Author: The Magic Rat
Warnings: Aggressive clothing.
Website – Ex Libris: http://www.winter-wood.net/ex-libris/index.html
Live Journal: http://delaese.livejournal.com/profile
Disclaimer: All Final Fantasy Seven characters, places and situations are the property of Square Soft/Square Enix and are used without permission and without intent of plagiarism or profit. Copyright for all stories and original characters is with the author, and may not be published, copied, distributed or archived without the author's prior written consent.
Summary: Cid goes a very long way to give a Valentine to Vincent.
Author’s notes: For the Valenwind-Luvers group’s “Hearts, Hugs and Capey-Capes OH MY!”contest.
Capey-Cape is a tri-fold character. I created her, Animama illustrated her, and my friend Pointy named her. So she’s an OC with three mommies.
Now – I believe I have to leave a comment regarding what Valentine’s Day means to me. Some people will doubtlessly say “TWU WUV!” or “OMG THE SMEX!” (side note – if you can’t spell ‘sex’ then maybe you’re not old enough to be writing fan fiction) or even “It’s a horrible horrible day that just rubs loneliness into the faces of single people!” But to me, St. Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday full of false emotion that sometimes, just sometimes, leads to true deep feelings, and a chance to express them, and gives an outlet to those of us who may otherwise be too shy to approach someone we would like to get to know better.
Also the traditional day in which mobsters whack their enemies.
Lyrics to ‘It’s Late’ © Queen.
The storm was immediate and violent; frightening even for the most powerful of the warriors. It came down on them like a judgement, and the thunder boomed so loudly the ground shook. Lighting flew across the sky like the whips of the gods, and the rain was so forceful that the very earth beneath their feet could not withstand it. The ground became a slick mire, and even Sephiroth, with whom they had been about to engage, was startled and thrown off-balance by it. There would be no battle between good and evil tonight; there would be only survival.
“Well I always did wonder how I was going to die,” said Cid. He stood with his left land on his hip, his right hand holding his glaive, and a sodden cigarette dangling from his lips. “And what the hell are Tifa and Valentine trying to do?”
They had crossed the forming pond over to the insane warrior, and were currently attempting to gently corral him. Sephiroth looked confused, and brought out his wings to try to fly away, but the rain turned them to leaden sticks in moments. He beat them, and Tifa pulled back, not wanting to get clubbed. She turned from the pair and stumbled over to her friends to stand with them and watch as Vincent gently tried to catch Sephiroth.
“Looks like a bat tryin’ to catch a chicken,” declared Barret. “Tifa what the hell is that man doing?”
She shook her head. “I don’t know. I thought I heard the word ‘daddy’ but I can’t be sure.”
They had known Vincent less than two weeks at this point, and while they did not know a great deal about him, they knew he had been in love with Sephiroth’s mother. The same idea began occurring to each party member one after another, and they exchanged glances.
“You don’t think…” said Cid.
Barret sighed loudly. “Great. Valentine is Sephiroth’s daddy. Kill me now.”
The thunder boomed so loudly they felt it jar the organs in their chests. They flinched.
“Wallace keep your death-wishes to yourself!” said Cid. “What are we gonna do? We’re gonna drown or get washed away in a mud-slide if we stay here!”
“Vincent!” called Cloud. “We have to go!”
For a moment it seemed Vincent had nearly convinced Sephiroth to come with him, but then the thunder exploded, and the noise along with the torrent of water caused part of the ground to shift. Sephiroth fled, bolting like a wild horse away from the noise, accidentally clubbing Vincent with one sodden wing and sending him sprawling. Cid ran forward to pick him up, while Sephiroth fled into the darkness. Cid managed to get Vincent on his feet just as the ground began to sink appreciably. It was collapsing, and they had to get out of there. Cid felt the earth give way as a sink hole opened up, and he screamed, picturing himself dying slowly, trapped under piles of mud and stone, slowly strangling in the sludge. Then he felt talons sink into his arm. He heard the sound of gigantic wings beating hard, labouring under the weight of Cid’s dangling form. Cid stared at the creature holding him in complete shock.
“YOU CAN FLY?!”
The powerful wings oared slowly through the air with a noise like a ship under full sail. Vincent managed to get Cid to stable ground, but it was clear that getting thrown by Sephiroth and then having to carry a man easily twice his own body weight had been almost more than he could manage. Vincent collapsed, and was gathered up by Cid, who was positively wiggling with excitement over his friend’s newly-discovered talent.
“HEY GUYS! VALENTINE CAN FLY!”
“Ask him if he can do a reverse rain dance!” called Yuffie.
“Enough with the jokes, we’re in real trouble here!” said Barret. “We have to get out of this, it ain’t stopping! Damn, Cid, you’re bleeding!”
