A/N: Hello there, faithful readers! It's me again, Pen Against Sword, this time doing a Mengde-style author note where I blather on about myself and how I don't own this fandom and I'm trying to avoid lawsuits and -- haha, just kidding (don't kill me, Mengde). Anyway.

This story started out as a one-shot. Then it got bigger. It turned into a shortfic. It turned into what is now becoming a novel-length story with a whole plot and climax and everything. Forgive me, everyone, I know I already have several irons in the fire, but it wasn't supposed to get this out of control. It just sort of came into being. Now, if you don't like Yuffie/Rude, or if you just think it could never work, the right thing for me to tell you would be, "Turn back now. Read something else." But if you're reading MY work, you're used to the crack pairings. So what I wil tell you is this. Give it a chance. You know I follow characterization rules. Try it on for size, and if you don't like it, lambast me. D

Anywhoodle, this is the first time I've done first person POV for Yuffie, and I am finding it delightful and hilarious. If you laughed at something, please, do tell. I love to hear if you found something funny, and I love to hear what you think was absolutely idiotic. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

And last but not least for me to say, thank you so much to my betas, Mengde (always there for me, what a wonderful guy) and VulcanElf, whose commentary has made this piece all the better.

And without further ado, on with the show!


My name is Yuffie Kisaragi, and I have always had some specific personal philosophies. Then again, growing up the way I have can do that to a person. After being trained as a ninja, running away at a young age, and then helping save the world with a band of weirdos that were pretty much terrorists who went around blowing crap up, I have developed some healthy rules of self-preservation.

They're not in any real order or anything, but here are a few of them.

Always have your materia on you—at all times. No exceptions.

Never leave your shuriken at the base of a tree when you're asleep in Gongagan forests, especially when there are frogs around.

Always steal materia, unless it's a special case.

The only special case in which you should not steal materia is, say, when the people you are thieving from can kick your ass. So, yeah, don't steal from your terrorist friends.

Stealing, when you need to, is usually the best option.

You should never provoke a silver-haired madman by talking about his mother. Seriously, yo mamma jokes are right out.

These, among many other codes of conduct in my life, have helped me through the hard times and the easy times, the rain and the shine, all the ups and downs of being alive. I think that every person creates their own rules and systems of ethics to live by, and I am no exception, obviously. Sometimes these things work, sometimes they don't.

Hah! How's that for mature, Godo? In your face.

My personal philosophies, however, once thought up, never fail. They are impenetrable, indisputable, and infallible. Because I am Yuffie Kisaragi, darn it, and I am very good at being right.

Every once in a while, though, I have to add one or two new philosophies to my list. It doesn't happen often, and they're almost never altered. (I'm right most of the time—I mean, seriously, have I ever steered anyone wrong? And that whole "stealing materia from my friends then getting hung upside down to blazing hot Da Chao and making semi-friends with Elena then having everyone hate me for stealing their materia" thing doesn't count, so just keep your yap shut, okay? Okay.)

My newest rule goes something like this:

When you or someone you know accidentally kills a charming, potential crime lord, make sure that he doesn't have any psychotic girlfriends, and if any person of that sort exists, make sure that bitch gets properly locked up.

I bet by now you are saying, "Yuffie, what the fuck are you talking about? Quit being so vague! Or specific! Or…something. Just get to the damn point!"

But, my dear people, to anyone who might be on the receiving end of this story, I have this to say: the story is a long one, so are you ready to sit down and take it like adults? You are? Ew, get out, I hate people who are that serious.

Well, you all want to know what the hell I am talking about, so I guess I will explain. In fact, that's why I'm writing all of this down. 'Cause I'm awesome, and everyone will one day want to know how all this shit went down. No, I ain't gonna tell you about how AVALANCHE saved the planet and all that boring crap because I'm way more interesting, and besides, there are already like ten million books on that subject. So I'm gonna start at what may seem like a completely unrelated point in the story, but really, it's kind of the how it all began for me. Well, for me and Rude. Oh, wait, I'm getting head of myself again.

The truth is—I have no love life. I've never really had much of one, and I think it's because I try out this rule on the people I'm attracted to, and it just doesn't work. It kills me to admit it, but maybe I'm going about this the wrong way?

