Chapter Forty-Three: Epilogue

Cloud sighed as he stared out the window of his villa in Costa del Sol. Outside, the sun was falling slowly, casting a myriad of purples and oranges in the sky that did nothing to calm his disordered emotions and soul. He gulped at the vodka in his hand, grimacing at the pleasant burn that trickled down his throat.

It didn't help much, alcohol rarely did.

The victorious members of AVALANCHE and extended company had gathered at his home to celebrate their victory. All of the Turks were there, Barret, Elmyra, Marlene, Shera, Archer, and everybody from the final battle, everybody save one.

The freedom of the planet had come with a price. They had lost one of their own, or to be more accurate, Vincent had sacrificed himself. That was the choice that had to be made.

Cloud believed that it was something he personally had to decide, and in a way, that was true.

And Cid… he hadn't yet recovered. Perhaps he never would.

When Vincent had transformed and had taken down Sephiroth, causing the whole crater to collapse in on itself, the others had been forced to run. There wasn't anything they could do to stop Chaos. A tortured voice had screamed at them to run, the last part of Vincent's true sanity trying to protect them. Further, Diablos had summoned himself somehow and had taken it upon himself to hold back the bloodthirsty demon so that they could escape.

It was only from the airship that they saw Holy finally start to work, summoning the energy of the Lifestream and using it as a weapon to destroy Meteor. With that the planet was saved, but Vincent was still gone. He hadn't come back to them as Aeris had; he had been the sacrifice.

Cloud wanted to curse at himself. He should have known what was going to happen. After all, Vincent had hinted at it well enough.

---

"I want to talk to you," the ex-Turk said, grabbing Cloud's arm and pulling him off to the side, away from where the others had gathered.

Cloud frowned, disliking the rough handling. "What about?" he asked, confusion evident in his tone. He folded his arms over his chest, regarding the usual stoic man with an air of curiosity.

"Chaos."

The blond raised an eyebrow and regarded the gunman thoughtfully. "Sorry, but I'm not fluid in onewordese; you're going to have to elaborate."

Vincent sighed. "He is getting stronger, and it's becoming more difficult to suppress him. Despite the control charm I received from Lucrecia, he has stepped up his taunts and his threats."

Mako blue eyes narrowed. "Do you think he is going to be a danger to us?"

The other man shook his head, his eyes falling away to stare at the ever-so-interesting ground. "I don't know. I refuse to summon him on my own, and his bonding with my body is not yet complete. I am not even sure if it will be by the time we face Sephiroth. However, I thought I should give you fair warning."

"What do you want me to do?"

Vincent's face was grim. "If I become Chaos, I can assure you it was not by choice. Get everyone away from me. Leave me behind, if you must. I will do what I can to restrain him." He paused, and his gaze traveled over to the other members of their group, falling on his lover as an indiscernible look passed over his features. "I refuse to harm anyone I care about."

Cloud nodded slowly. "I understand. Probably more than you think."

Vincent turned towards him, confusion swirling in his red irises. Cloud merely waved him off, shaking his head as he whirled on his heels towards the rest of their companions.

"We haven't got much more time to waste, ne?"

---

Cloud had known then that there was more to what Vincent was trying to say, but he didn't want to make the ex-Turk elaborate any more than he had already. And when the time had come, he had done as the gunman had asked. Nevertheless, he felt that there was something he should have done.

However, it wasn't until Aeris had mentioned the choice that he had even begun to realize the full extent of what had occurred. Somehow, Vincent had known exactly what was going to happen and hadn't told anyone. Not even his lover.

Still, they hadn't given up. Immediately afterwards, they had searched the crater and Mideel for any sign of Vincent, but there was none.

Cloud doubted that he lived. He had seen the ex-Turk's wounds; he didn't think even Jenova or the demons could heal them. And if Vincent was the new sacrifice, as they had all come to believe, then there was no bringing him back.

The blond took another hearty sip of his drink, wondering if it was at all proper to celebrate such a victory when it had come at so high at cost. His eyes traveled over to where Cid was standing on the balcony, morosely staring at the ocean. He was leaning on the railing, holding some scotch in his hand. The pilot had foregone a glass and headed straight for the bottle. Well, at least Archer was leaving him alone for the time being.

Cid nearly had had a heart attack when he connected Reeve's subordinate Archer to the Archer Kyle he had dated so many years ago. Apparently, there were still some unrequited feelings.

