BY : Rina76
Category: Final Fantasy Anime > Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children
Dragon prints: 1486
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.

Chapter 22. Paxx and Power

I need to get out of the lair for a while. After what I saw when I touched those blood-smeared Shin-ra ID cards, I need to avoid Kadaj. I can't look at him without seeing him jam his sword hilt into Tseng's stomach or wrap his hand around Elena's throat so the next morning I arrange to have brunch with my foster brother Jaren, whom I haven't seen since that night in the club. He graduated from college and is now working as an engineer but has a day off so he's able to meet me. He doesn't even know I'm pregnant and has probably wondered what's happened to me and why my flower shop has been closed down. I ask Loz to drop me down town at the coffee house where we will be meeting. Loz wants to stay and keep a protective eye on me but Kadaj needs him to come back ASAP as they have some more investigations to conduct concerning Mother's whereabouts. I tell Loz it's perfectly okay if he leaves and that I don't need a bodyguard. Jaren and I are just having coffee and cake in a little café. What could possibly happen there?

Loz seems worried that the baby could come but I assure him it's still two months away and therefore highly unlikely. I promise Loz that I'll call straight away if anything DOES happen, leaning in to kiss him through the window of the truck. For a moment, I think I see Reno the Turk staring at us from across the street, but when I look again, he's gone and I'm not entirely sure he was even there to begin with. I know I saw somebody standing there but it could have been someone else, a complete stranger. I mean, Reno can't be the only guy getting around in the world with flame-red hair and goggles. Can he? I decide not to mention it to Loz, kissing him again before he drives away.

Jaren calls to tell me he can't make it to our meeting. A work thing came up. But we do have a little chat on the phone, Jaren telling me that his job is going well and that he might propose to his girlfriend soon. He asks what I have been up to and I tell him that I closed my small business because I got sick and couldn't run it anymore. I say that I have a new boyfriend, who I am now living with. Jaren asks me a few more questions – what's my boyfriend's name, what is he like, what does he do for a job – and I have to lie. The more I speak to my foster brother, the more I realise that I can't tell him anything. I can't even tell him I'm pregnant because he'd want to come and see the baby when it's born and I can't invite him into the lair. I realise that meeting him would have been a bad idea because if I was lying straight to his face, I'd feel like a terrible human being and I already feel bad enough, telling fibs over the phone. But it's the only thing I can do and for the first time I realise that all the friends I've ever had, all the people I've ever known…I can't be friends with them anymore. Telling anyone the truth about my baby and about Loz and his brothers would just put all of us in danger. My old life is over. I just have to accept that.

We say goodbye on the phone, promising to catch up soon, and as I disconnect the call, I realise that that's probably the final time I'll ever speak to Jaren. That makes me really, really sad. With some time to kill before Loz comes back to collect me, I walk into the café and emotionlessly give my order of a spiced chai latte to the black-aproned person standing behind the counter, not paying attention to who's serving me, until he speaks.

"Well hello, little miss Purple Cocktails."

I jerk my distracted gaze upward, meeting a pretty pair of violet eyes that I'd never thought I'd be looking at again. The mouth below them is smiling and very attractive.

"You!" I exclaim, staring at a familiarly fine-boned face surrounded by blue spikes of hair. "Bar Guy. What are you doing here?"

"This is my day job. I only work the club at night. And it's Paxx, by the way." He indicates to his pinned-on name tag: two Xs.

"Paxx Fair."

"Cate Armstrong," I reply, formally introducing myself, even though we spoke a great deal when we were both at the club, him mixing drinks behind the bar and me drinking them.

"It's great to see you again, Cate," he says with a slightly flirtatious smile, talking to me as he's brewing my chai tea and artistically decorating a piece of pie, doing two or three things at once like he does when he's bartending. His sleeves are rolled up like they were last time I saw him, only now his shirt is black instead of white, but his arms are still strong and toned.

"I'm so glad you weren't eaten," I joke, reminding him of the Shadow Creepers Yazoo summoned before all hell broke loose in the club. "Thanks for what you did too, warning me of the massive beast standing right beside me."

"No problem. You seemed like a sweet girl and I didn't want you to get hurt. Too many people got hurt that night."

"I know. I was watching the bodies pile up."

We can talk freely about the bloody brawl we witnessed as we're the only two people in the café at present.

Squirting whipped cream onto the plate beside my warm blueberry pie, Paxx glances at my rounded belly. "It seems like congratulations are in order. When are you due?"

I tell him and he stares at me, calculating the dates. "It's Loz's kid, isn't it?"

I blink in surprise. "How did you know?"

