Title: Letting Go
Summary: A true father learned how and when to let go. Yuffie-centric, Godo. Hints of VincentYuffie.
Prompt: Yuffie-centric. Wutai and Godo, mostly. Developing of their relationship as father and daughter. Acceptance of her freedom, personality and most of all-her odd group of friends. Details: Something very light hearted, like her personality!
A/N: This fic was written for Fabi-chan over at the ffexchange community on LJ. I rewrote it twice and this was my third version, but overall I was quite happy with how it turned out. And the amazing Fabi loved it, too, so that was the best part of all. Special thanks to ObsessiveCompulsiveValkyrie for being there to beta this story and to look over my previous drafts. She answered a lot of my questions and helped me find the direction this fic went in(go read her work!). Valk, you're awesome. Also, keep in mind that this fic has minor spoilers for "On the Way to a Smile- Case of Yuffie." Please enjoy!
The last time she had been in Wutai had been when Deepground had begun their world-wide attack. She hadn't returned since, but she had managed to keep in touch with her old man through other means.
The country was flourishing without her and she figured it was better to help from far away. In the WRO she could pester Reeve nonstop about helping the reconstruction along and, besides, it was the best way to keep her freedom.
As much as she loved Wutai, she wasn't willing to sacrifice herself or her loved ones the way Godo had done. That made her feel selfish, but Yuffie had realized a long time ago that she had to think about herself, too.
Her footsteps slowed when Wutai came into view and, like her reaction upon returning post-Meteor, tears blurred her vision. She was four years older than she had been then and she wasn't expecting a welcoming party to celebrate and recognize her part in saving the world. At least she could boast about being a little more mature, she thought with a weak grin.
"Something the matter?" asked a deep voice at her side.
Yuffie gave Vincent a side glance and shook her head. "Nostalgia," she replied, shrugging.
"For a moment there you looked like you swallowed a bug," said another voice.
"Grossness," muttered Yuffie. "Did I tell you about the time that I found a beetle crawling up my leg?" she asked, shuddering.
Nanaki sniffed and rolled his eye. "Bugs are a great form of sustenance when nothing else is readily available."
Yuffie nearly gagged and started forward once more, but then was stopped when a gloved hand settled on her elbow. She let out a sigh and watched as Nanaki treaded past her and gave her a brief glance.
"I'll walk ahead," he said before leaving them alone.
Yuffie let out a heavy breath and looked down at her boots. His gentle hand raised her chin so that their eyes could meet. "Are you truly okay?" Vincent questioned.
Yuffie took a step back and nodded once. "I'm fine," she said, forcing out her normally cheery exterior. She had forgotten how well Vincent seemed to be able to read people, though. "Fine. I'm not okay."
Vincent crossed his arms over his chest and looked at her.
"You heard the story already. I forgave my dad for locking me away when the Geostigma started in Wutai, but… we never attempted to close the distance between us. We're not father and daughter anymore. It's more like we're polite strangers now."
Vincent nodded in understanding. "Then this will be your chance to step forward. If he won't do it, or if he hasn't realized how bad things have become, you should say something."
The ninja scoffed and kicked a pebble far away, watching it bounce off of other rocks until it hit a tree and stopped. "My dad and I were never close, Vince. This isn't something we can talk about over tea or sake. Everything just slowly started to go downhill after my mom died."
"And you're content with letting it get worse? At this rate, you will come visit once every year," Vincent replied, voice calm.
"You wouldn't understand," Yuffie muttered, walking away from him.
Vincent let out a heavy sigh and just let her go. Despite what everyone seemed to think of her, Yuffie could be a sensible young woman when she needed to be, and he had no doubt that she would be able to make her situation with her father right.
It was when he feeling particularly lonely that he would bring out images of his wife and daughter. Both were equally beautiful, free spirits, and he had been a fool to have tried to hold either of them back. Yuffie's mother had been a warrior, not cut out to be the lady of an emperor, but she'd done it because it had been her duty. Godo sometimes mourned that fact, but there was no denying that she had made him a happy man.
