Legacy

BY : Rina76
Category: Final Fantasy Anime > Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children
Dragon prints: 1515
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII Advent Children or any of the characters from the film. I am not making money from the writing of this story.

A/N: Thank you guys again for all your reviews! Please enjoy this update and as always, I look forward to your thoughts. (Btw, Kadaj isn’t in this chapter because it’s more about Loz and Cate  - and Yazoo makes an appearance too - but Kadaj will be in the next one, back to being his mean, sarcastic sexy little self and causing all kinds of uncomfortable situations for the new girl ^^)

………

Part 11. Sleeping arrangements.

Loz leads me down the hall. I see a couple of closed doors, Loz pointing out which is Kadaj’s room and which is Yazoo’s. They’re right next to each other. Apparently there’s a gym at the end of the hallway, where they all train, and a couple of storage closets and linen cupboards. Loz’s bedroom is next to Yazoo’s, which I’m happy about. I couldn’t go to sleep if I knew that a vicious little prick like Kadaj was right beside me. He ushers me in and shuts the door. Loz’s bedroom is rather large and spacious, having the same curved cave walls and roof that the other rooms in the lair have and the same black and grey tones for the furniture and carpet. It’s a lot messier, though. He starts tidying up, kicking worn underwear and socks under the bed and picking up thrash metal magazines littered over the floor, along with CD cases and empty salt and vinegar potato chip packets.

“Uh, sorry it’s messy,” he mumbles as he dumps an armload of used towels in the laundry hamper. “Wasn’t expecting visitors.”

“It’s okay. You should see MY room at the moment. It’s an absolute pigsty,” I despair. “Doing housework is the last thing on my mind right now.”

When he’s made the place a little more presentable, he tells me to sit in a silver chair he unearthed from under a pile of motorcycle manuals. I bend forward in the seat to take my sneakers off, a task which is becoming more and more difficult as each month passes. Soon, I won’t be able to bend over at all. I slip off my furry purple coat and drape it over the backrest of the chair behind me. Loz removes his tall boots, leaving them on the floor. Dark coloured vinyl has been laid down so Loz doesn’t have to worry about tracking mud, sand or dirt in here from outside but there is a large soft, shaggy rug beside the bed for a touch of comfort. It looks like a nice rug to curl up on while reading a book. Not that Loz has any books in here, apart from the music mags and bike guides. He’s got a stereo system in his room but no computer. He probably doesn’t have the patience or the desire to use computers. Anyway, I don’t think emailing or the internet would be of much interest to him. He’d be happier in the garage working on his bike and getting grease on his hands. 

Rummaging through a chest of drawers, he asks, “You need something to sleep in?”

“Ah, so you DO have other clothing,” I comment, spotting jeans, trousers and casual shirts in there. “I was curious about that.”

“We only wear this stuff when we go out in public,” he explains, gesturing to his futuristic super-suit. “It’s an image thing. Kadaj’s idea. He said if we were going to get people to fear and respect us, we had to have a bad-ass look.”

“And head to toe black leather certainly does the trick.”

“Yazoo made them for us. He’s good with designing stuff.”

“Really?” I remark, impressed.

“Yeah, when Kadaj found this cave for our base he told Yazoo how he wanted it to look and Yazoo did it. He designed the whole layout of the lair - worked out what materials to use, picked the colour scheme, flooring and all the fittings. He did the painting and the furnishing and added all the fancy finishing touches.”

Eying off all the gleaming chrome accessories in the room, like light switches, door handles and coat hooks, I tell Loz, “He’s got superb taste. This place is style-central. But surely he didn’t do all this by himself?”

“No, we built it together. Just the three of us. We didn’t bring in any tradesmen because we wanted to keep the location of the lair secret. Since he had the money, Kadaj ordered all the supplies on-line, me and Yaz picking them up from town and trucking them back here. I did most of the heavy labour while Kadaj mainly stood there bossing me around,” Loz says with a disgruntled eye-roll, “but without Yazoo we couldn’t have done any of it. He came up with all the ideas. Everything you see here, he created it. My brother doesn’t care about much in this world but he really wanted to make this cave into the home we never had. That’s why he worked the hardest out of all of us.”  

“That’s incredible. You’ve all done an amazing job. Especially Yazoo.”

“Make sure you tell him that. He’ll be real happy to hear it. Here.” Loz hands me a grey cotton t-shirt to use as a nightgown. “It’s clean.”

“Thanks. I didn’t bring any other clothes. It’s not like I planned to be staying the night.”

“Do you wanna stay longer? Like, move in with me?” Loz offers. “We can take the truck and go get your stuff tomorrow if you feel up to it.”

“Are you serious?” I look at him in astonishment. “You want that?”

He nods enthusiastically. “Yeah. And Yaz already said it’s all right.”

“What about Kadaj?” I pose dubiously. “He’s not too happy about me being here at all. You saw the way he reacted when I first walked in. He nearly had a fit. I don’t think he’ll be very pleased if I just plonk myself into the home you all worked so hard to make.”

