WARNING! This ficlett is meant as an epilogue to my fic 1000 Deeds Undone. If you haven't read that, all the way through, then DON'T READ this! One, you won't get half of it, and two, it contains spoilers to the other story.

Disclaimer: I don't own any part of FFVII, Cid Highwind included.

Ric McNeilian, however, is MINE. (which of course means you're welcome to steal him as long as you mention it to me first, and send me links later. )

EPILOGUE

Cid reached out, touching one of the sparks and a fresh curl of green wove around his hand, pulling gently and curling up his arm to caress his chest, neck and face. The pain he'd felt earlier melted away with each emerald kiss, and Cid sat back, slowly sinking into the brilliant green, breathing it into his body as he faded to black with the rest of existence. Oblivion.

Cid sighed, arching his back as he leaned back, looking up. Above, the sky was the richest shade of brilliant blue he had ever seen in his life. Towards the horizon, the sky was spotted with storybook-perfect white fluffy clouds, which eventually darkened into a gray haze, purple and royal blue fading into the earth. Out there, somewhere, it was raining, but here, where he stood, it was warm and sunny. He glanced around, eyes landing on the ground on which he stood. He stood on a grassy knoll, green fields stretching out before him forever so that he stood just slightly higher than the rest of the world. A gentle breeze blew, just barely kissing the lush grass, teasing Cid's hair, giving his whole presence motion. He took a deep breath. He loved it here. The sky seemed so close it was like he could almost reach up over his head and touch it. Cid closed his eyes, turning his face up to the warm sunlight raining down on him, and the beautiful wild blue a toothy, elated grin.

He didn't really care that he had no idea where he was, or how he got here.

It was perfect, and that's all Cid cared about.

Cid opened his eyes again, slowly, as a rather distant sounding laugh reached his ears on the gentle breeze.

"Captain!" Cid turned at the call, and realized that he'd barely remembered that he was this 'Captain'. Why was that name called out with such joy and reverence?

At first, all Cid saw was brilliant sapphire eyes, but then his focus spread outward, catching chocolate brown hair, a narrow, young face scattered in freckles around the nose and eyes.

It all came rushing back to Cid, then.

Sephiroth.

Meteor.

ShinRa.

Fire.

Pain.

Fear.

Pain.

Loneliness.

Grief.

Pain.

Guns.

A Little Girl. Desdemona.

Guns.

Pain.

The sky.

Stars.

Music.

Green.

…Nothing…

Behind him, the figure running towards him took a flying leap with a soft laugh. The moment returned to Cid as a body collided with his, sending him reeling backwards in slow motion. He gasped, eyes wide and startled as not only he was seemingly physically assaulted, but as the memories of his life came rushing back.

Sprawled on his back in the grass, gasping, Cid regained his wits, realizing that the young man who had tackled him to the ground had his arms wrapped firmly around Cid's shoulders in an enormous bear hug.

Cid's mind reeled.

"R--Ric…. I… I thought you…you…d-died…" He stammered. Ric sat back, pulling Cid up into a sitting position, and gave him a sad smile.

"I am dead, Cid."

"But--" Cid started.

"I have to say, it hurts to think about the implications of your presence here, but I'm still very glad to see you, Captain." Ric said softly.

"I'm…" It was dawning on Cid a little slowly, but he was finally adding all the pieces together.

"You saved my little sister." Ric said, again, stopping Cid. Cid looked away, eyes suddenly clouding over.

"I… I owed it…to you, your dad…" Cid's voice broke slightly. It hurt horribly to think of it. Three years of guilt and pain, and then to be face to face with what was probably one of the hardest things Cid had ever dealt with.

A slender hand rose to wrap itself around Cid's shoulder in a small, but warm gesture. The same as when Cid had first truly met Ric.

"I never blamed you, Captain." Ric's eyes and voice were so soft and serious it was hard for Cid to recognize him as the boy he truly was. "Never."

Cid stared in shock, and as Ric's words sank into his mind, he crumpled. Three years of fear, grieving, pain and loss. Three years of being certain that nobody would ever forgive him, and the hurt that accompanied such a life caught up with Cid and he broke down, shoulders sagging, body shaking in silent sobs, tears flowing freely.

Ric's hand was on his back, a comforting touch, his thumb working gently in soothing circles.

"I'm sorry I couldn't tell you sooner, Cid…" Ric said sadly. "I tried, but I only get one chance, and I had to save it…" Cid looked up at the boy, confused. Ric gave him that same sad, brave smile. "I went to dad last night… in a dream… You only get one shot, to make a single visit, if you have unfinished business…" He explained softly. "He's still hurt that I'm gone, but I told him the truth about what happened…" Ric paused, thinking his words through. "I allowed my life to end…he knows that now…He… I don't think he blames you any more, Cid…" Another long silence. "I know it doesn't do you as much good now, and I wish I could have reached him sooner, for your sake….but…."

"Thank you." Cid's voice was hoarse, and croaked out of his throat in a bare whisper, but Ric turned to look at him, sad eyes shining. "I… I think I had it coming for me in a lot of ways…" Cid went on. "But thank you for sticking on my side… even if I didn't know it…even when nobody else would… It doesn't…." Cid shook his head, reworking what he was saying. "Because of you…It doesn't hurt. Not anymore… Never again…" A pause as Cid looked up and smiled. "And… I think It's better here, anyway… There's so much more here already than I had in the last three years…"

Cid turned a gentle smile on Ric, knowing the boy was watching him carefully. When Ric finally smiled back, Cid let his grin grow into his classic, lopsided grin.

"Where the hell are we, anyway?" He asked suddenly, and Ric's face lit up as he burst into gentle laughter.

"Can't you guess?!" Cid snorted at the way Ric was laughing at him.

"Why don't you just tell me, Kid." He growled in mock irritation. Ric laughed again before climbing to his feet, looking around, a dreamy smile on his face.

"This… this is our Promised Land." Ric answered softly. Cid frowned, standing as well.

"I thought that was only fer them Ancients or whatever…"

"Oh no… The Promised Land is for everyone." Ric explained. "Though it changes… It becomes whatever you need it to be. It's quiet here for us, because we both died young, and there's not many people who are important to us, who have joined the Lifestream yet." Ric turned a rather crooked smile on Cid. "That's what my grandpa told me when I first came here, anyway."

The conversation faded away into comfortable silence as the two men stood together. Cid let his eyes rove over the horizon. The rain clouds had vanished into the margin between endless green meets blue, and overhead, a flock of birds glided silently in a flock of tiny black arrows.

"It's nice here, isn't it?" Ric said softly after a while. Cid nodded agreement.

"Yeah… 'cept there ain't nuthin' ta fly with." He commented. Ric laughed again.

"That's not true!" He cried. Cid gave the boy a weird look. "This world is yours," Ric went on passionately. "You can do whatever you damn well want to! Fly, build a plane, or whatever!"

Cid thought on Ric's words.

"This is our heaven, Cid."

Slowly, as thoughts began to circulate in his mind, a grin crept across Cid's face.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

AN: Yep! That's it! Happy ending! Right? Right???

Oh yeah, lots more Ric piccies on deviantart now, by the way.

...This is just /screaming/ yaoi, isn't it? (winces) lol. Well...maybe... Suggestions welcome, and if anyone would like to borrow Ric for their own, like I said above, go for it, just talk to me, and don't butcher his character. :)

MRE.

"