This is an extended version of a much shorter drabble I wrote, but never posted, about a year ago. The basic concept is the same, but the theme and the ending is a little bit different. Needless to say, these two are my OTP of this fandom. 8D

Disclaimer: Final Fantasy is the property of Square Enix.


Burning Bridges

It's one of the very last times Raines sees Rygdea when the other man confronts him in his office, shoving him hard enough against the wall that Raines winces as something cracks behind him.

"You tell me what the fuck is goin' on," he spits. "Now."

He's right up close in his face, so close that Raines can smell the slightly acrid odour of his last cigarette on his breath. Raines can tell from his rigid posture, hand wrapped tightly around the collar of his uniform, that Rygdea's not going to take no for an answer anymore.

Everything's too changed between them now, too strained. Raines looks into Rygdea's deep blue eyes staring back at him with so many swirling emotions – anger, confusion, sadness, resentment – and for one devastating heart-stopping moment he almost blurts out everything in a cathartic rush, eager to be rid of all the secrets he's been keeping hidden away from the world; but he can't bring himself to do it. Rygdea won't understand. Rygdea would forgive him for so many things, but he'll never forgive him for this.

There was a time when he would have never lied to Rygdea, back when he was still fighting for something; now he finds himself lying through his teeth to the only person who's ever really meant anything to him. And what choice does he have? He and Rygdea had shared a vision once, a dream of toppling the rule of the fal'Cie and giving the citizens of Cocoon back their right to rule themselves – to cut loose the strings of the puppet masters. Now he has become one of those puppets he sought to free, dancing on a string, a slave to the very ones he sought to usurp. Everything has become nothing but lies and it kills him because Rygdea has no idea what he's become and what he's been forced to do.

"There's nothing going on," he finally replies, calmly, though his nerves are on fire.

Rygdea's too close, too still, staring at him hard with those eyes. It puts Raines on edge because Rygdea's always been so hard to lie to – the only reason he's managed so well this far is because betraying everyone he's ever loved and facilitating the destruction of the only place he's ever called home is busy work and it keeps him away more often than not.

Rygdea's not fooled.

"Bullshit," he says just as calmly, but Raines can tell from the trembling of his hands that he's anything but.

Raines doesn't acknowledge the comment either way, just stands there in silence as Rygdea stares at him, blue eyes deep and piercing, accusing, as he waits for Raines to say something, anything. He's fully prepared for Rygdea to hit him in frustration when he refuses to speak, but Rygdea surprises him by slumping against him instead, almost as if in defeat. There's only so long he can play this game.

"Everyone's worried about you," he whispers, his long-haired head resting against Raines' narrow chest. In happier times Rygdea would have complained in good humour that Raines was just too goddamn tall, but those times are gone now; neither of them are in the mood for jokes.

"I'm worried about you," he continues, his voice dropping to an almost desperate whisper.

"You've changed so much, Cid. Don't let anyone get too close anymore – won't let me get close anymore and you won't tell me why."

Raines starts; it's one of the rare times Rygdea has ever called him Cid. It's always been one of the interesting things about Rygdea. Despite his rough and mostly care-free attitude Rygdea had always insisted on sticking with formalities, always calling him Raines even when they were alone. When things between them had eventually become intimate Rygdea had continued to call him Raines, partly out of habit, but mostly because – as he had admitted one night after a few too many drinks with a redness to his face that had to do with more than just alcohol – he liked the sound of it; "reminds me of spring," he had said. Raines never really minded either way.

Hearing 'Cid' from Rygdea's lips usually translated to goddamn-it-you-better-take-me-seriously-now-or-I'll-fucking-gut-you with an icy cold glare from the man that matched that exact sentiment. It sounds off now, and Raines realizes it's because it's so strange hearing it spoken so softly with Rygdea's head pressed against his chest. It throws him off, makes him forget for a moment that he's dragging them both down into something they should have never been a part of.

"Hell," Rygdea says as he pulls away a few inches, letting out a bitter laugh that sounds too cold and foreign coming from him. "We don't even fuck anymore." He's wearing a small grin on his face, a sad little thing with no warmth behind it.

