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: Thanks to everyone who's still reading. This is dedicated my beautiful friend BMIK. Hope this cheers you up and makes you forget your troubles, at least for a little while!

Chapter 13. Daily life in the Lair.


The next morning when I get up, the cave is light again and Loz is nowhere to be seen. I’m actually glad that he’s got things to do and isn’t hanging around me every second of each day, smothering me with his undying adoration. I love the guy but I’d find it quite disturbing if I woke up and he was there beside the bed staring at me with those intense cat-eyes of his, like some sort of obsessed person who doesn’t want to let me out of his sight. I’ve always preferred to have my own freedom and even though this is his room and his lair, Loz certainly gives me that and I am thankful that he respects my personal space.

Pulling on a pair of baggy boy-style jeans which are beginning to get too tight around the middle, I inspect my belly, suspecting that I’ve actually grown bigger overnight.

“Good morning, kidlet,” I murmur to my unborn child, softly stroking my protruding stomach and getting an answering kick in return that makes me smile. This baby is highly intelligent and knows what I’m saying. I bet it will learn to talk in only a couple of weeks. That thought is more than slightly scary.

I strap on a supportive bra and re-wear Loz’s huge T-shirt, finding it much more comfortable and roomy than my own shirts. Opening the door, I hear voices and follow them down to the hall, sticking my head around the last entrance and finding him in the training room with his brothers. I don’t even know if he came to bed last night when he got home from their job – if he did I must have been sleeping too deeply to notice. I was extremely tired then but I’m wide awake now, looking around in abject awe.

The massive cavern has a polished wooden floor bearing scratches and scuff marks from years of use. The large area is mainly open and clear, like an indoor basketball arena, but on one side there is a yoga mat and a few pieces of exercise equipment including a treadmill, a rowing machine and a giant, inflatable balance ball. A black punching bag hangs from the roof. Nearby there’s a water dispenser and next to that, a weightlifting bench with various barbells and weights resting in racks beside it. At the end of the room is a pinned-up paper target, the human-shaped kind used in shooting ranges. I assume that’s for Yazoo. A blue skipping rope is looped around a hook on the wall nearest the doorway, along with some dark grey towels on a silver rail. A low, long padded seat sits against that wall and the opposite side of the room is completely mirrored, so the guys can watch themselves working out, I presume.

All of them are dressed in gym gear - Kadaj in a pair of black karate pants and a fitted t-shirt, showing his upper body. He’s got strips of material wrapped around his knuckles and his feet are bare. There’s another strip of material tied around his forehead as a sweat band. I hate to admit it but he looks damn cute. Like a teenage ninja. Barefooted as well, Yazoo is in identical pants but instead of a t-shirt, he’s got on a sleeveless racer-back running-top, revealing his strongly-muscled arms and corded shoulders. His long silver tresses are pulled into a tidy ponytail, showing model-like facial bones and delicately-formed ears, which I haven’t glimpsed before since they’ve always been covered up with hair. He looks striking with it tied back and a lot more feminine, if that’s even possible. I can see his neck tattoo.

Loz has forgone a shirt entirely and is unashamedly nude-chested, only wearing the black cotton pants that his brothers seem to favour, tailored at the waist and loose along the legs for ease of movement. His sharply defined hip-lines and packed stomach deserve my admiration for a few moments, likewise with his heavily-constructed biceps and solid chest. Noticing me in the doorway looking, he shows off and makes his pecs dance, tightening them one at a time while grinning at me in greeting. I grin back, letting him know that his shirtless display is definitely appreciated. 

“You gonna watch us working out, girly?”

“If it’s all right,” I answer him hopefully.

“We might be a while,” he warns me. “We usually train for a few hours.”

“It’s okay. I got nothing else to do.” Edging closer to the padded seat, I enquire again, “You sure you don’t mind if I sit here and watch?”

“Nah. We don’t mind.” Loz looks to his middle brother. “Do we, Yaz?”

Yazoo shakes his head and smiles. “It’s fine.”

“He won’t even notice you’re there. He gets into a ‘zone’,” Loz predicts drolly.