Cloud supposed that Archer thought he had a chance now that Vincent was gone. The swordsmen hadn't had the heart to tell the man that there just was no hope.

Cid was completely in love with Vincent. He had already vowed to continue looking for him, said that he would never stop until he found something.

Cloud sighed again and gazed out the window. He could hear his friends talking and laughing in the background, and through the reflection in the glass, he saw some were even dancing.

Rude was twirling Shera around in a classical dance that somehow managed to fit with the contemporary music, which was blaring through the speakers. Yuffie was doing a fair job herself. Barret had finally overcome his nervousness and had approached Elmyra. They were currently doing a number that Cloud had never heard of, but he wasn't about to go over and ask either. Most of the others were milling about and talking.

Behind him, the blond heard footsteps.

"Why are you sulking over here?" Aeris questioned, already holding out another glass with vodka in it.

He hadn't even realized his own was empty.

"Thanks."

The flower-girl smiled and stood beside him, looking out the window as well. "You know," she began quietly. "It wasn't your fault."

"I never said I thought it was."

"You're certainly not acting like a man who just helped in saving the world."

Cloud raked a hand through his spikes. "It was too high a price, and I know that Cid would agree with me. What would you say if it had been me? I didn't get you back, only to lose another of my friends."

Aeris visibly flinched. She knew that her life had been exchanged, in a metaphorical sense, for that of Vincent.

"I suppose you are right," she conceded quietly.

Behind them, the upbeat dance song faded, and the lights dimmed low. The beginning strains of the popular love song began to play.

Cloud turned towards Aeris and held out a hand to her. "Would you care to dance?"

She beamed as they set their drinks on the windowsill. "I would love to."

As he pulled her out to the dance floor, where other couples had slowly started to gather, colored lights began to circle around them. Cloud pulled Aeris close to him, and they swayed lightly to the song.

An all-too-human part of himself couldn't help but think how glad he was he still had her.

On the other side of the room, near the refreshments table, Nanaki walked up to his young friend. "Yuffie," he began, a cute blush staining his tanned cheeks. "Would you care to dance with me?"

She glanced up at him, brown eyes shining in the multi-colored lights as she grinned. "Of course." She abandoned her contemplation of the cookies as the demi-human led her to the center of the room, managing to move with more grace than she had given him credit for.

Reeve and Reno were the first out to the dance floor. They were so close it was as if they were one as their hands clasped and arms were wrapped around one another. Reeve had laid his head gently on the Turk's shoulder, and his eyes closed as they danced to the lyrics of the song.

"Our song," Reeve murmured softly.

The Turk smiled and wrapped his arms tighter around his lover.

On the balcony, Cid heard the song, and it roused him from his depressed stupor. He turned and leaned in the doorway, looking in at all the seemingly happy couples.

It felt as if a vise had gripped his heart. He could almost imagine himself and Vincent out there.

The ex-Turk would be graceful as he led the stumbling blond around, offering up small smiles at the pilot's clumsiness. He would hold Cid tightly, and they wouldn't speak. No words would be needed.

The blond felt tears well up in his eyes at the vision; it was so vivid it almost seemed real. He closed them just as quickly, tired of crying, and sought to drown the tears in another gulp of scotch. Nonetheless, his mind instantly conjured memories of the man he loved and had lost in the blink of an eye.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out the summon materia that had once been Diablos. The marble no longer glowed; it was as dead as a regular stone. The pilot wasn't sure what had happened, but since the battle with Sephiroth, Diablos had never returned to his materia.

Perhaps he had fallen with Vincent.

Cid sighed, whirling on his heels and returning to his contemplations on the banister of the balcony. The pain was simply too fresh.

Back inside the rather large living room, Reeve and Reno seemed to be lost in their own world.

"You remember when we first danced to this song?" Reno murmured softly in his lover's ear.

Reeve grinned. "Of course, I do."

"We were at your apartment," Reno continued. "It was during the big winter in Midgar; that's how I remember. I wouldn't have been able to notice from the slums, but at your place, I could actually see the snow before it turned into mush."

Reeve lifted his head and locked gazes with the redhead. "We were listening to the radio because we had wanted a quiet evening in without anyone to worry about. You made me get up and dance with you."

The Turk was smug. "You enjoyed it."

"Yes, I did," Reeve assured him, remembering all too well the warmth of that night and the romantic moment they had shared.

