Cid and Vincent's relationship through Shera's eyes. [Cid/Vincent, Cid/Shera.]
by dilly r
A scrap of paper danced on the northern wind. Shera smiled at it as it swirled to the music of the wind chimes, then flew past her kitchen window to dance to other melodies. She allowed herself another moment's pause before she returned to kneading the dough.
Funny. In her youth, she had never been much for cooking of any kind, much less from scratch. It was something she'd learned for him.
The backdoor slammed and quick little footsteps ran down the hallway to the kitchen. Shera sighed at the familiar sounds and held her lecture when the long legged girl dropped a heavy box on the dining table. "How's he doing?" the girl asked.
"The same," Shera answered, not looking up from her work. "You know your father. He's had the window open all day. He throws things at me if I try to close it."
The girl screwed up her face in irritation. "There's a wind advisory, does he know that?"
"Of course he--"
"Until mid-afternoon. And it's bringing down all the bad weather from Wutai. He can't afford to catch a flu."
"Sydney," Shera took on a sharp tone that quieted the girl down. "You know very well that I've already told your father all of those things. But he misses the wind. He won't give it up if he doesn't have to."
Sydney huffed out a breath. "Fine. I'll go close his window myself." She turned on a heel and headed for his room shouting, "I'll board it up if I have to!"
Shera could not help but smile. Sydney was certainly her father's daughter, whether she would ever be able to admit it or not. She waited for the sound of yelling from upstairs to come, and of course it did come... along with the thump of one of Cid's boots hitting the wall next to the window.
Sometimes Shera wondered if Cid was only hanging around to argue with his daughter. It had taken her years to understand it, but she knew now that it was their way of bonding. Though, at times she wished they bonded at sporting events or over engines like normal human beings.
A knock at the front door startled Shera out of her thoughts. No one who lived in Rocket Town bothered to knock at the Highwind residence; the back door was always open. She stood still for a moment.
It couldn't be him already. She had only called yesterday. She looked to the staircase to see if Sydney was coming. Another thump of something hitting the wall indicated that their argument was far from over. Shera didn't particularly want Sydney to handle this visitor anyway, but she wasn't sure she could handle it very well either.
She wiped her hands on her apron as she walked to the front door. She paused there for a moment before turning the knob.
He looked the same. She'd known intellectually that he would look the same, but seeing it...
Shera drew a breath to compose herself. "Vincent. I didn't know you'd be here so soon."
Vincent glanced away, uncertain. "Cloud told me that it was urgent."
"I guess it is."
They stood at the door awkwardly for a long, silent moment. There was a thump and crash from upstairs.
"Um, come in," Shera said, drawing away to give Vincent room to enter. "Sydney and Cid are having one of their little conversations." Another crash. "I think they are breaking the vases."
A vague expression flickered on Vincent's face as he walked into the house. "Is it a bad time?"
"If you wanted to visit when they weren't arguing, you would've never been able to come at all." Shera closed the front door and watched Vincent walk slowly to the center of the entryway. He quietly scanned the walls, the floors, the knick-knacks Shera had decorated the house with over the years.
"Is he dying?" Vincent asked. His voice was quiet, but the emotion it held made Shera's chest ache.
"The doctor says it's hard to tell, but. A few months at the most."
The upstairs door slammed and footsteps beat the staircase. "That man is so goddamn impossi--" Sydney screeched to a halt when she saw Vincent. "Who the hell are you?"
"You're Cid's daughter," Vincent stated.
"Uh..." Sydney looked to Shera. "Mom?"
"It's okay. He's one of the people who fought with your father."
Sydney approached Vincent, eying him. "What, were you, like, five years old?"
Shera gave her a stern look. "Be nice. He's here to see your father."
"It's fine," Vincent said. "I don't make a good first impression."
"You might fix that if you changed your style a bit." Sydney nodded toward Vincent's cape.