Wanting to make some effort and prove that I’m trying to get along with everyone in this male-dominated household, I ask tentatively, “Kadaj, is it okay if I watch you guys training?”

The younger sliverhead just answers with a muttered, “Whatever,” sticks his earphones in, clips his digital music player to his waistband and starts punching the stuffed bag hung from the ceiling in one corner, probably imagining it’s my face. He didn’t say no so I lower myself onto the seating bench and lean against the wall behind me, observing their varying fitness routines with interest.

There’s a stereo mounted on the cavern wall and it’s playing music to help the time pass, some kind of slowly-beating electronic stuff that sounds like a cross between deep, relaxed dubstep and a temple full of chanting monks. It’s actually pretty groovy.

Settling on the weightlifting bench, Loz picks up his barbells and gets right into the biceps-curls while Yazoo stretches to warm up before he does anything else. Taking a calming breath, the slender clone stands upright and bends at the waist to touch his toes. Except he doesn’t just touch them, he reaches past them and puts his palms straight on the floor. It’s like his whole body just folds in half, chest and stomach against his legs, arms wrapping around his calves. Then he straightens and sinks to the floor, sitting on the scuffed wooden boards. He parts his long legs, puts both hands on the floorboards between his thighs and leans forward a little, spreading his limbs wider and wider until he’s in full splits, something that’s not easy for a guy to do. Then when his legs are as far apart as he can get them, Yazoo pushes back and sits in that position, twisting his upper body to either side and pulling against the arch of his foot, first one side and then the other. He’s doing it so casually and easily, as if he’s got elastic joints, and I glance to Loz in amazement. The bigger male grins back at me.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet, Cate.”

Proving how supple he is, Yazoo gets into a standing position again, raises one leg in the air and keeps moving it higher and higher in a kind of graceful ballet-style pose, until it’s way over his head. I stare with my jaw almost dropping. I’ve never seen a guy so bendy!

“Stop showing off,” Loz drawls, rolling his eyes.

Pleased with his own feline flexibility Yazoo smiles, lowering his leg. “You’re just jealous because you can’t do it with those thick, tree-trunk thighs of yours.”

“I don’t need to do it. I can punch straight through a brick wall with my bare hand,” Loz replies proudly, bunching his arm muscles so they bulge appealingly underneath the triple-pointed ninja-star inked in his flesh.

“Oh, Lozzie. You’re such a big, manly brute,” Yazoo fake-purrs with a flutter of his lashes, pretending to squeeze at a pair of boobs that he doesn’t even have. “Mmm…you get me all wet…”

I blink at Yazoo in shocked amusement. With his restrained elegance I never thought he would be the sexually-teasing type, at least not with his older brother, but Loz seems used to it. Unimpressed, even.

“Bite me, bitch-face,” he grunts rudely and keeps hefting his weights, concentrating on making his veins stick out like strips of liquorice. Smirking, Yazoo inserts mini-earphone plugs into each ear, his own digital music player strapped onto an arm. He steps onto a high-tech treadmill and presses some buttons, starting off in a light jog. Gradually, he increases the speed of the electronic exercise equipment, adjusting his pace to suit, his strides growing faster with each push of the button, elbows swinging by his ribs. It doesn’t take long before Yazoo is running like a factory machine, smoothly, quickly and non-stop, the treadmill whirring mechanically. Like Loz predicted, he’s in his zone. As he runs listening to his own music, the pretty middle sibling has got his eyes closed, like he’s off in some other place, some fantasy land that’s far away from this gym room. I don’t know how the hell he can do it without losing his balance. I’ve never been able to run on a treadmill without clumsily falling off, let alone attempted to do it with shut eyes. 

Also in his own zone, Kadaj is now whirling around that punching bag like a little tornado, attacking it so fast that my eyes are blurring trying to keep up with him. As it jerks on its chain, I notice stuffing starting to fall out of the seams of the bag.

