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Morning After

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Waking up someplace odd was not new for Cid Highwind. Even before he'd taken up with Cloud's little army, because of his tendency to work (and drink) until he collapsed, he'd woken up in his share of odd places: the floor, the backyard, the cockpit of the Tiny Costa del Sol...when the party had been in Rocket Town.... So, the fact that the light was hitting his closed eyelids from the wrong angle and the bed was softer than he was used to wasn't immediately alarming. Even the warmth and weight of another body in bed with him, arm over his chest and head against his shoulder, wasn't all that strange. He was warm and dry and not sleeping in the middle of some damned field somewhere, and that was good enough for him.

Reassured, Cid stretched his legs out a bit in bed and shifted, trying to ease away from something hard that was pressed up against his right side, from shoulder blade to hip, almost underneath him. The body next to him stirred, and the something hard twitched and stirred with it.

That was odd. Cid opened an eye to look over at his bedmate.

He saw dark hair and a black-clothed arm over his chest. The hand at the end of it was pale and long-fingered but definitely male.

Cid froze. His eyes fought with the sunshine to pick out details of the room. His brain, not at its best on any morning after, eventually came up with the helpful bit of information that this was not his hotel room. The fact that a red cloak was thrown over the bedside chair and Death Penalty was lying on the nightstand cinched it.

Oh, shit.

The something hard he was half lying on was Vincent's claw arm.

Oh, shit.

Cid closed his eyes again, trying to remember last night. He remembered Cloud's wedding and most of the reception. He remembered repeatedly spiking Vincent's punch glass. He remembered Vincent, after the equivalent of about five shots, finally catching him, confiscating his flask and promptly, with a smirk, emptying it into the rest of the punchbowl while Cid nearly laughed himself sick.

What did we do after that? We bullshitted with Barrett for awhile. Vince kept me from getting into a fight with that shit Reno. Christ, I was so drunk. We went outside after that, didn't we? Because it was hot?

He remembered, vaguely, lying down in the cool, wet grass and refusing to get up. He remembered Vincent finally giving up and sitting down next to him, and the moonlight being bright enough to make his skin glow against the dark night.

"Ya don't haveta stay out here with me, Vince. G'won inside."

"And leave you out here to get eaten by some passing monster? I don't think so."

"I can take anythin' that comes aroun' here, ya know that!"

A soft snort. "When you're sober. I doubt you could remember which end of your spear to use now. And it's inside, anyway."

"Hey! S'yer fault." He leveled a finger at the other man. "Yer the one that spiked the rest of the punch!"

A wry smile, but the sarcasm was milder than usual. "And I forced you to drink it, I know. Held you down and absolutely made you."

Blink. And the words went straight out his mouth, bypassing his brain completely. "Wouldja like to?"

The silence was huge, and he wanted to bite off his own tongue, the fact that he really shouldn't have said that to his mostly-I-think straight friend--no matter how much he wanted to jump his bones--finally seeping through the alcohol. All prayers that Vincent might have not heard or interpreted it differently were smashed as Vincent turned to look hard at him. Cid flopped onto his back, groaning, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes, trying to think of some way to salvage the situation.

A shift beside him, and a gloved hand and a metal one encircled his wrists, pulling his hands away from his face, and he opened his mouth, willing the apology to just come out and get this over with.

The apology got lost somewhere when Vincent's lips came down on his.

He tasted like vodka and apple juice, and his kiss was surprisingly firm, his tongue slipping inside Cid's open mouth before he could even think, his gloved hand sliding gently down Cid's cheek to rest against his neck. The pilot quickly found his few remaining wits scattering into the night at the feel of that hand through the supple leather and the soft sweep of his hair against his cheek and the utterly surprising skill of it all. A soft, hungry sound escaped from his throat, his hands coming up, hesitating just a little before they touched the soft curtain of hair, just the smallest bit afraid that to touch would make this all disappear like a smoke dream....

Vincent pulled away just a bit, just enough to breathe against his lips, "We shouldn't do this."

The words didn't register. Cid moved forward by reflex, like a plant moving to the sun, and made a frustrated noise when Vincent held him back, shaking his head and repeating, "No. We shouldn't...."

Cid found his voice, even rougher than usual. "Why?"

"We're drunk--"

Cid almost laughed. "So?"

Vincent's voice started to edge back to its usual sharpness, his eyes narrowing. "So I don't want to wake up tomorrow and have you not remember this."

Cid shook his head, and his hand slid up to trace aimless, wondering patterns against Vincent's cheek with the pad of his thumb. "I won't. I'll remember this." He moved forward again and Vincent let him this time. "How could I forget this?" And this time, he kissed Vincent.

And evidently that was the point at which those last three glasses of champagne had caught up with him, because he remembered very little after that: warmth, comfort, pleasure, but no clear memories.

It's not, he assured himself over his pounding heart, that he'd never been in this situation before. It's just that his partner had never before been capable of shooting him dead or crushing whatever part of his anatomy he found most offensive. Cid felt like throwing himself out the window, or maybe shooting himself with Death Penalty. Both were probably preferable to what Vincent was going to do to him when he woke up.

Which it looked like he was going to do rather soon. Vincent's hand against his chest flexed, and he stirred, trying, from the way his weight moved (quite nicely) against Cid, to roll over and coming fully awake when he was thwarted by Cid's body. His eyes opened and, with a muttered curse, immediately shut again against the sunlight. He pulled his hand off Cid's chest to rub at his temples. "This," he muttered, "is all your fault." When Cid didn't reply, the gunman cautiously cracked an eye open to glance at him.

