"Feelin' any better today?" Cid asked, coming in through the curtain with more water. It had been three days since Vincent had first opened his eyes, and Cid was out to make sure that he'd never have to be scared of them never opening again.
Vincent cracked open his eyes and smiled slightly, still paler than normal, "A little."
"That's good." Cid sat on the edge of the cot and took the cloth off of Vincent's forehead, soaking it in the water to cool it again. Vincent sighed at the touch of the cool cloth. He looked up at the pilot, whose face was drawn and lined with worry.
"Aeris says there's still a chance for you," Cid said, no sign of hope or worry in his voice.
Vincent placed a pale hand on the side of Cid's face, "I'm alright."
Cid frowned. "No, you're not."
"Cid," Vincent protested. "I'm fine."
Cid avoided Vincent's eyes, trying to swallow his despair. "Alright."
Vincent sighed and slowly levered himself up upright, wincing as his wound twinged in protest.
"Hey, lay back down," Cid said indignantly. "That hole's still pretty bad..."
Vincent pointedly ignored him and sat up fully. He leaned his head on Cid's shoulder and wrapped his arms around his waist. Cid sighed, putting an arm around Vincent's shoulders. He was still warm, but not as hot. "Think your fever's down a little..." he muttered.
"I'm tired of sitting still," Vincent mumbled.
"Not much else you can do," Cid pointed out.
"Don't care..." Vincent slurred. "...It's hot."
"Maybe Aeris'll sign you off for a quick trip outside," Cid suggested, without much hope.
"Really?" Vincent asked, perking up at the thought of moving.
"Yeah, maybe... fresh air never did anyone no harm..."
"I want to walk," Vincent said firmly. "You don't have to carry me."
"You can take that up with her," Cid said wryly. "I don't wanna get yelled at."
"Since when are you scared of anyone, especially someone like Aeris?" Vincent muttered under his breath.
"It's not her I'm scared of, really." Cid rubbed the back of his neck. "I just don't want to do something to fuck up you getting better..."
"Cid... Let me go outside." Vincent looked up at the pilot.
Cid looked down at him for a few moments before giving in and offering him a hand.
Vincent took the hand and with Cid's help, he stood up slowly. His side twinged but it wasn't unbearable. Cid took one of the woven blankets he'd been laying on and wrapped it around Vincent's shoulders. "It's... cold," he offered lamely.
Vincent took it without protest, letting Cid fuss even though he wanted to remind him that the jungle was always warm. Cid opened the curtain chivalrously, holding it to let Vincent step out in front of him.
Vincent blinked rapidly at the brightness, making his way towards the door slowly. Cid put a hand on Vincent's shoulder as he passed through the curtain and into the open air. Outside, there was far less chaos than there had been directly after the fight, although several natives were sitting or pacing outside their own huts, obviously in worry and despair. Cid sympathized.
Vincent instinctively stood closer to Cid, still uncomfortable of being in the village. Cid put a protective arm around his shoulders. Several of the natives walking around looked at Vincent with lingering questions on their faces.
"Cid... I don't know if I'm ready to explain everything yet..."
"So don't. You don't owe 'em anything," Cid grumbled.
"They want to know..."
"You're still hurt. They'll understand. And if they don't, screw 'em."
Vincent smiled shyly, leaning into Cid. "Can we go to the river?"
Cid's arm slid down to Vincent's waist. "Sure." One of the natives started walking up to them, but a venomous look from Cid stopped her in her tracks.
- - - - -
Down by the river, Yuffie watched them through the trees. It wasn't fair. She'd been trying for years to make Vincent happy again, after how that horrible cow treated him, but he goes off and finds some guy instead! She huffed, scowling and peering at them as Cid sat down next to Vincent on a boulder on the riverbank.
Vincent leaned his head on Cid's shoulder, pulling the blanket he had around his shoulders tighter.
Yuffie had to stop herself from leaping out of the bushes when she saw Cid plant a kiss on Vincent's face. Somewhere. She couldn't tell exactly where from her current position. Even so, she felt her bad mood lighten somewhat. At least he was smiling. Wasn't that the important part?
Vincent looked up at Cid, saying something she couldn't hear. Cid smiled at him and leaned in for a real kiss on the lips. Even from far away, Yuffie could see it this time. But they looked so damned happy...
