Disclaimer – Well, ah do disclaim.

A/N – Post-Advent Children. The result of too little sleep and reading too many Marvel how-are-we-going-to-resurrect-Jean-Grey-this-time? Comics. Basically this is me playing around with the 'what if two canon characters had an unknown kid' cliché and seeing what comes of it. That said, this fic turned out markedly different than expected when I started typing.


© Scribbler, March 2008.

Your prodigal son has left again to exorcise some demons.

John W. Hinckley

She sat on the bed and waited for her big brothers to come back. They'd gone away before, but they always came back, so she didn't doubt they'd return this time, too, even if they had been gone a lot longer than usual.

Except that something was wrong. She felt all tingly and images flashed into her mind; not Old-Her memories or Flowergirl thoughts, or even the haphazard chatter of Manyoldvoices, who sometimes clamoured in the green river beneath her feet. These were things she knew her brothers were seeing. She knew she shared in these sights because of the Jenova cells they all shared, even if she wasn't sure what that actually meant.

What she saw worried her. She recognised Blondhair and Angealblade from Old-Her's memories, but there was no sign of Blondhair's smile and she felt Angealblade cut into her brothers' bodies and hearts. That wasn't supposed to happen. Blondhair was a friend, or had been – once upon a time. Blondhair was in a lot of Old-Her's clearest memories. Maybe he was just a friend to Old-Her. Maybe Blondhair would hate her now and scratch her out like her brothers.

Betrayal. Hurt. Old-Her's or her big brothers'? Flowergirl sometimes hurt, but that felt like petals falling and roots withering in frost. This was different. This tasted of dirt and felt like bullets, all short bursts of pain with each rejection and failure. Going wrong, it was all going wrong. Mother was supposed to be found and Biggerbrother was supposed to come back … but Blondhair wouldn't go with them and he was fighting them and … wrongwrongallwrong … So confusing…

She slid off the bed and crept across to look out of the window. She didn't even recognise the bars for what they were; they were just another feature of this little room in which she'd spent most of her life, like food trays and chess and target practise. She used her eyes to see beyond the bars, into places and things and people far away.

The Whitecoatneedles were so happy when they found out what she could do. They said she was special, since none of the others before her could. They gave her extra cells as a present to help her do it more, but she had her own ideas about her abilities. Sometimes she thought she could see things in ways her big brothers couldn't because her own eyes were so different than theirs. Their cat-slits were too thin; they saw too little through them. They were so focussed on Mother and Biggerbrother that they had no room to see other things. The rounded pupils she got from Old-Her let her see through the eyes of others touched by Jenova, and the Manyoldvoices from Flowergirl kept her mind from getting too narrow. It was why Mother had found her and spoken to her when she hadn't spoken to anyone else.

She reached out, thinking of Blondhair, and found the shape of his mind.

He felt different than she expected; kind of like Mother, but subtly wrong, with gaps and gashes and scabs picked off too early or too late. Her big brothers' minds were fragmented and only felt right when handled together. Blondhair's felt like it was only half there, but there was nobody else to make him whole. She felt scars and Old-Her's memories threw up something about missing years and unresponsiveness in Desertescapewasteland.

Stop, she thought at him, finding the threads of Jenova in him and curling each one around her own mind, creating a bridge across which her own thoughts could walk. She stood on the bridge, planting herself where he couldn't ignore her. Don't fight.

What? he thought back, only not properly. It was like hearing syllables from the same word said at different times, in different places, to different people, which had then been sewn back together out of order. She understood Blondhair meant 'what?' though, and that was enough.

Be calm, she sent across the distance, using small words to ease him into accepting her contact. She didn't want to ruin him, so she pushed fronds of how to respond into his subconscious so he'd know what to do. Oddly, there were echoes of Old-Her to hitch them to as well as Jenova, only Old-Her didn't have any memories of being inside Blondhair's brain like that. Don't fight. Not supposed to fight. Allies. Friends.

His mind was trembling. … Zack?

Bad word. Badwordbadwordbadword. Traitorescapeefugitive. Rejected Mother but took the power of the Jenova cells the Whitecoatneedles injected. Wanted Angealwing instead. Wastedpotential. Selfish. Hurt Mother. Hurt Biggerbrother. Not allowed to say the bad word!

She flared and Blondhair felt the pain. The cells in him glowed hot where she touched them. He screamed and writhed and it took a while to calm him down and make him understand that he couldn't say the bad word. All the Whitecoatneedles had told her a long time ago that she was better than that – better than the splinters of Old-Her she'd been grown from, and better than the pieces of Flowergirl used to make her whole. She was improved. She was a survivor, more than her sisterswhodied and the boyswithunstableDNA who died before that. That was why they'd given her to her big brothers. They were grown from Biggerbrother, not the bad word. Mother loved Biggerbrother, so she would accept them without question, and if she was with her big brothers Mother would have to love her too even if she had been made from secondarysourcematerial. That was the plan.

Except her brothers had gone away, and so had Biggerbrother, and now all she could feel was Blondhair's bitty mind.

She bolstered the bridge so she could use real sentences. Kadaj said you're another big brother for me, like him.

Blondhair slipped and slid away from her. She brought him back, soothing him. She sent him some of Old-Her's memories to make him feel better, since he already had pieces of Old-Her inside him. She saw a picture of Flowergirl's smile in his head and supplied one of her own. Then she sent him an image of herself through Yazoo's eyes: a tiny black-haired child with violet eyes and tracks up and down her arms where the Whitecoatneedles had injected her with Makogoodpower to make sure her cells stayed stuck together.

See? Not the bad word. Better than that. Bad word couldn't talk to you like this. Bad word tried to stop Biggerbrother meeting Mother for the first time. I'd never fight Biggerbrother. Mother loves him too much.

Oh gods… Blondhair couldn't keep his private thoughts to himself. Oh gods, what've they done?

Are you another big brother for me? she asked. They promised they'd come back for me when they fetched you and Mother and Biggerbrother. Are you going to come and get me from the Whitecoatneedles now? She wasn't angry that she couldn't feel Kadaj or Loz or Yazoo anymore. Whitecoatneedles would probably make more of them soon enough.

I … I … Blondhair was confused. She tasted his fear and revulsion, but also his secret, perverse happiness. He'd missed. He'd longed for. He'd yearned the way her big brothers yearned for their lost loved-ones. I'll come for you. Wherever they've got you, I'll come for you.

She smiled. She liked Blondhair already, even if he had fought Biggerbrother like the bad word. Blondhair was wounded inside. He probably wasn't thinking clearly. Anyone who echoed with Mother the way he did couldn't be all bad, and there was nobody else out there with Jenova cells in them now. He felt nice and made Old-Her quieter in the back of her head.

Plus, when one day this body matured and Mother took it as her own, she'd be happy to find prodigalblacksheepson Blondhair right there waiting for her.

I'll be waiting.


The mother-daughter relationship is the most complex.

Wynonna Judd