“Screw him. If I wanna invite a girl to stay with me in my room, I have every damn right to! I helped build this house too.” Loz’s tone grows more eager and excitable. “So, what do you say? You want to live here? With me?”

“I dunno. I guess I could stay for a couple of days,” I return doubtfully. “See how it goes.”

“And if it goes good, you can stay permanently!”

Loz is really keen about this proposal but I’m not so much. I mean, we only met once before. We talked and had sex which made us feel close at the time but even with the recent visions I’ve gotten of him I still don’t know Loz that well. But I guess that’s why I’m here. To get to know him. He might be moving a little fast for me, asking me to shack up with him already, but at least he’s not telling me to fuck off. I should be glad he wants me here with him. Nobody else wants me in the state I’m in.

 “I’ll think about it,” I finally grant, noting all the reasons why staying with Loz might actually be of benefit to me. I’m getting sort of lonely in that apartment all by myself. Plus I’m way behind in rent. When Shandi left I didn’t have to deal with her questions or strange looks any longer but without her share of money, I’m fast running out of savings. Yet, I don’t want to sponge off Loz either. That’s not why I tracked him down.

“Loz, if I do stay here, I won’t be able to pay much in the way of board,” I warn him. “Because of my morning-mako sickness, I haven’t been able to work. I’m basically broke.”

“Don’t worry about money,” Loz instantly dismisses. “I got a steady job.”

“You’re still a ‘debt collector’?” I ask, using code for what he really is – a violent thug who threatens, bashes and kills people. I’ve had five months to get used to that too.

“Yeah. I still do that. Still pays well.”

“That may be so but if I’m living with you I don’t want you to support me while I sit around doing nothing,” I protest. “I’ll feel like I’m leeching off you!”

“You’re having MY kid,” he reminds me with a pointed look at my stretched stomach. “It’s my obligation to support you now. You don’t have to do anything in return.”

Sensing my lingering anxiousness, he crouches on the floor in front of me, taking my hands in his. He’s taken his gloves off and his fingers are gentle and warm.

“Cate, I’m not saying this because I feel like I have to,” he stresses, his slanted silver brows drawn together in seriousness. “I’m saying it because I want to. I want to take care of you. And the baby. I want to do everything I can to protect you and keep you both safe. I can do that, if you’ll let me.”

His words fill me with a sense of security that I’ve been lacking these last few months living on my own with no help, company or backup support. Being with him and having him gaze at me like this – his eyes glowing with protectiveness - I know that I’ll be sheltered and looked after and that’s exactly what I’ve needed to feel for so long. When his lips sweep gently over my cheek, all the uncertainty and unease that’s been nagging at me day in day out…it just fades away and I know I’ve made the right decision to come here and find him.

“Okay,” I whisper shakily, affected by his nearness. “Okay, I’ll stay with you.”

His eyes glow even more, their swirling greenness caressing me with warmth. “I’ll look after you real good, I promise. Anything you want, anything you need - it’s yours. You’re my girl now, Catey. I’ll do anything for you.” 

The soft and caring nature of his voice makes me unexpectedly very emotional and I swallow hard before I do something embarrassing and weakly female, like cry. Godsdamn hormones. Since I’ve been pregnant I’ve turned into such a hormonal time-bomb, sobbing at the stupidest things like not being able to open a jar of gherkins by myself or seeing soppy cat food ads on television. Now is one of those times I’m ridiculously close to losing it and before I get tears and mucus all over Loz’s leather jacket I blurt out, “Can I use your bathroom?”

“Sure. Yeah. Just through there.” As I push to my feet, Loz looks at me. “You okay?”

“Never better,” I chirp brightly, quickly ducking into the bathroom with the t-shirt he gave me and shutting the door before he sees the wet tracks that are already streaking down my face. Once inside, I wipe the tears from my cheeks and sniff back the other ones yet to spill over, desperately attempting not to fall apart at the seams. If he hears me bawling hysterically he might change his mind about having me stay here. Taking my mind off my stupid emotions, I gaze around at his bathroom. It’s masculine and stylish, done in silver and black, just like the rest of this lair. There’s a toilet, shower and long vanity unit with a mirror above it. Shaving instruments, cream and splash-on cologne sit on the top of the vanity. The room is an ensuite which means it’s only attached to his bedroom which means the other guys would have similar ones too. They’re clearly closer than ordinary brothers but it’s good that they have their own space and privacy as well. It’s also good for me because I’ll be running in here every hour to pee and when I gotta go it’s of the utmost urgency. It would be utterly disastrous if I had to wait for somebody else to vacate the toilet before I could get in there. If I thought I had a small bladder before, it’s able to hold even less now that I’ve got a baby sitting on it.  

