such a sudden nose dive, and silently cursed the Haunted House engineers for deciding not to add lights to the third level. It was bad enough having a bloodthirsty sharpshooter after him; he sure didn't need ambiance. He was already scared half stupid, thank you very much.
Yuffie did not agree with his view.
"This…is…AWESOME!" she exclaimed eagerly.
Much to his horror, the princess of Wutai promptly released her hold on him and ran blindly into the darkness, sounding so tickled-pink the Turk would have mistakenly thought she'd found a chest full of Materia.
"Wait!" Reno yelled, before thinking, and quickly adding, "You could get hurt!"
But either she ignored him on purpose, or simply did not hear him, because she did not reply. A few moments later there was a shriek, followed by delighted giggles.
"Reno, com'ere! This guy's eating his own leg!"
Sweating profusely, Reno chased after her, but didn't get far.
He found himself on his rump for the second time that day. What he had thought was a doorway was obviously not one, as his throbbing head could attest. The Turk leaned against the wall and began to pull himself to his feet.
A cold, metal hand clamped around his ankle.
Reno cried out, and fell back on his butt. He swung his Electro-Mag Rod frenziedly, but connected only with air. The claw relinquished its hold.
In seconds, Reno was on his feet and sprinting towards where Yuffie's voice had come from. Suddenly, a flash of lightening illuminated the hallway, and he found himself standing face to face with the gunman. Vincent glared down at him, crimson eyes flashing murderously, his long black hair veiling his face like a death shroud.
Then the lightning passed, and Reno was once again left in darkness. He jumped backwards, brandishing his rod towards the general area he had seen him. The Turk stared blindly into the inky depths of the room, waiting. His heart was pounding deafeningly in his ears. Another lightning bolt struck, and brightened the room. It was empty. Vincent was gone.
In the distance, he heard a feminine laugh, and Reno charged towards it. At this point, he didn't care if Yuffie thought he was a wuss. No good night kiss was worth facing a sadistic psycho.
He ran and ran, fumbling around in the darkness, until he got to the room. Sure enough, the lightning struck, and revealed a bloody man dinning on his own severed limb. But Reno pointedly ignored the display, and scanned the area feverishly for Yuffie.
Reno strained his ears, listening through the wind and thunder for her voice. It was in vain, however; he could hear nothing.
"YUFFIE!" he yelled, hoping desperately that she would answer.
There was no reply.
Something brushed against him. The Turk sprang backwards, spewing a list of obscenities so profane Cid Highwind would have been proud. Unfortunately, he backed right into someone.
And it sure as heck wasn't Yuffie.
He whirled around to see the gunman's face. His lips were curled slightly, but his eyes were deadly; his expression was that of a cat toying with a mouse. He slowly raised his human hand to reveal Cerberus, his three-barreled pistol, gleaming black in the light.
It was then that Reno officially began to panic.
The room took that opportunity to go dark again. Reno dived to the ground, hoping that the ex-Turk couldn't see in the dark. There wasn't any gunfire. He took that as a good sign.
Although, Vincent could actually just have been waiting for another clap of thunder to hide his shot.
Reno wasn't taking any chances. He hastily scrambled towards the far end of the room. Lightning flashed, and once again, he found himself alone. The red-head got to his feet. Goosebumps covered him from head to toe. He also had developed a rather serious case of shivering.
That case worsened when he heard heavy footsteps behind him. The Turk turned and started swinging. None of them connected, and to top it all off, a pointed boot stuck out and tripped him. He fell flat on his face.
A dark chuckle echoed eerily through the room. To Reno, it sounded like the devil himself.
The red-headed Turk pulled himself up shakily, clutching his Electro-Mag Rod in a white-knuckled grasp. His frazzled nerves were wearing thin. He jammed the power on his Electro-Mag Rod to full. It could take down a full-grown man in one hit now, even if that man was a deranged sharpshooter. Just one hit…
"Stop screwing with me, Vincent!" Reno cried, his voice going higher than he intended, "If you're going to attack me, then attack me!"
It wasn't exactly the brightest thing to say, but it did the trick. Sort of.
Suddenly, three barrels pressed against his forehead. Before Reno could yell, a metal claw clamped down over his mouth.
"Silence," a voice commanded icily, "Or I'll silence you myself."