He certainly was. Vincent had saved his life, but the talons had torn his arms to rags. Then Aeris pointed to something in the dark.
“Look! Is that a light?”
It was a light, shining faintly in the distance, leading them away from the quickly-sinking boggy meadow where they stood into the dubious safety of the woods. They had no choice. They headed into the forest after the distant light, and finally after crashing and stumbling through the bushes and branches came upon a little cottage, with a note taped to the door. Yuffie picked it off and read it.
“Dear Uncle Walter, you don’t have to feed the kitty, we decided to take her with us to Costa del Sol, we found out the train accepts pets. We left a message on your machine, but in case you didn’t get it, we left you this note.
See you in two weeks. Lots of love, me and Mom.”
Aeris stood on her toes and felt the top of the door frame, finding a key and using it to unlock the door. The drenched and filthy group darted inside, closing the door and bolting it.
“I hope ‘me and Mom’ don’t turn out to be a couple of crazy people,” said Yuffie.
“We’re gonna have a lot of explaining to do if Uncle Walter shows up,” said Tifa. “Oh Cid, your arm! Here, get it over the sink. What a mess.”
Cid walked over to the sink, grimacing in pain as Tifa rinsed the bleeding slashes. However his mind was not on the pain.
“Valentine flew! What did it look like? I didn’t really get to see it, I was busy falling.”
“I didn’t really see it either in that mess, I just heard it,” said Tifa. “Yuffie see if these people have a first aid kit.”
“Wait,” said Aeris, “I have a ‘restore’ materia. Geeze look what we’ve done to this kitchen in less than a minute; blood, mud, water…”
“We can clean it,” said Cloud. “And leave them a note explaining the missing food.”
Barret was making sandwiches. “Fuck that, I’m hungry,” he said. “Y’know these people will be lucky if this house is still standing when they get…”
Barret dropped his knife to the counter and reached out, managing to catch Vincent before he hit the floor. Vincent was utterly boneless, his head back, long wet hair trailing back from a face the colour of ivory. Barret carefully picked him up.
“He’s cold as ice.”
Cid’s wounds were partially healed by now, enough they had stopped bleeding, and he pulled away from Tifa and Aeris to walk over to Barret.
“I got him,” said Cid, taking Vincent from him. “Where’s the bathroom? I’ll get him in a tub and warmed up and see if he’s okay.”
Cid located a bathroom; a nice one with an old claw-foot tub. Barret put the plug in, and began running hot water. Then he picked up a bottle of foaming bath and poured some into the water, turning it to froth and bubbles.
“What did you do that for?” asked Cid.
“Aw come on, he’s a grown man,” said Barret. “He’s not gonna wanna be naked in front of you. This way he’s kinda covered.”
Barret stopped talking as an odd look crossed his face. He and Cid both sniffed the floral scent that filled the room, then Barret picked up the bottle and read the label.
“Romantic Dreams Foaming Bath blends the scents of lavender, rose, and lily of the valley to make you feel as if you are dancing in a romantic garden while gently cleansing away the day. Safe for delicate skin.”
“Terrific,” said Cid. “If I put him in that he’s gonna think he’s gay.”
“And if he wakes up naked in the bath with you washing him he’s gonna think you’re gay,” said Barret.
Vincent shifted slightly in Cid’s arms. “I think you’re both weird.”
“We’re putting you in the bath,” said Cid. “You’re colder than stone and you collapsed. Barret’s gonna leave before the smell of those bath bubbles make him dress up like Cupid and dance.”
“Jackasses,” mumbled Barret, but he left the room.
Cid helped Vincent to sit on the edge of the bath. He was shivering, and as Cid picked off the soaking wet cloak and set it aside with a wet ‘splat’, he was amazed at how incredibly slender, almost frail, this man was.
“Surprised you could lift me,” said Cid, taking Vincent’s left hand and carefully undoing the leather straps that held on the brass gauntlet.
“I almost didn’t,” said Vincent softly. “I thought my wings would snap with every down-stroke. I’m built to be light and fast, not strong.”
Cid removed the gauntlet and set it aside. “You’re… amazing. I mean… everything that I always wanted to do… you can do. You can fly.”
“So can you,” said Vincent.
“But not without a machine. Not without an airship. You… You can really fly.”
“I paid heavily for the ability,” said Vincent.
“Yeah,” said Cid. “I bet you did. I mean… I don’t know the story but I only have to look at you to see someone’s been cruel to you.”
Cid sat back on his heels and looked up at Vincent, suddenly uncomfortable and not really certain why. Vincent pushed his hands between his knees and lowered his head.
“You… want me to leave you alone?” Cid asked quietly.
Something about Vincent’s demeanour suggested he would rather Cid stayed, but he nodded.
“Okay,” said Cid. “You uh… yell if you need anything, okay? You want me to hang up the cape?”
