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 32. Cure

I start to get sick from the Geostigma. Even though I am carrying her grandchild, Jenova's dreadful disease affects me just the same as it affects everyone else infected by it. I am tired all the time, and I know it's not just because of my pregnancy. The 'stigma is sapping my energy, using it to strengthen itself and send out further insidious viral tentacles across my skin. The ugly mark on my arm flares with sudden shooting pain at random times during the day and oozes repulsive black gunk. I get dizzy spells and headaches. I haven't started vomiting yet but that will happen, in due course. All of this is an unavoidable reminder of how little time I have left on this planet but I'm taking extra vitamins and herbal supplements, focusing on staying alive long enough to have my baby and see them take their first breath. Although I am frightened of dying, I hide the extent of my sickness from Loz. He has enough to worry about with Kadaj's death, Yazoo's depression, and trying to earn money while attempting to stay hidden from the world so I just bandage my arm and keep it covered, careful not to bump the mark against anything because it really hurts. I see Loz glancing at the bandage every now and again when I'm getting undressed for bed, and I can feel the concern in his eyes, but whenever he asks about it, I keep insisting that I'm fine, that it hasn't started hurting yet. I think he believes me.

Over the next week, Yazoo and I spend hours together designing the new nursery, choosing paint colours and deciding what kind of furniture we like, as well as cute artwork and hanging mobiles to brighten the walls and ceiling of the windowless room. I have a few baby magazines and Yazoo has access to the internet on his phone for more interior design inspiration. Once we have everything fully planned, we'll drive into the city and purchase it all in one go, instead of making many small trips. Then we'll decorate to our hearts' content. Now that he has something positive to focus on, the middle Remnant's mood improves. He doesn't lie around in bed as much and he is talking more. He is finally gaining weight and eating the food that I'm making. It's not all vegetarian, either. I know he and Loz need their meat so I cook hearty dishes for them, substituting a plant-derived protein for my own servings. I even turn some of my favourite vege-meals into meat-based versions and both the guys seem to enjoy the new flavours and spices that they otherwise would not have normally tried.

When I have to go grocery shopping to restock the fridge and freezer, Loz drives me into town but he stays in the truck, a pair of sunglasses on to hide his distinctive eyes. The bad-ass biker suit he used to wear has been replaced with jeans, a T-shirt and a plain khaki-green jacket. He's even stopped shaving and has let his whiskers grow in so that they join up with his sideburns. He looks damn sexy with the new facial hair, very handsome and rugged, so I don't mind it in the least. With a short scruffy grey beard, Loz looks much older and more mature and hopefully nobody who knew him before would recognise him now.

As he regains his strength, Yazoo begins training again with Loz's assistance and the two of them resume going out on jobs together, usually at night. As I have always done on these occasions, I don't question what they're doing. If breaking someone's fingers or shooting them in the knee puts dinner on the table then I'm fine with that. My family's survival is more important to me than some unfortunate bastard who most likely deserves what will happen to him anyway.

Used to working on his own lately, Loz probably doesn't need Yazoo with such simple, brute tasks but it gives the slender Remnant something to do, even if Yazoo's only being backup to his older sibling. At least it gets Yazoo out of the lair for a bit. While I'm glad the two of them are back working together, it also saddens me because I can tell that they aren't enthused about it any longer. Yazoo used to enjoy his job, and so did Loz, but neither of them appear to like what they do anymore. When their little brother died, so did all their enjoyment for being hit men and now they see it as a chore, grimly getting the job over and done with so they can grab the cash and come home.

They still wear black when they work but nowadays their outfits are just standard pants, turtleneck tops, gloves and coats, nothing that stands out from what anyone else on the planet wears. They've also added knitted caps to conceal their distinguishing silver hair. Since Loz lost Dual Hound in that freeway tunnel battle, and Yazoo lost Velvet Nightmare, the only weapons they carry now are regular handguns, easily concealed in pockets. Now when Loz and Yazoo go out, they look almost anonymous and ordinary, certainly nothing like the attention-drawing, leather-clad clones that the Turks used to know. The less the two of them are seen in public, the more that people will believe they are dead. While I don't doubt Loz and Yazoo's ability to protect themselves, I still think it's better for all of us if they stay off Shin-Ra's radar completely.

One particular evening, Loz and Yazoo return from a job. They seem excited and Yazoo is smiling, which is unusual, and when they ask me to sit down, I do so with some puzzlement. His eyes shining, Loz says that he has a very special gift for me. My puzzled state only increases when he proudly hands me a full plastic water bottle. I glance at it and then back at Yazoo and Loz. They are both grinning at me, as though they've given me a fist-sized diamond that they found in the dirt.