Vincent's eyes narrowed in amusement, then he turned to Shera. "May I see him?"
"He's in a hell of a mood, though," Sydney said.
"When is he not?" Vincent asked.
Sydney laughed. "Point."
Vincent bowed slightly. "If you'll excuse me." He withdrew from them and disappeared up the staircase.
Sydney watched him leave, frowning. "I thought I'd met all the people Dad knew back then."
"It's complicated, Sydney." Shera drew a deep breath. "Help me finish dinner."
Shera remembered the first time she'd seen Vincent. Cloud and Tifa asked her about the Captain while Vincent stood further back, like a shadow against the wall. Cid had stormed in, as he had so many times before. She remembered that he'd yelled at her a few times, but she didn't remember what about. He'd yelled at her so many times that day.
What she did remember, years later, was that Vincent had watched Cid the entire time. Not just watched, but studied. Cid had the tendency to make an impression on people, good or bad, but what was in Vincent's eyes had been different.
"Sorry. It's our fault," Cloud said when Cid had left to work on the Tiny Bronco.
Shera shook her head, "No, no. He's always like this."
"It's amazing that you can live with it." Vincent said, disgust clear in his voice.
Shera looked at him. She wondered if he was trying to hide it, or if he really didn't realize that he'd just fallen for Cid. If he was fooling himself, he couldn't fool Shera. She remembered that look. She'd given it to Cid the first time she'd met him too.
"No," she said. "It's because of my stupid mistake. I was the one who destroyed his dream."
"I'm spending the night at home," Cid said as soon as Shera opened the front door.
She threw her arms around his neck and held him as close to her as she could get him.
He patted her side gently. "Shera, you're choking me a little bit."
"Sorry. Sorry." She drew away from him. "What happened?"
"Cloud told us to take a day to figure out what we wanted to do, so I got the hell away from there. I think he just wanted some alone time with Tifa. I didn't see her going anywhere."
"What you wanted to do about what?" Shera asked.
"I don't know." Cid walked past her into the house. He tossed his spear on the couch and headed for the dining room. She followed after him. "It's a long story, and it's confusing as hell. All I really got out of it is that Hojo and his wife never shoulda spawned. I guess we're just deciding whether we want Sephiroth to kill us from far away or close up."
Shera watched Cid stop at the dining room table and put his hand on a chair as if he was going to sit down. He stood still, though, staring forward at the empty wall across from him as if something were there.
He was different. She didn't know what, exactly, had changed, but she knew that this Cid was not quite the one she'd known for so long.
"Do you need anything?" Shera asked.
Cid shook his head. "I just wanted to come see you, in case this is the last chance. We didn't get much chance to say anything after... After the No. 26."
"That's okay, Cid. You don't have to--"
Cid turned toward her and put his hands around her shoulders. "Yeah, I do. You're one of the best things that ever happened to me, Shera, and it took me just about half of forever to figure that out. I don't know why you're wasting your time taking care of a jerk like me, but. Thanks."
Shera couldn't speak. She could think of a thousand things she wanted to say, but her heart felt like it was stuck in her throat. Cid smirked at her. Then, he leaned down and kissed her.
It had been so long since she'd been kissed, she'd almost forgotten what it was like. His stubble made her skin burn, but the softness of his lips, and then his tongue, was so sweet that she might fall to pieces right there in front of him. Slowly, he pulled away. She stared up at him. He was looking down at her the same way that he had been looking at the wall moments ago. There was something haunting his eyes that made her shiver as if a draft had swept through the room.
"Are you in love with me, Shera?" he asked.
She furrowed her brow. The question sounded ridiculous in her ears. "Of course I am, Cid."
"Good," he whispered. He led her backwards a few steps, until her back was against a wall. "Good," he said again, as he pulled off his gloves one by one, then cupped her face with his bare hands and kissed her again.
