A/N: This initially takes place in the sidequest when you return to Wutai and Yuffie takes your materia, but I did change a lot of the events. Also, there won't be any Yuffentine in this first chapter, but there will be in the next few. :D

Etiquette for Thieves


I think the word nobility has never been used in Wutai. It is 'my lord' – Godo sitting on a throne that is only as high as a pillow on the floor, his belly too big for him to be intimidating, or foreboding, or kingly, which is what one should be when addressed like that; and 'my lady' – which is me, a parody of my mother's portrait because my hair is too short and my smile is too big to be demure, and I'm wearing ninja cloth instead of silken robes, like a proper empress would. They use lord or lady or master and sometimes miss, and we are the rulers, we are the leaders, we are the incarnates of Leviathan – oh gawds, that one makes me laugh – sometimes we are royalty, but we are never nobility, and I think I know why.

Stealing isn't noble.

It wasn't Shake teaching me how to snitch desserts from the kitchen before lunch, when I was five, either; I had plucked out a fistful of hair from my father in an infant tantrum – the bald patch must have lasted for a year, at least – so I had known all about stealing, even at the innocent age of four months. At seven I knew how to hide smaller articles into the folds of my clothes to stave off suspicion; at nine I knew how to scour a beast's dead body for any items that might be valuable. By eleven I had finally fulfilled my threat of moving out from my father's house – only a few blocks away, of course, but that's independent for someone in her preteens, I guess. I devised personal ninja traps to make it more like home (it was only six months later that I learned Godo had dug a passageway which connected our old house to my new one, which explained the heavy breathing I could sometimes hear at night – he was still watching me, overprotective freakish geezer). When I was thirteen I could kill wyverns and adamantines and I could climb the climbable part of Da Chao in five (okay, fine, twenty-three) minutes flat. When I was fifteen, my dad sat me down and we had a Talk.

Well, okay, it was actually an Argument, as usual, but to cut it simple, it went like this –

"Yuffie, there is a serious problem with Wutai."

"Yeah, I know. You want me to go and grab some materia so we can stop being a touristy craphole of a country, right, because our ancestors are rolling around in their graves with the way we were so completely butt-kicked by Shinra, rightrightright?"


Well, we had been planning that for years and years, since I was a fetus in mother's belly – what? Of course I'm exaggerating. It isn't normal for parents to tell their yet-to-be-born child about their plans to dominate the world. But I had understood, for a long time, that this was the Plan. A stupid plan, maybe, but my dad is pretty stupid, and even I, brilliant-sexy-beautiful girl that I am, couldn't think of a better alternative. I had been trained for this Plan, as a ninja – all that one-day-you-will-inherit-the-throne-Yuffie-so-you-better-beat-the-masters-of-the-Pagoda-crap? A pretty story, but just a story, because I'll become ruler of Wutai no matter what, pride of conquering the Pagoda aside. The reason why I slaved away there, Da Chao smiling in all its serenity when my hands were bleeding and Gorki was shouting at me to throw my stars straighter (I had wished, repeatedly, that he could be my target) – it was all for the Plan.

And, well, okay. It's not just Wutai.

I like materia too. It's shiny. It's pretty. It's strong and useful and it matters, it feels like power in your hands and magic, and I don't know about everyone else but I can't help it, I lovelovelove materia. I did ever since my father showed me a heal as a baby while I was examining my lungs' capacity for screaming – someone must have told him green was for calming, and my dad sucks as a parent and really believed it (he sucks at everything). But it did work, I stopped experimenting right away. To see something that pretty as a baby and not fall in love, well, that would be nothing short of a miracle (I have yet to see more miracles in my lifetime – materia raining down from the sky is one fantasy, too bad for me if I get knocked out because they're actually quite heavy). So if I am a little obsessive and overly amorous about them balls of magic (don't look at me like that, pervert, that's what they are), you can totally blame my dad for that.

So, yeah, backtrack a bit.

After our Talk, Godo gave me an armguard and a headguard and a shiny new shuriken and, from our precious stocks, a Steal materia (hey, I can kick serious butt on my own but I will never waste a chance to get materia, never ever). I was fifteen but I already felt like an adult (proud ninja warrior of Wutai! Daughter of the house of Kisaragi! Drop dead gorgeous princess to boot!), although I guess I'm closer to a kid than otherwise. Oh well. He took me to the gates, faking tears for the citizens' benefit (what citizens?) and then he whispered, in fierce embarrassment, that I needed to zipper my shorts (I had a bad habit of forgetting that. What, it isn't so unusual, is it?). Then, with a wave and a very awkward hug (we showed our affection by punching each other in the gut, old Godo and I, hugs are way weird for us) he sent me off to fulfill the Plan, and I, feeling truly martyred for my country, left Wutai for the World.

I shall leave out the gore and the spitting and the cursing – that would take up even more space than the Talk-which-was-actually-an-Argument. Needless to say I was apparently underequipped for the big bad world, even with my slave-driver ninja training and shiny new shuriken – but I was never a quitter (still ain't) and I bit and lied and scraped my way through until I had a restore and a thunder and ice, to boot, all which were slightly trained at that; but it wasn't enough and it wasn't going to be, unless I found a party with a ton of materia on them who were gullible and weak, etc. A merchant party? Some idle Turks? I didn't know, but I was going to fulfill the Plan (and, well, yeah, keep some for myself too. There was no commission in the contract, I expected something for my hard work). No matter what it took.

Leviathan answered my prayers in the voice of Cloud Strife walking into my forest (mine. I had slept in it for nearly a week, so I as good as owned it, yeah) one day. I kicked his hiney good and stole all of his materia – and then, well, okay. I'll stop dreaming. They kicked my butt good until I was lying on the floor in shock, but I still had the magic breath of seduction – I mean, persuasion. And they didn't know how to read the signs, I guess, because they let me into their group easy-peasy.

Fast forward a couple billion hours to today, to the here and now, to me getting off the airship with my knees buckling onto sweet, familiar ground, mother country, it has been a while, Da Chao looming distantly with that same serene smile, I was so glad to be home (or was I just happy to be off that hellship?) and, finally, finally –

"What is this place?" Tifa helped me up while Cloud scanned the mountains around us, looking over the bridges, they were all here and these were the strongest guys I had ever met and they had the wickedest materia IN THE WORLD.

AVALANCHE, friendship, Sephiroth and a really, really big fat crush aside - the Plan was finally gonna come to fruition, the Great Steal, the Restoration, the country's honor brought back by their noble princess.

Not that I'm noble, actually. We don't use that word around here.

A/N: It's been a while since I wrote a multi-chaptered story, and I have never finished anything that wasn't more than a very very long oneshot. I want to try with this, anyway. I know I took liberties with the verb tenses, grammar in general, Yuffie's past, even her character. I'm writing this the way I perceive her, but I'm always open to any suggestions.

All comments are greatly appreciated. :D