THE KUNOICHI'S PRIDE

by Dreyer Bronzewing

 

Yuffie Kisaragi was never good with moving vehicles.

 

This would account for why she was standing hunched over the rail on the bridge of the Highwind, the seas and the clouds rushing past her eyes as she struggled to keep her guts from spilling out through her mouth.  She was unsure how much longer she could keep it up, though; the longer the flight went on, and the more the deck rocked with the winds, the more unbearable her airsickness became.  Occasionally she would look around to see if anyone around her was paying attention to her plight, or perhaps even sharing it.  No such luck -- Vincent and Red XIII were the only ones on the deck; they were just sort of standing around, not really doing anything, hardly even talking, while Cid silently stood at the helm and piloted the craft.  It was kind of creepy; it seemed that it was always like this while the Highwind was in the air.

 

The door to the cabin hissed as it slid open, and out came Cloud, looking as healthy, strong, and handsome as ever.  A sight for the teenage ninja's sore eyes, though it didn't help much with her sour stomach.  As Yuffie expected, he was doing his rounds around the Highwind, talking to everybody on board, checking up on how they've been feeling, listening to whatever they had on their mind.  Yuffie always admired the way that Cloud, as leader, showed concern for everyone under his command -- it was one of the things that made her love him.  She had to admit, though, that sometimes he could drag on a conversation for much longer than it needed to go.  She noticed that recently the group had adopted the curious technique of repeating the last thing they said word-for-word whenever they felt that it was time for the dialogue to end.  It was a bizarre practice, but it always seemed to get Cloud to shut up and move on, so Yuffie had ended up using it as well.

 

The clang of footsteps on metal signaled Cloud's approach.  Yuffie put on her most pitiful sick face and tried to hunch over the rail a little more lamely.

 

"Hey, Yuff.  Feeling queasy again?" asked Cloud in a concerned tone, leaning against the rail beside her.

 

"Urrk..."  Yuffie gurgled, trying to hold herself up.  "Yeah, a little."

 

"Doesn't look like a little, you're almost falling off the rail," he smirked.  "Did you try following the advice I gave you last time?"

 

She nodded.  "I tried some deep breathing, but that didn't help.  I tried closing my eyes and thinking of something else, but I think that only made it worse..."

 

"Really," said he.  "Have you tried doing this AWAY from the edge of the deck?"

 

Yuffie felt her chest heave.  "But... if I leave this rail, and I puke, it'll go all over the deck."

 

"But if you keep hanging off the rail, you ARE going to puke," said Cloud with a smirk.  "Really, I think it'd be best if you went back to your room and lay down for a bit."

 

"That's where I was when I started feeling nausERRGH—” She lurched forward over the rail with her mouth wrenched open, her chest and throat spamming.  Nothing came out; only the sour burn of acid in the back of her throat.

 

Worried, Cloud put his hands on the girl's shoulders.  "You okay?"

 

Yuffie was panting and wheezing.  "Yeah... I'm okay... ugh... I got it all..."  Deep breath.  "...Under control."  With a sigh of relief, Cloud released her.

 

"Ah, leave 'er be, Cloud," shouted Cid from the helm.  "Let 'er get sick.  Ain't no cure in the [honk]in' world for a weak stomach but to ralph it up 'n' grow a new one!  Gahahaha!"

 

"Shut up, old man," Cloud and Yuffie found themselves grumbling in chorus.

 

"What was that?!" growled Cid, turning.  "Hey, you two little [squeak]s got somethin' ta say ta me, say it so I can [arf]in' hear ya, eh?!"

 

Cloud grinned.  "Just how loud does it have to BE for your hearing aid to pi-"

 

"HGBLARRRRRGLGH!" Yuffie interrupted, her head hanging off the side of the deck as she watched her last meal of instant ramen spiral downwards to the sea below.  She could even catch a piece of the naruto fishcake that had come with it before it fell from her sight.

 

Cloud turned back to Yuffie with a combined look of worry and disgust.  "Augh..."  He stepped behind her and rubbed her back.  "Are you all right there?"

 

Yuffie thought that she'd rather be alone then.  "I'm okay... ugh... I got it all AUCHHH—"  She lurched over the rail again with her mouth open, feeling like she was going to puke again...

 

THPBLORRPBTT!!

 

And was shocked when she realized that the bulk in her stomach went in exactly the opposite direction.  Her eyes went wide and her face turned pale as the warmth and squishiness that now filled the seat of her khaki hot pants registered in her mind.  Yuffie not being one to pretend at modesty by wearing panties, there was now nothing to contain this mess she had just made; she felt that at any moment it would start oozing down her thighs.  Her face flushed several shades of red.  She didn't want to think that she had just done what she thought she had done...  Right in front of everybody...  Right in front of Cloud...

 

Cloud was dumbstruck, a twisted look of surprised disgust on his face.  "Yuffie... did you just..."

 

Shutting her eyes to hold back her tears, Yuffie turned her shoulder to Cloud and bolted for the door to the cabin, one hand covering the back of her shorts.  Cloud started after her, but the door had opened and shut before he could even take a second step.

 

Red XIII pawed hesitantly to Cloud's side.  "Cloud... what happened just now?"

 

Cloud could only shake his head and shrug.

 

~*~

 

Yuffie slammed and locked the bathroom door behind her, quickly denuded, and with a sour look on her face she inspected the damage.  A huge brown wet patch covered the entire back side of her shorts.  Nothing would ever wash out a stain that bad; those shorts were as good as ruined.  The bulk of the mess had slithered down Yuffie's legs while she was making her getaway from the bridge, soiling the cuffs of her stockings as well.  Not nearly as bad as her shorts, but she decided that she might as well toss those too.  After shoving her poop-stained clothes into one corner and her good ones into another, much further-away corner, she wiped off her bottom and legs with toilet paper, then turned the shower on to full blast, as hot as she could bear, to rinse and scrub off the rest of her accident.  It was only once she was well into the shower stall with the door closed that she allowed herself to cry.