Yuffie on the other hand, had inherited her mother's spirit as well as his stubbornness, and the combination had made for plenty of hardships between his daughter and himself. He had gone about his relationship with her the wrong way and had even gone as far as to prefer the safety of his people over hers. Now, he didn't know how to go about earning her forgiveness. He wasn't usually a man who apologized, but he knew it was important that he did so now.
Yuffie had possibly forgiven him, but they had never addressed the issue, and Godo supposed it had greatly influenced why she rarely visited now. He missed his daughter; her smile and quick wit, her kind heart, and her giving nature. He wanted to make things right. He just couldn't figure out if it was already too late.
Setting down the frame—a picture of Yuffie on her adventure with her friends back when she had been eighteen—he hoped that she called soon. It was time he and Yuffie had a long, open talk.
Her little house was as she had left it, but where she had imagined that there would be dust and more dust, there wasn't any. The space was clean, furniture polished, and her old clothing had been packed away into special containers and bags to protect them. It was like… someone had wanted to preserve all of her things. Had Godo done this? No, Yuffie mused, her father wasn't sentimental. He had never truly been cruel to her, but he had always been sort of aloof and distant.
"You two can stay here and I'll stay with my dad. I don't think he'll like the idea of me sleeping alone with both of you here," Yuffie muttered to distract herself. A gentle finger ran over one of the only images she still had of her mother; she had looked so proud and beautiful then, before her death.
"Will you see your father, now?" asked Nanaki, padding over to rest his side against her leg.
Yuffie absently scratched his neck and nodded. "Yeah, I guess I should."
"Would you like for us to accompany you?" Vincent asked.
Yuffie shook her head and smiled. "Don't worry about me. I'll just go tell my dad that we're here and then we'll get something to eat, okay?"
Nanaki stepped back and both he and Vincent watched in worry as Yuffie walked away without her usual bounce.
She didn't know what the big deal was. She'd just walk in and act as if nothing had happened. Yeah, that would be the best thing to do. She had missed Wutai and her father so the best thing she could do was make this a peaceful trip.
She slowly retraced a path into the large pagoda she had grown up in, remembering what it had felt like to walk through the structure at five, nine, and then sixteen years of age. Everything there was as she remembered it, too. So much so that she could almost see the image of her mother, exiting the training room in her exercise gear with a smile on her face.
Instead, there were hurried servants running from one place to another, doing their work. Slowly, Yuffie began to walk down the hall, bits of memories coming to her from a childhood she had nearly forgotten.
Her back straightened by reflex and Yuffie grit her teeth at the remembrance of why she'd had that reaction. Her father had used that voice every time before their sparring match in the mornings. Turning around, she spotted Godo walking towards her. He looked the same as always, except that he had put on a few more pounds around the middle, and there was more gray in his hair.
"No welcoming party, old man?" she taunted.
"Still as disrespectful of your elders as you always were, daughter," replied Godo, annoyance tingeing his voice.
Yuffie shrugged. "It's been a long time. Were you expecting me to greet you with a kiss and a hug?"
Godo looked mildly scandalized and shook his head. He'd never been big on expressing his feelings with hugs or kisses. "It's good to see you alive and well. You look… healthy," he replied.
Yuffie grinned as she looked down at her dirty boots and frayed shorts. "Yeah. You look good, too, dad." They stood in awkward silence for a moment until she sighed and rolled her eyes. "I brought some friends with me. They'll be staying in my house. Also, remind me to thank Chekov for keeping everything clean."
Godo hummed and smiled slightly to himself. "I was the one who had Chekov keep everything clean and neat for your return," he said, voice quiet.
For once in her life, Yuffie was struck speechless. Her father had done that for her? And even more surprising, he had been optimistically expecting her to return home? "Why were you so sure that I would come back?" she asked after she took it all in.
"No matter how far a bird travels, it always returns home," Godo replied. "Now, these friends… they are of the female variety, yes? Otherwise you will be sleeping here. The elders will be scandalized if you sleep in a house with males while unmarried."
"Yes, we wouldn't want the elders to die of heart attacks because a girl got hers before being married," muttered Yuffie.
"What was that?"
"Nothing," Yuffie replied, nonchalant.
