Vincent hadn't spoken one single word since that confrontation with the guard, but I'd watched him visibly relax when we were standing just beyond the doors of the prison. This was his first time beyond those doors in most of a decade. Freedom had to be calling to him like the sirens in Greek mythology, yet he followed me straight out to my old beat up gray pickup without deviation or resistance. Then again, maybe what seemed to be an old gray truck to anyone else on the planet was the symbol of his freedom: after all, seeing bars –even from the outside– was not the most therapeutic view for an innocent man who had just spent seven years behind them. And despite being old and not the most aesthetically pleasing item in the parking lot, that old truck could –and would– take him away from this dreary place. We didn't linger in the parking lot. Neither of us wanted to linger here any longer than we had to: the prison beckoned to both of us with bad memories, although I assumed that his bad memories were not only much different from mine but also worse than mine. Nevertheless, we both wanted to ignore the past that lingered between both of us and this place, and we both wanted away from this place. Despite the fact I had been cursing the heat on the way over because the air conditioner was the one stubborn thing in this truck that I couldn't seem to fix, I was ultimately glad that it was an abnormally warm day for mid-February. When we pulled out of the parking lot, the windows were rolled most of the way down. As I watched from the corner of my eye, the last bits of the hard façade Vincent had donned for benefit of the guard seemed to fall away as he allowed himself to close his eyes. Although the lion's share of my attention was on the road, I kept watch over him in my peripheral vision. It was pure joy to watch Vincent relish the feel of the wind on his skin. A smile seemed to linger beneath the surface, but his calm joy was almost tangible, even without the smile. We were ten miles from the prison before Vincent opened his eyes again. To my bewildered delight, the hard edge that had almost frightened me at the prison seemed to be absent from his red eyes. In fact, he seemed so much more like the Vincent I had known before that I really didn't mind that it took him at least five more miles before he opened his mouth with the intention of speaking to me. "Thank you for coming to get me, Cid," he said, his thanks nearly muffled by the wind. Ultimately, his voice was calm and smooth, like it had always been before. Yet now, I found myself wondering just where the edge of steel was hiding. Unfortunately, the scene with the guard had disillusioned me a bit to this calm mystery of a man. I awaited a storm and I knew it would be a bad one. I wasn't sure how soon it would arrive or how quickly it would leave, but I could almost feel it brewing. Instead of questioning the existence of the storm, I now questioned its arrival time, departure time, and damage. And Shera always says I'm an eternal optimist, I thought wryly. Yet it didn't surprise me that my optimism deserted me when it came to Vincent. My usual sense of tact, my crude way of speaking, my bluntness: all of them seemed to desert me when it came to him. Instead, I often found myself teetering clumsily on egg shells around him. Maybe it was how perfect Vincent always seemed to me, but I always felt like the clumsiest fool in existence around him. "It was no trouble, Vincent," I answered him with a smile. I honestly was thrilled to be able to see him again without a wall of inch-thick Plexiglas between us. That sheet of Plexiglas was honestly why I hadn't gone to see him more during his …stay. I couldn't stand being so close to him yet unable to reach out and touch him if I wanted to, just like I had been unable to stand the faded prison uniform that made him just another number with a face. Let's just say prisons now topped the list of 'Cid Highwind's Least Favorite Places to Visit'. Yet even my distaste with those things had been unable to keep me from going to see him. It was kind of like visiting a nursing home: despite the fact the place smelled like death and made my skin crawl, I still went every week dutifully to see my dying father. No matter what, he was still my father. I still loved him, and he still deserved to have someone come and see him. So despite my new-found hatred of prisons, I had still made the hour drive to see Vincent for half an hour once every two months. I still felt bad that I hadn't made it every month, but I knew that some of the Turks made time to see him as often as I did. I didn't feel as bad because, unlike my father, other people still made the time to come see him. "Is there anywhere you want to go in particular?" I asked him after silence had filled the cab of the truck once more. His voice got softer. "Can you take me to River's End Cemetery?" I nodded. I knew that was where Grimoire Valentine was buried, alongside Vincent's mother. It didn't shock me that the first person he would want to visit when he got out was his father. "Sure. It will add some time to our trip, but that's no trouble." I'd lost my father, too. I understood how he felt better than most people. The dedication, the desire to please, the love: none of those things ended when a life did, nor would they ever end. I also understood how it felt to know that you had done the absolute opposite of what they would have wanted you to do. And I would never look at him strangely for talking to a headstone like the person it recalled sat upon it. After all, I did it myself, although in a different graveyard.