 

She just couldn't believe that she had done that.  She couldn't even REMEMBER the last time she had crapped her pants, but it couldn't have been any later than when she was six.  And now to have done it at sixteen, in front of the man she admired... As if the rest of AVALANCHE didn't think of her as enough of a child.  But what the hell CAUSED that accident?  Besides her normal airsickness, she didn't feel like anything else was wrong with her.  She didn't understand at all.

 

Once she was clean, she turned off the waterworks, both the Highwind's and her own.  She dried off, dressed back into her green shirt and armor, wrapped a towel around her lower half, and picked up her soiled clothes so she could take them to the incinerator.  Silently she cursed herself for not bringing more than one change of clothes onto the ship when she joined the party.  Well, as they say, hindsight is 20/20, and no one else on the ship seemed ever to change their clothes either.

 

When she opened the door to leave the bathroom, Aeris was standing there with her hand up under her chin, a worried look in her sparkling emerald eyes.  "I... heard what happened on the bridge," she said in a faint voice.  "Are you going to be okay?"

 

Yuffie narrowed her eyes at her.  "I'm fine," she huffed, looking away.

 

"Are you sure?  If you're feeling sick or anything, I can ask Cid to land near a town and we can take you to a doctor."

 

"I SAID I'M FINE," Yuffie growled.

 

Aeris drew back a bit.  "...Okay," she acquiesced.  "But, uh..." She looked down to her side.  Yuffie followed her gaze to find a bucket with a mop stuck inside in Aeris' other hand.

 

"What?"

 

"...Cid asked me to tell you to clean up the mess you left in the hallway."

 

Yuffie's face flushed red.  "Tell him to shove that mop up his [brrring]," she grumbled.

 

Aeris blinked in astonishment, her mouth wide open.  "Okay, but I don't think he'll take your disagreement well."

 

"No, I'll do it," said Yuffie, snatching the bucket out of Aeris' hand.  "Just make sure he knows that I want him to shove this mop up his [fweee] once I'm done with it."  She stormed past Aeris without another glance or word and made her way down the hall to find that "mess."  Fortunately, the pathway to the incinerator was in roughly the same direction.

 

Briefly she considered that maybe it would have been a better idea to blame some kind of sickness for what happened.  It would have made her look a little less "special."  Hindsight...

 

~*~

 

Yuffie felt stupid standing in the hallway wearing nothing but that bath towel below her waist, slapping the wet mop back and forth across the floor to clean up her own spilled feces.  It didn't help that Red XIII was sitting on his haunches just a short distance away, watching her clean.  He had wandered into the area a little more than a minute before, and hadn't said anything since.

 

Yuffie cocked her head in the canine's direction and raised an eyebrow.  "Do you, like, WANT something?" she snapped.

 

"Not really," Red XIII purred.  "I was just wondering..."

 

"...What?"

 

"...Do you, uh, know that you're still wearing a towel—"

 

"YES I KNOW THAT I'M WEARING A TOWEL THANK YOU," Yuffie shouted.  She huffed and started to put a little more force into her mopping.

 

"Just thought I'd ask."  Red XIII took a moment to scratch himself.  "Don't you have any other clothes?"

 

"What, do you?!" she snapped.

 

The auburn-furred dog tilted his head curiously.  "Uh... no, not really..."

 

Yuffie realized what she had just said and turned away, blushing furiously.  It seemed that she couldn't go a minute without being embarrassed today.

 

"'Cause I was just thinking, y'know... It would be pretty embarrassing if that thing came loose suddenly and-"

 

"If you snatch this towel off of me, I swear to the gods I will shave you in your sleep," Yuffie warned without looking back at Red XIII.

 

"Uhh... I wasn't really thinking about that.  But anyway, Cloud, Tifa, and I were gonna head into town to buy supplies after the ship lands.  Is there anything you need?  New pants?  Some more instant ramen?  ...Maybe some pull-ups?"

 

"Why are you still talking to me instead of going the [boing] away?!" Yuffie growled exasperatedly.  Finally, Red XIII got the message and pawed his way back down the hall.

 

"Took him long enough," she grumbled and returned to her janitorial work in silence.  After she had calmed down a little, though, she started to feel a bit bad about yelling at Red XIII like that.  Not that she wasn't at all justified, of course; she just somehow felt that she wasn't being herself at that moment.  Any other day, she would have responded to Red XIII's teasing by chasing him around the Highwind with some kind of poking instrument.  Maybe she really was sick.  But she really wasn't feeling that bad.  Come to think of it, ever since her "accident" she hadn't really felt the symptoms of her usual airsickness, even though the ship wasn't rocking any more or less than it had been.  Weird...

 

Her ears perked up as she caught the sound of laughter coming down the hall.  Feminine laughter.  Tifa, and it sounded like Cloud was with her.  They were coming her way.  She kept her eyes on the floor; she didn't want to see that big-busted barmaid hanging off the arm of the man she idolized, as she surely was.  The closer the sound of their footsteps got, the more self-conscious she grew about what she was wearing and what she was doing.  She wondered if Cloud had told Tifa about what he had seen her do.  What if that's why she was laughing?  Yuffie suddenly really wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

 

The laughing stopped, as did the footsteps.  "Oh, hey Yuffie," Tifa's voice greeted.  "How's it going?"

 

Don't look, don't look, don't look.  "I've been better."

 

"Um..." Tifa tittered a bit.  "Why are you wearing a bath towel?"

 

"'Cause I feel like it," said Yuffie after a bit of hesitation.  Well, at least she knew now that Tifa didn't know.

 

"Oh... Well, whatever makes you comfortable.  Anyway, we were about to head into town with Red to get some supplies.  Did you need anything?"

 

"Red told me already.  I told him I could use another pair of shorts," Yuffie fibbed.  "Khaki or the like, I said."

 

"Oh.  All right, I'll keep that in mind."