I make use of the amenities and then wash my hands, holding them under the cold running water in the sink and then pressing my chilled fingers against my cheeks and eyelids in an effort to counteract the redness that crying usually produces. It’s not too bad, though, since I didn’t let myself cry that much. I don’t think Loz will notice. I take off my top, jeans and socks, glad I shaved my legs this morning or else Loz would think he’s shacking up with a yeti. I stand there in my underwear, wondering if I should leave my bra on or not. I decide not, because it will be really uncomfortable to sleep in and besides, I don’t think Loz will molest me in the middle of the night.

Not that it’d matter if he did. It’s not like he can get me pregnant or anything.

Unhooking my bra, I stuff it into the rest of my clothing on the bench and then slip his grey t-shirt over my head. It’s friggin’ huge, falling to my knees and elbows, more like a dress than a shirt, giving me modesty and my growing belly plenty of room. It’s ideal, comfy sleeping attire. 

I borrow some of Loz’s mouthwash, since I didn’t bring a toothbrush with me, spitting it into the sink and leaving me with that cool, fresh mint taste. I’m not sure if he’s actually going to kiss me tonight but I sure hope he does. I haven’t kissed anyone else since that night in the club and honestly, haven’t wanted to. Not unless it was him. I stare at myself in the mirror, hoping he still wants me the way he did back then. I’m not as cute as I was that night with my Mohawk and smoky eyeliner but I still look okay. My skin has improved a lot since I’ve been pregnant, glowing the way it’s supposed to due to all the increased blood flowing throughout my body and my hair is healthier and glossier too. I’m not wearing any makeup but if Loz likes me, he’s gotta like me without it. I fluff the back of my hairstyle up, give my nose ring a quick polish to make the sapphire stud shine and then come out of the ensuite. Loz is making his bed, carefully tucking in the edges of the quilt cover.

Smiling, I say, “Did you change your sheets for me?”

He shrugs, putting clean cases on the pillows. “Yeah. They were due for changing anyway.”

“Thank you,” I return gratefully, not keen to sleep on dirty bed linen. If I know the male species, and thanks to my foster brothers I do, those sheets probably hadn’t been changed in five or six weeks and would have been almost stiff with man-secretions like sweat and…well, we all realise what boys do in bed when they’re alone. Guys are hot but sometimes they’re also really, really gross.

Now that the bed is freshly-made, I climb onto it and sit cross legged, watching with interest as Loz starts getting undressed. He unfastens his jacket with practised ease, snapping the two criss-crossed chest straps off one at a time, the ends hidden underneath the armoured shoulder pads with press-stud buttons which he pops free first, letting the individual strips of leather dangle down his sides like unclipped suspenders. The straps must be permanently sewn on at the back. Once they’re undone, it’s just a matter of pulling the zipper down and shucking the whole item off. I watch this process with fascination because although I saw his nude chest in the nightclub bathroom, he never actually took the jacket off so I never got to check out more than the front of him. As he slides the leather from his upper body, I can see all the muscles in his powerful shoulders and arms flexing and bunching, as well as all the thick veins branching down them. It’s an awe-inspiring sight.

I never saw his bare back either and when he turns around to hang his jacket up on a silver hook in the wall I make an impressed face, able to see every single muscle there too, each one rippling under white flesh with his movements. His body is shaped like an upside-down triangle, wide shoulders tapering down to a taut torso and trim waist, the chiselled v-line of his hips drawing my eye. I gaze at the curve of his spine, the small indents at the base of it just begging to be licked. His skin is pale and perfect; not a spot, not a scar, not a single blemish. He’s like an idol carved out of alabaster stone and looks just as great from the back as he does from the front. And he hasn’t even taken his pants off yet. Gods help me if he does that in front of me because I can’t promise that I won’t instantly pounce on him and shag him into the floor.

Alien or not, he’s still the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen.

When he turns back around from hanging his jacket up, I notice a dark mark on his left upper arm that I didn’t see before. A tattoo. I never knew he had one of those! Watching him get unchanged is girlishly thrilling for me, like a gift being opened little by little, each layer removed showing a bit more of the total package underneath.

Beckoning excitedly to him, I urge, “C’mere. Let me look at that.”

He glances at his arm. “What? This?”

I nod eagerly, getting up on my knees. “Yeah. I love tattoos.”

He raises a brow. “You do, huh?”

Coming over to me, he grins playfully and curls his arm up to show off his bulging bicep, letting me examine the ink-stain beside it, just below his shoulder. I take hold of his arm and peer closely at it.  The shape of the tattoo is circular, a razor-sharp, three-pronged design very much like a ninja star. It suits him and gives him even more of a bad-boy edge.

“Wow.” I run a fingertip over it. “That’s wicked cool.”

“Thanks. It represents me and my bros, how it’s us against the rest of the world,” he says proudly. “We all have one. Not in the same spot, though.”

