A/N: Call this all the bastard children of the leftover plotbunnies from Tamatebako. This was done on a random inspiration that came to me at around one at night – and then it refused to let me sleep until I had gotten the whole thing down in a sitting (read: 4 hours, including rereads and shit). Dir. Stupid plotbunnies, having the gall to breed in my head.

No, I didn't name her after that girl from The Ring. Hell, I don't think anyone in Japan will be able to call their kid Sadako without her being known (to foreigners, at least) as That-Girl-Named-After-That-Girl-From-The-Ring for the next couple of years.

Yeah, this is a… really different writing style for me. Or it might not be – I don't know, it just felt different. I couldn't be as spastic and impulsive like I could be with Yuffie – 'cause, y'know, she's… oldish here. But not by much!

Sorry for the OC; hope she's acceptable.

I purposely didn't use any parentheses ('cept near the end, that was when I cracked), and now the story feels all naked without them.

And I just really didn't feel like using quotation marks, and I know it's going to screw everything over times a hundred, but it shouldn't be that difficult.

…I hope. starts praying

Yes, I am very well aware that the title sucks, thankyouverymuchsogotohell.

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break all the porcelain.

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He approached from the west, by the red maple.

She was, at first, bent down, a tiny figure of seafoam silk and vibrant koi squatting in the grass over some red paper with a pair of scissors in her hand – but she quickly straightened the moment she heard his foot crunch on the dried leaves in the grasses, heard the wind whipping around his clothes and his hair, heard the soft clink-clink of metal on metal.

Hello, she says, softly – she was a soft child. A true ninja. The village was surprised with her, and proud of her, in a way they'd never been with her mother – her mother was surprised with her too, but smiled and said nothing – the village was proud of her, and she was not her mother.

She continues cutting up her paper, meticulously cutting out the shapes until she can see the man's feet stop a little bit away from her. Hello, he says, and his voice is low and soft like hers, and she loves him immediately because – she is still a child, and he was not her mother.

And instantly she is shy, and puts down her scissors and papers and puts her hands behind her back and looks up at him. I'm Sadako. I'm five years old.

The little girl sees something quirk at the edges of his face – she has already decided he is beautiful, because he is soft, like her. His hair is a dark waterfall, his eyes garnet pearls – he is a soft man, and she is a soft child, with her gentle charcoal hair and sky-eyes, and she loves him already. What's your name?

And the man says, I am Vincent Valentine.

The little girl smiles a little – that is something that came from her mother, that bright and sunny smile she was famous for – That's a long name.

And the man simply looks at her and says nothing. But Sadako is not afraid, because his eyes are soft, and warm, and – she picks up her papers. Would you like to help me cut?

He stares in the silence of the morning mist, and says, I cannot.

And the soft child accepts this answer, but holds up her papers and scissors anyway. I'm making hearts out of paper. For my target practice. Sensei wanted circles, but – hearts are prettier.

She sees his eyes widen, slightly, and she sees the corners of his mouth disappear beneath his cloak again. I see. And Sadako nods happily before giving him a quizzical look.

Can you make a heart for me? With your fingers?

The tall man says nothing, and they sit in the silence for a short while before he takes his hands out from the darkness of his cloak – and the soft child gazes steadily at his sharp fingers.

Oh. But the soft child is not undaunted; he is still a soft person, even if his hand is made of metal and sharpness and points. That's okay.

I can make a heart for you.

And the soft man says nothing, standing in the lawn by the little girl.

Sadako puts down her papers and her scissors.

And this, she says, holding up her tiny white hands and joining the petal-thumbs and pointers, making the outline of a heart in pale, pale flesh – is a heart for you.

The autumn dawn – is a cold thing – and the mist, which freezes those words that are not warm enough to fly, is silent.

And the soft man says, I see.

And he says, Thank you.

And the tall man stands there, quietly, and the little girl hugs him around the knees, and whispers lovely nothings in his black kneecaps – and Yuffie Kisaragi accidentally looks out the window and leaves the meeting immediately.

Thank you, says the soft child.

She approached from the east, by the pink sakura.

Sadako.