"I saw you two go into the bathroom that night. Plus, I noticed him dropping you off outside just before," he admits with a sheepish shrug. "So, are you and the big dude together now?"

"Yeah, I live with him," I answer, realising that I can tell Paxx things, unlike Jaren, because he already knows that Loz, Yazoo and Kadaj aren't entirely human. Jaren doesn't even know Loz's name but Paxx does. Working at the club and seeing the silver-haired trio on a regular basis, he probably knows more about them than even I do.

"Is he treating you well?"

"He is," I insist. "What you see at the club…he's totally different with me. He hasn't hurt me in any way and is surprisingly gentle."

"That's good to hear. I noticed Loz had a soft spot for you," Paxx remarks. "All the times I'd seen him hunched over that bar like some kind of scowling gargoyle, and he never got up and danced with any other girl. Except for you."

Even though it was seven months ago and Loz and I are living as boyfriend and girlfriend now, it still thrills me to hear that I had such an effect on him.

"I bet it's weird living with him and his two bros," the blue-haired bartender/barista comments, swirling berry sauce around the pie-plate.

"It can be," I confess, thinking of green sparkly blood and the other strange stuff I get to see from my vantage point inside the lair.

"So, you realise they're all cloned from a dead alien, right?"

Shocked, I blurt out, "You know about Jenova?"

For once, Paxx's smile is missing, his friendly eyes hardened to violet stones. "My older brother Zack and his best friend Cloud were taken captive by Shin-ra and injected with Jenova cells."

"Shin-ra? Like the power company?"

"The very same. They tried to make my brother and his friend into super-soldiers. They failed," he reveals grimly. "Zack died in battle, fighting against an army belonging to the very people who experimented on him. So yes, I know all about the Jenova project."

Still in shock, I ask, "They experimented on humans? I thought they just made baby clones in fish tanks…"

"They did both. It was mostly the doing of one utterly mad Professor Hojo. He's dead now, thank Gods," Paxx interjects, "but some of his experiments live on. And you're shacking up with three of them."

I don't know what to say about that. Loz never mentioned humans being injected with cells from Jenova. Neither did Yazoo, when he was telling me the story of their origins. Maybe they don't even know about the human experiments. I'm dismayed to learn that there were actual people subjected to the same kind of torture and suffering that Loz and his brothers were, people who weren't born with their exceptional healing capabilities or tolerance to pain. I can imagine what Zack looked like – like an older, more muscled version of Paxx – but I can't imagine what the poor guy went through at the hands of that evil Professor Hojo and his accomplices.

"I'm so sorry about your brother, Paxx," I finally say in a quiet tone.

"Me too," he replies sadly. "Zack was a great man and didn't deserve what happened to him."

"Nobody does," I concur, glad that all those soulless scientists are rotting in the ground where they belong. I'm glad Loz, Kadaj and Yazoo killed them all when they escaped from the lab. I'm glad they can't experiment on anyone anymore. That's one positive thing I can get out of this whole depressing conversation.

"What happened to Zack's best friend?" I ask. "Did he die in battle too?"

"No. Cloud's around somewhere. He's been affected by the whole ordeal, but he's still alive. I think he's a motorcycle courier or something now, and he still carries my brother's sword with him."

"Oh. That's nice."

My hot tea and artfully dressed pie are ready so Paxx carries them over to a table near the window, helping me sit in my chair, since I'm so heavy and clumsy nowadays.

Before he leaves, he scribbles on a piece of paper from his notepad, ripping it out and handing it to me.

"Listen, Cate, if you ever feel at risk being around those biker clones, or need to get away from them, call me," he urges, leaning down so I can see the seriousness in his face. "I have connections and can help you. I don't wanna see anyone else get hurt because of that damn project."

"Thank you for your concern, but I feel safe with Loz. He may have cat-eyes and extraordinary physical abilities, but inside he's more human than alien." Trying to sound casual, I enquire, "Do you know what happened to Jenova's remains, by any chance?"

Paxx shakes his spiked head. "As far as I know, there are no remains left. But if there are any, they'd be kept under tight lock and key. Why do you ask?"

"Just curious. I hope that project isn't being continued by a new bunch of scientists."

"I don't believe so. It was a huge disaster and many people died because of it. I don't think anyone wants a repeat of that. Not anyone sane, at least," he adds.

There's more I'd like to ask him but I don't know who his connections are or what the ramifications will be if he finds out that the three Remnants I'm living with are on the lookout for their mother. Paxx seems genuine and has no ill-will towards Loz or his siblings but I don't know if I can fully trust him.