Something was wrong with what they were doing. Shera had been waiting for years, but something was still wrong. Shera could feel it deep inside of her, but she pushed the feeling away. She closed her eyes and let herself be lost in the sensations, both harsh and gentle.
She felt one of Cid's hands stray from her face, then push up her skirt to touch her through her panties. She gasped into his mouth, and she spread her legs a little wider. He slid her panties down and let them drop to her ankles. His second hand left her face, and she could hear him undoing his belt, then unzipping his pants.
Shera turned her face away from Cid's mouth, so that she could speak. "Cid, wait."
"I, um." She looked at him. His eyes were all black but for the slenderest halo of blue around them.
"You don't want to?"
She cast her eyes down. His hands were still holding his pants, but they were open, and she could see him. She'd seen him hard before, when she had to wake him up in the morning, and he'd kicked off the sheets. But she'd never seen him hard because of her before.
"I want to. I just..." She looked back up at his face. "I don't remember what I was going to say."
"Then don't say anything," Cid said.
Cid pushed his pants down past his hips; he was much more deliberate now, as if she might run away at any sudden movement. He pressed himself against her and held her for a moment before he pulled up her skirt again.
Somewhere between when he pushed himself inside of her and when he finished, Shera decided she had imagined that anything was wrong.
Shera had fallen asleep with her head on Cid's shoulder.
She woke up with her head on a pillow.
It was not quite morning, but there was a dim, violet light filtering into the room. They'd opened the window in the night to keep the room cool, but now her nose was so cold it felt like it might snap right off. She pulled herself out of bed with her blanket wrapped around her and went to the window.
She stopped in her tracks.
There was only just enough light to make out their shadows: Cid and Vincent, standing in the back yard where the Tiny Bronco used to be. Their discussion seemed rather heated from Cid's movements. She strained to hear, but she was a story above them, and all she could hear was the wind.
Vincent began to walk away from Cid. Cid grabbed his wrist. The two of them stood still for a moment, then Vincent bowed down. Cid tilted his chin up. Their shadows touched.
Shera told herself that it was not a kiss.
She closed her eyes, and when she opened them again, Cid and Vincent were gone. She shut the window and locked it. There were sounds coming from downstairs -- Cid was still there. She shed her blanket and replaced it with her robe. It was old and dingy. Cid had once pointed out that it made her ass look like a giant marshmellow.
Downstairs, Cid was standing by the dining room table, hunched over and furiously scribbling something on a piece of paper. He looked up at her like a frightened rabbit as she approached him.
"Uh, I was leaving you a note," he said. "I've got to get back. I can't let those kids do this on their own."
Shera nodded slowly. "Of course."
He stood there, awkwardly, with a pen cap between his teeth.
"You don't have to say anything, Cid," she said. "Just try to keep yourself alive, okay?"
"Yeah." He grabbed the note off the table and handed it to her. She took it, and she watched him take his spear and leave.
Cid had always been terrible with goodbyes.
When Cid came back, he took Shera's head in his hands and kissed her.
"It's over," he said. He had a huge smile, but his eyes were glazed over.
He kissed her again to silence her. "I don't want to talk about it," he said.
That night was the second time he slept in her bed. She woke up three times, and each time she found him staring up at the ceiling.
The third time, he asked, "Do we still have that whisky?"
Shera nodded, and Cid left.
Two months later, he was still drinking at night, and sometimes in the mornings and afternoons. For the fourth night in a row, Shera was sitting over a cold dinner when Cid came in and went straight to the bathroom without speaking a word to her.
That was the night she lost her patience with him.
She knocked on the bathroom door so hard that her knuckles stung. There was no answer, so she went in.
Cid was sitting on the floor with his back against the tub and his arms resting on his knees.
"Go away, Shera," he muttered without looking up.
She slammed the door, and his head jerked up. "What's wrong with you, Cid?"
"You're slamming the fucking door! That's the problem with me."
