Genesis of Sky

A FFVII Fanfiction

By Princess Artemis

© copyright S.D.Green, 2000, 2001, 2002, excepting for the copyright Square obviousness!

---

Once upon a time,

There was a man who appeared from nowhere.

He was young, but he flew better than did the most experienced pilots.

Many wondered from whence he came, but there was nothing to go on.

No father, no mother, no family.

Some said he was never born but appeared as suddenly as plants after a desert rain.

Others said he was the stormy son of Chupon.

With his starlust discovered, they said he was Bahamut's.

Some said he was just a bastard from the gutters of Midgar.

He would never say, and no one was allowed to ask or speak of the origins of the legendary pilot...

For the real answer, it is said, one should ask the Turks.

...And to the Turks no one went.

---

Cid held a plastic cup on his chest and looked at it, wondering if he should make an attempt to drink out of it without sitting up. The last time he tried ended with mixed results; on the one hand, he had dribbled a good bit of the iced tea into his earwhile on the other, Shera had seen this mid-way through her own sip and ended up spraying tea all over herself when she laughed. He tapped the side of the cup with one gloved finger, smirking. Would it be worth tea in his ear to see Shera laugh so hard she spewed her drink on herself again? He glanced over at her, his blue eyes full of mischief.

Shera caught the look, and with a smirk of her own, she deftly flicked her cup, just enough so that a little tea flew out and struck the side of Cid's face. The pilot gasped in outrage. He immediately jumped up, spilling a little more tea in the process, and advanced threateningly on Shera. She was already up and on her way. Cid managed to throw some of his remaining tea at her, hitting her in the back and soaking her white coat while in hot pursuit.

While they ran, Shera unexpectedly turned on her heels, flinging the last of her tea in a wide arc. The glittering liquid cut a slash across and up Cid's chest, ending up in his face. Startled, he skidded to a halt, but not in time to avoid a collision. So down they went, in a heap, Shera giggling hysterically and Cid shouting curses.

After a long pause, Shera Stargazer held up her empty cup to the sky and smiled. "I won," she declared in a tone much more solemn than her position laid out on Cid's back warranted.

"You what?!" Cid barked, attempting to wiggle out from under Shera.

Shera turned over and sat on Cid's back, her legs criss-crossed so they rested on his shoulder blades. She smiled again and repeated, "I won."

Now unable to move without some effort, Cid gave up, not really caring one way or the other. "When did tea-tossing become a sport?" he asked, bemused.

"When I won," Shera answered cockily. She then tipped the empty cup over Cid's head, allowing the last few drops of tea to fall in his hair.

Cid snorted in mock-annoyance, setting his chin on his crossed arms, still amused. "Sure."

Shera rearranged herself and scooted off the pilot's back and sat next to him. "I think it's fun," she explained, "playing like kids at our age."

To this Cid merely made a non-committal grunt. Shera leaned down and looked at him, at the side of his face. "You were having fun, I know it."

Cid slid his eyes over to glance at her for a second, but said nothing.

Shera wondered at the rather sudden change in Cid's mood. His face held little expression, which was unusual for Cid; he was almost never guarded and silent. Deciding to pry a little, Shera asked, "Didn't you play like this when you were little?"

Cid sat up and grabbed a cigarette, sticking it quickly in his mouth and lighting it. "I don't want to talk about it."

"Oh," Shera said softly. "I'm sorry."

Cid shrugged a little, face still a mask. "Not your fault."

Twirling her empty cup around, fiddling with it unconsciously, Shera looked at the ground and thought. Now her interest was peaked; rather suddenly she realized Cid never had spoken of his childhood. They talked about everythinghow was it they had avoided that subject for so long? She thought back to times she had talked about her younger daysCid had listened, had joined in, in fact, he seemed to enjoy hearing her stories. It wasn't a common subject of conversation, as he never brought it upand he deflected questions about his past very well.

