Title: Grounded on the Edge of Reality

Rating: T

Pairing: Vincent/Reeve

Summary: Another missing scene from DoC. When Vincent stops to offer comfort, he doen't walk away after a few words.

Warnings: Contains game spoilers and dialog from chapter 6 of DoC.

Disclaimer: I hold no rights to Dirge of Cerberus. Characters and dialog are used with affection, but without permission.

Reeve sat, staring at the remains of his office. Everything was in ruins. Everything he had worked for, all the time and effort he had expended - all was destroyed. The attack had been repelled, and Reeve knew that he should be taking action, seeing about survivors, planning the next move...anything other than what he was doing. But he couldn't summon the energy to move.

It was the sound of quiet footsteps that finally caused him to raise his head. His eyes widened when they caught sight of Vincent stepping carefully into the doorway. Reeve cast his gaze back down at the floor. How must this look to his friend?

"I'm so ashamed. I am supposed to be a hero of the Jenova War. But look at me..." Reeve hung his head, unable to voice the rest of his words. Look at how I failed everyone.

Slowly Vincent knelt beside his friend. "Don't take all the blame." Reeve met Vincent's gaze, pain clearly written in his eyes, but Vincent gently shook his head. "You're not thinking of giving up, are you? I used to be nothing but a stone in the river of time, but three years ago, it was you and the others who taught me I had to move ahead." Having said this, Vincent slowly settled himself beside Reeve, clearly prepared to offer his friend time to sort his own thoughts and feelings out.

"Vincent..." Reeve had never heard the other man reveal so much with his words. The gunman was normally so stoic and aloof. It was rare to hear any form of comfort from him. Reeve tried to let Vincent's words soothe his mind, but it was more difficult to let go of his guilt. He knew, without a doubt, that many people had died during this attack. The knowledge of their deaths tore at him. Even Cait Sith was gone. Reeve had no idea if any of the Caits had survived the attack.

Thinking about Cait recalled the events during Vincent's recovery. Reeve remembered the despair that had threatened to crush him when he realized that Vincent had been badly wounded, all because of him. He had been in the lab, keeping watch over his friend, when everything had overwhelmed him at once. Reeve had no idea how long he had remained on his knees in front of the regen tank with his head buried in his hands, his mind wailing over and over my fault, my fault, my fault. It was fortunate that Cait Sith had come to report on the latest activities of Deepground, or else anyone might have walked in. As it was, Reeve had not shifted one bit, simply remaining on the floor. Only Cait's suggestion that he reveal his feelings for Vincent had prompted him to regain his feet. Reeve thought about what Cait Sith had said.

Remember, when I contacted him in Kalm, I met him in your form. Now your form got shot, but he didn't know it was me! And the look on his face was not one I've ever seen before. It shocked him, it did! Oh, he took revenge on the one to 'kill' you, quick enough. And when he had, he rushed to gather you up before you were gone. I know that he cares for you, master. Perhaps you should have a chat, when he gets out?

Events had moved too quickly for Reeve to consider having any such conversation. Almost as soon as Vincent had awoken, the Tsvietts had attacked, and Vincent had left for Niblehiem on his self-appointed mission. Reeve had been left to try and organize some type of defense against the enemy, while simultaneously using Cait Sith to try and determine what their intentions really were. And his emotions received another hammer blow when he was informed that Vincent had again been injured. The details were unknown, but Yuffie had reported that when she pulled him out of Shinra Manor he had been totally unconscious, with a gaping wound in his chest.

The thought of how close Vincent had probably come to death was enough to make Reeve shake. Twice now, his friend had risked himself to help Reeve, and had been injured in the process. Who was Reeve to deserve such devotion? Vincent had no reason to help him, and yet he put his life on the line, twice! And how did Reeve repay him? Reeve had almost gotten him killed! Reeve pictured a future without Vincent in it, and the thought was enough to drive him to tears. A groan escaped him as he imagined Vincent leaving on a mission, and never returning. How would he go on? What would be left of his world, if Vincent were killed? How could he cope with the guilt... Reeve was abruptly pulled out of his thoughts by a warm hand on his shoulder.

Vincent had watched as Reeve struggled with his thoughts. He wasn't overly surprised by Reeve's pain; the man had been in charge of the WRO, and as such he would feel responsible. Vincent knew it would take some time for Reeve to work through his guilt, and he had sat down with every intention of waiting for Reeve to come to terms with what had happened. He grew concerned, however, when he noticed that Reeve was shaking. He face had a haunted look, as if he was seeing something he couldn't possibly deal with. Whatever Reeve was thinking had reduced the man to tears, and Vincent couldn't let Reeve continue to torment himself. Gently he placed his human arm on Reeve's shoulder. The look he received in return melted his heart.

Reeve couldn't help but meet Vincent's eyes. The look on Vincent's face was one of concern. It sent a fresh spike of agony through him. This man had been through so much, and yet Reeve had endangered him again and again. "Vincent..." He clutched at the hand on his shoulder like a lifeline. Vincent's eyes widened as Reeve seemed to come apart, the words spilling from him along with the agony he had been engulfed in. "I'm sorry, so sorry... I shouldn't have involved you... My fault, my fault..."

Reeve curled in on himself, words rushing past his lips faster than he could even make sense of them. He couldn't seem to stop, he was being overwhelmed. Twice Vincent had been injured, and now Reeve had let everyone else down, too. my fault, my fault, my fault. How could Vincent offer him comfort, when it was Reeve who had endangered him in the first place? He waited for Vincent to pull away, waited for the accusations that he surely deserved. The hand on his shoulder tightened, and he braced himself for the worst.