"I remember thinking how much I really believed in the words. That we were meant to be together. I think that was the moment I first knew I loved you. It didn't matter that we had to be discreet or that I couldn't shout it from the rooftops. But it was a startling realization," Reno added in a wistful voice. "It was the first time I realized that I could feel anything other than arrogant nonchalance."

"You are such a romantic," Reeve teased with a chuckle, "but I love you, too."

"I want to do it, Reeve," the Turk continued. He leaned his head forward and put his lips directly by his lover's ear. "I want to spend my lifetime with you."

Reeve's eyes snapped open, and he searched Reno's face for what he thought he might have been imagining. "You…" he trailed off, shaking his head. "Don't tease like that."

The Turk freed a hand and brought it up to cup the other man's face. He rubbed a thumb over his lover's cheek, and he leaned forward and pressed his lips to Reeve's, kissing him with enough passion to make him weak in the knees. After several heartbeats, he gently released Reeve, though his hand remained firmly grasped on his chin.

He forced Reeve to look at him. "I want to protect you always. Be the one who grows grey with you. Stand by every decision you make. I want to make you happy," he said softly, making sure that Reeve knew he meant every word.

"Reno, I--"

However, the Turk only shushed him. "I love you, Reeve," Reno finished as the last of the song's notes echoed through the air.

Amber eyes glistened brightly, and Reeve opened his mouth to speak but found he had no words to say as Reno pulled away from him very slowly, only to sink to one knee, grasping Reeve's right hand in his own. The Turk dug into his pocket, neither of them realizing that they had drawn an audience, as he pulled out a small box.

Reeve choked, knowing what was coming next.

"I am asking you with all the love a man can possibly hold in his heart. Will you, Reeve Tuesti, marry me?" Reno completed in a hoarse voice as he opened the box and held it up for Reeve to see.

The thick, silver band with a small pattern of diamonds glistened in the dim light.

Time seemed to stand still as the Turk waited for his answer.

Then, the hand in his tightened, and Reeve threw himself into the Turk's arms. "Yes, of course." It was all Reno could do not to fall onto the floor as their lips met in an inevitable kiss.

Cheering erupted from the members of AVALANCHE gathered. The two had forgotten that they were there.

On the balcony, Cid turned from the joyful sight, not that he wasn't happy for the two, but the sight only served to depress him further. He berated himself for feeling so negative, but he felt empty and alone, a piece of himself missing. He was also filled with a calm anger, directed not at himself but at Vincent.

The gunman had somehow known what was going to happen but went through with it anyway. Cid couldn't decide which would have been worst, never knowing Vincent at all or losing him after sharing the words of endearment.

He took another gulp of his drink, still trying to burn out the pain rapidly gathering in his chest. It felt like a huge weight had settled there, a feeling he was becoming quite familiar with, and it usually left him in a pit of tears and anger. But with the added effect of alcohol, he was just sullen and depressed.

The pilot also couldn't help the anger he had towards Cloud. He suspected that their leader knew something was going to happen before anyone else realized it. How else would he have known to get everyone out of there? After all, hadn't Vincent spoken to Cloud before they had climbed into the crater?

Cid had pushed away everyone's attempts to comfort him. He didn't need anyone to tell him that it was going to be okay or to say they were sorry for something that wasn't their fault. Those types of condolences didn't help him at all.

Aeris had tried, but Cid felt more than a slight tint of bitterness towards the flower-girl. In his mind, they had been traded, Vincent for Aeris.

He felt that familiar weight on his chest again and gulped the cool, night air in an effort to quell the burning ache. He downed his scotch, wondering if it was capable of chasing away the dreams as well.

That was probably the worst part of him being gone. At night, Cid could still feel Vincent right beside him. His scent was in the sheets, and the memories were everywhere. Last night, Cid had torn them all off in a fit of rage and had slept on their bed without any coverings at all.

Once, he had finally managed to pass into sleep from pure exhaustion, he was haunted by his dreams. Sometimes, he had nightmares of when Sephiroth had speared his lover through. Usually, he just relived the happy moments: that fateful kiss on the plains, the night at Gold Saucer, the kiss in the cargo room, and especially the night Vincent had allowed Cid to take him for the first and only time.

He took another gulp of his drink, relishing in the burn that spread down his throat and straight to his belly. Perhaps tonight he could just pass out and forget, if only for a little while.