Yeah, I know, you want me to explain. I hate telling these stories—it's so lame to be rejected. I think I'll put it in a format that is less painful for me. Some embellishments here and there, but just go with it, all right? That way it makes it easier on me and more entertaining for you!

Once upon a time, there was a young woman who was sixteen years old. She found herself fascinated with a noble knight—his name was Cloud, and he had blonde hair and blue eyes, and he was strong and fast and withdrawn and sort of boring at times but oh-so-very alluring and mysterious. He was also kind of cuckoo-loony-wacko in the head, but some girls like that dangerous "I might hack you to pieces in your sleep" appeal, y'know?

Anyway! This girl was a princess of a great but fallen kingdom, so she stole all of the knight's magical orbs and ran away to her faraway land to help restore it to its former glory. However, Cloud and his friends tracked her down and stole the magical orbs back, and they were not very pleased with what she had done—not at all pleased.

So the mean, not-understanding, would-be friends treated her like dirt for a while and called her a brat and didn't want her to come along and didn't trust the poor princess, but Cloud told them that she should stay, and the princess was very grateful to him.

Soon the princess liked to tell the noble knight her secrets and babble away at him for hours at a time. Cloud always nodded his head and seemed to be listening, even though he never said anything. The princess fell in love with Cloud, and she hoped that Cloud was in love with her.

But alas! Cloud had another woman, and he loved her dearly. The princess went on a date with Cloud and even kissed him on the cheek, but Cloud did not yield, for his heart belonged to the woman of flowers. Woe, woe for the princess! Cloud did not see her as more than a slightly annoying friend—a little girl who liked to talk to him until he wanted to be with his flower girl.

So the princess was very sad, but she could not be angry with the woman of flowers, for she was sweet and kind, and she never once said any bad things to the princess. So when the woman of flowers was killed tragically, the princess finally gave up, thinking it would be a disservice to her sweet friend's memory if she pursued handsome Cloud any longer.

The princess also thought it might be slightly creepy and disturbing if she got into the sack with the handsome knight Cloud with her flowery friend watching disapprovingly from the Lifestream.

And that's how the story goes. You can guess that I'm the princess, right? If not you must be dumb or something, and if that's the case, I can't really help you. Sorry, but you drew the gene pool's short straw. Go read a book or something.

You think that's where it ends, right? Nope. I mean, you're probably saying, "Oh, Yuffie, everyone needs a little teenage heartache, right? You had a crush on Cloud, and you were misled a little, hoping he liked you too, but it didn't work out. No big deal, you got over it." Well, sure I got over it! I'm not such a whiney sap that I couldn't move on and accept that I didn't get my man (that time).

But that's only the first time. Then there was this second time, and let me tell you, it was a doozy of a heartbreaker, yesiree. And since I like the whole princess thing, I'm gonna do it again. It's kind of entertaining, don't ya think?

So the princess moved on with her life and wasn't really interested in anyone else for a long, long time. Then, three years after her heart was broken by the handsome knight, she fought alongside a half-demon named Vincent. He was a tortured soul who had done many things that he regretted in his life, and he had spent a lot of time trying to make up for his mistakes. He was kind of weird and freaky and spent thirty years in a coffin, but he was a gentleman, and he was tall, dark, and handsome, and his desire to "repent for his sins" and to be a decent human being only made him that much more appealing to the princess.

The princess tried her best to get into his good graces and be mature, but she wasn't always very good at that since she was a jokester by nature, and she had this personal philosophy about annoying people and stuff. She talked to the half-demon Vincent a lot, about her problems, about her reluctance to rule, about how she felt about the world in general. He always seemed interested in what she had to say, and through being very good friends with him and fighting alongside him in many battles, she learned a lot about him.

Dark Vincent used to be a Turk—an elite force of stealth and intelligence bodyguards. When he was a Turk, he was assigned to a beautiful lady of wisdom and knowledge named Lucrecia, and he fell in love with her. But a bad, evil (also greasy and ugly) man stole her away from poor, misguided Vincent, and she went on to give birth to a psychotic silver-haired madman bent on world destruction.

