Interlude Three: Finding Home
Calloused hands were roaming across his skin and lips were nibbling on his bare shoulder. He could feel the scratchy and familiar presence of stubble as he stirred, seeking more of the simple touch.
Vincent tilted his head to the side, providing his lover with more access. “The first alarm clock I haven’t felt the urge to shoot,” he murmured sleepily, trying to ignore the streaming rays of morning light trying to peek through the curtains of their shared room.
Cid chuckled lightly, reaching up with one hand to sweep aside long dark hair as he kissed the back of Vincent’s neck, gently nibbling with his teeth. Exploratory fingers traveled lower, tugging on the ex-Turk’s hip and dragging him flush against the surprisingly energetic pilot. Cid was usually the last to rise so long as he didn’t have to be anywhere. He was notorious for sleeping late.
“I s’pose I should consider myself lucky then,” Cid replied, sliding his hand to the cleft of Vincent’s buttocks, fingers tickling at the hidden entrance.
The former Turk shifted his hips ever so slightly, encouraging his lover as he made a noncommittal noise in his throat. “You’re up early,” he said, one hand groping under the pillow for the stashed, half-empty bottle of oil.
Cid pressed his lips to Vincent’s shoulder again, tongue teasing at the tanned skin. “You wanted to see the damn ruins, remember?” His hardened length slid along the soft skin of Vincent’s inner thigh.
Vincent handed the bottle over his shoulder without looking, turning his head slightly to capture his lover’s lips with his own. Cid’s tongue slid into his mouth, tangling with his own in a slow, steadying kiss.
Lazy mornings waking up like this, no pressure to battle, nothing but getting to know one another like they hadn’t the chance to before… it was certainly the best vacation Vincent had ever been on. Even if it had been dragging on for the past month or so. He felt no urge to return to whatever they planned to do afterwards.
The bottle of oil opened with a pop and Vincent felt the cool liquid dribble between his buttocks. He shivered, but not of cold, and lazily expanded the kiss. This slow and steady love-making was definitely out of his area of expertise but he couldn’t deny that he enjoyed it. Cid’s fingers worked him slowly and carefully, stroking him and teasing him with flits across his sensitive nub.
Vincent shuddered, a warm and pleasant hum lingering on his spine. The gentle build-up was just as arousing as the hot and heavy quick encounters on the closest available space. He would never say so aloud, but he enjoyed the quiet moments. He liked the feel of Cid’s hands slowly exploring his body and arousing him.
The lips left his and trailed lovingly across his cheek and jaw, moving to the side of his neck. Cid’s tongue flicked over his flesh, warm breath occasionally puffing across the moistened skin. Vincent momentarily regretted the loss of Cid’s fingers as they left him until the calloused touch settled on his upper thigh.
Cid encouraged him to slide his top leg back until it was settled on top of Cid’s, bringing the pilot’s groin flush with Vincent’s buttocks. Cid’s arousal was nestled between, nudging at his entrance. With a roll of his hips, Cid slowly pressed inside of him and the both of them groaned, sweat just beginning to dot their bodies.
“Warm,” Cid murmured into his skin, almost sound half-asleep as his hands began to move over Vincent’s body.
They were flitting barely present touches. A stroke over a slightly pale thigh. A flattened palm skating across Vincent’s abdomen. A light pinch on peaked nipples. A caress across the faint curve of a hip. A bare brush of fingers over his ardent need, causing him to pant softly and crave more.
It all grew into a building need that spread inside of him, a banking fire that burned brighter and brighter. Vincent’s hips moved in a slow rhythm to Cid’s shallow thrusts, one hand clenching around nothing as they other groped behind him. He grabbed a handful of Cid’s ass and pulled Cid closer to him, encouraging a deeper thrust.
Lips pressed again to his throat, warm and slightly chapped. He could feel the brush of Cid’s leg hair against his own always oddly smooth legs and it was a reminding presence. He could feel Cid moving inside of him, a constant motion against his prostrate that sent shocks of pleasure through him. Cid’s hand continued its gentle explorations, brushing over the skin of his thigh.
Outside the window, the sun rose a bit higher, sending streams of pale morning light into the room. Covers were shifted and thrust aside as the temperature on the bed increased, the mattress squeaking quietly beneath their movements.
“Cid,” Vincent breathed, unwilling to believe that it had been a plea. But his lover understood nevertheless.
The fleeting touches ended and finally, fingers encircled around his arousal. Cid languidly stroked him, increasing the pace of his thrusts by a small margin.