She turned her gaze to Cid, watching him smoke in silence. She frowned once, then came to a decision. Yes, she was curious, so she would probably nudge a little more in that direction, but for now, she had been enjoying the day way too much to leave it in this state of gloom. She gently pushed Cid on the side of his head, making him splutter and glare. "Come on, Cid, no need to brood. The day's much too nice for sitting in a stew."

Cid narrowed his eyes at Shera, but eventually cracked a smile. "Yeah."

"Get up, let's go flying or something."

The smile widened. "Said the magic words, Shera." Cid grabbed her hand and started dragging her toward the Tiny Bronco II, enthusiastic again.

* * *

Reeve sat in his office twiddling with some reports from what was left of Midgar. Meteor hadn't thoroughly destroyed the great city; in fact, most of the slums were intact and livable, though people were leaving in droves. It was what was above the plates that had been razed. So there were still reports to read as the de-facto head of urban development.

Most reports were boring, but occasionally one would come up that made the back of Reeve's brain tickle slightly. That was a clue to him that it was really Cait Sith that was interested, being the curious cat that he is. Wellhe was Cait Sithtruth be told, Cait Sith had been around for a long time before the first robot had ever been built. Mostly as a little niggling internal whisper; but he was satisfied and relieved when Cait had been given a voice, as if something trapped deep inside had been finally given release. It was remarkably easy for him to fall in and out of Caitand reports like the one in front of him made it all that much easier.

This particular bit of news was about a week old; news didn't travel quickly now a days. It was a bit of a ghost story. Not that ghosts were particularly rare in Midgar; especially where Sector 7 used to be, around the old train yards, and more recently where the plate had fallen.

This one, however, wasn't an ordinary ghost story. Ordinary ghosts didn't actually haunt houses, and they didn't feign an attack on the owner only to evaporate before any blows hit. The house owner seemed completely beside himself about it too. Must have been a frightening experience

Cait Sith very nearly activated himself in his haste to find out what was going on.

* * *

In the past, Cid lived under the plate of Midgar, in Sector 2, where he was born, and where he was scared someday he might die. Not that he feared the other kids in the slum, or any of the hoods and drunks that populated the dirty roads; rather, he was afraid he would never get a chance to leave. He hated Midgar. The plate, so many stories above his head, with its dim lights and dark color felt like a cage. He had never seen anything else, except in picture books his mother had read to him when he was younger. He didn't really know for sure if he should believe what the pictures showed, all the bright colors, the animals, the plants, the bright yellow circle in the sky his mother called the sun' or the silver-white circle with the spots she called the moon'.

But it was nice to think aboutthat somewhere there was no roof over head, where no one could measure just how high up the world went. He thought it more likely that the yellow circle was stuck in a blue roof, but his mother always told him that there was no plate outside. His father never said much of anything about it.

At the moment he was laying on his stomach on the floor of his room, looking at one of those picture books. His house was empty; as usual, his father was away at work. His mother had died years ago.

Cid missed her a lot. When she died, she had taken with her something vital, something that held her small family together. Cid was her only son, and was much like her in appearance and personalitywhich became an unfortunate reminder to his devastated father. And instead of seeing it as a blessing that Cheryl Highwind still lived on in some manner, he took it as a curse; seeing her face in his son hurt too much, so he distanced himself from Cid. That he had to work to pay off the exorbitant medical bills his wife's illness and death had accrued didn't make Jay any kinder. His life was eaten up by debt to Cheryl's death, misery over it, and one thirteen year-old reminder of what he lost.

But Cid wasn't really aware of thatall he knew was his cold father who never touched him and rarely spoke to him and an emptiness, a hardness his mother's untimely departure produced. He knew his father was rarely aroundthough when he was, he would sometimes take Cid to work with him, and teach him his trade, showed him how to build machines. But in relative silence, of course.

He turned another page in his picture book, looked at the photograph of the blue sky. He touched his finger to the page, tracing the outline of a bird. Some day he would go and find out if there were such things in the world.

