carmilla: (Vincent)
[personal profile] carmilla

Cid was pacing through the forest, deep in thought. Around him, night began to fall. The shadows lengthened and thickened, the criss-cross patterns of tree branches forming spider webs on the ground. The monsters that haunted any wooded areas prowled through the thickets, scarcely making a sound, their eyes watching the lone man balefully. Normally, a traveller by himself would be easy pickings, but the carcasses of two wolf-like creatures, more daring than their fellows, proved this was not such a man. His scent spelt danger, as much as his confidant step and the heavy spear slung carelessly across his shoulder. This was not someone whose path was easily crossed. Especially not tonight.

He barely noticed the animals stalking just out of reach, though subconciously he recognised the tell-tale sounds of snapping twigs and heavy breathing. He could hardly tell which way he was going, but it was probably in the general direction of Rocket Town. He had thought of going there, even got as far as taking a chocobo out from the Highwind's stall, but he changed his mind. Find what matters, Strife had said. Don't go into this battle until you're sure you're ready for it. Don't go without saying goodbye. He and Tifa had disappeared off together for a private talk. Cid could almost feel sorry for that girl. Cloud could be hopelessly blind sometimes. Still, maybe tonight they'd sort themselves out. As for him... what did he want? He wasn't sure.

Rocket Town had been his first instinct. He'd spent a long time there, and he liked its people. But the old place looked sad and empty now, without the rocket it was named for towering in the background. Even now, he could barely believe that he had actually done it. Gone into space, seen the world spread out below him like a map. His dream. And when it was over, what was left? The mission. There was always the mission, taking the Shinra down a peg or two, sorting out that bastard Sephiroth once and for all. And yet... it wasn't the same. When you had a dream, everything you were was wrapped up in it. Everything you did went towards fulfilling it. How long had he spent, pacing the old rocket, checking that everything was perfect, just preparing in case one day he finally got the chance to do it? Now that he had... it complicated things. Find what matters, Strife had said. What did?

His thoughts turned to Shera, meekly taking orders, trying to calm him down, always trying to help. For so long he'd blamed her, but in the end, she'd only been doing what she had to. She probably saved his life. And in an odd way, he'd grown to like her. She was a comfort, a help, security. She never changed, and she was always there, doing her best. Yes, she was a good friend to him, and a patient one. He could admit that now. Everyone said they'd end up together one of these days, but they didn't understand. He could envision being married to her, in a way. Having her around all the time, looking after her and being looked after whether he liked it or not. Hell, after all these years he'd got used to it. Even kids... she'd make a great mother. But no. He couldn't love her, not that way. That wasn't how it worked.

He did know what love was like. It wasn't what people said. It didn't grow slowly and gently over the years, not that he'd experienced anyway. It hit you like a fist in the gut, tore at your heart, took control of your mind. It was total, intense. What he felt for Shera could never be like that. Love, as he knew it, didn't warm you. It burned.

Finding his thoughts straying in a dangerous direction, Cid stepped up his pace. Night had set in now, and the wood was dark and cool. Here and there, low branches he could no longer see clearly tugged at his clothes or ruffled his hair. The wind was picking up, coming from the north, bone-chillingly cold. He pulled his coat more firmly around him and thrust his hands deep into his pockets. The wind seemed a sinister omen, coming from the Northern Crater, where even worse things awaited. Cid wasn't stupid. He knew there was a good chance that, if he went there, he wouldn't come back. This might be the last night he spent under the stars. And, despite the fact he had fulfilled his dream, done what he had wanted to do for years, he didn't want to leave the world. Not yet. He wasn't ready. Why? He knew the answer, but didn't want to think about it. It was nothing, a pointless fantasy, not the kind of dream that could ever come true. Shrugging deeper inside his coat, he hurried on, still not really knowing where he was going.

The ground began to rise here, and the trees to thin out. He started to climb, but as he reached the fringes of the forest, he froze. At the top of the hill, a silhouette stood motionless, framed by the rising moon. The glare of the light behind stole any colour from the figure, blurred its features into blackness, but Cid recognised it at once. How could he not? It was a figure that had been haunting his mind for a long time now. A figure that, however much he told himself not to think of it, wouldn't go away.

For a long moment, he stood there, not knowing what to do. Finally deciding it would be best to go, he stepped backwards slowly. His feet crunched on a twig. Instantly the man on the hill stiffened, his posture, changing to one of battle-ready wariness, seeming like a tiger about to spring. He spun round, the moonlight glinting on the metal claw that had replaced his left arm.

"Who's there?" he called, challengingly. "Show yourself!"

"It's only me, Vincent," said Cid, stepping out of the shadows. "Sorry," he added, "I didn't mean to disturb you. I was just about to leave."

"No need to apologise," said Vincent, relaxing. "Or to leave, either, if you don't want to. I just wasn't expecting anybody else to be here."

"Me either," Cid confessed, climbing the hill to join his friend. "I thought they'd all have gone."

