Disclaimer: Not my characters, they are (c) Square Enix

AN: This was written for my friend Rachael who likes Vince and Cid as a pairing. I meant to make this romantic, but it ended up as friendship.

Warnings: Description of serious wounds. And bad language courtesy of Cid.


The pilot sighed, sitting back on the edge of his bed. It was bad enough that the AVALANCHE kids had run off to have a night of fun on the amusements, without them assuming he didn't want to go. He didn't, but that wasn't the point. He was already in a foul mood. They had been on land for the last few days, and he just wanted to be back in the sky again to travel freely, away from his other worries and cares. He was so bored he would just about kill to get his hands on something mechanical.

"Damn it all to hell!" He muttered viciously, pulling a cigarette from its packet. The silence returned, worse than before. He could sense the bloody eyes of their newest recruit on his back, practically feel the reproach that would enter his gravely voice if he spoke. Not that he would lower himself to speaking to someone like Cid. Cid was altogether too normal for such a spectre. The dark haired man had barely spoken five sentences since he arrived, and all to Cloud.

Cid puffed out a plume of smoke into the air, muttering to himself under his breath in an attempt to get rid of the oppressive atmosphere. A slight squeak filled the air, echoing unusually loudly in the still room. Cid glanced up, seeing the other man slowly moving the golden gauntlet in front of his face, flexing and bending each gilt finger in turn. That was the cause of the noise.

Had Cid been a religious man, he would have said a prayer in thanks for an opportunity to do something. As it was, he merely muttered a grateful profanity.

"Can I take a look at that?" The other man stayed staring into space.

"You're gonna rust otherwise." Cid hissed, fury building inside him. Some people were so ungrateful.

Something hit his foot hard and he looked down to see the gauntlet resting against his ankle. The crimson-cloaked man had turned his back on him, cradling his now bare arm to his chest like a baby. Realising he would get no more from the other man; he picked up the armour and walked into the other room to fix it.

He took a glance inside the glove and was surprised to see that it wasn't entirely hollow but instead had several small metal bars inside, which must have gone into Vincent's hand.

Muttering to himself, Cid fetched some oil and a screwdriver and set about the task. He was impressed; the mechanics of the prosthetic were a lot more complex than he had expected them to be. But he was an eager learner, and hastily disassembled the contraption, taking the time to allow his rough fingers and skilled eye to examine every rivet, every plate.

He cleaned it with the same tenderness that a mother would use to bathe a newborn, then added oil to soothe the claws inner workings and reassembled it. The main job done, he selected a polishing cloth and worked on giving the whole hand a sun-like sheen.

Throughout the whole job, his focus was total. He stopped barely a handful of times to take sips from the mug of tea on the bench next to the project and barely complained when it went cold. It was so good to be working again, even if it was for a moody, silent stranger.

A stranger who, unbeknownst to Cid, had given up with waiting in the other room and had been standing behind him watching the whole procedure, his unusually naked arm hidden behind his back. When Cid put down the polishing cloth and looked up, he almost cried out in shock. The ghost-like man was leaning over him, red eyes fixed on his blue ones, the human hand that was normally on show reaching out for the glove.

Cid passed the glove back up to him. The man nodded, and turned away to slip the covering back on. Cid snarled in annoyance. He was used to fixing things for his friends, but expected at least a little gratitude in return.
"Could at least say thanks." He muttered. The man turned back to face him, the claw not yet back in place.
"Thank you."

Cid was about to make another smart comment, when he stopped dead, his mouth still open. His eyes were fixed on the horror that hung against Vincent's side. He felt the bile rising in his throat, and had to force himself not to be sick. He had seen many unpleasant sights during his life, but that had to be close to the worst. He realised he was staring.
"What the fuck?"

The man he was facing shifted uncomfortably, moving his cloak to cover the area that had once been an arm. He lowered his gaze to the floor, and whispered even quieter than before:
"Thank you for fixing it." Realising he was being downright rude to a man who was trying to offer friendship Cid shrugged.
"Your welcome." He reached out with his hand and gently raised Vincent's head so that they could look eye to eye. Vincent looked away.

He pulled away from Cid, walked over to the other side of the room and sat in a chair, and started the complex process of re-buckling the armour. He almost dropped the gauntlet, the task particularly difficult with only one usable hand.

Cid watched the struggle with sympathy until his desire to help overcame his revulsion at the sight he had witnessed.
"Need any help there?" Vincent appeared not to have heard, but as his fingers slipped again slowly nodded his head. Cid walked over, crouching carefully before the other man and reaching for the gauntlet. He avoided looking at the arm for as long as possible in fear that he would be sick, but once the golden glove was safely in his hands, he had no choice but to face it.

Up close, it looked even worse than before. It reminded him of a model he had seen in a museum as a child, all the skin looked like it had been ripped away. The pale branches of bones were visible under the withered muscle. Metal plates held the limb together at its thinnest points, and holes had been drilled every inch, enabling the glove to be held in place. Cid couldn't think of the correct words to say, couldn't imagine any way of asking what had happened. He took the tortured arm in one hand, and carefully slid the glove onto it. The flesh under his fingertips was covered in scars and felt strangely cold to the touch.

He managed to redo the fastenings carefully and ensured the glove was firmly back in place. That finished, he stood to face the phantom. He stayed silent, as did the other man. He turned to walk away, then saw something from the corner of his eye that made him turn back. He shook his head slightly, but it was still there.

He smiled back at the other man, shocked to discover he had been the first of the group to earn Vincent Valentine's smile. Unknown to him, he was the first in over thirty years to see that fragile show of happiness on the spectre's face.