"Have you given up then? Do you think he is gone?"

Cid exhaled violently as he turned around. If anyone had come to talk to him, he was glad it was Reeve. The man was… easier to deal with.

"No. I won't ever give up. But he should be here. Dancing, laughing, celebrating…" He swished around the contents of the bottle, noting morosely that it wasn't that full anymore.

"I can't help but feel a bit guilty for being happy," Reeve admitted softly.

Cid shook his head. "Don't… and congratulations. I know he'll make you happy."

A blush stained Reeve's cheeks as he glanced down at the silver ring on his hand. "I wish I knew what to say to help you through this, Cid." He looked over at his friend, noting the dark circles under the man's eyes and the paleness of his skin.

The blond heaved in a heavy breath as he stared at the floor, frowning slightly. "We never even got to that point," he commented vaguely. "I was going to hold him down and tell him for the first time that I love him. He wouldn't let me say it before. I didn't get to tell him… before… before…" Cid fell silent and closed his eyes, already feeling the tears well up.

Reeve's heart broke. He swiftly crossed the length of the deck and moved to take the bottle of alcohol from his friend's grasp. It wasn't going to help him anymore than holding all his emotions would.

"I am sure he knew. It's the kind of feeling that sometimes goes without saying," he intoned gently.

A small line of tears slowly made its way from the corner of Cid's closed eyelids down his face. He choked as he tried to draw a breath and buried his face in his hands. His shoulders shook lightly.

"If I don't find him… if he is gone…" he trailed off, beginning to tremble violently.

Without thinking, Reeve drew his friend into his arms. Cid kept his face buried in his hands, even as he leaned into the other man's comforting hold, leaning his forehead on Reeve's shoulder.

The former executive searched for something to say, some words that could comfort Cid, but he found his mind drawing a blank.

"He knew," Cid added in a muffled voice. "He knew what was going to happen, and he wouldn't tell me. He wouldn't let me get too close."

"I'm sure he had his reasons."

"I can't help but feel angry with him, Reeve," the pilot whispered. "I'm mad that he would leave me like this."

Reeve swallowed thickly. "It's okay, Cid," he attempted to soothe. "It's all right to be angry with him. It's acceptable to cry even. You can't hold it all in, or it will tear you apart inside. Nor can you drown out the pain in alcohol either. Somehow, I don't think that Vincent would approve."

Reeve heard the slightest bit of noise and turned his head towards the doorway. Reno was standing there with a concerned expression on his face, Yuffie at his side. Reeve apologized to him without speaking, and Reno inclined his head in response. He left the doorway, and the ex-executive could just see him clearing everyone away from the balcony, giving him a pathway out.

He sighed and returned to the sobbing man in his arms.

The wind was starting to pick up outside as night fell completely. Despite being in Costa del Sol, the evening was chilly, and the wind was not making it any warmer.

Reeve needed to get Cid inside, sobered up, and warm before he made himself sick. "I think this party is over for you, ne?" he suggested softly. "Let me take you to your room."

Cid didn't answer but struggled to regain his composure. He felt like such a child, bursting into tears like that. When had crying ever helped?

It certainly didn't ease the tension that had still built in his chest, and he had the sudden urge to just go destroy something, anything to get out all the agony.

"Come on," Reeve urged, gently steering the pilot out of the balcony and towards the door to the main hallway.

Cid followed him numbly, not really feeling.

Luckily, no one asked questions, and they quickly cleared a path for him.

Within a few minutes, Reeve was pushing open the door to the pilot's room and ushering him inside. Cid dully walked over to the bed and collapsed on the bare mattress, his head beginning to swim.

In turn, Reeve frowned, noticing that the blond had torn all of the covers off his bed. Leaving him for only a moment, he wandered down to the hall closet and pulled out new linens.

A few moments later, he had completely remade the bed. He helped the pilot out of his jacket and boots and got him settled, and Reeve rifled around in the bathroom, bringing out a glass of water and some aspirin, hoping to forestall the hangover that he knew was going to come in the morning.

Cid accepted the offerings gratefully and handed the empty glass back to the ex-executive before collapsing back onto the bed.

Reeve couldn't help but think that his friend was little more than a doll at this point. He moved when told and did whatever Reeve asked, but he didn't offer up anything in return, just stared at the wall with unseeing eyes.

