Warnings: Yuffie-centric. YuffieXVincent. Implied SephirothXYuffie.
Disclaimer: All rights and privileges of Final Fantasy VII characters, objects and plots are property and trademarks of Squaresoft, Sony and associated parties. The author claims no legal responsibility for problems associated with using this work. The story is in no way related to the original plot and the relationships found within the fic are fictional, created by the author. The original story, relationships, and characters found within the fic are property of the author Demeter.
I sometimes find myself awaking with sobs tearing at my throat.
Me, the brash ninja. Me, the brat that never cried a tear for anyone or anything. That's how everyone viewed me. Even my own father. He never knew why I couldn't cry at her mother's funeral.
Why I couldn't fear Sephiroth the same way he did.
I sometimes tell myself no. That what I saw that brutal day never happened, that it was all a figment of my imagination. Sephiroth, the general of Shinra, the one who caused the fall of Wutai. He could never have been that person I met on the day my mother died under his blade.
Yet, my mind and soul still screams that it was reality, that I saw Sephiroth for who he really was.
Just a lost little boy, who had known nothing but the trials of war, the bloodiness of battle, the scars of loss. I knew when I looked into those eyes of his, around ten years ago. When I was but six, merely an infant, clinging to her mother as she slashed her way out of Wutai.
I still vividly remember the cloying, coppery scent of fresh blood.
"Yuffie, no matter what, do not let go of mother's hand." Sakura Kisaragi spoke to her six-year old daughter, no fear, no worry, just an intensity that made the little girl listen hard.
"Good. No matter what you see, I'm here, alright darling?"
Sakura nodded, her eyes blinking back tears of frustration. There was no way she was going to let her little girl die here, with no sunshine, no flowers, nothing but the skeletons of the dead to be her after-life playmates.
So she fought, every swing of her blade a testament to this urgency.
And she killed again and again, nary thinking twice about the sins she was committing. All she held in her thought was to get her daughter, her only daughter, her only treasure left now that her husband was dead.
She fervently hoped not.
The soldiers were thinning, and already, she could see the edge of the forest, offering a measure of safety in it's shadowy arms.
"You are Sakura Kisaragi, Wife of Godo Kisaragi, Lady of Wutai, The Seventeenth Descendent of the Shinobi Clan."
The voice, more of a statement then a question, cut her like an icy knife.
She knew that voice.
Clutching her daughter to her suddenly quivering body, she turned slowly, and standing before her, in all his glory, stood the General of Shinra, the one that had caused her husband's death.
Sakura gave a strangled cry. He couldn't...
She tucked Yuffie behind her. And lifted her head proudly. She was of the Shinobi Clan. Not someone of a lower caste. She would not face death cowering. If only her death could lend her daughter enough time to run for the woods, where the reserve army could find and protect her.
Sephiroth unsheathed his masumune, gracefully, neatly and delicately. He pointed it at her and his voice, almost regretful, said, "You are hereby to be executed for your rebellion against Shinra."
Narrowing her eyes, she pushed Yuffie toward the woods and spoke harshly, "Run. Do not look back. Yuffie, RUN." Lashing her child out toward the forest, she unearthed her own double shurikens and prepared to duel to the death with Sephiroth.
He lunged forward, slicing the air; she barely blocked it, the serrated edges grinding loudly with the fine sharpness of the blade. In his eyes was the determination to do his duty. In hers, to protect her child. They were equally matched in their desires, but alas, even a mother's heart can only hold out so long against the likes of Sephiroth.
She fell, pierced by the same blade that had taken her husband.
Laying, breathing hard, she knew her time had come. Through the blood-misted haze, she saw that he was looking toward the woods.
After her daughter.
"NO!" With a hoarse cry, she launched herself at Sephiroth, using the last of her strength to latch onto a leg. And throwing away her dignity, she begged him.
"Please! She is but a child! Take me instead! Please, spare her life!" She hugged his leg, praying that there was some humanity left in him, something that would spark forgiveness so that he would let Yuffie live.
He looked at her, then kicked her toward a tree. Slamming against the beechwood, she gave a strangled scream of pain. "Please! Have pity!" Crawling, her life essence trailing behind in a macabre twist of beauty, she lifted her blood-stained hands beseechingly, begging for the one life that mattered to her so dearly.
