Final Fantasy 7. Cid&Vincent. PG-13. 2700 words.
Cid follows Vincent into the ruins of Midgar. He kinda regrets it.
Cid knew something was wrong when Vincent left the party only a half hour in. It wasn’t that he’d expected Vincent to stay. Hell, it was close to a miracle that Tifa had managed to talk him into coming, but it was the way he left–the hasty push out the front door rather than subtly ducking out the side–that made Cid take notice.
Untangling himself from some girl trying to feel up his muscles, Cid grabbed his beer off the table and followed.
He’d only been a handful of seconds behind, but the street was empty both ways when he stepped out. Didn’t mean Vincent wasn’t around though; guy liked to skip across rooftops like a fucking cat. “What’s the rush?”
There was no answer. Cid caught a ripple of colour out of the corner of his eye. If that was Vincent, he was already a few blocks down. Cid looked back over his shoulder. Things were starting to get going inside. It was the kid’s birthday and drinks were on the house. He tipped his beer to his mouth and thought about going back inside and getting a fresh one, maybe seeing if that little pixie hadn’t found someone else to paw at.
His hand was on the door handle when that shot of red appeared again briefly, headed off towards the ruins.
“Aw, hell.” Cid’s hand dropped away from the door. He left his bottle atop a newspaper stand and dug through his pockets for a smoke.
He was on his second cigarette by the time he was having to pick his way through the debris of the outskirts of Midgar proper. ShinRa was doing its best Ð Cid used that term loosely Ð to rebuild the place, but the crews hadn’t made it this far south yet. Concrete lay fallen in great chunks, steel girders twisting out of them like broken bones. The place was a wasteland, home only to rats and crows and other, bigger scavengers.
“Look, I ain’t going to follow you much further,” Cid said, loud enough for his voice to echo off the broken buildings.
“I didn’t ask for you to follow me at all.”
Cid expected Vincent to melt out of the shadows, pull out his best vampire impersonation, but there was nothing, just the eerie whisper of his voice carried on the breeze.
“Yeah, well.” Cid tapped the ash off the end of his cig and slung his weight on one hip, waiting for Vincent to hurry up and stop fooling around. His fingers drummed irritably against his hip when it didn’t seem like Vincent was going to get to it any time soon.
“You should leave.”
This time Vincent’s voice came off as strained, and this time, Cid could actually pinpoint where it was coming from. His head snapped up, and he saw Vincent standing on the third floor of a building that had been ripped in two. He stood near the edge of a floor that looked like it could crumble out from under him at any moment. Cid had expected to find him in his usual light-footed perch, but the guy was slumped against a wall that had more than one hole punched through it. A few feet past where he was crumpled in on himself, a window and its frame remained miraculously intact.
“I came all this way after your pasty ass, I’m not going to just turn around and- Oh, Fuck!” Cid threw his cig down and started scrambling up a pile of brick and wood. It shifted under his feet like quicksand, and he narrowly escaped a nail through his hand as he made a running leap from one pile to the next.
Vincent howled before the transformation fully took hold, before wings unfurled and red eyes blazed bright, sanity flickering out like a struggling flame. Unleashed, Chaos’s clawed fingers dug into the floor, tile cracking and turning to powder.
“Vincent! Ah, shit.” Cid ducked as red wings snapped open, beat hard enough to send a push of air his way and nearly knock him off his perch. If the whole fucking pile didn’t just collapse, a few more feet to the left and he’d be able to jump to an exposed stairwell. “What the fuck are you doing letting that thing loose?”
Chaos opened its mouth to let loose an unearthly sound that sent grit skittering and made all the hair on Cid’s arms stand straight up. Cursing liberally, Cid tugged on his gloves and started yanking at a length of pipe buried in the debris. It came free more easily than it looked like it would, and he slammed the end of it down to get his balance. The thing wasn’t exactly his spear, but it’d have to do.
He made the jump, dust clouding up as his boots landed solidly on what had been the second floor landing. Some of the steps were splintered, and Cid kept a hand on the rail as he took them three at a time. He rounded the stairs as Chaos crashed through the remains of the wall to meet him.
