Author's Note: A more speedy chapter for you lot. :)
Little streams of sunlight dawned on pale skin, stirring the man into a comfortable wake. The sleep itself had been restless and choppy. Many times Cid had woken up from his violent toss and turn in the large, empty bed save for the soft linen and quilt along with that extra pillow which scraped against his skin and chafed his neck.
In the heat of his fluster, he had awoken when the clock had barely slipped past one o'clock, and he threw back his blankets, feeling the intensity asphyxiate him. With each flutter of his lead-weighted eyelids, flashing images of darkness and groping unkind hands tugged and pulled him in multitudinous directions: up and down, back and forth like a child's play toy. So sleep had refused to meet him and a dull throb in his forehead echoed the urgency to get some rest. Of all the times for his harsh experiences to haunt and torment him, it was when he had left the devil's crypt and was placed within a state of heaven itself. Perhaps shock and self-contempt had a role?
Whatever the case had been, he had swallowed the panting breaths in the silent air and placed his feet so carefully onto the carpeted floor. His mind needed occupation, so his feet began to lead him out of the room and towards the kitchen for a glass of water to calm himself down. Closing the bedroom door gently behind him, he was well aware that Yaag must have fallen asleep on the couch and during such a circumstance, he needed not to wake him, and he padded down the wooden hallway to the kitchen.
The vile stench of vodka drew stronger with each tentative step, the alcohol having become like bile as its stench hung dense in the air. It hit Cid like a hand would strike a cheek and his headache pounded madly with the heavy smell. Looking to his left he found the source.
Slumped over a coffee table, face-down in a shallow pool of the alcoholic drink, Yaag slept with a deep crease between his brows, his loose strands of silver hair bathing in the clear fluid. His right hand rested on a toppled over long-necked glass bottle of his drink, the end leaking with miniscule drops of vodka, and in his left, a burnt out cigarette with a stub of ash attached to the end. The man looked atrocious and little or no pride for the Sanctum exuded from him as he disgrace the uniform and badge of the General.
However, Cid had not been disgusted, but instead sympathetic. Yaag appeared human for the first time in two years and judging by the state of his posture and the frown on his face, he too slept an unpleasant, but instead desperate sleep.
When Cid ventured back into the bedroom and settled beneath the sheets, his thoughts were consumed by not only those wretched words of Dysley's, but the raw truth within every syllable. There was no hope in trusting others aside from himself, so he thought that he could accomplish such. Like Rosch, he too was swept into an uneasy sleep, until the sun woke him and he slid out of the blankets and into the new day.
Bending over his knees, he sat on the edge of the bed and ran his hands through his long hair, catching a few stray knots and undoing them. He disliked the length and vowed to himself to have it cut as his head felt too heavy for his liking. Stretching briefly, Cid got up and straightened out the creases on the bed sheets, placing the covers neatly over the bed and rearranging the pillows. The air in the room felt a little warm and somewhat stale, so he pulled back the white satin curtains and opened the window where a gentle breeze flowed into the room and tousled his hair joyously.
The sun shone brightly between a crack in two grey clouds and he smiled, "Good morning..."
His faint whisper was whisked away by a swirl of wind and the clouds met, shielding the sun from the earth, and Cid's small smile melted with the dimming of the light. The world slithered back into darkness it seemed with his company.
A glance to the digital clock on the bedside table told him that it was seven thirty. Yaag surely must have left and Cid felt embarrassed at the notion of being able to sleep through the man's obvious rummaging into the wardrobe for a fresh set of alcohol free uniform. At least the man still had the liberty to discard his clothing in the laundry basket, more likely on the mountainous terrain that loomed up above the rim.
With a faint quirk of his lips, his hands subconsciously traced the softness of the bed sheets and foolish pleasure received from given the indulgence of sleeping in a bed. He was nothing in Rosch's eyes, yet he gained the title of human from him. Such a simple gesture warmed Cid's heart, so he picked up the wicker clothesbasket and headed down the hallway to the laundry.