"She is the daughter of Godo Kisaragi. She will find a way to turn against Shinra if given the chance."
He lifted his blade and gently, almost reverently, killed her.
There was mercifully little blood after that.
He looked toward the woods, his face unreadable. His long legs moved toward that expanse.
Yuffie shivered, even cried a little, before scrubbing her face. She wouldn't let that mean monster see her cry. She was going to be a brave girl and look for her aunties and uncles. Mommy had said they would be here.
Swallowing, she glanced around. The woods seemed daunting, frightening without her mother by her side. It was so dark. She mustn't cry. No, she mustn't cry in the face of fear. What did mommy say once? The only thing to fear is fear itself?
Yes, she musn't fear anything. Yuffie lifted her tiny head proudly. After all, she was the descendent of the Wutainan tribes. There was nothing she couldn't do.
She clamored toward the area she instinctively knew held her kin. Clutching at the bandanna wrapped around her neck, she scrambled through the brush, unconscious of all the noise she made simply by moving. Her ears thought herself quiet; for a general, it would be a piece of cake to find her just from her thrashings.
Yuffie looked through the dense foliage, her face alighting as she recognized one of the symbols of the ninjas, unassumingly carved into the base of a tree. They were nearby!
"Child, you mustn't run."
Yuffie gave a blood-curdling shriek. She tried to run, but a graceful hand ruthlessly plucked her from the ground and held her eye-to-eye with the green eyes of the God of Death himself.
She sniffled, trying hard to keep the tears from flowing down her cheeks.
He stared at her coldly, his blade still gripped tightly in one hand. She swallowed, trying to wriggle, frantically wanting to escape.
Yuffie bit her lip and stared defiantly into his eyes.
Sepiroth bent onto one knee, setting her gently onto the ground. Her own gray eyes, such a rarity, stared into his green, the color glowing from the effect of the mako. He reached a hand toward her hair, almost hesitantly.
He slid a few strands off his gloved fingers and marveled at the beauty, even after so many battles. There was something about that… Without any other thought, he murmured, "What beauty. Even I, who has rarely seen anything of naturalness, cannot help but bow in such light."
Yuffie could only stand still, her little mind screaming for her to run.
"You are assuredly the daughter of the Wutai Clan…" He paused. "Perhaps… you are the only one…"
He disentangled the hair from his fingers abruptly. Standing up, he drew his masumune, still tinged with the red of blood, fresh from it's latest kill. Yuffie couldn't take her eyes off the blade. She knew.
As young as she was.
That blood was her mother's.
A low moan escaped her throat. Sitting down abruptly, she looked up at Sephiroth, her gray eyes shining with unshed tears, and in her childish voice, in a voice that had once been so innocent, she asked, "Why?"
Sephiroth reacted to this violently. He, who had slaughtered countless lives, could not help but shudder in the wake of a grief-stricken question of someone who was so young, someone who had once been him.
He lowered the blade.
"Why? We never hurt anyone."
Sephiroth picked her up. She was crying, tears trickling down her pale cheeks. With a choked gasp, she buried her baby face into his neck and sobbed. Her chubby arms were wrapped tightly around his shoulders while the weeping racked her body with tremors.
He patted her awkwardly on the back, soothing her as best as he could. He looked at his blade.
How could he kill her now when she reminded him of himself, locked away in that laboratory, so concerned about justice that long time ago. His smile painful, he whispered in a low voice, "I suppose it would be undoubtedly cruel to kill you with the blade that still has your mother's blood on it."
He was at a loss.
He couldn't just leave her. He couldn't take her back; a worse fate awaited her if she took her back to the Shinra camp. There were men there who liked children… Sephiroth held back a sound of disgust.
Sephiroth spun around, Yuffie still cuddled in his arms. His right hand man, the only person he trusted, stood before him, his face shadowed.
"What are you going to do with her?"
Zack held out his arms. Sephiroth hesitated only a moment, before relinquishing the precious bundle to his partner. Yuffie only murmured a dissent in her exhaustion. Zack stared into those tired gray eyes. He was searching for something. Something that all soldiers forgot after a few days of war.
Zack felt something inside of him twinge as he looked at the beauty.
"You don't want to, do you?"
He laughed, the first real laugh in a long time.
"Then let her go. We can see what she will do to us in the future." Zack paused. "Godo's still alive."