 

"C'mon," Cloud interjected.  "I think we oughta leave Yuffie to her work."

 

"Hmm?  ...Yeah, okay."  Yuffie watched two pairs of feet walk past her field of vision, awfully close to each other.  Had Yuffie not been so red at that moment, she surely would've turned green.  "So Cloud, tell me how things went at the tracks yesterday," she heard Tifa ask in a sing-songy sort-of-flirty voice before they disappeared from the scene.

 

That stupid whore, thought Yuffie wrathfully.  Trying to take her man away from her...!  She was always trying to do that, getting all intimate with him whenever Yuffie could see her, that slut!  ...No, she shouldn't think like that.  Tifa wasn't a bad person; in fact she was pretty cool.  She just wished she'd leave Cloud alone so Yuffie could have him.  But then again... it's not like Yuffie ever did much to try to win him over herself.  She wished she had the courage to show him just what she thought of him, but... all she seemed to be able to offer him was a nice view of a girl retching over the railing of an airship and a pair of khaki hot pants filled with... She started to feel really bummed out.

 

Yuffie blinked with a realization.  Her towel was a little closer to the floor than it was before.  And she swore she could feel a bit of a draft...  Immediately she decided that the floor was clean enough, snatched up her towel and bolted back to her bedroom.  She hoped that the others hadn't seen that.

 

~*~

 

Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored...  Yuffie's eyes lazily followed the blades of the cheap metal ceiling fan spinning slowly over her head as she lay in bed, thinking about just how much nothing there was to do on the ship.  For some reason there was a rule that once the Highwind was on the ground, only three people could ever be absent from the ship at once, which meant that Yuffie was usually grounded to her room and left in the thrall of boredom.  Usually she'd alleviate it by chasing Red XIII around the halls, but now that he was gone there wasn't much for her to do but lie in bed and think.

 

She wondered how everyone back in Wutai was doing.  She had never really had an opportunity to tell anyone she knew that she had become part of a mission to save the world, not even that one time when they had gone back there.  She wondered if they'd be proud of her if they knew.  She wondered if they'd even believe her in the first place.  Hell, it wouldn't have been the first hard-to-swallow claim she'd ever made.

 

She was just starting to think about how Cloud and company were doing when she heard the door open.  It was Tifa, looking kind of tired, carrying a large cloth tote bag in one arm.  It looked quite full.

 

"Back so soon?" said Yuffie.

 

"There wasn't that much we needed to get," replied Tifa matter-of-factly, lazily dropping the tote bag down on the floor as she entered the room.  She sat down on the edge of her bed, next to Yuffie's, and brushed a drape of black hair off of her face.  "I wanted to have a chat with you, Yuffie."

 

Yuffie sat up.  "About what?" she inquired, even though she was pretty sure what it was about, and she dreaded the thought of talking any further about it.

 

"Well..." Tifa shifted.  "Cloud told me what happened to you on the deck earlier today, and it got me feeling concerned."

 

Here we go, Yuffie thought.  "Look, I'm fine, okay?  It was a one-time thing; it's not gonna happen again."

 

Tifa looked back at her warily.  "I'd like to trust you on that... but you know, it's not normal for a girl your age to have that big an accident.  I mean, didn't you feel it coming at all?"

 

Yuffie opened her mouth to speak, then stopped herself, furrowing her brow in frustration.  The truth was, she really HADN'T felt it until it was all out of her.

 

"Are you feeling sick at all?  Headache, nausea, tiredness, anything?"

 

Yuffie really didn't feel like talking, but figured that the sooner she told Tifa what she wanted to know, the sooner she'd leave her alone.  "No," she muttered.

 

"Did you feel sick today at all?"

 

"No, nothing 'sides my usual airsickness."

 

"Hmm..."  Tifa rubbed her chin, looking downwards.  Yuffie briefly wondered if she could even see her own thighs, and suppressed a smile.  "What did you have to eat today?" Tifa asked.

 

"Energy bar for breakfast, bowl of instant ramen for lunch," Yuffie answered.  "The kind with the green onions and the little pink fishcake."

 

"Any snacks?"

 

"Don't remember."

 

"Lemme take your temperature," said Tifa, standing up.

 

"I said I'm not feeling sick!" Yuffie protested.

 

"That doesn't mean you AREN'T sick," Tifa countered.  "I just wanna make sure."

 

Yuffie groaned.  "Fine."  She watched as Tifa shuffled around in a nearby dresser drawer.

 

"You've had your temperature taken in your rear before, right?" Tifa asked.

 

Yuffie's cheeks flushed deep red.  "WHAT?!"

 

Tifa turned around to face her, holding a bulky plastic device with a clear conical applicator at one end.  "I said, you've had your temperature taken in your ear before, haven't you?"

 

"...Oh, heh heh.. my EAR...!"  Yuffie breathed a sigh of relief.  "Yeah, I have once."

 

Tifa raised an eyebrow.  "What'd you think I said?"

 

"Uh..." Yuffie sheepishly turned her eyes away.  "N-nothing, never mind."

 

Tifa looked at her curiously for a moment, then shrugged her shoulders.  "Whatever."  She took a seat next to her on the bed.  "Here, hold your head still; this'll just take a second."  Yuffie did her best to obey, though the rubber cone tickled her ear as Tifa poked it in.  "Did you go to the bathroom at all today?  ...Besides that one time, of course."

 

"Uhh... I dunno.  I think I went once today."

 

"Number one or number two?"

 

"Umm... just one."

 

"How many times did you go yesterday?"

 

"I don't remember!"  Yuffie scoffed.

 

"Try."

 

Yuffie grumbled and strained to remember.  "Uhh... I think I may have gone two or three times.  I don't remember which way... I think it was only number one."

 

"Hmm..."  Tifa furrowed her brow in thought.  "That doesn't sound too good."  The thermometer chirped; she pulled it out of Yuffie's ear and read the display.  "Well, you don't seem to have a fever.  I wonder what could be wrong..."

