Chapter 2: Broken Highwind
“It’s been six months, Cid. You cannot keep doing this to yourself,” Reeve urged quietly over the PHS. He had originally called the pilot to tell him about another job but thought better of it when he had heard the defeated tone in the blond’s voice.
“Don’t tell me that you think he is dead?” the pilot rasped angrily. “Have you given up as well?”
The executive sighed. “That is not what I meant and you know it, Cid. I want to find him as much as you do. He was my friend, too.”
“Then why don’t you start acting like one instead of telling me what to do.”
“I was merely suggesting that you take a break for once. You need a vacation, even if it’s only for a few days. You sound tired, and I know you haven’t been sleeping or eating properly…” Reeve trailed off, realizing how much like the parent he hadn’t wanted to be just yet that sounded.
He covered the phone with his hand and mouthed a thank you to his secretary. She had just brought in the quarterly financial reports for ShinRa that month. The executive had been keeping a strict eye on the bank roll. She smiled softly at him and excused herself.
“I am fine,” interrupted Cid harshly. He puffed on his cigarette and paced back in forth in the control room to the bridge as he conversed with Reeve on his own PHS. The executive himself was back at ShinRa’s newest headquarters in Midgar… or what was left of the town anyways.
“Just a vacation,” the dark-haired man urged once more. “I am not suggesting that you stop searching. Just take care of yourself… or we’re going to lose you, too.”
“Maybe that would be better,” murmured the pilot beneath his breath, thinking that the executive wouldn’t be able to hear him. He was wrong, but Reeve chose not to voice that.
“Leave the company in Archer’s hands for a day or two. Go to Costa del Sol or Cosmo Canyon or even Gold Saucer…”
Cid stiffened. “No! I don’t need a vacation!” He almost yelled that last in a strained tone that indicated he had been pushed too far, and Reeve internally winced. He had said the wrong thing yet again.
“Okay, fine. Don’t take a vacation. But you know that the kids at the Orphanage want to see you. They like it when you come to visit.”
Cid rubbed his forehead angrily with a finger, feeling the tension headache that was beginning to build yet again. It seemed that had been happening lately. “Look, Reeve, wasn’t there a reason you called?”
The ex-executive sighed and didn’t speak for a moment. The pilot could hear the rustling of papers as Reeve found the documents he was looking for. “Yes. Godo has an order of something; he doesn’t specify what, that he needs flown from Junon to Wutai. He has asked for express.”
“Tell him I will pick it up in a few hours, and he can have it by sundown,” responded the pilot curtly. “And remind him that express is double the usual price.”
“I will,” affirmed Reeve. “Now that business is done are you sure that-”
“Reeve…” warned the pilot. He didn’t want to hear another lecture. That pressure between his temples was growing. Don’t get him wrong, Reeve was one of his best friends, but the executive just didn’t understand. He couldn’t. He had his reason standing beside him, probably right at that very moment in fact.
“I’m sorry,” said the executive apologetically. “Look, I’ve another call coming in, and it might be the one I’ve been waiting on all day. I will call you later about the wedding, alright?”
“Yeah, sure,” murmured Cid in response. “Later.” He didn’t even wait for the executive to say anything else before he pressed the button and ended the call.
The pilot sighed and pressed one hand to his temple as he slipped the phone back into the case clipped to his belt. He tried to rub his aching forehead and found that it helped his headache only marginally.
The pilot couldn’t help but sigh. He cracked open one eye and saw that Archer was standing not too far off from him, looking every bit the worried co-owner of Highwind Enterprises.
“Is everything okay?” Kyle asked in another worried tone. After the battle six months ago, when everyone’s life began to go on and move forward, it was Archer who had come to Cid with the idea to start a delivery service. With all the rebuilding being done, a steady airship carrier would be a worthy investment. Especially since the Highwind was the only decent airship. Now, the two both co-owned the company though the pilot was had more interest in it than Kyle simply because the airship belonged to him, and he was “The Captain”.
“Yeah,” Cid answered slowly, making sure not to put any other emotion in his tone that might cause the former ShinRa employee to go running to his new master, Reeve. The pilot had long suspected that Archer was also a spy for his dear dark-haired friend. How else would Reeve know that Cid wasn’t looking well?