Sephiroth nodded. "He's a broken man now. I have made it sure of it with his wife's death. We can let him go."
"Best idea I've ever heard."
"Sephiroth. You choose. This time, there's no one to tell you what to do."
Sephiroth gazed at Zack for a few moments, nodded, and picked Yuffie up again. She was now scrubbing her red-rimmed eyes, trying her hardest to not start crying again. She didn't want any more tears. She clasped the bandanna close to her heart, the only thing left of her mother that she could still carry with her.
"What's your name, child?"
"Yuffie Kisaragi. Do you hate me?"
Yuffie could only blink in surprise. Hate him? Of course she hated him. Why wouldn't she? He destroyed everything about her life, even her. He killed her mother, her father. He destroyed her town. Why wouldn't she hate him?
He had taken everything that was dear to her.
But, even as she was saying this to herself, a small spark of pity welled up in her. Those green eyes of his, those that glowed so brightly, she felt a twinge of awe well up. There were few that had such lovely eyes.
Such lovely eyes wouldn't be such a bad man, right?
There were people like that, right?
Oh, but it was too complicated for her to understand. The only emotion she could comprehend was the dislike welling up inside of her.
"I… I… don't hate hate you. But I hate you."
Sephiroth looked startled while Zack gave a booming laugh.
Yuffie's eyes took on another light. A light that made her look far older than she was. Her voice soft, she asked, "Can you ever say sorry?"
"No, probably not."
"Well, when someday you can say sorry, then I can forgive you." She twisted her hands. Her eyes smiled at him.
Sephiroth's voice caught in his throat. What was this? Was he feeling emotions?
No, he couldn't.
Hojo made sure of that years ago.
It must be pity.
Yes, it must be.
Sephiroth felt before he heard the forest rustle around him. He straightened hastily and got into battle stance, as did Zack. The world around him exploded into a ring of ninjas, all dressed in green, to blend in with the forest. They stared at him, hating eyes over every inch of his wretched soul.
"Give us Lady Kisaragi."
Sephiroth narrowed his eyes, his hands twitching on his masumune. He let the blade balance in his hands, reveling in the perfect weight it had. "And if I refuse?"
"Then be prepared to meet death."
Sephiroth and Zack exchanged a smirk. Both of them felt at the same time, the tiny tug on their loose pants. Looking down in perplexity, they saw Yuffie staring at them, indiscernible sternness in her gray eyes. "Don't be bad."
Zack stared down at her in amazement before bursting into loud laughter. "Gee, little lady, you sure are something." He picked her up and swung in a circle. His wide smile brought a tiny grin to her own face and she started laughing. The ninjas lowered their weapons in a moment of loss. This was the legendary Sephiroth and his Captain?
Glancing at each other, one took the initiative and stepped forward.
"Please, hand Lady Kisaragi to us."
Sephiroth leveled that ninja with a steady glance. She stared back, her eyes blank… but perhaps, a little understanding?
He nodded. Holding her for the shortest second, Sephiroth handed Yuffie over to the ninjas. Quickly, they whisked her away. She managed a single, "Bye!" before he could halt them. His last image of her was the clear gray eyes that disappeared into the woods.
"We will not kill you, General Sephiroth. For I know, it would be just death to try. But, I cannot allow you back on Wutai's land. Please, for the sake of both sides, take the Shinra army and leave."
Zack intervened. Nodding, he grabbed Sephiroth by the arm, he who was still staring after the little girl. "We accomplished what we came here to do. To undermine Wutai."
"And you did that." The ninja narrowed her eyes.
The ninjas melted silently back into the woods and soon, all that was left, was the whispering of the leaves, still drifting slightly against the screams of the planet.
Sephiroth still stood there, staring after the little girl. There was an expression… of what? What was it? An expression of sorrow? A look of regret? He lifted his masumune and stared at it.
"Let's go. The Wutai and Shinra war is over."
Zack nodded and they walked back toward the celebrating camp, all waiting to congratulate their General on a hard-won victory.
The celebration was still going on strong and a few were suggesting that they storm Wutai and take the women and children.
They were dead now of course.
All the soldiers were whispering about the sudden change in the General's demeanor. They spoke of a beautiful Wutain woman who must have caught his eye. Or perhaps he struck a deal with Godo who was rumored to be still living.
