Author's Note; Y'know, the best thing I ever did was to join this site...Well...this is it; the end of You Left Us and I just want to say thanks to everyone who's supported me, from my boi out there to a person I was fghting with and who was secretly reading this fic whilst we were fighting, lol!! It's been a spectacular ride and I owe it all to you guys- you'll never know how much I appreciate you all and if there's anyone I missed replying to even once then I'm so sorry- I swear to you it wasn't intentional...so please enjoy this, the very last chapter and please let me know what you guys think of the finale...always yours'- Kas:-) XxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxX
"Don't care…he's still a fu-"
"Mr. Valentine, is there something you would like to share with the class?"
As the teacher's voice rang out sharply, the reaction was instantaneous; all teenagers in the class swung around in their seats to fix their gazes upon the lad in the back, whose thoughts had been voiced just that little too loud, enabling his rather irate teacher to pick up on the almost-voiced swear.
Kieran Valentine stared up at the aged educator and flashed a trademark smirk, shaking his spikey black head in the negative answer to her question, knowing that if he opened his mouth to speak, a smart comment would inevitably fall and he'd find himself in yet another detention. As the teacher turned back to her board and reinitiated the explaining of algebraic equations, the seventeen-year-old turned to his relative who was sitting beside him, she being only a mere two days older than himself.
"No fair, you were talking to me!"
As she heard his hissed whisper, Ara gave an amused smirk and nodded her tresses of ebony locks as she kept one eye on the board, the other on her partner-in-crime as she explained about her split with her latest boyfriend, the youth whom Kieran had been intending to name a fucker, and yet the teacher's intervention had prevented such a naming. Looking to the back of the class one would assume, by their same identical surnames and evident similarities in looks, with their black hair and crimson eyes, that Kieran and Ara Valentine were brother and sister, cousins if not even twins and yet it always remained amusing when new teachers presumed so and were then informed that the girl was actually the aunt of the lad…it had yet not to gain an incredulous look.
Four o'clock just couldn't arrive quick enough as the walls of the school seemingly became those of a prison until the heavenly bell resounded its shrill echo throughout the many halls and corridors…a two second wait…and then the doors all sprang open at the same time as the teenagers awaited none of their teachers before gaining the freedom that came with four pm on a Friday evening; weekend!
"Hey Spikey, you going round to the bar?"
Kieran looked around and found himself to be looking down the few inches that separated his height from that of his younger cousin; Denzel and Kira's second child, and only daughter; Dylan Strife. The girl, with her deep earthy irises and short tresses of hazel hair, was a year younger than he and Ara and was attending the same school, in the year below them. The lad shook his head whilst closing his locker, having deposited as many books as his homework load would allow; his mind didn't even register the nickname that had seemingly been passed down from his blond grandfather, to himself; it had gradually upgraded over the years as Kieran was always known as "Mini-Spike" as an infant and youngster, only graduating to "Spikey" when he had rivalled in height with the other adults.
"Nah, Dad's working late so I'm just gonna head home and try and get this work done cos I won't do it over the weekend."
Maybe it was the way she leaned against the locker, or maybe just the shadow of the light from above, but Dylan could have sworn she saw some class of abnormality on the right side of her cousin's neck…with a confused look in her eyes, the girl stood upright and studied the spot where her gaze had detected the strange appearance, only for the light to move slightly, but the thing was still there; it looked like a protrusion…
"Kieran, what the hell's on your neck?"
She pointed to the anomaly and Ara also looked, black eyebrows furrowing slightly as she, too, saw the strange and out-of-place looking accumulation of tissue…the lad looked to his aunt and younger cousin and then ran a light hand over the right side of his own neck, feeling the bump pass beneath his touch and mind flashing back to a month ago when he had first felt the beginnings of the lump.
"Kieran, there's a lump on the side of your neck; it's not nothing…how long's it been there?"
The seventeen-year-old cringed as Ara took up her usual role of mothering; she done it to everyone; him, Dylan and all the youngsters in the family, and she also had a habit of even doing it to the adults- the girl liked to be in charge of the situation and have tabs on absolutely everyone.