“Once we drop off the lumber at Fort Condor we have to head for Junon. Godo has another special order for us.”
Archer nodded, making a mental note to inform the pilot of their new destination. “Was that all Reeve had to say?”
Cid winced but nodded slowly. The pressure in his head was building and he suddenly desired to go lay down. “Don’t forget to question the Head at Condor. I am going to go take a nap or something.” He made forward as if to move past the jade-eyed man but Archer reached out and grabbed his arm, stopping him in his tracks.
Cid felt so thin that it scared Kyle. The blond had always been a voracious eater when he wasn’t smoking, and though he wasn’t fat, he was always stout and muscular. But the past six months and his new lifestyle hadn’t been kind to him. Reeve was right. Something had to be done. “Are you sure everything is okay?” asked Archer again, looking down into Cid’s dull and lifeless eyes.
The pilot jerked his arm free from his friend’s grasp. “I said I was fine!” he snapped angrily. “Why don’t you all quit telling me how I need to live and do something useful with what lives you have?” With that said, the blond stormed off heading for his room.
He left a confused and saddened Archer behind him.
Cid wanted to curse as he stormed down the hallway towards his room. Crew members were wise enough to keep out of his way, most of them used to him by now. It seemed everyone on the airship knew what had happened even if the rest of the world didn’t.
Most of the inhabitants of Gaia knew about Meteor and knew about ShinRa but knew nothing of the events in the crater. In fact, most attributed their salvation to ShinRa because of where the confrontation between the fiery rock and Holy took place. This was fine with Cid. No one needed to know of his mistakes, and he needed no one to remind him of what he had lost. He knew that the executive meant well and didn’t know what Gold Saucer held for him and why he could never… never go back there again. He was a bit ashamed of his behavior but too lost in his headache to even think about starting a new conversation to apologize.
In truth, the past six months had not been kind to the once seemingly happy pilot. While it seemed everyone else had their reason to go on, their reason to be glad for the safety of the world and everyone in it, Cid found that all he had was a purpose. He would find Vincent… even if it killed him. Without the ex-Turk, there was nothing for him in the world. He refused to believe the dark-haired man was dead and would not settle for other companionship.
He had had dreams. Of rebuilding the rocket and flying to the stars, exploring other worlds, maybe walking on the moon. He had once thought of designing another airship and building one that was even faster and smoother than the Highwind. He had even dreamed of settling down with his lover in a quiet town, accepting the position of Mayor that had been offered to him and maybe adopting a couple of the kids at the Orphanage. But all of those dreams included the ex-Turk being at his side. He didn’t want to do any of it alone, and couldn’t even comprehend doing it with anyone but the dark-haired man.
But Reeve was right… it was slowly killing him. He knew that Reeve didn’t know everything that was going on but he had so many things on target.
Cid hadn’t had a decent nights sleep in nearly five months, ever since the doctor took him off the sedatives. He kept seeing that night in his dreams… tasted the blood that had splashed onto his face in echoes of grim macabre and felt the helplessness repeatedly. He knew that he was only torturing himself but felt somehow that he deserved what he got. His logic was twisted, even he understood that, but it was something to cling to.
He hadn’t yet decided whether or not the good memories were inspiring or only made things worse. They tended to remind him of what he didn’t have… That first time in Gold Saucer or their reconciliation on the Highwind and then the stolen moments in Wutai. (1) Neither would he ever forget the night Vincent had trusted him enough to be seme. It was their last time together before Sephiroth.
Cid wanted to curse himself for not saying what he should have. At least then the ex-Turk would have known as he battled in Chaos’ form. He might have tried harder or something…
The pilot sighed as he passed by the room that had been locked with a distinct ‘No Trespassing’ sign in bright letters on the door. It had been padlocked as well, and no one was allowed in there. Only Cid himself had the key, and he hadn’t opened it either. That was Vincent’s room when they had all been on the airship, and the blond wasn’t going to allow anyone else in there. To do so would be like admitting the ex-Turk was gone, and he wasn’t going to allow himself that yet. Vincent wouldn’t have given up, and Cid was determined not to either.
