I was bitten by the CidShera bug! It just came to me the same way it happens with my ReeveYuffie muse. It just crept in while I was rereading some old favorites that really had nothing to do with Cid and Shera but that had mentions of them. I also used a few references from, "Case of Barret," so if stuff sounds familiar, it's because it was borrowed from there. I do hope everyone enjoys my second attempt at this pairing.
Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VII or any of the characters used in this piece of fiction. I am making no money off of them.
The day he had been forced to push the button to abort the rocket mission had been the darkest of his life. It had also been the beginning of what he had assumed had been unadulterated hate towards the foolish woman that had put herself into the predicament in the first place. Within seconds, all of his hopes and dreams of space had gone down the drain.
From that day on, he hadn't tired of reminding her of how worthless she was, or of how his dreams had been left in a pile of dust because he had rather save her life than leave her to die. It had been a long time since he had stopped thinking about her that way, since it had been proven that she had been right about there being a fault with the rocket. He had heard that stupid saying about getting to a man's heart through his stomach, but in Shera's case, she had gotten through to him with her tea and her kindness. A woman being truly nice to him was something he hadn't been used to dealin with.
There was so much regret in him now, regret for putting that hurt glint in her eyes after particularly harsh insults towards her, regret for making her feel like a bug that he enjoyed stepping on. His mother would've been appalled at the way he had treated Shera, but his mother had been long gone. All that had mattered to Cid were his own dead dreams of going into space.
He remembered the first time he had seen her as something other than his slave. She had been humming a quiet, sad little tune in the kitchen, and he had snuck up on her and scared the living daylights out of her. "Where the fuck is my tea, woman?"
"I-I'll get it to you in a minute, captain," she stammered, voice cracking.
Cid narrowed his eyes. "What the hell is wrong with you, Shera? I always sneak up on you but never do ya start bawling like a little brat," he snapped.
Shera just shook her head, and refused to look at him. "I'm sorry," she said meekly.
He noticed then, that there really were tears trailing down her cheeks. He cursed up a storm inwardly. He hated to see women cry. "What the hell is going on?" he asked, annoyance creeping into him.
"Nothing," she said evasively.
"Shera, I ain't gonna ask you what the fuck is goin' on again," he said in a warning tone.
Shera expelled an angry sigh and rounded on him, her usually submissive eyes burning with fire. "My mother died on this day, ten years ago. Are you happy, Captain? Will you use this piece of information to hurt me more?" she asked him in a deathly soft tone.
Cid was taken aback by her words. What the hell? He never would've used the memory of her mother to hurt her. Of course, he'd used everything else, why wouldn't she doubt that he would use her mother to hurt her? "I'm… sorry. I never… shit… Shera. I wouldn't use this to hurt you," he said darkly.
Shera's anger deflated in a second. "I know, Captain. I'm just particularly sensitive to this. You should return to work. I'm almost done with the tea and I will bring it to you when it's ready, the way I always do."
"Where is your mother buried?" he asked her abruptly.
"In Junon. Why do you ask?"
"Take the weekend to visit her… resting place."
"Don't fuckin' argue with me, Shera! Just grab some of your shit and get to it! If you don't, I'll count to three and change my mind," Cid started, noticing the way her wide eyes stared at him incredulously. "One…"
"I'm going!" Shera exclaimed, beginning to race out of the kitchen. Before she was gone, she turned and ran up to him, pressing a kiss against his cheek. Her eyes were like melted chocolate, radiating gratitude for what he was doing. "Thank you, Captain," she said before she disappeared.
Once she was gone, Cid touched his fingers to his cheek where Shera had kissed him. He had never seen her look so happy before. He had honestly gotten used to seeing terror, sadness, embarrassment, and regret in her gaze, but he realized that he had never really seen her look happy, especially wen he was around. Usually her smiles were reserved for success in her scientific research, but not towards anything in her personal life. Cid found that he liked her happy smile.