 

"Well, it could be that it was just a one-time thing, like I've been saying from the BEGINNING."

 

"That's true," Tifa nodded.  "...But I don't want to take any chances."

 

Yuffie blinked.  "What do you mean by that?"

 

Tifa took a deep breath and sighed.  "I know you're going to be upset about this but... while I was at the clothing store buying you some new pairs of shorts, I got to thinking how awful it would be if a repeat of today's incident happened.  I didn't want the money I spent on your wardrobe going to waste, so..."  She reached over to grab the tote bag she had dropped on the floor and plopped it onto the bed.  Now Yuffie could get a good look at what it contained: a plastic-wrapped case of disposable adult diapers.

 

Yuffie looked back up at Tifa with a look of indignant disbelief.  "...Yeah, we're not [squeak]in' doin' that."

 

"I knew you wouldn't take it well," Tifa grumbled.

 

"You're [aooga]damn right, I'm not gonna [click]in' take it well!  What the hell, Tifa?!"

 

"Yuffie, please.  Look, it'll just be for a little while, okay?"

 

"No it [bark]in' ain't!  It ain't gonna be for a little while; it ain't gonna be for anything, 'cause there's no way in hell you're gonna get me to wear one of those [brrring]in' things!"  Yuffie was shouting now.

 

"Yuffie, please calm down.  You're being unreasonable."

 

"I'm being unreasonable?!  I'M being unreasonable?!  You won't listen to me when I try to tell you that there's nothing wrong with me, then you come up with the crackbrained idea of making me wear a [honk]in' DIAPER, and now I'M the one who's being unreasonable?!  [Ribbit] you!"  Enraged, she shot up to her feet and stormed towards the door.

 

Tifa got up with her and grabbed her gently but firmly by the arm, trying to hold her back.  "Yuffie, wait—"

 

"DON'T [ding]IN'TOUCH ME!" Yuffie screamed, wresting her arm from Tifa's grasp and breaking into a run.  Annoyed, Tifa groaned and gave chase, wondering just how much more trouble she'd have to go through for this girl's sake today.

 

~*~

 

Cloud was just doing his rounds for the second time, strolling down the hall with Barret and discussing AVALANCHE's next course of action, when a streak of green came barreling up the hall and planted itself firmly against Cloud's chest.  It was Yuffie, her arms wrapped firmly around his muscly torso and her head snuggling close as if for protection.

 

"Uh... h-hey, Yuffie," stammered Cloud.

 

"Clouuuuud," Yuffie whined childishly.  "You gotta stop Tifa!  She's gone crazy!"

 

"Crazy?  Whaddaya mean?"  He noticed Yuffie eyeing Barret, standing by his side, uncomfortably and immediately got the hint.  "H-hey, Barret, you go on ahead.  I'll catch up with you."

 

"Sho' 'nuff, dawg," Barret said sterotypically and proceeded down the hall.

 

"So, what's going on?" asked Cloud in a concerned tone.

 

Yuffie looked up at him with big puppy-dog eyes.  "Tifa's trying to do weird things to me..."

 

Several images popped up in Cloud's head, many of which were not at all displeasing to imagine.  "Weird things?  Like what?"

 

Yuffie turned her head back down and pressed back against him.  "Like... she's tryin ta put me in di-"

 

"Yuffie!" came a shout from down the hall.  Tifa marched into view, seeming quite irritated.  "Quit being such a brat and come back over here!"

 

"[Doink] off!" Yuffie hollered back, then turned back to Cloud looking all helpless and innocent.  "Cloud, make her go awayyyy..."

 

"...I think you ought to do as Tifa says, Yuffie."

 

"BUT SHE'S TRYING TO PUT ME IN DIAPERS!" she cried.

 

"Yeah, I'd certainly hope she is."

 

Yuffie blinked bewilderedly, then, upon realization of what he meant, started to frown.  "Don't tell me you..."

 

"You guys all elected me leader of the group," he said in the stern tone that she rarely heard him use.  He put his hands on her shoulders.  "That means that it's my job to ensure the well-being of all under my command.  And if that involves putting them through a little bit of embarrassment, then so be it."

 

Yuffie's frown turned into a full-blown scowl.  "And just how is putting me in diapers your idea of HELPING me, Cloud?!"

 

"Think about what happened to you earlier this afternoon and how much less of a hassle it would've been if you'd been wearing a plastic bag on your [bagoing]," Cloud said simply.  "Listen, just wear 'em for like, two days, and if nothing happens in that time, you can stop, and we'll never mention it again.  But if something does, then we'll just keep you in them until we can get a doctor to examine you.  Does that sound fair?"

 

Yuffie didn't respond immediately.  From the way Cloud said it, it sounded like she'd only be wearing them for at most two days... but that was two more days than she would have liked.  If she had had her druthers they wouldn't even be having this discussion.  But... she didn't want to make things difficult for Cloud... and it did sound like he was just trying to help... but by the gods, would this be embarrassing for her.

 

She gave a loud, shaky sigh.  "Fine, I'll do it.  But don't expect me to enjoy it."

 

Cloud allowed himself a smile.  "That'd be asking too much," he said.  "But I do hope that you can mind Tifa for just a little longer."

 

"Fine."  Yuffie let Cloud go and turned back down the hall.  "Let's go, Tifa."  Tifa followed her, turning back to mouth a quick "thank you" to Cloud.

 

Cloud winked and watched the two girls go.  Once they were gone from his sight, he slouched against the wall and heaved a deep sigh.  "Just what the hell's so great about me that I get to make all the decisions..."

 

~*~

 

"Honestly, if you'd just cooperated from the start, this'd all be over and done with by now," Tifa chided as she drew a diaper from the bag and spread it out on the bed.

 

Yuffie stared at it bug-eyed.  "By the gods!"

 

Tifa looked up at her impatiently.  "What?"

 

"The diaper... it's as thick as my arm!"