"I dunno…bout a month, maybe…"
"A month? Kieran, why didn't you tell anyone?!"
"But why bother, it's nothing…"
He trailed off from answering the incredulous Dylan as both of the girls exchanged worried looks; it was never good when any females done that and it was times like these that Kieran Valentine wished for more male friends; you just couldn't get away with anything when Ara was around, and Dylan had an uncanny ability to pick up on things at the wrong moment. As the older of the adolescent girls took a breath to speak, Kieran shouldered his bag and began to walk down the hallway towards the front door, shaking his head as the two caught up with him.
"I'm not going to the doctor; I hate doctors- Ara, what the fuck!"
He was forced to stop as the girl stood in front of him and rounded on her nephew, arms folded across her chest sternly as she stood strong and glared up at him with the piercing crimson irises that were trademark of their family…she'd been the exact same way when he'd begun sneezing after being up to Tseng and Elena's to collect some paperwork for his Dad; she'd made him go to the doctor that time and it had been revealed that the lad was highly allergic to Chocobos and would end up in hospital if he came into contact with the creatures, and he was now on a constant string of tablets to prevent the reaction; apparently it was inherited as he'd been told by Denzel that his mother, Kearie, had been susceptible to the large birds aswell. With a resigned sigh, the youth looked to his relative, surrender in his glinting, ruby-like irises as he spoke.
"You're gonna make me go, aren't you?"
He knew what they were thinking and he feared that word right down to his very core; cancer…it was as good as a death sentence; he'd heard many a tale about his mother and even she hadn't been strong enough to beat the horrid disease that had stricken her; telling someone they had cancer was as good as telling them they were going to die; sure, there were all these treatments and some types would be beaten, but when you stack the statistics of survivors against those that the disease had conquered, it was hardly a promising aspect…and that was the reason he'd told nobody about the lump; Kieran was terrified that he'd be told that threateningly-haunting word; cancer. He had found the lump and his mind had immediately flickered upon the worst case scenario…but if he told nobody and ignored it, then maybe it's just disappear and leave him alone…whether willing to admit it or not, the lad was scared and didn't want to die.
Rufus looked around at the hall full of Turks and smirked happily as all stood to attention upon hearing the sharp command from the head of their department; Jamie Valentine. It'd been seven years now since Tseng had handed in his resignation after a mission that had gone badly awry; some disillusioned people had attempted to get one of the Mako reactors functional again and it had been the Turks' job to see this didn't happen and apprehend the offenders…all had gone to plan until they'd reached the central part of the reactor and their cover had been blown by one of the new recruits loosing his footing upon the cylindrical pipes and half-calling out before Jamie caught the lad and stabilised him, but the noise had been heard and before they knew what was happening, the Turks were under fire and their leader just reacted that instant too slow and received a bullet into the top of his right shoulder as a result, but Jamie had been the one to disarm the targets via well-aimed shots to their arms and hands, all with the ever-faithful Cerberus…after that mission was seemingly salvaged by the lad, Tseng realized he just didn't react or heal as well as he used to in his younger days and so saw the time fit to call it a day upon his long and admirable career…personally asking that Jamie Valentine be considered for the promotion and the lad had gotten it unanimously.
The young man had just succeeded in graduating the largest regiment of trainees to ever arrive down from Junon; thirty-two; that was the largest number of newbies that had ever made it through the harsh training and it was a feat to be able to manage that many rookies, along with the experienced Turks, but Jamie managed to pull it off with envious ease.