He really shouldn’t have told me that last bit because of course the first thing I do is wonder where Kadaj’s and Yazoo’s tattoos are, if they’re visible or hidden somewhere private. I know I shouldn’t be thinking of Loz’s brothers naked – especially not Kadaj who I hate and am not attracted to at ALL - so I’m glad when Loz distracts me by beginning to unbutton his tight trousers. Hand on his fly, he pauses, probably debating whether stripping off in front of me is a good idea or whether he should do it in another room. I mean, I’ve already seen what’s under there but it’s been months since that night in the club so I understand his hesitance, particularly with me staring fixatedly at his every move. I can’t help staring at him, though. He’s just too damn hot.

 “I’ll be right back,” he finally decides, disappearing into the bathroom and shutting the door, much to my disappointment. When he returns he’s not naked – again to my disappointment – but he is wearing a sexy pair of loose silk pyjama trousers that sit low on his hips. They’re black, of course, the gleaming fabric highlighting the ample bulge at his groin and the solid muscle in his thighs. And his chest is still bare, looking like a rock wall with nipples. That’s enough to keep me happy. For now.

He dims his lights, leaving one lamp on beside the bed. He can probably see in the dark but I can’t so I think that gesture is for me. Climbing onto the king-sized mattress beside me, Loz stretches out onto his side, arm bent at the elbow, propping his head up on his palm and looking at me nervously.

“So, are you turned off me now that you know what I am? And what I’ve done?” He asks uncertainly, the fingers of his other hand tracing fidgety patterns on his quilt. “Do you think I’m a monster?”

I shake my head, turning onto my side as well and facing him. “I always knew you were different. That’s why I came here, specifically for answers. Now I have them, now that I know what you’ve been through…there’s no way I could ever think of you as a monster,” I say softly, gazing at his worried face. “You’re still Loz with an ‘L’ to me; that sweet, funny, shy guy I met at the bar. You’re still gorgeous. And I still want to be with you.”  

Even though I’m there with him right now, he still seems unsure. “You do?”

“Of course. Especially now that you’re the father of my baby. We both want to be with you.” I take his free hand and put it on my belly. Almost immediately, the baby moves. When he feels it, Loz’s face shows a mixture of astonishment and enchantment.

“Yes, it’s your daddy,” I affirm with a smile, knowing the baby can understand me. “We found him, just like you wanted.”

My stomach moves again, a little head pushing against Loz’s palm.

“Look, Loz!” I grin excitedly. “He knows you’re there. He’s saying hello to you.”

Loz glances up at me. “He?”

I nod. “I have a feeling it’s a boy. Your son.”

“My son,” he says slowly, as if it’s finally sinking in. “Oh my Gods. I’m gonna be a dad!”

And then he bursts into a sob, hugging me around the middle and resting his cheek on my rounded belly, his tears soaking into the t-shirt I’m wearing. I’m a little surprised by his sudden sobbing but touched by the genuineness of it, proving that the night in the bathroom, when he cried after the sex we had, it wasn’t because he was drunk on firewater. This emotion…this is the real him. Under the massive muscles and surly gruffness he’s just a big soft teddy bear and I adore him even more for it, stroking his hair with affection as he sniffles against my stomach.

Thinking of what Kadaj said, I ask guiltily, “Did you really cry when I left you in the club?”

“Well, I didn’t do it there,” he replies abashedly, confirming that he had indeed broken down over me. “It wasn’t until I got home that I realised how majorly I fucked up. You were the nicest, most beautiful girl I’d ever met and I scared you away.”

He sounds regretful and full of self-blame. “Kadaj and Yazoo could have handled the fight on their own. I should have stayed with you.”

I stroke his hair again, forgivingly. “I wish you had too.”

Shifting up from my belly so he can look at my face, he lifts his fingers and gently cups my cheek.

“Gods, I missed you, Cate,” he confesses in a rough voice. “I wanted to see you so bad and looked everywhere for you. I went into all the damn florist shops I could find but everyone I asked didn’t even know your name, let alone where you lived.”

“You actually went into flower stores?” I ask in disbelief. “Where there are flowers?”

“Yeah, and being around all that stinky perfume totally grossed me out. It would have been worth it if I’d found you, though.”

“I had to close my shop when I started getting sick. Oh Loz,” I despair sorrowfully. “I had no idea you were gonna look for me.”

“Well, I did. I kept going to that same club every weekend, hoping you’d be there and you never were. I went to other clubs. Same deal. Kadaj said you’d forgotten about me. He told me you weren’t coming back and you didn’t care about me so I should just get over you. But I couldn’t.”

“Neither could I,” is my understanding reply. “I never forgot you, Loz. Not for one moment. This little person in here made sure I didn’t.”

Placing a palm on my expanding tummy, he grins happily at me. “We’re gonna be parents.”

“I know.” I make a face of dread. “How scary is that?”

“It’s not scary,” he enthuses. “It’s awesome! I can’t wait to meet the little dude.”

Though I’m thrilled to bits that he’s looking forward to becoming a father, my tiredness niggles at me again, making me yawn and rub at my eyes. Noticing, Loz considerately pulls the blankets down, urging me to get under them. Joining me, he reaches around and turns the lamp off. It’s pitch black in his room but as I lay on my back, I notice little pinpricks of yellow light on the cave ceiling.

