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 31. Healing

Loz stays with Yazoo all night.

In the morning he announces that he has to go do a job as we're running short of funds. Somebody called Loz's number earlier to request the services of a 'debt collector'. A couple of years ago, Kadaj put up an anonymous advertisement online and this is where the majority of their employment comes from. People call, say what dirty deed they want done, get a quote and then book it in. It has to be paid upfront, of course, or the deed doesn't get done but whoever booked this job has already agreed to meet Loz and give him the money first. Loz is going by himself as it's only a simple task (I didn't ask but I assume it involves intimidation and general thuggery) and he can handle it alone. Besides, Yazoo is in no fit state to be working again yet.

"I told Yaz to get his bony ass out of bed and eat something. Make sure he does, Cate," Loz instructs me as he's pulling on a pair of gloves. "He needs to get his strength back, especially if those Turk bastards find out we're alive and come after us again. You tell me if he doesn't follow my directions, okay?"

"I will. You be careful out there," I answer, kissing Loz goodbye and watching him leave, his long legs striding purposefully towards the garage, his back straight and jaw set with determination. He could have crumbled with all the stress and grief he's suffered lately. He could have turned into a helpless, useless child crying in a corner but instead, he is stepping up and becoming the rock of this family. He's taking charge and making sure we're going to be all right. I'm so proud of how assertive and mature he has become. Everything he has lived through, all the tragedy and betrayal and pain, has made Loz into the man I knew he could be, the leader I knew he could be, and I love him even more because of it.

I mix flour, milk and eggs in a bowl on the kitchen counter. A couple of sliced bananas and a cup of chocolate chips are added shortly. A frying pan is heating up on the stove and I toss in a spoonful of butter. When it's sizzling, I pour in a dollop of the batter out of the bowl and carefully watch for bubbles to form before flipping the pancake over. There is fresh coffee in the percolator, rich and strong, the way the guys like it.

I don't know if it's the pleasant smells that lure him out but Yazoo emerges from his room and enters the kitchen, looking almost shy, the middle Remnant probably embarrassed about the way he was acting last night.

Pretending it's just any other day in the lair, I smile brightly and greet him with an upbeat, "Morning, Yazoo."

"Good morning, Cate," he replies quietly, pouring himself a cup of hot coffee. He is wearing black pants and a dark grey top with long sleeves, so you can't see the cuts on his arms. The top looks baggy on his slender frame.

"I'm cooking banana choc-chip pancakes," I inform him, starting to stack them on a plate. "You have to eat some or Loz will kick your butt."

"I know. He told me." Yazoo takes a seat at the kitchen table with his steaming mug, self-consciously smoothing down the back of his shorn hair. It looks like he's been working on it in his bathroom, trimming and shaping the chopped-off silver strands so that they don't look so rough. It's now cut so short that the black, 3-pointed ninja-star tattoo is completely visible on the bare nape of his neck. But the front sections are still long enough to frame his face and are soft and feathery, offsetting and complimenting the bluntness of the back.

I nod approvingly at his new hairstyle. "I like what you've done with it."

"What's left of it, you mean. I feel so naked." He sighs, rubbing at his exposed neck. "I bet Kadaj would hate it."

"He wouldn't. He loved you for more than your hair," I offer.

He smiles but it doesn't last long. "It's funny, Cate. Everyone thought Loz was the most emotional out of all of us but Kadaj...sometimes he could be so -" He halts mid-sentence and just sits there gazing across the room, his head tilted in remembrance of some special shared moment, his eyes clouding over with a depth of grief I can't even begin to imagine.

"I can still feel him," he whispers agonizingly. "I know he's gone but I can still sense him there, like he's on the other side of a brick wall I can't reach through. Oh Gods, it hurts so much."