For a few moments, they stood together in silence, gazing north towards the rising stars, and the danger they would soon have to face. The wind toyed with Vincent's long tresses, blowing them out behind him in smoky tendrils. Cid suddenly felt rather out of place. Vincent seemed to belong here, to the wild things of the wood and the gathering night. He looked like something out of a fable, a creature of darkness and beauty and untamed passions. But fairy tales didn't carry guns. And creatures of myth, however much they had suffered, didn't have eyes like Vincent's. Eyes that remained human no matter how transported by battle rages he became. Eyes that spoke of sorrow and pain and tortured self-doubt. Eyes that were looking at him now.

He shifted uncomfortably under their scrutiny. Vincent always gave him the impression of seeing more than others could, noticing things that would remain invisible to anyone else. It was unsettling to remain the object of his focus for too long. At length, Vincent spoke.

"You didn't go to Rocket Town." It wasn't a question. Cid merely nodded assent, keeping his gaze fixed on the horizon. "There was nothing there you wished to see?"

Cid hesitated a moment before he spoke. "It's changed now," he said at last. "Or maybe not. Maybe it's me who's changed. But it doesn't feel like home anymore. It's... empty. There's nothing there for me."

"Not even Shera?" The voice was softer now. At this, Cid did look up, but Vincent's face was inscrutable as ever.

"I'm not saying she means nothing to me, but... whatever it is I'm looking for, I'm not going to find it with her." He thought he detected a flicker in Vincent's dark eyes. "What? Why does everybody assume that just because I'm friends with the woman, we'll end up in love?"

"My apologies," Vincent said, still in that same soft tone. "I did not wish to intrude."

"It's alright." Cid paused for a moment, then decided to go on. "It's just... loving her would be easy, if I could. It would make things simple, straightforward. But I can't. It's not who I am."

There was a period of silence. Vincent returned to watching the skyline. When he spoke again, he did so without turning round.

"I did not go to where we found Lucrezia, either. I had meant to........but I couldn't. I will not stir old sorrows when they cannot heal or help. I must face Sephiroth now. I must make him pay for what he has done to us. That is all I can do. There's nothing out there that matters to me. Not anymore."

"That's how I felt," Cid said. He was a little amazed. He had never heard Vincent talk so much before, and certainly not about such personal things. "But I find, after all, there may be one thing left with meaning for me." He winced. Where had that come from? It was true, of course, but he hadn't meant to say it. And now came the inevitable, 'Really? What?', and then he would be in trouble.

But Vincent didn't answer, merely turned to look at him again. He caught his eyes and held them, and there was something in his expression that was utterly new, something he couldn't quite understand. His heart quickened, and he found his palms were sweating. Self-conciously, he wiped them on his trousers.

After a silence that seemed to stretch forever, Vincent spoke. "I didn't say that there was nothing left with meaning for me. Merely that it wasn't out there." His voice was softer than ever, with a new note in it that made Cid shiver. Surely he couldn't mean... no, this was ridiculous. He was behaving like an idiot. But there was a light in Vincent's eyes that he had never seen before, and something that might have been a smile was playing around his mouth. Slowly, as one in a trance, he stretched out his hand and touched the side of Vincent's face, on the temple. The world seemed to slow down, and he had time to realise that the pale skin, far from being deathly cold, was more than humanly hot. He felt a pulse flutter against his fingertips, and the tiny shiver as Vincent let out a long, shuddering sigh. Then time deserted him altogether, as he was drawn into a kiss that seemed to penetrate his very soul, a kiss that wasn't really a kiss at all, but more like a wedding of body to body, skin to skin, flesh to aching flesh and heart to racing heart.

When they finally broke apart, Cid found words tumbling out of his mouth, so quickly he was barely coherent.

"Always... always wanted you, needed you, knew it, couldn't bare it, never thought, never dreamed...."

Vincent layed a gentle finger against his lips, and this time he was definately smiling. His smile was small, almost shy, and so astonishingly sweet that Cid could have cried. Their gazes locked, and he found that he didn't need to speak to tell Vincent all the things he wanted to say.

How long they stood there, neither could have said. Nor could they tell who moved first as they came together again, slowly and tentatively at first, then with building passion. When Cid next found himself capable of speech, his hair was rumpled and his shirt was gaping open. Vincent was managing to look more or less his usual cool self, but his gasping breath and the flush along his cheeks betrayed his excitement.

"This is crazy," Cid breathed, as Vincent's left arm crushed them together and his right hand explored Cid's exposed chest. It lingered around a nipple as Vincent replied.

"Do you care?"

"No."

Soon they were both naked, lying on their sides on top of Vincent's cloak, exploring with lips and fingers, trying to memorise each new taste and scent and sensation, and discovering what brought the most reaction. And as they shared another of those soul-shattering kisses, Cid found himself straddling Vincent, and saw the pale skin marked from his own ministrations. Vincent reached for him again, and trailed his hand downwards. Cid began to reciprocate, matching him touch for touch, and they worked each other to a fierce climax. As Cid spiralled down, he could only remember thinking one thing: 'This is heaven. It must be.' They slept together under the stars.