"Don't be so crude," Raines says, but there's no admonishment in his voice. As much as he hates to admit it he misses Rygdea as much as Rygdea misses him. He wishes things could be like the used to, but it can't be like that anymore. Rygdea means far too much to him for Raines to allow him to get any more involved with him than he already is. It's for the best, he has to keep reminding himself, repeating it over and over inside his head like a mantra; convince himself that it's true, because he knows that if he doesn't he'll find his way back to Rygdea's bed in a heartbeat.

It has to end. There is no alternative. He's already betrayed him, betrayed everyone; he's led the lambs to the slaughter, sacrifices, the unwilling pawns of the very fal'Cie they sought to depose. Raines knows that when – when, not if –Rygdea finally learns the truth, it will probably kill them both. For now all he can do is drive Rygdea away and hope that somehow, by some miracle, he will manage to survive. He's always been a survivor, Raines reassures himself.

"I miss you," Rygdea whispers, and Cid feels something inside of him break – a deep wrenching pain that pulls his heart into two. He knows that he has to go through with this; end it once and for all. It pains him like nothing else, a red-hot blade scorching the tattered pieces of his insides – the part of him that used to be human.

"There is nothing between us, Captain. Do not mistake a few romps between the sheets as something more than that."

The words that come out his mouth are so final, so callous, that Raines can barely manage not to cringe as he speaks them. Rygdea opens and closes his mouth in a rare moment of speechlessness, cold shock spreading through him like a sudden splash of cold water; it's only through sheer instinct that he manages to catch Raines' arm and slam him back up against the wall as he tries to push past him, unable to look into those blue eyes and see all the hurt and betrayal he knows he'll find there. Just wait until he knows what you truly are, he can't help but think, just imagine all the betrayal you'll see then.

"Don't lie to me, you bastard," Rygdea hisses; for a moment Raines can see panic flicker through his gaze, the grip tightens on his collar – the next moment Rygdea's lips are crashing against his own, frantic, needy; the weight of Rygdea's lean body keeps Raines pinned. It's a side of Rygdea he's only rarely experienced before; raw, desperate, scared – afraid to lose everything that had once been so real between them. Raines feels the roughness of the kiss, the gentle pain as Rygdea bites at his lip, and for some strange reason he can only think back to when Barthandelus turned him into a l'Cie; the fiery pain, the emptiness, the nothingness that followed. It's the same strange sense of detachedness that washed over him, he realizes, as everything human in him had been torn out and twisted into something monstrous.

The moment sours. That sense of detachedness consuming him as Rygdea kisses him, perverting everything he might have loved once. But there is nothing now. There can only be nothing. All his love, everything he's ever been and hoped to be, died the moment he was branded with the mark of the fal'Cie; died along with the human inside of him.

Rygdea finally pulls away, the desperate look in his eyes replaced with something more familiar; hurt and anger.

"Look me in the eye and tell me that meant nothin'," he dares, "tell me that I mean nothin' to you."

Raines reaches out and gently grasps Rygdea's chin in his hand, drawing him close as if to kiss him. He feels as if he's watching himself from behind glass, removed and detached, feeling as if his limbs are no longer his own. He watches his thumb with interest as it moves almost as if by its own accord and brushes Rygdea's lower lip, watches as the palm of his hand scratches against stubble. For a brief moment Rygdea looks relieved, that boyish grin twitching at the very corners of his mouth – but then Raines' fingers press hard into his skin, fingernails digging deep crescent-shaped marks; so hard that Rygdea hisses and tries to struggle away as Raines draws blood. Raines holds him tight in his grip, regarding him impassively as if he is nothing more than a nuisance. He pulls him closer, watching as those eyes widen with fear and then narrow with the dark passion of hatred. Only a foreshadow of what is to come, Raines knows.

Good, he thinks. Hate me.

"You mean nothing to me," he whispers coldly. "You have never meant anything to me."

He shoves Rygdea away roughly, driving the man back a few steps. This time when Raines goes to push past him, Rygdea doesn't bother to stop him.