 

"This was the only brand they sold," Tifa explained.  "Believe me, I tried to get the most discreet brand I could find, but I didn't have much luck."  She finished smoothing out the diaper and patted it invitingly.  "Now come on, take off that towel and let's get you taken care of."

 

Yuffie shifted her weight from one foot to the other anxiously.  "Can't I put it on myself?"

 

"I think it would fit better if someone else did it for you."

 

"Come on, lemme have a LITTLE bit of my dignity!" Yuffie cried.

 

"Oh, fine," Tifa groaned, standing.  "Just make sure it's on straight, and don't forget to powder yourself."

 

Yuffie picked the open diaper up off the mattress and looked at Tifa.  She was looking back at her.  "Could you turn around?" said Yuffie.

 

"Whatever," she scoffed, turning her back to the young kunoichi.

 

Now that Tifa's gaze was no longer upon her, she let go of the towel around her hips, baring her from the waist down, and grasped one end of the diaper in each hand.  She looked over it befuddled, not quite sure what the first step was supposed to be.  She was sure the little strips on the one end were supposed to be used to hold the thing together, but how to get them to do that... and which part was supposed to go in front?

 

"Need any help?" Tifa asked, still turned around.

 

"No, I've got it figured out," Yuffie lied.  She had no idea how the heck to put the thing on.  Figuring that if she didn't hurry it up then Tifa would get impatient and take over, she hurriedly slapped on the diaper in whichever way seemed right to her.  "There, all done," she said.

 

Tifa turned around, took one look at the job Yuffie had done, and slapped her forehead with a sigh.  "Yuffie... you have it on backwards."  She moved to inspect the backside of the reddening girl's diaper and snickered.  "The tapes are all misaligned, and there's too much room between the leakguards and your thighs."  She moved back to the front, pulled back the waist of the diaper and peeked in, eliciting a mortified squeak from Yuffie.  "And dammit, you forgot to put on some powder!" She snapped the waist back into place and plopped herself down onto the bed.  "Here, lie down," she ordered, patting the mattress.  "Lemme do it for you."

 

Yuffie muttered a string of angry, frustrated curses, then slumped onto the bed face-up with her arms crossed, frowning her worst possible frown at the ceiling.  "Legs up," Tifa called, and Yuffie snapped her feet up into the air, very nearly kicking Tifa in the face.

 

"Hey!" Tifa shouted.  She pushed her face right up to Yuffie's and started shaking her finger at her.  "Listen, you have every right to be angry right now, but you have NO right to take out that anger on me, you got it?!  I'm only doing this because Cloud asked me to as a favor, and because YOU need all the help you can get right now.  But if you wanna throw a tantrum like a spoiled little six-year-old BRAT who won't take her cough syrup, well, then I can just TREAT you like a six-year-old brat having a tantrum.  You want me to do that, or do you want me to treat you like an adult?"

 

"Are you gonna [wark]in' diaper me, or are you gonna play at Mommy Scolds-a-lot for a little while longer?" Yuffie spat.

 

Tifa stared Yuffie dead in the eyes for a few seconds, then drew back and placed a hand over her face.  "Yuffie... you are REALLY testing the limits of my patience," she said in an eerily calm voice.  "Do you know what happens when I get pushed past my limit?"

 

"Oh, I'm so frightened," Yuffie sneered.  "You thinking of laying a hand on my pretty little face?  Hmm?  Do it, ya slutty barmaid.  I DARE you."  She punctuated the challenge with a feigned spit; no substance, only noise.

 

The noise was enough.  Tifa moved her hand aside to reveal just one of her eyes.  Yuffie could swear that her iris was glowing a much fiercer, bloodier shade of red than usual.  For a brief second she wondered if she had said too much.

 

~*~

 

High above the desert, in the gaming resort known as the Gold Saucer, a man was gambling away the last of his gil at the five-reel slot machines.  He had been here for the last twenty-four hours, sustaining himself on free water and bags of peanuts.  His eyes were bloodshot and every muscle in his body was spasming, as he slid coin after shining silver coin into the slot, tugging and tugging and tugging the metal arm in the hopes of striking it rich.  He had had no such luck.  He was down to his last gil.

 

He held the coin in between his thumb and index finger, staring intently at it, feeling the ridges in its sides, observing the way the light reflected off the symbols on the face.  This single coin would be the determinant of his fate from here on.  Either he would leave here a rich man, eating off the lap of luxury for a while to come, or he would be destitute, forced into chasing after wild dogs and pigeons for his daily meals.  It all depended on the outcome of this very next roll of the slots.

 

His hand shaking, he slowly, eagerly hoisted the coin up to the slot.  Briefly he hesitated.  Maybe he should just quit while he still had something, ANYTHING left.  No.  The only difference between one with no money and one with exactly one gil is that the latter has something to flip with his thumb when he gets bored.  He had to leave it up to Fate.  He let it go.  Chink-chink-chink, it went sliding into the machine.  He grasped the little red knob at the end of the arm, and decisively he gave it a crank.

 

The slots spun, lights flickered, speakers blipped and beeped with cacophonic joyous melodies.  He pressed his face up to the glass, watched the little pictured wheels intently as they spun and spun and spun...

 

The first one stopped with a click.  YEAH!  Then the second, then the third, then the fourth.  YEAH!  YEAH!  YEAH!

 

The fifth one was still going.  Still spinning, as if to torment him.  Please, the man prayed.  Please, Gods, please let me be a lucky man tonight...

 

It stopped.

 

YEAH!

 

The man leapt out of his seat whooping and hollering, as coin after coin spilled with a clink and a clank into the metal tray below.  The great big neon sign above the row of machines blared and flashed, declaring the winner of the day's jackpot.  Everyone stood and watched the frazzled, celebrating man, some with awe, others with admiration, yet others with sheer jealousy.

 

He didn't care that people were watching.  For he knew that Fate herself was smiling upon him.