**********

He awoke alone, shivering with cold. His clothes were in a neat pile next to him, his jacket layed over him to keep him warm. Vincent had gone.

As he began to dress, he wondered if perhaps it had all been a dream, a vivid fantasy brought on by stress and exhaustion. Certainly it had the hazy, euphoric quality that dreams posess. But he discovered teeth marks on his shoulder, where Vincent had bitten to stop himself from screaming. So. It had been real. For some reason, he felt rather proud of those marks. They were a badge, proof of what had happened last night. But now... what was he supposed to do now?

It was still early morning. The sun had only just begun to rise, and the dew hung sparkling from every surface. Cid tramped through the forest unheeding of the beauty around him. As he broke from the cover of the woods, he saw the Highwind, large and impressive in the distance, the first rays of the sun making it gleam. And he saw a familiar red cloak heading slowly towards it. Without even thinking, he began to run.

Vincent stopped and turned to him as he approached. Cid came to a halt, panting.

"Well?" he demanded.

"Well what?"

"Have you nothing to say to me?" Cid thought that perhaps, after all, it had been a dream. He felt like the whole world was going crazy.

"What is there to say?" Vincent spoke in his usual monotone, with not even a hint of the warmth and playfulness that had been in his voice last night.

"I should think there's a good deal to say. For starters, why did you leave me without so much as saying goodbye?"

Something like pain flashed across Vincent's bottomless eyes.

"I am sorry. I did not mean to distress you, but I thought it for the best."

"For the best?" Cid exploded. "How do you think it feels to wake up after the happiest night you've had in years, and find your lover has abandonned you?"

Vincent definately flinched at the word 'lover'. Cid read the worry in his eyes.

"Oh no," he breathed, softly. Then, louder, "No! I will not be loved and left, not like this. Not by you."

Vincent turned away.

"I am sorry," he murmured again.

"Sorry? Sorry? After this? To flirt with me, seduce me, hint that maybe, perhaps...." Cid found he was teetering on the very edge of his self control. "How could you do this to me? To give me hope like that, and then just walk away?"

"I did not mean to cause you pain," Vincent said, dully.

"Well how did you expect me to take this? Have you any idea how much it hurts to be left like this?" Cid figured he might as well throw caution to the winds. "By the person you love?"

Vincent rounded on him, suddenly furious. "Of course I know how it hurts! I've done nothing but feel that hurt for the past few decades! And then," he was visibly shaking now, "at the time when I should have been feeling it the most, I didn't so much as go near to her! I stayed here, with my thoughts, and the stars, and... and you." His voice had sunk to a whisper, but it began to rise again. "I did abandon a lover last night, but it wasn't you! And I felt... I felt...." He broke off, turning away again.

"You felt what?" The voice of low in his ear, as an arm snaked around his waist. "Like you were going to break open with all the feeling rising inside you? Like the world have suddenly stopped turning, and there was nothing left on it but that little clearing? Like the trees and the grass and the air and the moon were changing all around you? Like everything you had ever known meant nothing, was nothing, compared to this? That's how I felt."

"I was... happy," Vincent admitted at last.

"Let me make you happy again. Let me keep on making you happy."

"But it's wrong," Vincent cried. "Don't you see that? I shouldn't feel how you made me feel. I've no right to."

"But you have!" Cid was becoming exasperated now. "Why don't you understand? Why don't you realise you're the victim, not the sinner? Please," he said, softly, tenderly, "just let it go. Let yourself live again."

"I can't. It's... it's... wrong. It's just wrong. I don't want to hurt you. I want you to be happy...."

"Then make me happy. Do it by letting me make you happy. I'm bound to you now, Vincent. Do you realise that? What you feel, I feel. You can't deny yourself without denying me. Not now." He joined his hands around Vincent's waist. "Please," he asked again. "Just let me try."

"Alright." The aquiesence was so soft, so tentative, that Cid could hardly believe he had heard it right. But as Vincent turned towards him, groping blindly for his mouth, kissing him with unbelievable sweetness, he found the answer he needed.

At length, they began to walk towards the Highwind, each confident, now, that they could win the coming battle. After all, they were fighting for what mattered. Each other.

END



Notes from 2009

For me personally, this is the least satisfying of all my fics, despite the fact that the angst-factor is under better control here, and overall I think it's reasonably well-written. I suspect this is because this is the first fic I ever wrote where I didn't 'get' the pairing - it was giftfic for [personal profile] emerald_embers. Cid/Vincent has never really worked for me, because I think Cid's a) too straight and b) much more importantly, too healthy to get involved with Vincent. So I spent the first third of this fic building up a characterisation for Cid that would both mesh with mine and allow me to pair him with Vincent... and then I threw it all out of the window when I got to the sex scene, because I got too focused on catering to my own emotional kinks. The Cid of the morning after is my Cid, more or less; Cid during his meeting with Vincent is a total podcreature, and it bugs me.