BY : Rina76
Category: Final Fantasy Anime > Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children
Dragon prints: 1511
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: Warning: contains self harm, cutting and blood.

Chapter 30. Bleed

When Loz has gone for a ride, his surviving brother finally comes out of his room. I'm pleased to see that Yazoo has shaved and bathed, his neglected hair smooth and shining again. He's wearing black karate pants and a tank top which appears baggy on his thinner torso. The tall gunman has lost a noticeable amount of muscle during his period of grief, but once he starts eating my home-cooked meals, he'll be back to his strong, fit self in no time. I say hello to him and he nods. Yazoo is obviously still not in the mood for talking but it's a positive sign that he's acknowledging my presence. He goes into the training room with Kadaj's double-bladed Souba. I peer curiously around the doorway and see the middle Remnant beginning to assume various sword-fighting poses, spinning around and slicing at the air as if duelling with an invisible opponent. He moves elegantly and efficiently, his long hair swirling around him in a silver arc. I didn't realise that Yazoo could use a sword but evidently he can. It's nice that he has something personal of Kadaj's, something he can hold in his own two hands. Training with that will be therapeutic for him and will also help keep Kadaj's memory alive.

I leave Yazoo to his exercise and return to the kitchen to make lunch – a hearty stew of beef and potatoes. I have been preparing meat-based meals for Loz, buying it from a little farm just out of town, run by a lovely family who raise all their animals on organic feed, let them roam grassy pastures and practise humane slaughtering techniques. Although I am sad that animals have to die for food, I am comforted knowing that they led happy, free-range lives and were killed quickly and painlessly and did not suffer. I can choose not to eat meat but Loz physically needs it, due to his alien appetite. Sometimes the smell of it cooking makes me a little queasy but at least he doesn't have a taste for human flesh, as Jenova seems to.

Freddie the lizard keeps me company as I cook, waiting on the floor near my feet for any scraps that I might toss to him, the grey reptile blinking expectantly up at me with orange eyes. I should probably stop feeding him so much; he's getting fat.

When the stew is finally ready, I go to see if Yazoo wants some lunch. When I enter the training room, I find the slim sniper kneeling on the ground, bits of silver scattered all around him. With shock, I realise that it's his hair. He's hacked it all off. When my eyes focus in further, I see that his hair is not the only thing he's cut. Yazoo's arms are slashed from wrist to shoulder with rows of twin cuts and on the floor around him are small puddles of blood. His tank top and pants are wet with dark, sparkling fluid.

"Good Gods!" I gasp, instinctively rushing in. "What have you done?"

I stop when I realise that he's still holding the sword, the blue-handled weapon laying across his lap, the two blades stained with his blood.

"Kadaj used to like my hair long. No point in keeping it now that he's not here," Yazoo says in an eerily emotionless voice, not looking up at me but down at Souba. "There's no point to anything anymore."

"Put the sword down," I urge, my heart thumping with fear. Not fear of him hurting me, but fear of him hurting himself. "Put it down and slide it across the floor, Yazoo. Please."

No response.

Trying again, I say persuasively, "Come on, sweetie. I just need you put it down so we can talk. Just for a minute, okay?"

He keeps staring at the sharp blades, the cuts on his arms leaving bright green trickling trails on his deathly white skin.

"Yazoo, please. You're scaring me," I admit tremblingly. "That means you're scaring the baby too. If you don't do it for me, do it for the baby."

He finally does what I ask, placing the sword on the floor, blunt side down, and pushing it away from him. He pushes it so hard, the metal weapon skitters across the wooden floorboards and comes to rest against the far wall of the gym, far enough from both of us so that I feel safer, knowing he can't just reach out and grab it.

"I failed him, Cate." Yazoo speaks in a blank, dull tone. "I should have saved Kadaj. I should have done something. I should have…"

Here, he falters, staring off into the nothingness.

"You couldn't save him, Yazoo," I offer softly. "Nobody could."