Then, something occurred to him that had never occurred before. He knew his father would be gone for at least another daywhat exactly was stopping him from taking a look outside Midgar today? A slow grin crossed his face, and then he sprang up, excited about his idea, quickly putting on a jacket and his shoes. He ran for the front door, letting it bang shut behind him.

It wouldn't take longhe could be back before his father got home, easily

The first difference to strike him as he stepped outside the confines of Midgar was the wind. Air didn't move inside the city. The cool night breeze ruffling his hair and pulling at his clothes startled him in a way; he instinctively looked for the source of the wind, like a fast moving train or a car. But there was none.

The air moved all on its own, like a living thing.

A nervous and expectant smile lit Cid's features. In a subconscious way, he knew something very fundamental had changed in his world. He took a few slow steps away from the Sector 2 gate, his whole body tingling with precarious anxiety just waiting to be released.

The wind even smelled aliveit was a foreign wonder, so much different than the stale dead air under Midgar's plateit frightened him, but in a good way. It was the unknown, but an unknown so pure that he longed to know it, to set right some imbalance he had never quite realized was wrong.

An old guard sat slumped in his chair just outside the gate, watching Cid with one half-open eye. Cid glanced at him, his jaw slack in a half-gape, and the old man's face crinkled up in a rare smile.

Cid turned his head away from the guard and back to the expanse that lay out before him. Night darkened the landscape. The top edge of the plate still hung over the gate. After a moment to gather his courage, Cid began to walk, then run to the very last edge of Midgar, not sure what to expect but full of anticipation.

Then he saw them. The stars. The nervous wonder of feeling and breathing living air was swallowed up in the sheer overwhelming power of the glittering, silent heavens. He stopped short, stumbling to his knees, as if a great hand had pushed him.

A loud sigh, half-sobbed, escaped him, and he felt as though his soul went out with it. The quiet stars pulled him out of himself, letting him discard physical form and knowledge and be filled with dark, velvet night.

He fell back on the ground and silent tears wet his cheeks, but he didn't feel it. He was in the sky, in the chill white stars, taken wholly by the wind and ether.

Cid spent the night like that, watching the sky wheel over head, watching the slow procession of stars make its way over the earth. Then morning came, and he was filled with a new and different wonder, seeing for the first time in his life the light of the sun. He watched the stars flee one by one from the dawn, one color after another filling the sky. Morning brought him back to himself.

When the sun rose, he looked around at the plain, shielding his eyes from a light he was unused to seeing. Midgar's day' lights were dim and incomplete in spectrum. Cid laughed when he saw his hands and arms, thinking they were whiter than bleached cloth; he had never seen himself in daylight before. Then he stood up and ran farther from Midgar, toward the sun.

Soon another new thing greeted him. This time it was tall, green grass, damp with morning dew. He laughed again, feeling the joy of life in a way he never had before. He kept running, and as night made him forget himself, morning made him acutely aware, and he reveled in his movement and senses.

As he moved, Cid ran his bare hands through the grass, savoring the feel of cool, clean water on his skin. After a while, he slowed to a walk, taking a moment to inhale all the new scentsit was so beautiful. Too beautiful for words. Then a flickering black movement caught his attentionhe turned to see what it was

They were little black birdsa flock of small, ebony, glistening animals, lifting themselves off the ground, defying the earth to hold them. He watched them, awestruck. The dark night sky with its diamond stars, the clean, bright blue daythey he knew he would never forget and always love, but this! This!

"I'm gonna fly with you!" he shouted to the birds, all his soul poured out into that sound. If the birds heard, they made no responsebut Cid knew something had heard, and responded, even if it was nothing else other than his own heart.

I'm gonna fly with you

* * *

The next morning, Cid wandered into the kitchen, yawning and scratching his hair. He sniffed the air and grinnedShera always made the best breakfasts. Walking over to her side, he peeked over her shoulder and said, "Whatcha makin'?"

