Vincent figures out a few things. Cid/Vincent
Sometimes Vincent thought he might hate her.
It seemed wrong and petty, to hate a dead woman, and so much like a borderline blasphemy that had he been a religious man the mere thought would make him cringe. But Vincent had never held faith in anything but his gun and abilities, as far as those got him.
Not that it mattered, any of these patchwork thoughts, when Lucrecia was little more than fragments and shadows from the beginning of the end. Only it did matter. Bits and pieces of memory-things that could have been different, better, had there only been /more/. More time, more effort, more trust.
Or less trust, the black-haired man mused in the dark, and more firepower.
That stung, the way old wounds sometimes do. The only reason why he kept replaying it over and over until even the memory seemed tired and threadbare.
She'd been beautiful, imperfect in the right ways. Fly-away hair and nails bitten to the quick. Crooked, full smile. The tips of her ears would turn pink, from excitement or embarrassment or any number of emotions that ran through her system. Tiny details saved away each time they met.
Lucrecia had been beautiful and imperfect and killed by those she kept closest. All because Vincent had been kept an arm's length away despite his never-ending attempts.
Vincent had paid for that.
It was possibly the only thing they had in common.
...a wedding band, simple and bronze in the dull light of the lab but still there...
...worried eyes from above, with a halo of harsh light, concern outweighed by curiosity...
"Not now, Vincent, not ever."
If he was honest with himself, he might admit that he'd been little more than experiment long before he'd hit the floor, bleeding and scratching patterns into the floor.
Honesty was just one more thing he hesitated to trust.
Now he hated her, as much as he loved her. Smiling, obedient Lucrecia who hadn't really cared if he lived but just couldn't let him die.
Once upon a time, those feelings were reserved for himself-his own miserable being-and the man who had left him with gold sharpness and cold skin. Had focused the anger inwards until there was nothing left but blunt facts and brittle realities.
Vincent had a lot to pay for, true, but not everything was his debt alone.
There was a vague surprise-some cool ripple in the corner of his mind-that it had taken so long to figure out that one simple notion. As a Turk and nothing more, he'd been far quicker on the personal uptake.
With all that hair and angst, guess you ain't got room for much rational thought, Cid had commented once and barely blinked as his gaze met the barrel of Death Penalty.
Then the gun had disappeared, replaced by Highwind's chortles and the growing suspicion that the pilot might be on to something.
But Cid wasn't so much honest as incapable of anything like tact, and somehow that made it more believable. Enough to make garnet eyes pay sharper attention. For easy silences and surprisingly easier companionship. Rough and tumble, what Cid said was what he thought whether the rest of the world agreed or not.
"A whole lotta bullshit comes out of my mouth, Vince, but you dig around enough and ya might find a pearl or two of wisdom."
Vincent thought that maybe he was annoyed by the other man as much as he was thankful for him. Yet the latter so outweighed any curls of dislike that the balance wasn't quite right and the equation refused to add up. No reason behind it, no explanation, except that there was.
The pilot talked to him. Cracked a joke or an accusation, pushed as much as pulled. Left him to his own devices or dragged him into trouble. Walked that line between what Vincent wanted and what Vincent needed, unsteady but with balance, and as long as he did the black-haired man had no excuse to despise him.
So he didn't.
He just stayed. Days, weeks, months. A bit longer each time he returned.
"Look at us; two crazy old bastards, huh, Vin? Might as well save the rest of the world and stick together. My last good deed."
And Vincent paid for that as well.
Paid through non-stop prattle and lazy hand motions. Unwanted trips to bars, with shot glasses and diminishing alcohol under yellow light bulbs. Days of nothing to do, simply to be in a way that seemed dangerous.
Scraps of giving and quiet exasperation, which might have been enough to make Vincent simply walk away if it hadn't been now. If it hadn't been Cid and if the ex-Turk didn't know that whatever price he pays, Highwind pays right back.
Neither of them could quite remember when the going rates had changed. Only that they did, as much as everything eventually does, and suddenly there was a middle ground. Open, negotiable, easy. Concepts Vincent usually found novel at the best of times and laughable the rest.
A lop-sided grin-halfway to a leer-and a heavy palm patting him on the shoulder before skimming downwards, watching his back arch in response. Oil and sweat and intermingled smoke.
Cid is all gruff softness while Vincent is cool-feral pride. There can't not be a reaction and so they ride them out instead of fight, have to fight that instinct above all else. Instead allowing fingerprint bruises and bites marks on tense shoulders. Wait for them, want them, trace them when the other wasn't looking.
The blond maybe stayed closer to Vincent in bars, and a slender figure hugged the shadows of Cid's hanger more often than before, and nothing really changes despite everything except when one tries to find those shifts and boundaries.
Figures you'd try to over think us of all things, but overlook the fact that your Lucy was kinda a bitch, Cid had stated with a chuckle after once, after one to many, and Vincent had actually hit him for the comment before helping his companion upright again and refilling there glasses.
One labor-muscled arm had simply slung over red covered shoulder as another toast was made.
That was how it worked, like a breath of tart ease.
Because Vincent could love and hate and curse and protect but never separately, not anymore, and Cid never asked him to.