I'm a Cleris shipper, but really, Kadaj is an under appreciated character, and I find his final moments, and indeed, the majority of Advent Children's ending, quite beautiful. So here's a sort of tribute to Kadaj and the Mother he never knew, and the second Mother he truly needed.

Mother

"I will…never be a memory…"

A gigantic black wing wrapped around his weakened form, and Cloud watched as Sephiroth vanishes in a flurry of black feathers. A vaguely similar human form appeared in the flurry, and Kadaj collapsed to the ground, groaning.

"No…" he muttered, wincing and clutching his chest. His other hand reached behind him to unsheathe Souba, and Cloud narrowed his eyes and tightened his grip on his sword. Kadaj lifted his head and let out a cry, rising to his feet and charging forward. His legs gave out, and with a weaker cry of pain, he stumbled forward and pitched to the ground, Souba falling from his grasp. He felt a hand press against his chest, and turned over to see Cloud holding him up.

"Brother…" he whispered, chuckling bitterly. "Am I dying?" Cloud nodded, and Kadaj forced a wry smile. "Well…that's just it…isn't it?" he said. "She was right…I wasn't strong enough."

"Who was right?" Cloud asked.

"Mother…she said I wasn't strong enough to be her son…said only he was worthy…" Kadaj explained. "I would have done anything for her…but she didn't want me to do a thing…except be him…"

"He's gone now," Cloud said.

"So is she…" Kadaj turned his head aside and looked at Souba lying a few feet away. He lifted a hand and reached for it, although he was much too far away.

"What are you doing?" Cloud asked, lifting his head slightly to follow his gaze.

"Let go of me…" Kadaj muttered. "I'll prove it…I'm strong enough…I can still fight!" he rolled out of Cloud's arms and grabbed Souba's handle, rolling onto his back and swiping at the air. Cloud watched as the blade passed by the air far away from striking him, and Kadaj dug its tip into the ground, pushing himself to his feet. He rose up and his knees buckled. With a cry, he leaned on the katana to hold himself up, falling to one knee.

"Not fair…" he protested, tears running down his face. "It's not fair…" He lifted his head to stare at Cloud and glared through the tears.

"That's enough Kadaj," Cloud said softly. Even now, after all Kadaj had done, a part of him sympathized with the lost remnant. If anyone knew what it was like to feel weak and helpless, inadequate…

"No…" he snarled, shaking his head. He stood up and raised Souba over his head, bringing it down at Cloud. Cloud simply moved aside and Kadaj fell forward. The katana fell from his grasp as Cloud put out the central blade of the First Tsurugi to catch him, and Kadaj watched as it slid off the tower to the abyss below. Turning to face Cloud again, Kadaj's lip curled up.

"I can't…lose…" he whispered.

"Kadaj…"

Kadaj's eyes widened slightly at the soft voice filling his ears. He looked up past the blonde man holding him, and stared up at the sun above, obscured by clouds. Something fell on his cheek, and his mouth fell open. It was water, but he wasn't crying anymore…

"It's okay…you don't have to fight anymore…"

"M…Mother?" he whispered, blinking up at the sky. More raindrops fell on his face, each one sending a feeling of warmth into his being. New tears, happy this time, slid from his eyes to mix with the drops.

"You can let go now…you don't have to hold on any longer."

"Mother!" Kadaj said happily, laughing lowly. Cloud looked down at the man as he smiled.

"Everyone's waiting, if you're ready."

Kadaj nodded at the voice, and turned his head to look up at Cloud.

"Brother…I have to go…" he whispered. Cloud nodded, and the two swordsmen looked up. Kadaj's eyes widened more as the glorious light behind the clouds grew brighter, blinding in its intensity. And yet he couldn't look away, wouldn't. He lifted his hand and smiled as a hand came out from the light, reaching for him. A small hand came near his own black gauntlet, and the light receded slightly. Kadaj gasped as a figure appeared in it.

"She's beautiful…"

Kadaj's hand wrapped around her as he thought those final thoughts. His hand dissolved where it touched hers, but instead of pain or agony…it was warm. The warm feeling spread down his arm to his torso, and Kadaj closed his eyes as the sensation enveloped him.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Cloud watched as Kadaj's body dissolved into swirls of glowing green energy, dispersing among the raindrops and floating away. He tilted his head back and looked up at the light, his mind's eye showing him the same image Kadaj had beheld.

"He thinks you're Jenova," he said.

"I know…it's better this way," she replied. Cloud nodded in agreement as the last green particles vanished into the winds. Closing his eyes, enjoying the soft sensation of healing rain on his cheeks. And smiled.

"He's not the only one who doesn't have to fight anymore…" she said. Cloud opened his eyes and nodded slightly. As always, she was right.

"I know."