“Kinda nice, isn’t it?” he murmured into Vincent’s ear, tugging on a lobe with his teeth. “No battles? No Yuffie? No Mr. President calling for rides?”
Vincent’s fingers clenched on Cid’s thigh. “Mmm,” he agreed, concentrating fully on the sensations inside of him. “But I know you still miss the sky.”
He felt the brush of Cid’s face fuzz which he could never quite get rid of on the back of his neck as Cid buried his face there, nuzzling into dark strands. “I’m workin’ on that,” he replied, breath quickening as his own need grew and expanded.
“Work a little harder,” Vincent responded, but he was no longer talking about the same topic. He pushed his hips back, encouraging Cid to go deeper.
The scowl that crossed Cid’s lips was mostly playful. “Hey,” he complained indignantly. “Demanding bastard.”
But he listened anyways, tightening his grip and stroking Vincent just a bit faster. Conversation died as the only speech necessary was the grunts and moans, wordless pleas for more.
Vincent’s hold on Cid tightened as he rolled his body, searching for more, need coiling and tightening inside of him. Cid’s fingers stroked over his arousal, just the way he had come to learn how the ex-Turk enjoyed it.
It wasn’t long before he was shuddering, a low moan slipping from his lips as his release struck him. He spilled over Cid’s fingers and dripped onto the comforter. Several thrusts later, as Cid’s mouth latched onto him right at the juncture of neck and shoulder, he felt Cid climax inside of him.
A calloused hand settled on Vincent’s hip, still sticky with his seed, and Cid squeezed gently. Their bodies gradually settled back onto the mattress as they waited for their heart rates to settle, sweat dotting their bodies.
“Best damn alarm ever, hmm?” Cid chuckled in Vincent’s ear, placing another stubbly kiss to his lover’s shoulder.
Vincent rolled his eyes. “Now they’ll have to come change the sheets.”
“I didn’t see you complaining.” Cid’s finger traced a nonsensical circle on Vincent’s exposed thigh. “Besides, now we can go to those ruins you wanted to see, right?”
An elegant brow lifted. “You will go without argument?”
The first time he had even suggested wandering out there, Cid had given him a look of absolute disinterest and boredom. Vincent had resigned himself to exploring alone. It wouldn’t bother him a bit since he was certain Cid would be just as happy tinkering with some broken engine while he was gone.
Cid shrugged and began to slowly disentangle their bodies. “Might as well. Ain’t got nothin’ better to do.” He absentmindedly wiped his hand on the bed. “Shower first, though. And breakfast.”
Vincent was quick to agree.
Cid yawned, stretching his arms up over his head and causing the muscles in his back to give an audible pop. It was only noon but he still felt it was way too fuckin’ early to go traipsing through the wilderness of Mideel, looking for a piece of architecture falling apart and crumbling.
“How much farther?” he asked, trying not to sound like he was whining. He was approaching forty for Kami’s sake. He was beyond the age of acting petulant.
Cool grey eyes shot him an amused look as Vincent contemplated the small map the innkeeper had provided to them. “Just through this stand of trees,” he assured his lover, folding up the parchment and shoving it into one of the pockets of his pants.
Cid still couldn’t believe that Vincent was wearing so much despite the head of Mideel. He was decked out in shorts and a tee himself, but the best Vincent would bare was his arms. The rest was shrouded in clothing of varying dark shades. At least he had enough sense to tie his hair back otherwise he would have been miserable. Not that the ex-Turk would have shown his discomfort.
“What kinda place are these ruins anyway?” the pilot asked, wishing he had a cigarette as he cursed and shoved a huge branch out of his face. Well-worn path, his ass. This route looked as if it hadn’t been walked in centuries.
Vincent tucked a stray strand of hair behind his ear. “Legends in Mideel claim its something leftover from the Ancients, not unlike the Temple.”
“Hmph. They say anythin’ bout it bein’ haunted by damn mute ghosts?” the pilot demanded, remembering all too clearly the stupid and annoying beings they had encountered what seemed so long ago.
“Not that I recall.” He hid the small smile the best he could, knowing it wouldn’t do for Cid to see how amused he actually was.
He was saved from anymore of his lover’s questions when they finally stumbled out of the thick and unyielding jungle and into a large, open expanse. In front of them stretched a wide, flat plain of swaying non-tropical grasses with the ivy-covered stones visible on the other side.
“Huh,” the blond commented, fingers twitching towards his brow before realizing that yes, he had already given up that habit. “Weird.”
He was right.
The grasses were rather flat and evenly spaced. A clearing of such a size shouldn’t have existed on an entirely tropical island. And neither male was aware of Mideel having extensive farming practices.