Loz slots a few more circular metal weight-discs onto his barbells. He’s now kneeling on the bench with one leg, extending his bulging arm backwards towards the floor and slowly pulling it up again, lifting far more than the average human body-builder could ever manage and not even sweating. In fact, none of them are. It’s like they’re not working out, just merely taking a stroll in a park.

“You guys really are freaks, you know that?” I mutter while laboriously getting up,  the sheer effortlessness of their exercising making me feel fat and grossly unfit. They’re so concentrated on what they’re doing, I don’t think they even heard me.

I rebel against their excessive training by going to the kitchen and frying up a large breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese and spinach, eating it at the table by myself. Glancing at that sparkling clean gas stove, I bet it’s the first time it has ever been cooked on. Well, now that I’ve moved in it certainly won’t be the last. Gotta make sure I keep my protein intake up. I want a strong, healthy baby, not a sickly one, although judging by the vigorous way he/she kicks me in the ribs when it’s hungry, I don’t think that will be an issue.

After gulping down a chocolate-flavoured milk in a tall glass and washing all my dishes, I head back to the bedroom and continue unpacking the rest of my things, making space in Loz’s closets and on his shelves. His room is plenty big enough to fit a child’s cot in there, even though I don’t actually have one yet. I need to sort that out soon. I’ll also need a change table and a comfy nursing chair. The idea of breastfeeding and getting sore, chapped, leaky nipples doesn’t thrill me but it’s one of those motherly duties I know I’ll have to do, along with changing stinky diapers and wiping up curdled milk-vomit.

Motherhood sounds so gloriously glamorous, doesn’t it?

With my stuff put away, I return to see if the guys have finished working out yet. They haven’t. It sounds like a death-rock concert in there, Loz’s preferred music blaring from the speakers of the stereo, all thrashing guitars and hoarsely screaming vocals. The volume has been turned way up. It doesn’t seem to bother the other two that Loz has taken control over the sound system as they have their earphones in, listening to their own music - Kadaj’s probably angsty, rebellious teen punk or something while Yazoo is most likely playing classical. Either that or black metal. You wouldn’t know for sure with him, being the complex individual that he is. Yazoo is off the treadmill and is using the skipping rope now, staring fixatedly at himself in the wall-mirror (or looking right through it in concentration). His fringe flops across his eyes. That’d annoy the shit out of me but he doesn’t appear to notice. Flicking his wrists in repetitive motions, he jumps with both feet for a minute and then with alternating steps, one foot then the other, as if he’s jogging on the spot but really fast. He’s skipping so rapidly I can’t even see the rope; it’s a blue blur, his arms tensed and wired like a bunch of electrical cables.

They’ve finally begun to sweat. Loz is glistening all over with it, drops falling from his chin and the tip of his nose, rivulets running down the centre of his chest and wide back, rolling down his spine and disappearing into the soaked waistband of his pants. I admire his large, muscled frame for a few moments. He looks damn hot, in both senses of the word.

Kadaj’s t-shirt is drenched through as is his head-band, his saturated hair hanging like strings around his face as he viciously punches and kicks the poor battered bag in front of him. Meanwhile, Yazoo just looks kind of dewy, the silver-grey bangs across his forehead delicately damp; the only moist patch showing through his tank-top is on his upper back, underneath his still-neat ponytail. How he manages to look elegant even when he’s skipping and perspiring I’ll never know.

They all have different work-out routines but one thing that the three brothers have in common are their wonderful bodies, although they are not completely identical. Loz is big and bulky, Yazoo is tall and slender while Kadaj is somewhere in between, strong but not too masculine, slim yet not too girlish, the eighteen year-old leader’s body lean, firm and perfectly in proportion to his slightly shorter height. I don’t like the little fucker at all but I can’t help being secretly impressed by his athletic figure. Not that I’d ever tell him that.

Sensing that I’m watching him, Kadaj stops, pulls out one of his earphone plugs and gives me a flat look. “Can I help you?”

He sounds like a bored shop assistant.

“No. I’m just surprised you’re still going,” I remark.

