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 37. Memorial

After the guys' new job offers with the Shin-Ra Corporation, the destruction of Jenova's remains, and the recent engagement of Loz and I, that very night seems to be the best time to hold Kadaj's memorial service, so that we can lessen the sadness of his passing with our recent good news. That way it will feel more like a celebration of life, rather than a mourning ritual. We all head down to the lake at dusk, sit in a circle near the moonlit water and light three candles, one for each of us. There is a larger candle in the middle for Kadaj but that remains unlit for now. I hold my hand out to Loz and then to Yazoo.

"It's easier if we all support each other," I suggest. Yazoo nods, the middle Remnant appearing solemn and pensive. He agreed to this ceremony but that doesn't mean it's not terribly hard for him to speak of his dead brother and lover. He takes my hand and then allows Loz's bigger fingers to wrap securely around his slightly slenderer ones.

"What we do say?" Loz asks me timidly, his brow creased in anxiousness.

"Whatever you want," I assure him. "Talk as if you're talking to Kadaj."

I don't feel Kadaj's energy like I did in the hallway that day, or smell his scent, but that doesn't mean he's not around in some spiritual form, listening or watching.

"Uh…" Loz looks uncertain of how to proceed, never having participated in a memorial service before.

"Well, since this was my idea, I'll go first," I tell Loz and Yazoo both, trying to make this whole experience less difficult for them. Gazing absorbedly at my flickering candle, I picture Kadaj's face in my mind and begin speaking.

"Kadaj, you are with Gaia now, your real mother, but we who have been left behind are all gathered together to remember your life and the short time you spent with us on this planet. I didn't know you for very long but you have left a lasting impression on me, just as you did on everyone else here with me tonight."

Loz and Yazoo remain silent, staring at their own candles, the small yellow flames casting moving shadows across their beautiful but sombre faces.

"You and I clashed from the very beginning," I say to Kadaj's spirit (if he happens to be here), "but I understand why you felt the way you did about me. I'm an outsider. I get that. I wish you'd just given me a chance because all I wanted was to be part of this family. I never had a younger brother but I was starting to think of you that way, especially when you were being nice."

A flood of emotion suddenly comes over me and I have to blink back tears so I can continue. "We were virtual strangers and I found you very difficult to like sometimes but I could see a real good kid inside you, one that I wished I could have known better," I reveal in a soft, sorrowful tone, recalling the rare but pleasant moments we shared. "I'm sorry we didn't get to be friends and I'm sorry that you were taken from your brothers so soon. I'm sorry you won't get to meet my baby or be an uncle. I know you didn't have an easy life, Kadaj, and when I think of everything you've been through it makes me so sad. I hope that wherever you are now, you're happy. And at peace."

I'm crying openly now but I have said what I wanted to say so I let go of Loz's fingers and pull a tissue out of my pocket to dab at my eyes. Teardrops are falling silently down Yazoo's face but he doesn't bother to wipe them away.

Trying to be tough, Loz is holding back his own emotions and frowning at his candle intently, the elder brother clearing his throat before beginning his speech.

"Hey, Daj. Hope you can hear me somehow. I hope you are around, even if we can't see you." Loz glances at the frozen, soundless forest surrounding us and sighs. "You know, this place just ain't the same without you in it. I miss seeing you down here, swimming in the lake and splashing water at me. I miss seeing you in the lair, sitting on the kitchen bench in the mornings while Yaz makes coffee. I miss having dinner with you at night. I miss joking with you and arguing with you. I miss racing you into town on our bikes. I even miss training with you and having you whip my ass. You were right – you were three times the clone I ever was. Three times as annoying, too."

Briefly, Loz grins and then turns serious again. "I'll see you again one day, though. You can count on it, Daj. We'll all be together again, just like it used to be. I know it. Until then, I hope I can make you proud and be the strong leader this family needs me to be. I'll take care of Yazoo for you, the way you always took care of us."

Loz glances at his middle brother. Through his tears, Yazoo smiles at Loz, thankful for his older sibling's words and promises. Loz smiles back, but sadly. My fiancé brightens all of a sudden, remembering the good things that have happened lately, things that he has to tell Kadaj.

"By the way, me and Yaz got ourselves new jobs! Yeah, you're not gonna believe this, but we'll be working for the Turks. I know you probably wouldn't like that idea but honestly, Daj, it's the best thing for all of us right now. You know the saying: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em? Oh, and me and Cate are getting married soon. Awesome, right?" Loz exclaims happily. "And you thought no chick would ever want to marry my big, dumb ass. Well, I'm happy to have proven you wrong, Kadaj, and you were wrong about Cate too. She's the most amazing girl I've ever known and she never tried to break up this family. In fact, she's the one who kept holding it together after you were gone. Dude, you missed out on one seriously incredible sister in law."