It never came. Instead of a quick withdrawal, another arm came around his shoulders. He felt a gentle pulling, and found himself being sheltered by Vincent's lean frame. His head was cradled against Vincent's chest, and he felt a warm hand begin stroking through his hair, soothing him. Slowly he began to calm. When all but his shaking had ended, Vincent began to speak.

"Reeve. I don't blame you for any of this. You haven't done anything wrong, and the fact that you care enough to feel pain over me is worth more than you know. Don't let yourself be destroyed over this."

Hesitantly Reeve looked up, to find Vincent staring intently at him. The emotions he saw swirling in Vincent's eyes were ones he had never seen before, and he was almost afraid to name them. It brought to mind the time just before Vincent had left for Shinra Manor. His friend had seemed oddly intent at that time, too, as though he wanted to say something, but felt that it wasn't the right time. Again Reeve heard the echo of Cait Sith.

I know that he cares for you, master. Perhaps you should have a chat, when he gets out?

The reality of the situation began to register. Vincent had deliberately sought him out and offered comfort; comfort with words, comfort with his touch... he used his own body to shelter him! Reeve felt hope beginning to bubble up, despite his best efforts. He had longed for Vincent's touch, had dreamed about it for so long. Now Vincent was holding him, actually cradling his body, and Reeve found himself unable to speak. He couldn't seem to think, his mind refused to form words, and all he could do was soak up the comfort Vincent was offering, reveling in the warmth he could feel pouring from Vincent's body. Gently Vincent began making soothing strokes against his back, before speaking again.

"Reeve. Do you remember the last time I was here? When I was brought back by Shalua?" Reeve shuddered at the thought, and felt Vincent's arms tighten around him for a moment, before resuming his stroking. "While I was in the regen tank, I drifted in and out of consciousness. At first, I couldn't focus on the things I was hearing, but I remembered the sound of someone shouting... of you shouting. I had wondered at the time, what could make you so upset."

The more Vincent spoke, the more Reeve began to tense up. Surely Vincent couldn't have heard... "It wasn't the shouting that really got my attention, though. What really pulled me out was hearing someone crying, and having no idea who. I knew that something was wrong when I heard that sound, and it pulled at my awareness. I never expected to find my friend brought to his knees for my sake."

He knows The thought exploded through Reeve's mind. Somehow, he knew without a doubt that Vincent had heard everything. His weeping, the conversation with Cait Sith, his confession...everything had been laid bare. Reeve began to panic, but Vincent had already sensed the growing tension in him. Gently he cupped Reeve's face with his good hand, forcing Reeve to meet his gaze. Frantic green met calm ruby, as Vincent sought to reassure Reeve with his touch. Slowly he drifted his fingers across Reeve's face. "You have no idea of what it meant to discover that someone actually had feelings for me. To know that someone cared that deeply about my pain... its an incredible gift."

Hesitantly Reeve reached out to return Vincent's touch. It amazed him when Vincent not only allowed it but actually leaned into it, eyes slipping closed in pleasure. "Vincent..." Reeve could hardly believe the turn events had taken. From the ashes of what seemed like his greatest failure, he was being granted the one thing he had most longed for, yet never expected. But there was no denying the obvious satisfaction that Vincent was deriving from his touch. Slowly he ghosted his fingers down Vincent's face to trace them across his lips. He felt a small thrill of excitement bloom in his chest when Vincent actually shuddered with the contact, pulling Reeve closer. That one reaction gave Reeve the confidence he had been lacking.

Vincent's eyes flew open with surprise when he registered the soft feel of lips meeting his own. Moaning, he returned the kiss, raking his hand through Reeve's hair. He had tried to imagine what it would feel like, to be the recipient of Reeve's attentions, but this was beyond his expectations. He had never expected to feel this much pleasure from a simple touch. It raced along his nerves, and when Reeve pulled away he could feel his lips tingling in response.

Reeve almost groaned at the look he received when he pulled away. Vincent's eyes were filled with a mixture of surprise and longing. The passion he could see growing behind the surprise made him long to return for more, to trace Vincent's features and learn the contours of his body, but his eyes swept across his damaged office, and he ruefully acknowledged that now was not the time. Slowly he pulled back, waiting until Vincent released him before reaching for his hands. Gently he clutched them both, one hand curling gently over the claws of his gauntlet, the other holding firmly to his human hand.

"I have loved you for so long that it feels like forever. Sometimes it seems that its all that keeps me going. And now... now it feels like I have something to fight for again. Thank you, Vincent, for not letting me give up." Vincent nodded, and ran his hand across Reeve's face in a final caress before getting to his feet.

"Just remember that you are never alone. Your friends are always supporting you." And so am I he added silently. He made it almost to the door, when Reeve called him softly.

"Vincent?" Slowly he turned back to face Reeve. "Deepground has yet to reveal their most powerful forces. You have already been through so much, and I... I can't lose you. Seeing you injured devastated me. To lose you would destroy me. Please... promise you'll come through this safely?"

Slowly Vincent nodded. "I will. I don't have a choice - now I have something to fight for as well." So saying, he turned and left, but the feelings he left behind burned in Reeve. They would come through this. All of them. No other outcome was acceptable. With that in mind, he got to his feet. Their enemies were marshaling, and he had a strategy to plan.