DISCLAIMER! I don't own Cid Higwhind, or anything else from Final Fantasy Seven. Don't sue me, SquareEnix!
Rated R for language and violence. (rated on the high side to be careful)
1000 Deeds Undone
A million people crawl across the face of the planet each day, coming and going, and mostly not aware of the happenings around them. One could live in utter confidence, or terror, could fear or love one god or a dozen. Some believe the walk of life is only the beginning of a much greater journey, some believe they will finish where they started: oblivion.
It may truly be the path between that really matters… What one does while he is alive and well, and more importantly, what the world does unto him. Many people spend their whole life worrying about what will happen to them when they die, but the cold truth is, you won't know until it's too late…
"SHIT! She's goin' down!" Cid was sweating bullets as the Highwind, shook to pieces by the awesome power of the Lifestream and Holy clashing with Meteor, jolted suddenly, and pointed its nose down toward the seething planet below them. Even as he struggled with the failing controls, he swept up an intercom mike at his side, shouting into it.
"LISTEN UP EVERYBODY! This baby's GOIN' DOWN, and I ain't gunna be able to save her this time. I want everybody to GET THEIR ASSES off this ship in any way possible. I repeat. EMERGENCY EVACUATION, EVERYONE GET THE FUCK OFF OF MY SHIP!" Just saying the words made Cid's chest constrict, but they came out impressively cool and collected, even as warning lights began to flare, alarms going off through the entirety of the bridge as the Highwind began to give up its grip on flight. The whole ship shook as something in its hindquarters exploded, and Cid winced as he got up from where he'd been thrown to the floor without even fully realizing it. He glanced around, cursing as most of his crew looked back at him expectantly from their posts. Not one of them had made a move to evacuate like he'd ordered.
Cid felt the blood rush from his face as dread overtook him. It was one thing if he went down. He had very little to go back to, but these men…most of them boys…They had families, wives, girlfriends, mothers… Dreams.
Cid's dream had been accomplished. He'd made it to space, and back again. He'd saved the world --at least he hoped he had-- and as he glanced out the giant circular window of the bridge, he saw by the white disks of parachutes floating downward towards the earth that his teammates from AVALANCHE had escaped to what was hopefully somewhere safer than where he himself stood.
Cid had no desire to die, and had every plan to bail out at the last moment, but only if he could get these kids off first. As his concern for their safety grew, so did his temper. He turned to them, eyes flashing, face red.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING STILL SITTING THERE LIKE FUCKING DUCKS?! GET YOUR GODDAMNED ASSES OFF THIS BIRD! SHE'S GUNN'A CRASH AND YOU'RE ALL GOING TO FUCKING DIE!" He was met with nothing but a series of passive smiles.
"You're not leaving, Captain." One particularly young man said, sapphire eyes shining up at Cid in a childish innocence that made the Captain's stomach churn.
"I'M NOT LEAVING BECAUSE I'M FUCKING WAITING TO MAKE SURE YOU'RE ALL OFF /FIRST/! NOW /GO!/" He screamed, voice breaking in its desperation. Still, nobody moved. "YOU WANNA MAKE ME A FUCKING MURDERER?!" He added, desperation growing. A few of his men shifted nervously at that.
The first man who'd spoken stood suddenly, moving across the trembling space between where he'd sat and Cid, eyes wide, but showing a depth that chilled Cid. The boy moved to an arm's length from Cid, and reached out, placing a warm slender palm on Cid's shoulder.
"Just go, Captain. This is our choice." Cid stood frozen, staring wide eyed into the young man's face --what was his name? Cid felt another surge of guilt as he realized he couldn't remember if he'd ever even asked -- even as the Highwind broke again, another explosion nearly toppling Cid. He watched numbly, ears ringing, as the boy reached into his shirt, and pulled out a pair of dog tags. He yanked them up over his head, and handed the necklace to Cid. "Just in case I die, tell someone I did it honorably, okay?" He added deep eyes dark with courage.
That unfroze Cid.
"FUCK NO! NOBODY'S DIE'IN UNLESS THERE'S NO OTHER CHOICE!" Cid bellowed, not only to the boy in front of him, but to the others as well. "Now get off before I go 'n grab ya myself and /THROW/ you off!" That made a few of the lesser souls move, and begin to bustle about, but the Highwind shook one last time, and Cid felt his feet slide along the metallic deck as her nose tipped violently downward, rolling into a sideways dive. He let out a yelp as he and the blue-eyed boy began to slide, then go into free fall as the Highwind's descent increased to near vertical.