The Turk was about to wet himself right then and there, but thankfully for him, he was a good fighter, because his instincts took over. He jerked his Electro-Mag Rod rod up, simultaneously stepping backward. Muscle memory served him well; sparks danced over the metal arm, and both hands were hastily wrenched back. There was a hiss of pain.
Reno pulled away, wielding his weapon in his trembling hand. He was still terrified, but he had done it; he had landed a hit. The next time the room brightened, it would no doubt reveal the raven-haired man spasming on the floor.
Did that mean he would turn off his rod? Hell no.
If the man had taken down the Emerald Weapon in one shot, he could no doubt shoot someone three feet away, even with electricity searing through his body.
A bolt of light streaked through the sky, and illuminated the room and its inhabitants…or the lack thereof. Reno was by himself once more. And he was not happy about it.
So he did something incredibly stupid.
"VINCENT!" the red-headed Turk shouted in panicked frustration, "COME OUT HERE AND FIGHT LIKE A MAN, DAMMIT!"
An inhuman growl issued from the room's inky depths. Lightning flashed, and revealed the head of a purple, werewolf-like beast with glowing yellow eyes and fangs as long as human fingers. It clamped its jaws down on his Electro-Mag Rod, bending and twisting the metal like an accordion. The rod immediately shorted out.
Screwed. He was so very, very screwed.
Reno screamed. He screamed as loudly and shrilly as a thirteen year old girl, and he kept on screaming until his lungs were completely empty.
And then he ran.
He ran down the hallways, hurtling into displays, crashing into walls, until he finally saw the neon exit sign beaming angelically above the doorway. He was sprinting so fast that when he got out the door, he missed the first three steps entirely and rolled down the rest of the stairs. Then the Turk got up and kept running until he reached the hotel, his pride mangled, but thankful his body was not.
Vincent walked down the quiet streets. Unlike what the monitor 'windows' had showed on the third floor, the night was actually calm and cloudless. At this hour, the park was nearly abandoned, something the gunman was grateful for. He had a way of attracting attention that he did not necessarily enjoy…like the poor couple who had glimpsed him in the Haunted House.
Vampire. One look, and they had called him a vampire. Not that Vincent could particularly blame them; looking at himself in the mirror was – unsettling – and his tattered cape surely didn't help matters. He was just glad they had not seen his claw.
And Reno…that pitiful, idiotic fool. He hadn't planned on releasing the Galian Beast, but of course he had just had to say something that made him lose control. Not that he didn't relish the results; the look on the red-head's face had been enough to put him in a good mood for hours. Reno had lost the girl and been humiliated. The gunman almost felt sorry for the poor bastard.
Vincent laughed quietly to himself, and shook his head.
Ah, that had been fun. Perhaps he'd have to visit Haunted Houses more often.
His smile vanished, however, at the sight of a certain ninja. Yuffie was sitting alone on a park bench, shoulders slumped, starring at her feet. A forlorn expression occupied her usually cheerful face.
A pang of guilt suddenly rose in Vincent's heart as a painful realization became apparent.
He had hurt her. Inadvertently, but he had still hurt her.
The gunman had been so consumed by his jealousy, by his need to protect her, that the thought that driving the Turk off would grieve her had never occurred to him. Now, because he had meddled in her affairs, Yuffie was hurting. And Vincent hated himself for it.
As if feeling his eyes on her, the girl glanced towards him. She forced a smile and stood up.
"Hey, Vincent! I was wondering when you'd show up!"
"Wondering when I'd show up…?" he asked slowly, raising an eyebrow in confusion.
The ninja waved him off.
"Oh please, hold the baloney. I know you were following me an' Reno all night."
Vincent froze. His mind raced to comprehend what she had just said. When it did, he came to the bleak conclusion that he was in trouble.
Yuffie winked at him, smirking.
"You can't sneak up on the greatest ninja of all time, especially not in a bright red cape. Good effort, though. All I can say is you better have enough Gil to pay for that neon sign you broke.
"I…" The gunman began, looking for the words to apologize for his immature behavior.
The princess of Wutai leaned over, and pressed a finger to his lips.
"It's okay," she said, her voice surprisingly gentle, "I was really mad at first…like, I Want Vincent Valentine's Head On A Silver Platter kind of mad…but then I thought about it, and I thought about you, and I realized that the only reason you'd be spying on me is to make sure I was safe. Right?"