An avalanche pursued the destiny of the mountain, and down came a hoard of elaborate uniforms of rayon, woven wool, and organic cotton. They left a small trail behind him, but he did nothing, only noted to pick them up later, which he then did upon putting the washing into the machine. As it whirred to do its job, Cid escorted himself to his own kitchen in a life that no one believes to have existed.
There was a broken cabinet - door hanging from a single screw of a hinge, a foul smell and sight came from the sink with dishes and utensils creating a mountain of their own, a seal lining from the fridge had become loose and the light overhead had shattered, yet was still intact. What had Yaag been doing for the past year? Surely what he saw last night was not the only thing the man did in the comfort of his own home.
Feeling utterly useless he turned on the tap and began to wash the dishes. For a moment he stopped, watched the water cascade hurriedly down the curves and cliffs of the mountain born from kitchenware. His mind failed to register what exactly he was doing, so swiftly he turned the tap off and stared at the dishes. Picking up a fork, Cid played with it absentmindedly, metal tarnished with dirt. He took little to care and thought, strained his mind to search for the answer on what he was to do. It was distressing, there was a task to be completed, but a block stood in his way.
Dropping the fork, Cid turned on his heel, circled the kitchen and fiddled mindlessly with the dusty grooves of the cabinet doors, before coming back to the stack of dishes.
Clean them? Is that what it was? Should he clean them?
A tentative eye to the clock, he straightened his shirt and twisted the tap on.
It was when Cid was bent over scrubbing the kitchen floor with water and a tea towel did he notice two things: one – there was a bottle of vodka in the lower cabinet, metallic label glinting between the crack of door and jamb, and two – thin tendrils of smoke rose from outside creating a dispersed appearance from the large window of the lounge room.
Pushing himself up from the floor, he left the towel on the ground and advanced towards the window, entranced by the wispy grey. The floorboards creaked beneath his footsteps, the smoke was rising from a distant place now. Manoeuvring around the furniture, he pressed a hand and his forehead to the glass, a small tear gathered in his eye, but it never fell.
Cocoon had fallen into eternal darkness.
A fighter jet dropped another one and a district of Eden burst into a ball of violent red heat and grey debris that shot upwards like a fireworks display. For Dysley it very much would be.
The smoke travelled towards him, as if the people were beckoning for a saviour, for he to be the one to claim salvation. Instead, he turned his back, snatched up that bottle of vodka and swished the alcohol across the floor. For now, there was little that Cid could do, but to clean his memories, so he scrubbed that floor – there was little that even a man as skilled as he was to do in a world dominated by a corrupt fal'Cie and an invincible army of l'Cie.
The hours moved by languidly and the menial tasks seemed to complete all to their own accord. He tested the cabinet door, putting the screwdriver back into the drawer in which he found it, satisfied with his handiwork. Turning around, hands placed firmly on his hips, he sighed and dropped onto the couch – only a few more tasks to complete. Bending down, his hands curled around the long, slender necks of the empty vodka bottles, and deep within Cid hoped that those were the only slender necks that Yaag took the liberty to caress.
Banishing those thoughts from his mind, he discarded them and along with it the mess of the ashtray. Donning gloves, he carefully picked up the little fragments of glass from the television – the previous day, so filled with shame, flashing behind his faded golden eyes for an instant.
Having cleaned and tidied the mess as best as he could, he caught his reflection in a mirror, which had fallen from the wall – dust laden and cracked. His hair was long, longer than he appreciated.
Dumping the rubbish in the bin, he dusted off his hands and searched the house for a pair of scissors. Finding one in a drawer within the study, he stood before the mirror in the bathroom, carefully cutting his ebony hair to his desired length. A slow and arduous task, but once he saw that his chin length hair framed his face nicely, he stopped, admired himself for a moment and removed any evidence. Truthfully, for Cid, it felt like a fresh start. Years shed off from his face in an instant almost as if time had reversed and he was Brigadier General again – yet he knew by his garb and the fact that he felt like an intruder in his own home stated otherwise.
Having completed every task, the clock had reached half past five in the afternoon. Yaag should be home soon.