“Ugly son of a bitch,” he muttered, getting the pipe up just in time to meet a swipe that had been intended to liberate his head from his shoulders. Claws bounced off steel, left a good set of dents, but luckily didn’t just shear the damn thing into several pieces. Cid bared his teeth in a snarl and whirled the pipe around, driving the blunt end of it into the centre of Chaos’s chest hard enough to have it staggering back a step. “Vincent, you better hurry up and get a leash back on tall, dark and nasty.”
The damn thing was a good sight bigger than him, but Cid managed to stun it with a few choice hits and drive it back, pin it up against the wall with the pipe crushing against its ribs. “Vincent, you hear me in there?”
He was never really sure what did happen to Vincent when he turned into one of these things. Two sets of eyelids flickered over demonic eyes, and the air turned stale, hot and stinking from Chaos’s breath.
“Highwind,” it said.
Thick muscle rippled under coal black skin, and Cid glanced down to see one massive hand close slowly into a fist. Claws clicked ominously against one another. Didn’t sound much different than Vincent’s normal set of shiny gold pig-stickers, he noted, but then leathery wings hissed against cracking plaster as they spread upward, and that little voice in the back of Cid’s head saying he better get the fuck away quit with the subtle suggestions and just started screaming at him to move.
Cid leapt back, steel pipe a blur as he deflected a series of blows. He tugged his goggles down over his eyes as Chaos really started fanning those wings and a swirl of grit and dust and broken tile started pelting him.
“How much longer am I going to have to face down this motherfucker?” Cid shouted.
Chaos paused, wings spread wide, huge black bulk doing a good job of filling in for the missing ceiling. Hunched forward, its chest heaved with each breath and its arms dangled loose. Cid swiped dust from the lenses of his goggles and coughed into his elbow. That was either a good sign, or a really bad one.
Bad one, it turned out. Wings pumped, lifting Chaos a foot off the ground and those big clawed hands snaked out to try and rip Cid’s heart out. Cid got one of them knocked away, but the other raked across his chest before he could retreat. The front of his shirt reduced to ribbons and a row of shallow cuts stinging as they welled with blood, Cid dropped one end of the pipe against the floor and cracked his neck. If Vincent wasn’t going to be able to control the thing, Cid was going to have to really get down to business.
“You know how hard it was to find a shirt for the kid’s party that didn’t have any grease on it?” Cid slid his hand down the shaft of the pipe, hefting it up and giving it a good swing over his head before spinning around and aiming for scaly demon legs.
Steel met flesh, but it was Chaos’s hand on the spear, not the solid thunk of a good hit.
“Hey, hey. Hands off the goods, big boy.”
It hissed and gave the pipe a jerk. Cid didn’t fight it, he moved with it, putting his own force behind it and making sure the tip was aimed straight at the slender bone sweeping up out of Chaos’s back. Chaos howled when the jagged end of the pipe hit, shoulder wrenched back as bone snapped. With a sickening crunch, its wing fell limp and Chaos was sent crashing back down to the floor.
Fucking thing would’ve been severed clean off if he’d had his spear, but Cid wasn’t about to complain. He didn’t get away free and clear though–Chaos’s fist cracked into his jaw and made him see stars. Spindly fingers curled around his head a second later, yanking him forward so hard he was surprised his spine didn’t just evacuate his body.
A vicious kick straight where the thing’s nuts would be had its hold loosening, and Cid wrenched himself free. He backed off, end of the pipe scraping against the floor as he dragged it with him. “I said, hands off,” he snarled.
Cid turned his head and spat, blood-flecked spittle landing in a glob on floorboards gone white with dust. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he tucked his makeshift spear under his arm and dropped into a fighting stance to wait for Chaos’s next assault.
It never came. One minute Cid was having a staredown with the fucking thing and the next it was holding up one scaly hand in surrender.
“Took you long enough,” Cid said. He slowly stood up straight, then tucked the pipe into the crook of his arm to push his goggles back up on his forehead. He licked his teeth, tasting blood, but it didn’t seem like any of them had been knocked loose by that punch. “You can change back any time now.”
“What d’you mean, can’t.” The pipe was back in Cid’s hands, and his eyes narrowed as he noticed the strain in the arm Vincent was keeping up.
Chaos was picking itself up again, and Cid wouldn’t put any money down that Vincent was encouraging those legs to work. Its head lifted, horns gleaming as they caught the light, and it fixed him with a dark, flat stare. That was unmistakably Vincent. “Don’t be a fool.”