With a slight frown, I hold out my 'gift'. "What's going on? What is this?"

"The cure for Geostigma," Loz proclaims with much pride. "Told you I'd find it."

I shake the bottle, studying the contents. The liquid is clear and flat – no colour, bubbles, sparkles or swirling flecks of any kind as you would expect from life-saving medicine. Unimpressed, I answer, "It just looks like plain water."

"It IS water," Yazoo agrees. "The only difference is it's infused with healing Life Stream materia. Gaia created it to rid herself and her people of Jenova's terrible legacy."

Still disbelieving, I query, "The planet made this? And it works?"

The slim Remnant gives a nod of affirmation. "Oh, it works all right. We've seen it in action. People afflicted with Geostigma...we watched them being completely cured, one after the other, in a church in Midgar, in the ruined Slums of Sector 5. There's a huge pool of the water there."

"It's where I fought that Tifa chick. She's pretty damn tough," Loz confesses, sounding half-embarrassed that he almost got beaten by a girl.

I untwist the bottle cap and sniff what's inside. It has no smell. How can this possibly be the antidote for the worst disease to ever hit the planet? This whole story, finding the water in a church and watching people being healed, sounds very much like a con perpetrated by slimy scumbags preying on a population desperate for cure and I suspect Loz and Yazoo have been tricked into buying something that doesn't actually work.

"How much did you pay for this?"

"Nothing." Loz shrugs. "It was free to anyone who wanted it."

"A free cure for Geostigma?" I snort, thinking that if it really worked, the greedy Shin-Ra Electric Power Company would have scooped this precious liquid all up for themselves and been selling it to us poor peasants for some ridiculous price per ounce.

"Pour it on your arm," Yazoo urges. "See for yourself."

I don't want to get my hopes up in case Loz and Yazoo are mistaken, but they're standing there all excitedly and eagerly so the least I can do is humour them. I push my sleeve up and unwind the bandage. Loz frowns when I remove the stained gauze pad underneath, affirming his fears that the disease has progressed more than I was letting on. Even Yazoo's eyes widen at how far the nasty black mark has spread across my arm.

With a great degree of scepticism, I slowly tip up the plastic bottle and let the water trickle over my skin. The water feels warm. Imagine my surprise when a bubbly green mist starts coming off my arm. The mark tingles and then vanishes without a trace. Gobsmacked, I set the bottle down and rub at the site of the wound - there's no pain, no black ooze. Just normal, clean, wet skin. It's as though the mark was never there.

"See, babe?" Loz says triumphantly, leaning down to kiss me, a big grin on his face. "You're cured!"

Still rubbing a hand across my now-healed arm, I remark in wonderment, "Wow. I can't believe it's gone!"

Yazoo smiles at me. "You're welcome."

"Thank you. Thank you so much, guys," I say belatedly, glancing up in gratitude at him and Loz. "Hey, have you tried pouring it on yourselves? Maybe it might get rid of some of the Jenova cells in your bodies and make you less…alien."

They both look at the bottled water, Yazoo with respect and Loz with slight fear.

"No way," Loz exclaims. "That stuff will kill us!"

"This water was raining down from the sky when Kadaj died. It fell on him," Yazoo explains, looking away from me at the painful memory. "He was dying anyway but it may have caused him to dissolve into the green sparks we saw. It was falling on us too, weakening our bodies, before the explosion threw Loz and I off the building and covered us in rubble. That rubble protected us from the water. It's great for healing humans but as you know…we aren't human."

"And I don't wanna dissolve into nothing," Loz states with a shudder.

"Shit, I hope it hasn't hurt the baby," I reply anxiously, clutching my stomach and starting to worry about the potential effect this water could have on my son's (or daughter's) alien cells.

"I don't see how a little bit on your arm could possibly affect the baby. It only touched your skin, not theirs," Yazoo offers reassuringly, however, I'm still concerned.

"But what if I drink it unknowingly? Then it would go through the placenta and umbilical cord, reaching the baby." Gesturing to the half-empty bottle, I propose, "If this stuff was raining down from the sky, wouldn't it be in the water supply by now?"

Also beginning to appear concerned, Loz looks to his brother for the answer.

"Probably, but it would be highly diluted and materia needs a certain level of concentration or it becomes ineffective. Besides, the water supply in this lair comes from an underground aquifer, filtered by many layers of earth and rock, so it would still be pure," the middle Remnant informs me.

With his brows drawn together in apprehension, Loz asks, "Are you sure, Yaz?"

"Yes. I've been drinking the water that comes out of there," Yazoo motions to the kitchen faucet, "and so have you. We've also consumed coffee in Edge that was made with the city's water supply and neither of us have been affected so if we're okay, Cate's okay. Unless she drinks directly from the pool of water in that church, the baby will be perfectly fine."