Wandering off into the kitchen, he decided to occupy himself and to start building a foundation between he and Yaag. Cid wasn't that bad of a cook, perhaps he should make something. There was no use in dwelling on the morbidity of the situation, but instead focus on what can be strengthened or rebuilt with each other. It was best to move on, forget about the sorrow for now, and go about as if their lives were normal and even perhaps, joyous.
Opening up the fridge and pantry earlier from his cleaning rendezvous, Cid came to know that there was very little that he could work with. Picking up some spaghetti, tinned tomatoes and a bit of parmesan, he decided on a simple pasta dish.
He was cleaning up, steam rising from the freshly cooked meal sitting on the table (Cid had already eaten his serve, unsure of how Rosch would take to the sharing of the same table), when the door opened and Yaag stepped into the house. He saw the change, the way everything seemed to gleam and sparkle from having been cleaned and tidied, but he said nought of it, made only a minute note of it, and with great indifference, he approached the table and eyed the meal sourly.
"Good afternoon, Yaag," Greeted Cid, having hastily been done with the dishes and had rapidly dried his hands, "How was your day?"
Rosch looked at him, face sullen and worn, tired he was, but also cold and bitter.
Sitting down, he should have wondered whether or not he had thrown the cyanide out and hidden the medicine well enough so that his 'companion' would be unable to find it (ironically, Cid had found it since the apartment had once been his), instead he couldn't care less. If he died from poisoning, he would not very much mind – what had he to live for anyway? In truth, he disliked following Dysley's orders - he felt trapped, but at the same time he fought for the people. Either way, his death or his living would bring about the same outcome – he would just be miserable anyway. Besides, if he died by Cid's antics, then, well, Cid would die by Dysley's antics.
Still standing in the kitchen doorway, Yaag's gaze remained locked on him, he smiled weakly and clasped his hands together, "I hope you like it. There wasn't very much that I could cook with."
Raising a brow and giving a small indifferent shrug of his shoulders, Rosch took his attention to his plate and after some swirling of the pasta, he ate in silence, not once paying any heed to Cid's presence.
"Could I get you anything to drink?" asked Cid, after just realising the absence of one.
"A glass of water," replied Yaag, not bothering to look at him
"I'll just go get that."
Heading back into the kitchen, Cid poured glass of water from a recently filled jug and placed it on the table beside his plate, "Here."
Without any recognition or expression of gratitude, he accepted the glass and went on with his meal.
Remembering something, Cid spoke up again, with hopes that he may not anger the other man, "Pardon me, but I hope you wouldn't mind. I couldn't find any cleaning products so I used a bottle of your vodka."
With a small smile and pleasant relief, "I'm sorry for any inconvenience." he apologised.
Yaag cast a glance his way, but it was simply that, a glance. To Cid, it raised his spirits – the man looked relaxed, pleased, but still cold and distrusting – though Cid knew, it was just in his nature though that glimmer of dislike – he could get past that.
Dinner had passed, and Yaag was back to his routine. Collapsing on the sofa, bottle of vodka in one hand and lit cigarette pressed to his lips.
Without a sigh or complaint, Cid went about his own duties and mind, cleaning up for the final time for that day, having a shower, and with one last glance at his former lover, he muttered a silent word of love, watching sadly the morbid figure staring at the broken screen, before retiring to the bedroom.
Settled comfortably beneath the covers, he worried for Yaag. He bestowed a growing concern for the soldier. He understood why there was the great distance between them, but he could not comprehend the detachment that Rosch had with life. The only attachment he had was the world in which he lives – a dying Cocoon. What the world bore, was reflecting strongly in him, as if he had become one with Cocoon.
Turning to his side, Cid smiled faintly. Yaag had been the only man who had not harmed him. He did not lay an unkind hand upon his flesh or vent vehement lusts on. He had a sense of respect it seemed, though that was what Cid hoped. He knew that Yaag only believed he to be a vile creature.
Fate was never kind to the pair.
As the clock proceeded in time, sleep failed to reach him. Getting up off the bed, it read eight minutes to midnight. He was unsettled, a strange knotting in his stomach with a weak pulsate clenched his innards. Wrenching open the wardrobe and pulling out a blanket, he left the room and visited Rosch.