“No,” said Vincent. “Just put her in the sink, and I’ll deal with her when I get out of the bath.”
Cid noticed that Vincent called the cape ‘her’ rather than ‘it’, but declined comment. He found himself wanting to reach out and squeeze Vincent’s hand, but stopped himself. Suddenly he felt just a little flustered.
Must be the damn bubble bath.
He left the bathroom and closed the door behind himself. Tifa and Cloud were tidying up the kitchen, and Aeris was making something in a pot.
“How is he?” asked Tifa.
“Not sure,” said Cid. “I think shape-shifting and carrying me just took a lot out of him. Say what was that stunt you two pulled with Sephiroth? Trying to get your silly ass killed?”
“Vincent went first,” said Tifa. “I just chased after him to make sure he would be okay. Then when we got close… Cid he was a mess. Sephiroth I mean. He was nothing but bones and scars. He looked sick, and I do mean sick. I don’t even know how he was on his feet. Then Vincent said something like… “It’s okay baby, Daddy is here”, and tried to catch him. I think if the thunder hadn’t frightened him so badly we might have caught him.”
“And do what with him?” asked Cloud. “And… Vincent said daddy? Like… Sephiroth’s daddy?”
“That was the impression I got,” said Tifa. She finished wiping up the last of the mud and blood and tossed the cleaning cloth into a pail on the floor before walking over to the sink to wash her hands. “He did say he was in love with Sephiroth’s mother. I guess there is a chance.”
“Which means he might want to save Sephiroth rather than kill him,” said Cloud.
“How can we save Sephiroth?” asked Aeris. “He’s too strong, even if he is so sick.”
“Maybe we should try,” said Cloud. “He was a great hero once. And either way it would save the planet.”
“What would we do with him?” asked Cid. “He’s seven feet tall and that’s without the sword!”
“But he was sick!” said Tifa. “Maybe we could help him and turn him back into a great hero. He could settle down and have a family and just be a normal person!”
“Tifa…” said Cloud.
“There’s no reason we can’t try!” she insisted. “He’s as much a Shinra victim as any of us!”
Cid took his pack of cigarettes, opened it, and looked inside at the mash of paper and soggy tobacco. He sighed and tossed the pack into the trash, then pulled out his reserve pack.
“Tifa,” he said, unwrapping it. “Your heart is as big as your boobs.”
“Thank you. I think.”
The group had dinner and some coffee, then Barret found some beer in a small fridge in the livingroom. They were nearly finished when Yuffie brought up a point.
“Okay I think Valentine has been in the bathroom long enough, I’ve totally gotta go.”
“He has been in there quite a while,” said Tifa. “I hope he’s okay.”
“Crap,” said Cid. “Never should have left him alone!”
Cid set aside his beer and got up, crossing the floor quickly to the bathroom door. He tapped on it, and listened. He heard nothing, and opened to door to peek inside.
He heard nothing. He slowly pushed open the door and stepped inside, seeing no sign of Vincent. His clothes were there, and the red cape had been rinsed out and hung up, but Vincent himself did not seem to be there. Cid looked to the bath full of water, the bubbles almost gone now. With a sick feeling in his stomach he walked over to it… and saw a body lying curled on his side on the bottom of the tub.
Cid screamed Vincent’s name and lunged to the bath, thrusting his arms into the cool water and hauling Vincent up. Vincent fought back, clearly confused and in a panic, then Cid was suddenly attacked by something cold and wet that enveloped him in a suffocating grip.
In the livingroom, the group of friends watched as Vincent came tearing out of the bathroom, clutching a large pale blue towel. He turned so his back was to a wall, holding the towel to his front, his hands balled under his chin, his black hair slick and streaming. Tifa, Aeris and Yuffie certainly didn’t mind the sight of exposed hip and thigh, but Vincent’s attention was more on what was happening in the bathroom.
“Cid?” he called.
There was silence, then the sound of someone crossing the bathroom floor, and finally Cid emerged to stand facing Vincent. He was enveloped in a red cape that was wrapped completely around his upper body, face included. It was making strange inarticulate noises, and appeared to be trying to chew on his head. Cid crossed his arms and faced Vincent, his head covered in red fabric.
“What the fuck is this thing?” he asked, as the cape continued to try to nom his head.
Vincent sniffed. “She’s… uh…. She’s a corporeal manifestation of one of the demonic entities inhabiting my body.”
“Uh huh,” said Cid, the cloth apparition growling in a strange whispery sort of voice. “Can you please ask her to let the fuck go of my head?”
“Capey,” said Vincent softly. “Go sit. It’s okay. Cid didn’t mean any harm.”
The creature did not immediately obey, but after a few minutes she released Cid. She dropped to the floor with a wet ‘splat!’ noise, and then scrunched off like some sort of obscene worm to go hang herself where she could dry. Wet now from the waist up, Cid stared at Vincent.
