Up to the very last minute before take-off I am sturdy as a board and all over the place, jumping, chatting, swinging my arms around. Then the darn engine starts up and my insides drop down to counter the ship's rising. My knees fold in on themselves and my whole body gets the shivers while, slowly, lunch chugs its way up my throat. With every inch of dignity I possess, I crawl to a corner and wobble there, lips blue from keeping my mouth clamped shut because hell, I so don't wanna barf all over the place. Cid would kill me. And everyone else would snicker and go, heh, kid. NO WAY am I letting that happen. Not that I can let anything happen, in my state: cowering, weak as a baby chocobo. I clutch at my elbows and duck my head and mimic mental ward with constipation perfectly.
It's awful, I know, but what can I do?
And the best Cloud can offer is, don't read in moving vehicles.
Yeah, sure. As if I could read anything when I'm so paralyzed I can't even open the darn book.
Tifa's pretty nice about it. The first time I started swallowing and sweating, thinking, with more than a little horror, oh gawd I thought this journey was going to be done on fricking FOOT! she had come over and asked what me what was wrong, concern on her face and on the fists she planted against her hips. I didn't want to give myself away – after all, I had been a good AVALANCE member so far. I could handle battles, I was fast, plus I was great at spotting treasure. I had to let them keep me. Of course, they had no idea about my real intentions then, but I also wanted to have fun on the trip, and they seemed like a nice crowd. Get materia for Wutai and save the world? Not a bad deal, really.
But if they found out that I couldn't stick any sort of travel on sea or in the air, I knew there was a very big chance they'd boot me out. They're all creepy-good-hearted people, sure, (I mean, yes I'm a brat and a thief, but their love and justice ideals aren't stuff you get in any ordinary world citizen, either), but inconvenience isn't something you need when you're chasing a murderous black-caped loony, and I think a walking barfbag definitely counts for inconvenience. I could already see it: Cloud, shaking his head, Tifa, too lovestruck with him to object, Aeris trying to defend me but eventually giving in, and Barret swinging his gun-arm around, annoyed with the debating. If the nausea couldn't make me throw up by then, that scene definitely would.
We were stowing away to Costa del Sol at that time, me decked in a sailor suit, Tifa in one too, although I don't see how anyone can be inconspicuous with boobs that size. I was sitting on a crate, probably looking like a wet rag, and she was about to go up on deck when she saw me. "What's the matter, Yuffie? You look awful." She put a hand on my shoulder gently. (That's not the first time I have seriously wished for Tifa to be my sister.)
"N-n-no-thinngg…" I murmured, well aware that the slur of my voice meant otherwise.
She wasn't convinced. Duh.
"You wait here. I'll go get a tranquilizer from Cloud."
Luckily our considerate leader came over and gave me one himself, a few minutes later. He watched meuse it with raised eyebrows. It didn't stop me feeling like a crazy spinning top, but it helped at least. My world was rocking a little less, and I could speak without wanting to vomit. "Um, Yuffie," He intoned carefully. "This isn't the first time we'll be taking a ship. Or any non-land vehicle, for that matter."
"I know," I choked.
"If you get too uncomfortable, it might be a good idea for you to – "
Oh no. I wasn't going to go back to Wutai empty-handed because of some stupid discomfort. I cut him off sharply. "It's okay. I can deal."
He crossed his arms, like he didn't quite believe me, but after a moment he shrugged and went up on deck. I waited until the last of his boot-heavy footsteps had faded. Then I wobbled behind a crate. I bet you can guess what I did there.
You know what's really amazing?
The fact that even magic can't cure it.
Aeris tried, while we were on the submarine. Everyone understands that Aeris knows her white magic better than anyone. She equipped the heal materia, prayed (weird, I know, but that's her way of forming the spell) and cast esuna on me. I felt it wander around me, trying to fix mywobbly stomach and soothe the banging in my head. But the motion sickness stayed, and it was the magic that left. Everyone was staring at me expectantly.
"D-didn't work," I heaved. Their looks of anticipation turned to variations of argh and darn.
"S-sorry. I know y-you tried."
Aeris shook her head, anxious. There's another sister I'd want to have. She even knows how to use her charms better than Tifa. "I'm the one who should apologize." She looked down at her rod. "I can't see why it failed. I'm pretty sure the spell came through all right."
