Disclaimer: I own nothing.

A/N: First chapter fic for Yuffentine. I've been playing with this idea for a few months now, but I've finally got all my scattered-ideas and threw in some Chemical X just for kicks and giggles and BOOM! Story. So read it. Please? And review. Yes. But know that if it absolutely sucks, this is just a test run to see if I continue writing for this pairing, and make it my main one.

Perhaps Not Her Finest Moment

Prologue: A New Leader

By Miranda Panda-chan

The darkness was soothing, even despite the ridiculously hot temperature of the Wutain summer. It was late August, and despite never ending heat of the day, her father's health had not stopped deteriorating since the beginnings of February, when he'd come down with, what they'd assumed to be, the common cold. However, after months of no recovery, they noticed that during his coughing fits, he now spit up blood.

Yuffie returned to Wutai in late June, a week after receiving notice while visiting Tifa and company at the new Seventh Heaven bar in Edge.

It wasn't like she hated her old man. They just had some severe disagreements while in the same vicinity of one another. He was her father, strict and stubborn, but he'd been her driving force for years…she'd always imagined that he'd live forever. Death had never occurred to her…

So there she sat, swinging her legs off the porch, watching the night sky in the vague hope that might calm her down enough so she could get some sleep. She sighed, wondering how everyone was doing. She hated being in Wutai again; hated the pathetic existences they all seemed to lead—she'd only come back for her father. Sure, she loved her people, her kinfolk, but it was the environment, the sense of defeat that overwhelmed and weighed heavily in the air. Wutai made her eyes burn in anger, and she was always better at running away rather than confronting her problems.

"Ugh..." she made a frustrated noise, spinning a shuriken around on her index finger mindlessly out of boredom as hurried footsteps approached from behind. She turned her head lazily to see the two guards who'd been watching over Godo out of breath behind her, "Hi guys," she said happily, taking in their haggard appearances, "something you wanted to tell me?"

"Princess, Lord Godo demands your presence-!"

"Demands, huh? If he asks nicely maybe, but no one bosses the Great Ninja Yuffie around." She said childishly, not bothering to look at them as she spoke, too entranced with the spinning weapon on her finger.

"My lady, he doesn't have long." Her eyes widened as she jumped up, pushing past the two and running toward her father's deathbed. She slid the rice paper door open forcefully, eyes searching out the too-still form of her father.

"Old Man?" she called loudly, scrambling to reach his futon.

"Haven't I taught you to be reverent yet, you heathen?" his normally commanding voice was weak, barely above a whisper. It crackled as he spoke, coughing into his hand. She tried not to cringe at the crimson stain on his palm.

"Just wanted to make sure I got here on time, for once," she said, laughing dryly at her poor attempt to make the setting less serious and gloomy than it was.

"Yuffie, listen to me and listen well. You're my only heir. You must stay in Wutai…you must lead them to a brighter era, the one you've always strived for."

"Hey, old man, you're gonna get through this, don't sweat it, you can lead them. You're much better than me at it."

"That I am, but Leviathan will be here to take me to Paradise before the night is out-!" he fell into a coughing fit, his entire form shaking from the mere force as his life in liquid form spattered against his hand, dripping on to the sheets, staining them crimson.

"No, seriously, I can't. You can't. Don't do this." She pleaded quietly. He gave her a small satisfied smirk, sliding his eyes towards her as he finally fell back against the pillow. He closed his eyes as if to blink…and they never opened again.

"Old man? Godo!" she shook him lightly, trying to get him to once more open his eyes, weary as he was, just one more glance of reassurance, anything! "Dad?!" the two guards came in as she yelled for her father loudly.

The shell of her father did not reawaken, nor did it answer her.

She swore loudly in her native tongue, cursing her over emotional reaction. She wiped her eyes with her hands, roughly rubbing away the tear tracks and hoping her eyes weren't too red and puffy. Her throat was dry from her crying and yelling. The guards eventually had had to pull her away from his corpse…

And now she was alone once more, in the unforgiving society of her own country.

The one place where she never wanted to be…and now she was stuck here for the rest of her days…all alone. Forever.

Wow, life sucks.

She couldn't help but hate him a little, out of pure childish spite, for leaving the throne to her. For leaving his job to her.

For leaving her, period.

"Lady Yuffie, the Elders would like a word with you." She glared daggers at the man that had dared to disturb her, but got up without a word. Silently side-stepping him to exit the room and head towards the meeting place of the elders.