What was even more disturbing to the soldiers, however, was the gossip that the DAUGHTER of Godo Kisaragi had met Sephiroth and had survived the encounter.
Why was she not dead?
Sephiroth ignored all the questioning looks and derisive glances.
He was thinking.
Sitting on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the Northern Ocean, his thoughts wandered to the young girl.
The aforementioned young man plopped unceremoniously next to Sephiroth and took a long haul from the tankard he was carrying around. He gasped a little, thumping himself on the chest. "Geez, that hits the spot!"
He handed the container to Sephiroth and grinned. "Thinking of Little Lady?"
Sephiroth snorted and gulped the icy liquid down, the alcohol burning his throat.
"You know, Seph, you can be a pretty stubborn bastard sometimes. If you're thinking of her, it's no big deal."
Sephiroth cast a sideway glance at his friend and then spoke softly. "Those eyes. They reminded me of… someone I had thought died a long time ago."
"I'm not really sure."
"I guess it's my mother."
"Your mom?" Zack stared at him, disbelieving.
"Yes." Sephiroth replied curtly.
"I don't remember her very clearly. All I can see is this shadowy figure who keeps crying."
"Gee, that's a nice thought."
"Do shut up."
"Aye aye General."
"Her name was Jenova. Everyone said that she died a long time ago. But I remember brown hair and brown eyes."
"Er… Little Lady's eyes were gray."
"That's not the point!"
"And she was nice. I remembered that. She was nice."
Zack fell silent at that admission and stared out at the endless expanse of blue.
"They were alike, I suppose."
Zack stood up awkwardly, weaving slightly on his feet. Patting his friend on the back, he murmured, "Seph. You don't have to listen to Shinra all the time you know. There's other things besides war."
He walked off into the darkness, leaving Sephiroth to muse over his words.
Sephiroth never left Shinra, until that fateful day in Nibelhiem. That day when supposedly the truth came out.
But he never forgot the girl in the woods of Wutai, with those gray eyes that were so clear.
Not even in his insanity, did he forget those eyes.
And when they met again, ten years, later, neither gave notice that they had met so long ago.
I know the real Sephiroth. When I first met Cloud and them, I had not known that their agenda was to hunt down Sephiroth. I had thought they were just another band of travelers.
Just another group I could take materia from.
When I found out on the boat that Sephiroth was the real reason they were chasing Shinra halfway across the blasted planet, I was the first to duck out. I didn't want to go with them. I didn't want to fight Sephiroth yet.
I knew him.
I couldn't hurt him.
I pretended I was sick to get out of fighting. In the end, it turned out to be just Jenova. But it was enough. I knew.
I knew that Sephiroth and I were fated to cross paths again.
I pained at that thought.
He hadn't said sorry yet.
We met Vincent.
The man who had fathered Sephiroth.
How was I to live in the presence of the person whose veins flowed with the same blood as Sephiroths? I had worked all of my childhood and adolescence to forget that Sephiroth had ever existed, encouraging the nasty gossip about him.
I didn't want to pity him.
Didn't want to sympathize.
Didn't want to forgive.
And I fell in love.
Not with Sephiroth, but with Vincent.
Shiva, how could I have fallen for a man who was really 57 in a body of a twenty-seven year old? And Sephiroth's father to boot. Yuffie Kisaragi, you are a complete and utter fool.
I couldn't help it though.
Those garnet eyes of his were so deep, so truthful, so anguished… who wouldn't fall for him? All except me. Everyone else was frightened off by his claw and icy exterior.
But that was Vincent. I wouldn't have loved him otherwise.
That last battle. It's so strange. There are parts that are etched sharply into my visual memory, while others just seem to blacken whenever I try to draw them back from the abyss. Perhaps I'm lucky. The mind knows.
It knows there are some memories best forgotten.
Cloud screamed at Sephiroth, the anger over the last five years finally peaking. "You'll pay for Nibelhiem and for Aeris!"
Yuffie shivered. She didn't want to be here. She hated all the blood that humans created.
Vincent eyed her calmly and then asked in a low voice, "Are you all right?"
She started. "I'm… fine. Yeah… I'm fine." She pasted a bright smile on her face. "Just ready to kick some Sephiroth butt!" Nodding vigorously, she ran forward and prepped herself.
And they defeated him.