"No, Cid. No. You can't just get rid of me like that." She crossed her arms. "I'm tired of making a dinner that you don't eat. I'm tired of making love to you when you hardly know where you /are/. I'm tired of just... being AROUND you when you're like this."
Cid had run his fingers through his hair, and his forearms obscured his face. "What are you saying, Shera?"
"I'm saying that the smoking is bad enough. I'm saying that I'm not going to watch you do this, so you'll either stop doing it or move out."
"This is much my house as yours."
"I'll give you back the half you paid." Shera chewed at her lip. She could feel her courage waning. "I don't want to kick you out, but I don't want to see you like this. And I'm pregnant, so I don't want your child to grow up the way you had to."
Silence. Shera was sure that her heart was pounding loudly enough for the sound to echo off the sterile tile walls. Cid rolled his head up. He looked at her for a moment. Then, he leaned his head back, resting it against the shower curtain.
"I missed last month," she said. "And this month. So I want to the doctor and--"
He held up his hand to silence her. "You'll right. I'll quit."
Shera was sure her knees would give out from under her. She leaned against the counter to steady herself.
"Want to get married?" he asked. His eyes were focused on the ceiling.
"Do you?" Her voice sounded strange in her own ears.
Cid nodded, rustling the fabric of the curtain against his coarse hair. "I don't want our kid to grow up the way I had to either."
"Good." Shera drew in a breath. She didn't know what to feel, so she didn't feel anything. "You look tired, Cid. Come on." She went to him and straightened his collar.
"Yeah." He reached up for her and she helped him stand. "Could you throw out what we have in the house?"
She slid her arm around his waist and walked with him toward the bedroom. "Of course. I'll take care of everything."
"You always do," he said.
Shera watched him fall asleep before going downstairs to clean up.
For a moment, Shera didn't recognize him. The cloak was gone, and he was only wearing a black shirt and pants. He seemed a lot smaller that way, like a shadow cast against a wall.
She realized suddenly that she had been standing in the doorway staring at him for a full minute without speaking.
"Cid isn't here," she said. "He's working on the, um, the new airship."
"Oh." Vincent's eyes were on the sixteen-month old girl clinging to Shera's side. "It's not... I was in the area. It isn't important."
Shera shifted Sydney on her hip, her left hand moving to give Vincent a better view of her ring. "I'll tell him you came by."
Vincent looked at her. There was an expression on his face that she couldn't quite read. "Thank you." He began to edge away.
She tried to close the door and forget it. She didn't want to go through this again. She didn't want Cid to go through this again. It would be better for her family if she just let Vincent leave.
"Wait," she said.
He stopped. His back was to her, but he turned his head so she could see his profile over his shoulder.
"I think we should talk. Come in. I'll make some lunch for us."
"I don't wish to be any trouble," Vincent said quietly.
Shera felt a twinge of guilt at the sound of his voice. How could she have considered just letting him go that way? "It's not trouble. Please, Vincent."
Vincent nodded and turned back around. Shera let him into the house and sat him down at the dining room table next to Sydney in her high chair. Shera chopped vegetables in the kitchen while the soup from the night before warmed on the stove. She put the salad next to the sandwiches on the two plates. Two glasses of iced tea. Three bowls, two for the soup and one smaller one for mashed peas. All the necessary silverware.
She took a slow, deep breath and carried the tray into the dining room. "I'm sorry we don't have anything better than sandwiches at the moment. I haven't had time to go to the market today."
"This is..." Vincent blinked down at the food set in front of him. "More than enough. Thank you."
Shera pulled her chair next to Sydney to feed her the peas. Vincent spooned at his soup, but he kept his eyes on the two of them.
"She's beautiful," he said.
Shera set the spoon in the baby's bowl. Her hands were trembling, so she put them in her lap. "Vincent? Are you here so that you can be with Cid?"
She heard the clatter of silverware against porcelain, but she didn't look at him.