Shera looked at him, and with a note of mock chastisement in her voice, she said, "Good morning, Cid."

He stuck his tongue out at her, then sat down at the table. After a short time, his expression changed dramatically; there was a rather sublime smile on his lips and a pensive look in his eyes. When Shera turned to set the plate of omelets down, she saw the look and paused. Then she finished setting out breakfast and sat down, watching Cid.

A few moments passed, and it seemed like Cid was lost in thought. So Shera reached over the table and nudged his shoulder. "What's got you looking so thoughtful?"

Cid glanced at Shera then started serving himself an omelet. "Had a dream last night."

Curious, Shera asked, "Good dream?"

"Yeahkinda," he replied quietly. "I forgot how good it felt to see the sky for the first time."

Shera blinked once in mild surprise. "You remember something like that?" She wanted to be carefulit had only been a few days since she realized he never talked about his younger days, and now here he was doing just that.

Cid looked down at his food, still smiling enigmatically. "I grew up in Midgar. Dunno if you realize it or not, but the plate's been there for fifty or sixty years. Course I rememberit was wonderful." He propped his chin on his gloved hand and got a far away look in his eyes, apparently having forgotten for a moment his usual hesitance. "I was thirteen. It wasit was one of the best days of my life." He said the last as if it were sufficient description and no more was needed.

After a moment more of staring into the distance, Cid started in on his breakfast with a vengeance. Between bites he declared, "I'm not stayin' indoors today, no way in hell."

Shera smiled as she slowly ate her food. She'd had dreams like thatnot usually like memories, but dreams that affected her mood for the rest of the day. She would revel in the leftover lightness of beautiful dreams when she had them. She guessed there wouldn't be much that could pull Cid down today.

---

True to his word, Cid stayed out all day and most of the night, reliving old, forgotten memories that he wished hadn't been lost with the rest. Shera stayed with him for part of the time, vicariously feeling a little of the wonder he felt. He was glad to have been reminded, for whatever reason, of the genesis of his love affair with the sky.

* * *

The great cave moogle held up a tattered map so the cat atop his head could see it. Cait Sith frowned at the paper for a moment then put his Marvelous Cheer to his lips and shouted, "Forward, Mog! We're almost there!"

Mog flicked an ear back, wondering to himself why the cat on his head had to shout so loud when he was so close as he plodded forward with a bouncy gait. Shortly the two made their way to one particular run down house on the end of a strip of similar houses and near a factory. It wasn't much to look at, but it was better than many of the trailers and lean-tos that comprised the majority of the homes under Midgar's plate.

Cait approached the dark wood door with both trepidation and anticipation. This could be a real haunted housewho knew what dangers lurked inside? Mog pressed the doorbell and stood back to wait.

After a few moments, a man came to the door and opened it slowly. He was of medium height, well dressed, with short dark hair speckled gray and a pointed mustache and goatee. He looked worn and used up, as if life had not been especially kind to him; his face was heavily scarred and his bright blue eyes were cold. "Yes?" he asked in a low voice.

Mog scratched behind his ear, somewhat taken aback that the man wasn't at all surprised to see a moogle-riding cat at his door. Cait recovered quickly, and said, "I'm Cait Sith, an investigator for what's left o' Midgar's government. I hear y'all have a ghost in yer house?"

The man blanched, what color he had draining from his face in an instant. He worked his jaw for a moment, then replied in a shaky voice, "Y-yesplease come inI'm James, by the way."

Cait tipped his crown to James and told Mog to take him inside. It was a tight fit, but they managed to enter in one piece. James motioned to his couch, which looked relatively new, while he himself sat down in a chair next to it. After puffing a few times and flapping his purple wings, Mog elected to stand so as not to crush the couch. Cait Sith hopped down and scooted to the end of the seat, leaning over the arm and peering at James with his golden eyes. The man seemed decidedly uncomfortable.

