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.

Chapter 28. Grief.

When Loz runs out of tears, I help him walk back into the lair, get him out of his ruined leather suit and put him in the shower. I only ask one question: what happened to him that caused all these injuries? In a dull monotone, he explains that he was blown off the top of a tall building and got covered in tonnes of falling rubble. He would have been home earlier, he adds, but his spine was shattered and he couldn't move until it healed. Leaning his shoulder against the shower wall, Loz closes his eyes and stands there under the spray of hot water, letting it wash away all the dried blood and grey plaster dust. He stands there for a long time. I eventually have to turn the faucets off and tug him out of the steamy cubicle. Loz remains in a state of sheer exhaustion as I gently dry him off with a towel.

Now that his skin is clean, I can see exactly how hurt he was, all his injuries in various stages of repair. His left leg was badly broken and still looks bent. The splintered end of his thigh bone must have protruded right out of the muscle and skin but it has retracted now, leaving a still-healing gash with jagged edges. There are similar gashes on his sides, where his ribs must have busted through due to the sheer weight of debris pressing down on his body, crushing him. His lungs must have been punctured as he's breathing a little shallowly and I bet other internal organs were ruptured too. The deep laceration on his forehead shows right through to the bone underneath and it wouldn't surprise me if his skull had actually been fractured by a fallen piece of concrete or a steel beam. The skin of his arms, back and torso is covered in scrapes, scratches, cuts and dark greenish-purple bruises. And this is AFTER he's had time to heal. I cannot imagine what he looked like before and I try to keep the shock and worry from showing on my face.

I don't bother with antiseptic or bandages as he doesn't need them. Nothing is bleeding. Nothing is sticking out of his body anymore and the leftover puncture wounds will take care of themselves without any help from me. All this damage looks awful but Loz's flesh will soon return to its normal perfect state. I know I have cursed Jenova to hell and back and wished she never existed but right now I'm thanking the Gods that Loz was cloned from her, purely for his alien regenerative abilities. If he was human, there's no way he would have returned to me alive.

Loz doesn't seem to care if he has clothes on or not so I assist him into bed, naked, pulling the sheet up over his bruised and battered body. Climbing in next to him, I hold him comfortingly, trying not to touch any of his deeper gashes. On the surface, his flesh feels warm from the shower but under that, it's cool, as if he's lost a substantial amount of bodily heat along with blood. He's utterly drained of energy but he can't sleep. He just lies there, blankly staring up at the ceiling, and then, as if remembering that Kadaj is dead, he starts sobbing. I try to soothe him as he cries in between these long sleepless silences.

I can tell when the physical pain of being separated from his little brother begins to affect Loz – he grows cold and clammy, his large frame shaking and shivering. This is different to all those times the scientists split the boys up during their sadistic tests. Back then, Kadaj was still in the underground laboratory complex, just in another room, and it took longer for the pain to begin. Now he's not here. He's not anywhere to be found and Loz's cells know it, reacting to the sudden and total separation like a drug addict in forced withdrawal. After he shakes and shivers, the biggest Remnant gradually gets hot, his skin burning like he's got a fever, sweat pouring off him in rivers. He's panting. I wipe him with wet washcloths dipped in ice water, trying to keep his temperature down. He groans, then grits his teeth, trying to be strong but eventually his groans turn longer and louder until he's screaming, thrashing in the bed as all the muscles in his body start cramping and seizing painfully. I have to move away from him to avoid his flailing limbs, or he could accidentally hit or kick me in the stomach.

It's unbearable to stand by and watch the man I love suffer so dreadfully but I know there's not much I can do to help poor Loz. All I can do is fetch a bucket for him to throw up in when his stomach cramps become too much. He vomits a lot of blackish-green blood. When his belly is empty he curls up on his side and turns cold and shivery again, mumbling to himself as if he's in a delirium. At one point he moans and reaches out a trembling hand towards the wall, towards the room Yazoo is in, as though he wants to offer comfort, feeling his surviving brother's misery as though it is his own. I can't hear a sound from Yazoo but that doesn't mean he's not suffering just as terribly. He's simply doing it in silence. I want to go check on the middle Remnant to see if he's all right but decide it's probably best if I leave him be. Besides, he's not alone. If Loz can feel him, then Yazoo can feel Loz and he will know that his older sibling is there on the other side of the wall, going through this grief with him, sharing it, both of them enduring the torture together.

And then there's the baby.

The child inside me is restless, twisting and turning and kicking within my body as though they too are going through the same painful withdrawal, experiencing the same profound loss of a family member, their cells also crying in anguish for what has been taken away from them. I can't feel the physical pain but I can sense the baby's distressed despair and the depth of it brings tears to my eyes. Once again, there's nothing I can do about it. I feel so helpless. Sitting in an upholstered chair in the bedroom, I stroke my moving belly and whisper reassurances but I can't console my baby any more than I can console Loz or Yazoo.

Kadaj is gone, their bond is broken, and they just have to endure this horrific torment until it passes.

I keep watch over Loz. After some hours, when he has finally slipped into a very deep slumber, the remaining nicks and abrasions on his skin heal right up before my eyes. The ugly bruises fade, leaving his flesh marble-white and pristine again. The bone-deep gash on his forehead knits over and disappears, thanks to the power of restorative sleep and his alien cells. By now, I'm pretty exhausted myself and I curl up in the padded chair with a pillow and blanket, getting some sleep too.