"Hey, can you do me a favour? Can you not tell anybody about me or that I'm pregnant with a half-alien child? I know Loz and his brothers have enemies and I don't want anybody kidnapping me or using my baby to get to them."

"Oh, I understand," he says reassuringly. "Like I said, you seem like a sweet girl and I promise I won't do anything that might put you or your kid in harm's way. But please, just be careful around those guys and call me if there's anything I can do for you."

"I will. Thanks, Paxx. It's nice to know there are caring young men like you in the world." I smile at the blue-haired bartender to show my gratitude.

"You're welcome. Enjoy your pie." He smiles back, returning behind the counter to serve newly-arrived customers while I sip my tea in reflective silence. A million things are whirling around in my brain now, a million questions.

Shin-ra is bad. The Turks work for them. Are the Turks bad? Are Tseng, Elena, Reno and Rude bad people? Or are they just innocent employees as I saw in my vision? Does the president of Shin-ra hide knowledge from his own employees, as Elena stated?

What about Jenova's remains - have they been destroyed since they were removed from the crater? No, that can't be true because Kadaj still feels her, still speaks to her. And a massive corporation like Shin-ra wouldn't get rid of something that they can use to their advantage.

Then there's Zack and Cloud. They were injected with Jenova cells and Cloud is still alive. Does that make him somehow related to Kadaj, Yazoo and Loz? Can he feel their presence because of those cells? Does Cloud think of Jenova as a mother too? Does he remember where he was experimented on and could he lead Kadaj to that location? Would he help them find Jenova or would he try to stop them?

The laboratory that Loz and his brothers burned down upon their escape would not have been the only one in existence, so if they could track down another underground lab, like the one Cloud was held captive in, they might very well find Jenova.

And then they can have their mother back. They can stop all this relentless searching and just be a family again.

One thing is certain: I have to tell the guys everything I've learned.

Back at the lair, the three Remnants are very interested in what I tell them about my conversation with Paxx, especially Kadaj. He's never listened to me with such rapt attention, especially when I get to the part about Cloud still being alive. He thanks me for the new information, adding that it has been very helpful. I make him promise not to interrogate Paxx, or that if he does, just to talk to the blue-haired bartender and not torture him. I remind the guys that Paxx has never done anything to make himself an enemy of theirs, and that he in fact tried to protect me that night in the club when the Shadow Creepers were running amok. But Kadaj doesn't seem that interested in Paxx anyway because he's essentially an unimportant human, not having any Jenova cells in him whatsoever. He's just the brother of someone who did. Kadaj now has someone else to track down. Someone much more important.


Knowing that they have another 'brother' out there has changed Loz, Yazoo and Kadaj. Their behaviour and demeanour changed almost as soon as I spoke to them. Now, they seem more energised, driven and focused on their search for Mother and they appear to be planning something on a large scale. They start having family meetings but they never invite me to join them. They talk in hushed tones, shutting the door if I venture too close. Sometimes they talk right in front of me without saying anything at all, silently exchanging glances and nods until it creeps me out and I have to leave. I see them huddling over maps, pointing at things. They disappear all day and don't come back until late at night. Loz has been modifying their bikes, fitting bigger machine guns to the fronts of them. Whatever it is that they're planning, it's going to be big. And dangerous.

I know they need to be reunited with Mother but I'm worried about Kadaj and the lengths he will go to in order to find her. I still haven't gotten over what I saw him doing to Elena and Tseng when I touched those Shin-ra ID cards.

The youngest clone notices that I am purposefully avoiding any close contact with him and he soon starts asking questions, approaching me as we come across each other in the hallway where the bedrooms are. I slow down, not wanting to accidentally touch any part of his body in case the baby shows me something else awful about him.

"What's the matter, Cate?" Kadaj stops and cocks his head. "Did I do or say something to offend you?"

I decide to tell him the truth. "I know what you did, Kadaj. In the crater? I saw it."

His eyes widen. "You had a vision."

"Yeah. The baby showed me what was going on, what you guys were doing to those Turks. To Tseng. And Elena," I say defiantly, wanting him to be held accountable for his crimes. "I saw you with her, on the floor, your hand around her neck. I saw the way her shirt was ripped open, the fear in her eyes."

Kadaj's pupils turn thin and threatening. "You think I raped her?"

"I don't know. Loz said you didn't but I'm not entirely sure about that."

Stepping up closer, he invites, "Look at me. At my face, my hair. My body. I'm beautiful. Do you really think I need to FORCE anyone into having sex with me?"

"Rape isn't about sex," I counter, hating the breathlessness in my words and the way my blood reacts to his nearness, heating and quickening in my veins. "It's about power."