His head throbbed yet again and Cid automatically drew a cigarette from the pack in his back pocket. Despite Vincent’s suggestion, the pilot couldn’t help but return to his old habit with a vengeance. His appearance had changed among other things. He no longer wore the goggles or the scarf or the blue jacket and gloves. He kept his attire to a simple pair of blue jeans and a shirt whose color changed as frequently as he remembered to change the item itself. Depending on his mood, of course. His heavy boots clomped loudly down the tiled hallway, echoing against the empty metal walls.
Perhaps Reeve was right. He really ought to go see the orphans again. They always managed to lift his spirits. They had such great outlooks on life, although they had lost everyone they loved and had nothing left. The pilot should learn from the little ones but found that he just couldn’t. That would be like admitting Vince was gone, and Cid wasn’t prepared to deal with that yet.
Finally, the pilot found himself outside his room. He dug into his pocket and pulled out his key. He had taken to locking the room. He didn’t like people wandering in there and discovering how messy it was. He hadn’t cared to clean up since… since then.
He pushed open the door, threw his keys to the table near the door and flipped on the light. He tried not to notice the mess around him as he stumbled to his bed, vaguely tripping over an empty bottle of what was once scotch. His head was pounding in his skull.
The blond stumbled upon the bed, that heavy feeling on his heart finding its way home again. It seemed every time he tried to relax or find some sort of calmness, the memories would return as would the pain.
Cid squeezed his eyes shut and tried to breathe evenly. He willed himself to try not to feel the pain in either his chest or his head. As always, it was harder than it should have been.
Back in ShinRa’s newest headquarters in the slums of Old Midgar, Reeve sighed as he hung up the phone, a bit saddened by the pilot’s abrupt dismissal. He tapped his fingers exhaustively against the desk top and contemplated that he would have to call Godo now and inform him of the Captain’s decision.
A pair of strong hands grasped his shoulders and began to rub. The dark-haired man lolled his head back and relaxed into the touch. He looked up into a pair of aquamarine eyes and found his worries beginning to fade away. Reno always managed to do that to him with just a look. He loved the Turk so much that he could scarcely imagine what Cid was going through. He would have been devastated.
“I don’t know what to do,” Reeve admitted quietly as he shut his eyes and thought about his friend’s pain. Vincent didn’t deserve to die, and the pilot certainly did not deserve to be left alone as he had. The blond was worthy of happiness and so much more.
“Maybe there’s nothing you can do,” Reno responded softly. He rubbed his hands over his lover’s shoulders and down his back, trying to remind himself of how it felt to be wrapped in the executive’s arms. It had been a while since they had found the time to be together.
“He’s my friend, and I can’t help but feel like I should do something.”
“The only thing we can do is find Vincent, yo.”
“If he hasn’t what makes you think we can?” scoffed Reeve disbelievingly. He felt warm arms wrap around him and he collapsed gratefully into the comforting touch. A pair of warm lips pressed against his neck and eased his tensions away.
“Maybe it’s time we showed him our discovery?”
Reeve stiffened in the red-head’s arms. “What good would that do?”
Reno shrugged. “It might help him think he has a reason to live. It might give him more hope.”
“So he can work himself until he dies? I don’t think so.”
Reno sighed as he nibbled on the executive’s earlobe. “You haven’t been doing so well yourself, yo. Taking on everyone’s problems onto your shoulders, convinced that you can fix everything and everyone on your own. Cid is a grown man, he can handle himself. It is not for you to decide or choose for him. Neither is it your fault.”
“I never said-”
“But you thought it, yo,” Reno interrupted. He gripped the back of Reeve’s chair and spun the executive to face him. He lowered his body until the two could look eye to eye, hands planted on either side of the executive’s body. “You’re not helping either by running yourself ragged. What good will it do for everyone else, if you cause yourself to have a nervous breakdown?”
Reeve sighed and fought the urge to look away. He didn’t want to admit it, but his lover was right. Ever since ShinRa had become his company, he had done everything in his power to destroy the Mega Corporation and use its money and influence to fix what had been destroyed by Rufus and his family. He was determined to run the company to the ground with every last penny. It was the least that ShinRa could do for all the lives it had ruined.