"Perhaps not, but we should have gone together. I shouldn't have let him die alone."

"He didn't die alone. Loz said that Cloud was with him," I remind Yazoo. "Cloud was holding him."

Yazoo's following words are bitter and full of self-blame. "He should have been in MY arms. I should have been the one holding him."

Attempting to remove some of his guilt, I state, "You were weak and injured. It's not your fault, Yazoo."

"Yes, it is. Kadaj is all by himself now. I should be with him." Yazoo pauses and glances across the room to where Souba lays, his tone turning quiet and final. "With his blade I can be. If I pierce my heart deep enough it won't heal in time."

Terrorr and alarm rushing through me at his suggestion, I exclaim, "No, Yazoo! Don't say that! Don't you even THINK it. Don't you dare!"

"But I don't want to be here anymore." His eyes are hollow, just like his voice. "I want to go where my little brother is."

Oh, Gods. If I don't do something urgently, Yazoo is going to commit suicide right in front of me. He's going to get up, grab that sword and drive it into his own chest. My panicked mind frantically races, trying to think of some way to get through to him, past his resignation and complete loss of hope.

Alpha! He needs an alpha to stop him. But Loz is not here. Fuck it, I'm gonna have to take my own advice and fake some leadership.

"How would Kadaj react if he heard you talking like this?" I say angrily. "Like some pathetic fucking loser?"

Yazoo glances up at me in surprise and I continue, making my voice loud and bossy so he takes notice. "Do you think it's what he'd want you to do? Just give up and kill yourself? No! He saved you from that laboratory so you could be free and not be cruelly tormented anymore. He loved you that much, he sacrificed his own brethren and burnt that place to the ground so you could live. Wasting your life and the lives of your unborn brothers so thoughtlessly… Do you think Kadaj would be pleased?"

"I don't…I don't know," Yazoo says in hesitant confusion. I latch onto his uncertainty.

"He'd be pissed as hell if you gave up now. You're better than that; you're stronger than that. You can't quit, Yazoo. I won't let you," I order him. "You didn't survive two explosions and a fall from a building just to stab yourself in the chest a few days later."

I grasp his chin and force him to look at me, not at the sword.

"You're one tough, badass fucker. You've survived shit I cannot even imagine. You were meant to keep on living, and that's exactly what you're gonna do," I tell Yazoo commandingly. "You're gonna make your little brother proud. You're going to live for him. Do you understand me?"

The kneeling Remnant slowly nods. "You said something bad would happen if we went looking for Jenova and you were right," he whispers. "I didn't listen and now Kadaj is dead…"

Suddenly, his mask-like face twists into a grimace, his body jerking in physical pain, as if Kadaj's Souba had been abruptly plunged right through him and yanked downwards. I watch Yazoo's composure splitting apart with an abrupt slash of grief, leaving him laid open in front of me, his bleeding heart and soul gushing all over the floor just like the cuts on his arms did.

Clenching both trembling, bloodied hands in his shortened, ruined hair, Yazoo starts to cry, probably the first time he's allowed himself to since his brother died - perhaps even the first time in his entire life - but the choked moans and raw anguished noises torn from his throat don't sound like any weeping I've ever heard. It sounds like he's being tortured, like all his internal organs are being slowly ripped out of him, one by one, piece by excruciating piece. He sounds like he's dying. It's as though he's never cried before and doesn't know how to handle it, being so helpless, so confused and lost. I used to think sometimes that he had no emotions but that's not true. He had them. He just didn't always express them or allow himself to feel them properly, locking it all behind a wall of coldness and impassivity. And when you keep repressing feelings for so long, this is what happens.

You break down completely.

"I'm sorry for not believing you, Cate. For the way I treated you. For everything," he manages between sobs. "I'm such an awful, awful person."

Unable to bear seeing him in such agony, I kneel down and lay my palm on his bent back. "It's okay."