A packet of cigarettes lay discarded on the floor, crumpled and useless, and a bottle of the man's favourite vodka sat, empty, in a cradle between waist and elbow. Pain struck Cid – he disliked this man that Rosch had become. When he had first met him, the man was refined, charming, but cold and introverted. He was interesting, fascinating, but that all fled from him and was left with the most unprofessional and uncouth dispositions in the man.
Laying the blanket over Rosch's awkward form, he pressed a kiss to his sweat slicken brow, eyes catching the brief grimace that flickered across the man's face. Yaag had once been a very handsome man – that had fled him too.
When morning had come, Cid awoke slowly, not wanting to have entered the life in which he leads. Sitting up in bed, he stretched briefly, ran a hand through his hair and headed for the bathroom.
Oh how he dreaded the mirror.
The night had given him little pleasant sleep. He was frequently woken by the slightest of sounds and sensations. Cid had worried, felt awkward and unfitting into this world, but he knew – he knew Yaag better than Dysley.
His restlessness showed. Darkness surrounded his eyes and his face felt thick and heavy. A splash of cold water brought some relief, but not enough for him to gather himself completely.
Stretching his arms above his head, he began to wander about the apartment. There was little for him to do, but two brown grocery bags on the kitchen table caught his eye. Pilfering through them, he came to discover that Yaag had gone out early and brought some food. With a smile on his face, he set everything in their rightful place, taking his time as he did so.
The hours went by slowly, leaving him to stray to the bookshelf that was no longer dusty. Running his fingers along the row of spines, he stopped against one that was worn with good use. Black leather and brass embellishments called out to him in a more than familiar voice. With a curious frown in his brow he pulled it out and held it in his hands.
The cover was plain, leather fastened by brass filigree. There were small speckles of a yellowing white where the leather had been chipped and scraped away with time. Wanting to open it to devour its contents, he was obstructed by a latch with a lock keeping the words inside a hidden secret. With a sigh he put the book back, but thought twice and pulled it out again, slapping it down on the kitchen table.
Would Yaag notice? Taking a butcher's knife from the drawer, he struck the locket and cleaved it in two. With a smile, he put the knife down, disposed of the lock and opened the book.
Cid Raines from 11th March, 2002.
He fell into a chair, eyes fixed upon the handwritten words. A finger traced the lines of each letter and for a brief moment, he saw a pen in his pale hand carefully engraving the letters as the train rattled along the tracks.
Turning the pages, the handwriting developed from neat little print to looping cursive. The dates were written up the top, some pages having multiple entries, others had ones that continued over to the next. He went back and forth through the book, not reading the words, but absorbing the atmosphere, the image of himself seated in various places: on missions, in his room, his office, transport, the outdoors, beneath a willow tree.
Cid stopped the rustling of the pages at the 29th of October, 2006. His hands shook, the papers flicking. His grip slackened and the book thudded on the table. A small drop of water landed on the date making the black ink blur into a deep violet. Pressing the heels of his palms to his eyes he heaved a shaky breath and quickly got up to pour himself a glass of water.
Hand slipping twice on the tap, he twisted it sharply. The water hissed and the sink echoed a roar as the stream came strong. He grabbed at the cabinet door and with trembling hands he grasped a glass. It fell from his unstable grip, hitting the floor with a loud shatter. Glass dispersed across the floor, spreading like the wings of a dying bird. He collapsed to his knees in shock, shards cutting into the flesh of his palms as he gathered the pieces. His eyes stung and his hands bled, his ears aching at the deafening drumming of the water. His pants tore, his skin ripped, breaths heaving as he choked on his sobs.
Falling backwards, he lay on the cold tiles feeling the warmth of his blood trickle from his wounds. There was little mercy, there was no mercy. He closed his eyes and relived that moment, that time when he had been so foolish, so naive and brought upon himself a nightmare.
Cid was young when he challenged the Sanctum and still young when he thought to bring down the Primarch Galenth Dysley. Oh how it failed.
His hand stung and he hissed sharply. No, the Sanctum had too much to pay for. Not again would he fall victim to their pitiful game.
After having cleaned the mess he made and tended to his wounds, he cooked a warm meal, one better than last time for dinner. The appetising smell had filled the entire apartment and Cid was very hopeful to see Yaag's reaction.