"Well, I'm here ter help ya with yer ghost problem if I can. I'm thinkin' the first thing ter do would be fer me to ask some questions about it?" Cait said in a somewhat businesslike manner.

James nodded slowly, so Cait asked him how the spirit generally behaved. After a long pause, looking as though he was gathering a great deal of courage, he said, "Ittends to sneak up behind me a lot. I feel it there, and when I look, itswings a fireplace poker at melike it wants to kill me." The man shuddered and rubbed a spot on his stomach unconsciously.

Cait Sith's whiskers were standing on end and his ears were pricked and quivering ever so slightly. "But it doesn't hit you?"

He shook his head. "No, the blow I can almost feel hit me never comes."

"Hmmwhat does this here ghost look like?" Cait asked after a moment.

Looking away, James' expression became drawn and sad. "I think it's the ghost of my son."

* * *

For hours, young Cid lay on his back with his hands folded on his chest, watching the birds fly around the blue sky. While he lay there, he plotted in his mind the ways of flight. He would have to catch a bird some day, to see how its body was shapedto see how they worked, how wind and wing meshed together to lift them from the earth.

An eagle soared overheadits feathers splayed out to catch the living airCid mimicked it with his arms, spreading his fingers. Not as a game, or as wishful thinking, though there was some of that; rather it was an act of reason, a way of learning. In his young mind he felt imaginary wings catch the wind. It would take some time to work outbut the seeds where planted in his mind and heart. He would fly some day

In his singular occupation watching the birds, Cid didn't hear the sound of footfalls coming up behind him. When a stern face entered his field of view, he cried out, startled. It was his father. After getting over his start, Cid smiled and stood up. He rarely ever smiled so warmly for his father, but right now he felt too good about his experience to frown and he wanted to share it.

He opened his mouth to speak, ready to spill out all the wonderful things he'd seen for the first time. But he stopped, seeing an unfamiliar tensing in his father's face. Cid frowned, just in time for the back of Jay's hand to strike him hard on the left side of his face. He fell, knocked down by the unexpected blow. It took a second for the sparkling black to clear out of his eyes, and he tasted blood in his mouth.

Before Cid could react, Jay picked him up roughly by the front of his shirt, made him stand on wobbling feet, and then backhanded him a second time. This time the older man left him on the ground.

Cid looked up at his father, tears in his eyes and rubbing gingerly the spot where he had been struck. The blood in his mouth started trickling down his chin, showing bright red on his pale face. He looked up, in shock, in confusion. His father never hit him. He hardly touched him at all, for any reason.

Jay looked down at his bewildered son, breath hissing between his teeth and his face red with anger. He pointed his thick finger at Cid and shouted, "Don't you ever do this again! Do you have any idea how worried I was?!"

Tears started flowing freely now, and Cid started to say something, started to point up at the birds wheeling overhead, but his father interrupted him by quickly kneeling down and slamming Cid's head against the ground. "Stop crying you little $%&$!" he growled.

Cid wasn't sure he'd heard properly, but he couldn't stop crying even if he had wanted to. The shock was as bad as the pain, and his mind felt fuzzy.

"I said STOP!" Jay screamed, knocking his son's skull into the dirt a second time. The only response he got was a dazed expression. Cid blinked once, after that he gave up trying to make any sense of what was happening. His eyes slid closed, unaware of anything.

* * *

"Oooooaarghhh."

Darkness still covered the world. Cid glanced over at the clock on his nightstand. 3:12 AM. "$##*," he growled under his breath, then rubbed his forehead. Damn nightmare Must be payback for yesterday, he thought to himself. Wouldn't be right for his good fortune to leave him with one wonderful memory of the past without inflicting on him a bad one.

And a monster of a headache to go with it.

He started to get up, but stopped short at the sharp pain on the back of his head. Wondering, he scratched at it, making it hurt worseand making him realize it was fresh. "What the hell?" His fingers came back slick and black in the darkness.