 

~*~

 

Aeris ran her fingers through her hair and grumbled.  How had her hair managed to get so tangled while she was just meditating?  Maybe it was the heat...  In any case, she really needed to take a comb to it, and she forgot her comb back in the room she shared with Tifa and Yuffie.  She made her way down the hall, down to that cold sliding metal door with the three of their names written on the face in glittery marker.  Aeris fished her keycard out of her pocket and —

 

"HEY!  WHAT THE [ribbit] DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!  LEGGO OF ME!  HEY!  I SAID LEGGO - "  Rip!  Rip!  Rip!  "HEY!  STOP IT!  STOP IT!  GET OFFA ME, [bloop]DAMMIT!  WHAT'RE YOU TRYIN' TA — " Whap!  "OWW!  THE HELL DO YOU THINK YER DOING?!"  Whap whap whap!  "OW, OW, OW!"

 

"YOU THINK YOU CAN TALK TO ME LIKE THAT?!"  Whap!  Whap!  "YOU THINK YOU CAN JUST GET AWAY WITH ACTING LIKE A LITTLE SPOILED BRAT?!"  Whap whap whap whap whap!  "I-"  Whap!  "HAVE BEEN TRYING-" Whap!  "MY BEST-"  Whap!  "TO BE NICE-"  Whap!  "AND RESPECTFUL-"  Whap!  "TO YOU-"  Whap!  "AND THIS-"  Whap!  "IS THE THANKS-"  Whap!  "THAT YOU GIVE ME?!"  Whap!  Whap whap whap whap whap!

 

"OWWWWWW!  OWIE OWIE OWIE OWWWW!  STOP IT, YOU CRAZY [woof]!!  YOU CAN'T DO THIS [flush] TO ME!!"

 

"OH, YES I CAN!"  Whap!  "AND I'M GONNA CONTINUE-"  Whap!  "UNTIL YOU CAN LEARN-"  Whap!  "TO SHOW SOMEONE-"  Whap!  "A LITTLE MANNERS-"  Whap!  "WHEN THEY'RE TRYING-"  Whap!  "TO HELP YOU!!"  Whap whap whap whap whap whap whap whap!

 

"AAAAAAAH!  OKAY OKAY, I'M SORRY!  I'M REALLY, REALLY SORRY, OWWWWW OW OW OWWWW!  JUST PLEASE, PLEASE STOP!"

 

Whapwhapwhapwhapwhapwhapwhap!!  "YOU THINK I'M GONNA STOP JUST LIKE THAT?!  I HAVE BEEN WAITING SINCE [buzz]IN' WUTAI TO TEACH YOU A GOOD, HARD LESSON, GIRL!"

 

"OWW, OWW, OWW!  I'M SORREE-HEE-HEE-HEE!  PLEASE, PLEE-HEE-HEE-HEEZE FORGIVE ME!  WAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAAAAAH!!"

 

Aeris calmly slipped her keycard back into her pocket, turned and walked away.  Maybe she could borrow a comb from Cloud or Vincent.

 

~*~

 

Tifa brushed back a loose lock of hair and rested her head in the palm of her hand.  She was still panting heavily, and she reeked of sweat.  She looked over her shoulder at Yuffie, lying in a fetal position at the head of the bed, sobbing quietly into the pillow she was squeezing in her arms.  Her butt and the backs of her thighs were the color of candied apples; Tifa could almost feel the heat rising from the ninja's posterior.

 

"So are you gonna give me any more trouble?" Tifa huffed.

 

Yuffie shook her head vigorously.

 

"So now I can diaper you without any interruption?"

 

Yuffie nodded.

 

"Good."  Tifa went to get the case of diapers, which had been kicked across the room in the struggle, brought it back to the bed and drew out a new one (the one that Yuffie had been wearing backwards having been ruined when Tifa pulled it off).  "Roll onto your back; let's get this over with."

 

Yuffie complied, still holding onto the pillow with one arm.  She carefully lifted her legs up, while Tifa carefully and calmly opened and smoothed the diaper and slid it under her hips.  She was just about to sprinkle on some powder when a second look between Yuffie's legs flicked a switch in her head.  "Y'know, now that I think about it...  Hold on."  She stood up, went to her dresser and started rummaging around in it once again.

 

Yuffie stopped sniffling for a moment to watch her.  "What're you looking for?" she asked.

 

Her question was answered when Tifa came back to the bed with a pair of little scissors in one hand and a make-up brush in the other.  "Here, I'm just gonna trim your pubic hair a little," she said, snipping the scissors in the air.

 

"What?!  Why?!" Yuffie cried, trying her best not to sound defiant.

 

"To help you keep clean down there," Tifa said.  "Don't want anything getting stuck in there, do we?"

 

"...Guess not," Yuffie grumbled.  She shut her eyes as she felt Tifa pinch up a tuft of her hair and then — snip — cut it away.  Another pinch — snip — and another — snip #— and another — snip.  Then the tickling bristles of the brush swept across her skin, clearing off the loose hair; Yuffie tried not to squirm at their touch.  She could actually feel herself becoming younger as each little lock of the proof of her adulthood was snipped, snipped and brushed, brushed away.  By the time the snipping and the brushing stopped, she could swear that her nether regions felt a lot colder than before.

 

"There, much better," said Tifa, sounding somehow proud of her work.  Setting her tools aside, she grabbed the canister of talcum powder she had bought and sprinkled it liberally onto Yuffie's bare girlhood and reddened bottom and thighs, and then, FINALLY, she fitted and fastened the diaper into place around Yuffie's hips.  "There," Tifa sighed.  "Now that wasn't so bad, was it?"

 

Yuffie sat up with a loud crinkle.  The padding of the diaper was so thick; it was like wearing a shopping bag stuffed with a pillow.  No, it wasn't physically that bad, but... How was she supposed to walk properly when the padding pushed her thighs apart like that?  And furthermore...