Reeve's heart ached for Cid. He just wished he knew of a way to bring Vincent back, if only to hear the pilot curse everyone out of irritability rather than drowned himself in alcohol. He sat on the edge of the bed as Cid looked at him blearily.

"Thanks, Reeve," the blond slurred, voice toneless and dead.

He forced a gentle smile onto his face. "It's all that I can do. You are my friend, after all."

"I just couldn't take it," Cid explained suddenly, closing his eyes as he inhaled the clean scent of the sheets. "It was everywhere. It all smelt like him… like he was still here. It always brought dreams." He shivered visibly.

"You need some sleep," Reeve suggested. "You're going to make yourself sick."

Cid snorted. "What do I care?"

"Now, how do you expect to find him if your holed up here with the flu?"

The other man went silent before responding quietly, "I don't want to go to sleep. I don't want to close my eyes."

Reeve opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by a gentle clearing of the throat. His head swiveled towards the door, finding Archer leaning against the frame.

"Reno and Tseng wanted to talk to you," man explained softly, his purple eyes on the floor.

Reeve hesitated, looking at the depressed man on the bed. He really didn't want to leave Cid like that.

"Go on," the pilot urged. "I'll be fine." Red-rimmed eyes and a haggard face seemed to indicate the contrary.

"I really don't think you should be alone."

"Honestly, Reeve. I'm not going to kill myself."

"You were certainly trying with all that scotch!" the ex-executive snapped. He felt a hand on his shoulder and started.

Archer was standing next to him.

"Go on. I will stay with him."

Reeve considered his subordinate's offer. Cid had made no decisions about what he wanted.

He pushed himself up from the bed. "Make sure he rests," Reeve told Archer in a low tone. "Even if you have to cast Sleep on him."

Archer nodded, and Reeve accepted that as an affirmative before he left to find his lover and Tseng.

"You can go now," Cid said rather irritably, turning his head so that he didn't have to look at his former lover. "I don't need a nursemaid."

Archer's jaw tightened, but he ignored the pilot's comment. Instead, he sat on the bed and idly rubbed circles in the blond's back, hoping to relax him.

"We may no longer be together, but I still want to be your friend. I hate to see you like this," he said gently. "Just let me be here for you. I am not asking for anything else. I'm not trying to get into your pants. You know me better than that."

He wasn't surprised when Cid jerked away and reached into the drawer of the desk. He rifled around the contents before producing a small flask. The pilot snorted as he worked the stopper of the bottle.

"Funny that you should be the one asking for anything."

He had just managed to get the bottle to his mouth when it was violently taken from his hand and thrown out into the hallway. The pilot winced when it clanged as it hit the wall.

"Alcohol is not going to fix anything, Highwind; you should know that," Archer admonished. He placed his hands back on Cid's back and forced the man to look at him.

Bleary blue eyes met amethyst fire.

"This isn't you."

Cid jerked away from him, his jaw setting in anger. "You wouldn't know. You left, too! I don't want your comfort, and I don't want your &!#$ pity!"

But his eyes told another story. There was great pain; it was threatening to overcome him.

Archer regarded him with a solemn face.

The pilot gasped and put a hand to his chest where that familiar burning ache returned full force, except this time he had no alcohol to chase it away. He gulped, trying to push down the tears that were threatening to overcome him again, and Cid turned away from his ex-lover, showing his back to the man. He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to gain hold of the emotions that were pouring over him in immense waves.

Without realizing it, tears began to trickle down his cheeks.

He felt the arms wrap around him again, and he fought to get away. He didn't want the other man's comfort; he didn't want his pity. However, Archer held him strong and wouldn't let him go.

"It's okay," Archer soothed. "Above all, I am still your friend Cid, and I refuse to let you suffer through this alone."

The Captain didn't reply, but that was answer enough for the other man. He continued to hold his one-time lover as the pilot cried for love of another.

Archer brought his magic up to his mind and whispered ever so softly, "Sleep."

Within seconds, he could feel the taut muscles beneath his arms relaxing as the pilot fell into unconsciousness.

Sighing, Archer maneuvered the blond so that he was beneath the covers and comfortable. Then, he set about cleaning the pilot's room. Cid had made it a mess in the past few days, and Archer was determined to make everything easier on the man.

Cid might not have been his anymore, but they were still friends.

Above all else, Archer hated to see those he cared about in pain.

---

Reeve found Reno and the rest of the Turks, along with Yuffie, back in the main room. They were all standing in a circle in the middle of the room, trading jokes and generally laughing.