This time he did get up. Walking slowly to the bathroom, he wondered how in the world he could have hurt himself like that in the middle of the night. He flicked on the light, blinking furiously until his eyes adjusted to the brightness. As he opened up the medicine cabinet, he happened to steal a glance at his reflection.

Waswas that blood on his lips?

He closed the cabinet, taking a longer look at himself in the mirror. His eyes hadn't lied; there was a small stream of fresh blood trickling out of his mouth.

And on the left side of his face sat a large bruise.

Cid growledwhat in the world could have caused this? Muttering curses, he went to find Shera's makeup. He didn't want to deal with this.

Whatever this' was

* * *

If the house he lived in had been cool and tense before, it was frigid now. Cid blinked several times, coming to in his bed. He was so confusedso utterly confused. And enraged. His fathertears pricked at his eyelids, but he refused to shed them. He crushed two handfuls of his covers in his white-knuckled fists, his arms shaking with the effort. It made his head hurt.

Slowly unclenching one hand, he gingerly touched the back of his head. It stung, and dampened his fingers. He brought his hand back, looking at the sticky blood on his fingertips. Why? Why had his father done this?

Long ago, his father would never have hurt him, he thought bitterly. Not when Mother was still here, when they both hadloved him

This time he did cry, a little bit. But times were changing, and a deep resentment was planted. It was a dangerous seed to plant in a passionate child like Cid, and from then on there was no peace in his house.

* * *

Cait Sith frowned. A man haunted by his own son? That would be horrible if it were true. "What makes ya think it's yer son hauntin' ya? Why would yer own boy want ter kill ya?"

James sighed deeply and wiped at his eyes. Cait regretted asking now, but he felt he needed to know more about the situation before he could do something about the ghost.

Finally James answered. "It's because I killed him."

Cait flicked his ears back hard. Then James explained, "Of course I didn't mean toit was a terrible mistake. An accident. But I don't blame himit shouldn't have happened."

"What happened?" the robotic cat asked slowly.

James didn't seem to be listening. Instead, he started talking about his deceased son. "He was impossiblehe ditched school all the time, and he would never listen to me. I did the best I could for himI provided a home for him, I taught him everything I knew. I never understood why he hated me so much. Running away every chance he got. It was so frustratinga son ought to respect his father, don't you think? He frustrated me so muchhe just wouldn't listen. He wouldn't stop running away, wouldn't stop making me sick with worry. I guess it got to be too much, and Ilost control. And he died, and he almost took me with him. Maybe that's what he wants. Finish what he startedI don't blame him."

Ears still pressed to his skull, Cait ventured, "Youyou got in a knock-down-drag-out with yer kid?"

James winced a little, still furiously wiping his eyes so that no tears would fall. "No, no, nothing like thatI got distractedtoo much work thenhe died later. Not before hecame after me with that fireplace poker. Nearly killed me."

Cait's ears relaxed a little, and his whiskers twitched when he smirked humorlessly. "That sucks."

The older man just shrugged in response.

"When does yer ghost seem most active?"

"Late eveningnight, mostly."

"So," Cait continued, "would it be OK if I were ter stay the night? I'd like ter git a look at the ghost if'n ya don't mind."

Again, James shrugged. "That's fine," he answered quietly. "I hope there is something you can do about it. I miss him terribly..."

Cait nodded and smiled, then bounded over to Mog to retrieve everything he'd need for a sleep-over in a haunted house. Perhaps he hadn't come here with much more than curiosity and a faint notion that a magic cat might be able to do something with a ghost, but now he genuinely wanted to help this man. He felt sorry for him: how horrible to have had a son die because of a lack of self-control, only to have the ghost return, seeking revenge!

But it was still a sleep-over at a real haunted househe couldn't help but feel excited about it.

* * *

"Cidare you all right?"

The pilot addressed nearly jumped out of his skin. He had managed to avoid Shera for much of the day; but somehow he knew this would only make her curiousand that she would catch up with him. "I'm fine, dammit," Cid hissed without turning to see her.