Cid wasn't sure what kind of look had been on his face. Probably something guilty. Whatever it was, it was evidently about the worst thing for him to let Vincent see. As Vincent's eyes narrowed and he sat up in bed, Cid noticed two things: first, that Vincent was still clothed, and second, that he was pissed. The hissed "I knew this was a bad idea" as he threw back the covers and stood only confirmed it.

"Wait...." Cid moved to grab his arm, missed, and started fighting with the tangled covers. By the time he'd extricated himself from the sheets and gotten to his feet (and found himself also clothed in pants and shirt), Vincent had made it to his cloak but was merely standing there with his head down, eyes closed, gripping the back of the chair as if for balance.


"Go away, Highwind," was the strained response.

Cid scrubbed a hand over his face, feeling the beginnings of a truly massive headache starting to pound on the back of his head. "Look. I'm an asshole. I'm the biggest asshole in the world, I admit it. I don't remember...." He hesitated as the chair underneath Vincent's claw creaked alarmingly and his other hand went white-knuckled against the wood. "....I'm sorry, I'm a jerk. Please don't be mad."

"I'm not angry at you because you can't remember, Highwind. I'm angry because you woke up and looked at me like I was a tarantula in your bed."

Cid furrowed his brow. That's what he's pissed about? "What? No...I was just surprised, is all." He eased forward a step, wanting to touch, to wrap his arms around, but half-sure that he'd lose a hand if he tried it. "I remember bein' outside. I remember...kissin' you. What happened....?"

Vincent's shoulders sagged a bit, some of the tension running out of them. He lifted his hand off the chair to squeeze the bridge of his nose, and it occurred to Cid that Vincent was probably almost as hung over as he was. "You almost passed out, that's what happened. I had to practically carry you back here."

"Then we didn't...."

"No. Don't worry, Highwind, the worst you did was refuse to sleep unless you were wrapped around me."

Unfortunately, the bitterness went right over Cid's head, and he heaved a sigh of relief. "Thank the gods-"

CRACK! The three-inch thick back of the chair splintered under Vincent's claw, and his eyes narrowed again, dangerously this time. "Fuck you." He grabbed his cloak and turned towards the door.

"Vince!" Cid managed to catch his arm this time and, after being expertly shaken off, did the only thing that he could think of: he wrapped his arms around Vincent's torso. "Goddammit, that wasn't what I meant!"

"Let. Go. Of me." Cold metal closed in an unbreakable grip around one wrist, squeezing in obvious threat.

Standing this close for the first time, Cid realized that they were just the right heights for him to murmur right in Vincent's ear. "Go ahead. Break my arm. Break every bone in my body, I don't care, but I'm not lettin' you walk out of here mad at me."

The grip on his wrist didn't loosen, but it didn't break anything, either. Cid took that as permission to continue.

"I'm glad nothin' happened because...because if it did I wanted to remember it." The promised headache was beginning to wake up and have babies, and Cid shut his eyes, finding that that helped. Resting his forehead on Vincent's shoulder helped even more, even though said shoulder was still tense as a drawn spring. "Shit. I was just surprised. I never thought that you'd want to...with me. That's all. It was just a bit of a shock to find you"--right where I wanted you to be--"curled up next to me."

Some of the tension went out of Vincent's body. His voice was quiet. "Why wouldn't I want you?"

Cid grumbled unintelligibly into the captured shoulder.

"What was that?"


Cid felt the sigh through his arms. "Cid, if you don't speak up, I'm going to find that spear of yours and shove it up your ass."

If I wasn't practically whispering this in his ear, I'd feel awfully stupid. Hell, I'd feel awfully stupid saying this to his face. "Because you're smart and together and fucking beautiful, and I'm just a bitter, scruffy old bastard."

Vincent tried to move, and Cid tightened his grip, not sure what he wanted to do but not entirely sure it didn't include either leaving or beating the shit out of him. "Cid, let me go. I'm not going anywhere."

Warily, Cid let go, and Vincent turned to look at him. Cid resisted the urge to squirm like a green recruit under the scrutiny of those red eyes. Finally, the gunman's lips quirked in the smallest of smiles. He held up his claw, flexing the fingers lightly. "You think I'm beautiful?"

Cid didn't even look at it. "Hell...." Tentatively, he pulled Vincent into his arms again, and felt something in his chest loosen when, after the tiniest of hesitations, Vincent's arms came up across his back. "Fuck, yeah. You're the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long damned time."

Vincent didn't say anything, merely sighed and leaned down the few inches to rest his forehead on Cid's shoulder.

After a moment, Cid mumbled, still resting his head against Vincent's shoulder, "My head feels like it's gonna split open."

Vincent didn't raise his head. "So does mine, and I repeat: all your fault."

"So...ah...mind if I borrow your bed some more?"

Vincent's tone was almost, but not quite, grumpy. "What's wrong with your bed?"

"Yeah, like I could find it."

The gunman raised his head and backed away, his lips quirking as he headed back towards the bed. "Fine."

Almost grinning, Cid stalked over to the window and pulled the curtains to block out the damned sunlight before sliding back under the covers. Tentatively, he scooted closer to Vincent, then, heartened by the lack of threats to shoot him, inched closer still. He almost jumped when Vincent muttered, "Highwind, will you just get over here and settle down?"

Never one to turn down an offer like that, Cid spooned up behind him, his arm worming its way around the gunman's waist. Vincent laid his own arm over Cid's, his hand resting, with ever-so-slight an affectionate squeeze, over the pilot's knuckles. With as contented a sigh as he could manage when his skull seemed to be in danger of cracking in half, Cid captured Vincent's fingers in his.

"And Cid?" Vincent murmured as he settled his claw arm more comfortably under his pillow.


"If you ever put anything in my drink again, I'm going to kill you."

"Mmmmm." Cid tugged his pillow down into a more comfortable position and buried his face in Vincent's warm back. "Gotcha."