I wake up late in the morning to find Loz thirstily draining the jug full of water that I left for him on the bedside table, having been severely dehydrated from all the blood he lost and all the sweat that dripped off him during the night. I ask him if he's okay, and Loz nods and says yes, but I know he's only talking about his physical wounds. The wounds inside his heart and soul are going to take longer to heal. I go to him and lovingly kiss his forehead, right where the nasty wound used to be.

"I'm so sorry about Kadaj," I say softly. I don't know how the youngest clone died but it's not important right now. I'm just showing Loz that I care about his loss. He nods again and draws me down to him, needing me near at this time of sadness. Both of us sitting in the bed holding hands, he reveals the whole story of what happened the day before. I didn't ask Loz to tell me but it gushes out of him like a sickness he needs to purge. His voice breaks while he talks but he manages to tell me about everything: what Kadaj didn't want me to know and what he had planned. Loz speaks about the Geostigma and the children Yazoo lied to, how Kadaj tricked them into drinking negatively-polluted water so he could gain control of them. He speaks about the memorial monument in Edge and about how Yazoo conjured the Shadow Creepers and made them attack the parents of the children that had gathered there. He tells me how the kids were rescued and mentions a little girl called Marlene that he protected.

He speaks about the young woman called Tifa that he fought with in a church amongst a carpet of lilies, and tells me how he found materia inside that church. He informs me how Kadaj used that materia to summon a giant dragon named Bahamut SIN, making it appear out of the sky above the city and terrorise the panicked people below. He tells me about the Turks – Reno and Rude – and explains how they tried to kill him and Yazoo with a bomb in a freeway tunnel.

Loz talks about their older sibling Cloud Strife who is one of the good guys sworn to fight against them but whom they love as a brother anyway. Like Paxx told me, Cloud has Jenova cells in his body but he is not evil like her. Loz tells me about the deceitful Shin-ra president Rufus who had a vial of Mother's blood, hiding it under his cloak from Kadaj. He speaks about how the vial got damaged and how Kadaj absorbed what was left of Mother's cells, triggering the Reunion. Loz says that Jenova never appeared. Instead, Sephiroth returned and overtook Kadaj's body, the former General callously using his own Remnant as a vessel, Loz recounting the ensuing destructive battle with Sephiroth and Cloud. He describes Cloud being stabbed and taunted by the silver-haired man but fighting back, Cloud's sword splitting into pieces and then striking though Sephiroth's one-winged figure, Cloud finally forcing their cold-hearted father to leave Kadaj's body.

Loz tells me how Kadaj tried to attack Cloud in his final moments but was too weak and collapsed, Cloud catching him in his arms in a surprising display of brotherly protectiveness. Loz reveals how he and Yazoo saw Kadaj go back to the Life Stream, how he turned into a shower of green sparks that drifted into the air and disappeared. Loz says that Mother lied to them about the Reunion and that she really wanted Sephiroth all along, not Kadaj, or she would have saved him.

The last thing Loz says is how he watched his little brother die right in front of his eyes and couldn't do anything about it. I get the feeling there is more to the story, something that happened afterward, but he can't go on after telling me that. He's crying too hard.

"Why are you with me, Cate?" Loz asks between sobs. "I don't deserve you. You're so kind and so good and I'm…I'm not. My parents are evil. I came from them and that evilness is always gonna be in me. I can't get it out."

Squeezing his hand, I reply, "You don't have to be like your parents. You can choose to be different. I know you can - you're a good person inside."

"No, I'm not. I'm not even a person. I'm a thing," he replies, sounding sickened with himself. "Just a thing made in a lab. I'm nothing!"

"That's not true," I argue emphatically. "It doesn't matter where you came from or how you were made. You're not a thing, Loz. You're a man." I cup his jaw and make him look at me with his tear-filled eyes. "A beautiful, sensitive, sweet man with a big heart and a kind, caring soul and I love you just the way you are."

His voice breaking again, he says, "Aw, Catey. I should have listened to you. You were right about everything." He suddenly hugs me tight. "I'm so sorry, little girl. Please don't leave me. Please!"

"I'm here, honey," I assure him, rubbing his now-healed back soothingly. "I'm here and I won't ever leave you. I promise."

When he can talk a little while later, Loz tells me the rest of the story, how Yazoo shot Cloud right through the heart so they could all die together, all four brothers as one. He tells me how they were beginning to fade in the rain and feel the pull of the Life Stream themselves when Cloud made a final effort to attack them. Loz speaks about how he and Yazoo used the spheres of materia in their arms to send a burst of power at Cloud and describes how it caused a massive explosion which threw the two of them right off the building. Explosions can't kill super-creations like Loz or Yazoo. Fire can't kill them. But the long fall down almost did, Loz and Yazoo hitting solid concrete and breaking many of the bones in their bodies upon impact. Covered in blood and heavy chunks of rubble, they had to lie there in agony and wait for the fractures to sufficiently heal up before they could dig themselves out, find one of their bikes and ride back to the cave.

"Oh, Gods. If you hadn't come back I don't know what I would've done," I choke out, the stress, fear and anxiety of the last twenty four hours hitting me all at once. "You could have died, Loz. You could have died and left me and the baby all alone."

Now it's my turn to cry, burying my face in his chest.

"But I didn't. I told you I'd come back," he replies, holding me protectively and stroking my hair. "I ain't leavin' this kid without a father, all right? I ain't leaving YOU. I love you, Cate. I love you so fucking much."

Then, hugging each other, we both cry together.

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