Shera stepped up behind Cid and set a hand on his shoulder. This only caused him to hunch his shoulders angrily. She sighed. "I know something's wrongyou've been avoiding me all day. Is it something I did?"

"No dammit! &$$*, why do you always have to think it's you?! Can't I be in a #^$&^%$ bad mood without it causing a national %^$#$* crisis?!"

"Wellyes," Shera conceded with a dip of her head. "But yesterday you."

Cid rounded on her, shoving her hand off of him. "That was YESTERDAY dammit! Can't you take a %%$#*#* hint and leave me the hell alone?" He looked furious, and his face was red.

Cowed, Shera backed up a step and blinked. She was about to take his advice and beat a hasty retreat until she saw something suspicious on his face.

"That's notfoundation, is it?"

Cid glared death at Shera for a second, then turned around and stalked away, his every movement broadcasting defensive anger. After a few seconds, Shera followed him, her pace just faster than his. When she caught up with him, she grabbed his shoulders and forced him to face her.

For a while, they just stared at each other; Shera growing more and more concerned and Cid the angriest he'd been in a long time. Then Shera asked, "What is wrong, Cid?"

Her question was met with an uncharacteristic stony silence. Shera harumphed and proceeded to try to wipe some of the poorly applied makeup from Cid's face. As soon as she did, Cid winced and pulled away, still glaring hotly. "Leave me alone, Shera."

"At least tell me why you're wearing my makeup."

Grudgingly Cid finally admitted to himself that he just wasn't going to be able to put this off any longer. He sighed, the anger draining away. "I got a bit banged up last night, that's all."

"You didn't get in a fight did you?"

"Nonot that. I dunno how it happened. I woke up last night like this."

"Let me see," Shera demanded in a mothering tone.

Cid slumped and rolled his eyes, annoyed. Then he retrieved a rag from one of his pockets and wiped off some of the makeup, letting Shera examine the bruise underneath. Then he showed her the injury on the back of his head, all the while grimacing at her clucking manner.

"Cid...how did you do this to yourself?" Shera asked, her tone sounding annoyingly hennish in Cid's ears.

"I already told you I don't know, Shera," Cid hissed. After enduring a few more moments of examination, Cid waved her off and stood back a couple of steps.

"You weren't sleepwalking, were you?"

"Now how the hell am I supposed to know that? I woke up in bed. ^&%$%&* hard to backhand yourself in bed." He went to scratch the side of his face but scratched his nose instead. It was a pretty ugly bruise.

Shera stood silent for a moment. "I hope you haven't started sleep walking. Maybe you bumped into something." She sounded doubtful. And now that the foundation was removed, the angry bruise did look a little like the back of someone's hand.

"Maybe," Cid grumbled, looking over at nothing.

* * *

As soon as Jay walked out the door, Cid was up and ready to go. He watched Jay's retreating form carefully, making sure he was gone before he made a move. Jay always left on these trips; it was for work, and his jobs were almost always outside Midgar. It left Cid alone with up to a week to go outside without being caught.

Ever since that day Jay had knocked him out for not being home when he was supposed to be, there had been an ongoing battle between the two. Cid would not stop running away and spending his solitary days under the sun and the starsbut every time he was caught, Jay would hit him, each time hurting him more than the last.

And he was caught a lot.

Sometimes he would simply lose all sense of time gazing at the grandeur of his sky. And it was his, he felt; for all the people living under the plates of Midgar, he was one of the few to have seen it. He couldn't share the experience with anyone, and honestly wouldn't want to if he could.

His sky would swallow him up, and then suddenly Jay would be there, howling fury at him and beating him. Cid would run away, as fast as he could, which made it all that much worsebut Jay would catch up and knock him senseless; it was the only way to get him back to Midgar without a fight every step of the way. Then he would wake up in his bed, in his room, in Midgar, hurting and raging and learning to hate.