Ric, the young man who'd confronted Cid, was a quick thinker. And it was a good thing, because even as everyone else began to fall, the Captain included, he was quick enough to grab a secure purchase in one hand, and Cid's coat in the other. Outside the window that was now below him, Ric could see violent green flashes as the Lifestream boiled around the all to close to the ground airship. The ship shivered against the force of gravity, and Ric let out a yell as he hoisted Cid up, and, grabbing what he hoped to hell was a parachute, threw the both of them out a side hatch.
Cid gasped, his breath catching as his descent stopped suddenly, and changed direction as he was yanked backwards, then, much to his horror, chucked out into the wild blue. His mind was so scrambled with varying shades of fear, dread and terror, that it took him far too long to realize that the boy he'd been with had just rescued him from the doom of his airship. He felt an arm wrapped firmly around his waist, and a soft jolt as his descent towards the plains below him slowed. Cid was finally able to lift his head enough to look at the young man holding onto him. The young man smiled, as if the world had never nearly ended, but rather a pretty girl had just offered him a bunch of flowers. That is to say that perhaps he didn't entirely love the situation, but it was still well worth smiling over.
Cid was completely stunned by the sudden smile, and had to mentally kick himself to remember what was happening all around him. He tightened his grip around something he held firmly in his fist, until he realized it was the boy's dog tags. He'd somehow managed to hang onto them the whole time.
Cid jumped as a resounding crunching boom sounded not very far away. He felt a wave of heat pass over both of them as they drifted down towards the ground, and turned in time to see the last of the Highwind's tail engulf itself in a gigantic plume of red-hot flames. The shades of red, white yellow and orange was a bizarre contrast to the shades of acidic green weaving itself through the sky as the Lifestream finally began to descend back down into the planet. He closed his eyes against the sight of the Highwind's demise, knowing that it was very unlikely that anyone else had made it off the ship. All those lives…Cid felt his stomach lurch and his throat close, and it was all he could do not to vomit right then and there. The boy holding onto him tightened his grip slightly, as if sensing Cid's distress.
"Hang on, Captain. This 'chute's supposed to only hold one man, we're probably going to hit the ground pretty rough…" Cid nodded, trying to do his best to support himself, bringing his legs into a crouching position, as did the other man, preparing for the shock of touching the now rapidly approaching ground.
Cid grunted as he and the blue-eyed boy were sent tumbling with the momentum of their fall, skidding to a halt in a heap a few yards away from where they had initially touched down.
Cid lay flat on his back, breathing for a moment and staring at the green and orange sky, eyes wide and unfocused in shock. He wasn't hurt, he could tell that much already, just winded, and emotionally battered. He finally sat up, taking a few slow, deep breaths to ease the ache in his chest and lungs, and looked around. The boy- he spared a glance down at the metal tags in his hand to check the name- Ric, was just sitting up as well. The kid must be alright…Cid glanced back down at the name. Ric McNeilian. Cid gave a small snort. What a name.
"Hey kid…you alright?" Cid asked when those same disturbingly piercing eyes turned to his. Cid watched as the boy winced before staggering to his feet. Gasping, Ric smiled crookedly, and nodded.
"Yeah, Sir. I'm fine. Are you alright yourself?" Cid frowned. He was just fine. His ass was a little sore, but he knew, just from that one wince he wasn't supposed to see, that his companion was /not/ alright.
"'M fine kid. But you sure as hell ain't. C'mere!" Cid growled. This kid was trying to be so brave and heroic, to be strong, but it was past the time for heroics.
Ric turned a few shades paler, and stared at Cid a moment, as if preparing to counter his order, but eventually, his gaze shifted, and he hobbled over to where Cid stood, head down.
"No more lie'n about yer health, alright?" Cid said, trying to keep the edge out of his voice. "I'm glad yer brave, kid, but this ain't the time fer heroics. Lets just get home in one piece, alright?" Ric cast his eyes further towards the ground, nodding. "Now look at me, I need to check you out." Cid held back the weird feeling he got every time he met the kid's eyes, as he checked the dilation of his eyes, and the focus. "Can you breathe?"
"Eyes, hearing, all alright?"
"Alright… well, what'dja hurt?" Cid pressed. The kid would live, now he had to figure out why he was getting paler in shades with every breath he took.
"My leg, sir." Cid's jaw dropped as Ric answered, and he just couldn't help the short stream of profanities that escaped his lips.