“I only wish I could get Cid to see that,” Reeve mumbled. He grabbed Reno and pulled the red-haired man into his arms. The Turk settled himself on the chair until he was lightly straddling the dark-haired man and allowed the executive to embrace him.
“Trust me on this. Cid needs to see what they found in Cosmo Canyon. After the crater, everyone had a place to go… or even a purpose. Even you returned to what you know best.” Reno gestured towards the desk and the pile of electronics waiting to be fixed. “But Cid won’t be happy until he sees Vincent again. You aren’t a soldier, didn’t begin in the army like us, you wouldn’t understand, yo.”
Reeve sighed heavily. “Not this again.” It was the same argument and defense Reno had used before. However, the Turk always seemed to forget that before the dark-haired man was an executive, he was in the army. “I was in intelligence, you know.”
“Right,” agreed Reno. “Behind the scenes, doing sideline work. How long did you stay in that before they picked you up for smarter things? There’s your answer. You’ve never been a grunt.”
“Neither have you.”
“But I killed for a living and have seen my share of violence. You forget who I am.”
The executive sighed and leaned back in the chair, rolling his eyes up towards the ceiling. “Must you always bring that up? What does the past matter?”
“It is you who refuses to see the truth,” Reno insisted.
What had started as a simple discussion into how to help their friend had turned into a full blown argument.
“You are just been unreasonably stubborn,” Reeve grumbled.
Reno sighed and blew air out of his mouth forcefully. “Tulips or Lilies, yo?”
The executive blinked and stared at the red-head stupidly. What in the hell did flowers have to do with anything. “What?”
“Elena… she was waiting on line three when you got off the phone with Cid,” the red-head clarified. He leaned off to the side so Reeve could reach the telephone and connect the still blinking line. The executive cursed quietly, angry at himself for making his friend wait so long and slightly agitated with Reno.
“I’m sorry, ‘Lena. I forgot that you were waiting.”
Reno was sitting close enough that he could hear their conversation and his body became tighter and tighter as he heard Reeve respond as predictably as he knew the older man would.
“Yes, flowers, Reeve. For your wedding?” came Elena’s response. Ever since Reno had proposed, it became Elena’s obsession to plan the perfect wedding for the two of them. After all, the executive was a big name in the world now and only the largest, most extravagant wedding would do.
The dark-haired man groaned. “I don’t really care, ‘Lena. Why don’t you pick something,” Reeve responded agitatedly.
Reno shook his head and unwrapped his arms from the executive as he slid off the chair. The amber-eyed man shot him a glance. Elena’s voice faded to the background.
“It’s just flowers,” Reeve said quietly, confused by his lover’s actions.
“Just flowers?” demanded Reno angrily. He crossed his arms over his chest and frowned as he glared at the executive. “Right. Like it was just the cake and just the colors and just the location and just the ring and just-”
“I can’t be expected to choose every little detail,” snapped the executive before Reno could continue to list everything that came to his mind.
Elena had quieted on the phone. Neither man noticed, too intent in their discussion to pay any attention to her.
“Right,” sneered the red-head. “Not while you have a company to run, Cid to watch over, and many strangers to help out. I suppose some of us just fall down the ladder when it comes to importance.”
“Reno…” began Reeve but was interrupted when his personal PHS rang. He had changed the ring tone not long ago to something more businesslike, that of Beethoven’s 5th symphony. He checked the screen and saw that it was Kyle, which meant that the green-eyed man probably had something to report about Cid. Great.
The two men stared at the ringing PHS in Reeve’s hand even as there came a knock on the executive’s office door.
“Ya betta ansa that,” said Reno angrily. He moved towards the door. ” ‘N Elena still on da phone wonderin’ bout whatever flowers you whatever bout, yo.”
“Why are you acting so childish?” Reeve snapped, his hands tightening in their grips upon the two communication devices. He could tell that the Turk was furious because Reno always slipped into street when he was very angry or upset.
“I ain’t seen you in fo’ weeks, Reeve. Four fuckin’ weeks! It always be Cid this or gotta fix that shit! I fuckin’ sick a it.”