Cid bounced the pipe off the floor to heft it up again, sling it up over his shoulder as he split a crooked smile. “That’s my line,” he said, jerking a thumb at his chest. “You want to be a martyr, you find someone else to do the deed.”
Vincent opened its mouth to speak again, but Cid was sick of the chatter, he was going to take advantage of whatever control Vincent had on the thing. He swung the pipe wide to get Chaos dodging to the left and then he jumped. Kicking off a jagged half wall got him coming down right behind Chaos. Makeshift spear abandoned, Cid kept his arm braced, gravity dragging him down and bringing his elbow slamming into the slope of the thing’s neck.
The move took a lot out of him, but it did the trick, and Chaos was back down on its knees. Cid looped his arms around Chaos’s, pinning them back and wedging a boot against its bony spine. As it recovered, the thing bucked and thrashed, doing its damn best to try and dislocate Cid or Cid’s arms.
Cid grit his teeth and held on, keeping his head low enough that he wasn’t risking getting skewered by a horn. His muscles felt like they were on fire already, straining at the sockets as Chaos struggled and howled. “You keep on whining if you think it’s going to do any good, but I’m warnin’ ya, I’m a stubborn cuss, I’m just going to keep like this all night if I need to.”
The minutes dragged, and Cid just kept holding on. If his strength was flagging, Chaos’s was too; the thing’s ferocious writhing steadily waned to something more comparable to human. Its head dipped, swayed from side to side, and the air hummed with a keening sound of the sort that could shatter glass if that poor window hadn’t already bit it.
The sound stopped abruptly enough Cid was hearing echoes of it to try and fill the silence. The sweat that had popped out on his brow was just now starting to trickle down his temples, and he cursed and shook his head, trying to keep it out of his eyes. Something flickered, stung, and for a second he thought he’d succeeded in doing the opposite.
Then it hit again and Cid’s stomach tried to turn inside out. His vision went blurry for what couldn’t have been more than a heartbeat. He gasped for breath. His brain caught up with things slowly, and Cid experienced first-hand the disorientation of having someone else’s memories driven into his skull.
The third time it happened, Cid realised the memories were all of him. It was a real mindfuck seeing yourself from someone else’s point of view, nothing at all like watching a movie, and a whole lot like being given a crash course on just how much you don’t know about yourself.
Cid lost his hold, reeling back as more and more of Vincent’s memories slammed right into him. He shook a glove off to press the heel of his hand tight against his forehead since it felt like his skull was going to split open like a ripe melon. How many memories could Vincent possibly have of him?
A lot, it seemed. Vincent had been paying a lot more attention to him than it’d ever seemed like. If he wasn’t busy feeling like all that attention was gonna kill him, he might even be flattered. Cid tried to shake off the effects, because, for one thing, Chaos was getting up again. This is it, Cid thought amidst the spin of sights and sounds and smells. Grim reaper’s finally come to collect.
Only that dark shape looming over him swayed, air rippling around it like heatwaves, and then it was Vincent’s ratty cape dragging on the floor instead of tattered wings and Vincent’s skinny ass looking like he didn’t remember how his legs worked.
Cid caught him before he fell.
Aching arms curled under Vincent’s and locked around his chest, Cid kept Vincent propped up. “Took you long enough,” he said, when he got the air back for it.
Long hair slipped over Cid’s arm as Vincent stirred. “What happened?” Cid asked. He loosened his hold, but it didn’t seem like Vincent was quite ready to carry his own weight again yet. “How’d you lose control like that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, don’t do it again,” Cid said. Memories still swirled in the back of his mind, mixing and melding with his own where they could. He cleared his throat and took Vincent by the shoulders to spin him around, figuring standing around like this wasn’t doing either of them any good. If they were going to get to hugging, they could do it somewhere comfortable and warm. Cid crouched down and picked Vincent up easily, slinging him over his shoulder and looking for a safe way to get down out of the place.
“I’m not a child,” Vincent said, wearily. “There’s no need to carry me.”
“Put me down. I can walk.”
“Yeah, and I can sprout fairy wings and sing showtunes soprano. Shut up and hold on.”
“I think I’d like to see that,” Vincent said. His weight sagged and Cid couldn’t be sure if he’d resigned himself to be treated like a sack of flour or if he’d blacked out.
“Shoulda killed you when I had the chance,” Cid muttered and tightened his hold.