"No, it's not. I was ordered to kill you," he confesses in soul-wrenching guilt. "I was ordered to get rid of you straight after the birth and give the child to Kadaj."

I am shocked at this news but let him continue, Yazoo purging all the dark secrets inside of him like spewing out poison.

"I was supposed to make it look like an accident, like you bled out. I was going to tell Loz that something went wrong during the delivery and that I couldn't stop the haemorrhaging. But I had to let you die. It was what Mother wanted. I'm sorry, Cate. How could I even think of…of doing such a thing? To you? To your baby? I'm so s-sorry…"

He's sobbing so hard he can barely speak, hiding his face in his hands as if he's ashamed of who and what he is. I take Yazoo in my arms, not caring that I'm getting his blood on me, and hold his shaking figure as tight as I can, tears streaming freely down my own face. I'm not afraid of him. Not anymore. The cold, unfeeling, obedient soldier-clone that he's talking about died the same day Kadaj did. This Yazoo, this crying, bleeding young man on the floor in front of me, is somebody entirely different. He's almost like a newborn child, nakedly vulnerable, overwhelmed by the world and his own feelings, and he needs somebody to comfort him. Since there's no-one else around, I have to be that somebody.

"You weren't yourself then, Yazoo. Jenova was controlling you but I forgive you for all of that, all right?" I soothe him, seeing how truly regretful he is. "I forgive you. And so does the baby."

He cries harder, clinging to me as if afraid that I'll go. First Jenova abandoned him, then Sephiroth and now it must feel like Kadaj has left him too. I stay there on the floor, hugging Yazoo, letting him know that even though I'm no relation to him whatsoever, I'm not going to leave him. I'm not going to abandon him or toss him aside like he's nothing, like he doesn't matter. Right now, he needs to feel like he does matter, like someone on this planet cares about him, and the Gods honest truth is, I do. I care about Yazoo. I always have.

All my motherly instincts come to the forefront and I hug the grieving Remnant, whispering assurances and stroking his once-beautiful hair. Severed strands of silver come away in my fingers. His head somehow ends up on my belly and it calms him, Yazoo's agonised sobs fading away into harsh, gasped breathing and then, eventually, silence. He keeps his ear pressed to my stomach, his eyes closed as though listening. It's like the baby is talking to him, telling him that everything will be all right. I'm not sure if that's what happening or if he can hear the baby's heartbeat but there's definitely some kind of clone-connection going on and even though my feet turn numb from me sitting on them I stay there and let Yazoo listen because it's the only thing that seems to be comforting him.

Eventually I shift my position on the floor, wincing at the pins and needles in my feet as the feeling comes back into them. Yazoo lifts his head and looks at me, drying tear-tracks on his cheeks. He appears unsure of what to do next.

"Help me up, Yazoo," I say with my hand outstretched, giving him direction, as he seems to need. "Let's get you cleaned up before Loz gets home."

I escort Yazoo into his own bathroom and tell him to shower. While he's doing that, I sweep and mop the training room floor, getting rid of all the clumps of hair and pools of congealed blood. Thankfully, the mess is restricted to one circular patch, directly around where Yazoo had been kneeling, so it doesn't take too long to clean up. I carefully pick Kadaj's sword up by the tasselled handle, wrapping it in a towel and leaving the gore-covered weapon in the laundry to deal with later. Then I go change my own clothes and take a wash, Yazoo's blood having soaked through to my skin beneath like green dye.

When I return to his room, Yazoo is sitting on the bed waiting for me, as I instructed. He has washed his hair but it doesn't look any better, all the ends rough, uneven and choppy, the way a doll looks after it has been attacked by a child with scissors. It's above his shoulders now, even shorter in some places. He's wearing pyjama pants and nothing else, allowing me to see the full extent of his wasted frame. I try not to wince at how much his collarbones and ribs are sticking out and how sunken his stomach is, instead focusing on the lines of blade-marks on his arms. They should have clotted already but the cuts are still sluggishly oozing emerald fluid. Normally he'd be fully healed by now, however, Kadaj's cursed sword is toxic and prevents healing. Yazoo won't die from the wounds like a human would, but it will take him a while to get the toxins out of his system. I have some gauze pads and bandages with me and I start to stick and wrap them along each arm, covering the rows of twin cuts.

