Disclaimer: I do not own Cid or Shera - they belong to Square-Enix. Song lyrics are from "Breakawy" by Kelly Clarkson.

Chapter 1: Breakaway

"Trying hard to reach out

But when I'd try to speak out,

Felt like no one could hear me.

Wanted to belong here,

But something felt so wrong here,

So I'd pray, I could breakaway."

-Kelly Clarkson "Breakaway"

"SHERA! Get in here!"

The Captain's voice resounded throughout the makeshift hangar he had made for his broken but beloved airplane, the Tiny Bronco. Cid Highwind rolled himself out from beneath the airplane's cowling clenching a part in his angry fist.

A woman with mousy brown hair and glasses sheepishly appeared in the doorway after a moment. Shera, as she was called, knew from the sound of Cid's angry voice that there was going to be hell to pay. For what, she did not know.

"Yes, Captain?" Shera inquired in a shaky voice, knowing she was about to hear a barrage of obscenities.

"What the hell is this piece of shit!" Cid demanded. "Goddammit! It's way off! What the fuck is the matter with you!"

"I…uh…" Shera looked down at the pavement avoiding the Captain's cold blue eyes. She had adjusted that part, and it was all her fault it didn't fit. Had she not been rushed, Shera would have easily made it work.

Cid slammed the component down, causing it to ricochet off the floor, skid a few feet, and finally rest near the opposite wall of the hangar. The sound caused Shera to jump a bit, but she still avoided Cid's eyes.

Cid's blue eyes could be warm and welcoming sometimes, and when he was joking with you, they had a bright twinkle to them, but that was not the case here. Cid stared Shera down, his eyes a dark, ominous blue that seemed to pierce right through you.

"Dammit, woman, look at me!"

Shera cast up a cautious glance, her plain brown eyes filled with a certain fearful respect for the man who stood before her.

"I – I'm sorry, Captain. D…do you want me to try again?" Shera offered in uncertainty.

"Fuck no! I might as well get the goddamned thing done myself, since the only way to do things right around here is to do it yourself!" Cid hotly said.

He turned his back to the shaking woman, retrieved the part, and sat down on the floor with a box of tools. Shera looked on in uncertainty, wondering if she should even move.

Shera backed out from the hangar slowly, leaving Cid to fume at her mess, and she quickly walked back toward the house. For five years, she had been there with Cid since the botched rocket launch helping him in any way that she could to atone for her mistake that ruined the pilot's dream. Cid did finally make it to space, and after realizing she was right about the number eight tank that blew up, she would have thought that Cid would respect her again.

It was no lie that Shera was slow. No, she wasn't stupid or anything, it was just that she worked better at her own pace. She rushed when she repaired that part for Cid, and his constant presence in the shop made her as nervous as a cat. He breathed down her neck for two days for her to get that piece done so that he could continue work on the airplane, and now she had to go off and make Cid behind in all of his labors.

Cid was a man who was having a love affair with the sky. He longed to be up in that endlessness, and being constrained to the earth made him irritable. His airship, the Highwind barely made it back to Junon after the battle with Sephiroth in the Northern Crater only to die and become a heap of scrap. He and the members of AVALANCHE went their separate ways, and Cid spent the following few months afterwards searching the globe for his airplane. With the help of most of Rocket Town, they managed to haul his waterlogged baby from the ocean and get it back home. When Cid could not fly, it made him more cross than usual because he absolutely loathed being on the ground.

Shera reached the back door and sighed as she turned the knob and pushed it open. The present smell of tobacco and tea filled her nostrils, and she went to the kitchen to see what there was to fix for supper. Once she laid out some thawed meat from the refrigerator for later, Shera flopped down into a chair at the kitchen table and sighed again.

The engineer often wondered why she stayed with Cid in Rocket Town. She had no real friends, the closest she had was the Captain, and they rather coexisted in the same environment. He could care less if she dropped off the face of the planet. Shera did not understand why he still treated her as he did, even after he found she was right about the oxygen tank. She had thought things would be different between them, and they were still the same. The engineer glanced up at the clock; it was 4 pm.

Shera got up from the chair in the kitchen and walked over into her room. Her bedroom was rather plain, containing only a bookcase with engineering books, some romance novels, and pattern books for sewing. She didn't have a bed, really, just a couch that folded out into one, plus she had a small dresser and a sewing machine in the corner. She had saved what little money she earned for that sewing machine, and it became her hobby, her escape.

Originally, Shera bought it to repair her and Cid's clothing to save some money, but she soon found she had a real knack for making things. First, she did curtains, then a quilt, and after talking with a retired tailor down the street, she began to make her own clothing. She picked up some already cut material, sat down in the chair at the machine, and pinned her pieces together. Carefully placing the fabric under the foot, she stepped on the electric pedal of the floor, making it hum as she gently guided the fabric along to make her seams.

Several hours later, as well as several patterns, Cid stormed inside the back door, expecting to smell some food simmering on the stove. Instead, there was nothing. Shera didn't hear the pilot come in over the hum of the machine, and when he slammed open the door to her room, she jumped causing the fabric she was working on to get bunched up under the needle and the tangling the thread.