Smiling, Loz winks at me before focusing back on the candle and ending his speech. "I wish you could be here for the wedding, Daj, and the birth of our kid. Miss you, little bro. You'll always live on in here."

Loz thumps a fist over his own heart and sniffs back his tears stoically. I take his hand again, squeezing it and nodding at him to let him know he did a great job with what he said.

He and I look to Yazoo, wondering if he's ready to say anything yet. If he's not, we'd both understand and wouldn't force him to but the middle Remnant seems to have taken strength from our speeches, sitting up straighter and taking a fortifying breath before saying softly, "I miss you too, Kadaj. I miss your voice. Your touch. Your warmth. Everything I did, I did for you. You were my…" Yazoo stops and swallows hard. Loz squeezes his fingers supportively.

"You were my life, my heart, and I'll always love you. Always," Yazoo finishes in a heartfelt whisper. His speech is shorter than ours but each word resonates with the deepest amount of emotion a person can feel and nothing more needs to be said.

"Now, we all take our candles," I instruct gently, "and light the one in the middle together, symbolising Kadaj's memory and how it will always burn brightly for us."

Loz, Yazoo and I hold our candles to the wick of the bigger one in the centre of our circle, lighting it with three flames. Then we put our candles down on the ground and sit there by the lake, all holding hands, connecting, sharing our grief and thinking about Kadaj. Suddenly, a sharp pain jolts through my middle and I gasp, clutching at my belly.

"What is it?" Loz asks, frowning at my stomach. "Are you okay?"

"I…I think so," I reply uncertainly. "The baby just gave me a really hard kick."

"Are you sure it was a kick?" Yazoo enquires in concern. "Tell me if it happens again."

I sit still, waiting anxiously to see if the pain comes a second time. If it does, it could signal the beginning of labour. The thought scares me a little; I'm not ready for that yet.

Because we're all so focused on me and my belly, we miss the splashing sound at first. There's another splash and this time we notice it because nothing lives in the lake: no fish, no turtles, not even ducks go near it. As we stare in a mix of alarm and astonishment, something starts emerging from the water, something humanoid in size and shape, with long hair and pale skin. At once, Loz and Yazoo spring to their feet, ready to fight and defend. I stand up too, peering in fright around Loz's protecting bulk, my mind whirling madly with terrifying thoughts of Jenova returning, or one of her laboratory-created monsters, sent to get revenge upon us for destroying her head.

The hunched-over creature bursts out of the murky depths of the lake, staggering clumsily up onto the shore. It's naked and noticeably male. There's a black blot on its stomach, like Geostigma, and its face is obscured by dripping hair. The creature doesn't attack, just falls to hands and knees, head bent, coughing up water onto the ground and heaving raggedly for air, lean muscles rolling and twitching beneath glistening skin. Something about the belly-mark and the shape of the body is frighteningly familiar and Yazoo is the first one to react, giving a small cry.

Without waiting for Loz, Yazoo flies down to the shore of the lake, crouching beside the gasping figure and pushing back the stringy, wet hair to see the face beneath. I gasp again, this time in shock.

"Brother," Yazoo breathes incredulously, the soft sound reaching us through the stillness of the night.

Apart from Loz and Cloud, there's only one other person that Yazoo would call 'brother'. However impossible it seems, the thing that emerged from the lake is Kadaj. Even from where I'm standing I can clearly see those unmistakable facial features: the high cheekbones, straight nose and softly-formed lips. That's Kadaj's face, all right. But something is wrong; his eyes aren't green. They're brown. And his hair appears to be brown as well. But that doesn't seem to bother Yazoo in the slightest because he hurriedly unzips his coat and puts it around the shivering young man. Kadaj peers up, seeming puzzled by Yazoo's shorter hairstyle.

"Yaz?" he whispers weakly. "What'd you do to your hair?"

By now, Loz has left me and has crouched beside the third male, amazement and wonder filling Loz's face as he touches his youngest sibling's damp face, as if making sure Kadaj is real and not an illusion.

"You're back," Loz keeps exclaiming. "You're really back!"

The formerly-deceased Remnant turns to Loz, squinting at him in bewilderment. "And when did you grow a beard, Loz?"

Too overwhelmed to reply, Loz gives Kadaj the biggest, tightest hug, pauses long enough to plant a loud smooch on Kadaj's cheek and resumes crushing him with bear-like arms, laughing and sobbing at the same time, inexpressibly happy to have his little brother back. Yazoo laughs at Loz's exuberance, also crying but unlike moments before, these are tears of pure joy.

"Kadaj…You were dead!" Loz blurts out in bafflement. "We saw it happen. How are you here?"

Yazoo shakes his head, as if it's not important; nothing is, except that Kadaj has returned. "We'll ask him later. Let's take Kadaj home. Where he belongs."

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