Title: White Noise

Fandom: Final Fantasy VII

Author: Nietzsche's Itch

Pairings: Sephiroth/Yuffie, Genesis/Aeris, Vincent/Elena, Cloud/Tifa

Genre: Friendship/Romance

Rating: T

Status: Oneshot, Complete

Disclaimer: I do not own FFVII

Summary: Yuffie talks with Sephiroth after her father disowns her, and finds more than one reason to be hopeful. Warning: Zack, Aeris, Lazard, Sephiroth, Angeal and Genesis have been revived in this, and Vincent is Seph's father. Sephiroth/Yuffie. Slight Vincent/Elena, Genesis/Aeris and Cloud/Tifa.

Yuffie had thought it subterfuge at first, a hoax of sorts, when Godo had abruptly and in no uncertain terms announced that she had been disowned from the family, and was no longer in line for the throne. She had believed it to be a ploy, constructed for the purpose of making the arrogant and antiquated advisors trying to dictate to her what behaviour they thought was befitting of a future monarch, attempting to orchestrate several political betrothal agreements that would turn her into little but a glorified figurehead and other such manipulations, regret their interference.

She had thought that it would last a couple of weeks, six months at the most, before they realized that they needed her in order to rebuild Wutai the way it had been before the war, that she would be recalled with all due haste and they would be grovelling and squirming at her feet like the blind, helpless worms they were.

Yuffie was still waiting.

Several months after the beginning of her self-imposed exile in Edge, it began to dawn on her that it might not have been an elaborate farce on Godo's part. Secret missives sent by messenger birds came back unopened, and her third cousin Zhang, pushing fifty-five as it was then, was announced as Wutai's next in line for the throne.

Yuffie withdrew into herself, speaking seldom and only when she was strictly required to do so. The others quickly learned not to broach the subject of her dishonourable discharge from the royal family, and soon she spoke as little as Vincent, prompting Cid to grumble that he'd preferred her when she couldn't keep her mouth shut for more than a minute. She rarely ventured from her room for anything but her shifts in the bar and the assignments Reeve gave her. Socialisation was kept to a minimum, the tacit understanding that they would be there if she wanted to talk to them was given and accepted and they left her alone for the most part.

Not so tonight, when Tifa had transformed the bar into party central for the joint engagement celebrations of Vincent and Elena, and Genesis and Aeris, Attendance was mandatory, with the consequences for refusal being an acutely unhappy Tifa. It was generally agreed amongst them that Tifa, wielding the three-pronged weapon combination of a wicked right hook, a dangerous distraction technique in the form of her assets and the invincible puppy dog eyes, was not to be taken lightly.

Thus it was that after giving her congratulations, hopefully as heartfelt as she meant them to be, and staying with the group for three long hours Yuffie had quietly retreated to the veranda outside, seeking solitude.

She curled up on the old wooden rocking bench that hung from chains attached to the lower branches of the great oak tree, growing tall over the house. One foot beneath her, and the other idly pressing against the ground, causing the swing to sway gently back and forth.

Yuffie sighed desolately, wishing she could truly feel the vicarious joy that her friends held for the happy couples. She wished Aeris every happiness, and the stroppy redhead to whom she was to be married needed a keeper, to be sure. Vincent was one of her oldest friends, and she didn't doubt the vivacious young Turk would make him see that life was to be lived, not wiled away gnawing on the bones of old regrets.

But when it came down to it, she had lost as much as they had gained, and she didn't know how to deal with it.

"Gil for them?" a deep voice cut into her ponderings. Yuffie glanced up to see Sephiroth standing a few feet away from her, arms folded and expression wryly amused.

She snorted. "My thoughts? They aren't worth that much," she scoffed. Sephiroth smirked.

"And talk is cheap isn't it?" he added, dragging a reluctant giggle from her.

"It is, I guess," she said, shrugging. He chuckled slightly and walked over to where she sat. Yuffie shifted her leg so that he could sit down beside her, and he took her up on the unspoken invitation. She promptly dropped her feet in his lap, causing him to look askance at her.