“Maybe,” Vincent responded. “But it can’t be too dangerous. We’ll see anything if it comes.”
Cid couldn’t argue with that and the two lovers stepped out onto the waving expanse of green. The ground was firm beneath their feet, dry and a bit crumbling on the edges, as they waded into the grasses which came to their knees.
But it wasn’t until they were halfway across that something unexpected occurred.
Vincent tripped, his foot catching on something hidden by the vegetation, and stumbled forward. Cid reacted on instinct, grabbing him to prevent his fall and inadvertently causing the both of them to tumble to the ground in a crumbled heap.
“Dammit, Vince,” Cid cursed, as he rubbed at his side where a bony elbow had struck him a bit too hard.
The ex-Turk shot him a disbelieving look as he struggled to disentangle their limbs. “It was your fault, chief.”
“My fault, my ass,” Cid snorted. “What happened to your goddamned Turk grace?”
Vincent rose to his feet, eyebrow twitching in annoyance. “I didn’t expect anything to be there,” he answered, swiping his hands over his pants to brush off pieces of grass and seeds that migrated there from his fall.
The pilot snorted again, his only true response and dragged himself upwards. He scanned the ground for the object his lover had tripped over, blinking in surprise when he found something metallic sticking out of the ground.
“What the fuck’s this?” Cid demanded, crouching to get a better look at the thing. It appeared to be a handle of some sort, faintly rusted and peeking above a thick cropping of yellow-green grass.
Furrowing his brow, Vincent shrugged with a complete lack of interest. “A remnant from the ruins,” he suggested, only because Cid seemed fascinated. “It’s probably nothing.”
He turned away, focusing his gaze on the ruins in the distance. He much preferred to visit those. But alas, his lover was completely ignoring him, already digging his fingers into the ground around the handle and pulling out the grasses by their roots.
“It’s a fuckin’ latch!” the pilot exclaimed in surprise, grunting as a particularly difficult piece of vegetation finally came loose, spraying him with clumps of dirt and root.
Vincent blinked, whirling to face his lover. “What?”
He tugged ineffectually at the handle with a few more demonstrative grunts. “This damn thing looks like a door,” Cid answered, squaring his jaw in frustration before returning to digging around it. He was now throwing clods of dirt over his shoulder, movements excited as he worked to unveil his discovery.
“Help me, Vince.”
Vincent shook his head, lips drawing into an amused smirk. “I don’t think so. Your handle, your curiosity.”
Blue eyes glanced at him once before Cid returned to his digging with energetic fervor. Vincent stood by and watched as the dirt was gradually cleared away, revealing something made of metal underneath. It certainly appeared to be a hatch of some kind, with a small glass portal that was impossible to see through. It was rectangular as well, with only one latch.
“Wonder what’s inside,” he huffed, wiping sweat from his brow.
Grunting, Cid rose to his feet and grasped onto the latch. He crouched over the hatch and tugged. Nothing happened. Unwilling to be defeated, Cid tried again, muscles bulging in his arms. There was the faintest of squeaks but still, the lid refused to budge.
He turned pleading eyes onto his lover.
Vincent sighed. “I’m expecting the favor to be returned,” he announced as he wrapped his fingers around the dirtied handle.
Cid only grinned at him, face filled with an almost childish glee. “On the count of three?”
Shaking his head, Cid braced himself against the ground and began his count. The moment he said three, the both of them tugged with all their strength. At first, the hatch didn’t seem to want to budge. And then, all of a sudden, it popped and flew open, showering them with dirt and bits of rock.
The lid slammed to the ground behind it with a loud thunk and Cid went flying, landing solidly on his ass. That damned Turk grace kept Vincent from a ridiculous tumble as he glared at his lover, spitting a rogue piece of grass from his mouth that had inadvertently wandered there. Vincent brushed off his clothes as Cid ignored him.
The pilot grinned and crawled on hands and knees to the lip of the opening. He peered into the darkness, unable to see anything but a ladder that extended downwards.
“Why hasn’t anyone found this before?” he asked, voice echoing slightly in the tunnel.
“Maybe they have and it’s nothing of interest,” Vincent responded, brushing dirt clumps from his hair and glaring at the streaks of dirt on his fingers.
Cid craned his neck and stuck his head further in, reaching with one hand to rap a fist against the side. The low dong of metal greeted his ears. He looked up at his lover with a familiar, self-assured grin.
“Looks interesting to me.”
Vincent sighed. “Highwind.”
“Come on, Vince,” Cid began to wheedle, wanting to explore so badly he felt like a child once again. “We’re on vacation, ain’t we?”