As Reno marched the newbies out of the hall, Jamie managed to get a brief few seconds of quietness…the most he had received since this lot arrived down from Junon about four months ago now- it had been work, work, work non-stop since their arrival; Elena was in the main hall running through some theory aspects with a group of ten, Rude was dealing with hand-to-hand with another ten and Reno had twelve down in the Martial Arts training annex to the very rear of the building, as it had only been completed about six months ago. As for him, the man now stood alone in the ballistics annex of the Shinra building; he fixed a crimson iris on the humanoid targets at the end of the abnormally long hall and reached for the buttons on the wall of his booth, adjusting the targets to accommodate Cerberus' range before taking a deadly, yet second nature-like aim over the end of the triple barrel and let his instincts do the rest; the targets were soon obliterated and hung in tatters as the youth took a satisfied breath and cast his piercing gaze around the hall…
It was in this very section of the building that Tseng had approached him that morning and attempted to break the news, only for the youth to already know his words…seventeen years since that day and things had changed beyond recognition, but there was still an aching deep within his heart whenever his mind flashed upon her and Jamie knew he had never loved till Kearie and knew he never truly would again; when she had died so had his capability to allow anyone get that close again-it would hurt too much to say goodbye to someone again. Selphie and Bobby had stayed together for another three years following Kearie's death but try as they might, the duo knew their relationship was dead in the water and had called it a day, mutually deciding to end the exhausted relationship; it just stood to prove that not all teenage loves were built to last, but then again despite only going out for a week previous, Jamie and Bobby had set Selphie up with Steven about five months after the break-up and the two were now married with a baby on the way…and Bobby was happy for her; he was still single, but rumour had it that he'd met a young woman on his last business trip and she was due a trip to Edge next month so they'd all get a peek at who Bobby's newest love-interest was; Minerva knew that man knew how to pull the good-looking ones; as for his Shinra career…well, it was still under tight wraps and by no circumstances was to be leaked to the public or press, but Rufus was planning on retiring in two weeks time and signing over fifty-one percent of his company to Bobby straight up; this would be added to the eleven percent he'd received when younger and the other twenty percent he'd been buying up for the last number of years, culminating into a formidable and unbeatable eight-two percent of all the company, ensuring the power remained with the Shinra name and, taking into account of Bobby's prodigious stock market and business skills, it wouldn't be too long till the young man had bought back all one-hundred percent of his family's company, a feat yet unheard of.
Steven and Selphie were living on the east side of Edge, with Selphie expecting her baby next month; the Highwind X had been completed two years after Kearie's death and, as the name was merely an alias to be referred to during the production stage, Cid and Steven had spent the next five months arguing with each other over a suitable name for the craft, ultimately coming up with a befitting and pleasing title for the truly marvellous craft; "Fulfilled Promises" though neither of the blonds ever became sentimental enough to actually admit as to where they had derived the name from, a few had a good idea as they had unveiled and christened her a few days previous to the second anniversary of Kearie's death…but the son and father never discussed such things, just said they made the name up and that was that. As for Reno, the miraculous had happened; he had married and was now a father to two adorable little girls…their mother being none other than Cissnei…more shocks had ensued as Rude had also tied the knot with a woman called Chelsea; he'd been intimately involved with her during the reign of the first AVALANCHE, where she had acted as an intelligence spy for Elfé's forces and had fallen for him…but he'd been a Turk and her a rebel-member; she had left without telling him and that was the reason the man had been so silent and untrusting for so long…but then she'd found her way to Edge and soon their love had been rekindled, marrying last year with Reno as best man…all in all, life had panned out pretty okay for everyone. Kieran was just like his mother, he may have the black hair and red eyes of the Valentine family, but his attitude was identical to that of Kearie's and his spikey hair and telltale nickname around Edge gave away his maternal heritage; the youth was never out of trouble and was always a bit late for school, but could be glimpsed walking into class a few minutes lat with an apple in his mouth, excusing the food as his breakfast…but the lad was never seen without an apple; a trait that brought back many memories from years ago and yet he was the most upbeat and happy-go-lucky teenager out there…but still succumbed to that rather rare and, if truth be told, unheard-of allergic reaction to Chocobos…Kearie through and through; a fact that Jamie was pleased and inextricably proud of.
As the man made to take up another aim, ridding his head of the reminiscing thoughts, but just as finger hovered over the trigger of the inherited firearm, Jamie felt his mobile phone vibrate inside his suit pocket, it having been put on silent during the training lecture earlier in the day. Making, sure to replace the hammer and un-cock Cerberus, the man holstered the handgun and pulled out his mobile from the right pocket of his uniform jacket, frowning as he saw his little sister's name flashing on the small external screen and answered the call with mounting apprehension.