"Shera! Do you have any idea what time it is!" Cid yelled. "Where the hell is dinner!"

Shera stood up quickly. "Captain, I've only been in here an hour!"

"Look again!" Cid firmly said, holding up his watch.

Shera took a closer look – it was after eight!

"Captain! I – I…"

"Lemme guess. You're sorry. You just got caught up in here. Well I want my supper and my tea, and I want it now!"

Shera ran past Cid and quickly began preparing the supper. He flopped down into his usual chair at the kitchen table. The engineer felt terrible that she had overlooked the time, and now she had to deal with an even bitchier pilot than before.

"I swear to the gods, Shera, you get slower and lazier by the minute!" Cid said. "You spend way too much time locked up in that little room of yours on that damned machine! If I'da known it was going to cause that, I'da never let you have it!"

Shera was used to Cid's criticism, and she often took it with a grain of salt, but that sewing machine was the only thing that kept her mind going. That sewing machine was the only thing that was free from Cid's critical eye, and it became her friend and her sanity. She was allowed to work at her own pace on the thing and for once not have scrutiny breathing down her back. Shera stopped cutting her vegetables for a moment, holding back the tears in her eyes.

"With all due respect, Captain, what else would you have me do?"

"I'd rather have you fix my goddamned parts correctly the first goddamned time!" Cid sharply replied.

Shera silently went back to cutting her vegetables holding the tears in her eyes. She thought she would be a little freer to do what she wanted, but no, things weren't going to change. Before, Shera stayed with the Captain to atone for ruining his dream. She owed her life to him when he pushed the emergency shut down button to abort the mission in order to save her from dying. He sacrificed his dream because he did what he thought was morally right in his eyes. Shera had dreams of her own, but she stayed with him, catering to his every need, so in turn she sacrificed her own dreams to atone for ruining someone else's.

Shera dumped her cut vegetables in the boiling pot along with her browned meat. She added some ingredients to it, boiled some water for Cid's tea, and began to preheat the oven for some dinner rolls. As she worked, she dared not to look in Cid's direction, although he was currently reading a newspaper, making her safe from his ice-cold glares. She began to wonder if maybe she should take a leap of faith and just leave. It was true that Shera cared for Cid deeply, and she thought that she might even love him, but there was no way that she could stay with someone if it was unrequited. Cid barely acknowledged her existence. Besides, she had dreams of her own, and she had recently begun to wonder if staying in engineering was right for her.

After the supper was finished cooking, Shera served dinner to Cid along with his tea, and the two sat in silence. Cid offered neither a 'thank you' nor a 'go to hell.' Instead, he ate his food in silence. Shera nervously ventured conversation.

"Does it taste alright, Captain?" she asked.

Cid glared at her from across the table, clearly still pissed off over the component. "It's alright, but I've had better."

Shera decided to leave well enough alone, and she looked down at her food. She could have made it better if she had not carelessly let the time slip away. The biting edge to Cid's voice made her feel too uncomfortable to finish her dinner. She stood up and began to wash the dishes. Cid soon finished dining, and he stood up and started toward the back door.

"Going back to the hangar," he announced. "I still haven't adjusted that part properly. I'm sure I'll be out all night."

With that, Cid exited the back door and slammed it behind him. The sound in his voice carried a heavy tone of blame. As soon as she was sure Cid was gone, Shera burst into tears at the sink. She waited all night to do that because if she cried in front of him, she was sure he would bitch at her to no end about that too. Her chest heaved as the tears flooded from her eyes, and she sniffled hard, wiping her nose on the back of her white lab coat. She was more like a prisoner now rather than someone who was atoning for their mistake. Shera had paid her debt to Cid, so why couldn't he just let it go?

Shera dried her wet hands of the dishwater and walked to the window. It was nighttime now, and she stared up at the autumn moon rising high in the sky. She decided that the time had come to leave. Shera had to take a leap of faith and hope for the best – she had to take a chance, for the sake of her own happiness. As for Cid, maybe when he realized the error of his ways he would come around, if he cared enough to, that is.

Without finishing the dishes, Shera went to her bedroom, took out from a closet a dusty brown suitcase that had been there since she first arrived and began to pack what little things she had. She had no idea where she was going to go, but she decided that anywhere was better than staying here.

She moved to her dresser and found some money she was saving for a rainy day and counted it. In her possession was over two thousand Gil. It would suffice for food and travel expenses until she decided where she would stay. Once she emptied her dresser of her unmentionables, she removed her books, all but the engineering ones.

After this, Shera packed up her sewing supplies and placed the cover over her sewing machine. She latched both the suitcase and the cover, straightened up her little room, and nervously stepped out into the living area. The engineer peered about through her glasses to be sure that the coast was clear. She took her house key, placed it on the table where Cid was sure to find it, gathered up her few belongings, and stepped out into the cool autumn air. She began to walk away from the house, lugging her suitcase and sewing machine without so much as a goodbye or a note for the Captain. Cid wouldn't notice her missing until the following day, and if he wanted to find her, she did not want to be found. And so, Shera walked away without looking back.