After many arguments, mostly between Cid and Yuffie, the team had agreed on stopping and spending the night in a small forest clearing instead of spending another night on the airship.
The young ninja had never been more grateful for the feeling of grass against her arms as she lay into the green blades and stared up at the night sky. She let out a triumphant sigh and wondered for a second if she could manipulate everyone by using her travel sickness as an excuse for other things. "How long is dinner gonna be?!" She shouted at the top of her voice whilst still staring up at the sky.
"As long as it takes." Tifa answered back, her tone harsh as if she was trying to scold her. Yuffie let out a long moan and rolled onto her front.
When had we last eaten?!
After finding both Cloud and Tifa when they'd fallen into the lifestream and then Cloud explaining his complicated past (which Yuffie wasn't even sure she understood) they had all continued on with their journey.
She stared at Tifa who was sat beside the fire, with a small smile on her face as she stirred the pot in front of her. The picture seemed odd and Yuffie realised that there should have been another woman sat beside Tifa, clad in her pink dress and her bright green eyes.
Wow, I miss Aerith. Yuffie thought to herself, pulling at blades of grass absentmindedly. The smell of smoke was strong in the air and it wasn't just from the fire as Yuffie realised and stared at Cid who was currently on watch. The pilot was sat down, his spear resting against his thigh and shoulder as trails of smoke ascended into the air above him, whilst he too gazed into the night sky. Besides him was Nanaki, his tail swishing back and forth as he sat quietly staring into the depths of the forest.
Barret was close by and gave out a long groan as he dropped a heap of logs down besides the fire where Tifa was sat. He spoke quietly to Tifa and the woman gave him a smile before he turned and disappeared into the darkness. Cait Sith was next to the fire, but was unmoving, clearly not being operated by its Shinra operative. Vincent uncharacteristically was sat near the fire; he normally would sit away from the group and stay on watch, even though Cloud had ordered everyone to take it in turns. But tonight the enigmatic man was staring into the flames, his red cape drawn high across his shoulders and obscuring most of his face.
Their leader was currently away. No one had stopped him when he'd heaved his sword onto his back and declared that he was going to clear the area, neither had he asked for anyone to accompany him.
Yuffie propped herself upright and brought herself closer to the fire when she felt the cold chill of the night air. "You know, if you were a gentleman, you'd give me your coat." Yuffie said with a smirk, not turning to look at Vincent but spying at him from the corner of her eyes. Yuffie shivered once but the warmth of the fire soon banished the chills away. Vincent had turned to look at her and Yuffie wondered for a moment if all the time he spent in that coffin had removed all of his memories of how to speak to people or any form of social interaction. "But like I said, if you were a gentleman you would." She laughed once to herself and she heard Tifa give a small quiet giggle.
"That sure smells good Tifa!" Yuffie cried, leaning forwards to stare into the pot before Vincent snatched her arm and tugged her back into the floor, like she'd clearly gotten too close to the flames for his liking. Tifa didn't answer her and Yuffie sighed.
She felt like she was drowning in the silence and it took her a moment to realise that perhaps this was the first night they had all sat down and spent together and the fact that Aerith was no longer here had become even more evident than before. Aerith would be the one sat beside the fire with a cheery smile on her face and would be more than happy to have a conversation with Yuffie, regardless if it was about materia or one of Yuffie's stories from when she was younger.
Yuffie didn't realise she had plucked the bright green materia out of her shruiken and was rolling it between her palms. Aerith had handed it to her, saying it would keep her safe before the older woman had left them.
"Dinner's ready." Tifa called out, snapping Yuffie out of her thoughts.
"Oh boy!" Yuffie cried, slotting the materia back into her weapon and greedily opening and closing her hands to Tifa, waiting to be passed a bowl of stew.
"Where's Cloud?" Tifa asked, her eyes narrowed as she searched for a head of spiky blonde hair.
"He'll turn up." Yuffie replied, still waiting for Tifa to serve up their dinner. Cid, Nanaki and Barret had all walked over and they too glanced around for their leader.
"We're waiting for him." Tifa answered, her lips set in a thin line as she glared at everyone in question. There was a second whilst everyone stared at her before she sighed. "I'll go find him."
"No!" Yuffie leapt to her feet. "If you go, then we will have to wait ages for you to get back." The ninja snapped, lifting her weapon up into her hand. "If Vincent goes, then he will disappear too. If Barret goes, he will get lost, Cid will moan about his airship and Nanaki will set the forest on fire." Yuffie sighed and shook her head ignoring the confusing stares from her party members, why are some people so incompetent? "And Cait Sith… isn't…on."
Before anyone could question her she spun on her heel and disappeared into the forest.
It hadn't taken her long before she found the spiky headed leader. He was sat on a small boulder and had his sword in his lap. "Cloud!" She yelled, causing the blonde to turn and frown at her as he sharpened the heavy blade in his hands. His arms had a few scratches along them and bruises were forming across his pale skin. His hair was messier than usual and his mako eyes looked tired. Yuffie let out a long whistle and shook her head, "Tifa is gonna kill you when she sees you." She reached for her weapon, ready to use the restore materia Aerith had given her before Cloud raised his hand.
"Safe yourself the trouble" he muttered, Yuffie frowned at him as he returned to sharpening his blade.
"We're waiting for you, you know." Yuffie replied, her stomach let out a long gurgling noise and she saw the smirk on Cloud's face.
"I'm not hungry."
"Well I am!" The ninja heiress stomped over to the young man and tugged at his arm.
"Yuffie." Cloud easily pulled his arm out of her hand and stared up at her. He let out a long sigh before staring at her. "I need some time by myself…" He began.
Yuffie groaned loudly. What was it with these people? Just because she was younger than all of them did they not think she realised these things? Besides, even if he needed time by himself, Yuffie's need to eat severely outweighed his issues.
She stopped her trail of thoughts and stared at him as he returned to his sword. Cloud was a really messed up guy, which was the best way she could describe it. Thinking he was someone else, when he actually wasn't.
A thought slowly came to her mind and her smile grew. "I guess I owe you an apology." She laughed to herself, causing the blonde to stare up at her with a questioning gaze. "I used to call you a Soldier bastard…"
Cloud let out a short laugh. "When?"
"I made sure you never heard me." She answered with a shrug of her shoulders. "So… seeing as you weren't one… I'm sorry." Cloud laughed once more at her and shook his head. "Besides, finding out that you actually weren't in soldier is clearly a lot better 'cause-"
"I'd stop now Yuffie." Cloud interrupted and gave her a half smile.
Yuffie nodded once and placed her hands on her hips. "So, let's go Spiky." She nodded her head in the direction of where their camp was and waited for his reply. Cloud slowly got up and swung his sword back on to back and held out his hand to allow her to lead the way. "What would you kids do without me?"