"What's up, Ara?"
"Jamie, don't panic but…"
"Hey, yo; where's ya hubby?"
Selphie raised her head as she walked into 7th Heaven, only to find it empty apart from the man she still, to this very day, considered the closest thing she'd ever had to a brother. The woman rested a hand upon her large bump and took a deep breath as her stomach completed a turn for no apparent reason.
"He's just fixing the suspension on Promises, why?"
Somewhere over their near fifteen years of marriage, Selphie had become fluent in mechanic-talk and was now quite skilled at the trade of her husband and father-in-law, often lending a hand at the Highwind garages…"Fulfilled Promises" was often referred to by it's abbreviated name, but even she didn't know why Cid and Steven had decided to name the craft as such; neither were in a telling mood about the name.
"I'll get Cissnei to ring him, c'mon; we need to get to the hospital-"
"Whoa, Reno; why? What's going on? Where's everyone?"
The woman snapped her wrist from Reno steering grip and stood still, now quite fearful and suspicious of the emptiness of the 7th Heaven…only once before had she seen it this haunting and that had been the day Kearie had been rushed to hospital…she didn't like the way Reno was insisting upon getting his wife to ring Steven, not one bit. Reno exhaled a lengthy sigh as the younger of his two daughters, four-year-old Reena, appeared by his leg, clutching at her father's trousers whilst looking up at her worried aunt. The lanky man reached down and lifted his small girl up onto his hip, speaking low to Selphie as he did so.
"Don't panic yo, but Ara rang Jamie at work…her and Dylan made Kieran go the doctor and the doc referred him straight to the hospital for tests and a biopsy…he has a lump on his neck and they're afraid that Kearie's cancer might be hereditary, yo…everyone's been called to the hospital…"
That was enough to get the heart pumping faster and this time, she allowed Reno to steer her out the door of the silent pub…this couldn't be happening a second time around…it just couldn't be.
This can't be happening again…
Dreading thoughts scrolled down his mind as haunting memories seemingly replayed right in front of his eyes…of a younger him in this very building, in a sterile waiting room identical to this one…over seventeen years ago all the same people had accumulated here again, although a few new individuals were present this time around as Reena ran past, her reddish-hazel hair a mix of her parents as her eight-year-old sister, Sarria, sat on one of the seats, sensing something was wrong by the subdued attitudes of all the grown-ups.
Jamie heaved a sigh and tried to occupy himself with other thoughts; of upcoming exam missions for his record-breaking regiment of newbies…of training regimes to be devised and yet the man scolded himself for doing so, knowing that he was only trying to distract his mind from the inevitable truth and severity of the situation; he could be in danger of loosing his son just like he did his girlfriend all those years ago.
An hour ticked by at such an excruciatingly slow pace that one would have presumed three or four hours to have crawled by in its place, but no; only one hour as Cloud appeared at the door from a delivery to Nibelheim and Steven materialised soon after, a few oil marks here and there…and then the waiting really began as another equally-reluctant sixty minutes began to transcend upon the highly-strung and fearful group…
The tensions only increased sevenfold about three hours later as a nurse and doctor chaperoned the spikey-haired seventeen-year-old back to his family and allowed the boy to grumble a few pained curses as he placed a hand tentatively to the right side of his neck where four pretty fresh and raw-looking stitches presented themselves, but no lump… a plaster here and there gave away the locations where drips had been inserted during the biopsy, and the teenager looked around and spotted everyone…raising his black eyebrows in a comically-unknowing look as he surveyed the worried looks on all their faces.
"Jeez, did I miss something? -Oooow! The next time you two tell me to visit a doctor, you can fuck off!"
The youth cursed angrily as he touched one of the stitches with a little too much force and sent pain searing across his neck, looking pointedly to his aunt and cousin, cringing as the worst of the self-induced pain subsided and then he felt the ground shift uneasily beneath his feet.
"Whoa, easy der Spike!"
Barret laid a heavy hand on his shoulder and steadied the lad, who then groaned and then, comically childlike, lowered himself to the ground and sat against the end of the chairs so as he couldn't fall any further than what he was sitting, still feeling horribly woozy as his face drained of all colour, the doctor chuckling slightly; it was only then that the large group recognised the man as the same doctor who had delivered them the diagnosis of Kearie all those years ago.