She gave him a cheeky wave in response, and Sephiroth snorted derisively. Inwardly though, he was pleased to see a shade of the old Yuffie that had been absent for far too long, the Yuffie that had been a faithful, if sometimes pestilential friend to him since his final resurrection. She had been undaunted by his coldness, and long since accustomed to his fathers bouts of melancholy, waited patiently with him as he walked the long road to forgiving himself. He wasn't quite there yet, and had stopped, and backtracked around the obstacles in his path as he went along, but the end was in sight.

She had made sure he didn't do it alone, no matter how much he wanted to.

He settled his gloved hands across her ankles and started to rock the swing himself. Yuffie smiled slightly and closed her eyes, letting herself be lulled by the steady rhythm.

"Why did you come out here?" she murmured.

Sephiroth shrugged carelessly. "I still dislike large crowds, and most of the people in there still dislike me to a degree."

Yuffie sat up with a frown, but kept her feet where they were. "No they don't," she protested.

"They are wary then, for which I have only myself to blame," he replied firmly. Yuffie scoffed.

"Hojo and Jenova are the ones to blame, even Cloud gets that now," she said.

Sephiroth winced, remembering the incredible tension that had persisted for weeks after he and the others had been resurrected. Aeris and Zack had been warmly welcomed, of course, and Genesis and Angeal were accepted with relative ease. Lazard was spirited away by Rufus and Sephiroth had borne the brunt of icy indifference on Cloud's part until Aeris had bluntly reminded him that he had been possessed by Jenova, just as Cloud had, when he 'killed' her, and that it was time to get over it.

They hadn't progressed beyond 'good morning' and 'goodnight' yet but progress was progress.

He sighed. "Perhaps." And then jerked as Yuffie took a hank of his hoary mane and tugged. He spun to face her, mouth set in a moue of discomfiture.

"Stop pulling," he grumbled.

She giggled. "But its so much fun to play with!" Sephiroth rolled his eyes but let her do as she pleased. If truth be told, it was rare that he was touched voluntarily by anyone except Zack, and it warmed him to know his role in her countries downfall had not prevented her from befriending him.

"Hey, Sephiroth?" she asked suddenly.


Yuffie bit her lip. "Do you...do you that my father will ever change his mind...about disowning me?" The tone of her voice was pensive, but also lost in a way he was intimately familiar with.

Sephiroth sighed again. "Let me answer that with another question, can your claim to the throne be legitimately taken away?" Her brow creased in confusion.

"Well it was," she said flatly.

"I meant, does he hold evidence that you have committed a crime that would entitle him to legally remove you from the line of succession?" Sephiroth clarified. She frowned.

"I thought he could just do what he wanted, he is the emperor after all," Yuffie said sullenly.

He shook his head. "No, there are laws in place to prevent heirs from being passed over for more politically acceptable candidates,"

Her lips were a thin line by this time. "Do you mean to tell me that because I'm not a submissive, traditional male heir that they thought they could trick me out of my right to be empress?" she asked, teeth gritted in anger.

"So it would seem. There has never been an unmarried empress that ascended to the throne, and aside from the gender issue, you are a danger politically, having made public statements in opposition to old regime with the intent of change, and being linked to the WRO, you are influential enough to garner support for your reforms," Sephiroth clarified.

"Does that mean I can challenge their decision?" she asked sharply.

"Since they didn't have proper grounds for it then yes, you can," he said evenly.

Yuffie let out the breath she had not realized she was holding. "Whoa, that's a lot to take in," she grinned suddenly "but I'm going to give it everything I've got!"

Sephiroth smiled beneficently.

"You know a lot about this stuff," she thought aloud. He grimaced.

"I read up on Wutaian history and politics, it was necessary for the negotiations during...the war," he trailed off awkwardly. Yuffie sighed. Negotiations that had failed, was left unsaid.

"I suppose they're going to try and force me to marry someone in return for my reinstatement," she muttered, depressed by the notion of wasting her life away playing the part of mild-mannered, ladylike empress, with no real power to affect change.

Sephiroth reached out and took her hand. She returned the contact almost unconsciously.

"They will not. And if they attempted to do so, they would bring the combined might of Avalanche and the WRO on their heads," he added.