His eyebrows scrunched together in annoyance. "Enough of the sissy feelings, Highwind. They're bullshit and a distraction. Get your shit straight," he muttered to himself before grabbing his now cold tea. Not one to waste any type of tea, he poured it into a pot and set it on the stove to warm. He really needed to get used to doing some things on his own.
That afternoon really had been the first time his feelings towards Shera had changed. The need to cause her pain for costing him his space journey had slowly begun to ebb and he had looked forward to more and more of her smiles outside of the workplace. Shera's shy glances had changed as well, and Cid couldn't help but wonder if she had felt anything special for someone as worn around the edges as himself. How could she possibly even feel something for a man who had caused her more pain than anyone else with his words?
The Stigma had come as a big, abso-fuckin'-lutely blow to the head for him. To find that the woman he had terrorized for so long, who he had kicked like some asshole who would kick a defenseless puppy, to find out that she was doomed to leave for the Lifestream soon, it had really made him regret many things in a matter of seconds. He had watched her for about two weeks now, as she sometimes awoke normal and able to walk as if nothing was eating away at her, to seeing her to the point of not being able to get out of bed.
The fevers came and went, as well as the oozing from her arm and all he could do was watch her and make sure that she didn't stop breathing in her sleep. There had been nights when he sat at her bedside, watching her sleep in a fitful slumber, wiping away the sweat of her fever with a cool, damp cloth. The feeling of helplessness was creeping up on him now, pushing little doubts of the worst case scenario into his head. What if they really couldn't find a cure for Geostigma? What if she… what if she… he couldn't even bring himself to think of life without Shera there now.
"You can't fuckin' die on me, you hear?" he asked her fiercely.
Shera didn't respond. Today was one of the bad days, when she couldn't even get out of bed because of the fever and the pain. Her brown hair was sweat-matted, even when the fever had finally broken. The doctor had been by to check on her and make sure that there were no signs of her going into any type of cardiac-arrest or seizures. She was asleep at two in the afternoon.
"I need ya, and not just for the thrice-damned tea," he said into the silent room. The only noise was Shera's steady breathing as she slept off the episode from the Stigma. She had been working on formula for better fuel for his new airship when she had collapsed, had damn nearly given him a heart attack when he had found her on the ground. The puddle of black ooze staining her shoulder and arm had been worse than if he had seen her in blood—it always was. He couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that she was infected.
The soft sound of a whimper drew his eyes towards her face and Cid sat closer from his position on the chair next to her bed. "Sher?" he asked her quietly. For once in his life it wasn't killing him to be a little less loud.
"Captain?" she asked, attempting to sit up, but wincing when her arm burned a little. She realized that new bandages had been wrapped around her arm and shoulder, where the bruises of the Stigma had developed.
Cid pushed her back down gently, feeling his heart hammer in his chest at seeing her in pain. "Don't get up, Shera. I can handle shit on my own while you sleep this thing off."
Shera gave him an uncertain look and laid back down on her bed. "How long have I been out?" she asked.
"Couple of hours," Cid muttered, chewing on the end of a toothpick. He usually smoked around every crevice of his home, but not in Shera's bedroom. It was the one thing he hadn't been able to bring himself to do.
"I'm sorry," she said, avoiding his gaze and staring at the wall opposite of him.
Cid nearly dropped the toothpick, but he grunted. "What the fuck are you apologizing for? This shit ain't something you've got control over," he said gruffly. He was trying and failing to ignore the glassiness of her eyes, but there was something there… something that he had tried so hard to ignore. Something that had to do with her smile whenever he seemed pleased over something she did, or when she had that far off look in her eyes and her eyes looked watery, when all he wanted was for her to smile again. It had been brewing between them for months now, but then… then the Stigma had started.
What was the use of starting something with her if she would be gone in months, or possibly even weeks? The thought of not seeing her anymore, of not tasting Shera's tea in the mornings, and at night before bed brought an ache to his gut and chest, and he had accepted that it hurt, now that the Geostigma episodes were coming more and more frequently.