It shocks me to hear Yazoo being so open and honest with his feelings. That he would speak of them out loud only emphasises how real and painful they are for him. He's like a completely different person now. I don't know what to say or do that would help so I turn the stove off, move close behind him and slip my arms around his seated figure, something I wouldn't have normally done before last night but because of that incident – how Yazoo let me see him at his most vulnerable – the slim Remnant and I have had a chance to connect. Like I did then, I hug him as tight and close as I can with my big belly between us. I'm sure if my baby had enough room to move they'd be hugging him too. Wishing I could do more for poor Yazoo, I put my chin on his shoulder and listen to the sound of his heart breaking.

He doesn't react for a minute or so but then he slowly reaches up, placing his hands on top of mine and leaning his head against my cheek. He doesn't cry. At least, not on the outside. Anyway, I think he cried enough the previous evening, enough to last him a lifetime. It's going to take him a long, long while to recover from Kadaj's death. If he ever will. It would be impossible for him to completely get over it. For two people as closely bonded as they were, it must feel like losing an arm; you can function without it but you always know it's missing.

"Cate, the things you said to me last night...What you did for me...I just wanted to say that I appreciate it. Very much." His voice is close to my ear, quiet and sincere. "You helped me through a very dark time and I need to thank you."

"No need. That's what family do for each other," I answer. "And I don't think you're a pathetic loser, by the way. I was just trying to make you listen to me."

"I know," he replies with gratitude.

I draw back to look at him, concern showing in my eyes.

"Yazoo, promise me that you're not going to do what you spoke about last night. If I walk into your room and find you like that...or Gods forbid, Loz does..." I draw in a shuddering breath, imagining Loz seeing Yazoo covered in blood with Kadaj's sword sticking out of his chest, dead. "Loz already lost one brother. Don't make him lose another one. For his sake, just please, please promise you won't do anything stupid. Promise me."

Yazoo gives a brief shake of his head. "Don't worry. I won't leave Loz. What I did and said...I just wanted to feel something else apart from..." He stops and swallows hard.

I squeeze his hand to show that I understand what his pain drove him to do.

"I'm going to do as you said and live for Kadaj," he vows. "I promise you that."

Relieved, I ask, "So, you'll be okay?"

"I'll never be truly okay," he confesses sadly. "But I'll survive, like I always have. Besides, somebody has to be an uncle to your baby."

Turning, he touches my stomach with gentle fondness and I smile when the child within moves in response.

"Looks like the baby likes that idea." Slightly changing the subject, I continue, "Yazoo, can I ask your opinion on something? You're gonna have to come with me."

Puzzled and intrigued, the tall gunman gets up and follows me down the hall. I bring him to a supply room, bigger than a closet but not quite bedroom size.

I flick on the light switch. It's empty save for a couple of locked metal chests, probably containing stuff like extra weapons or materia. "Do you guys ever use this room?"

Yazoo shakes his head, glancing at the dusty concrete floor. "Not really."

"Do you reckon it could be turned into a nursery?"

Surprised by the suggestion, Yazoo answers, "I don't see why not. It's quite big enough."

Indicating down the hallway, I add, "And it's close to our bedroom so I can hear the baby cry."

"Yes," he agrees, slowly turning around the dust filled space. "I think this could work. All it needs is a bit of paint and some carpeting. He looks at the bare light bulb. "Perhaps a new light fitting."

"Will you help me decorate it?" I question hopefully. "I'd ask Loz but he's not good with colours and stuff. If I left it up to him he'd paint it black."

A small smile touches Yazoo's lips. "You're right. My brother has no interior design skills whatsoever. Don't worry, I'll help you turn this store room into a beautiful nursery, fit our little prince, or princess."

Growing more enthused by the project, I propose, "I was thinking maybe a pale purple, or green? Something gender neutral."

"I can work with that." The slender clone nods as he scans the room, his creative mind already developing ideas. "I'll get out my sketchpad and we can draw up some designs. But first, we need to eat those delicious-smelling banana choc-chip pancakes of yours before they go cold."

Smiling wider, he offers me his arm and I take it, both of us heading towards the kitchen for breakfast.

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