 

The PA crackled.  "Bridge paging Lockhart, bridge paging Lockhart.  Report status of Kisaragi situation so we can finally get this [squeak]in' hunk of metal off the [buzz]damn ground already.  Repeat, bridge paging Lockhart..."

 

"Aw geez, I forgot," Tifa huffed.  She hurried to the nearby telecom and jammed the button.  "Lockhart to bridge.  She's on board; we won't be taking her to the doctor today."

 

"Took ya long enough," Cid's grizzled voice crackled from the speaker.  "For a second there I thought you broads were goin' back ta [sploosh]in' KALM to get 'er checked up."

 

"Awfully sorry," Tifa apologized with that eerily cheerful tone that usually belied a desire to kick somebody in the family jewels.

 

"Anyway," Cid continued.  "Bridge to crew, preparing for takeoff.  Secure yerself to whatever ya can, 'cause we sure as hell ain't got no seatbelts on this thing.  Repeat, bridge to crew, hold on to yer [schwing]..."

 

They held up the launch for HER?!  ...Yuffie didn't know how to feel about that.

 

~*~

 

It wasn't long into the flight before Yuffie started feeling airsick again.  She stood in her usual spot on the bridge, bent over the rail, watching the orange- and violet-tinted clouds drift lazily across the sunset sky.  Had she not been feeling like she wanted to hurl, she probably would have been more appreciative of the beauty.  She was still wearing the diaper that Tifa had put on her, with a pair of khaki hot pants (that coincidentally looked just like her old ones) awkwardly drawn over it.  The shorts did a poor job of concealing her undergarment, big and bulky as it was; the waistband stuck up over the belt and the padding bulged out from the legholes.  She had done a good job so far of keeping it clean, but then again she hadn't really needed to go to the bathroom since takeoff.

 

In between close calls for her stomach and throat, she thought about stuff.  She was still feeling the throb from when Tifa had spanked her; that punishment was what mostly occupied her mind.  She thought it was totally unfair.  She wasn't TRYING to drive Tifa into a rage like that; she was just trying to blow off some steam.  She said she understood that Yuffie was angry, but then she went ahead and slapped the hell out of her just for BEING angry?  Make up your mind, lady...

 

She heard the cabin door hiss open.  Cloud doing his rounds again?  Excited, she tried to look a little more sick and pitiful to draw his attention.  The click of footsteps came nearer.

 

"Hi, Yuffie.  How are you doing?" the voice to her side sweetly called.  Aeris.

 

"Honestly, I've been better," Yuffie gurgled.  "But, hey, I guess I'm not dead, so I'm a little better off than some people."

 

Aeris gave a subdued laugh and leaned against the rail next to Yuffie.  Yuffie turned to look at her.  Her arms rested crossed on the metal bar, and she was looking onward with a look of worried uncertainty.  She turned away and watched the sky with her.  A long silence passed between them.

 

"So, uh..." Aeris hesitated.  "How're things going between you and Tifa?"

 

Yuffie groaned.  "We haven't talked since take-off."

 

"Oh."  Another awkward silence.  "You know, I don't think you should be too mad at Tifa.  She was only doing what she was told to do."

 

"Really," Yuffie grunted.  "So Cloud told her to beat me, too?"

 

Aeris furrowed her brow.  "From what I heard, the only reason she went off on you like that was because you were insulting her when she was already very agitated.  Agitated mainly because you wouldn't cooperate with her."

 

Yuffie grumbled.

 

"I won't say she was right for hitting you, Yuffie.  In fact, I don't think that was right at all.  But I don't think it was right for you to be so mean to her, either, no matter how angry you might have been then."

 

"Look, just shut up, all right?  I'm [brring]ed-off, I'm nauseous, and I really don't feel like talking right now."

 

"Well, I do, Yuffie!" said Aeris, raising her voice.  "Look, when you're having a problem, you can't just say 'I don't want to talk about it, leave me alone' and expect everything to get better!  In fact, it'll only get worse, and in the end you're gonna be the one who has to answer for it!"

 

Yuffie hung her head and stared down at the clouds.  She didn't want to admit that Aeris was right.

 

Aeris sighed.  "Listen, I honestly think you should go apologize to Tifa."

 

"Apologize?!  She's the one who hit me!"

 

"It doesn't matter, Yuffie.  She may have done wrong, but so have you.  And when you've done something wrong, you apologize to whoever you've hurt.  Besides, I'm sure that once she's seen that you're willing to say that you're sorry, she'll be more than happy to respond in kind."

 

"Yeah, that'll be the — GLURGH!"  She lurched over the rail and spit out a thick dribble of vomit.

 

"Oh, my," Aeris gasped.  She reached over and gently rubbed Yuffie's back.  "Are you okay?"

 

"Yeah... I got it..."  That was a lie.  "I got it..."  This time she could feel it.  She could feel it coming.  "I... gotta go to the bathroom, NOW."  She broke away from Aeris and made a mad dash back into the cabin, shoving herself through the sliding door as it was still only halfway open.  She ran as fast as she could until a sharp pang struck her stomach and she fell to her knees.  Her insides flipped around in her stomach, and helplessly she filled her diaper with a fist-sized load.

 

Aeris came running up the hall to find Yuffie with her head hung low, crying like a little girl.  She knew what had happened even before the smell caught her nose.  "Oh, Yuffie... I'm so sorry."

 

"WHY AM I SUCH A BABY?!" Yuffie hollered, sobbing and sniffling.

 

Aeris knelt down by her side and wrapped her arms around Yuffie's little shoulders.  "You're not a baby, Yuffie.  You're just having a little problem.  We all have problems with our bodies sometimes.  But then we get people we trust to help us out, and we get over our problems and move on.  And tomorrow, we're going to take you to a doctor and get your little problem all fixed up, and after that it'll be like nothing ever happened at all.  Okay?"