Grey eyes regarded him dryly. “You had no interest in the ruins, did you?”
“Not a one!” Cid replied cheerfully, already swinging his legs over the side and testing the stability of the metal rungs. They appeared willing to hold his weight, without a single sign of rust.
Shaking his head, the ex-Turk double-checked his equipment, making certain he hadn’t lost his Winchester along the way. The weaker gun was probably all that they would need. He doubted anything dangerous or hungry enough to kill them lived down there. Still, it never hurt to be careful. One didn’t forget their Turk training that easily.
He gestured towards his lover. “Lead the way, Chief.”
If at all possible, Cid’s grin widened further, eyes sparkling in a manner that Vincent hadn’t seen since their visit to space. He imagined that his lover must have been like that as a child, looking up at the sky and the stars with such excitement, such yearning. He couldn’t help but remember his own childhood and Vincent wondered if he had ever dreamed like that.
It was probably the reason he didn’t mind getting dragged into Cid’s adventure quite so much.
Cid began to descend, his feet easily finding the next rung and Vincent climbed in after him.
“Did it occur to you that we soon will not be able to see?” Vincent asked, his voice echoing in the dimming shaft.
Cid grunted. “We’ll think of sumthin’.”
“Your planning capabilities astound me,” the ex-Turk countered laconically
Despite that, Vincent knew that Cid didn’t really mean it. The banter was something usual and familiar, a nice rapport that had developed between them during the advancement of their relationship.
They descended further and further, making Vincent wonder just how further the shaft led into the darkness. The light of the midday sun was getting harder and harder to see. He was therefore glad when he heard Cid grunt again, followed by the sound of him dropping from the ladder and landing on solid ground. His boots touching down echoed the sound of metal once more.
Curiosity sought to make a place inside of Vincent.
There was a scritch as Cid lit a match, always carrying a full box despite not smoking anymore. With the small, flickering light, Cid was already poking around as Vincent landed beside him.
Peering into the darkness, the ex-Turk could barely make out the sight of another hall stretching out in front of them, leading to Kami knew where. But otherwise, the somewhat circular room was small and empty. Above them, Vincent could barely make out the brightness of daylight. It was a small consolation.
“The Lifestream must have pushed it up,” Vincent commented thoughtfully as Cid began to poke around with interest. “This thing has probably been buried for a long time.”
Vincent blinked. That certainly wasn’t the response he had been expecting. “What is?” he asked, crossing his arms over his chest as he looked at his lover. It was slightly chillier down there.
The pilot cursed as his match burnt his finger and quickly reached for another. “There’s a fuckin’ light switch here.”
He cocked his head to the side. “What?”
But Cid was already experimentally flicking the switch. Nothing happened. “Heh.”
He paused and reached into his pocket, pulling out a flat-headed screwdriver. Vincent had no idea why he was carrying the random tool with him and had realized long ago that it was in his best interest not to ask. He watched as the engineer flicked off the faceplate and peered within.
Another curse echoed in the dark shaft as the match burned down and attacked his finger. “Fuckin’ match,” Cid grumbled, digging for another. He was going through them rather quickly.
Rolling his eyes, Vincent slid his Fire materia out of his armlet. With a small push, he activated the tiny globe, causing a dim glow to cascade into the room. He moved to his lover’s side and held it over Cid.
Cid grunted, his own personal form of thanks, and got back to work. He fiddled with wires, cursed some more, and yelped when he was abruptly shocked. The voltage was low enough not to cause any harm however.
“There’s still power running to this… whatever it is?” Vincent asked, entirely bewildered. The locals hadn’t mentioned a recent crash nor could he remember any event large enough to bury something beneath the surface this deeply.
“Prolly only a basic generator or sumthin’,” Cid responded distractedly and promptly twisted his wrist in a sharp motion.
A low buzzing filled the room, followed by a flicker, and then a pale yellow light flooded the area. They were obviously only emergency lights but frankly, they were better than matches and Fire materia.
The slightest thread of unease began to work its way through Vincent. “What is this thing?”
“Don’t know,” Cid replied, brushing off his hands with a hint of excitement in his voice.
He turned away from the panel and gazed longingly down the long hallway. “But I aim to find out,” he added, already heading towards the dim dark.
Fighting back the urge to sigh, Vincent followed after his lover, sliding the materia back into his armlet. “All right. What do you think it is?” he questioned, trying not to be too annoyed or throttle the other man.
He did love Cid after all. Just sometimes, he didn’t like him very much.