“Capey?” he inquired.
“Well… Capey-cape. Um… I didn’t name her.”
“Uh-huh. Ignoring for the moment that you have a possessed cape, why the hell did it attack me?”
“You scared her,” said Vincent.
“I scared her?” exclaimed Cid. “How about you scaring me by lying on the bottom of a tub full of water?!”
“I’m sorry, I fell asleep. I… I’m sorry Cid.”
Cid sighed, then went into the bathroom, returning moments later with another towel. He dried Vincent’s wet black hair, causing his friends to exchange glances. Cid then wrapped the towel around Vincent.
“Go get dressed,” said Cid softly. “We’ve got a nice fire built, you can warm up.”
Vincent nodded, and, head lowered, towel held around his thin body, he slipped back into the bathroom to dress. Cid pulled out a cigarette and stuck it between his lips, lighting it, his body posture suggesting he was a man with a problem.
“Cid’s got a boy-friend!” lilted Yuffie.
Cid looked at her sharply, blue eyes narrowed. “I might. Which is more than you’ll ever have.”
Yuffie was not to be deterred. “And what if he likes girls?”
“Well that leaves both of us out, now, doesn’t it?”
“Look before you two get into it,” said Barret, “Don’t get into it. Because I am too damned tired to hear no schoolyard brawl. Is Valentine okay?”
“Seems to be,” said Cid. “He fell asleep in the bath. I found him lying in the water at the bottom of the bath, reached in to pull him out, and got attacked by a piece of clothing.”
“At least it wasn’t those thirty year old man-panties of his,” said Barret.
“Can we just not talk like that?” said Cid. “I think he’s self-conscious enough as it is without Barret fantasizing about his panties.”
“Hey Valentine!” yelled Barret. “We’re taking a poll! Boxers, briefs, or panties?”
Cid slapped his hand over his face. “Great, he’s never gonna come out of the bathroom now!”
“Aw he’s a guy,” said Barret, “he can take a little razzing! What is it, Valentine?”
There was a long silence, then Vincent’s soft voice said; “That’s none of your business.”
“Aw c’mon!” said Cloud. “Tifa wears a thong.”
“Hey you wear a short skirt and do martial arts, it’s not like we’re not going to notice.”
Tifa snatched up a pillow and smacked him with it. Vincent stepped out of the bathroom, flinching as Cid moved to his side protectively.
“You just ignore them,” said Cid quietly.
Vincent nodded, and allowed himself to be shepherded into the livingroom.
The night crawled on. Soon the others drifted off into the house’s bedrooms to sleep, leaving Vincent and Cid by the fireplace in the livingroom, sipping wine. Outside the storm raged, but in the house things were quiet, and a little uncomfortable.
“I… think I like you,” said Cid softly. “That’s a really strange thing for me to say to another man but I can’t deny I see you in a way I’ve never seen another man.”
Vincent managed a slight smile. “Never had a man say that to me before.”
“What do you think about it?” asked Cid.
“I don’t know,” said Vincent. “I think… I think I’m a little too distracted right now to give your feelings the attention they’re due. I don’t want to blow you off but…”
“But Sephiroth is out in the storm and you’re worried for him,” said Cid. “So… is he yours?”
“I don’t know. There’s a chance he is mine but I really don’t know.”
“So who does he look like?” asked Cid. “Babies usually look like their daddies. Who does he look like?”
“His mother. He has her face. He even has her hair. And the recessive gene that makes the white skin and the white hair and the big green eyes comes from her side of the family. He looks like his mother so there are no clues there.” Vincent glanced at Cid, red eyes softly luminous in the dim light. “I know that not many people would understand my caring about him, but if he’s my son… shouldn’t I at least try?”
“Yes,” said Cid. “I think caring about any man who is in as rough condition as him is perfectly normal, and more so if he is your son. I just don’t know what we can do to help him. He’s not exactly small and easily managed. It might take more than jangling keys and a squeaky toy to lure him.”
Vincent smiled, ducking his head. “I see your point. But… if we can catch him… you’ll help?”
“I’ll help,” said Cid. “And not just because something about your eyes makes my heart skip.”
Vincent smiled again, but the expression was tired, and a little sad. “This whole interaction reminds me of a song, one that was popular the year I died in fact. ‘You say you love me, and I hardly know your name. And if I say I love you in the candle light, there’s no one but myself to blame. But there’s something inside that’s turning my mind away. Oh how I could love you, if I could let you stay…’”
His voice trailed off, catching a little on the last word before he fell silent, staring at the dying fire. The red eyes seemed to glitter, and Cid leaned forward in concern.
Vincent shook his head, and rose to his feet. “It’s late, Cid. It… it’s all too late.”
