"God-DAMNIT, Shera! Where the hell's my toolkit?! I gotta get t'work NOW!"
Captain Cid Highwind is seriously upset. It's been two entire weeks since he woke up alone in Rocket Town. The Highwind's escape jet was a mangled, flightless wreck, the flight crew all mysteriously disappeared. Cid knows a captain's supposed to go down with the ship, but he's not supposed to wake up later and wonder why the f&$# he's alone! Where the hell are Spiky and crew? Wonderbra, the cat, Gun-arm-boy...even the whiny little sneak-thief. All gone, vanished into thin air.
Two weeks. Two goddamn weeks and the plane still isn't fixed. Cid knows repairs take a while, especially when resources are scarce and the object in need of repair is so far beyond help that it's damn near scrap metal, but there's a marked difference between knowledge and acceptance.
Finally, Cid's housemate and assistant comes in, adjusting her glasses in an affectation of absentmindedness. "You screamed, Captain?"
"Yeah, I did." Cid's been trying to be more patient with Shera lately, especially after learning what he did about the rocket launch. But with everyone gone...with Vince gone...he has no patience left with anyone, least of all the woman to whom verbal abuse has become second nature for Cid. "Where the hell is my toolkit? I gotta work on repairs; I'm way behind schedule with the engine, I ain't even started on the landin' gear, an' don't even f@%#in' ask about the hull."
"Cid, you've been working non-stop on the jet since you woke up." Shera folds her arms. Cid knows she hid his tools so he'd have to take a break today.
Too bad for her. He doesn't have time to take a break when everyone's missing. He can't rest until he sees Vincent again, until he knows he's OK. "I gotta fix her! She's gotta fly again! I ain't about ta abandon my friends out there t'God-knows-what all the Meteor did to the rest o' the world!"
"Listen to yourself, Cid! You're pushing too hard! If I didn't make you, you wouldn't even bother to eat, and I've yet to see you sleep more than an hour or two a day! If you don't rest, you'll keel over. You're no good to them dead."
Cid grumbles to himself. When the hell did she grow a backbone? "Give me back my tools, Shera. I need t'find them. Please?!"
The woman in the white labcoat, so unassuming in appearance, folds her arms and looks levelly at him. "Them, or him?" Cid gapes at her in openmouthed astonishment. She gives him a smug smirk, and continues. "I saw the way you looked at him when he came here. I've lived with you for years, Cid, and I know you. Vincent Valentine was the first person I've ever seen you so much as give the time of day to. I'll bet if he hadn't been the one to ask you, you wouldn't have lifted a finger to help those people. And now that he's gone missing, you're draining yourself dry to try and rescue him. Be his knight in shining armor.
"Did it ever occur to you that there are some things you can't rescue him from?"
Cid has been listening to her in awe the whole time. How did she have him pegged so solidly? There's a whole helluva lot more to his mousy little assistant than meets the eye. "Shera...I gotta try. Don't you understand? He's been locked up for decades, almost as long as I've been alive. He don't know what the world's like anymore. What with Meteor and all, none of us do! Please, lemme help him. This's the only way I know how! I gotta save him, Shera. I gotta try."
She smiles at him sadly, and nods her head. "All right. I'll get your tools for you, under conditions." The pilot nods, almost like a puppy in his haste to appease her as she starts ticking off items on her fingers. "First, you start pacing yourself. You don't work on that thing for more than twelve hours at a time. Second, when it comes to the internal computers, the tactical, navigation, sensor arrays, and such, you let me help. I'm a technician, so I know what to do. You don't. I care for you, Cid; too much to see you short out oversea and pull a Gelnika.
"And third..." she says, holding his gaze. "You remember to eat, and to rest. Ever since Vincent found you, you've been running around nonstop with him, and now that he's gone it's worse than ever. I don't want to see you so much as looking at the Highwind for at least eight hours out of every day. Are we clear?"
Cid swallows hard. This'll set back his schedule severely, but if he disagrees, he'll never be able to work on the ship. Damn it! After an effort, he finally manages to sputter out a barely-audible "...clear."
Shera nods, seemingly satisfied. "Good. Now, come have some breakfast. I'll give you your tools back after we eat, and you can knock yourself out till dinnertime."
Having no real choice in the matter, the grizzled pilot follows her to the kitchen. This is really gonna set him back, but he'll deal with it.
Anything to have Vincent, safe and whole, back with him again.