"Fine," said Godo, eyes narrowed. "I'll leave you to settle in and then I will like these friends of yours to have lunch with us," he said before walking away.
Yuffie grinned faintly and made her way back to her little house to let Vincent and Nanaki know about lunch.
After excusing herself from the heated debate at the lunch table out in the gardens, Yuffie sighed to herself and stood in a far doorway, watching her Nanaki and Vincent as they spoke in quiet tones. Her father had also stepped away, probably to use the restroom. It made something inside of her happy to see that he got along with both Vincent and Nanaki, despite their opposite views on politics, economics and what it would take to save energy in order to continue helping the planet.
Her friends meant the world to her and it made Yuffie happy when they were accepted for who they were. In any case, her father had stopped giving Vincent the third degree on how exactly they were involved. She didn't think Godo believed that they were just friends. Well, maybe she wasn't the one who was ready to admit anything, Yuffie thought with a smirk.
"I learned, through many mishaps, that when you have that look on your face, you're thinking of a way to get into trouble," her father's voice interrupted from behind.
Yuffie turned to look at him. "I'm going to be twenty in a few days, Dad. I think we're past the phase where I'd slip a whoopee-cushion under your seat when there was an important meeting or when I'd switch your sugar with salt," she said, grinning.
Godo remembered every single of Yuffie's pranks. There had been some that had bordered on painful. "The people of Wutai will celebrate that day with you," he said, sliding one hand over her smooth hair; the touch was brief, but it meant a great deal for both of them.
"I think you just gave away the surprise," said Yuffie lightly.
"I'm letting you know ahead of time so that you don't get a chance to run off," Godo said, tone wry. "But before you go off on one of those winded hunts you're fond of with your friends, I want you to accompany me for the day."
Yuffie's eyebrows lifted in surprise. "To do what?"
Godo smiled slightly and motioned for her to return outside to where her friends were waiting. "There are some things I wish to show you."
The first thing her father took her to see where the small towns. They were growing and the houses still looked new. The entire world's population had been cut once more after the Deepground attack, but there were still many, many people left who were managing to get back on two feet.
The land around them, which had been painfully destroyed when the Lifestream had passed through nearly four years before, was now lush and green. The world was healing and it made her heart lighten to see the changes in her country from back when she had been sixteen.
As she and Godo walked through one of the biggest towns in Wutai, he stopped her and motioned towards the buildings. "I had the chance to rebuild the hotels and other tourist attractions that had been there before the Lifestream hit us," he stated, voice inflectionless.
Yuffie looked at where he had motioned and saw that there was a training dojo for children, and right next to it, there was a school. "Why didn't you?"
"I—" he trailed off. "I thought of you."
Yuffie looked at him and frowned. "Why of me?" she asked, scratching her elbow and swallowing back a sigh when he turned away. Typical dad…
"I thought of how you—well, I—sacrificed your childhood in order to bring back materia to help our Wutai. I didn't want you to be disappointed in me anymore."
Yuffie began to shake her head at his words. "Dad, no. I left because—"
"Because I suggested it and influenced you to go. Then I never took the moment to recognize all that you had done for us along with your friends."
She smiled vaguely when a pair of children raced by them and entered the dojo. "I care about our people, too. Besides, it's my duty, right?" she asked, her laugh sounding slightly strangled.
Godo watched her, took in the tenseness around her shoulders, her twisted mouth, and the way one of her hands was holding tightly to her opposite elbow. She was his daughter and if he asked her to, she would return and rule Wutai the way she was supposed to by blood. It was her duty. But… it was also something she did not want. If he forced her to stay, she would be required to marry someone she did not love as well.
Yuffie was beauty and freedom. If he loved her, he would come to terms with the fact that maybe she had not been meant for this life. He didn't want to cause his daughter anymore sadness and disappointment, and he knew his wife would've urged her to go and live her life however she wanted.
He had to let her fly free and be who she wanted. He just needed to come to terms with it first.
Yuffie noted how he had grown broody all of a sudden and she'd had enough of broodiness to last her a life time thanks to Vincent. Taking a step closer, she elbowed him in the stomach lightly. "How about showing me the materia caves, old man? Think you're still up to taking a hike up a mountain?"