"Must feel weird to you, huh?" I comment as I'm playing nurse. "Getting patched up instead of the one doing the patching?"

The poor guy is so emotionally exhausted that he cannot say anything or even raise his head anymore but he lets me do this. As I'm fastening the ends of the bandages around his left bicep, I am very careful not to poke his skin with the pins. I know he's a strong super-being but right now Yazoo appears so fragile and delicate and I don't want to cause him any more pain, no matter how minor.

Once he is suitably bandaged, I make him eat some of the stew that I cooked, staying by his side to make sure he actually consumes it and doesn't flush it down the toilet. Then I tell him to get some sleep, Yazoo curling up on the bed without objecting and shutting his eyes. It's so strange for me to be giving the skilled gunman orders, and it's even stranger for him to passively do whatever I say but I assume his own personality and independence will return eventually. He just has to learn how to exist on this planet without Kadaj. He has to find his purpose once more. Like the day he crawled out of the smoke-filled laboratory air vent into the world above, Yazoo has to learn who he is, all over again.

Luckily, he has his older brother, and me, to help him with that new journey.

When Loz finally returns from his long ride, he knows something happened. He must have sensed Yazoo in distress, all those miles away on his bike and raced back as speedily as he could. Unzipping his motorcycle jacket, Loz comes charging down the hallway and into the kitchen, a worried expression on his face.

"Where's Yaz? What happened? Is he okay?"

At his rapid-fire questioning, I lay a calming hand on Loz's arm. "He's in his room. He cut himself with Kadaj's sword but he's all right. They're only shallow wounds."

Loz's anxious frown deepens. "What? You mean, he cut himself on purpose?"

"Yeah. Just on his arms," I explain, motioning with two fingers on my own forearm to show the precise rows that Yazoo created with the blades. "I bandaged him up, gave him some food and put him to bed. Oh, and he chopped all his hair off too, just so you know."

At this information, Loz closes his eyes, his face changing with different emotions: relief, sadness, guiltiness, anger. He clenches his fist as if he wants to punch something but then rubs that hand across his furrowed brow and then along his whiskered jaw. "Shit. I knew I shouldn't have left him alone."

"Don't blame yourself, honey. You couldn't have known," I say to Loz in a kind tone, embracing him around the waist. "Yazoo's grieving pretty bad. He was crying afterwards. I think the cutting was something he needed to do to cope and he just didn't want to do it with you around to see him. He knew it would upset you."

Loz nods, accepting this. He kisses me on the top of the head, murmuring gratefully, "Thanks for taking care of him, Catey."

"Of course. But you better go check on him," I recommend. "He's pretty messed up at the moment."

Taking my advice, Loz goes to Yazoo's room. I watch as he enters and sits on the bed. Yazoo is turned away from the door, lying on his side. Forehead creased in concern, Loz reaches out and tentatively touches Yazoo's hacked-up hair. Sensing Yazoo's fragility at this moment, he's particularly gentle with his younger sibling, tenderly stroking his silver head much the same way as a parent comforts their child after a nightmare.

Softly, Loz asks his brother, "Are you all right?"

The middle Remnant must have answered telepathically as I don't hear him reply out loud but Loz reacts to whatever Yazoo said in his mind, his handsome face pinching in pain.

"It's okay, Yazzie," he returns sadly, using a pet name for his brother I've never heard him say before. "I still love you."

Loz's caring tenderness makes Yazoo start sobbing again, sand the last thing I see before I leave them alone is Loz bending over to gently kiss Yazoo on the temple, a tear of sorrow and shared grief already starting to slide down his own cheek.

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