Vincent paused, before his crimson eyes filled with shame, and fell to the ground.
"I…I'm sorry. I know you are more than capable of taking care of yourself. I don't know what came over me. I acted like a petulant child."
"You don't have to fall all over yourself," Yuffie giggled, "I already told you its okay. Besides…"
Her bright auburn eyes met his crimson ones.
"…I kind of like having you fuss over me."
Then she smiled at him. A warm, shy smile.
Vincent felt a wonderful heat bloom in his chest, melting away the lingering bitterness and jealousy. He was glad he had worn his cape now, because the top hid the faint blush that had risen to his cheeks. It took a full moment for him to be able to speak.
"Nevertheless," he said quietly, "I feel I should apologize to Reno."
"Huh?" she said, her brow furrowing, "Apologize? Whaddya mean?"
Vincent stared at her, and suddenly became acutely aware that Yuffie didn't know about his activities inside the Haunted House. Well, at least, she hadn't known. But the cogs were sure turning now.
"Wait a minute…you didn't…!"
Her eyes narrowed, her auburn eyes flaring with rage, and, in spite of everything he had overcome in his life, all the tortures he had gone through, Vincent still felt the hair on the back of his neck prick up.
"YOU WERE IN THE HAUNTED HOUSE!" the ninja yelled furiously, "YOU WERE THE VAMPIRE! YOU WERE THE REASON HE DITCHED ME! VINCENT VALENTINE, YOU HAVE EXACTLY FIVE SECONDS BEFORE MY BOOT GOES UP YOUR GOTHIC ASS!"
This time, it was Vincent's turn to run.
Cid Highwind, Cloud Strife, and Tifa Lockheart were all together at the bar. Cid had been there all day; Cloud and Tifa had just joined him briefly to grab a bite to eat. They were just sitting down at a booth when the black-haired martial artist noticed a swath of red traveling over the rooftops.
"Hey," she said aloud, peering out the window, "Isn't that Vincent?"
Cloud and Cid looked as well. Sure enough, the gunman was jumping from rooftop to rooftop, his cape billowing in the wind. Though he was a good distance away, it looked like his pace was even faster than normal.
"Yeah, it is," Cloud replied, frowning, "What's he doing?"
"Running, it looks like," a less-than-sober Cid said gruffly, taking another swig of his beer.
"Why, though?" Tifa wondered aloud.
The answer soon came into view. A certain ninja was close on his heels.
"Vincent's running…" the martial artist said slowly, "…from Yuffie?"
"Smart man," Cid declared.
They watched as she chased after the gunman. Even inside the bar, they could hear her voice.
"GET BACK HERE, DAMMIT! LEVIATHAN HELP ME, I'M GOING TO RIP OFF YOUR CLAW AND BEAT YOU TO DEATH WITH IT! THEN I'M GOING TO STRANGLE YOU WITH YOUR OWN CAPE! AND THEN I'M NEVER TALKING TO YOU AGAIN! YOU HEAR ME?"
Tifa's shoulders slumped.
"Oh no…" she said helplessly, "He didn't ruin her date, did he?"
She suddenly turned to Cloud, glaring at him accusingly.
"What did you say to him?"
"All I said was for him to do something he enjoyed…" the ex-SOLDIER insisted.
"Sounds like he did just that," the drunk pilot chuckled, eyeing his blond companion, "And guess who she's gonna blame?"
Cloud paled slightly, and rubbed his temples wearily.
"I think I need a drink."
"I think we all will," Tifa added, imagining how hard it would be to put up with an infuriated version of the hyperactive ninja.
"Aw, don't worry," Cid assured, draining his glass, "She'll forget all about it by morning. Hell, she's had a crush on the damn vampire since ya pulled him out of his coffin. If he ever stopped brooding for three seconds, he'd realize that."
Tifa watched as the two disappeared from sight, and smiled.
"You know…she has had a good effect on him."
"Damn straight!" Cid huffed, and stood up, raising his glass up drunkly, "A toast! To undead ninja babies!"
Tifa's smile vanished as she choked on the peanuts she had been eating.
Cloud suddenly looked very, very ill.
"Now I know I need a drink…" he whispered.