“Well, it takes a lot of work to look this good,” he declares drawlingly, grabbing the front of his t-shirt and lifting it up to show off his fit tattooed belly. A little thrill zings through me at the sight. His ab-muscles are small but hard and clearly delineated, showing beneath his skin which is wet and gleaming with salty moisture. The three-pronged ink design he got in conjunction with his brothers sits well below his navel, obscenely close to his groin and drawing the attention downwards, like it’s supposed to. I can see the beginnings of dampened silver pubic curls edging over the top of the pants that are slung low on his trim hips. He slides his hand slowly down that lightly-rippled stomach and trails his fingertips suggestively over the permanent black pigment embedded in his sweaty skin, as if he’s thinking about touching lower. There’s an interesting bulge down there and I briefly wonder how many inches it measures. I can actually smell the scent of Kadaj’s masculinity from here, that alluring scent of sin that always seems to hover around him. And it’s mouth-wateringly sexy. Just like he is.

Wait – what the fuck am I thinking??

I jerk my gaze back up to his face, horrified that I’ve been openly checking him out. He smiles at my expression and I flush in embarrassment, hastily looking away from all that bare white flesh.

“Loz, Kadaj is exposing himself to Cate,” Yazoo mentions without breaking his focused stare or missing a step.

Previously too engrossed in lifting heavy weights to notice, Loz’s head whips around and he scowls darkly when he sees what his wicked little brother is up to. “Kadaj! Stop that shit.”

“What?” Kadaj answers naively, tugging his shirt back down with widely innocent eyes. “She wanted to see my tattoo.”

“I did not!” I exclaim in outrage, pointing accusingly at the trouble-causing karate-kid. “He just flashed me for no reason.”

“Like you weren’t looking,” Kadaj replies, smirking evilly, knowing precisely that I did.

“I was NOT looking,” I flatly lie, turning away like I’m offended by Kadaj lifting his shirt even though part of me is still salivating over what was underneath it.

“Aw, come back, Princess,” the taunting triplet cajoles sweetly and mockingly as I walk towards the door. “I’ll miss you too much if you leave! My whole world revolves around you, Cate, don’t you know that?”

“Go screw yourself,” I fling back over my shoulder. “Dick.”


Just then Loz growls and there’s an almighty crashing thump, like he threw his dumbbell at Kadaj and missed. I flinch but keep walking, refusing to look back.

“You say that to my girlfriend again,” Loz threatens Kadaj heatedly from behind me, “and I’m gonna bash your fucking skull in!”

The sound of Kadaj’s merry laughter follows me down the hall. He’s in a much better mood than before, when he started to train. Must be the endorphins kicking in at last. Well, I don’t care what he says or what he calls me. He’s just doing it to be an ass. Thanks to my experience with teenage foster-brothers, I have thick skin and can withstand his jeers and insults. Although, it’s lovely of Loz to stick up for me. He really is a sweetie-pie. In a tough, aggro kind of way.

I’m on his bed reading a fantasy novel about elves and centaurs when he finally finishes training and comes to take a shower, bringing the smell of pure, hardworking man with him. His bare torso is still glimmering with sweat, every muscle rock hard and every vein pumped up to the max. I peek at him over the top edge of my book, hoping he’ll undress in front of me. He just stretches and goes into the bathroom, still wearing his karate pants. In those, and with that hair, he looks like some kind of street-fighting video game character. He stops in his tracks when he notices all the girly products I’ve put on the vanity top, frowning in particular at the perfume bottles.

“Uh, Cate? Are you gonna use that stuff?”

I put the novel down. “Of course, why?”

Uncomfortably, he suggests, “Well…I don’t think you need it. You smell great just as you are.”

“Oh shit, your flower phobia!” I exclaim, having forgotten about that little quirk of his. “That’s why you don’t like perfume, right?”

He winces. “Not really. The smell makes me queasy.”

Deciding that I want Loz to kiss me and not vomit on me, I get up, enter the bathroom and start throwing the offending perfume bottles in the bin. They’re only cheap imitations of the real brands anyway.

In alarm he blurts, “Hey, you don’t have to toss it all out!”