Loz is comforted by that information and so am I. The infant inside my belly moves and kicks, as if letting me know that they're well, that the materia-infused solution that I poured on my skin hasn't done any harm. If the baby was in distress, I'd be able to tell but he/she seems as comfortable and active as ever. Probably even more so, now that the extreme fatigue I used to suffer has gone.

"So, who told you guys about the cure?"

"The street kids," Loz tells me. "They're all healed and aren't mad at us anymore, especially when they saw all the bags of candy we had for them."

"They told us to find Cloud Strife," Yazoo furthers. "He's been living in that church."

"Cloud gave this to you?" I question in astonishment. "Even after you tried to kill him?"

"We apologised for that and he forgave us," Yazoo says. "He also expressed sympathy for Kadaj and didn't wish for him to die. Our big brother is a very generous man."

"That's great but now everyone is gonna know you're back, that you weren't killed in the explosion." My face clearly displays the alarm I feel. "Those Turks, they'll come for you!"

Loz flexes his muscles. "Let 'em come. Yazoo and I can still kick their asses."

"Guys, you nearly died last time they attacked you," I remind them. "They tried to blow you up with dynamite!"

Appearing nowhere near as alarmed as I am, Yazoo replies, "I don't think they're going to attack us again, not after we crashed Reno's helicopter into a building. President Shinra will want to avoid any more bad publicity for his company. Anyway, Cloud is going to talk to the Turks, to try and get them off our backs. We told him about you and the baby and he wants to help."

At my aghast expression, imagining scientists taking my child away to perform horrible experiments on like they did to Loz and his brothers, Yazoo hurriedly adds, "Cloud won't tell anyone else about the child. He promised."

Holding my stomach protectively, I ask, "Can he be trusted?"

An elegant shrug lifts Yazoo's shoulders. "He's our brother."

"Just because he's got some Jenova blood in him doesn't make him your brother," I argue heatedly. "We had a brother – a REAL brother – and because of Cloud we lost Kadaj. I will not take the risk of losing anyone else in this family. What's more important to you guys? A few shared cells or this baby?"

"The baby, of course," Loz replies, kneeling beside me and laying his palm on my belly. "Cloud thinks so too. He used to have the 'stigma on his arm so he understood why we wanted the cure for you. He gave us the water to heal you, Cate, and to keep our baby safe."

He's gazing at me intently, wanting me to accept what they're saying. Loz truly believes that Cloud is on our side. Needing further confirmation, I turn to the other Remnant. "Yazoo, do you honestly think Cloud Strife is trustworthy? Are you one hundred percent certain that he will not betray us?"

"Yes," he says simply. "Cloud does not work for the Turks and he does not work for Shin-ra. He's been experimented on himself and knows better than anyone what those organisations are capable of. He's not a soldier – he's a freedom fighter. He just wants to help us protect you and your child."

"Tifa wants to help too," Loz volunteers. "I think she's Cloud's girlfriend. I said I was sorry for what I did to her in the church and she's cool now."

"You told her about the baby too?" I spread my hands in exasperation. "Why not just tell the whole fucking world?"

"They're good people. Trust me on this, Catey," my boyfriend says convincingly. "If they wanted to hurt me and Yaz, they could have simply pushed us both into the pool of water and watched our bodies disappear. But they didn't. We're safe and so are you and the baby."

With some reluctance, I start to listen to Loz's persuasion. He has never been the type to trust other people easily, and since Jenova's betrayal he's even less inclined to, so the fact that he is vouching for Cloud's strength of character must mean something. Yazoo is vouching for him too. Joining Loz, the slender clone kneels on the floor in front of my chair as well, placing his hand on top of Loz's, on top of my belly, and looking directly into my eyes.

"Don't worry, Cate," Yazoo says softly. "The Geostigma is gone. You're going to be fine. The baby is going to be fine."

I look down at my healed arm again, immensely relieved that it's back to normal. I ought to be more worried about this so-called 'big brother' that I've never met (who now has sensitive personal information about me) but the knowledge that Jenova's spreading black stain has finally been removed from my flesh is a damn miracle and something I never thought would happen in my lifetime. No matter what Cloud's motives may be, I'm just thankful that he gave Loz and Yazoo the cure. Now, I don't have to worry about getting sick and dying, or leaving my baby alone without a mother. Now, I don't have to worry about leaving Loz to care for our child by himself.

Tears start rolling down my face but these are grateful tears. I'm going to live, I'm going to see my child grow up and I'm going to spend the rest of my life with Loz. That's all I care about right now and if I ever meet Cloud, I will thank him for giving me my future back.

You need to be logged in to leave a review for this story.
Report Story