"…Shera, go back to sleep. You need the rest," he muttered, turning away from her, no longer able to look her in the eyes. He was holding his emotions in check by a thread and he didn't know how long he would be able to wait before he just screamed at her, before he asked her to stop dying, or maybe even begged her to not leave him. He was reaching the breaking point, but it didn't matter because her time was still running out.
Shera just nodded and reached up to take a sip from the glass of water that he had more than likely brought in with him before she had woken up. The liquid was cool in her parched and thirsty throat, and all Shera could do was try not to choke on it as she drank as much as she could. She laid back once more and watched Cid as he stared down at his gloved hands. His presence was reassuring, even when she could feel that he was resigning himself to the fact that she would soon be gone.
Shera knew it too, and had accepted it a few weeks after she had first started with the emission of black pus and the pain. She had tried to keep it from him as best she could, but he had barged into her lab in the hangar when she had been attempting to replace some of the soiled bandages. She would never forget the look in his eyes, the utter shock, and then the anger at the fact that she had kept it from him, that she had seen reflected in those blue eyes. It was all irrelevant. His anger was irrelevant because no matter how tirelessly some of her old colleagues were working, they had found no cure.
"Don't worry about me, Captain. Get back to work. I'll be fine," she said after he sat there in silence for a long moment.
No, you won't! he wanted to scream at her, but he couldn't. Cid couldn't bring himself to call her names, or yell, or belittle her anymore. Not when she was living on fucking borrowed time. He turned to tell her so, but her eyes had already slipped closed and for a second, panic struck him like a bullet to his chest and he searched frantically for her pulse. It was thready, but it was there. He let out a long sigh of relief and cursed himself for allowing such girly feelings of relief and pain to flow through his chest.
He touched her cheek gently with his knuckles and wished that there was something he could give in exchange for her health. He would've given anything to have her—mousy and all—healthy again. Cid stood and walked out of her room quickly, exiting his house and lighting a cigarette before taking a long drag and expelling it slowly. In that moment, he felt so friggin' tired, he felt like an old man—as Yuffie was so fond of calling him—and he felt decrepit and weak. All he wanted was to bring back Sephiroth from the dead and strangle him himself for causing this.
"Asshole," he muttered.
"Sure hope you ain't talkin' about me," said a deep, booming voice from behind him.
Cid started and turned slowly to look at Barret, who had a grin on his face. The cheerful look on the dark man's face quickly faded when he realized that Cid wasn't cursing up a storm and greeting him back with the same enthusiasm. "Shera?" Barret asked slowly.
"She ain't doin' good," Cid replied. "Had another attack this mornin' and she's been sleeping it off ever since."
"Shit. Sorry man. You wanna get some work done? I'll watch over her," Barret offered.
"You goin' soft on me, Wallace?" Cid asked him darkly.
"Fuck you, asshole. I was tryin' to be nice," Barret replied.
Cid just chuckled in a low tone and nodded. "You know how to cook something, sweetheart? Or are we gonna fuckin' starve without Shera there to make us something?" His eyes dimmed at the mention of Shera, but if Barret noticed, he wisely kept quiet.
"All I can make are scrambled eggs. Take it or leave it," Barret said with a shrug.
"And toast some bread or somethin,' eggs are nothing without toast," Cid said before turning and walking off towards the hangar where his beloved new ship was located.
"Sissy asshole," Barret muttered to himself before walking into Cid house. Still, just to be safe, he checked on Shera before walking off towards the kitchen. It was the least he could do for a friend. Cid had looked like hell and Barret could imagine that Shera's sickness was taking its toll on the pilot. If there was anyone as clueless as Cloud was when it came to Tifa and her feelings, it was Cid and his own feelings for Shera. Barret imagined that Cid needed to say something soon, before it was too damned late. If he didn't, he would regret it for the rest of his life.
It was later on in the night, while Barret used the shower, and after they had eaten noodle soup from a cup, that Cid was sitting in the living room, nursing a glass of unadulterated Whisky. He'd had two before, in the company of Barret as the other man talked about seeing little Marlene tomorrow afternoon again.