“But I want to.” I gesture towards him with a glass vial in the shape of a rose. “Look, I don’t wanna put something on my skin if it makes you feel sick. What kind of girlfriend would I be if I did that?”

“They don’t ALL make me feel sick,” he amends. “Only the flowery ones. Whichever one you were wearing that night at the club, keep that.”

“This one?” I find the heart-shaped bottle and open the cap so he can sniff it. “You like this?”

“Yeah.” He nods. “ I like that one. It smells like strawberries.”

Together, we go through all my perfumes, lotions and shower gels, Loz sniffing them and giving me his approval or not, allowing him to choose which to keep and which to toss. Anything smelling of roses, violets or lilies has to go, especially lilies, Loz visibly recoiling at the sweet scent like a vampire at garlic. Anything that smells like food or fruit, such as coconut, raspberry or vanilla, can stay. He especially likes my cocoa butter body moisturiser which has a smooth golden texture and warm chocolate aroma. I use it on my belly and breasts because it supposedly helps to prevent stretch marks. I don’t know if it really works or is just a clever marketing scam but it’s worth a try. 

After we sort all that out, Loz stands there awkwardly, waiting for me to leave so he can take a shower. Even though he’s got no problems displaying his manly chest, I guess he’s still too shy to undress completely in front of me so I smile understandingly and shut the door behind me, giving him his privacy. 

I try to read more of the book I started earlier but my mind keeps wandering off into deliciously naughty Loz-under-the-shower fantasies, imagining water pouring over all him and running into every well-cut line of his marble-like body.

After he’s clean and dressed again, Loz asks if I want to go for a ride through the forest on his bike. He vows that he’ll be careful. Since I’m a daring kind of girl (and have been on motorcycles before), I agree and we head up to the garage, Loz telling me to sit in front of him for safety’s sake. It’s exhilarating straddling one of those metal battle-beasts, feeling it rumble and roar beneath me like a mechanical monster. My foster brother Jaren had a bike too and he even let me have a go at riding it around the back yard but it was nowhere near as massive or imposing as this rusty-green, tank-like vehicle with its front-loaded weaponry, triple intake-valves and enormous exhaust pipes. Loz guides my hands onto the steering column, down a bit from his, so I have something to hold onto. When he changes into first gear and takes off with spinning tyres and a sudden surge of power, I jerk backwards against Loz’s solid chest, glad I’m not on the rear of the bike or I’d have fallen straight off. He exits the garage though the sliding boulder-doors and soars into the woods with me.

If I had long hair, it’d be streaming out behind me as we fly through the parade of crystal trees in the pale bluish light of the afternoon sun, Loz gunning his mammoth motorcycle and taking corners with controlled speed and accuracy. He might not be the best at controlling his emotions but he really owns this thing and knows exactly how to handle it. Sitting on the front of the bike and experiencing the sheer force of the gear-grinding motor under me is scary-fun but that’s the best type of fun, in my opinion. I’m not truly afraid though, because Loz is right there at my back protecting me and I know he won’t let me fall, even though the wind resistance pushes at me like a hurricane and nearly dries my eyes out. My face is flushed with exhilarated adrenaline by the time he parks near what is either a large pond or a small lake, cutting the engine. The resulting silence makes me realise just how loud that engine had actually been, my ears ringing from the noise.

“Dude. That was awesome!” I enthuse, my heart still racing with the rush. “Even though a bug nearly hit me in the fucking eye.”

I rub at the spot where the hard-shelled insect bounced off my cheekbone.

“Yeah. That happens,” Loz comments as he puts the kick-stand down with his boot. “Should probably get you a pair of goggles.”

“Definitely, because we totally have to do this again.” Patting the fuel tank, I announce, “This the most powerful thing I’ve had between my thighs since that night in the club.”

