Cid heard a noise and reached out to grab the Venus Gospel. The familiar weapon almost tingled in his palm as he closed his fist around it. Tugging a cigarette from the box he had tucked in the strap of the flight goggles he wore on his head, he stuck it in the corner of his mouth and lit up. After taking a couple minutes to enjoy his smoke he decided to go investigate. It was probably just a small enemy who had managed to slip aboard the Highwind. Cid would make the creature pay. No one, but no one, would hurt his precious baby. He looked at the Venus Gospel fondly. It was his third most prized possession, after Shera and the Highwind. Cid examined the weapon and wondered if he could perhaps fit a picture of his bikini goddess on it somewhere. Cid forgot about his musings and crept down the hallway. He heard another noise behind the door to the main part of the ship and tightened his grip on the spear as he prepared to run it through whatever waited behind the door. Cid decided there was no sense in risking his own skin and shoved his spear forward right through the door. He felt it strike tough muscle and twisted it viciously. There was a low growl from the other side of the door and Cid suddenly had an awful feeling. Jerking his spear back, he bent and peered through the hole the spear had left. "Oh shit " Cid whispered as he saw a powerful torso with blackish purple skin, stretched tight over rippling muscles. Cid took off down the hallway at a sprint as a clawed hand tore through the door. Chaos ripped the door all the way off its hinges, red eyes glowing with a maniacal light. Cid knew his chances of outrunning the beast were slim to nil as Chaos was rapidly gaining. He felt a rush of air as Chaos slashed at his back with a claw. Cid quickly realized his situation was near hopeless when he did finally feel needle-sharp claws rake his back. He tripped forward and rolled to the left, just barely fitting underneath one of the engines. The pilot squirmed as far back from Chaos as he could, pressing his bleeding back against the wall. He closed his eyes tightly as Chaos growled again and swiped his claws in an attempt to reach him. Thankfully they fell short, though it was still close. Cid reached into his pocket and pulled out an orb of materia. Bolt would probably do it. He wasnt sure what element Chaos was, but he prayed to his bikini goddess that the lightning wouldnt strengthen it.
"Sorry, Vincent " Cid muttered as he unleashed Bolt 3. There was an almost blinding flash of light in the confined space and the thunder from being this close to the bolt nearly deafened Cid. Above the ringing in his ears he heard a roar of rage and pain. He thought he heard a leathery flutter of wings and half hoped that Chaos had left for good. Cid started to crawl out from under the engine, but then decided it would probably be better for him to stay where it was relatively safe to await the return of Cloud and the others.
"I wonder where Cid is " Shera said, glancing around the deck of Highwind. "Youd think he would be done in the engine room by now."
"Well, maybe he ran into some complications," Cloud suggested.
"Come on, Shera, well go down to the engine room and get him " Tifa ran ahead down the stairs to the lower level with Shera close behind.
"Red, come help me find Vincent," Lyria instructed, leading the way down the same staircase Tifa and Shera had taken. At the bottom it split off into two hallways and Lyria headed left. Red followed a ways behind Lyria at his own sedate pace. Out of habit and perhaps an innate cautiousness Red lifted his muzzle and lightly sniffed the air. He caught the scent of blood. In a wave of panic he breathed deeper. It wasnt human blood.
"Lyria!" Red raced down the hallway in the grip of sudden, deathly fear for his friends safety.
"Tifa!" Shera screamed, staring horrified at a small trail of blood in the middle of the floor.
"Shera? Whats wrong?" Tifa skidded to a halt behind the scientist and looked where she was pointing a trembling finger. "Oh no "
Shera ran down the hallway towards the engine room. "Cid!"
"Shera, wait!" Tifa called after her friend, fighting down a momentary fear and entering the main engine room. To her extreme relief Shera was kneeling down on the ground next to one of the engines where Cid was just pulling himself out.
"Cid!" Tifa cried, helping the pilot out from under the machine. "What happened?"