Her shoed feet thudded against the polished wood loudly as she walked down the long hallway. Normally, one was forced to remove their shoes in reverence to the cleanliness (which was next to righteousness and holiness or something along those lines) of the elders. But she was Yuffie. And she hoped the elders would get hit by a crashing airship…or eaten by chocobos. It didn't really matter, so long as she had a camera when it happened. However, despite her great efforts, the elders didn't look surprised when she entered the room, clad in her usual ninja garb and wearing her shoes that laced up to her knees.

"You called for me?" she said, her voice low, slightly raspy. They all nodded solemnly.

"Lord Godo is dead."

"I know, I was there when he died." She spat out, looking away from the old men. He cleared his throat as if to tell her to not interrupt. Like hell, I will.

"You are the obvious successor to the throne, but we being the overseers of Wutai, second only to the royal family, we must question whether you will stay faithful to Wutai."

"What exactly are you implying there, huh?"

"You leave frequently, Lady Yuffie. Saving the world might be a noble cause, but your allegiance lies with Wutai first and foremost, as Queen, your obligation would be to remain here to watch over your people, you would lead them to war, whether it was against your previous allies or enemies, you would act in ways that benefit the people of Wutai, and the people alone. If it so benefits you as well, so be it, but the people come first. You understand?"

"Of course. What do you take me for? I've been the princess since birth, I was taught the oaths when I could speak, I've been learning this shit since I could think." Her words came out sharply, each word not unlike a stab. The men before her looked appalled at her language and the noticeably lacking nobility of her words.

"Then you will take on the responsibilities bestowed upon you by blood?"

"I will." She said, her words were firm, confident—the complete opposite of how she felt. She wanted to run, to run and never come back. The words almost seemed to congeal in her throat, twisting around her tongue as they tried to choke her. It was like planting her feet in blocks of cement in the town square. She would never be able to get away.

She'd probably never see the rest of AVALANCHE ever again, she realized with start, the pain of the revelation causing a blow as if someone had punched her in the gut.

"Very well, then. Lady Yuffie, your coronation is in two weeks. I suggest you tie any loose ends with the outside world that you may have before then. Should you not have returned by the deadline, you will have forfeited the crown permanently…as well as your heritage." And she didn't doubt that he hoped she would. She nodded sharply, turning on her heels and leaving quickly.

She ran.

Just keep running. Don't you dare look back. Don't you dare do it, Yuffie.

She ran and left Wutai behind her in a cloud of dust.

And she wished with all of her heart that she had the strength to never look back. To never return to her birthplace, her home.

It sucked that she didn't.

So she'd hope that Tifa would come and visit her occasionally, perhaps send her gifts and make Cloud bring them to her. Or maybe send Vincent to check up on her, or tell Cid that she needed blueprints on how to make an airship so he'd drop by for a little while. Tell Nanaki that she needed to make some new allies and make some sort of treaty with Cosmo Canyon and its inhabitants, or get Barrett to go on one of his finding his true purpose hunts again so he just happens to end up on this side of Gaia…anyone, anything. Just please someone, don't make her do this!

Don't let her do this!

Because even she knew she'd be back in less than two weeks, having nothing but the very bleak future to look forward to…

And now those two weeks had passed…

Yuffie sighed, flopping down on the floor, petting one of her kitties that had dared to approach her in her atrocious mood. She'd pulled the calico into her lap and hugged it tightly, hoping to find some type of emotional support. All she found was whiny meow that spoke of it's want of freedom from her death-grip. Two weeks had come and gone. She'd returned three days before she was due to be back, just like the elders had hoped she would. She sighed, she hated being this weak. She hated Wutai for tying her down…but yet, she loved her country more than life itself. She'd done so much for it, and she'd wasted more than sixteen years of her life doing nothing but trying to help it improve.

But never had she wanted to stay in it for any indefinite amount of time…not like this.

Yuffie closed her eyes, wondering if they were actually going to force her to wear that stupid traditional kimono for her coronation, or if she could scare the elders enough to just let her in with her ninja garb…

And no matter how hard she tried to keep her mind focused on the petty things in life that bothered her…she couldn't help but remember Tifa and Marlene and Denzel and Cloud. She wouldn't admit it out loud, she'd rather shoot herself with Vince's machine gun, but she was jealous of Tifa to an extent. She had a happy life, filled with people she loved, that she chose to have an obligation to. She didn't have to deal with having an obligation forced upon her, she stayed with her family because that was where she wanted to be…

And damn it, her family was with Tifa!