Not the best choices, all in all, but he was trying to make up for them, and there was no way Vincent could have known that his girlfriend was going to be a crazy bitch, experimenting on her own unborn child.

The sad half-demon man had spent much of his life mourning the mesmerizing Lucrecia, trying to make up for not saving her and just generally blaming himself for what had happened to her. Then he became close friends with the princess, and she felt that maybe, just maybe, she could help ease his pain by being there for him.

So she babbled and pestered her way into his good graces and into his soul, and when she got too close, he pushed her away, but she came back every time, even though he never thanked her for it. And he was grateful, in his own way.

But when the princess revealed that she had fallen deeply in love with the dark man, he sadly informed her that he could never love another like he had Lucrecia. He was under the impression that if he ever again became involved with someone romantically, they were destined to share in his lifetime of pain and misery. The princess informed him that that was "stupid and holy crap, get over yourself, Vinnie, you douche," but he pushed her away and told her that he would never sully their friendship and never taint her innocence with his darkness.

Little did Vincent know that her innocence had been pushed away in favor of lots of naughty dreams about him.

No matter how much she tried to convince him and change his mind, it did not work, until one day, he asked her to leave "for her own good." Cold, lonely Vincent told the princess that she would be better off learning to love another in the real world, away from his old, broken soul.

That was over a year ago, and the princess is still sort of bitter about it (stupid jerk Vinnie), but she's moved on to bigger (literally) and better things. Or men. Whichever way you want to look at it.

Okay, so the point is, I like this guy, and I'm afraid to try my normal approach because I don't think it will work. Third time may be the charm, but my luck seems to have run out. I have no love-life and haven't had one for years.

Up until recently, I've been trying to convince myself that I had no feelings for this man. Like, "C'mon, Yuffie, you must be crazy. There are plenty of other fish in the sea. Why him?"

I mean, he never says anything. He talks even less than Vinnie and Cloud. Why can't I find myself a nice guy who shoots his mouth off and wants to go get drunk with me. Like Reno. Yeah, Reno would love to go—oh, dear Leviathan, what am I saying? Reno would sooner throw up than look twice in my direction. Besides, we all know he's gayer than a spring day, and I think he's screwing Rufus (hell, if I were him, I would screw Rufus—he's got all that money, and have you seen that man's hair? It's prettier than mine. Even I can admit that—I'm not that immodest).

And this time, I can't even pick a man with pretty hair. I mean, sheesh, at least Cloud and Vincent had pretty hair—hell, I want Vincent's hair. That man has hair like a woman, I swear. Vincent, Vincent! Let down your long hair!

…so I can strangle you with it, you jerk.

Ahem, and not to mention the lack of pretty hair, what's with all the hardware in his ears? I mean, does someone need that many piercings? On second thought, they're kind of neat. Maybe I should get my ears pierced.

What am I saying? They aren't neat! They are totally unappealing and not badass or cool at all!

And neither is that dumb suit or those stupid sunglasses. Only a government lackey would wear that suit all the time, and all Turks are government trolls. Shin-Ra isn't even a major power anymore, and they're still wandering around in those stupid things. Although, it is kind of attractive in a business-casual kind of way. Like…I cut throats, but I do it in style, without getting any blood on my white shirt.

What? Yuffie, no! Bad! I mean, have you seen his sunglasses? Why does he wear those stupid things, anyway? He wears them inside! I swear it's like he thinks they make him look cool or something. Well, they most certainly do not make him look cool or attractive or mysterious or hot—

Ack! Ack! Stoppit, self! I do not like him, I do not, I do not. He is off-limits, he is not my type—hasn't the past proven this to me yet? Cloud and Vincent didn't work out, and he won't either 'cause he's just like them. Quiet and boring. I, Yuffie Kisaragi, do hereby decree that I am not attracted to him in the least because he is a big, huge no-no.

There. I said it.

Oh, crap.

I'm lying. I'm stupid. This can't be happening.

I have a thing for Rude.

What's that I hear? You must be asking, "Yuffie, why Rude? How? When?"

All good questions! Which, unfortunately, I'll have to tell you later so I can end this chapter. Whoops, left ya hangin', didn't I?