She sighed. If she couldn't make Vincent happy herself... why not have this Cid guy do it, instead? If the alternative was Vincent being dead... killed by those weird men in strange clothes...
"You're forgiven, for now," she whispered, looking at Cid's hand rubbing Vincent's shoulder lovingly. "But don't mess it up, please. He's been through enough..."
Vincent slowly laid down, head in Cid's lap with a smile on his face. Yuffie felt a small smile tug at the corner of her mouth, before she turned around and started walking back towards the village.
Vincent looked up at Cid's face over him, enjoying the fresh air and the water.
"Eh. Who cares if Aeris yells at me," Cid said with a shrug. "This's worth it."
Vincent chuckled softly, hand playing with the beads around Cid's neck. Cid looked down at him, eyes looking all over his face, almost in wonder. Vincent raised an elegant eyebrow at him in question, the color slowly coming back to his face.
"Oh, nothin'." Cid looked away. "Just having one of those moments, I guess..."
The pale hand left the beads and turned the pilot's face back. "Tell me," Vincent said warmly.
Cid refused to look him in the eyes, slightly embarrassed. "Guess I just really... love you, y'know..."
Vincent gave a rare, true smile, looking healthier than he had in days. He ran a hand down the pilot's cheek, enjoying the slight stubble under his hand.
"And I'm glad I came with you," Cid added, putting his hand over Vincent's. "Well, I guess I shouldn't say that till I talk to the leaders... elders."
"They will listen to me," Vincent said rare confidence. "I have some power here."
"That's good to hear," Cid admitted. It wasn't as if he was afraid of the elders; he was more concerned with the possibility of banishment than being killed.
"They will listen to you too. You have power of sort with your people?"
"Only when I'm on a ship," Cid said. "You were there when Hojo almost fired my ass."
Vincent stared at Cid for a moment, thinking.
"...Can we get your ship back?"
Cid raised an eyebrow. "How the hell would we do that? It's filled with Hojo's grunts."
Vincent shrugged "Don't you want to go back to your home?"
Cid shook his head. "Nah. I mean, sure, I loved her. Loved working on her. But I think I'd rather be here with you, now."
Vincent didn't reply, running his hand into the blonde hair. His side began to ache and he shifted uncomfortably.
"You okay?" Cid asked. "You wanna go back?"
Vincent shook his head, wanting to enjoy their time together. He didn't want to go back and explain just yet.
"Alright." Cid ran his fingers through the black, beaded hair, listening to Vincent's steady breathing and the river rushing past them.
Vincent reached up and started unweaving the beads and ornaments from his hair so the hand would be unhindered, putting them in the packet of Cid's pants.
Cid smiled. By now, Vincent knew everything he loved, everything he disliked. Everything. It was almost like the two of them were one person. Vincent sighed in contentment at the hand running smoothly through his hair. He could feel himself falling into a doze, not really caring that he did so. And Cid didn't care either. He just kept running his fingers through Vincent's hair, a warm breeze blowing down from the tree tops. Vincent soon fell asleep, exhausted by the fever and his wound. His face was peaceful, hand curled in the fabric of Cid's pants.
Eventually, as sunset began to cloud the sky with pink and orange, Cid lifted Vincent into his arms and started walking back, careful not to wake him. Vincent murmured in his sleep, head moving to rest against Cid's neck. The tags around his neck clinked with the movement.
"Hey," Yuffie said suddenly, stepping out of the trees in front of Cid.
"I don't wanna do this now," Cid said, eyes rolling as he tried to side-step her.
"No, wait." She lowered her voice as she saw Vincent was sleeping. "I just... wanted to tell you that... you're okay by me. I'm not mad at you anymore."
Cid's eyebrows shot up. "Why not?"
"You make him happy." Yuffie indicated Vincent, smiling bitterly. "Just don't stop doing that." She moved to walk next to him as they headed back towards the village, and the sun disappeared behind the trees.
Vincent squirmed slightly and started to stir. Cid stroked his hair calmly with the hand that supported his shoulders. Yuffie broke off from them once they got to the main village square, silently waving and going her own way. Cid turned to go back to the Aeris' hut, slightly confused but pleased all the same.