Yuffie snickered deviously. "They'd wet themselves if all I did was turn up with you," she cackled, relishing the image of the entire council of elders suffering instant heart failure at the sight of the 'Demon' of Wutai escorting their princess. Sephiroth smirked.

"An appealing idea," he said venomously, setting her off into another fit of giggles. Instead of trying to speak, Yuffie used the hand clasped in hers as leverage to pull herself into his lap, eliciting a startled gasp and an arm wrapped automatically around her back to steady her. Deciding she hadn't quite pushed her luck enough, she put her arms around his neck, and fancied she could see the faintest tint of red staining his pale skin.

"What's this about?" he asked jokingly, though his voice was rough. For all his manners, Yuffie was a beautiful young woman, and her current position was too comfortable for his liking. And if she stayed there, no amount of apologies would absolve him if she realized how interested he really was.

Yuffie smiled and hugged him tightly. "For being my friend."

He smiled back at her, a dangerous idea presenting itself in his mind, and a rare impulse led him to say what he did next.

"What are your views on marriage?" he asked. Yuffie quirked an eyebrow at him, bemused by the question.

"I'm not adverse to it I guess, I just want to marry someone I chose," she said emphatically. He nodded thoughtfully.

She snorted. "I would be by now if I wasn't so stubborn. Twenty-two is past it in Wutai."

"You're not past anything," Sephiroth said confidently. This time it was Yuffie that blushed.

"Well thanks, but why are you asking me all this?" she questioned him.

Sephiroth baulked, it was not or never. "If it would suit, I would like to...court you," he said, hating the indecisive tone of the words. Yuffie herself was too busy gaping in astonishment to notice this

"You want to date me?" she gasped. She instantly regretted her flippancy when he turned away, a curtain of silver hair falling to hide his expression.

"I-I mean I'm not saying no!" she cried "I was just...surprised."

Sephiroth looked back at her. "Does that mean you'll consider it...me?" he asked quietly. Yuffie considered the man before her, proud and vulnerable all at once, someone who had overcome so much to get where he was today, and who had risked ridicule and rejection for her, the brat princess that everyone loved but nobody wanted to be around in more than small doses at a time. He was patient, gentle and non-judgemental, gave good advice when asked, and was always there for a reassuring hug when she needed it, regardless of his own lingering issues with people touching him, an after-effect of his helplessness at the hands of one mad scientist and the apocalypse from outer space.

Time and time again he had sacrificed his own comfort for her, and Yuffie realized that no matter what anybody might say, Sephiroth was not a cold man, he was a kind man. And she was privileged to have been one of the few people he showed this to. He deserved as much from her.

"I accept your intention to court," Yuffie intoned formally. A moment passed, and she squealed in surprised glee when he instigated a hug for the first time ever.

He smiled into her glossy hair. "Thank you," he murmured gratefully, the sound muffled. Nevertheless, the sentiment had been conveyed.

Yuffie laughed gaily, and he couldn't help but join her. And then one of them reached up, or leant down, and a chaste brush of lips was exchanged. They clung tightly to each other, hands intertwined as the kiss slowly deepened before they had to separate for air.

She shivered pleasantly as they rested against each other.

"Wow," Yuffie whispered "that was nice."

Sephiroth sounded strangely choked when he answered. "Yes."

"Hm, want to do it again?" She didn't have to ask twice.

Unbeknownst to them, someone watched them from a darkened window. Quiet footsteps sounded behind him and he spoke, hoping to allay his concerns.

"Do you think it'll work out for them?" Cloud asked, torn about the unexpected turn of events that had led to the union of his once greatest enemy, and one of his closest friends.

Tifa smiled and leant against his back, revelling in his warmth and stability. "I do."

Cloud turned to her with an answering smile. "Good enough for me."

White noise is a term used in physics, but can also mean background noise or a steady, unvarying sound that drowns out other sounds. It is sometimes used to help people sleep. By using it here, I mean to imply that other people people e.g. The elders/Godo were the white noise and they didn't matter anymore. They were only background noise themselves and Sephiroth was who she listened to.