Reno had his back to the door, and Reeve took full advantage of the situation. He crept up behind the man and then attacked, throwing his arms around the Turk and resting his head on the man's shoulder.

"You rang?" he teased, kissing him gently on the side of the neck.

"Not in front of the kiddies, yo," Reno answered in return, slyly reaching a hand behind him to grope at his lover.

"Ah, my eyes!" Yuffie moaned, quickly throwing up an arm over her face as she played at being shocked.

Everyone laughed.

Reeve extricated himself from being wrapped around his lover and moved to his side, choosing to grab his hand instead. "What are we talking about here?"

"The rest of our lives," Elena said, sipping at her drink. "The world is safe, but now, we have to worry about our jobs and such."

"Especially Rude here since he has a family," Reno joked, elbowing his partner.

Rude grunted, his reaction difficult to see behind the dark glasses. "ShinRa is a mega-corporation. It can't exist without a leader."

"Who's in charge now?" Yuffie questioned curiously.

The Turks exchanged glances. They still considered themselves employees of ShinRa since they hadn't exactly quit so much as they disobeyed orders. Besides, who was going to stop them?

Tseng exhaled, brushing his hair back from his face. "Well, Rufus is most likely dead, especially since he has not shown his face. Hojo is certainly dead… as is Palmer." The Wutaiian slowly ticked off his fingers one by one. "Scarlet and Heidegger were both destroyed." He paused, clearing thinking it over. "I honestly do not know," he finished, silver eyes drifting to his subordinates.

The entire group sighed, looking stumped. With all of the power and property that the company owned, the world might just break down into shambles as groups and factions battled to gain control of ShinRa's enterprises.

Elena and Tseng exchanged glances once more. Reno shrugged and squeezed Reeve's hand. Rude's eyes drifted around those gathered, noting Yuffie and then Cloud near the snack bar and finally landing on Reeve.

The bald man inhaled sharply. "Well, they never actually fired Reeve. They only tried to kill him…" he began slowly.

Everyone looked dumbstruck, no one more so than Reno. His mouth had fallen open in surprise.

Tseng, however, suddenly smirked. "That settles it, Boss."

Rude and Elena instantly chimed in, "Mr. President!"

Reno turned to his lover, a small smile creeping up his shocked face. "Snooky bear!"

"Kitty's going to be President!" Yuffie cheered.

Reeve instantly reddened, his mind backpedaling on what all the Turks were implying. They wanted him to head ShinRa. Him, Reeve Tuesti, to take over the job of managing the mega-conglomeration.

"Was this what you wanted to talk to me about?" he asked, still in shock.

Reno instantly sobered. "What are you talking about? I thought you're taking care of Cid."

Reeve stiffened. "Archer came into the room and said that Tseng and you wanted to talk to me about something."

Tseng shook his head. "He is a sneaky bastard. We never sent him on such a mission."

"I swear to Kami-sama if he hurts Cid…" Amber eyes narrowed, his hands tightening into fists.

"Easy, Tiger," Reno joked softly, rubbing his hands over his lover's back. "Or I might start to get jealous, yo."

Reeve tried to calm as his eyes widened. "I'm sorry. That is not what I meant, it is just--"

Tseng sniffed. "You have a father-complex like no one else I have ever seen, Reeve. You are always trying to protect everyone."

"Especially those you care about. I know Cid is your friend and nothing more," Reno added, nodding in agreement.

"Besides," Rude supplied quietly. "I think Archer only wanted to help Cid and let you spend time with your new… fiancé," he suggested, causing Reeve to blush.

Light laughter echoed around the group before falling silent. It was broken by Yuffie's slightly hesitant question minutes later.

"Do you think he will ever recover?"

Shera shook her head, having been mostly silent up till now. "Of course he will. He is Cid Highwind, after all. And knowing him, he will find Vincent."

"You really think he's alive?" Reno asked.

She shrugged. "Whether or not I believe doesn't make it any less possible. All that matters is that Captain believes. He needs that tiny bit of hope until he can handle the truth."

"Time heals all wounds," Tseng commented softly as his eyes took on a far off cast, something enigmatic flashing across them.

Reno raised his glass. "Here's to peace, yo, even if it is a little boring."

"I couldn't agree more." Reeve chuckled as his raised his. "I couldn't agree more."

Continued in the sequel Shattered Dreams.