"It di-id," I answered shakily, as the ship took a turn. "I f-felt it."
"I suppose it's really just a part of your system. Sorry, Yuffie." I gave her a weak smile to show that I didn't hold it against her, and she returned one with a swift upturn of her pretty lips. (I don't see why I have to be the least attractive girl in the party, actually. Even Cloud's more gorgeous, and he's a guy. But that's a different topic altogether.) I spent the rest of the trip agonizing over the thought that if it's not something Tifa's soothing or Aeris' white magic can fix, it's probably not something I can ever get rid of.
You know, it's got nothing to do with heights, or hydrophobia, because I don't have a problem with tree-climbing, and I've gone swimming in many of Wutai's beaches. Ninjas need to learn how to work with the elements – skim the surface of water if there's a need for it, fly in the air between rooftops. But the feeling I get onboard something, as if my insides are being rearranged, that's different.
I mean, I can take the vastness of the earth, and I know that the earth is huge. But the sky and the ocean? To me, that's just limitless. It's too empty, too uncertain, too easy to be lost in. I'm a traveler – I've never even considered staying in Wutai all my life, but I don't like feeling alone or unsure. I find that scary. And I'd die before I admit this to anyone, but I'm actually scared as heck of the Lifestream – another boundless place. I don't want to live forever, of course not. But the thought of simply disappearing there with everyone else, sinking into a mass of green nothing (yes it's my favorite color, but still!), it just terrifies me.
And this is going to sound horribly selfish, but I want my life. I don't want the planet to have it.
We're flying towards the Northern Crater, and I don't feel very well. As usual.
But I look around me, through the swirling of my headaches (colors, objects, sound, fear, sicksicksick), and I notice that I'm not the only one this time. Cid is steering the wheel, puffing his cigar a little too vigorously, and every so often he turns and raises a balled fist at a poor crewman. Something's bugging him. Maybe it's Shera back home at Rocket Town, or maybe it's the gigantic Weapon that keeps flapping across the ship (it's freaking me out too, actually). Barret is impatient, tapping a foot against the floor, and if it's not Marlene on his mind then it's probably how much time we have before Avalanche is history. Red's lounging on the floor, a tail swishing back in forth in his version of being thoughtful, both eyes closed. Normally I'd tease him about the ridiculous girliness of wearing clips and combs, but right now I don't have the heart (or maybe I'm just too dizzy).
Cait Sith is bouncing somewhere near the bridge. Sure, his stuffed animal face is always frozen in the same synthetic smile, but I guess it isn't easy being made of cotton, and knowing that when you die it's so easy to replace you. Reeve – the dude that controls him – has probably got a lot of ShinRa-esque trouble on his hands, too, judging by the little crackle of voice we hear coming from Cait Sith's radio (stressed, and I don't think it's the reception). I can't spot Vincent at first, trying to hide at the far wall – red, black, a spot of white (his death-head face), the gold of his claw. Let's not even start on him. He always looks like the sole survivor of an endemic flu, and I don't know anything about his past (except that it involves nightmares and beautiful women, always a bad mix), but he's forever angsting about it. He might have actually had it worse than anyone here.
Tifa's looking outside at the world, watching the cities beneath us, the falling meteor (which is everywhere in the sky, you just can't escape it) tinting her flesh all red. She's still so very pretty, but there's a deep gloom that lines her face now. She puts a hand back to brush away a swishy strand of hair, and I see her eyes dart to Cloud – I can't really describe how they change, but they soften, melt, then look so painfully sad that I feel my insides squelch. Then she looks down at her boots, probably thinking about how hard it is, how hard it's gonna be, worrying about everyone's safety. As for Cloud – oh gawds. He welcomes us back to the ship with his squat-thrusts and an enthusiastic grin, but everyone knows that he's not doing well. He's stopped all pretension of being cool (well, yeah, there was that identity crisis thing to deal with which probably explains some of it) – and sometimes he's just plain dorky, but when we aren't asking him for orders, or he's not telling us what our next course of action is, he sighs like his soul is leaving his body. And then he folds his arms and looks so grim that no one wants to bother him.