Grinning at my complimentary innuendo, Loz helps me off the bike, making sure I don’t get burnt on the hot exhaust pipes. My legs are shaky from the ride, as if getting off a rollercoaster. He takes my hand and walks me over to the calmly rippling pool nearby. That giant sea shell monument-thing sits on the other side of it, radiant white tree-branches reflected in the wide expanse of water. We perch on a large fallen log, Loz sitting behind me and slipping his arms around my swelling middle, both of us looking out over the lake. Small globes of white light float through the air like living things, periodically fading away and reappearing. I’ve seen these before. Some people say they are natural pockets of gas that catch alight and burn themselves out. Others say they are balls of energy escaping from the planet’s core. Some people even believe they are souls that haven’t yet passed into the Life Stream. Children call them fairies. I don’t know what they are but they’re pretty to watch. Sighing deeply, I lean back against Loz’s broad torso and just admire the trancelike view of the floating lights, glowing trees and undulating lake, watching the sun going down and the sky turning darker. It’s so peaceful. Even the baby is quiet and still inside me. I can see why it’s called The Sleeping Forest.

“Sometimes, when I’m sad or angry, I come here to swim,” Loz mentions a little while later in a soft tone. “As soon as I get in the water it makes me feel better. It’s always warm and comforting. This is gonna sound stupid but it’s like getting hugged, y’know?”

He rests his chin on top of my head. “Even just looking at it calms me down. Yaz and Kadaj come here too. It’s kind of our lake. It’s yours now too, little girl, and you can swim in it or visit whenever you want.”

Nodding, I gratefully acknowledge his permission. I can tell it’s a very special place to him. It seems filled with mystery and magic, not seeming quite real, almost like a dream-scene. There are places on the planet that are closer to the Life Stream than others, places where you can sense Gaia’s healing spirit more strongly, and this is clearly one of them.

“The first time I was here looking for your house it was scary as hell,” I confess to Loz, “but now that I’m with you…this forest is really beautiful.”

“No, you know what’s really beautiful?” Loz answers, murmuring lowly in my ear and giving me tiny spine-shivers. “You, Cate.”

He hugs me close, pulling me into the front of his body. Within moments, I can detect his hardness growing against my back. Realising that I can feel it, he shifts and buries his face bashfully in my neck.

“Sorry. I can’t help that.” He sounds guilty. “Is it wrong to want you, even though you’re carrying a baby?”

“It’s not just a baby. It’s YOUR baby, Loz,” I remind him, turning to meet his troubled gaze. “And it’s okay - I want you too. Hell, I wanted you from the moment I first looked into your gorgeous green eyes.”

“I wanted you even before that,” he reveals. “I saw you in the club, sitting on that bar stool in your short skirt and those knee-high boots… and damn. That was it for me.”

“Ah, so it WAS the boots.” I grin teasingly. “I knew it.”

An interested gleam shines in his eyes. “You still got them?”

“I do. Shandi gave them to me. She didn’t want them back knowing I’d gotten pregnant in them.” I give a wry, slightly sad smile, wishing we could still be friends. “They used to be her lucky boots. Seems like they’re mine now.”

Reaching up, I touch Loz’s handsomely whiskered face, knowing that the loss of Shandi’s friendship was worth it, if it means having this big-hearted man in my life. Friends come and go and you can’t always count on them but I don’t think Loz will abandon me so easily. He promised to be there for me no matter what and I believe him.

I lift my chin up, inviting him closer, and he lowers his head so our lips connect. Returning his gentle kiss I turn around further, slinging my arm around his neck. He gathers me into his lap, both of us closing our eyes. Losing track of time, we make out on the fallen log for a while, giving each other slow, sweet kisses that make my skin tingle pleasantly. He rubs over my belly, feeling its rounded tightness and the baby’s little movements beneath. When his hand moves upwards and begins to fondle my similarly-swollen breasts through the clothes I’m wearing, I don’t stop him; I just slide mine up his shirt so I can feel his smoothly muscled chest, his heart thudding robustly under my palm. I’ve never felt a heartbeat as strong and sturdy as his. I brush my thumb over his flat male nipple, delighting when it gets hard. Mine have hardened too, not that he can tell with the padded maternity bra I’ve got on. He doesn’t seem to mind about the layers of material separating us, appearing happy just to be close to me.