The soft child – harbors a small guilt. She knows her mother, she loves her mother – but her mother is quick and sharp and sudden and feels, and Sadako loves this soft man because he is safe and gentle and so very far away.

Sadako, her mother whispers, and the word is lost quickly in the air.

Sadako-hime, the soft voice says, but it is velvet and frost at the same time, and the soft child wishes again to be just like him when she is as old. Go to your mother.

The little girl lets go, and walks to the white butterflies on the navy-dark silk of her mother's kimono.

And the tall man stands there, in the quiet.

Vincent, her mother whispers, but this time the words are heard quick, snatched quick from the cold of the misty air. My God – Vinnie – it's been… a long time.

The soft man says nothing and stares at Sadako, and then says, How is Wataru, and Sadako is surprised to hear the frost. But it is still a soft frost – still a gentle snow.

The little girl looks up at her mother, sees the bitter twist in her lips – it is these little things, Sadako reasons, that make her sharp and pointy and not soft, not delicate and soft like me – He's been gone… three years now. Ran off with the maidservant – Yuriko. And Leviathan bless them.

Especially Yuriko. Her mother's bitterness – Sadako can taste it in the air, and feels it, sharp and pointy and threatening to puncture. 'Cause she'll need it. Stupid Godo. He would pick through the stupidest lot of bastards in the area and find the most perfect and revolting one he could find for my fiancé. Scumbag.

The soft child watches the man's eyes widen again, and watches again as she sees a tiny layer of ice form around them – and the pearls harden a little until they become like cut carnelians. I apologize.

Her mother waves her hand in the air – and it is white like porcelain and just as delicate as Sadako but more like a fragment, a broken shard of smoothness, than a soft vase like Sadako – Believe me, it doesn't bother me much. Certainly makes it easier for me to get Wutai going again.

I see. And a little bit of the frost melts away, but the soft child still sees the coldness in his eyes, and quickly she feels that dangerous, sharp thing that her teachers called anger in her heart – look what you did, Mother, she thinks. Look what you did, you've made him a little more sharp – like you!

But then Sadako sands that dangerous thing away with her hands and smoothes the points off of her perfect, perfect vase, and it only costs her a little blood, to be perfect. Real porcelain.

How have you been, Vinnie?

And Sadako hears something strange in her mother's voice, and she focuses her hearing to see if she can catch it again.

And the soft man says nothing.

…Still traveling? Still wandering?

She hears it, catches it – but it slips away, out of her soft hands, back into the whispering waters of her mother's voice.

And the tall man nods, once.

…Have you found it yet?

She has. Sadako has found it, and Sadako stills, standing against the butterflies of her mother's kimono, and she knows that what she has just heard should never, ever have come from someone like her mother.

…Your redemption.

The soft child shakes her head. No.

The soft man shakes his head. No.

And Sadako has heard – the softest thing in the world, from her mother – and she has never, ever heard it before –

– but she has seen it, in the outline of the soft man, sewn into his clothes and his face and his eyes – and she has never, ever heard it before.

And Sadako looks up to see that same thing in her mother's face – I see.

The soft child – has never seen it – but now she sees it, here, sewn into her mother and the man and the morning, and –

Sadako sees tragedy for the first time, and it hurts.

…Vincent, her mother whispers, and the soft child hears the softness of the sadness in her mother, like water, pouring over the sharp, hot metal of her – Please–

And the tall man stands silent in the quiet, and lets the sorrow wash over him – and Sadako can see the waves envelop him, and Sadako sees how used to them he is, like a shore of fine sand, used to the beatings of the ocean.

Please, Vincent – Her mother is used to the washings of the sea – her mother has resisted the water, all these years – and Sadako wonders why

Please stay.

The soft child – watches her mother, and waits for her to be broken down by the pounding waves – because no one can ever be that strong.

And the man says, I cannot.

Then – and Sadako steps forward because her mother has stepped forward and the white butterflies of winter and snow and change push her there – let us come with you.

And the soft child feels another forbidden sharpness that her teachers forbade so long ago – she feels that sudden, sharp thing called hope, and it is dangerous, and Sadako tries to smooth it away with her hands but it – grows – instead. She does not understand why she cannot smooth it away – but it has no thorns on it to make her bleed for it, and that may be why –

And the man says, I cannot.