He checked the clock once and set the plates down. Taking a seat he anticipated the man's arrival in five or ten minutes, so he occupied himself with pouring drinks, straightening the table cloth and positioning the cutlery. The minutes were devoured by hours and Cid's optimism faded as he ate his cold meal alone, the clock on the wall being his company.
He washed up, worry making his insides coil unpleasantly. He had put Yaag's plate in the microwave to keep what little heat was left in it and sat on the couch keeping an eye to the clock and another to the door. The grey sky outside darkened significantly to an overwhelming sea of black.
Soon there was a series of thuds and low distant curses, both of which were growing louder. The door shook and Cid sensed something most definitely wrong. He approached the door, another loud thud rattling the door on its hinges and a key tapped against the doorknob, frustratingly missing the keyhole and the man swore on the other end. It went in after multiple attempts and the door banged open and swung closed behind Yaag. Bent over with a hand over his torso and bleeding between his fingers, Cid rushed to his aid.
"Fuckin' get out of my way!" roared the man, knocking him to the ground with a violent swing of his arm.
Cid hit the ground, and blood entered his throat as he coughed.
Rosch gave way on the couch, groaning loudly. He reached under the coffee table and pulled out a bottle of vodka, set it on the table and pulled out his pocketknife. Removing his hand, he hissed harshly and tore at his uniform.
Slowly, Cid stood, horror filling his golden eyes. There the mark was, resting on his shoulder like the weight of the world. It stared at Cid with distaste and disgust. Wanting so much to turn away, he could not.
There was too much of it, it dripped on the white carpet and slickened the leather of Rosch's gloves. The man's breaths were ragged and forced, face contorted in pain. Deftly he twisted the cap of the bottle, the smell of the alcohol not overpowering enough to mask the sickening scent of blood. The repulsion had Cid frozen, eyes wide as he watched the man pour the alcohol over his wounds.
He could have yelled in agony, instead his eyes were fastened closed, sweat sticking silver hair to his forehead as he bit on a sleeve of his uniform. Dropping the bottle on the floor, he swung open his pocketknife and stabbed into the gaping hollows in his skin. Flicking his wrist, flecks of metal tumbled across the coffee table and Cid took up the gruesome task of collecting the bloodied pieces.
When midnight came, Yaag ushered him away to his room, but Cid had not been able to sleep as the man continued to grunt and curse throughout the night and pieces of shrapnel chimed against the coffee table.
The following days did not fair too well either. When he cleaned the carpets free of blood, more would appear later in the day. It made him wonder, was Yaag always this careless in battle?
But the injuries only seemed to get worse.
There was a thump on the door and a string of curses. It was late, he should be home by six or seven, but it was ten at night on a Friday. This day will be no different, Cid thought, putting down the iron and hanging up Rosch's freshly pressed uniform.
"Open the fucking door!" he hollered on the other side and Cid jumped at the sound, carelessly flinging his hand onto the hot metal.
He bit his lip at the burning of his skin, but hastened to the door. Tumbling through the door, Yaag's face was deathly pale and he dyed the carpet crimson. His uniform from across his abdomen was torn cleanly, but hung with the heavy weight of blood.
"Bloody grunts," grumbled Rosch, barely able to steady himself, "Can't hold their weapons straight!"-
"Are you okay?" asked Cid, trying to see the full extent of his injuries.
Yaag scoffed, "Do I look okay to you?" he yelled.
He lost his balance and slumped against the wall, howling at the pain. Cid touched his hand gingerly, unsure of the man's actions, "Here, let me–"
"Don't touch me!"
The man swiped him hard across the face and hobbled over to the couch. Sinking in the softness he sighed and lit a cigarette.
Cid was bewildered. The man's being was far from stable – he was bleeding all over the floor! Yet there he was, cigarette to his lips and vodka in his hand. He had no clue on what to think of the man – resilient, audacious or just plain stupid?
Burning down his fag, Yaag complained and swayed, "Fucking medics. Too busy screwing around with each other to give a damn about me and I'm pissing blood everywhere!"