"You might want to stay sitting for a while, Kieran, we took a pint of blood and that's what has you feeling like passing out…"
The man then turned to the large group, still smiling with amusement as he heard the seventeen-year-old let loose a long and sincere groan of nausea from where he sat on the floor, earning a curious look from small Reena who was now sitting on her mother's lap and found entertainment in idly fidgeting with Cissnei's necklace. This time around, the doctor was thrilled in delivering his assessment of the youth, his kindly eyes flashing on Cid and remembering the man's words from years ago, concerning complicated medical terms.
"To get to the point; our medical staff have successfully removed the lump from Kieran's neck and we've rushed through the biopsy, taken blood and run numerous tests…and all turned up the same result; Kieran does not have cancer and is in fine health; the lump was a benign tumour due to excessive cell growth, we'll put him on a six-week course of correctional tablets and that'll be fixed…other than that he is in perfect health."
The collective sigh of relief that enveloped the waiting room was worth all of Gaia to the nurses and doctors, especially that one man who'd had to break so many hearts seventeen years ago; it finally felt as though he atoned for his words in announcing the girl's son as a picture of health. Kieran nodded and looked to his family with a telltale grin.
"We would've been here ages ago but the nurses from SCBU found out I was a few wards up and they all came up and started pinching my cheeks and showing me pictures of me in an incubator…tell you what; that put the colour back in my cheeks after that blood test- I hate needles!"
As the sound of laughter and relieved glances followed his words, Kieran flashed his father a cheeky smirk; the man would thank him for the break from work come morning, he'd been working way too much since all those newbies had come down and today he was finally getting a bit of a lax break from that…when one omitted the parts about feared cancer, but other than that it had been a walk in the park…and then his eyes snapped to someone standing in the doorway; pleased smile across her attractive face, black torrents of hair and hazel-red irises filled with love were trained upon him. She smiled and nodded hr head, waving lightly at him before walking away into a somewhat warming whiteness, but the youth could here a female voice, bubbly and cheeky as it spoke to him softly.
Always knew you'd be fine…take care of your Dad for me, hun…
"Hey, who's that?"
As Kieran asked this and pointed towards the empty doorway, Denzel looked and saw nothing but the long hallway that stretched down the ward…with a confused, yet exuberantly relieved and joyful happiness, the man idly ruffled his nephew's spikey mess of black hair.
"Must be the blood loos, huh Spikey?"
Kieran barely heard his uncle's voice for he had just realized who the young woman was and knew why none of the others had been capable of seeing her…though by looking over at his father, the teenager could see the red eyes of Jamie Valentine locked onto the doorway and following the same vision as himself, and then the man looked to his son, who nodded his head and spoke, answering Denzel's statement in an agreeable voice whilst still looking to his father, aware that they had both seen the same person watching them from the doorway.
"Yeah…I guess it must be."
Author's Final Note; That's it, and again I want to thank you all for supporting me throughout all thirty-one chapters; if not for you guys I'd be unknown on this site and I know there's someone out there who's gonna pm me and tell me I'm "Miss Modesty"...again, lol! But the truth is I don't know how to thank you guys enough; I've always wanted to be an author, but I get all self-conscious about my stories and never thought I'd be one and my Mam accidentally clicked into one of my fics and now she tells me I definately could be one- that just means the world to me...but the thing is- I am an author here and with readers like you guys, that's all I need. By reading this fic you've made a sixteen-year-old as happy as Sephiroth at a Reunion, lol!! Thanks again peoples, I'll never be able to thank you all enough. Kas:-) XxxxxxxxxxxX
"You Left Us"- Thursday 29/September/2007 Thursday 14/February/2008 Span five months; Thank you all!
"YLU; Tifa's Departure" is still going strong and I sincerely hope all you sound people won't disappear; even if you don't read any more of my fics, know that my inbox is always open for a chat, no matter what it's about- you have a friend in Kas:-) XxxxxxxxxxxxxxxX