Cid, respectful of my grief and my emotional distance from others, remained seated in his truck as I trudged the short distance over to the grave markers. I hadn't even needed to ask him to do so: he just knew. He watched as I knelt before them, but after that, he kept his watchful gaze on the surroundings. Somehow, he was letting this be something just between my parents and myself, and I appreciated it more than I could express. I kissed my right hand, my whole hand, and placed it on the pale marker that was my mother's just as I always had when I came to visit her grave. I couldn't help but smile as I remembered how my father remarked that it was the gesture of an older man when I had been but a boy. Of course, thoughts of my father drew my attention to the darker stone marker that stood beside my mother's. Swallowing hard, I rested my hand on the marker that tried and failed to sum up my father in three short sentences. The last time I had been here, my sentence had just been handed down. The graves showed a surprising amount of care, considering the fact that I was their only child and there was no way I could come to mind them. I wondered who had taken the time to keep it pristine and just who had brought the white roses for my parents. Another smile lilted across my lips. I wonder if they knew just how appropriate the roses are for my parents: their love was nothing short of eternal, at least to me. Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath. "I just got out," I told him. "I know you always told me how getting mixed up with that crowd would never end well; I just wish it hadn't taken seven years in prison to realize you were right." I rested my face against the cool stone for a moment. "I miss you, Dad. Every goddamn day, I miss you more and more. Is this how you felt when we lost Mom?" My tone lowered to a whisper as I tried hard to not picture his smile. I shouldn't cry here, not in front of Cid, although Gaia knew he wouldn't judge me for it. I would judge me for it, and that would be more than enough. "I did you proud in there, Dad, despite the fact I know it was one place that you never wanted me to end. I protected the helpless ones, the dupes, the innocents. And I tried to make sure they would stay protected even when I was gone. I know it doesn't make up for any of the wrongs I've committed, but then again, you were always worried that I committed more wrongs than I really had." I couldn't help but smile, remembering the way he'd always panic and overreact whenever I phoned to tell him I had gotten into one scrape or another. "I don't know if I can protect her, though. She has to want it, to know she needs it, and I haven't seen her since my trial. She doesn't know he set me up." Hell, Dad's best friend didn't know her husband had murdered him. For some reason, Hojo always tried to hide what he was from her and she always seemed to buy the pretenses. Yet I couldn't bring myself to hate her, mostly because her tears had flowed like rain at Dad's funeral and she'd wept just as many tears when they found me guilty. "I can't promise you miracles, Dad. Even I can't perform those, or else you and Mom would both still be alive. But I'll promise that I'll try to help her. Just as soon as I sort myself out, I'll work on saving her for you." I traced the letters of his name where they were carved into the stone and tried to remember the way his hand felt on my shoulder. The loss of my father would probably forever be an open wound for me. Dad had always been so remarkably full of life for someone so stuck in the past, as was the frequently prerogative of an archeologist. Without my father, I had certainly gone off the rails. I hated that it hurt to think of my father, who had been the gentlest man I'd ever known, so I had set out to take my vengeance against the bastard who took my father from this broken world too soon. That had obviously been a bad game plan, since I'd ended up in prison due to that bastard's treachery. Now, for my father who was lost to me, I would give up my past and life as a Turk. I wouldn't pick up a gun. I wouldn't take Mako. I would go completely straight, and I would make Dad proud. Because now more than ever, I needed to. I needed the purpose that it gave me. I needed that sense of direction. Cid made a choked noise in the back of his throat. My eyes shot to him immediately. "What is it?" "May…" he started before clearing his throat and regrouping slightly. "May I pay my respects to your parents, as well?" he asked me softly. I felt my entire being soften at that. "Of course." He nodded slowly. As I climbed into the truck, he climbed out. I watched through the window as he approached the graves. With a tender hand, he touched the engraved letters of my mother's name before kneeling and bowing his head as his other hand touched the letters of my father's name as well. There were no words that I could use to explain away the extra beat my heart squeezed into every five seconds. Something inside of me teetered on the verge of shattering as I watched him kneel so carefully before the graves and speak to my parents softly. The light breeze wouldn't convey his words to me, but I could read the humility, remorse and sorrow in his posture. It was enough to make me wonder if Cid had ever met my parents, but I quickly discarded the notion. Cid would not have felt any need to hide such a fact from me and he had never said a word about such a thing. He wasn't my most intimate friend, but I knew I could trust him. Besides, he'd not only taken the time to visit me on a regular basis, he'd come to collect me when my sentence was fulfilled. For the first time, it struck me that I didn't have a place waiting for me. My landlord had probably emptied my apartment and rented it out as soon as he could, and I couldn't exactly blame him. However, it also meant that every possession I owned was gone, aside from the clothes I was wearing and the photographs in my pocket. I could probably crash with one of my friends for a while if I needed to. Cid's retrieval of me made me believe he might have a place arranged for me, but he hadn't pushed, prodded, or felt the need to inform me of those circumstances. He let me calm myself and feel at home in his beat up old truck. Maybe it was watching him speak to my parents with such reverence, but I had a feeling that any place could feel like home if Cid were there.