“Hey! What are those?”

“Oh, they’re just the glow worms,” Loz replies nonchalantly, as if it’s a common thing to have in one’s bedroom. “They’re harmless.”

“They’re lovely,” I say in amazement. “They look like tiny stars.”

I stare at them a while longer and then turn to Loz, the glow worms giving off enough illumination for me to see his face in the darkness, his deeply-set green eyes gleaming like those of a cat as he studies me too. His upswept silver hair glints with a metallic sheen. My short brown crop is slightly longer than it was, curling further down the nape of my neck, my fringe now long enough to tuck behind one ear. But he still looks exactly the same. I can make out the fine angles of his cheekbones, nose and chin, the sensual shape of his mouth. He’d almost be pretty like Yazoo if his hair was longer and his jaw line wasn’t so broad and strong.

Struck by his utter male perfection, I whisper in awe, “You are so incredibly handsome, Loz.”

Even in the darkness I can see the doubt in his eyes so before he can object I lean in and touch my lips to his, keeping him quiet. I made the first move in the club and it seems I’m doing it again tonight. But he doesn’t appear to mind. I kiss him again and this time he reacts with a quiet groan, his mouth pressing back against mine and his hands going around my shoulders, pulling me closer. Leaning onto his chest, I feel that it’s every bit as firm and solid as it was nearly half a year ago. Suddenly wide awake and excited, I lick coaxingly at his bottom lip and he opens for me, the tip of his tongue meeting mine with a jolt of moist intimacy. Moaning at the back of my throat, I close my eyes and deepen the kiss, holding his face in my hands, our tongues sliding together with sweet slowness. There’s minty freshness on his breath but under that I can still taste him, and the sexually potent man he is, and it was definitely worth waiting for. After a few minutes of thoroughly tasting each other, I move my lips down to his jaw, kissing slowly along its chiselled line. His skin is still smooth, the whiskers of his curving sideburns coarse yet somehow soft, tickling against the tip of my nose. And Gods, he smells so good, so musky and manly and everything I’ve been longing for and craving.

Although my body responds to him and his to mine, we don’t do more than kiss, touch and caress, stroking faces and running fingers through hair, getting familiar with ourselves again and the affecting feelings we still have for each other. My heart beats rapidly within my breast and Loz’s does the same, pounding in his wide chest. I know he’s hard for me because I feel it against my thigh through the silk of his pyjama pants, and I’m equally as ready for him, but we restrain our desire and stick to kissing and cuddling. It’s been a long time since we were together and if we’re going to make this relationship work we need to bond emotionally first before anything else can happen between us.

Afterwards, when the glow worms have turned off their electric butts and gone to sleep, I’m held in Loz’s warm, protecting arms. He starts speaking to me, the cover of total darkness allowing him say things he might not have said otherwise.

“The first time I was with a woman,” he begins in that low resonating baritone, “I thought she really liked me. I thought she cared about me, y’know? Turned out that Kadaj paid her to give me attention, to sleep with me. I had a fucking whore take my virginity.”

Loz’s words assume a bitter undercurrent. “It took me a long time to forgive him for that. I know he was just trying to help me out but it still messed me up a lot. The little asshole still does it, when he thinks I need to get laid. Even Yazoo sends girls over my way sometimes.”

Gods, no wonder he thought I was a hooker when I came up and said hello to him. It’s good to know it wasn’t JUST the boots.

“Cate, I have to know…” He pauses uncomfortably. “Did any of my brothers ask you to be nice to me that night? You can tell me the truth. I won’t be mad.”

“No,” I immediately protest. “Yazoo didn’t ask me that. And Kadaj most certainly didn’t either. Or pay me. In fact, he didn’t want me anywhere near you, remember? I was nice to you because I really did like you. What we did together…how this baby was made…I did that because I wanted you, Loz. I wanted to be close to you and make you feel good.”

“I wanted to make you feel good too,” he admits shyly.

“You did, honey. Trust me, you did.” My tone softens and I snuggle into him, my belly pressing against his side. “When you made love to me I felt so wonderful…I can’t explain it. I’ve been thinking about that night every single day. And every single day I’ve been missing you.” 

“I’m here with you now, little girl,” he whispers, cradling my smaller feminine figure with large, gentle hands. “I know I ain’t perfect, or even human, but I’m yours for as long as you’ll put up with me.”

“I’m yours too,” I whisper back, lifting my head towards him. “Now kiss me goodnight, you sexy alien clone.”

I can dimly see his teeth flash in a grin. And then he leans forward, softly kissing me again.

………

I don’t know how long I’ve been asleep for when I feel Loz shaking me by the shoulder.

“Cate. Hey. Hey, Cate, wake up.”

“What? Whassit?” I mumble, groggy after being woken mid-sleep. I squint when he switches on the lamp and harsh light floods the room.

“You were talking in your sleep.” He stares at me strangely. “Were you having a vision?”

