(A/N) Well, this is the first chapter of my first story posted on . Keep in mind that this is NOT my first story, I have made several that were not posted here for the one reason that I feel that they weren't good enough. I think this story has potential so I posted it. If I made some mistakes please tell me. I got most of the information off of FF7 game AC/ACC and the novel of AC that I got from the special edition of Advent Children. I'm not sure if anyone has posted a story like this. Review please!
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Final fantasy or any of the characters or locations.
Now! On with the story! Enjoy :D
This Changes Everything
An hour after I got off the phone with the mysterious boy and Cloud I heard Fenrir pull up just as I was finishing making dinner. Marlene sat up from the stool where she was doing her homework and gleefully ran to the front to greet him. When the door opened revealing Cloud with a boy a few years older than Marlene on his back she took a step back. Did I remember to tell her that Cloud was bringing somebody back with him? By the look on her face, I was guessing that I didn't. Without a word, Cloud carried the unconscious boy up the stairs and we followed him. His heavy boots making creaks on the floor and he placed the boy on his bed. The boy had light brown disheveled hair and dirty clothing. I bent down to Marlene's level and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Can you get a wet cloth for him?" I asked her and she peeked towards the boy. His mouth was twisted in a grimace and his eyes were shut tight. A groan escaped his lips and his fingers clenched and unclenched. She was uncharacteristic when she looked back at me seriously.
"OK, Tifa." And with that she ran out of the room and disappeared behind the door. I could hear the clanging in the other room and then the faucet run.
I looked back at Cloud and saw that he was looking at the boy with the look I know too well. It was a mixture of sorrow and protectiveness. He stood stiff as a board and his fists were clenched tightly.
"Geostigma," He started, his voice gruff "it's the early stages of it, too." He looked at me directly in the eyes, which caught me off guard. Lately when Cloud looks at me, it's usually not in my eyes. He's always been shy and doesn't like to look into anybody's eyes. "Do you mind taking care of him?" He asked me, his voice soft as if he thought that I would say that I did mind.
I shook my head "Of course not." Cloud nodded his face solemn. He turned back to the boy, his gloved hand came up and pushed the boy's greasy hair from his forehead and the mark of the stigma became visible. He looked back toward me to see my reaction. I tried to keep my face straight but failing. This boy was so young, yet we both knew what was going to happen.
Marlene came back in the room with a small bowl filled with water and a towel placed in the middle of it. She handed it to me and I smiled gratefully at her.
"Thank you, Marlene." I said softly and walked to the boy's bedside and sat down on the chair next to it. I placed the bowl on Clouds bedside table and picked up the towel and wrung out the extra water out before I pressed it on his forehead. He moaned as the cold towel touched his burning face. The lines on his face smoothed as he relaxed and fell in a light sleep.
"What's his name?" I heard Marlene ask softly. I looked up towards Cloud and saw he was still looking down at me before he turned his head quickly to look at the little girl. I could've sworn I saw him blush beneath his blond spikes.
"Denzel." Cloud answered. Marlene walked closer so that she was standing next to me.
"Is he going to live with us?" she asked me, her eyes hopeful. Cloud looked towards me again, questioningly.
"If he has no other place to go," I responded and saw a smile light up her face.
"Can he stay in my room?" she asked excitedly.
"Sure." I smile as hers brightens and I place a hand on her shoulder again. "Go downstairs and wait for me and Cloud. We'll be down in a minute." Marlene nodded before I heard her bouncing down the stairs. I turned to Cloud. "We'll need to get him a bed and some new clothes." I tell him and he nodded.
"I'll pick some up after my deliveries tomorrow." He said without looking at me.
"Okay." I said and wet the towel again before I placed it on Denzel's forehead and stood up. I wiped my wet hands on the side of my pants before bring my hand up to wipe the hair out of my face. "Tell me something: There are lots of kids with the stigma. They're building special homes for the because of all the kids without parents. So why did you bring Denzel here?"
Cloud looked down at me, "This kid came to me." He responded cryptically.
I gave him a questioning look, "What does that mean?" I waited for him to answer but he had that lost look he has when he doesn't know how to answer. I sighed, "Come on, let's go have some dinner."
"I'm not hungry," He mumbled. I would have believed him if I didn't hear his stomach grumble loudly. The sides of my lips turn up and his cheeks flush again as I step behind him.
"I don't believe that," I said and put both of my hand on his shoulders and guided him out of the room. "I made your favorite." I tell him and he walks a little faster and I smile even more.
* * * *
That night I was watching over Denzel. I was able to convince Cloud to sleep in my room while I watched over him. At first Cloud wanted to watch over the boy but I pointed out that he had and early delivery and he reluctantly agreed.
I can still picture his face when I offered him to sleep in my room. He instantly became flustered and his face became crimson red and he started stuttering, I didn't know what his problem was until a few seconds later when I realized that he thought that we would sleep in the same bed. When I corrected him he froze and his face became, impossibly, more red.
My eyelids were staring to feel heavy, I thought maybe I could close my eyes for a few minutes and if Denzel needed me I would wake up. When I settled into a more comfortable position on the chair Denzel moaned. I looked at him and saw the stigma pouring from his bruise, I quickly soaked the towel and wipe away the dark thickness that is the stigma. When it started to calm down I breathed a sigh of relief.
I didn't notice that the stigma got on my hands. But in the morning there was no trace of the stigma on my hands.
* * * *
The next night…
The kids have gone to bed and the bar is completely silent. It's been a week since Denzel has come to live with us and he's been very polite. We learned that he is eight years old and that his parents died when the sector 7 plate fell on the slums. We also learned that he was taken in by an old woman named Ruvie, who treated him like he was her own, but she then died when Meteor almost fell on the planet. Cloud and I knew we had to take care of him now. He lost everything because of us.
But the one he seems most connected to is Cloud, he looks up to him with hero-worship. And he talks more when Cloud is around. The one thing that bothers me is that Denzel asked questions I could easily answer. When I asked some older regulars at the bar they responded, Boys will be boys. Nothing to worry about, you couldn't be a more normal family. The men's words calmed me, the part of 'normal family' made me smile and think about it. We actually did look like a real family. One day when Cloud was planning one of his deliveries the children were leaned over the map, helping him find the most time-efficient route. From the outside Cloud and I looked like young parents with two kids. That made me smile even more.
But lately things haven't been good. Cloud was around a lot when Denzel first came but gradually he started coming home later and later. I don't like it. He could be dead lying in a ditch somewhere. No, Clouds a fighter, he could easily take any monster or person down.
I cleaned some of the glasses with a dish rag and sighed, I glanced over to the clock radio that flashed ten o'clock. If the pattern continues Cloud shouldn't be home for at least a few hours. I wish I had someone to talk to that would be happy to come home at a rational time.
I finished putting the last of the glasses away when I feel a stab at my left arm. I grimace and look down at my arm with the red ribbon on it.
I stop breathing.
There's a black bruise with black ooze dripping down my fore arm all the way to the floor. The pain in my arm increases; it feels like someone dropped a large boulder on it. I drop to my knees as the pain becomes over consuming.
I have Geostigma.
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