Just as he was placing the glass to his lips to gulp down the contents in one go, he heard choked cries coming from Shera's room. He stood, dropping the glass in his haste and ignoring the shattered glass as it hit the hardwood floor, and raced towards the room. He found Shera cradling her hand and arm, curled into a fetal position as the bandages began to seep with the blackness of the Stigma.
"Shera?" he asked her, taking a seat next to her on her bed and finding himself unable to do anything but watch her. What else could he do? There was no comforting her when she was in so much physical pain.
When the attack finally ended, there were tears leaking from the corners of her closed eyes. Cid brushed them away and waited until her breaths stopped coming in little jagged gasps. "It's over, Sher," he said, grabbing the cloth in the cold water sitting on her nightstand and pressing it to her forehead. "You're fine," he said under his breath.
They both knew it was a lie. "I'm not," Shera said quietly. "It's beginning to spread to my back. Not much is known about what happens once the Stigma covers certain regions of the body, just that it's more painful and there's more fever. I'm not fine, Cid, and we both know it."
Cid was quiet, running a hand down his face and feeling the more prominent scratch of his stubble. He hadn't even bothered to shave in the morning. "Take off your shirt and turn over," he said stiffly.
Shera just shook her head. "I need to shower."
"You can't even get up. How the hell are you gonna shower?" Cid asked her irritably.
Shera sighed forlornly and nodded. "I suppose you're right," she said. Even when she was pale because if the recent attack, her cheeks colored an alarmingly charming pink. "Will you… turn around so that I can take off my shirt?"
Cid sighed in irritation and did as she asked. He could hear the faint rustling of clothing, and then her hiss as she peeled off the bandages before the bed shifted. She gave him a small noise of assent and Cid grabbed the bandages before turning. Something clenched painfully in his heart at the sight of the smudges on her left arm and part of her left shoulder. She hadn't allowed him to bandage her since the whole thing had begun, but he had to do it now, since he doubted that she would be able to do it herself.
"You'll have to sit up in order for me to get the bandages around your shoulder," Cid said, trying and failing to ignore the curve of her waist and hips, her bare back.
Shera sat up slowly, still mindful to keep her shirt covering her more important bits. "I think I'll need a clean shirt also," she said quietly.
Cid just grunted and proceeded to wrap her arm and shoulder with the clean bandages after cleaning the spots with the cloth he had used to cool her forehead. Once he was done, he pulled a clean shirt from where Shera had instructed him they would be, and turned his back to her so that she could pull it on. "Better? Are you up to eatin'?"
Shera shook her head and laid back down. "I feel a little nauseous. Maybe tomorrow morning I'll feel better."
Cid sighed and turned to look at her. "You gotta hold on, Shera. Those brains will find a cure," he said suddenly.
She offered him a resigned smile. "I'm holding on, but there's no knowing how long the Geostigma will allow me to continue like this. You have to… you have to resign yourself to the fact that maybe I won't survive the infection."
Cid clenched his teeth in fury and refrained from shaking her, even when his fingers were itching for it. "Don't you fuckin' dare think of leaving me, Shera. That ain't a request either, it's an order," he hissed.
Shera reached up to brush the tips of her fingers across the bridge of his nose and over the dark smudges under his eyes. "You haven't slept, have you?"
"Gotta make sure you're still breathing," Cid replied, reaching up to grip her fingers tightly, but not painfully, between his. "I'm serious, Sher, I can't… damn it… I can't imagine waking up to a world when you're not in it."
A smile bloomed on her face, and she scooted a little to the side. "I don't want to leave either, Captain. But it's not a matter of what we want, is it?" Shera paused for a moment and gave him a critical look. "Why… why don't you lay down for a little and get some rest?" she offered, eyes big and pleading in her face as she patted the spot on the bed next to her.
