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Eden, Part 9

Summary: Captain Cid Highwind has been alone in the forest, injured, starving - when he finds Eden, a place of beauty and sustenance. Little does he realize, that every pleasure to be gained here has it's price.
Warnings: Totally AU and OOC. Dubious consent, super kink, and wangst. You know how we do. Unbeta'ed because I'm easily distracted by rocket bison.
Disclaimer: Square Enix owns Cid and Vincent, the rest is sadly our own mad-cap invention XD
Notes: Posted for zombie_cheese. She had a shit day, and still she managed to make me smile, and come up with the title.

For a few days, that was much their life. Vincent was good on his word, and each evening they'd go to the surface and watch the sunset. Cid took it upon himself to share the swing and hold Vincent as they did so. Then he'd change into a bird and spend a few hours, flying free and untroubled in his eagle form. He always returned, and when he did, he'd fuck Vincent passionately under the stars.

One night, Cid the eagle was flying high over the trees, when he thought he spotted movement. Eager for a meal, the bird wheeled off and moved closer towards the figures. But as he drew nearer he realised his prey was much larger than a mouse.

"Figure 'e'd fucking get lost on the corner o' No and Where," the smaller figure groused, loose, shoulder-length brown hair swinging over his face as he tromped along, head hung. "Couldn't jus' fuckin' crash in no field, could 'e? Had t'go and find 'imself a proper forest to go and git hisself lost in. Sonofabitch!"

"Shut up," the bigger, broader figure replied absently, his bearded face lined with concern. "You're just bitching because you're not guaranteed ass for a week." He raised an arm and shoved away some low-hanging branches.

The young one flushed and became affronted. "Leastways I'm gettin' some, homo."

"Hey, I just doubled my playing field. I get twice as much ass as you do, homo," he sneers over his shoulder.

"I'm only like that fer Iever. Wouldn't touch a dick otherwise," the small one growls.


"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means 'uh-huh'."

"What're you tryin' t'say, smart ass?"

"You just say that because my ass has a Masters in Science."

The eagle's so stunned it forgets to fly, and starts to half fall out of the sky.

Cid turns the fall into a nose-dive, and moves closer to the canopy, lazily circling the men to watch them, see them in crystal clear detail with his great bird eye-sight. An ache, harder and more intense than anything he's experienced in a long time grips him, violently.

His friends. They were looking for him. Still. God, how he missed his old life...

In the cavern, where Vincent sat working, he perks, his head jerking up. That pain... was Cid hurt? But no, it was more raw than that, more helpless than that.

It was longing.

Vincent swallowed, and dropped his eyes to his work, slumping. He hung his head. This had gone on long enough. He knew this day would come - and in the last few weeks he'd been seized by a feeling of urgency, of inevitability. He'd known all along that he couldn't keep Cid here, not forever, and not by some strange mixture of obligation and guilt. No. And after this, having glimpsed again his old life, his old friends, his old loves... how could he return, how could he be happy here?

He could never make him that happy.

He swallowed, and slowly guided himself into Cid's mind, silent, invisible, and led Cid to the ground, gentle, unintrusive, and changed him back to the form of a man. After, he sobbed. He could no longer feel Cid. Having done it, it was like turning off the sun and killing all music, like robbing color and texture from the world. He bent over the table, curled atop it, and tried his damnedest to cry himself to death.

He was alone again.

Cid found himself on the ground, as himself. He barely spent any time wondering at the miracle of it. Perhaps this was another treat on Vincent's behalf...

Whatever the case, Cid read head-long into the thick of the forrest, in the direction of his friends.


Both brown heads jerked up at the sudden cry. They shared a wide-eyed look of disbelief before they both charged head long towards the cry.



Cid finally runs into them, and hugs the first man he slams into - Byron.

"Fuck. Fuck me, fuck it's good te see ye. Jesus fuckin' Christ!"

Byron sweeps him up tight against him, burying his face in Cid's shoulder. "Oh my God Cid," he sobs, muffled. "Oh my God. I can't believe it's you. Oh my God." As he clings to Cid, on the verge of tears, Quip tears into the clearing, slowing as he watches the reunion.

Cid feels tears burn at his own eyes, and he squeezes Byron back brutally.

"Christ... christ..... I thought... thought I weren't never gonna see any of ye ever again....."

Byron pulls back, his own eyes dark with tears, and gives him a watery smile. "We've been looking for you for months, Cid... for months... we were beginning to think..." He can't finish, instead bringing big hands up to cradle Cid's head, fingers in his hair. He'd thought he'd never be able to do this again... would forget how Cid had felt and looked, smelled, what his voice sounded like... "Where've you been all this time, Cid? We looked... everywhere, for you... all around the crash site, every last inch of this goddamned forest... and we never found you."

Cid grins, overwhelmed. He claps his hands on Byron's face in turn, then pulls away to give Quip a tight hug.

He uses the time to try and figure out what the fuck he's going to say. They wont believe the truth. No one would. He doesn't even believe it entirely.

"Ye wouldn't believe it if I told ye," he admits finally, patting Quip on the back and pulling away, running a hand through his hair. "After the crash.. I were hurt, bad. I got... sorta, 'taken in', if ye will.. by a strange kinda.. hermit. Been here a long time. A long time. Alone. Did things to his head, and after I healed up, he didn't want te let me go, and I couldn't escape. But I got te know 'im, ye know? And eventually we came te understand each other better, sorta became... friends. Recently he's been less possessive; let me out, te enjoy the fresh air.... That's what I was doin' now, when I sa- heard ye two."

"Jesus Christ!" Byron goes to Cid with concerned eyes and roving hands, trying to assess his condition. "Are you all right? Do we need to worry about him?"