It could be Sephiroth. But I think – yes I am going to say it, I'm not going to pretend it didn't happen, because the memory is still so freaking fresh in my mind, and I love her too much to pretend – I think it's Aeris. It hit us hard, all of us, a punch to our guts (as in POW!) and the after effects are even worse than turning into toads. She would have loved this airship, I know she would. She would walk on the decks and tell Cid it's beautiful (if only to flatter him, but hey, I'm entitled to my grudges if it makes me sick all day), and ask Cloud if maybe they could really travel, just for fun, once the planet was in the clear (of course, she'd have to share the honeymoon of sorts with Tifa). If we were all like this, in a situation where everyone's hurting – me with the stupid motion sickness, everyone else, struggling with some internal hurt, she'd be throwing compliments and laughs and stories everywhere. To lighten the mood. To relieve the sickness, in a way that goes beyond her incredible white magic.
But she's gone. And the mood here is so ultimately depressing that, suddenly, I don't feel like hurling. I'm just annoyed. I stand, ignoring the cramp in my legs and the dangerous way my stomach lurches. I trek to the center of the ship in as straight a line as possible (oh no you don't, feet, you're not going to veer off to the left, you just think that's the direction I want you to go in but it ISN'T). I punch two fists to my side and shout out, "HEY GUYS!" (of course, it turns out to be a slushy warble of hrrey gaahs!, but they're used to that.)
Seven pairs of eyes – and what a weird bunch they compose, one closed in a perky cat-grin, another vampire red – turn to me wearily. The ship takes a small dive as Weapon veers into its path again. I resist the urge to collapse. Tifa turns away from the window and tilts her head a little. "Yuffie, should you really be standing?"
I ignore this comment, as well as the demands my stomach acids are making to be thrown onto the floor, determined as I am to stop their moping. "You'd better s-stop wallowing in your own sorrows right now. This doom-n-and gloom outlook is doing nothing f-for our strength and our morale, and f-frankly –" Wow, I've never used that word before! "- I'm sick of it. If you k-keep this up, we're no better than those Jenova drones in Nibelheim. What I-I'm saying is," I have to stop for a moment to collect myself, and my wiggly insides, because the next thing I plan on saying MATTERS. "If you're so depressed, why don't you just let the world get blown up? I mean, come on, if you plan on saving the Planet, you might as well do it with a smile on your face!" I say all that, meaning to jab a finger at someone to make them feel guilty, but they are all so far apart that I end up pointing straight into blank space.
In my amazement at having spoken a straight, un-wobbly sentence despite being on an airship, my body decides to really strike it out at last. I double up on the floor, mouth clamped shut as usual, cringing. Urrrgh. There's a silence, possibly more heavy than the one before, and more embarrassing for me. They don't make a move, but their eyes haven't left me. In an effort to redeem myself, I sit upright, and say, in as threatening a voice as I can,
"If you don't stop frowning right now I'm going to PUKE all over Cid's ship!"
There is a snort, a hushed giggle, then a sudden eruption of laughter.
My face must be as red as Vincent's cloak. I suddenly want to disappear behind it. Before I can start crawling towards him and tugging at it, though, Tifa comes over and helps me up, wiping tears from her eyes. I'm thrilled, though, when I see that they're laughing-too-hard-tears, not the-world-is-ending-tears, and as I try to regain my balance I assess the rest of the damage. Barret is banging a metal fist against a wall while he guffaws, and Cid is yelling at him to stop it through his own laughter – he ends up choking on cigarette ashes – Red and Vincent exchange smirks, Cait is bursting all our eardrums cackling through his whiny little voicebox. And Cloud has got that good ol' goofy smile on. The dork.
I still can't stick airships or submarines. And the thought of the sky and the ocean are still a bit freaky for me. The Lifestream's a little less spooky now because Aeris is there, but I can't say that the idea doesn't scare me anymore.
But I'd rather get on the Highwind than get left behind, no matter how terrible the cramps and migraines.
Because even if I like my independence, I don't like flying solo. (And friendship is one ship I never want to barf on.)
A/N: I started out with the intention of making this thing a Yuffentine. It became a whole-gang-platonic thing instead. D: Oh well. I had some trouble with Yuffie's narration (and her tenses!) but I hope you enjoyed it, anyway. As usual, all comments are greatly appreciated. :D