Cid chuckled. “A spaceship,” he deadpanned from just in front of the ex-Turk, his body a dark shadow of movement.
Even in the dark, Vincent knew that his lover was grinning like the damned fool that he was. “Not funny, Highwind,” he responded inching closer to Cid. He didn’t like how dark and enclosing this place felt to him, the silence unnerving and reminding him of memories he’d rather not recall.
“Well, what else could it be?” Cid posed, nearly sounding logical. “It’s too big to be somethin’ simple. And Mideel isn’t exactly known for it’s aeronautics.”
Dammit but the man had a point.
Vincent wrestled the idea around in his mind, fully prepared to put forth his own theory when they suddenly stepped out of the hall and into another room. It vastly resembled the console to the spaceship, circular with a huge panel lining the entire wall. Chairs were bolted to the ground in front of it and a large keyboard-like panel was spread out before them.
He found his breath catch in his throat as Cid’s eyes widened, stepping into the large room. Something which appeared to be either a large window or a large monitor was dark above the console. Cid walked towards a chair as if drawn by some other power, fingers running over the keyboard.
The moment he touched a key, the dark monitor whirred to life. A single line of code appearing on the screen. Vincent couldn’t identify the language. If it was even language at all.
“What is this?” Vincent found himself asking, his voice sounding strange in the almost reverent quiet.
Cid didn’t answer, instead moving to sit at the seat. He lifted his hands, placed them over the keyboard, and typed a single entry, just a few characters. How his lover had known what to press, Vincent wasn’t sure and a part of him was afraid to ask.
At first, nothing happened. The cursor blinked on and off for a moment as if it didn’t register the command. A sound of frustration spilled from Cid’s lips.
And then the monitor went black, the entire room cast into darkness. Even the emergency lights flickered. Vincent felt his breath catch in his throat, telling himself that it was absolutely not fear, before the screen popped back on. And then the words came.
The language that appeared, scrolling by at a dizzying pace, was a mix of something Wutaiian and something else. Cid was eying it avidly, seemingly transfixed as if he could make sense of the words. The most Vincent could puzzle out however was the drawn lines and signatures of some type of schematic.
“Fuck!” Cid suddenly cursed happily. “It’s an airship.”
Vincent blinked. “What?”
“It’s a kamidamned airship!” Cid cackled and then, his fingers were flying over the keyboard, moving faster than Vincent could register.
The screen in front of them buzzed and then cleared out. One by one, more screens and blips raced in front of them until they were staring at over twenty different read outs. Words scrawled absently here and there. He saw pictures and diagrams and in the top right hand corner, an image of an airship slowly turned, showing all sides. Vincent could only stare in astonishment.
“How is that possible?”
The pilot shook his head. The contraption around them gave a low rumble as lights began to flicker on, more than just emergency this time. “Hell if I know, but I ain’t turnin’ down this chance. This baby’s mine!” Another slightly evil cackle followed this declaration.
Vincent hadn’t seen him this excited, this intrigued in a long time.
Cid started mumbling to himself about aspects of the ship. Power supplies and rotors and all sorts of technical drivel that Vincent didn’t care to pay attention to. It was making Cid happy and that was all he cared about. It wasn’t necessary that he understand.
He slid down into the seat next to Cid, staring at the console with its many buttons and latches. Vincent wondered just how this thing, this airship, had come into existence. It was obviously very old. A remnant from a prior civilization perhaps. Something before the Ancients?
He supposed that if that were true than it really belonged to no one. And who would begrudge Cid Highwind the rights to fix it and make it his? None that he could think of. Mideel was fond of the Captain after all. They wouldn’t make a fuss.
Besides, watching Cid from the corner of his eye, Vincent found a smile flitting onto his own lips. It would be worth it to see the joy returned to his lover’s eyes. He didn’t have any aspirations for himself beyond forgiving himself for the past and simply enjoying his life now that he had the chance. And it had been he to encourage Cid to seek another dream.
What better way than to start now?
Decision made, Vincent sat back in his chair and listened to Cid mutter under his breath, prattling on in Engineer-language beyond his scope. One hand idly traced the scars on the other, remnants of the past he was learning to accept and forget. It was strange how easy moving along was, when one actually tried.
In fact, it was a lot like finding home.
One might think he had forgotten. One might think he was no longer welcome. But it was always there, in some place or another, waiting patiently. Calling silently. Encouraging gently.
Sometimes all it took was a little guidance, a nudge in the right direction.
“Dammit… stupid little…” Cid cursed and trailed off, doubling his efforts. His words dragged Vincent’s eyes towards him.
And the former Turk smiled. If only a little bit.