But suddenly, the tiny flower – the weed – it dies in Sadako, and the soft child should be glad but she is not, and Sadako is confused, and Sadako prays to Leviathan that she is not becoming quick and sharp and sudden like her mother.

Then, please – and suddenly, very suddenly, there is a break in her porcelain, a single splinter that juts out from perfection – please, take Sadako with you.

And just before she moves to sand it away, Sadako stops.

And the man says, Why?

Her mother – oh, her mother, with the sharpness of her unrefined ceramic heart! – says, They're changing her. Oh, God, Vincent, they're making her into a shinobi!

And Sadako – is – confused. And Sadako – needs – to know. More than anything, now. Suddenly. And she prays to Leviathan that she isn't becoming sharp like her mother, and the jagged edge of porcelain gets a little bigger. What are you talking about, Mama?

Her mother doesn't look at her, and the soft child tugs at the silk wall of navy. But I want to be a shinobi.

And her tiny, soft words hang in the cold, like flitting baby birds – and her mother says, And it's working! She's – becoming – just what they want. Just what they want. Oh, God, Vincent, please. I beg of you. If you –

And her mother falters. If you –

The man stands tall in the cold light of the autumn morning and says nothing.

–If you ever loved me, you'll do it, she whispers, and now her mother's face is wet with tears. I'm not going to watch those damned bastard advisors of mine turn my daughter into some cold puppet. Take her with you, and let her know what the world is.

Please, Vincent.

And the soft child – quietly steps away.

Sadako, her mother whispers, and the word is lost quickly in the air. Sadako.

The soft child – thinks of the vase, and its smooth porcelain softness – and she turns towards her mother.

Mama, she says, I want to be like him.

And her mother – does not say anything, and stands in the silence.

Mama, she says – she tries again, I want to be soft, and beautiful, and smooth. And – even though, when the words come, she is afraid of them, that they may break something important in her mother – Mama, I don't want to be sharp like you. I don't – want – to be quick – and sharp – and sudden like you.

And Sadako doesn't know why she feels her eyes fill with the tragedy, but they do. Mama, I don't want to feel things like you do.

And the man says, I cannot.

And the soft child watches the waters of sorrow wash down her mother's face, and Sadako wonders if her mother has finally broken in the seas.

…All right. And the little girl knows that, if her mother has not broken, then at least she has been drowned, because the tragedy is still palpable in the mists of autumn. All… right, she says, and her face is filled with little streams and seas and waterfall of sorrow all their own

And the man says, But – Sadako-hime.

The soft child looks to the tall man, who stands on the lawn, bathed in the sadness. Yes, she says, soft and feathery, always so soft. Yes?

And the tall man looks at her, with his garnet pearls, and says, It is a sad path to follow, to apathy. Stay away from it.

Sadako feels the porcelain slip from her hands in shock – just a tiny, tiny bit – before she catches it again – What? But I want to be soft. And the soft child – steps towards him. Like you.

And the edges of the soft man's mouth go up, but his eyes ripple, like the light in the bottom of a sad, sad river – I have been trying to escape from that softness for a very long time now.

But I – and she steps closer, seafoam silk and koi and soft child with a porcelain face – I don't want to be like Mama. I don't want – to feel, and burn like Mama – I want to be a shinobi.

And the soft man's eyes flicker from her to her mother, and he says, I want to be able… to feel again. I want to be forgiven, and – I want to be able to feel again.

And Sadako hears her mother's sobs increase infinitesimally.

I want, the tall man says, to be allowed to love again.

And the soft child – stops.

Sadako – can feel the oceans of tragedy surrounding her, swallowing her, drowning her – Sadako can feel these waters killing her through him, because even now – the mist is trying to drown her. The mist is choking her, and her mother's tears are as loud in her ears as the pounding of the waves and her own frantic heartbeat.

Sadako wonders, briefly, how her mother survived for so long, with her shard of fine porcelain – while she is drowning, drowning with her whole, soft vase.

The soft, soft child – wonders, briefly, what would happen if she too – had just a shard.