“Here,” I breathe, taking his wrist and guiding his fingers underneath the shirt I’m wearing and into the cup of my bra, moving it aside. “Touch me properly.”

A  low groan echoes at the back of his throat when he feels my naked flesh, his large hand completely cupping the warm weight of my left breast. “So soft, little girl…”

I love how he calls me that, even though I’m not so little anymore, not with the major expansion of my stomach and all the other female curves on my body.

“Mmm, that’s nice,” I murmur in bliss as his fingertips roll over my erect nipple, our mouths and tongues connecting again. While we’re kissing, I knead his firm pecs and trace around his amazingly chiselled abs, every now and again brushing over the bulge of his groin. I’m aware that we’re probably desecrating the peace and sacredness of the forest by doing this, making out like a couple of randy high-school kids, but I don’t care. Touching Loz, and having him touch me, feels too good and we don’t wanna stop. We probably won’t have sex here but I might allow his caressing fingers into my jeans and I could take out that impressive male weapon of his and stroke it, giving us the pleasure we both desire without rushing things too quickly.

Sometime later, he draws away, though with great reluctance. “We should head back home,” he sighs disappointedly, removing his hand from under my shirt.

“Aw, do we have to?” I complain, feeling a throbbing between my legs that hasn’t been soothed yet.

“Afraid so. My brothers want dinner. They’re hungry.”

“You can tell that all the way from here?”

He hasn’t gotten any text messages on his phone so he could only know this via their alien telepathic connection. Shaking my head in disbelief, I rearrange my bra and comment, “It’s incredible how you can read each other’s minds and know what you’re all thinking.”

“I guess.” He shrugs, used to it. “But sometimes it’s annoying. Like, I can always tell when Yaz and Daj are horny and I don’t really wanna know because...” He swiftly stops, looking uncomfortable.

“Uh…forget I said that.”

“Gladly,” I declare, not wanting to know about his brothers’ sex lives either. Who they sleep with is their own business and I do not require such private information. It’s awkward enough hearing Kadaj moaning in the middle of the night when his whore comes over; I don’t actually need to know who she (or he) is or what they do together.

It’s been great out here alone in the woods without having the mean-tempered youngest clone around, not seeing him smirk at me, or hearing his scathing remarks and copping his hateful glares. This forest is the only place I’m completely free of him. Mildly dejected that I have to go back and face my teenage tormenter, Loz and I get back onto the bike and return to the lair. Yazoo and Kadaj are already waiting in the garage for us, sitting on their motorcycles. Yazoo seems eternally patient, as always, but Kadaj rewards me with another fiery scowl for making them wait so long. Ignoring him (which is getting easier with practice) I climb off the bike, kissing Loz on the cheek and thanking him for the ride before walking off down the corridor. Unfortunately, the sound of their voices follows me.

“You look a little red in the face, Loz.” I hear Kadaj jeering lewdly as they rev their engines. “Did you give her a ride, brother, or did you give her a RIDE?”

Loz’s response is instant and irritated. “Go choke on a cock, Daj.”

Yazoo chuckles.

“You choke on one too, Yazoo!”

That just makes the middle Remnant laugh harder, probably because he never chokes on them. I bet he’s too skilled for that. Kadaj joins in the laughter, asking whether I spit or swallow.

“Fuck you guys. You can swallow my dust, bitches!”

With a competitive Loz in the lead, the boys all roar off into town to get fast food while I shake my head exasperatedly and make my way down the underground passage to the main part of the lair. As strange as it seems, I kind of like hearing them bicker like that. It reminds me of my last foster home and the rambunctious lot of boys I used to live with, including Jaren. They’d carry on like that too, making sex jokes and picking on each other, but I knew all the jesting was done in mutual fondness. Just like these brothers. It’s comforting and makes me feel as though I’m part of a real family.