He fled into the back of the house, shutting himself away somewhere in the darkness. Cid sighed quietly, thinking his first male-male crush wasn’t going so well. Vincent was damaged on a lot of levels, and his concern for Sephiroth was just further complicating matters. Then he was distracted by something creeping up on him. Cid glared sourly at the cloak as it reared up to face him.
“And what do you want, you worn-out bed sheet?”
The cloak raised a ragged tendril to make a few gestures at him that Cid recognized as “I’ve got my eyes on you.”
“Bullcrap,” said Cid. “You don’t have eyes. But I’ll tell you what you do have, you glorified bedspread; consciousness. You understand me, don’t you?”
The cape indicated that it did.
“Good. In that case you’re gonna help me go catch Sephiroth.”
Cid downed the last of his wine as the red cape did its best to convey its opinion that was not such a good idea. Cid rose to his feet and walked into the kitchen, the cape scuttling after him.
“Don’t hand me that. Look, you’re a demon, right? Or something like one. You don’t seem to be evil. That means you’re smart, right? That means you can take direction.”
The cape flapped and waved its tendrils of ragged cloth, further indicating its opinion of going after Sephiroth. Cid pulled on his jacket.
“Look it’s easy. We find him, we catch him, you hold him secure while I drag him back here, what’s the problem?”
The cape flapped. Cid pulled on his gloves, then picked up his glaive.
“Don’t be such a coward. C’mon.”
The cape sagged in defeat. Cid opened the door, and the cape meekly scuttled out of the house ahead of him. Cid followed it outside, and into the raging storm.
Cid didn’t know how long they were out there; it seemed forever. The wind lashed the branches, sending leaves and debris as well as water flying into his face. He was drenched to the skin, and so cold his body was beginning to ache. The trees groaned in agony as they were pushed and pulled by the gale, and the ground was an unforgiving mire that tried to drag him down to Hell. He was ready to turn back, when he caught a glimpse of something on the ground; strands of silver in the mud that shone in the light of his small storm lamp. The strands turned out to be hair, and Cid realized he had found Sephiroth.
There was very little fight left in the great warrior; he was filthy and burning with fever. In a way the storm had saved his life; it had kept his brain from roasting within his cranium when the fever had reached its worse. But cold and rain and mud were not what he needed; he had to be tended to or he was going to die.
Cid took hold of one of Sephiroth’s arms and pulled, and realized the warrior was sunk down into the mud. Every tug meant Cid was battling the very earth to pull him free, and Sephiroth was not light even in his current condition. Cid would have to pull him out one limb at a time. He looked to the red cape.
“I need you to help me. We’re going to lay some branches on the ground, then I need you to cover them so we can get him pulled out of the mud and onto something more stable.”
The cape saluted. Together they managed to make a platform of sorts, and then Cid began the slow, arduous task of hauling Sephiroth out of the mud. This consisted of slowly freeing one limb at a time, clearing away the sucking mire and using branches to prevent him from sinking once more. It took hours, and by the time they were done Cid was openly weeping from the pain of the freezing rain burning and biting his flesh. He was in agony. He didn’t know if he had managed to do physical damage to himself, but he knew he had reached the point where his own life was in danger. Sephiroth would in all likelihood sleep a few hours, give himself a shake and be fine. He had been engineered to survive this stuff. But Cid, as much as it hurt to admit it, was a mere mortal.
Cid managed to get Sephiroth across his shoulders and turned, heading back to the little house, doggedly following, of all things, a soaking wet cloak bearing in one tattered tendril a storm lamp. The cape seemed to know the way, which was good because Cid was lost and he knew it. Head down, his body wracked with pain, it was all he could do to put one foot in front of the other and slowly make his way out of the woods.
He reached the house and staggered inside, leaving water and mud and bits of debris as he staggered into the livingroom. He managed to get Sephiroth onto the couch, some part of his brain thinking he was going to owe these people a new sofa with all the blood and mud and water he was getting on it. He was starting to understand why his grandmother coated everything in plastic.
Cid looked up and saw Tifa standing behind him, wearing a large t-shirt for a nightie, her brown eyes huge and concerned. He stared at her, trembling spasmodically, unable to control the painful shakes.
“Hello,” he said.
She pulled off his jacket and t-shirt and got him a towel, rubbing him down as he jerked and twitched with cold and strain. He tried to ward her off.
“Yes I can see that!” she snapped. “Cid Highwind what are we going to do with you?”
She went off to pour him a bath before he could answer, then came back to get him.
“Into the bath, and I’ll wash your clothes.”
He didn’t argue. He was in no shape. “Fine. But you have to look after the thing on the couch while I’m in here.”
“Fine. Strip and toss your clothes out.”
Cid had the funny feeling that Tifa had not noticed what was on the sofa. He couldn’t wait to hear the blood-curdling scream when she did. He undressed and tossed the clothes into a hamper, then pushed it out of the bathroom for Tifa. As he closed the bathroom door he heard her talking to something.