I'm sorry.

The tall man's voice is velvet, velvet soft and water smooth, but Sadako wishes that she didn't know how it became like that – I'm sorry.

And he begins to walk away.

And Sadako – accidentally – purely, absolutely accidentally – in her shock –

– Sadako drops the vase.

And her mother stifles her sobs in her sleeves, and ruins one of the thousands of kimonos in the House of Kisaragi – I'm sorry too – Vincent. I… please, excuse me. And her mother spends that moment ruining the kimono, grinding the salt into the fabric as she struggles for coherency. It… it was nice to see you again.

There is only the deep crimson of his cloak and the darkness of his hair to see as he pauses, his back to her – It was nice to see you, as well.

And the soft one looks down between her shaking hands – looks down at all the shards –

I… please visit again. Her mother wipes the water from her cheeks and rubs the dampness in her sleeves into the rest of the kimono. Sadako's birthday is in two months, and – on–

–December 9th, he says, and looks over his shoulder at her mother, and he is soft and red and she is gray and shining. I know.

And her mother smiles, the famous smile, that bright and sunny smile – the sun in the bottom of the stream. –Thank you.

–and Sadako squats, and picks one up, and turns it over and over again in her hands, and marvels – that it doesn't cut her.

And she sees how her mother survives – because the edges are smooth, and soft – because they have been sanded down and away by the rivers and lakes and oceans –

And the man begins to walk away.

– so Sadako slips the shard into her pocket, and lets – herself – be –

Goodbye, says her mother, and the word weaves through the cutting cold of the air –

– and the soft child runs, and, grabbing fistfuls of his cloak, does something so very, very sharp that at first she does not believe it is her own voice saying the words – I FORGIVE YOU.

Her mother stares at her, gray eyes wide and rimmed with tears; and the soft man stops. I FORGIVE YOU! she screeches, louder, her voice louder than it's ever been in her whole entire life – I FORGIVE YOU! I FORGIVE YOU!

But suddenly her hands are empty, she is clenching fistfuls of air and she is still screaming her mantra, and her mother is with her and crouched down and embracing her from behind and sobbing into her back.

I FORGIVE YOU! Sadako shrieks – and he begins to walk away.

It is a cold and misty morning, and Sadako stands on the lawn with her mother as they hug each other in a tiny ball of seafoam and navy, and he begins to walk away.

I forgive him, 'kaa-san, she whispers, the soft child again – Sadako whispers into her mother's shoulder.

I know, her mother says, and wipes off the tears with the back of her hand.

I forgive him too. I forgave him… a very long time ago.

Sadako turns her head. The man is on the ridge, disappearing into the west.

…SHE FORGIVES YOU TOO! And her mother buries her head in her shoulder again. SHE FORGIVES YOU TOO!

The soft child turns to her mother and lets her spoil the silk with her salt-damp eyes, and the child's ears and eyes are filled with forgiveness. And I want you to forgive me, too, says the soft child in her mind – I want you to forgive me too, 'kaa-san.

(and, had she been listening, she would have heard the soft clink-clink of metal on metal, the soft creak of feet stopping, the soft sound of someone turning around.)

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END.

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A/N: I actually wrote the beginning first, then the ending, and then I filled in all the crap between.

This is such a punctuation-train-wreck. Sorry if I made your eyes bleed; it happens - though not always from mass-slaughters of punctuation done on purpose.

And – just in case anyone's wondering (which you probably aren't, but my sister reread this for me in a random and unusual act of kindness and said she was wondering) – Sadako is not Vinnie's kid. Sorry.

And I'd like to thank everyone who read "Tamatebako", too - since it's really my first piece of original fanfiction (hah, that must be an oxymoron) that I affectionately refer to as "crapfiction" instead of "godawfulnevergettingpublishedcrapfiction", which is most of what I write. And all your reviews made me squeal like a little girl. Especially the ones from Rose Flame and Guardian1, since, you know, they rock. Just like their Yuffentine stories.

Yeah. I should berealizing that I'm sucking up to a disgusting degree right around now.

I am having a love affair with the word "and". And the hyphen. That too.