“I don’t know.” I rub at my sticky left eye and wrinkle my forehead, trying to remember. “Could have been. What was I saying?”

Again with the strange, uneasy look. “Things. But your voice…it was totally different. It wasn’t your voice.”

I sit up, beginning to feel spooked. “That’s what Shandi kept telling me. But I can never remember any of it, or what I said. What did I say?”

“Something about coming for us. That you’d be here soon. It was really weird,” Loz admits, appearing a little unnerved. The fact that he – a hardened hit man who has seen and done things I can’t even imagine – looks kind of freaked out starts to make me freak a bit as well.

“The next time it happens, record me,” I impulsively instruct Loz. “You got a camera phone, right?”

“Yeah.” He glances to where it’s being kept on the small table next to his side of the bed.

“Don’t wake me next time. Just get your phone and record it. I gotta know what I’m saying.”

He nods, frowning. “Okay. I’ll do that.”

Shivering, even though I‘m not cold, I slip back down under the blankets, hugging my chill-bumped arms. This whole alien-clone business…I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it. I don’t like the idea of talking in my sleep, especially with a voice that’s not mine, saying things that nobody, least of all me, understands.

“Sorry I woke you,” I mumble, moving closer to Loz so he can hold me.

He ends up going back to sleep but I don’t.

Needing a drink of cold milk, I carefully fold the blankets back and get up. The glow worms on the ceiling are glowing again, seemingly recharged by the lamp that was on earlier, allowing me to find Loz’s door without tripping over his biker boots. Out in the corridor there are no illuminated insects so I fumble my way through the dark in the direction of the kitchen until I find it, the digital microwave clock giving off a soft blue radiance. It’s just past 4am. I go to the quietly humming fridge and take out a bottle of milk, setting it on the counter. Since I’ve been pregnant I crave the stuff, going through about a litre of creamy diary goodness a day. Guess the baby needs calcium to strengthen its bones. Leaving the fridge open a crack so I can use its interior light, I search the wall cupboards for drinking glasses but can’t find them, only plates, bowls and plastic containers. I discover a blender, a juicer and a toaster but not a single glass. The cupboards are positioned up high and even on tip-toes I’m too short to see all the way on the top shelf. Damn tall males. Shutting one of the doors, I turn around to fetch a chair to stand on when I come face to face with one of those tall males and jump in fright.

“Fuck!”

“I’m sorry,” Yazoo apologises. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Well, you did,” I scold, covering my frantic heart. Usually it’s Kadaj who does the terrifying appearing trick but having the longer-haired Remnant show up silently behind me like that still gave me a nasty shock.

“You almost made me drop the baby.”

I’m being sarcastic but his fine brows pinch together in concern. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah, just thirsty. I didn’t want to wake Loz.” I indicate to the bottle of milk on the counter top. “Is it all right if I have some?”

“Of course. Help yourself to anything in the kitchen,” he graciously offers, tightening the sash around his robe, emphasising the trimness of his waist. His hair is straight and shiny, falling below his shoulder blades in a perfect silvery curtain. It looks way too sleekly flawless for this time of the morning. Maybe clones don’t get messy hair or pillow-rumples or motorcycle-tangles. Maybe it’s half silicone or something and never knots up. I breathe in and get a lung full of Yazoo’s tantalising night-lily scent, something I have not smelled since working at the flower shop when I used to put them into bouquets for my richer customers. They are the most gorgeous, exotic-smelling flowers on the planet and my all time favourites. I didn’t even know you could buy their perfume in a cologne. It smells really, really good on him.

Trying to ignore the urge to lean in and sniff his throat, I instead ask, “Where do you keep the glasses? I looked but couldn’t find them.”

“They’re down here. I’ll get you one.”

Yazoo bends down to one of the lower cupboards and as he does so his hair falls away to the side, revealing a tattoo on the back of his bare neck. It’s the same one Loz has on his arm and would normally be covered by the high collar of his trench coat. Nobody would see it outside this lair, not unless Yazoo was naked and someone was having sex with him from behind. I wonder if he lets men do that to him. I wonder if he likes it. I flush and banish the dirty, erotic notion from my mind in case Yazoo can somehow sense it.

After he retrieves a plain tumbler from the bottom shelf, the feminine-faced Remnant straightens and fills it up with the milk on the bench top, passing the full glass across to me.

“Thank you.” I gratefully take a few swallows, aware of Yazoo’s greenly-gleaming eyes on me. Normally, I would have felt excruciatingly self-conscious in front of him wearing nothing but panties and a t-shirt except the t-shirt is one of Loz’s and is so huge it fits me like a dress, providing ample coverage of my breasts and blooming figure.

“I have a confession to make, Cate,” he says, leaning back against the cupboards and crossing his arms over his chest.

“Oh yeah? What is it?” I narrow my gaze at him, thinking that it can’t be any worse than what he’s already told me. “You eat kittens for breakfast or something?”

He chuckles. “No, it’s nothing bad. You know how I noticed your pregnancy this evening in the forest? Well, I noticed it that first night in the club too.”