"Chaos. I guess Vincent couldnt control it "
Shera gave a soft scream when she saw Cids back. "Oh no! Are you all right?" She brushed her fingers against the bloody tatters of what was once Cids flight jacket.
"Yeah, Im fine, just a couple scratches, Lyriall patch me up and Ill be fine " Cid looked slightly worried for a moment. "Speaking of patching up, has anyone seen Vincent? When he came after me I sorta stabbed him and hit him with Bolt 3 "
"Uh oh " Tifa looked around in sudden fear. "We better go find him two of the last things we need are a badly wounded Vincent or a mildly wounded and angry Chaos "
"Lets hurry, come on, Cid." Shera helped Cid to his feet and the three rushed to the upper decks to warn the others.
"Ergh just being on this stupid ship turns my stomach " Yuffie whined.
"I know how you feel, I wasnt sure I could handle it, being on this flying tub after two years of having my feet firmly on the ground. And to make things worse, the morning after we got on the airship, Lyria made this huge breakfast " Cloud looked slightly green at the memory of the food.
"Ooooh, evil creature " Yuffie muttered, making a mental note to avoid Lyria at all costs.
"Thats where youre wrong. Shes a wonderful person." Clouds face nearly shone with gratitude. "She gave me these." Cloud produced the small bottle of white pills from his pocket.
"Whatre they?" Yuffie looked curiously at the rather plain looking pills.
"Theyre gold, Yuffie. Youve been wasting your time with materia. These are worth more than all the materia in the world."
"Yuffie, they cure motion sickness! Ive been eating and sleeping and even reading!"
"No way! They cant!" Yuffie exclaimed, though her voice sounded excitedly hopeful.
"They do. Look at me, Ive been taking them for a day and I feel so good."
"Can I have a couple?"
"Sure, spread the wealth I always say, Ill give you two to take now and you can ask Lyria for another bottle later."
"Thanks, Cloud. I think Ill go worship the ground Lyria walks on now "
"Vincent?" Lyria half stepped into the darkened room.
"Leave," the voice was quiet and strained.
"What? Vincent, whats wrong?" Lyria stepped all the way in and opened the door fully. Vincent was sitting on the bed, pressing his claw against his bloody right side and holding his gun loosely in the other. "What happened?"
"No. Are you hurt? Let me help."
"Im serious Lyria, stay away from me " There was an insistent note about his tone now and Lyria almost felt compelled to leave. Her eyes fell to the gun he held in one hand and the fearful, yet icily determined look in his eyes.
"Vincent " Lyrias eyes widened as she realized what his plans were. "Vincent, no "
"I killed an ally, Lyria."
"I dont know how it happened Chaos hit once and I stopped it but it hit again and " Vincent closed his eyes and lowered his head.
"Maybe you didnt "
"I woke up covered in blood."
"In case you havent noticed, youre bleeding maybe its yours "
"No. No one attacks Chaos and lives. I must have "
"You dont know that for sure."
"Just leave me Lyria. Ill end it. Ill make it stop "
"No. Please, Vincent. Your life may not mean much to you but its becoming very important to me "
"What?" This time Lyria could hear confusion and disbelief in his quiet voice.
"I I dont know this has never happened before " Lyria took the opportunity to walk forward a few steps.
"Whats never happened before?"
"Ive never felt this way " Lyria closed the gap between them and sat down on the bed next to Vincent. "I dont understand it I barely know you "
"Just listen " Lyria gently touched his right hand. "This is a new feeling to me I dont know why, but I just never allowed my heart to lose itself to someone. That or the right person never came along, but now I think I think I love you, Vincent Valentine." She gently tugged the gun from his hands and to her surprise he made no move to stop her.
"You shouldnt not me "
"No. Its not worth it. Im Im not even human."
"So? I dont care. I cant help it. Ive tried to stop, but I cant. Youre more human than you believe. This is stronger than Chaos."
