Disclaimer: I do not own FFVII

Summary: In which Cid envies Sephiroth's ability to fly. Part of the Redeeming Features series.

The sound of footsteps echoed softly in the deserted corridor as their owner made his way quietly through the airship.

Sephiroth sighed inaudibly, hoping any of the other occupants of the Shera would not awaken. Hostilities had died down significantly, but not to the point where his wandering alone at night would not be seen as suspicious. He wouldn't have left his room at all if he hadn't been unable to sleep, and finally becoming restless enough to decide to take a walk in hopes of clearing his mind enough to fall asleep.

It wouldn't do to run into the Captain.

When Reeve had requested Cid's services in flying a group of WRO representatives to Costa del Sol for an impromptu series of peace talks, the chain-smoking pilot hadn't hesitated to acquiesce. Sephiroth had not missed the sidelong glance directed toward him afterward, although this was the only sign of discomfort Cid showed, for which he was grateful.

He was willing to give him a chance.

It was peculiar, from what he had seen Cid Highwind had to be one of the most opinionated men he had ever met, even for someone who had worked closely with Genesis, and had something to say about everything and anything.

Sephiroth seemed to be an exception, and he couldn't have minded less, though it did make him wonder what was going on behind those blue eyes when the opinions of the others were so very clear.

He thought about turning back, attempting to go to sleep again, then realized it wouldn't help. It was his own unease in this unfamiliar and unfriendly setting that kept him from relaxing, and he wished fervently that he didn't have to accompany Reeve in the morning, for even with the fatigue staving properties of mako, he would not be in top form after a nights missed rest.

Sephiroth kept walking, and was too lost in thought to realize that his traitorous feet had led him to the door of the ships kitchen until he was standing outside it. He nearly turned around, and then considered that a drink of water might do something to alleviate his insomnia. Anything could help by this point. He entered the room.

Somebody was already there.

His enhanced senses caught the sound of shallow breathing, and a lingering afterthought of smoke. Sephiroth wanted to groan aloud, or beat a hasty retreat, but could do neither, with Cid Highwind staring blankly at him from where he sat at the table, silhouetted in the early morning light filtering in as he nursed a cup of tea and a glowing cigarette stub.

About to apologise, the blonde cut him off.

"Yer up early. Or couldn't you sleep?" Cid rasped, seemingly not surprised by Sephiroth's appearance "Pull up a chair, I'm about to make some more tea,"

Sephiroth did as he was bidden reluctantly, feeling it to be the diplomatic thing to do under the circumstances.

Cid tended to the whistling kettle and whistled a tuneless jingle with it as he brewed the tea. The scent was soothing, and unwillingly he felt the tension bleed out of him. This wouldn't be so hard, unless Highwind intended to poison him, and he had lived through more than enough that tolerating fifteen minutes of sharing pleasantries with someone he wasn't sure where he stood with wouldn't kill him again.

"There ye go," Cid grinned, bringing a steaming mug for each of them. He murmured thanks as the pilot took a long draught and sat back in his chair, eyes closed in contentment and a half smile playing around his mouth. Sephiroth took the opportunity to sneak a surreptitious sniff of the drink, and finding it devoid of any odorous poisons at least, decided to take his chances.

It was properly brewed, steeped long enough and the flavour untainted save for a dash of milk. Not only could the man work miracles with machinery, he could also make a damn good cup of tea, if he didn't say so himself, though he may indeed have done, he speculated humorously.

"That okay?" Cid asked gruffly. Sephiroth startled.

"Yes, thank you," he murmured. The pilot barked a laugh.

"'At's good, ye looked like ye needed one," he said unnecessarily, leading Sephiroth to wonder if he was expected to reply to this. If he didn't know better, he might think the other man was trying to strike up a conversation.

He quirked a brow. "I look tired?"

Cid snorted. "No, ye look like me, I can' sleep either."

A strange silence fell, and Sephiroth wondered distantly what it was about the habitually coarse captain that unbalanced him so. Perhaps it because he had expected some sort of confrontation, a venomous reprimand about respecting personal space perhaps, even though technically the whole ship was his personal space. But here they were, companionably drinking tea and if it could be titled that, chatting.

"Mornings I woke before the rest, I used ta come in here, watch the sun rise," Cid said quietly, and Sephiroth looked outside to see the faint beginnings of light start to illuminate the tops of the clouds. It was going to be a beautiful dawn.

"I envy you, ye know," the other man said unexpectedly, and the ex-general was sure that his disbelief showed on his face as the pilot continued.

"All that time when we were fighting you, or that bitch Jenova I guess, I always wondered what it would have been like to really fly," Cid murmured wistfully.

Sephiroth gazed at him in wonder, considering that in the midst of all that fighting and bloodshed, someone had found something in his monstrous form to feel envious of.

Finally feeling it was his turn to contribute, he spoke. "I always hated them, even when there was only one," he admitted "they were unnatural, and a reminder that at that time Hojo was still free to do whatever he wanted with me. I never accepted them enough to enjoy being able to use them." Inconceivable though it was, divulging these intensely personal thoughts didn't seem wrong, not here. There was something about Highwind that encouraged you to trust him.

When he looked back at Cid, he was afraid that he would find revulsion or worse, pity in his expression but instead he looked thoughtful.

"Didn't think of it that way, though I didn't know ye back then, I guess," he shrugged "I just saw those wings and well, every pilot worth his salt wishes he could really fly without a machine."

Sephiroth considered this. Wings were symbols of liberty, not to him personally, but to many they represented the freedom to go where you wanted and leave the world behind. But inevitably, you would always have to come back to earth, no matter how long you flew. It was the inescapable flaw in the dream, you would be forced to land, and imprisoned there once more.

"Is that why you built your airships?" he asked. Cid nodded, producing a fresh cigarette and lighting up. He offered him one, and Sephiroth politely declined. Even though he was tolerant of the scent, actually smoking them was more than his heightened senses could take, when he was able to taste every carcinogenic in its composition.

"Yeah, when old Shinra cut the space program, I knew this was the closest to the stars I was goin' ta get," he sighed.

Sephiroth considered this. While had heard the name 'Highwind' being thrown about in connection to the space program, he hadn't known how personally invested the pilot had been in its success. An idea came to him, and he voiced it before all the possible repercussions could rise up and stop him.

"Mr. Highwind…" he began.

"Cid, call me Cid damn it! Mr. Highwind was my old man, when he lived," the blonde interrupted. Sephiroth almost rolled his eyes, and then decided that a less formal relationship would not go amiss, in lieu of what he was about to suggest.

"Cid, might I make an offer? You have no reason to trust me, though I hope to change that someday. If that day ever comes, then I'll show what its like to fly, if you wish," he finished, anticipating a variety of reactions. Outrage, embarrassment, yelling, nothing that involved Cid actually accepting his offer.

The blonde stared at him for a full minute before he answered, not noticing that in his stupor, the butt of the cigarette clamped between his teeth had gone out. Finally, he plucked it from his lips and flicked it into the overfilling ashtray. Oblivious as Cid was to his anxiety, he took his time in answering.

"That day might come sooner than you think, I don' make tea for everybody ye know," he chuckled, and Sephiroth understood what he hadn't before. This whole had been so Cid could pass his own judgement on him as a person, not the creature they had known before he was reborn. Apparently he had passed some unspoken test.

He lifted his cup in a mock toast. "Until that day then."

Cid gave a sharks grin. "And for now, jus' drink yer damn tea."

Outside, the dawn broke crimson and gold.