Godo scowled at her and they began to walk back to their chocobos. "You will eat my dust, daughter. Did you think that your mother was the only warrior in the family?"
Yuffie snickered at his words and mounted the bird in one jump and without falling over the other side; Vincent would've been proud. "Care to bet on that?"
"I do not bet. It is undignified," said Godo smartly. Then he kicked the sides of his bird and took off while she was still adjusting. "But I do know that I will be the victor!" he called.
"Hey! You're cheating! How come you can't bet but you're willing to cheat?" Yuffie yelled after him, taking off just as quickly. When had she last had a laugh with her father? She asked herself.
The thought was a sad one. She couldn't remember.
The day of her birthday, Yuffie wondered what her father had planned for her. Wutai was quiet and calm, and the ninja debated with herself on whether her father had forgotten how to throw a party. Or at least parties for her.
Lying back on her borrowed bed in her father's home, she stared up at the ceiling in silence, wondering what she'd do now. The sun was slowly setting and her room was beginning to darken, and to make matters worse, Vincent and Nanaki had disappeared. There was a knock at the door and Yuffie called for the person to enter.
"Enjoying your birthday?" asked her father, stepping in with a long box in his hands.
"Yeah. Breakfast was good and Vince promised not to disappear tonight, but I haven't really seen him or Nanaki all day. I'm dying of boredom," she admitted. Only when she sat up did she notice the box in his hands. "What's that?"
"It's something I wanted to give you. Don't feel obligated to wear it," her father said, walking over to set the box down next to Yuffie.
"What is it?" she asked, already pulling off the top and sifting through tissue paper.
Godo watched her hands and let out a sigh. "It belonged to your mother and she wanted you to have it once you were old enough."
Yuffie's hands slid over silk and she pulled out a beautifully made kimono the color of a deep purple. She really didn't remember ever seeing her mother in it in person or on a photograph. She looked up at her father in surprise. "It was my mom's? How come I haven't seen it before?"
"I kept it in a safe place. I had wanted to give it to you on your eighteenth birthday, but…" he trailed off, uncomfortable.
She hadn't even bothered to come see him on her eighteenth birthday, Yuffie thought with a pang. She had stayed and celebrated with who she had considered her real family back then. Tifa had made her a delicious cake, and even Vincent and Reeve had showed up to wish her a happy birthday. All she had done was call Godo to tell him that she had been alright and in the city of Edge.
She knew that she was just as responsible as her father for their failed father-daughter relationship, but it was only now that she was older and a bit wiser that she could see it clearly. She wasn't a little girl anymore and she wouldn't continue to lay all the blame on her old man. She smiled up at him. "Thanks, dad. I'll wear it to dinner tonight."
He inclined his head once and turned to go. "Happy birthday, Yuffie. I will return to escort you to dinner in an hour."
Yuffie nodded and watched him go before she turned back to stretch out the kimono at her side. She could almost imagine her mother in it, and she hoped that she didn't end up ruining or dirtying the material later that night. It was one of the few things she now had left of her mother that were truly worth keeping. And to think that cranky old Godo had kept it for her all these years. Yuffie smiled to herself and stood to begin to get ready.
An hour later, she stood before a mirror and inspected herself. She didn't look half-bad, and even though it was customary for Wutai women to wear their hair long, hers was still in the short bob in had been in for years. She would soon be required to dress like this every day, and grow her hair out in order to look like a proper Wutai Empress. She honestly wanted to run, but if her mother had been able to endure this, then so would she.
Stepping out of her room, Yuffie was surprised to see Vincent standing there, waiting for her. "Hey," she said, voice light. "I thought my dad was coming for me."
"He needed to fix a last minute detail. I am to escort you now," Vincent said, motioning down the hall.
"Such a gentleman you are," muttered Yuffie, breezing past him. She nearly started when his hand slipped into hers, stopping her.
"You look… breathtaking," he murmured, red eyes glinting in the darkness, like a cat.
Yuffie felt her cheeks warm and she smiled, bright. "Thank you," she said shyly.