Cid grunted and nodded. Barret would have to find his own way around the house. Cid toed off his boots and pulled off his jacket and gloves before slipping into the bed with Shera. He was conscious of the fact that he smelled and that his shirt had grease stains in it, but he wouldn't turn Shera down. Not anymore. He slipped an arm under her and pulled her slim body against his, half-smiling when he heard the content sound that left her throat at the feel of him so close and warm.
"Thank you," she whispered, slipping her bandaged hand and arm over his middle, her eyes blinking slowly until she was fast asleep.
"Yo! Where you at, Highwind?" Barret's voice sounded from the living room.
"Shit," Cid muttered to himself, afraid that his friend would wake Shera. Barret stopped in front of Shera's door and knocked once. "In here," Cid called.
The door creaked open and Barret poked his head in. "You gonna stay in here?" he asked. For once, he knew it wasn't the best time to tease Cid, especially after he had seen the pilot looking so forlorn during dinner.
Cid nodded. "Grab the guest room and get comfortable and shit. If you stick around, I'll show you the new ship tomorrow and I'll even take you to see little Marlene in it."
Barret nodded. "It's finished?"
"Alright, man, thanks," Barret said before shutting the door and lumbering off towards the guest room.
Cid sighed into the darkness as he shut off the small lamp at Shera's bedside and concentrated on the even breaths coming from her sleeping form. Tomorrow. Tomorrow he would fix things between them. He just couldn't keep wondering about their future, especially when the Stigma was eating away at Shera's once healthy body. He didn't have time for hesitation. He didn't have time for doubt. Before he knew it, his eyes had shut and he was lulled into sleep by Shera's warm body and by the fact that she fit perfectly against him.
When he woke up in the morning, it was to the annoying chirping of the fucking birds that Shera insisted on leaving a bird feeder full of seeds for right outside her window. Who the hell would enjoy so much noise this early? He looked at the clock on the opposite side of the bed and his eyes nearly bugged out. It was already nine in the morning and he was usually an early riser himself. Then he noticed something wasn't right.
Shera was not next to him, and her side of the bed was already cool. His heart began to hammer in his chest as he sat up and pulled on his boots as best he could before he was out the door. The bathroom door was shut, but he knew it was Barret, since there was pretty loud and off-key singing coming from the shower. He looked in the living room, dining room and finally the kitchen.
There was no describing the immense relief he felt when he saw her standing at the kitchen counter, her brown hair still damp from a shower, and wrapped up in a warm sweater and jeans. The relief was quickly followed by anger for the scare she had just given him, and he stormed towards her, intent on telling her exactly what he was feeling in that moment. But as soon as he came up to her, he froze, listening to the sound of a spoon clinking against the china, and the scent of tea wafting up to his nose.
Shera stopped stirring the tea when she heard him come to a halt behind her. She stiffened, though, when she felt him lean down to press his lips against her bandaged shoulder. "Shit… you damned near scared the crap out of me woman," he said in a low voice.
Shera couldn't stop the smile that bloomed on her face. "Why? Did you think I had gotten up just to go die in the bathroom, Captain? I would've died quite contently where I was. In bed and in your arms," she said in a sweet, gentle voice.
Cid felt his throat close up and it became a little harder to breathe. There was no future if Shera wasn't in it. "Sher…" he started, slipping his arms slowly around her waist, and noticing the way she jumped. "There's a ship in the hangar with your name on it," he said gruffly.
Shera's eyes widened behind her glasses and she was rendered speechless. "What? Cid, what?" she asked in confusion.
Cid had to smile as he heard his name on her lips for the first time in years. "I'm gonna call my baby The Shera. It'll be kinda like an engagement ring. If you'll have it. If you fuckin' won't, I'll just name it the Highwind II and we'll forget about what I just said."
Shera's eyes filled with tears. Was he seriously… proposing? She sniffled and Cid turned her around, a scowl that was half frown on his face. "Why in the name of Ifrit are you crying now?"
"Because I didn't know that you thought of me that way," Shera said, voice cracking.