"He's never said anything to me, but I once saw you kiss him, and I suspect other things. The way he acts sometimes..." She pulled at a thread on the edge of her apron. "I'm not telling you to stay away from my husband, Vincent. I'm asking what your intentions with him are."
He was silent. She looked up at him, imagining for a moment that he'd simply disappeared. But he was still there. His flame-colored eyes were fixed on her.
Finally, he spoke. "I don't know." His eyes flicked toward Sydney, then back to Shera. "Things have changed."
"May I ask you a favor?"
"Figure it out. When he came back here, he was drinking all the time. He might have drunk himself to death if it weren't for Sydney. I think a lot of it was that he didn't know what to do with his life anymore, but I also think there was more to it than that. And I don't want that to happen again." She swallowed, reminding herself to breathe. "If you only want to... be around for a while and leave, I wish you wouldn't."
Vincent was silent for a moment, then he stood. "Thank you for the lunch, Shera," he said. "You won't see me again."
"I don't want to keep you apart if you--"
He held up a hand. "You are right. I should not have come." She thought she heard the edge of anger in his voice, but his face didn't show any. "Good luck with him. Don't tell him I was here."
She should have seen him to the door, but she didn't. And when she heard it close with Vincent on the other side, she put her hand to her heart to make sure it was still beating.
Cid came home late the night after Vincent's visit.
Shera had fallen asleep with her cheek leaned on the edge of Sydney's crib, and she woke with a start when she heard the screen door clatter shut. She glanced down at Sydney to make sure she had slept through it -- she had, thank goodness -- and she quietly left the baby's room.
From the hallway, she could see Cid in the living room slumped on the couch. She walked far enough away from the baby's room so that her voice wouldn't wake Sydney, but she went no closer to Cid than that.
"You said you'd be home before dinner."
"Yeah," Cid muttered. He ran a hand through his hair. "Sorry."
Shera wrapped her arms around her stomach. She was sure she would be sick. "Were you drinking?"
He shook his head.
"Were you... with someone else?"
Cid's head was tilted strangely. He seemed to be looking at the arm of the couch, or somewhere just beyond it. "Could you come here, Shera?"
She considered not going to him, but of course she did. And when she was less than a foot away from him, he whispered "come here" again, and she sat next to him. They both sat still for a moment, and then Cid slowly leaned toward her until his head was resting on her shoulder.
"I love you," he said.
Shera closed her eyes. She felt suddenly very cold. "Are you okay?"
She felt him nod. "Sorry I was late."
"It's all right." She slid her arm around him and touched his hair with the tips of her fingers. "I love you too, Cid."
Sydney sat at the dining room table with her chin resting on the backs of her hands. She watched her mother standing across from her, setting out two plates of dinner on the tray.
"How long's that guy gonna be up there?"
"I don't know, baby. Be patient."
She made a face. "Don't call me that. I'm seventeen now."
"Okay, old lady." Shera picked up the tray. "I'll be back down in a minute, and we can eat our dinner."
Sydney turned her head to the side and looked up at Shera. "I don't like not knowing what's going on."
Shera smiled down at her. "I know. I'll be right back down."
She walked up the stairs carefully, keeping her eyes on the drinks that threatened to slosh over if she didn't give them her full attention. When she reached the top of the stairs, Vincent was standing outside of Cid's door, looking at the doorknob. He looked up at her as she approached, then bowed his head down again, as if in embarrassment.
"What is it?" she whispered.
"I haven't gone in yet." He paused. "Are you sure he would want to see me?"
Shera raised her eyebrows. "You've been standing outside of the door for this long, and you haven't figured that out yet?"
Vincent shook his head.
"Well, don't think about it, then. Sometimes, that's the best way to go." She held out the tray to him. "Could you take that in to him for me?"
He took the tray. His gloved hands brushed against hers. "Thank you for this," he said.
She smiled, placing her hand on the doorknob. "Thank you," she said, and she opened Cid's door for him.