“What are you doing, you silly thing? Are you cold and wet and want a nice bath too? Okay, climb in. What were you and Cid doing out in the woods in this mess anyway?”
Cid carefully got into the bath, feeling his battered body slowly calm down. The cape went into the washer, and Tifa began tidying up.
Cid knew she had noticed what was on the sofa when he heard the loud gasp.
When he came out of the bath, he was wrapped in a large grey bathrobe that belonged to someone in the house, possibly Uncle Walter. Cid walked over to the sofa, and seated himself on the floor next to Tifa, who was fretting over Sephiroth.
“He looks so bad,” she whispered, stroking the white hair. “I got the coat off him and got him as dry and clean as I could but he needs more help than I can give.”
Sephiroth was lying on his stomach, his head hanging off the side of the sofa, slowly oozing dripping black goo from his nose and mouth. Tifa had put a plastic pail under his head to catch the matter.
“I don’t know what to do,” she said.
“Did you try materia?”
She nodded. “I used both the restore and the heal but it didn’t help. It cleaned up the worse of his infected wounds but this black stuff is something else. Help me get his boots and pants off.”
Cid did, then they found a blanket and covered him over. Tifa took a brush from her pack and began brushing the long white hair.
“Well Cid,” she said, “I never thought of you as a romantic fool but this is without a doubt the most effort I ever saw anyone put into a Valentine’s day gift in my life.”
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
“It’s Valentine’s Day. February fourteenth.”
“I didn’t know,” said Cid. He reached out to pat the white hair. “I just knew I had to do something for Vincent. And we’ve both admitted we’re not even sure what we feel for each other. I went out and captured the Angel of Death for my first gay crush and I’m not even sure I have a crush.”
“If he doesn’t drop to his knees and give you head regardless of who is in the room for this, he’s not worthy of you.”
Cid stared at her. “That is a phrase I never expected to come out of your mouth.”
“Well I did used to own a bar, I do hear things. Now I think we should try to get something into Vincent’s baby.”
“Vincent’s possible baby,” said Cid.
“Oh look how tall and pretty he is! He must be Vincent’s.”
“Yeah except he looks like his mother. For all we know, he’s the mailman’s.”
Tifa clamped her hands over her mouth to stifle her laughter. Together they went into the kitchen and began searching for something suitable to feed Sephiroth. They finally settled on a can of tomato soup and heated it up. Now to spoon-feed it to the little darling. Tifa poured the warm soup into a cup, then looked over to Cid, smiling as she saw he had fallen asleep in a chair. He was going to be lucky if he didn’t have pneumonia after this stunt.
She walked into the livingroom, and saw that Sephiroth had his eyes open, but he didn’t look terribly coherent. He looked more confused than anything. She knelt on the carpet and looked into his green eyes, glowing like phosphorous in the dim light.
“Hi,” she said softly. “You hungry?”
He stared at her, trying to place her. She wondered if he remembered her at all. Given his condition, it would be amazing if he remembered his own name. She offered him a spoonful of soup. He stared at the spoon with obvious suspicion.
“It’s tomato,” she said, smiling. “Yummy.”
The wings came out. Tifa felt her heart skip a beat as they hovered unsteadily above her head. She’d been battered by a goose as a small child. It had left violent bruises and dislocated her knee. She could only imagine what the gigantic span above her head could do.
“Try it,” she insisted gently.
He permitted her to feed him a spoonful, but the way he struggled to swallow told her that the inside of his throat was probably very sore.
“Come on, open up. Does your mouth hurt? Let me see….”
He gave her a bleary look that spoke of annoyance. She set aside the soup and reached for his head.
“Come on, be a good boy and open wide for Tifa…. There we go! Now that didn’t…eyew.”
The inside of his mouth was an inflamed and bloody mess, and black matter was leaking out of his gums and soft pallet. She sighed quietly.
“Why are the pretty ones always the most difficult?” She looked up as she heard a gasp, and saw Yuffie standing in the livingroom in her nightie.
“What the hell is that?!” asked Yuffie, eyes large with fear.
“It’s a Sephiroth,” said Tifa.
“What’s it doing here?!”
“Cid got it for Vincent for Valentine’s Day. Isn’t that romantic?!”
“No it’s not romantic!”
“Just get the antiseptic spray out of my pack or I’ll tell Barret what happened to his bag of chocolate nibs.”
