"You've been in here for three days, Cid," Aeris said quietly, stepping inside and closing the curtain behind her.
"I don't care." Cid ran a hand over his face. There were dark shadows beneath his eyes, and his skin had taken on a sickly pallor from lack of sleep and stress. The look didn't suit the normally strong and vigorous man.
"He would want you healthy, Cid. You are not going to him by doing this to yourself," Aeris said gently, laying a comforting hand on the man's shoulder.
"What do you want me to do?" Cid asked scathingly. "Run around outside while he's dying in here?"
Aeris ignored the pilot with ease, "You have to at least get some sleep. If I bring another cot in here, will you sleep?"
"Not promising anything," Cid grumbled, looking away from Aeris and back to Vincent.
Aeris only smiled slightly, before going and retrieving another cot and setting it next to Vincent's. She headed back out and paused before she closed the curtains, "Please Cid. For him." With that, she left.
Cid sighed, leaning over Vincent and kissed him on the forehead before following Aeris outside into the sun. Aeris glanced at the pilot before looking back at the village, "It was a good thing, helping him and being there. He really needed someone like you."
"So I hear," Cid said quietly. "I guess it doesn't measure up, but I kinda need him, too, if you know what I mean."
"He was married young, by your standards, and his wife died not a year later. He was never the same after that. He moved his house to where it is now and became detached from everything," Aeris said quietly.
Cid fell silent, staring at his feet. "I was married, too," he said finally. "Long time ago."
"I believe that she left for you to take her place."
Cid gave her an odd look. "Why d'ya say that?"
"You made him happy again. Or from what Tifa told me."
His brow furrowed in confusion. "He wasn't happy with her...?"
"He loved her... but she didn't love him the way he did."
"Ah. I see." Cid sighed. An awkward silence followed, before harsh, painful-sounding coughing suddenly came from inside the hut, interrupting the silence. Cid was inside before Aeris could register the sound, kneeling at Vincent's bedside.
A sweat had broke out on Vincent's forehead and an angry flush spread across his pale features. Cid smoothed a hand over Vincent's brow, brushing his soaked hair away from his eyes. He looked up at Aeris, eyes panicked.
Aeris checked over his wound quickly before grabbing a bowl of water and nearly shoving it to Cid. She hurriedly started grabbing various herbs and began mashing them together with a mortar and pestle. Within moments, a bowl of sickly green paste was in her hands.
"We have to get this down his throat, but he's not going to like the flavor much. It'll help fight the fever."
Cid nodded, passing the cold cloth over Vincent's forehead as he had been doing for the past three days and looking frustratingly helpless. Without warning, Aeris shoved the paste into Vincent's mouth and held it shut. Vincent immediately started squirming, trying to spit it back out, but Cid held his shoulders down to stop the movement. After a long while, Vincent finally swallowed it and coughed as it went down.
"There we go," Cid whispered, petting Vincent's forehead softly.
Vincent leaned into the touch, eyebrows furrowing. "...Cid?"
"It's me," Cid said quietly.
Amber eyes partially opened, looking up the pilots through dark lashes.
"That's the first time you've opened your eyes in three days," Cid told him, trying to conceal his relief
Amber eyes slowly scanned the room before settling back on the pilot. "...Where...?"
"The village," Cid explained. "With Aeris."
His eyes drifted back over to the healer's smiling face before returning to Cid. He closed his eyes and leaned further into Cid's hand, "...I hurt..."
"I know." Cid kept brushing his hand across Vincent's hot forehead. "But she's fixing it, best she can."
A pale hand slowly reached up and rested on the pilot's hand. Seeing that Vincent was improving for now, Aeris quietly excused herself to let them be. Cid moved the two cots close enough until they could be considered a single bed, then lay next to Vincent and recaptured his hand.
Amber eyes opened again, looking over to the pilot. He took in Cid's haggard appearance and frown slightly, "...Cid?"
"I didn't think you were ever gonna wake up."
Vincent closed his eyes and pulled on the pilot's hand, trying to bring him closer. Cid obliged, his head resting against Vincent's shoulder and his free hand carefully resting on his chest. "...I'm sorry," he muttered.
"...Not your fault," Vincent whispered in return. He slowly levered himself onto his good side, hissing as he did so.
"Don't move so much," Cid told him, frowning. Vincent ignored him and pulled on Cid's hand more, trying to make him join him on his own cot. Cid shifted until they were touching from forehead to feet, carefully avoiding the wound as he wrapped his arms around Vincent and buried his face in his chest. Vincent slowly ran his hand through Cid's golden hair, enjoying the warmth of the pilot. It dulled the pain and relaxed him, lulling him slowly back to sleep.
Cid murmured something uninteligable, voice slurred with fatigue, before dropping off as well.
- - - - - - -
The hours passed slowly; Vincent fought a constant fever as Cid looked helplessly on, trying to care for him as much as he could. The village had decided to pass judgement on him later, their anger held at bay his actions of caring for one of their own.
"Aeris, can I talk to you?" A young village boy with spiky black hair approached the hut just as Aeris was leaving. "It's about the... uh... visitor."
Aeris looked up, surprised. "What is it?"
"The elders really wanna to see him," the boy said, rolling his eyes slightly. "Apparently saving one of our own's life isn't enough to be considered trustworthy."
"Zack, we know that one act isn't going to convince them. We need Vincent back in good health before we can do anything."
Zack nodded, frowning. "How is he doing, anyway?"
Aeris sighed and looked back to the hut.
"Considering how bad the wound was, he's doing alright. I'm just worried about the fever claiming him now. It won't break."
"Damn." Zack scowled. "Well, if anyone can save him, it's you."
Aeris smiled slightly, "Luckily I have some help."
"He's not that bad, is he?" Zack commented. "The stranger, I mean."
Aeris laughed, the sound musical. "Stubbornness is evenly matched."
"Good. I think the elders will accept him," Zack said decisively.
"I think so too."
"Guess all we can do is hope, now," Zack sighed. "But the elders aren't gonna wait forever. They wanna talk to him."
"Zack, Vincent is barely coherent, and we can only get him awake for a short amount of time. They will have to wait until his fever breaks--"
"Not Vincent," Zack interrupted. "Cid. That's his name, isn't it?"
"I don't think it's a good idea, I mean, Vincent needs to be awake, and for Cid to face them alone... they would never believe him."
"Then we'd better start praying for Vincent to get better, fast," Zack said ominously.
"For both of their sakes," Aeris agreed, giving the hut a solemn look.