I cook a nourishing dinner for myself in the kitchen – steamed rice, tofu and vegetables. Freddie materialises on the floor beside my feet, the huge grey reptile scaring the crap out of me with his sudden appearance. He must have learned that trick from Yazoo. He gazes up at me with those creamy-orange eyes like a scaly puppy dog, evidently used to being fed scraps at dinner time. I tentatively toss him a small cube of tofu and surprisingly, he eats it, probably mistaking it for chocobo meat or something. He licks his lizard-lips expectantly and I smile, tossing him another cube of bean-curd which he catches in mid-air with tiny teeth. Besides being tame, he’s actually very cute. After he’s had enough, Freddie slowly wanders off, dragging his long tail behind him.

When Loz and his brothers return they are loaded up with containers of what mostly appears to be fried meat with BBQ sauce on it. Being a vegetarian I am disgusted in myself to realise that all that cooked dead-animal flesh actually smells pretty good. Eating with their hands instead of cutlery, the guys devour their dinner like lions at a carcase, tearing off bites of flesh with their teeth, leaving nothing behind but platefuls of bones. They may only eat once a day but they damn well make it count, eating enough for six people. I try to ignore the tempting meaty aromas drifting across the kitchen table and eat my healthy meal, wondering why tofu  - which I normally love - suddenly tastes so bland and flavourless.

The dinner conversation mainly consists of Kadaj’s cryptic messages from their mother and possible locations where she could be concealed, Kadaj debating them with Yazoo and Loz, the three of them planning to check out all the different regions surrounding Midgar over the next few weeks. Some of their conversation is silent - the parts that Kadaj deems unsuitable for me to know, not that I’d blab to anybody anyway.

If Jenova can talk, I wonder to myself why she doesn’t just TELL Kadaj exactly where she is, saving them all this speculation and searching. The again, maybe she just doesn’t know where she’s being kept. It seems likely that it’s underground somewhere, judging by what Kadaj says and how dark it is where their mother’s body is being stored. I eat my tofu and stay out of the discussion, since I have absolutely nothing to contribute, although I secretly find it kind of creepily fascinating that they’re looking for a dead alien. That seems to be their main driving force. Finding her. I can tell that the brothers miss Jenova, even though they’ve never known her in person. Loz told me that they go around questioning people, trying to find out where she is. And by ‘questioning’, I assume that means ‘torture for information’. I guess whoever is hiding the ancient alien remains wants them to stay hidden but Kadaj seems hell-bent on finding them. It’s obsessive. I can’t help wondering what will happen when he succeeds.

I hope he doesn’t bring some dried-up old corpse back here to stink the place out but from the way the boys speak about their mother, it’s as though she’s not dead, just merely in some type of suspended animation. Kadaj insists that she speaks to him, that she gives him instructions and wants him to find her. If Jenova’s mind is awake and communicating then maybe she’s not rotten or mummified. Maybe her body is still whole and perfect and just looks like she’s at rest. Like a sleeping beauty from fairy tales. All the science-fiction films I’ve ever seen run wildly through my head and I envision an ethereally-perfect pale-skinned woman lying on a slab, her slender figure covered with a white sheet, hooked up to tubes and monitoring machines. Perhaps she’s just lying there somewhere deep beneath the ground with her eyes closed, waiting to be found and freed from the evil scientists holding her captive and experimenting with her cells. Maybe when she’s rescued Kadaj can somehow heal her injuries with his magic, somehow bring her back to life, and then the boys can be a family again. That’s what I’m guessing. That’s why they want to find her so badly.

I wonder what she’s like. Jenova must be beautiful, if her sons are any indication. She must have the same silver hair and green eyes. If she’s an ancient being, then she must possess wisdom and great knowledge. If she wants Kadaj to find her then she must be missing him too, and all of her children, even though they were made while she was asleep. She must be loving and kind, to care about sons she’s never met. Perhaps she would even treat me like a daughter, since I’m carrying part of her in my womb. She would be my child’s grandmother. Even if she’s not from this world, I still want my child to have a grandparent, since both of my own parents are gone and I have no other living relatives. It would also be nice to have another female in the lair, someone who can help me with the baby and be the guiding, motherly presence that I have missed out on all these years. For all these reasons, I actually hope Kadaj does find Jenova.

We all need a mother.




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