 

Yuffie tried to shy away from Aeris' embrace, but that only made her hold on tighter.  Eventually she gave up and let herself draw closer, wiping her tear-soaked cheeks with the side of her hand.  Aeris stood, picking Yuffie up with her, and drew her in tight, one arm wrapped securely around her torso while her other hand stroked her neck and ran through her hair.  "Shhh," she whispered into the young girl's ear.  "It's okay.  It's all gonna be okay.  There's no need to cry.  It's all gonna be just fine."

 

The sixteen-year-old kunoichi felt just like a little girl.  Standing there in a messy diaper, her face wet with tears and mucus, an older woman cuddling her and stroking her and whispering soft, soothing words to her.  It was so pathetic and shameful... but it felt so good.  Being held close... being told that there was nothing wrong with her, that it was all gonna be okay... a surge of mixed emotions rushed through her, and the only way she could respond to them was to cry and cry like a little bitty baby...

 

Eventually her crying slowed, her tears dried up.  She lifted her hands.  "I'm okay... I'm okay," she whispered.

 

"You sure?" Aeris asked, starting to let go.

 

"Yeah..." She broke away from Aeris, wiped at her face with the back of her hand.  "I'm fine now.  I'm sorry... I just..."

 

"No need to apologize," Aeris softly smiled.  "It was just something you had to do."  She extended her hand to Yuffie.  "Now come on.  Let's get you cleaned up and into a new diaper, shall we?"

 

"...Okay," Yuffie nodded, trying her best to smile, and extended her dry hand out to Aeris'.  Aeris took it, and together they walked back to their room.

 

The whole while, Cid calmly and quietly steered the airship through the pale orange sky, thinking about just how much he hated drama.  Especially female drama.

 

~*~

 

"Here," said Aeris as she handed a wet wipe to Yuffie.  "You clean your face up with that, and I'll take care of down below."

 

"Yeah, thanks."  Yuffie took the wipe and rubbed it up and down her face, around her eyes and across the bottom of her nose, while Aeris knelt between her upraised legs and undid the tapes that held her diaper in place.  "Are you sure you don't mind doing this, Aeris?"

 

"Don't be silly," Aeris smiled.  "I'm here to help, remember?"  She peeled back the diaper; Yuffie was surprised when she didn't say a word or even change her facial expression.

 

"Yeah, but..."  Yuffie tossed the wipe aside.  "I just can't help but feel that I'm nothing but a burden right n—  ACK!  That's cold!"

 

"Sorry about that," said Aeris.  "Of course you're not a burden.  Sure, sometimes you're a bit of a hassle, but you're still an important part of the team.  Don't forget that, okay?"

 

"I take it you mean the part about being important to the team," Yuffie jested.

 

"You could also remember not to be too much of a hassle," chuckled Aeris as she powdered Yuffie's behind.  Yuffie inhaled the sweet, relaxing scent of the talcum and sighed.  She could get used to being powdered, at least.

 

A flush sounded from behind the bathroom door, and Tifa emerged from it just as Aeris was fastening the last tape on Yuffie's new diaper.  "Oh, hey, you two," she greeted.  "Where've you been, Aeris?  Haven't seen you around.  For a second there I could've sworn you'd died or something."

 

"Oh, I've been hiding," said Aeris with a smile.  "Um, I think we should take Yuffie to a doctor the next time we stop at a town..."

 

Tifa glanced at the ninja girl lying on the bed.  "What, she have another accident?"

 

"Yeah," Aeris nodded, oblivious to Yuffie's blushing.  "I'll be glad to escort her there myself, if you have other business."

 

"No, don't trouble yourself.  I'll do it," Tifa said with a wave of her hand.

 

"Oh, but you've already gone to so much trouble for her sake."

 

"No, no, it's no trouble at all."

 

"Hey, why don't the three of us go together?" said Yuffie, standing up between the two.

 

They turned to Yuffie for a moment, then back to each other.  "That sound okay to you?" asked Tifa.

 

"Oh, just wonderful," Aeris beamed.

 

Yuffie nodded.  "Oh, and Tifa... I, uh, wanted to..."

 

Tifa tilted her head.  "Hmm?  What's wrong?"

 

"I... uh..."  Yuffie could feel her face getting hotter.  She put her hands behind her back and tapped her foot, staring down at the ground.  Why was it so hard to say?

 

"Go ahead, Yuffie," said Tifa.

 

Oh, just swallow your pride and say it, girl! a voice in her head rang out.  She obeyed.  "...I'm sorry," she squeaked, staring up at Tifa with sad puppy eyes.  "I'm sorry I was such a hassle for you... I'm sorry I tried to kick you in the face when you were trying to diaper me... and I'm sorry I called you a slutty barmaid."

 

Tifa smiled and reached out to muss up Yuffie's coal-black hair.  "Apology accepted.  And I'm sorry I smacked you like I did."

 

"No, don't apologize for that," said Yuffie, looking at Aeris, who smirked back at her as if to say 'I told you so.'  "I... think I kinda deserved that."

 

Tifa pursed her lips in thought.  "Well, maybe just a little," she laughed.  Yuffie laughed in kind, though she wasn't quite sure if Tifa was joking or not.

 

"So, what's on the menu for dinner tonight?" asked Yuffie, realizing just how hungry she had grown.

 

"Nothing but instant noodles, I'm afraid," Tifa sighed with a shrug.  "All our money went into buying Cloud and Barret new weapons."

 

"Oh, suck," Aeris scoffed with a roll of her eyes as she picked up the changing supplies.  "Well, you know how boys are: always gotta have the shiniest new toys."

 

"Seriously," said Tifa, plopping down on the bed.  "There are times when I seriously wonder if Cloud is compensating for something, waving that big ol' thing around."

 

All three girls laughed at that, Yuffie especially.  Personally, though, she didn't mind having instant noodles again.  She loved them, especially the ones with the onions and the naruto fishcakes inside.  Even though they did sort of feel like they were slithering around in her stomach whenever she ate them.  She'd always wondered what was up with that.

 

~*END*~