Other times he would get wrapped up in his own thoughts, his plans; in his mind's eye metal and machinery became flying craft, as beautiful to him as the birds they were based on. And again, Jay would find him.

Fortunately, this didn't always happen; he sneaked back home with hours to spare about half the time.

Satisfied that for now, Jay McKenzie was gone, Cid stepped out his front door, several sheaves of paper under his arm along with a straight edge and a mechanical pencil. He ran as fast as he could toward the gate, but not the gate that Jay used to exit. As soon as he was out, he sped toward the grassy plains far from Midgar's shadow.

He smiled to himself, pausing for a moment to bask in the clean, golden sunlight. Then he settled down and lay out, remaining motionless so that the birds wheeling in the sky would perhaps come by and he could watch them.

Soon enough, a semi-tame raven flew down near him. Cid had seen this raven several times before. Occasionally he would try to catch it, but it was too fast for him. He would love to examine its wings so he could improve his designs.

He waited today, still watching the dark bird. Under his hand sat his papers, all drawings of birds and machines made to mimic the birds. No one had seen them; Jay would not be interested, and might even burn them for the defiant refusal to stay put and obey him they represented. Otherwise there was no one else to show them to.

There was one draft in particular that Cid liked the bestit didn't have wings, not like the other machinesthis one was going to be lighter than air. It was no where near complete, the design was lacking in many places, but he was working on it, and when it was done it would be a marvel and he would fly it and never land.

The raven stepped across the drawings and Cid watched it with acute intensity. It actually stretched its wings out, only a few inches from his face, and he looked at them and studied them and filed away every detail he saw. He examined the shape, saw the way the wings curved, and thought them the most beautiful things in the world, aside from the stars. Then suddenly the raven started and took off, and Cid felt the wind on his face.

He turned to look in the opposite direction, the way the raven had been looking, and to his horror he saw Jay striding up with furious steps. Cid bolted up and started running, leaving his sheaves and leading Jay away from them...he knew...or hoped...that he could come back for them sometime later.

As expected, Cid's running enraged Jay, and he ran after, always a little faster. When Jay caught up with Cid, he reached a hand out to grab his arm, but Cid felt some inner power stirring and he moved out of the way so quickly and with such grace that Jay stood dumbstruck for a moment.

Cid was himself surprised at the movement, but he still felt the strange power in him, and he was no fool...he didn't stop running. It didn't take long for Jay to begin after him again, and when Cid looked back, he was shocked to see his father crying in his rage.

Jay caught up to him a second time, and a second time Cid eluded his grasp with unreal agility, jumping back. And when he jumped this time, he flew. Even in his fear of being caught, he felt the most incredible sense of rightness and wonder. Flying! He'd only meant to jump away, but he was really flying!

He didn't travel far, not by the standards of winged things, but his jump had taken him nearly fifty feet away from Jay in one swift movement. He laughed, wondering what miracle had let him make a leap like that, and loving it. For a second he wasn't even concerned that this had made Jay all the more infuriated, but he soon realized it and began to run again.

For the third time, Jay caught up with him, but this time he tackled Cid around the legs, so he couldn't jump again. He was afraid, struggling to free his legs, but he couldn't. Jay was strong, and his rage made him inescapable now. But it was a fight for him to hold on. Cid still had this newfound agility, and it made him almost as hard to hold as a snake.

But in the end, he was caught, and this time Jay's anger was so high, and while Cid didn't understand at the time, his memories of his wife so close to the surface that he couldn't control his rage and he wrenched one of Cid's legs so hard it dislocated, and none of his son's cries reached him as he stood and kicked him, shouting how he never wanted to see any of that Dragoon crap again. He kicked Cid in the side and stomped on his injured leg, and just before he kicked him in the head, he yelled, "No son of mine is gonna dance like a $^*)*&^ girl!"

And again, Cid woke up in his bed, in his room, in Midgar, under the stifling plate.


End section 1