"WHAT? And you walked all the hell the way over here?! Why'd you even get up?!"
"I'm fine, Sir." Ric insisted. Cid frowned.
"Like hell you are! Sit yer ass down."
"Captain, I'm /fine/." Ric insisted. His argument was getting weaker though, and Cid could see a clammy sheen forming on his pale forehead. Cid took a step foreword, so that he was nearly nose to nose with the kid, stormy eyes serious.
"Sit down." Ric held his ground. Cid had had it. In one quick, clean movement, he leaned into the thinner frame in front of him, setting the young man off balance, and hooked the back of Ric's thigh with his own, and set the boy in a swift but gentle descent.
Ric yelped as he fell, clutching at Cid's coat, but Cid held his weight, and Ric found himself laid out gently on the ground.
"I /said/ sit down. Now stay there!" Cid growled. Ric's eyes were wide and startled now, and he nodded lightly in obedience. "Now lessee yer leg.." Cid said, crouching at Ric's feet. Ric nodded, pulling his good leg away and leaving the injured one straight. Cid sighed, rolling up the young man's pant leg, and swore. "Shit! How the hell did you /walk/ on this?!" Cid cried, looking back up at Ric, who smiled weakly.
"Just wanted to keep up with you, sir." He said. Cid sat back, frowning. Who the hell was this kid, anyway?! Cid shook his head in mute dismay, and turned back to the oddly-twisted and bruised leg at his feet. He cast about a moment, checked his pockets, and eventually did three things in sequence: he stuffed Ric's tags in one pocket, withdrew a cigarette and lit it from another, and pulled out a restore materia from a third. Chomping down on his cigarette firmly, Cid lifted his eyes to meet Ric's. "Brace yerself, kid. This is gunna hurt like hell." Ric kept his gaze steady, eyes fixed on Cid's, nodding slowly.
Cid took another long draw off his smoke -he hated doing shit like this- before bracing his hands over Ric's broken shin.
"Okay, Kid…" Cid breathed, voice low. In one swift motion, he set the break. And winced, pinching his eyes shut and wishing his ears could do the same as Ric sat up with a scream of agony, grabbing at Cid's wrists. "Easy! Easy, Kid!" Cid shook the boy off of him, and grabbed his restore materia. A flare of green light, and Ric's screams faded as he fell back with a sigh of relief, panting.
Cid sat back, wiping his face with the back of his hand. Of all the military training he'd been taught, it was the medical skills he'd hoped he'd never have to use. He was just glad he had the healing powers of the planet behind his efforts. He watched as Ric sat back, closing his eerie eyes in exhaustion.
"Rest up for a bit, Ric." Cid said finally, patting the now mostly mended leg. "We're pretty safe where we are…"
"…Thanks…Captain…" There was that brave smile again.
"How old are ya, Kid?" Cid asked, settling into a slump near Ric.
"…Eighteen." Cid swore again. That was it? Eighteen? He really was just a kid….
"I'm sorry, Sir…" Cid only swore again.
"It ain't you, kid… Jus' thinking…" Cid replied after a moment. Ric remained silent that time, falling asleep in his exhaustion. Cid sat quietly, waiting. He couldn't sleep. He wouldn't drop his guard in this time of danger, and there would have been no way his mind would have allowed him rest anyway. He turned his eyes to the south, where he could still see the wreckage of the Highwind burning, and to the west, the dimming green-white glow of what was left of Midgar, up to the red-orange sky, then back to the sleeping boy at his feet. Two of the three, he had to force himself not to think about, because with both, came countless lives, spent and lost. He couldn't dare think about himself now. He didn't know where his friends were, if anyone had survived the crash besides himself and Ric. He didn't even know if they had won the war against Sephiroth yet. Somehow, it felt like he was still trapped in doomsday.
AN: Yes, another one. Again, completely Cid-Centric. Beyond that, however, I'm hoping this will be entirely different from anything I've ever written on several levels... I just started writing this tonight, so updates will come as I write it, but I have this one throught all the way through to an end, so hopefully, it'll come smooth and steady to all you readers.
I don't want to say too much about this yet, except not to get any weird ideas about Ric. He's an OC of mine, and acts as a catalyst in this fic, but nothing more. Sorry to you Yaoi fanatics, no romance in this one. (cries) lol. :)
Also, the rating may change on this... the first chapter in, I'm not sure where its going to go, but at this point, the rating is simply for Cid's colorful language, but I may be able to mellow it... I don't know. (shrugs) so if it moves, that's why.