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Perception

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"Stop it."

"Stop what?"

"Stop LOOKING." Vincent pulled his shirt on with movements jerky with tension. The heat in their room was up too high to wear the cloak, too, but he reached for it anyway.

"Yeah, yeah, ok, Mr. Modest. S'not like ya've got anythin' to be ashamed of." Cid's eyes, though, obediently returned to the random mechanical manual he'd picked up for "light reading" while they waited out the storm. Lying on the bed in boxers and undershirt, he looked a bit like an overgrown boy studying.

Vincent looked over one shoulder at him, eyes a bit wide and somewhat suspicious. "You MUST be joking."

Cid looked up at him, blinking. "Eh? Oh. Hell no, why would I?"

Vincent turned away, toward the window. "I know exactly what I look like."

Cid's eyes narrowed. "No, I don't think ya do."

Vincent shot him a look icier than the wind outside. "Excuse me?"

Cid sighed, throwing the book towards the pillow and heaving himself off the bed. He stomped over to Vincent. "I said I don't think ya do. Lemme see it." He held out his hands, expectantly.

Vincent stared at him as if he'd just suggested marrying Barrett.

Cid wiggled his fingers. "C'mon, c'mon." He tilted his head to look up slightly at Vincent. "I'm not gonna hurt ya, ya idiot."

Vincent scowled at him, his claw arm emerging to lay itself in Cid's hands.

Cid examined it carefully, his fingers sliding gently under wrist and elbow, pulling the arm out a bit from the folds of Vincent's cloak. "Nice. S'hard to get synthetics that have full articulation like that. Especially somethin' metal." His knuckles rapped experimentally on the metal, and he hmmmed. "Steel, but some strange alloy. Probably to make it lighter. Ya'd need that, so you're not weighted down by it." He stepped back a moment, squinted at Vincent some more. "If I was goin' for pretty, I'd have made it thicker, more arm's diameter, but ya'd have to lighten the metal so it wouldn't weight ya down, and that'd make it less durable. Probably best the way it is, for combat."

He tilted his head at Vincent, Vincent's arm still in his hands. "Nothin' wrong with it, though. S'not bad work. Ya got control over it, it's a part of ya, it's strong. Better'n no arm at all." His eyes were much too sharp for Vincent's taste. This close, he smelled faintly of cigar smoke and oil. "Ya still hate it, though, don't ya?"

Vincent jerked the metal arm from Cid's hands, turned and walked out, his boots ringing hollow on the wood floor.

He couldn't feel with that arm. He couldn't. It was the only part of him that didn't feel cold at night, as the metal leeched the heat from his body.

And he certainly could not feel the warmth of gentle fingers against it as he stood looking out at the storm from the dark common room, long into the night.