[Shattered] Refrain 20

Track Twenty – Archer/Kyle – What Hurts The Most

I can take the rain on the roof of this empty house.

That don’t bother me.

He tried to ignore the fact that his room was just on the other side of the wall from Cid’s, but it was rather difficult at the present, considering all the noise that he could hear. It wasn’t that they were loud per se or that the bed squeaked in specific intervals, just that it was far too quiet in his room, allowing other sounds to filter to his hearing as he tossed and turned, not quite able to go to sleep. His mind was locked in a battle between worry and fear about the battle the next day, about regrets he didn’t know whether he should voice or not.

It was raining, that much he noticed. The steady sound of the rain striking against the hull of the airship was the only other noise in his room, other than the sounds of lovemaking floating through steel walls. It hadn’t rained in a while, but now, it seemed that it didn’t want to stop, as if Gaia herself knew of the battle that was going to take place and the battle raging in his heart.

I can take a few tears now and then and just let them out.

I’m not afraid to cry every once in awhile,

Even though going on with you gone still upsets me.

He really had no one to blame but himself. He had been the one to make the mistakes. He had been the one to walk away from the best thing that had ever happened to him. So if he was in misery, he couldn’t even point the finger and place the guilt elsewhere. In many ways, that made it hurt even more, to know that he had fucked himself up.

He should have known better and really he did. Cid’s trust was a delicate thing, more fragile than he gave it credit for. All that he had suffered and how many people had betrayed or left him, and yet, Archer had shattered that trust, as if it meant nothing to him. Years of a relationship down the drain all because he couldn’t shake his own jealousy and envy. And yes, perhaps there was some resentment as well.

It occurred to him, as he curled up on his bed and stared blankly at the undecorated wall, that he was brooding again, which seemed to be occurring a lot more lately. Where had the happy, optimistic Archer gone? When had he started finding comfort in the dark and dreary?

It was like he and Valentine had switched places. Sooner or later he would be the one called “Vampy.” Maybe then Cid would take him back.

Not that Archer had wished for such a thing.

There are days every now and again I pretend I’m okay.

But that’s not what gets me.

Tiamat had ventured a belief that perhaps they were not meant to be. That there was someone else out there for him, a soul mate, if he chose to believe in such things himself. And maybe she was right. But for the moment, that thought was little consolation from the pain welling deep inside of him.

Another moan, a murmured response, and Archer had had enough. He jumped out of the bed, grabbed a shirt from the floor and left his room without any destination in mind. So long as he didn’t have to lay there any longer and listen to the sound of his heart shattering into a million pieces, even though it was broken already. And he had no one to blame but himself.

Did he still love Cid?

He wondered as he padded down the empty corridors, aimlessly selecting paths and turning around when he encountered a dead end. For a moment, he wished he smoked cigarettes because they might have been the only thing that would calm his frazzled nerves. Normally not a man given to moments of broody and contemplative thought, he felt tilted from his world axis and wasn’t sure how to handle true depression and not his fake attempts at it.

What hurts the most was being so close.

And having so much to say. And watching you walk away.

Maybe the Myst Dragon was right after all, correct that he was only jealous of the others, which was why he desired something that was never going to be again. Nearly everyone around him was married or had someone in mind. To be honest, he couldn’t think of a single person in their little group that wasn’t otherwise interested. It was quite pitiful. And the one person he even considered, turned out to be a traitor. How’s that for fairness?

He shivered briefly, bare feet padding over the bare aluminum, as a flash of cold air washed over his body from the vent he had just passed under. He noticed how very lonely it was. He could hear the whirring of the propellers, the steady thrum of the engine, his own footsteps softly echoing, but otherwise, it was solemnly silent. Lonely. Kind of like he was.

And never knowing what could’ve been.

And not seeing that loving you is what I was trying to do.

However, he had irreparably lost his chance with Cid forever. He and Vincent were happy together, as much as they were perfect for each other. He was no one to get in the way of that, not even a close friend. He had lost that privilege as well when he turned his back on his lover.

He had initially made it his responsibility to watch over Cid after the battle with Sephiroth because he felt he owed it to the blond. Little did he know how much of the past that would bring up in him, how much it would hurt. But he had more pride and dignity than to try and win back his ex while the man was hurting. He wasn’t that desperate. If he could somehow ease that pain, even if only a little, he felt that perhaps he could be forgiven for his past transgression.
Archer made his way out onto the deck for no other reason than the empty halls were really starting to make him feel a little insane. It was slightly chilly, as it always was above the clouds, even during the summer seasons. He made his way to the railing, admiring the moon in the sky, thoughts turning back to the past, when he had first met Cid ten years ago.

It’s hard to deal with the pain of losing you everywhere I go. But I’m doing it.

The blond had been a mechanic and machinist for the ShinRa army for four years, joining up the moment he turned eighteen. Before that, he had been working for a mechanic two years after leaving home. He and Cid just happened to be working on the same project, a precursor to the Highwind and Gelnika brand airships. He had been attracted to Cid’s enthusiasm; Cid had just needed someone to appreciate him.