However, the little voice in the back of her head never shut up about her chance to refuse the crown of Wutai. But really, the more she thought about it, who in hell would lead afterwards? Would they have the guts to stand up to organizations that would pop up like Shinra had? Would they have the intelligence to know that trying to fight head on with a huge army that had weapons while Wutai was rather primitive in its offense and defense of its own village was something of a genocide? Would they lead it like she would lead it? Or would they half-ass it as many others had in the past before Godo?

How could she have refused with Wutai's safety and mere existence on the brink?

She couldn't have. Plain and simple. She was the only one that could insure her peoples' survival. And so she would do it: for Wutai, for Godo, and for herself. She looked at the clock, her meeting with the Elders would be in ten minutes. She stretched, her muscles screaming for movement of any kind. Yawning, she walked out of her room, her shoed feet clunking against the wooden floors loudly as she went once more. They had wanted her to announce it publicly, that she would lead them, but she had obstinately refused. She knew her people too well, especially the younger generation, those arrogant and haughty and overly confident youngsters that knew nothing of politics and had not been raised by a sovereign nor taught the introductories of how to deal with important people that belong to some other nation. If someone wanted to challenge her, the news would travel quick enough—they could come to the elders to request one formally. She stopped in front of the door to the meeting room as she heard the angry voice of Kyrriu Itachi from within.

'Well speak of the devil himself…' Itachi had been on of the youths that had tried to rebel against Godo at one time, but had been quickly subdued by the elders.

Wutai had been peaceful under Godo, despite the fight with Shinra and the gallons of blood spilt, the times afterward had been dry and isolated, but peaceful. They may have lost their pride, but they had not their families.

Yuffie was jolted from her musings at another loud indignant yell.

"You can't really be serious," came a loud complaint from the elders' meeting room, "She's hardly even been here for the past decade, how can we trust her to do what's best for the people?"

"It has always been the tradition that unless there is a challenger, which is then followed by a duel to the death if the challenger so dares to do so, then the throne remains in the family of the last living sovereign. Godo's only child is Yuffie, and she accepted her responsibility the day after her father took his last breath."

"So? I've never left Wutai to go flouncing about with a bunch of foreigners--!"

"To what, exactly?" Yuffie slammed open the door, eyes locked on to the youth that dared to question her leadership abilities and loyalties to Wutai, "To go and save the world? Sorry, I thought I was doing us all a favor so we wouldn't have to die!" The youth glared defiantly at the twenty-two year old, turning back toward the elders as he examined her.

"She dares to wear shoes in the most sacred of places—she's a disgrace to Wutai, and you're willing to place her as the face of it?!"

"Well if you have so much of a problem with it, why don't you challenge me? Let's see who Leviathan chooses to lead his people." She said, giving him a knowing smirk. He sneered.

"We all know of your ninja training, but a leader must more qualities than just a sticky hand and quick feet."

"Like I said," she spoke through ground teeth, emphasizing every word like she was stabbing him, "if you have a problem then challenge me and let's leave it up to date. Or are you too much of a coward?" She glared at him, but held an air of smugness as she saw his steady gaze drop the floor. He remained silent, turning back to the elders once more. He'd just begun to same something when she spoke once more, "Ya know, a good leader isn't afraid to die if it's for the good of the people." The youth growled, bowing before the secondary leaders before storming out of the quaint little room. She walked lazily to the four men seated on the floor, all staring at her with stern expressions, disapproval screaming from every one of them. "So, you called for me?"

"Ahem," the first one cleared his throat before speaking, as if to forget about the occurrence that had just played out, "Yes. You need to memorize your oaths and go through the traditional purifying before your actual coronation two days from now. Otherwise, we will have to take young Itachi's arguments and complaints into consideration. Understood?" she nodded curtly. She had already known, had understood the second she'd agreed to begin Wutai's next sovereign.

"Then you are dismissed." And so she'd walked out, happy, if not a little bit smug, yet peculiarly somber.

That had been two months ago, at the end of August. A lot had changed since then.

But so had she, in more ways than one.

A/N: So this is the end of the first chapter. Review and tell me how much it sucks, K? Updates will be sporadic. I have little time these days to do much of anything besides homework, so please be patient with me. But know that I mostly likely have not died if I don't update all that often.