"You're home late." Cid reasoned, hands firmly on his lips.
"Ah, no shit!" cried Yaag, taking a swing from his bottle, "Fucking medics!"
His lilac eyes were bloodshot, his tongue slack as he spoke. Cid frowned, "You're drunk."
Slamming his bottle down on the table, sloshing alcohol over the table, he fixed his permanent glare on the other man, "What's it to you?"
Simply that it disappointed him to see the man he loved in such a lowly state, but instead he shook his head and curled his hands into fists, "Nothing...nothing at all."
"Then why give a damn if I die today or tomorrow, not like I care for myself anyway."
The words struck him, and the solidness in his face subsided, the colour becoming pallid. Did he truthfully say that?
"So you'd be happy...if you died?"
"I'd sure as hell be glad!" he laughed a morbid laugh, "What's there to live for anyway, huh?"
Cid's eyes fell to the ground – his world, his life was pointless without him. Yet he desired to die. That was not right. His heart clenched and he wanted so much to hold Yaag, to kiss him, to tell him of the lies and the deceit that the Sanctum has placed upon this world. Instead, he knew he could not do such and he nursed the biting burn on his hand.
Yaag smirked, "Oh, you're just worried. Worried that you'll be sent off to some other guy's place and he'll make you play wife, right?"
He laughed loudly and proceeded to drink, all the while his blood spilled onto the floor.
Cid felt small, his voice weak and nothing more than a whisper, "I care for you."
A tear formed in the corner of his eye, not from the burn on his hand, but another one. It trickled down his cheek, unattended to, and rolled off his chin, staining a line down his shirt.
"Care for me?" Rosch chuckled and Cid did not look up, "You care for me?" the volume of his mocking grew into a great guffaw, "You're too funny, Cid! Too funny!"
Raines looked up at him, livid. He marched towards him and struck him hard across the face, head flashing sharply to the side with a satisfying crack. He then fled from the room and slammed the bedroom door, hand not failing to lock it.
He could hear the man swearing, but he ignored it and flushed his hand with cold water in the bathroom. He was hurting, inside and outside. Looking into the mirror, he felt the deepest of guilt settle in his bowels like a ball of lead. It worsened his depressive state and he began to mindlessly wander about his room before taking a shower and settling beneath his sheets.
His eyes remained wide, and he watched the ceiling. A cobweb spiralled around the base of the light fixture, Cid mildly admiring the intricate work of the arachnid. He worried without tire and thought back to the blood.
Is Yaag going to be okay? How hurt is he? Does he need medical attention? Why is he not attending to himself? I can't hear him, is he asleep or has he fainted from loss of blood?
Hours shed languorously. Cid soon found himself up and out of bed, made a dash for the first aid kit in the bathroom and a grab for the torch in the top drawer in his room, then quietly rushed to Yaag's side.
The couch was smeared in red, the brown leather darkening and the stench vile. Taking a seat and feeling the red soak through his shirt, he held back a moan of sorrow and swept the bottles and cancer sticks off the coffee table, laying out the necessary items onto it. He tucked the torch in the crook of his arm, flicked it on and immediately set to work.
He cut up the uniform and exposing the gaping wound running full across from right hip to the opposite side of his torso level with his sternum. Cleaning the wound carefully with alcohol and a square of cotton gauze, he watched the man's face, not even the slightest twitch appeared on his face, nor any sign of pain.
Yaag had passed out.
With little that he could do, he snatched up thread and needle, poking through his flesh and pulling the string taut. His work was lethargic, done with care, hoping to himself that he will survive. And with each stitch, he winced with pain remembering what it felt like to have his skin tugged together and a metal instrument stabbing through his wound.
For a moment he saw Rygdea, face contorted in agonizing pain while he pulled a string stained in the darkest red. Memories of his most loyal companion were best forgotten as string and silver would not be enough to have him jubilant and lively by his side.
Done with his work, he bit off the end and put his instruments away.
There was no question to what prompted his actions. He kissed his cheek and wrapped a bloodied arm around him. He still felt safest in his arms.
Even in knowing that Yaag desired his death.
Reviews are nice. Sorry for the delayed update.