Vincent awoke to a very odd sound, like a locomotive in the livingroom. He sat up and listened, and heard female giggling, and that indescribable noise, a sort of slow and steady ‘whoosh… whoosh… whoosh…’ like a train engine firing up, or gigantic wings…
He slipped out of bed, which was really only some blankets on the floor, and left the bedroom. Outside the monstrous storm had died down to the point where it was only terrible. From the hall in which he stood, he could look into the livingroom and see Tifa, Yuffie and Aeris tending to something on the sofa. Joining them was an older woman in a plaid skirt and white sweater, looking like every Hallmark card grandma he’d ever seen, and beside her was a dark-haired woman in her late twenties. He decided that the two he did not recognize must be “Me and Mom”. On the sofa lay something with gigantic black wings, flapping slowly, and that was the noise that had awakened him. The elder woman was talking to him.
“Oh poor baby, I know, it’s terrible, but you have to let us help you! Oh what a mess, look at you. There. Is that better?”
The wings beat. Curious, Vincent was about to step closer when he became aware of someone standing beside him. It was Cid, wearing only his t-shirt and shorts, an unlit cigarette in his mouth. Vincent looked from Cid, to the winged creature on the sofa, then back to Cid.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” said Cid softly.
“I don’t understand,” said Vincent.
“I don’t either,” said Cid. “All I know is… last night I realized I wanted you to understand that… I think we could have something good together. Something fantastic that would last the rest of our lives. The only way I knew how to show you I was serious was to go out and catch the man who may be your son.”
“Cid he could have killed you!” said Vincent. “He still could, he’s sick! He’s…”
“He’s letting five women he doesn’t know clean the sores in his mouth,” said Cid. “He could have killed at least two of them without a thought and he didn’t. He’s sick, he’s scared, and call me crazy but I don’t think he wants to fight anymore. I think he’s not as sure of his quest as he was. If we give him a chance to see we accept him just as he is, maybe we won’t have to chase him to some bitter end.”
The wings beat, causing a gust of wind that was felt in the hall, ruffling Vincent’s long hair.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Vincent. “It was such a weight on my shoulders, thinking I may have to kill him. That I might even have to deliver the death-blow myself.”
“I know,” said Cid.
“I thought… it was too late to save him.”
“It’s not too late,” said Cid. “We still have a chance. He deserves a second chance. I think you do too.”
“I don’t know, Cid…”
Cid drew closer. “What are you afraid of?” he asked softly. “What scares you?”
“Love,” said Vincent quietly. “The last time I fell in love I was betrayed in ways I could never have imagined. I would have done anything to protect her and her baby, because I loved her. And to her I was nothing. I don’t think I could take that again.”
“I could swear to you that I would never do that to you,” said Cid. “But the only way I could prove the oath is if you give me a chance.”
Vincent sighed. “And if I say I love you in the candle light, there’s no one but myself to blame.”
“Vincent believe it or not you are not the only man to have love bite you in the ass in a spectacular fashion.”
“I’m not saying I am!” he snapped. “But until you’re lying on a table half-alive with someone pulling your guts out you can’t know what it felt like!”
“Why don’t you stop blaming the rest of the world for Hojo and Lucrecia’s shit?” growled Cid. “Because I gotta say I find it damned insulting to be put in the same box with those two.”
Vincent stared at him coldly. “I must be out of my mind. For a few hours I dared to hope you might actually understand how afraid I was. But once again Cid Highwind finds a way to make my fears all about him.”
Cid opened a bedroom door and slipped inside, dragging Vincent with him, then closed the door behind him. They were not having this fight in the hallway. Cid took Vincent by the upper arms and pushed him against the wall, looking into eyes that showed up like red fire in the night.
“All I want is for you to give me a chance,” said Cid.
“All I want is for you to understand that I might not be able to give it to you,” said Vincent, his slender body trembling with emotion, some of which was likely rage. “And for you not to make my problems some big personal offense to your manhood.”
“You’re saying you don’t want to date me because I might chain you to a table and do vivisection on you. It’s a little hard not to take that personally.”
Vincent leaned forward. “No I’m saying I don’t want to date you because you’re a self-involved jerk.”
“Fine, I’m a self-involved jerk, I think everything is all about me, whatever.” Cid looked into the glowing eyes. “I don’t understand what you’ve been through. I do understand that it hurts you won’t give me a chance.”
“How can I?” asked Vincent.
“Just give me an inch. Let me earn your trust. You don’t have to swear to love me forevermore. Just give me a chance. I swear to never shoot you in the gut and rearrange your physiology. Okay?”
“I’m really scared….”
“I don’t blame you,” said Cid. “You’ve been through hell.”
Vincent drew back slightly, looking small and frightened. Cid leaned forward until they were nose to nose. One sweet millimeter closer, and he would be kissing him for the first time….
“Vincent come quick!” yelled Tifa.
And Vincent was gone, turned to dust and out the door. Cid yanked to door open to chase after him, and was hit by something red and dryer-fresh. Capey-cape apparently had decided that Cid had done something to her master, and the next thing Cid knew he was knocked onto his back and Capey was again attempting to nom his head.