Cid grins, trying to fight off Byron's mother-henning, but he's not too adamant about it. It's just good to see his friends, to feel their worry, to feel part of the real world again.

"Nah, nah. We're friends now, he trusts me.. obviously. Ye should meet him. 'e lives... near this really beautiful lake an' everythin'. Just don't eat the fruit that grows there!" Cid says, his words half-full of hidden jokes he knows the two men wont get. It makes his speech sound a little strange, but he figures Quip and Byron will forgive him for it, considering what he's been through recently.

The cook and the metalsmith share a look over Cid's head, and Byron slips an arm around Cid's waist, coming to his side. "It doesn't matter. C'mon, Cid. It's time you came home." Quip takes up Cid's other side, looping an arm about him too, silent with worry.

They'd scanned the entire forest from the skies, poured over maps, searched from the ground - they'd been over every last inch of the area.

There never was, and had never been, a lake.

"But, Vincent," Cid insists, only half resisting their pull. "The lake aint far, ye can meet him. I think it'd do 'im good, havin' more friends."

"I'm sure it would," Byron says patiently. "Maybe another time."

"Th'babies been sick with worry fer ye," Quip chimes in. "And the wimmen too. Shera ain't slept nor eaten proper since you gone. Got herself in a proper snit. Don't ye think she deserves t'see you? Don't y'think it's time to come home?"

"We've all missed you Cid... some, more than others," the cook whispers, swallowing. "None of us have been the same without you at the helm... we're in pieces without you. You don't realise how much... how goddamn much we love you, how much we need you in our lives." His hand tightens on Cid's waist as his voice cracks, and he ducks his head to manfully diguise his heartache.
Cid's heart makes the painful, almost unbearable ache, like he's been knifed, made twice as worse not only for the friends he's hurt by having gone missing, but also guilt over what he was about to do.

"...Yeah, okay. Another time 'en. It'll be good te see everyone."

Vincent would understand. Cid could come back, in a day or two. Vincent surely knew this would happen - it's why he'd changed Cid back into a bird. He was probably watching-in right now. If he didn't approve it, he wouldn't let Cid go. It was as good as permission, as far as Cid was concerned. And he desperately wanted to see his friends - his family. To get away from this forrest and out into the open - into the sky!

Cid had anticipated the celebrating, the visits, the phone calls - he just hadn't realised their extent. There was so much to be done, to do, people to see, business to be dealt with...
Cid slowly adapted to his old life again. He came home to Shera, and a rather large camp of friends and family and business associates. There were tears, and smiles, and celebrations fit for kings, but Cid's mind wasn't all there. His thoughts would stray to Vincent often; dark hair or the glimmer of water catching his eye. This was what he had wanted, what he had longed for - so why was his head still beneath that lake in the forest? It was frustrating, and every time he dwelt long on his memories of Vincent, he was filled again with that guilt...

Abandonment. No matter how he tried to rationalise it, he knew that's what he'd done.
The first night he got back, exhausted, he'd climbed the stairs and gone to his room for the first time in 3 months. Only it wasn't as he had left it. His heart seized up in his chest, thudding to a stop.

All the things that Vincent had conjured for him under the lake, the bookcases, the trunks of clothes, the laptop, Cid's sketches and blueprints and models were all arranged there like an offering. And he would bet that if he went downstairs, the kitchen would be the same too. On the bed was a fairly thick stack of cash, and as Cid counted it, he realised that it was roughly what he would have earned if he'd been working these past three months. Vincent had thought of everything.

There was no going back.

So why was that exactly what he was thinking?

A voice told Cid not to go back. What if Vincent trapped him again? But it was a voice Cid didn't really listen to. Over the last few weeks, and days especially, with Vincent, he'd come to trust the creature as much as he would any of his close friends.

He'd come to more than just trust Vincent, if his obsession with the nymph was anything to go by. He'd spend hours, watching the sunsets and just thumbing Vincent's comb he had found amidst his mass of returned possession, perhaps accidently caught up with everything else.

He'd tried to bring the topic up again, of his time in the forrest, of his friend he'd left behind. Strangely, his family and friends didn't ask many questions. He could only assume Byron and Quip had told everyone his story. He didn't know they'd actually warned everyone to step on eggshells about his 3 month vanishment, telling them that Cid had probably knocked his head too hard in his crash, or eaten something hallucinagetic.

It wasn't until Cid insisted on learning more about his crash, and pulling out the maps, that he found there was no lake chartered.

He argued it over with Byron. The maps were wrong. At first Byron was kind about it, suggested that maybe Cid was getting confused, or perhaps the lake had been smaller than he thought, a pond more than anything. But when Cid kept pushing, adamant, frustrated, growing increasingly displeased with how everything wasn't adding up and how his friends treated him like he mentally handicapped, Byron finally lost his temper and told Cid outright that there was no lake. They'd scouted the whole damn forrest.

There was no lake.

Cid didn't talk to any of them for a few days.

When he finally resurfaced from what everyone thought had been a sulk, they found Cid with a bag of supplies slung over his shoulder, his flight goggles on his head and a scarf about his neck.

He simply said, "There is a lake. And I left something there I need."

Byron had tried the hardest to get Cid to stay. He didn't want to let Cid go, not again... what if he lost him again, and this time, couldn't find him? What had happened to Cid there, in that forest, that had him yearning to return? The hermit, Vincent, had he been real...? When they'd found Cid, he'd been clean, healthy, well-fed, and clothed decently; it could be possible that Cid's story was true. But there wasn't a lake... and there was no place for a hermit to dwell, save underground...

But his personal worries and ponderings accounted for little. Part of the reason he loved Cid was because he was Cid, and Cid was as stubborn and determined as they come. He finally submitted to Cid's departure, but stipulated a rendesvous on the edge of the forest in three days time. It was all he could do.


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