Yuffie is nine, all sharp elbows and knobby knees, when she looks into the bright Mako eyes of the SOLDIER and finds herself breathless. Like when Yuri accidentally punched her in the stomach when they were playing tag, a little bit painful and she has to inhale really deeply to be able to get oxygen to her lungs once again.
When he helps her, her child-mind plots ways to keep him around and in touch. She's disappointed when she never sees him again, her fantasies of Materia hunts with her SOLDIER husband vanishing in his wake.
When she fights him, and has her ass handed to her, she can't believe she lost to this kid with the chocobo butt hair. He oozes arrogance, and demands attention (she always claims it's his sword that demands the attention, and not Cloud himself).
She stares at him more often as they travel, and it makes him so obviously uncomfortable she begins to make lewd remarks and hang on his back the few times he sets the sword down. Yuffie digs her fingers into the skin of his shoulders, marveling at just how hard he feels and she buries her face in his hair. The blonde strands tickle her nose, and she sneezes on him, laughing when he squawks and tries to throw her off his back.
Aerith Gainsborough & Tifa Lockheart
Sometimes Yuffie watches Tifa, and wishes. What for, she can't really say-it could be to look a little more like the older girl, to be as graceful in her movements with that long dark, pretty hair. Every now and then she hugs Tifa, skinny arms around her waist and face full of chest but she really doesn't mind it because Tifa always hugs back, even if she's confused by the sudden burst of affection.
Then there's Aerith, with her welcoming smile and relentless teasing. Yuffie likes to put her head on the girl's shoulder when they rest, pretending to be asleep but really she's just listening to Aerith breathe, a quiet sound like the flutter of insect wings, and she has to ask herself why she's so engrossed with the sound.
When they all sleep, the three of them cramped in a tent together with the night air chilling them, Yuffie clasps onto Tifa's hand, and turns her face into Aerith's neck, absorbing the warmth of them both and aching for a little more closeness than she is willing to admit. When she inhales, it's the scent she remembers even after it's all said and done with and Aerith's gone forever. It's something female that's a mix of flowers and rain. She wonders if she's becoming a romantic, then has to remind herself that there's no room for romance in the life of a ninja.
Cid Highwind has the foulest mouth of anyone she's met. When she's sixteen and a doe eyed virgin (so she likes to say when she's telling this story), she is brought into a whole new world of vulgar when she meets him.
Cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth, a glare ready for everyone, she is convinced that he's constipated and when she asks him if he needs any help with that problem he promptly smacks the back of her head and tells her to shut the hell up.
Only when she's in her twenties does she think he's even remotely close to good looking, and that's probably because she hasn't been laid...well, ever. Over twenty years in a dry spell (that was never un-dry to begin with) is enough to make anyone give Cid a second look. This quickly stops when he still insists on calling her a flat chested midget and she punches him in the gut.
Cait Sith/Reeve Tuesti
When she hugs the cat to her body, it reminds her of when she was six and sick with the flu. Her father tossed her a stuffed animal, because the pillow she'd been hugging was damp with sweat and tears. She never could handle sickness well and once she got the animal she started to feel better.
Yuffie claims it was the animal that cured her, and not the crazy old witch lady her father brought down from the mountains who spread smelly green stuff over her chest and chanted in a language Yuffie never wanted to learn.
Cait lets out a string of mocking words when she squeezes him, some of it hard to understand because his accent is so thick, but Yuffie ignores him even when he tells her that her boobs will never grow and her ass is fat.
When she finally sees Reeve face to face, and boy is it a blow to the stomach to realize she's been hugging a part of this guy or something, he grins at her, patting her on the head and telling her that she'd broken at least five of his Caits. That s when she gives him a bonecrushing hug, if only to hear the satisfying sound of him gasping from pain as his ribs are squeezed too tightly.
Yuffie wonders if maybe something inside her is a little warped, so that she doesn't find anyone her age attractive. She tends to blame the people she met in her more formative years, since they were obviously the reason for her bias on what she found attractive in a person. Being surrounded by a lot of pretty would make anyone's mind melt into a pile of goo, and even Barret's ugly mug wasn't enough to make that change.
And if pretty was used to describe anything, it would be Vince. His girly locks frame his pale face perfectly, and he was the picture of Tall, Dark, and Broody. Vincent is basically all red cape and pretty hair to her. What girl wouldn't find mystery attractive, even if his angst is a little bit tired? But there really is no mystery to Vincent Valentine, and she only realizes this as she's twenty four and really looking at him for the first time since she met him. She always pictured him as this shadowy character who would bite skin and leave bruises when anything sexy happens, but now she just sees he's always been-a broken man with a past he uses to flay himself with on a daily basis, cutting his insides so they are all raw and bleeding for nobody to see.
When she decides to try to fix him, she doesn't declare it like she does most of her intentions. She falls back to her ninja training, plotting in the shadows for this Obvious-Plan-If-Anyone-Were-Paying-Attention. She readies herself for the onslaught and is willing to sacrifice her cover if she can tackle it and pin it to the ground quickly.
It's only years later, that he truly sees her, the girl that had grown up before anyone realized it, and even though she still snorts milk up her nose at Reeve's really bad jokes about Tonberries, she's delicate in her own way and brave in every way.