"Please Lyria, for your own sake " Vincent stood up and walked away from her. "Just dont "
Lyria stood up and moved beside him. "Dont what?" she asked softly. "Dont love you? Im sorry, but its too late. I want to be with you. I want you to let me close and hold me and tell me what life has done to make you so hardhearted."
"My life, my sins, and my pain arent something I can burden someone else with."
"Its no burden." Lyria gently slipped her arms around Vincents neck, ignoring the feeling of warm blood soaking her t-shirt as she embraced him tightly. "Please Vincent. What is it you need? If its within my power Ill give it to you. Is it comfort? If it is Ill listen, or Ill talk, or Ill just be with you."
Vincent didnt answer, but Lyria felt it was more because he didnt know what to make of the feelings Lyria was revealing than the usual cold indifference he often demonstrated. "Tell me Vincent. Do you want passion? Im more than willing. If I wasnt so worried about the wound in your side, I would be yours right here and now." Lyria looked up into Vincents eyes. She could feel hot tears threatening to fall from her eyes and down her cheeks. "But, most of all, I just want you to know whether Ive known you three days or three years and whether you return the feeling or not I do love you."
"Lyria, I "
"No dont say anything please I dont want to know right now ever since I first saw you, things have been going so wrong, but right here and now, for even just a few more seconds, everythings perfect." Lyria pulled closer and closed her eyes, trying to seal away this memory for eternity. She was surprised when she felt a trembling hand gently stroke her hair, and the tears shed tried to hold back earlier spilled out and she reluctantly returned herself to reality.
Red quietly walked back down the hallway, making as little noise as possible. He realized hed just witnessed a very tender moment between two people. Two hearts, brought close enough to reach out and touch one another, one that was cold and damaged almost beyond repair, the other brimming with so much love and compassion that it flowed freely and warmed the hearts of others. Reluctantly he decided it was probably best for him to interrupt the couple. Even though Lyria was at the center of a healing he had not even thought possible, there were more important matters to be dealt with. Vincent needed medical attention and, somewhere on the ship, so did Cid. Red felt fear tug at his heart again. "No one attacks Chaos and lives " Red prayed it wasnt true. He went back down the hall, entering the room quietly. To his surprise, Lyria glanced over Vincents shoulder and caught sight of him. Her expression was not surprise, or anger, or embarrassment, but rather a look of almost smug triumph. "I told you so," her eyes seemed to remember her earlier testament, back in Cloud and Tifas kitchen. Red shook his head and rolled his eyes. Lyria smiled and her eyes grew serious. She breathed deeply once more and gently broke out of the tight embrace. Red heard her whisper something and Vincent nodded. Still staying as close as possible, Lyria helped him over to the bed.
"Lie still, k? I have to get my bag, so Ill be right back " On a last, sudden impulse, Lyria softly kissed him, before pulling away and slipping out of the room.
"Lyria, what happened?" Red asked, following the young woman as she rushed down the hallway.
"You saw what happened, Red." Lyria smiled. "I told you I could do it "
"Yes, thats very nice, but aside from that, what happened? Is the wound in his side serious?"
"Its not too bad; I can take care of it easily but " Her look of elation faded and she suddenly looked apprehensive. "Im afraid for Cid "
"Ill go look for him; if its serious Ill come get you. I assume you want to be with Vincent right now."
"Very much. It seems like all these emotions have been weighing on my heart for so long, I feel so much lighter its making me dizzy "
"Red, Lyria!" Shera called, coming down the hallway with Lyrias backpack in one hand. "Are you two all right? We found Cid and hes ok but we dont know where Vincent is I brought this, in case you might need it "
"Hes down the hallway in his room could I have my bag?" Lyria took her supplies and headed back down the hallway.
Reentering the room, she knelt beside the bed next to Vincent, who had fallen asleep or passed out, finally overcome by loss of blood. Lyria began work, remembering Sheras words and letting the love in her heart flow into her hands and give her the gentle touch of a true healer.