It was so easy. Yet, I can't remember anything about HOW we fought the battle. All I can remember is the before and afterwards.
Those hazy images clamp onto me at times and refuse to let me sleep. Sometimes I stare at the ceiling, begging for those scenes to go away, to leave me alone. Please, I ask, all I want is peace. But it never comes. I try to tell myself and others that Sephiroth was no biggie, that it all was just one big adventure.
Oh, I want to cry at myself sometimes.
Tifa smiled at everyone, trying to get their spirits up. "It's over! We can go back to normal lives again!" They were all gathered around the Temple of the Ancients, paying their last rites to those who had died.
Everyone nodded. They were all tired.
No one responded until Red raised his mane from his paws. "I saw her head for the lake."
Tifa stood up and was about to follow her, when a metal hand stopped her. Vincent gazed at her and said calmly, "I'll go get her."
Dumbstruck, she could only nod slowly as he headed in the direction, his red cape billowing gently behind him. They were all now looking after the usually reticent man and gave each other wide-eyed looks, even Cloud, who had sunk into a stupor after defeating his nemesis.
Barret snorted. "He likes de brat. Why, I don't know nuthin', but he jes' does."
Tifa stared after the two worriedly, her hands wavering in the decision in whether she should go after them or not. She felt a hand clamp onto her shoulder. Looking up, she saw Cloud's blue eyes, smiling at her.
"Let him go. He needs to talk to her. They have something between them that they need to fix."
Yuffie dangled her legs into the pool from the low outcropping of rock. She ignored the biting sting of dust that scratched her bare legs.
Aeris was lying somewhere in this watery grave.
She didn't like that thought.
The girl deserved more.
They all deserved more.
Yuffie shook her head and leaned backwards and flattened herself onto the ground. The sky was a wash of gray, unlike the blue that had once dotted the sky constantly during better days… during days before meteor. She sometimes wondered if the blue sky would ever return.
How utterly poetic she could be.
She twisted her head slightly to see the figure of Vincent standing behind her. She executed a perfect stomach crunch and lifted herself up. She gave him a small smile before resuming her task of watching the water.
"Are you thinking of her?"
"Of Aeris? Sure. Why not? She died here, Vinnie. Died here as sure as the fact that I'm a ninja."
Vincent closed his eyes and sat down next to her. "Is something wrong?"
"Why would anything be wrong? We defeated Sephiroth, saved the world, got plenty of materia to boot, and well, I guess I'll be attending a wedding soon." She snorted and threw a rock into the water, causing the waves to ripple to the edges of the pond and back.
"Yuffie, something is obviously bothering you about Sephiroth and Aeris."
"There isn't anything bothering me."
"Do not lie. I can tell when someone shows falsities over what they truly feel."
Yuffie clenched the one hand that was out of his sight. How dare he. How dare he lecture her on revealing her feelings when he was the one to bring forth Sephiroth to the world, and then left that poor boy, that poor man to fend for himself in a place as horrible as Shinra.
Shinra, the hellhole.
"I told you, I'm FINE." Yuffie spat out, standing up quickly. "Look Vinnie, you may want to unearth some sort of problem that I have, when in reality, I don't have ANY! SEE! I'M NORMAL!" She shrieked the last part, right into his face.
He gazed right back at her, his eyes dark and emotionless.
Frustrated, Yuffie brushed a hand through her hair. "Sorry about that. Ignore me; I just need a little time to myself." Patting Vincent on the shoulder, she walked off, unaware that he was watching her every move, her every swing of her hips, every nuance in her body.
Oh, he loved her. Loved her enough to let go of Lucrecia.
But he still wouldn't understand her. Ever.
Whatever it is.
I can't imagine myself ever forgiving myself for letting Sephiroth die like that. I probably will never truly allow myself to go back to a normal life, after seeing that anguish in his eyes, that reality in the last moment. Poor Cloud. He dreamt that he was the last one to see Sephiroth. It was another light of Jenova's. Poor, misguided Cloud.
And Vincent and I did get married.
Because he loved me and I loved him.
Because the two of us were both damned, so neither would be dragging the other down.
And I guess we're happy.
Someday, I guess, we'll forgive ourselves over Sephiroth. But for now, we'll just live. Because, that's the way things have always been.
For the both of us.
I'm sorry Sephiroth.
- fin -