“Om nom nom….” muttered the animated outer wear.
“GIT OFFA ME! I’m gonna take you to an exorcist!”
“Cid!” It was Aeris’ voice, gently admonishing, “stop fighting with the cape!”
“Get it off me!”
Aeris did. “Poor Capey, he’s always picking on you, isn’t he?”
Cid lay on the floor, watching as Aeris walked away, petting the red cloak. It dangled over her shoulder and gave Cid the “I’ve got my eye on you” gesture once more. Cid showed it a gesture of his own, then got up off the floor. He followed Aeris into the livingroom to see what Tifa was so excited about.
Sephiroth was on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket and looking like he was giving serious consideration to once more destroying the planet. The wings were out, but Cid thought the posture was more defensive than offensive. Vincent looked from Sephiroth to Tifa.
“What is it?” he asked.
“He spoke!” said Tifa excitedly.
Vincent stared at Tifa, then looked to Sephiroth, then back to Tifa.
“He’s thirty,” said Vincent. “Of course he can speak. He can probably go potty by himself now too. I bet he can even buckle his own boots.”
“Can you?” said Yuffie to Sephiroth. Cid drew her back as the gigantic wings angled threateningly. Ignoring the interaction, Tifa crossed her arms and faced Vincent.
“He asked for you.”
“See that’s a little different than just speaking,” said Cid. “Now come on, we’ll let these two talk, they’ve got a lot to discuss. We’ll go into the kitchen and explain to this poor lady who all these people are in her house.”
Cid helped the elderly woman to her feet. She smiled as she held his hand, carefully drawing herself up.
“Thank you. My goodness you people must lead such interesting… lives…”
They watched as Capey-cape scuttled across the floor, holding a dryer sheet in one tendril and heading for the laundry room. Cid sighed.
“Well that’s one word for it.”
It was hours before they saw Vincent again, and then it was just a quick glimpse as he slipped out of the house, seeking someplace private. Cid pulled on his jacket and went after him, finding him under a hanging willow, his cape pulled close around him, his fine body shivering. Cid didn’t know if he would be welcome or not, but he approached regardless.
Vincent glanced over his shoulder. “Oh. Hi.”
Vincent nodded, still trembling. Cid moved close, slipping an arm around him. “You want to talk about it?”
“He needs a lot of help,” said Vincent. “All that black mire… it’s Jenova cells. In a way, getting so sick and nearly freezing to death saved him. The cells are weakened somehow… stunned. His body is shedding them before they wake up from their dormancy. He’s so sick, Cid. He needs us so badly. He wants to know me. He wants to know where he came from. He wants someone to tell him what things are lies and what are true. The owners of the cottage – Emily and her daughter Jewel – have said he and I can stay here until June because they want to go travelling. So we have a place for him to get well and…”
Vincent drew a shivering breath, and Cid pulled him close, holding him tight. “It’s okay, Vincent.”
“It’s finally really over, isn’t it?”
“Yup. It’s finally really over.”
“I thought it was too late for any of this.”
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” said Cid quietly.
Vincent raised his head, looking at him with shining red eyes. Then he hopped up, wrapping his arms and legs round Cid and kissing him hard. Cid stumbled backwards, his back striking the tree and supporting him as he held Vincent tight, returning the kiss.
“Gonna need help raising the thirty year old baby?” asked Cid.
“Oh. Gonna need help understanding how two guys have sex?”
“Yes. Lots. And often. Cid I can’t thank you enough for this…”
“Hey, I’m just doing what any brave handsome heroic-type pilot would do. I’m just too humble to say so.”
“Uh-huh. Hey. How would you like to fool around a little on the grass here under the tree?”
“Moving a bit fast, aren’t you?” Cid teased gently.
“Yes,” admitted Vincent. “I just… have a lot to catch up on. And I’m not saying I’m ready for sex, but… I think I’m ready for some human contact and communication. It’s been a long time.”
“Okay. Well, let’s sit and… talk a little.”
Cid set Vincent down, and the pair settled beneath the tree, holding one another, kissing, watching the rain fall. They didn’t get much chance to talk however; Vincent was exhausted from his long and very intense conversation with Sephiroth, and fell asleep against Cid’s shoulder. Cid let him sleep, kissing his brow, touching him, and thinking it was going to be a very exciting few months. He’d never had a boyfriend before….
A red tendril reared up from behind Vincent’s shoulder, and made the oh-so-familiar “I have my eye on you” gesture. Undaunted, Cid took his lighter out of his pocket, snapped it open and flicked it into life. The tendril retreated. Moments later the wind picked up, threatening to become the wild gale it had been the previous evening, and Cid rose to his feet, picking up Vincent and holding him close. It had been a long night for both of them. Maybe it would be best to take a nap, and leave the “contact and communication” for another day.