After several tentative trips to the bar, where Cid had drunkenly professed his sexuality and reason for leaving home, their relationship had begun. It was not exactly a fairy tale story, but neither had really expected that from life. They had discovered they had a lot in common, other than their love for engineering and machination. It hadn’t been long before Archer had fallen in love, bright blue eyes always dreaming of something more.

It’s hard to force that smile when I see your old friends and I’m alone.

Still harder…

To the world, they had come off as best friends since, at the time, homosexual relationships weren’t widely accepted. At least, not within the ShinRa military ranks. But they had been happy.

That had been until Palmer approached Cid with the thought that there was a power source somewhere in space. Everything that he had been hoping for was going to come true. Except that it had involved a move to Rocket Town, where most of the construction would take place. Archer himself had been trying to work his way up the ShinRa ladder at the time with little success.
They had fought; they had argued; they had said things they didn’t mean. And in the end, Cid had packed up his bags and left.

Archer could confess it to himself now, but then, he had placed the blame entirely on Cid. It was completely his fault because he wouldn’t stay. It was entirely his fault because he refused to give up his dreams for what they had had.

In truth, he had just been a selfish prick. And admittedly, he had been insanely jealous. He was older than Cid; he had been with ShinRa longer. Yet, it had been Cid who was a success. It just wasn’t fair, and he had hoped that Cid would choose him over the chance. He should have known better and should have never tried to make him choose.

Now, he didn’t blame the blond. And when he heard of the failure of the initial launch, he had been devastated himself, especially knowing that Cid must have been crushed. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to pick up the phone and make the call. That would have been admitting he had been wrong, and his pride just wouldn’t let him do it, especially since he still hadn’t made it like he planned. He had still been just a grunt.

He had dated on and off after that relationship, but he never could find anyone special. Perhaps he was just torturing himself with his own mistakes, but he never found anyone he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

And now, here he was ten… no… eleven years after the fact, still pining for a love that he shouldn’t have let go. It really was rather pathetic, but that didn’t make it any less painful.

Getting up, getting dressed, living with this regret.

But I know, if I could do this over…

A chill spread up his spine then as a particularly chilly breeze ruffled at his shirt. It was getting colder out, and a light spattering of rain began to fall. He sighed at his lack of luck, quickly heading indoors before the downpour made him too sick to fight. They would need Tiamat and him in the battles to come, and dreading returning to his room, he made his way to the common area, seeking a cup of warm coffee at least.

There were a lot of things he still hadn’t said, apologies that he needed to say, not that he thought they would actually make a difference. It would be a lot easier if he weren’t so alone and surrounded by couples. He had no one to turn to, and the nights were cold… lonely. Even for someone as perpetually optimistic as him, well, there was a limit to the pep and sunshine.

I would trade, give away, for the words that I saved in my heart.

That I left unspoken.

Words played in his mind, moments of heated discussion and passionate memories that seemed to cycle on and on. What could have been if he hadn’t been so stupid and selfish. What would never be again.

That was probably the hardest part of all.

– – – –

“Tell me about Archer.”

Cid frowned. “Why?”

The gunman shrugged, snuggling down closer to his lover. “Because I want to know. He seems like a nice guy.”

“Well, he was.” Cid sighed. “You really want to know?”

“I told you about Lucrecia.”

“That’s different.”

“Cid.”

“Fine, fine, whatever.” The pilot laid back against the bed as he thought about it, unconsciously rubbing one calloused palm against Vincent’s scarred back. “I met him when I was twenty-two, and I suppose you could say it was lust at first sight. Took a while to realize he was attracted to me though, I still wasn’t really used to the whole gay thing.”

Vincent laughed. “You say that like it’s a religious movement or something.”

Cid shot him a baleful stare. “Do you want to hear about Archer or not?”

The gunman shook his head, waving a hand of dismissal. “Continue, please.”

“Whatever.” Cid grunted. “We were together for three years. Come to think of it, it was his brilliant idea for us to go see Loveless.” He snorted then as he chuckled. “I fell asleep. Too damn boring for me. Anyways, when ShinRa came to me with plans for a Space Program, we broke up.”

Vincent raised a brow. “That’s it? No other reason?”

“He didn’t want to leave Midgar for Rocket Town. I wasn’t going to give up on my dreams. It’s as simple as that.”

“Is it?”

Cid grunted in response, clearly not pleased with the line of questioning. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Vincent smiled, knowing that his lover was being deliberately vague. People always accused him of being tight-lipped, but sometimes, the pilot had him beat.

“Did you love him?”

“What the hell kinda question is that?” Cid spluttered. “What does it matter anymore? That’s the past; this is now!”

“Relax, chief. I’m not jealous just… curious.”

The blond snorted. “Your idea of curious frightens me.”

Vincent trailed a finger down a lightly hairy chest, brushing briefly over a dusky nipple. “I won’t ask anymore questions then.”

“What brought this up anyways?”

The gunman shrugged. “Something in the air, I suppose. It doesn’t matter anymore.” He leaned upwards, quickly claiming the blond’s lips with his own.

“No,” Cid mumbled into the kiss. “I guess it doesn’t.”

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