“I have a job to do! As do you!” snarled the executive. “Don’t forget it was your friends that gave it to me.”
Reno clenched his teeth together and aggressively chewed on his bottom lip before responding. “Even when we had a sneak around ‘for I did’n have ta share ya wit the whole fuckin’ world. I made time, yo.”
The Turk was beyond caring at this point, all of his anger in the past few weeks boiling over and out. The red-head threw open the doors to the office, startling the secretary that was standing just outside and hands poised to knock yet again. She quietly slipped inside, trying not to be noticed. “If ya didn’ wan’ it, ya shouldn’t a said yes!”
The last word was punctuated with a slam as Reno pulled the heavy wooden doors violently shut behind him.
“Dammit!” swore Reeve angrily before he threw both phones at the wall displaying an uncharacteristic loss of control as both devices hit forcefully and shattered. His whole body was shaking with emotions, both of anger and sadness. He stared blankly at the closed doors for a moment before he ever so slowly sat back down in his chair and picked up a pen.
Amber eyes traced over a document as he found the proper place to sign and added his name. Funds were looking good and no money was disappearing. The renovation project was well under way and currently needed no supplies…
“Uh, sir?” came the timid voice of his secretary, Jennifer.
Reeve looked up slowly, his eyes red rimmed but dry. “Yes?” he questioned.
“Is… uh… is everything okay?” she asked, stepping slowly towards the desk.
The executive glanced around as if seeing everything for the first time and blinked. “Of course, Jennifer. Did you have something else for me to look over?”
The amber-haired girl eyed him suspiciously, recognizing the act for what it was being what she had just witnessed. Jennifer nodded slowly, gesturing towards the folder in her arms. “And Mr. Archer called. He wants you to call him back as soon as possible.” She set the stack of papers on his deck. He had already returned his attentions to the document in front of him, the hand clutching his pen shaking slightly.
“Would you bring me a phone from another office please?” Reeve asked without looking up. He gestured toward another stack of important papers with his pen. “They needed to be filed. And then you can go home. I think I will lock up early tonight.”
“Yes, sir,” said Jennifer quietly. She took the offered stack of papers silently and quietly left the office.
When she came back in moments later, he was still furiously working on the paperwork. She left the phone on the desk without another word. She didn’t speak when she noticed that that a few of the papers had water droplets on them.
A few hours later and Reeve was unlocking the door to his apartment that he shared with Reno. He was tired both physically and mentally. The dark-haired man dreaded the confrontation with his lover and knew that the subsequent night would be long and heart-breaking. The both of them had a lot to say to each other.
Reeve sighed as he turned the knob and stepped into the living room of their one-bedroom apartment. He was surprised to find that all the lights were off and the home sounded silent. He hung his suit jacket on the back of the nearest chair and shoved his suitcase against the wall where he normally kept it. He palmed his secret knife as he crept into the living room.
“Reno?” he called out experimentally. There was no answer. The Turk should have been there. He hadn’t been sent on any missions, and he had never ran away after they had fought before. “Baby?” Only silence greeted him.
He could hear the steady ticking of the miniature cuckoo clock in the living room and the gentle hum of the refrigerator but that was all. Reeve loosened the tie around his neck as he made his way to the bedroom.
There was not a single light on anywhere. Reno wasn’t really fond of being alone and in the dark all in the same moment. When the executive made his way to the bedroom, his worries were confirmed. The Turk was not there and judging by the chill in the house, he hadn’t been there for quite a while.
The amber-eyed man raced to the dressers quickly and breathed a sigh of relief. The red head’s clothes were still there as were his belongings. Only the Turk himself was gone. Reeve sat on their bed dejectedly, wondering when it had all gone wrong. Would it do him any good to call Reno?
Reeve felt his shoulders hitch even as his chest tightened. He was screwing everything up and he was about to lose the only man he had ever loved. The only man he needed to love. It was six months after Sephiroth’s death, and the bastard was still managing to make their lives miserable.
If only Vincent knew just how much he had meant to everyone…
The executive buried his face in his hands and wondered where his lover was, and if he was ever coming back home.