“I was pregnant then? When you were summoning your Shadow-thingys?”

“Shadow Creepers. Yes. Didn’t you wonder why they weren’t attacking you?”

“You told them not to?”

“I didn’t have to tell them. They sensed that you were connected to us and that’s why they didn’t hurt you. And the only way you could have been connected to us – the only way you could have our cells in your body…” He makes an elegant gesture towards my stomach.

“Was through Loz’s child,” I finish slowly, shaking my head in wonder. “I can’t believe he put his bun in my oven so quickly. I thought it took a couple of days at least. I guess alien sperm are fast swimmers, huh?”

He smiles at my joke. “Even if you hadn’t been pregnant, I still wouldn’t have let the Shadow Creepers touch you. Loz liked you. You were kind to him. For that reason alone you would have been safe.”

“So, you’ve known all along about this baby? And you didn’t tell your brothers? Not even Loz?”

“I knew you were with child that night. I didn’t know if you’d be able to carry the foetus to full term due to what we were. I thought perhaps your human body would not accept the embryo and you would miscarry. I didn’t want to tell Loz he was going to be a father and get his hopes up if it turned out that you lost it. Or that you’d aborted it. When we never heard from you I put it out of my mind, assuming that one of the two outcomes had occurred.”

He slants a look at me. “But then, as the months went by, I started to sense a presence in the atmosphere, like another one of us, as if we had another brother out there somewhere. I wondered if it was Sephiroth returning but then Kadaj noticed it too. He already knew what our Father’s presence felt like and he said this didn’t feel the same. That’s when I knew the child was still alive. And that’s when I knew that sooner or later you would come looking for Loz. I knew his cells would call to the baby and draw it towards us, and that you would have no choice but to follow that call and seek him out.”

And that’s exactly what I did. I glance down at my swollen belly, wondering what would have happened if I hadn’t come here, if I had chosen to stay away and not search for Loz. Would the child have resented me for it when they were older? Would he or she have gone looking for their father anyway? Or would the baby have simply shrivelled up from grief and died inside me?

It doesn’t matter what could have been because that’s not the choice I made. I chose to follow where I was being led and all that matters is that the baby is happy we finally got here. And so is Loz. Knowing that he’s delighted about being a father makes me happy too and I know I wouldn’t have taken a different path even if I could go back and change it. This is the right path. It may be rocky and unpredictable but this is the one I was meant to take. I knew it that night in the club and I know it now. My destiny lies right here.

With Loz.

“How come Loz couldn’t sense it? After all, it’s HIS baby.”

“Loz’s psychic ability isn’t as developed as ours. He has a strong connection to Kadaj and I but not to anyone else. If he knew about the baby it would have driven him crazy and he was already upset enough at not being able to find you. I told him you would come back when you were ready and that he shouldn’t lose hope at seeing you again but he was a very hard man to convince.”

“Poor Loz,” I whisper, imagining how he felt when he thought I abandoned him forever, especially after I promised him I wouldn't hurt him or mess with his heart.

“Don’t feel bad,” Yazoo says kindly. “It wasn’t your fault. Besides, you’re here with him now. You know, you’ve made Loz the happiest man on the planet. Thank you for that.”

“Hey, thank the baby.” I shrug. “Like you said, I had no choice. This kid is the one who told me to come here.”

“But you’re the one who listened. I appreciate how difficult it must have been for you to face us again, particularly after what you saw us do in the club. Those violent things we did…we’re not always like that. Out there, perhaps-” he gestures to the outside world, “- or when we are working a job but here in our home, amongst family…we’re different. Because of how we were raised and how little human contact we had, we find it almost impossible to care about anybody else.”

“Noticed that,” I mutter, thinking of how he almost let that Shadow Creeper eat Justine right in front of me. Their lack of empathy for other human beings must be what makes them such excellent hit men.

Like he can hear my thoughts he replies understandingly, “I know I must have looked like that cold, impassive bitch you first suspected me of being, however, that’s only my public persona. Contrary to the impression that incident must have given you, I actually am capable of caring. I let that girl go, didn’t I?”

“Only because I begged you to. You didn’t care about her.”

“No, you’re right,” he agrees. “I didn’t. She meant nothing to me and her death would not have weighed on my conscience.”

“Then why’d you do it? Why did you listen to me?”

“I’m not sure.” He tilts his head ponderingly, gazing across the room but not really looking at anything. “Perhaps I sensed that you and I would meet again. Perhaps I wanted to prove to you that I wasn’t all bad.” 

He turns to meet my eyes.

“I just want you to know, Cate, that despite what I am and what I have done, you have nothing to fear from me. I did not wish you any harm that night and I do not wish it now.”

