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Between Missions

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Yuffie awoke to the sounds of a battle, not far from the tent. She glanced at Tifa’s bedroll across from her, but it was already neatly tied up and packed ready to go, the woman herself nowhere to be seen. A battle cry from outside made her jump and she realised Tifa must be out there, fending off a monster attack in the wastelands. It had been only a few days since the young ninja had blessed the party with her presence in the woods, but she had grown to like Boobs. She was the only one of this rag-tag group of weirdos that didn’t treat her like a complete child. Scrambling into the dawn light with her Shuriken drawn, Yuffie skidded to a halt at the sight before her.

Cloud had his stupidly oversized sword drawn, but he wasn’t pointing it at any attacking monsters. He was bearing down with ferocious speed on Tifa. The fighter had her fists up, bracing for imminent impact.

“What are you doing!?” Yuffie yelled, but it was too late. The flat of Cloud’s sword slapped Tifa’s side, the force enough to send her flying. Yuffie screamed in horror at Cloud, who spun from the fight to give Yuffie a look of blank surprise.

Yuffie didn’t stop to think, she just rushed him, determined to get revenge for her new friend. Cloud simply side-stepped the furious young ninja, leaving her to stumble headfirst into a nearby bush.

“Stay back, Yuffie. You’ll get hurt.” Was all he said, turning back to the direction Tifa had been thrown.

“How dare you hurt Ti-” Yuffie yelled, cut off by a gasp as the woman in question appeared out of nowhere with a flying kick. Cloud barely managed to raise his sword to block her, skidding backwards several feet under the force. Tifa repelled backwards off the sword in a graceful backflip, landing lightly on her feet.

“Morning Yuffie! Aerith will be making breakfast soon!” She called out, eyes not leaving Cloud as he launched forward in another attack, driving her back into the plains beyond their camp.

Yuffie just stared, mouth agape at the carnage being created by the two fighters. Dust swirled as the crack and slap of their attacks echoed across the empty landscape. Where the dust settled, impact craters dotted the surface.

Cid stumbled out of his tent, yawning as he groped for his cigarettes.

“Coffee on yet?” He said, barely glancing at the commotion before turning to the campfire and dipping a mug in the pan warming by the flames. Yuffie gaped at him, unable to process his indifference as he sipped the hot drink and grimaced. “Gaia, I’d kill for a cup of Shera’s earl grey right now.”

“Aren’t you- aren’t you going to help? Or stop them?” Yuffie spluttered, pointing at the combat. Cid frowned at her, following her outstretched hand.

“Stop what?”

“Stop them hurting each other!”

Cid chuckled, watching the dust fly. “Kid, they’re just warming up. They do this a few times a week.”

Yuffie watched as Cloud ran at full speed, sword raised in a deadly lunge. Tifa feinted right, spinning to the left and swinging below his defences to land a whirling uppercut that sent Cloud six foot into the air. Cloud landed with a roll and was immediately swinging his sword again.

“This is a warm-up?” She had seen friendlier duels to the death.

A blast of scorched air rushed over them, the after effect of a Firga being cast. Cid cursed as a wave of dust blew in his eyes and coffee. His mouth twisted in disgust and he chucked the dregs in the dirt.

“Fucks sake.” He grumbled and squinted at the duelling duo. “Jus’ wish they’d start fucking already.”

Barret, having just sat down at the fire, choked on a mouthful of coffee. Yuffie stared at the pilot, confused. How would that help anything? She opened her mouth to ask the question when Aerith bustled over, unloading breakfast things from her pack.

“Hope everyone likes porridge. I’m afraid it’s all we have left until we reach the next town.”

Cid slid a hand down his face with a groan. “Why did I ever leave Rocket town? Could be eatin’ Shera’s bacon sandwiches right about now, none of this fuckin’ porridge shit in the middle of a fuckin’ wasteland surrounded by fuckin’ numbskulls.”

Yuffie didn’t think. She just said the first thing that popped into her head.

“Shera this, Shera that. Whoever this Shera lady is, why don’t you just fuck her already?” Yuffie grinned, proud of her joke. There were several beats of awkward silence as Cid levelled a deeply angry glare at the ninja. Yuffie’s grin faltered as the silence stretched out, making her regret her words completely, stomach turning to ice. Oh Leviathan, that’s it, she said the wrong thing, they were going to send her away now weren’t they? Back into the woods she’d be by herself again so far from home-

Barret started to make a weird snuffling sound, which quickly turned into a snort. The snort escalated into a full-blown belly laugh as he threw back his head, guffawing and even slapping his knee with his flesh hand. The sound was a relief to Yuffie, suddenly able to breathe again. Even Aerith was tittering, although she tried to hide it by becoming extremely busy with the pots and pans. Cid glared at all of them.

“Fuck you all. I’m going for a piss.” He stalked out of camp, past a wary looking Red who instinctively gave the captain a wide berth as he came back from his own sojourn into the woods.

Barret was still laughing, occasionally snorting as he tried to drink his coffee. “Jeez kid,” he said between fits of dwindling giggles. “You got balls.”

Yuffie struck a pose, basking in the compliment. “I am the white rose of Wutai, you know.”

“Sure, sure. Jus’ don’t go around saying things like that too often. Not sure Highwind’s got much of a constitution fer it.”

Yuffie bust out a cheeky grin to cover the fact she wasn’t quite sure why Smokey-Mc-Snotface would get so offended over something he had said himself literally two seconds earlier. Luckily, she was saved from replying to Barret by the return of Tifa and Cloud.

“Breakfast smells great!” Tifa was chipper, not looking at all like she had just destroyed half the landscape with her bare fists. Cloud was the same, if not more placid as he quietly dipped two mugs in the coffee pan, drizzling a dab of honey in one before handing it to Tifa. She accepted it with a shy smile, although Yuffie saw it fade slightly as Chocobohead took his own coffee to sit next to Aerith.

Poor Tifa, Yuffie thought. Not even a splash of cream. The young ninja sidled over to her.

“Don’t worry Boobs.” Yuffie whispered conspiratorially to Tifa. “I’d cream it for you.”

Tifa gave Yuffie a puzzled look, blushing slightly. “Um, thanks Yuffie. I think.”

Aerith was tittering again, drawing bewildered looks from Cloud and Red. “Breakfast is ready!” She said loudly, spooning the thick porridge into bowls to pass around. “No creaming, Yuffie, until you’re at least eighteen.”

Yuffie gave Aerith a strange look, but brushed it off as another one of the flower girls odd little ditties. The woman did talk about hearing voices after all, so random commentary on her porridge preferences wasn’t entirely out of character. She shrugged mentally, resigning herself to the immense task of possibly being the only sane one in this random mix of weirdos. She’d stick it out, at least until they took their eyes off all that mastered materia…