"I already have power," he reminds me in a velveteen purr, "It's called Allure. I got it from my Father and with it, I can have anything, or anyone, I choose. You feel it, don't you?"

He leans in closer, so that his face is mere inches from mine, green eyes locked onto mine, his incredible silver-white beauty stealing my breath, my voice, my will, making me stumble back bonelessly against the wall. The darkly intense scent of his Allure envelops me in an unseen vapour, making me feel dazed and drugged. All I can think about is how lusciously soft his mouth looks and how much I want to have his slim, strong figure up against mine, his hands stroking over my skin, his silky hair brushing across me. I find myself wanting Kadaj, wanting to kiss him and feel him kissing me back, wanting his lips on mine and his tongue in my mouth.

"I could even have YOU, little Catalina," he continues in that seductively sensual tone, the eighteen year old Remnant holding me enslaved and enthralled with his mesmerising aqua alien-eyes. "Couldn't I?"

I shake my head wildly, trying to deny my own increasing arousal. "No!"

"You might have been able to resist me in the club. But the closer I get to Mother, the more my powers grow. Now, nobody can say no to me. Not even you," he murmurs promisingly. "I'll have you naked and writhing against me before your brain realises what's happening. And even then you won't care. All you'll want is for me to keep going, to please you again and again, to bring you to the dizzying heights of ecstasy you've only ever dreamed about. What you read in romance novels – I can make that real for you. I can make you feel that way."

Moaning at the suggestion, I arch my back and expose my throat to him, unable to help it. "Shut up. Just shut up."

Not paying any notice to my feeble attempts at resistance, Kadaj's lips move to my ear, hot breath ghosting into it, causing chills to race up my spine. "Do you want me, Cate?"

"No," I groan again, knowing my body is betraying me and getting wet for him, my thighs shifting apart in an unspoken invitation. I clench my hands into fists so that I don't reach for him.

"Oh, yes," he continues in a deliberately sexual tone. "I could have you right here and now and you wouldn't fight me. You wouldn't even want to. You'd be panting my name after one single…" Here he licks my neck, lightly with the tip of his tongue, making me gasp and jolt with an erotic shock.


"Stop!" I cry, terrified that what he just predicted is going to happen and even worse, that I will LET it happen. He's right – if he kisses me, or even touches me again, I won't be able to refuse him. I'll be begging him for it, pleading for him to pull my panties off and fuck me right up against the wall.

"Please, Kadaj. Don't." I'm whimpering desperately now, turning my face away from him, trying to get his sinful scent out of my head. "I get it, okay? I get it. Please stop now."

His point proven, Kadaj gives a superior, "Hmph," and then steps back, letting his alluring power subside. His pupils are still thinned, though, and it's unnerving to have those two black slits focused on me so knowingly and haughtily.

"You see? Humans are all the same. So easy to manipulate. Why would I take someone without their consent when I can have them so very easily and willingly?"

Trying to recover my dignity and anger, I reply, "Even if you didn't rape that Turk girl, I still saw the way you were treating her. Threatening and intimidating a tiny woman like that? You should be ashamed of yourself."

Kadaj's hand snaps forward, snatching my wrist and gripping it hard.

"How dare you," he hisses frigidly. "How DARE you presume to know what happened in that crater, you foolish girl! You know nothing about it. You might have seen parts of the scene but you weren't there. You didn't see what happened beforehand. How would you feel if your mother was still alive and someone stole her away, right in front of you? And then lied about where they were taking her? Wouldn't you be angry too? Angry enough to want to hurt someone? Hm?"

His grip is so tight I can feel my wrist-bones grinding together, sharp pain beginning to shoot up my arm. My hand is starting to go numb from where he's cutting off my circulation.

"My wrist…you're crushing it," I whisper, even more afraid of Kadaj now than before, when he was seducing me.

He glances down, as if only just realising what he's doing, and then lets me go, white finger-marks standing out on my blood-starved skin. I cradle my wrist, staring up at his taller form with frightened eyes.

"You don't know us," he says frostily. "You think you do but you don't. You don't understand us. You're not one of us. In fact, you're only still in this lair because Yazoo convinced me to let you stay, to keep Loz happy. Don't make me regret that decision because I can easily get rid of you."

Whirling around, Kadaj stalks away.

I stand there, shaken. He almost broke my wrist. That night in the lake, he was so nice to me, so gentle and considerate, and now it's like that moment of bonding never happened. Was that a death threat he just gave me? Surely he wouldn't do anything that might harm the baby? Or would he? Either way, I'm starting to get really afraid of Kadaj and what he's capable of.

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