A million thoughts racing through my mind, I gaze at Yazoo - this deadly assassin in the guise of a beautiful, mysterious young man. Most girls probably wouldn’t believe him and what he just said. But for some reason I do. I saw him at his very cruellest in that nightclub but in my visions, I also saw snapshots of his softer, gentler side. Him smiling, laughing. Playfully teasing Loz. Hugging him. Brushing back Kadaj's hair. Carefully cleaning a cut on his little brother’s face. The baby kept showing me that side of Yazoo, that affectionate, nurturing aspect, as if trying to tell me that I didn’t have to be afraid of him. Besides, if he really wanted to hurt me, I’d be a corpse already. He could have shot me dead in the forest the moment I turned around. Before that, even. He had a gun pointed right at my head, ready to kill me, and now here he is, sweet as pie, acting all concerned and empathising with my predicament.

“I know you don’t want to hurt me,” I answer quietly. “But I also know it’s only because of the baby. If I wasn’t pregnant, there’s no way you’d be this nice to me.”

“Wouldn’t I?” he counters. “Are you forgetting the little conversation we had in the club? I didn’t have to be nice to you then.”

I stay silent for a few moments, realising that he’s right. After Kadaj scared the hell out of me with his threats, Yazoo was the one who came up and asked if I was okay. He didn’t have to do that. He could have been on Kadaj’s side and not wanted me to get together with Loz but Yazoo was the one who encouraged me to be with his older brother in the first place.

“We could debate the issue all night but it won’t change the fact that you’re carrying my brother’s child. That is what’s important here,” he reminds me. “The baby’s health and your health are of great concern to us. I’ll admit we don’t know the first thing about bringing children into the world but we’ll learn. We’ll find out what we have to do to help you so when the time comes we’re prepared.”

He touches my arm, his voice soft and reassuring. “Don’t worry. You won’t have to do this alone, Cate. I know Kadaj isn’t being very helpful but Loz is here for you. And so am I.”

His unexpected kindness, consideration and generosity overwhelm me and I feel tears pricking at my eyes. Blinking them back, I whisper, “Thank you. That means a lot.”

Glancing down at the t-shirt of Loz’s that I’m wearing, Yazoo comments matter-of-factly, “I hope my big brother has been very careful with you. You’re in a delicate condition now and I know how rough he can be. It’s probably safer if you’re on top and not him.”

His frank forthrightness causes me to blush in the semi-darkness. “Oh, no. We haven’t...um, done…that,” I stutter. “We’ve just been talking. Got a lot to catch up on.”

“I’m sure you do. Try not to stay up too late, though. You need to make certain you get enough sleep.”

“Okay. I will. Thanks for the glass of milk.” And the embarrassing sex advice, I add to myself.

His lips curve, as if he just read my mind. “You’re more than welcome. If there’s anything else I can get you, let me know. Goodnight, Cate.”

I’m still blushing as he walks away.

.........

Later, I’m lying in Loz’s bed, thoughts swirling through my head and keeping me awake. I’m thinking about what Yazoo said and what life is going to be like for me living here. I can’t help being slightly anxious about it and how Kadaj is going to treat me. I know he doesn’t like me and frankly, I don’t like him either but somehow we have to learn to live with each other without causing too much conflict for the other two. I’m just not sure how we’re going to accomplish that. Kadaj has a spiteful, cutting tongue on him and I suppose I’m no better. I never let anyone try to put me in my place or talk down to me as if I’m inferior. I’ll always retaliate with as much scorn and nastiness as I’m spoken to with. I know it’s Kadaj’s house so perhaps I will be forced to attempt to tone down my cursing, tomboyish ways, just for the sake of keeping peace and being allowed to stay. But if Kadaj is going to be a horrible little jerk towards me all the time, I can’t simply bite my lip and keep quiet. That’s not my nature.

Loz is asleep beside me and unaware of my concerns. He didn’t even stir when I came back from the kitchen. He must be one of those heavy sleepers who can only be awoken with a rough shake or a shout in the ear. I’m not. Little noises or movements wake me up all the time. I guess that will be useful when I have the baby, so that I know when it’s awake and hungry in the middle of the night or needs its diaper changed.

With my overly sensitive hearing, I start to detect something that distracts me from my ponderings and I frown, turning my head towards the faint echo. Over the sound of Loz’s deep, steady breathing I can hear somebody moaning and panting swear words. A male voice. I’m pretty sure it’s Kadaj. I thought that since the walls around here are made of solid rock their bedrooms ought to be soundproof. Guess I thought wrong because I’m definitely not imagining this. The younger Remnant is fucking someone. Right now. There are soft answering moans filtering through the stone surrounds of Kadaj's room and into ours, counterpoint to his own, louder, sharper cries. I don’t know who the second set of moans is coming from, probably some cheap slut Kadaj can kick out after it’s over. I picture the strawberry-blonde stripper with big boobs I saw him cavorting with at the club. But didn’t he say bringing girls back here was against the rules? Maybe different rules apply to him since he’s the boss. Whoever he’s with, I don’t want to hear this as it’s icky and invasive so I press one ear against the pillow and cover the other one with my hand, listening to the sound of my own breaths until I mercifully fall back asleep like Loz.  

***



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