He didn't need an answer for that. All he did was take her chin in one hand, and lower his lips to hers. She tasted of mint and tears and sadness. Her time was short and he knew that if he didn't marry her and make her happy now, he would probably never get the chance ever again. "Fuckin' hell, Shera, just say you'll fuckin' marry me," he whispered against her lips, feeling more of her tears trailing down her cheeks.
"Yes," she breathed quietly, touching his face with her good hand. "I'll marry you, Captain," Shera murmured, and when he pulled away from her, her smile could've powered his new ship without any fuel, it was that bright and full of life.
"Good," Cid said fiercely, blue eyes locked on her brown ones. "That's god-damned good."
Shera smiled and trailed her fingers through his short, disheveled blond hair. "You'll be taking The Shera with you today?" It felt strange calling a ship by her own name, but she couldn't deny that it sent a shiver of contentment down her spine. Cid had named his ship after her.
Cid nodded and noticed the way her smile wilted a little. "Why don't you come with me and Barret?" he asked.
"Really?" she asked, the excitement in her voice something tangible.
Cid nodded. "Right after I shower," he muttered, sniffing under his arm and causing Shera to stifle a laugh. He stood straight once more and brushed his knuckles across Shera's cheek. "Stay strong for me, Sher."
She inclined her head once and smiled. "I'm going to do my very best."
"I'm gonna go badger Barret so that he can give me a chance to fuckin' shower before the hot water runs out—" his words were interrupted by the insistent ringing of his phone.
He walked over to grab it from the table near the front door and answered. "The fuck do you want?" he snapped.
"Geez, you're just a ball of sunshine in the morning, aren't you?" Yuffie's voice cut through the air like a hammer to his brain.
"What do you want, brat?" he asked in annoyance.
"We've got trouble. Kids have been disappearing here in Wutai and over in Edge. They've got Denzel and Marlene."
"Damn," Cid muttered empathically. "Barret is here."
"Well… don't tell him anything yet. Cloud went after them, but I think he's going to need our help," said Yuffie rapidly. "In any case, I need you to come get me so that I can help too."
"Fine. I'll be there in two hours," Cid said. "I gotta prep the ship."
"All right old man. Call me when you're here," Yuffie said before she hung up.
Cid turned to look at Shera as she stood at the kitchen doorway. "What's going on?" she asked softly, eyes worried.
"Trouble," Cid replied.
"Will I still be able to go with you?" Shera asked, the hopeful light shining in her eyes.
Cid was about to deny her—and vehemently because of the prospect of danger—but he paused. This could possibly be the last time she would be able to fly anywhere. What if he denied her that for some silly, manly notion? "Yeah. Get your shit ready and head for the ship. We have to be gone in an hour."
Shera smiled again and walked over to kiss him. "Thank you, Captain," she said before she stepping back, holding his fierce blue gaze, and turning to walk away.
Her thank you involved several different things, Cid realized. But the main one was for understanding that if he left her now, there probably wouldn't be time for another chance for her to see the world again. Cid sighed and walked towards the bathroom as Barret finally exited. He would make the most of his time with Shera, he promised both himself and Shera that much.
Let's discuss a few things. During FFVII, Cid and Shera weren't married. During "Case of Barret," there's no indication of them being married either, though that's maybe because SE doesn't really go into romance or anything, so this story would take place right before AC, but after, "Case of Barret," since they were married during DoC a year later. Also, info on the Geostigma was borrowed from various fanfics I've read, so I won't take credit for that stuff.
Now, how was it? Did I go OOC with Cid, what about Shera? Not much is said about her, but I do hope I wrote her as accurately as possible. I was supposed to have updated another of my stories, but this fic just invaded my thoughts and wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it. The plot bunny was absolutely rabid. There aren't that many CidShera fics out there, so I hope this one is received well. I left the conclusion open because that's where AC comes in, and maybe in the future I'll be inspired to write a sequel, but no promises! Anyway, don't forget to let me know what you thought and thanks so much for reading!