"I need to show you something before we go to dinner," he said, offering her his arm.
Yuffie took it and together they walked out of her father's home and into the beautiful gardens around the pagoda. "Where are we going?" she asked when her curiosity got the better of her.
"You'll see," he said, leading her towards the thicker trees and greenery.
When they were clear of two large trees and their near black shadows, Vincent stopped and Yuffie nearly tripped over him. "What're we doi—"
Yuffie jumped and clutched Vincent's arm when lights turned on and candles were lit. Familiar faces greeted her, starting from her father, Tifa, Cloud, Barret, Cid, Shera, Reeve, and the children. People who had been there through her childhood were also present and they were all gathered together in front of a long table filled with gifts and decorations. Nanaki padded to her side and rubbed his flank against her leg. Yuffie spotted a bouquet of her favorite Wutai orchids slipped into the belt he used to carry his phone in and she smiled. "These only grow in the heart of Wutai," she said, quiet.
"I wanted to give you something I knew you would enjoy," said Nanaki, bumping his nose with hers when she leaned down to grab the flowers.
"Thank you," she said, voice cracking as she hugged him tightly, scratching behind his ear. "I always loved these because they reminded me of my mom." Nanaki nodded once and moved back to allow the rest of their friends to give Yuffie their congratulations.
"Happy birthday!" Tifa nearly screeched, rushing over to pull Yuffie into a tight hug, squeezing her protruding stomach between them.
"One year older," said Cloud with a grin, giving her shoulder a squeeze before returning to Tifa's side.
"Happy birthday, Aunt Yuffie!" exclaimed both Marlene and Denzel, circling her in a group hug.
"Aww, thanks guys! What are you all doing here?" the ninja asked in pleasant surprise.
Tifa took Yuffie's hands in hers and smiled as she turned to look at Godo. "Your father invited us to come celebrate with you. He knew it would make you happy if we were here, too."
Yuffie turned to look at her father and saw that he looked a bit uncomfortable by the attention. Where had this thoughtful, caring father been for the most part of her life? "Thanks, Dad. Thank you so much for this," she said honestly, her eyes becoming suspiciously glassy.
Godo just nodded and walked away to speak with their guests, leaving Yuffie to hug each of her friends. "Damn, girl, you actually look like a lady!" Cid exclaimed, resulting in his foot getting stomped on not-so-subtly by his wife.
"What he means is that you look very pretty tonight, Yuffie," Shera said as she hugged the shorter woman.
"Thanks, Shera. I know this big dummy means well. I just can't figure out how you could stay married to him," muttered Yuffie.
"I heard that!" Cid exclaimed, reaching for Yuffie in order to ruffle her hair roughly. He was met with air when the ninja stepped away from him and shot him a dark glare.
Greeting the rest of her old friends was like seeing loved family after a long trip, she realized, and she couldn't have been more thankful to her old man for doing this. This was probably one of the best birthday parties she'd ever had. There were paper lamps set all around, as well as candles sitting on the table, illuminating friendly faces and the set plates of the finest china Yuffie had ever seen. Godo had probably been hiding those until she was old enough, too, since she'd always been a tad clumsy.
When dinner was finally served, they spoke merrily and celebrated with her being another year older and hopefully another year wiser. Once the empty plates had been cleared away, and more sake had been served, someone brought out a birthday cake, complete with twenty candles, and upon seeing it, Yuffie knew that this had been one of Tifa's treats. The dark chocolate with fresh strawberries on top were her favorite, and Yuffie knew that her friend remembered everything that made everyone else happy.
Leaning over the many, many candles, Yuffie stared down at the open flames and smiled to herself as she made her wish. When the candles were all out, her gaze automatically flew to Vincent and he gave her an amused look.
Godo hadn't missed the look that had come over his daughter's face after she had made her wish and looked at the man she had arrived in Wutai with. Sighing heavily to himself, he knew what he had to do later that night. As much as he loved his daughter, he had to let her go. She had to be free of him and free of duty in order to be happy. In memory of Yuffie's mother, he would grant his daughter what she had probably wished for. To be free to love someone she had chosen.
