Within a little house on the edge of a small town there is a sanctuary.
There is nothing truly elegant or elaborate to be found there, but the walls, the ceiling, even the floors speak without words of a depth of commitment and love that no open declaration could fully articulate.
From time to time, Cid will simply linger awhile on the threshold of that sacred space, gazing upon the fullness of meaning.
On Vincent's side of their bed, there is a nightstand. Upon it there is a simple journal bound in fine leather, a gold-embellished pen lying beside. A small crystal box with a hinged lid sits atop the journal. All are gifts from Cid on the occasion of their anniversary.
Within the box are things that would appear incomprehensible to anyone else, most likely viewed as an assortment of worthless junk, but to Vincent, the contents are priceless.
A handful of photographs. A teacup which holds nothing more than a single, polished white stone. A pair of ribbons coil there; one rose-pink, the other decorated with Wutaian kanji. They are threaded through two carved, golden beads. A shell casing lies beside them, of a caliber that could only match a prosthetic gun. A metal stud from a fighter's glove and a single, wolf's head earring. A miniature black and white ceramic cat wearing a crown and cape.
Beneath all of these is a carefully folded scrap of red material, ragged and creased and faded with age. Within it rests a tiny lock of silver-white hair.
Cid's gaze flows across the expanse of their bed to his own nightstand to where an antique tobacco tin rests; its contents not as many as those of Vincent's box, but all equally treasured.
Three stones, polished by the water of a cold lake far to the north. Scraps of paper with bits of poetry, private messages incomprehensible to anyone but themselves.
Cid thinks upon journeys, and of how very far they have come. He thinks of the replica of an airship built to scale that occupies an entire corner of their hangar, faithfully reproduced down to the last detail.
He remembers Vincent watching in silence day after day as the model took shape, and of a night when he arose from their bed and wondering at Vincent's absence, found his lover gazing upon its almost-completed form in the moonlight streaming through a single, high window.
He thinks of watching from the shadows as Vincent counted carefully along the observation deck's railing segments and then mindful of his great strength, placed an almost infinitesimal bend in one of them.
He recalls how Vincent then moved to the Highwind replica's port side and traced a hairline scratch between the bolts anchoring one propeller blade using the fingertip of his gauntlet.
There is the memory of a few days afterward when Cid discovered a fragment of red material wedged into a corner of the catwalk above the miniature engine room, weighted down by a single, tiny white stone.
In his mind's eye is the image of a teapot with plates and cups and an equally diminutive toolbox resting upon the decking there, painstakingly carved from a scrap of wood.
Words have not come easily to Vincent, even with the passage of time. Perhaps they never will, but the pilot smiles, thinking of how very well his lover has taught him the subtle language of stillness.
Cid at last crosses the room to begin lighting the candles waiting there. Light grows and shimmers, chasing away all lingering shadows. The candles are many; each one carefully chosen from places scattered across the world during their travels together and placed here with purpose.
The relics of this shrine are not layered in gold nor crusted with rare jewels, but they are infinite in richness. They are days and nights of shared passion, quiet laughter and tears and plans and dreams and love.
They are odds and ends, bits and pieces…and together they are a foundation anchored in stone; one that the strongest winds of life cannot shake.
Cid opens the lid of his own small box, smiling as he reads a small slip of paper resting at the top of those nestled within.
I will live no more in darkness