Stepping back into the shadows a little, Godo watched Yuffie as she joked around with her friends and let her true self come to the fore. Her smile was contagious and more than once Godo caught the dark gunman with a half-smile on his usually solemn features. If his daughter could get a man like that to smile, then she would be okay on her own.
After opening a big pile of gifts amongst only her closest friends, her friends returned to their rooms for the night and promised to stay for a few days with her. She had considered the possibility that it could be the last time she saw her friends and she wanted to give them all a proper goodbye.
Still clad in her kimono, Yuffie stepped out of her room to take a look at the town outside of the gates. The lights were shining merrily and it seemed that everyone was still celebrating with her. A couple of feet away, she spotted her father, standing outside of his own room, contemplating the dark sky with a sad expression on his face.
"Thinking about mom?" she asked, walking over to stand next to him.
Godo nodded and gave her a small smile. "I always think of your mother. But this time, I was also thinking about you," he admitted.
Yuffie grinned. "About how I managed not to ruin the party tonight?"
"You were a graceful young woman tonight, Yuffie. And you reminded me very much of your mother. That was not why I was thinking of you, though. I wanted to give you my gift in private," said Godo, half of his face shadowed and the other half lit by the bright stars in the night sky.
"You mean another gift besides the awesome party? I don't think I've ever seen Vincent tipsy before," Yuffie said with an unladylike snort of laughter.
He was happy to see her back to the carefree, cheerful young woman she had always been meant to be. "There's more," he assured her.
"Is it materia?"
"Is it a new shuriken? Because I think Conformer is getting a little old and needs to be retired—"
"It is not a weapon," said Godo, beginning to get exasperated. "It's not something material, either."
Yuffie frowned and crossed her arms over her chest in thought. "What is it then?"
"Your freedom," Godo replied, serene.
"Kisaragi Yuffie, as of this moment you are free to do as you wish with your life. You will not rule over Wutai if you do not want to. Live your life however you desire, and… love the one you deem worthy," Godo said, voice becoming rougher with each word.
Tears were brimming in Yuffie's eyes but she couldn't quite determine why. "Are you—are you saying that I don't have to be the next Empress of Wutai? That you won't force me to marry some pansy politician if I don't want to?"
Godo let out a strangled chuckle and nodded. "I've only ever wanted what was best for you, even though I went about it the wrong way. For that, I am sorry, Yuffie. After your mother left us, I didn't know how to move forward with you, and I obviously did many things the wrong way. I just never thought I'd end up hurting you so much by the way I treated you."
Yuffie sniffed and rubbed her tears away with the back of her hand. "I understand why you did it, Dad. I didn't before, because I didn't really know what it was to sacrifice so much for people you cared for, but I've learned it first hand," she replied, thinking of Aerith.
"I want you to be happy," Godo whispered. "And I want you to keep smiling." His chest felt unusually tight when a watery smile slipped over her lips. "I am proud of you, Kisaragi Yuffie. You are a savior and a hero. A true daughter of Leviathan. Never change the way you are."
"I won't. I promise," Yuffie said with a nod, feeling a big burden lift from her shoulders and making her heart feel light.
"I just—want you to promise me something."
"Okay," Yuffie said, not bothering to wipe the two long tears that traveled down her youthful face.
"When you marry that Valentine man, and the two of you have children, bring them to visit me as much as you possibly can. I know you'll make that man happy, and I want to be able to see that," said Godo with a smirk, watching in amusement as her cheeks colored a bright pink, even in the dark.
Before he could say anything else, he found his arms full of his daughter, her silky hair pressed to his nose. Letting out a shaky sigh, he hesitated momentarily before he wrapped his arms tightly around her, squeezing her the way he had done years ago after she had suffered a nightmare. That time seemed so distant now, but she would always be his little girl. Always.
"I love you, Dad," Yuffie whispered, arms as tight around her father as possible.
Godo smiled into the darkness. "I love you as well, daughter." He knew that giving her her freedom didn't erase the years of bad parenting, but it was a start. Yuffie now knew for certain that he loved her and that he was proud of her, and for the moment, it was the only thing that mattered. He had found the right time to set her free.