Darn you people. Why do I even try?
Much love to:
MonkeyPanda, babysweettart, Stryper, vLuna, kantBstfud2signIn

He didn't really understand what kind of pain the four teenagers in front of him were going through. He had never really gone through this kind of thing in his life, not at this young an age. At this point in his life, he could almost deal with it. He could only imagine what it must be like for them.

Reeve sighed. "I'll be back later," he said quietly, even though he knew they couldn't hear him. They were too entrapped in their grief. No, the boy wasn't dead, thank goodness, but he was in a coma with secondary peritonitis. When the doctor tried explaining to them what exactly was going on, no one heard him. He saw this, and told them he would come back in a few minutes. That he would let this think about all of this, let it soak in before trying to talk to them again. He left, going back into the room Aaron saw him walking from. The room everyone guessed was where Vincent's surgery had taken place. As the doctor spoke to them, none of them saw Vincent being wheeled to a room right down the hall from where the surgery room.

Tifa leaned against Aaron's chest, crying, clutching his shirt. She was happy, yes, that he wasn't dead, but who knew if he wouldn't die? She couldn't live with that if he had, or if he does. He was like family to her, an older brother she never had. Because of the situation he was in, she constantly worried about him, but this was the straw that broke the camel's back. She swore, if she saw his parents, they were in for it. For what, she wasn't sure of just yet, but for now, she just knew that they had better not show their faces around here.

Aaron just held her, rubbing her back paying no more attention to the doctor when he left. He placed his head on top of hers, letting her know that it would be okay. Everything would be just fine. That's what he wanted to believe anyway. Vincent was a tough guy. Something like this wasn't going to bring him down. No, he didn't know as much about Vincent's parents as Cloud and Tifa did, but he knew they were alcoholics, and from that he assumed the abuse. But this . . . well this was way over his head. He never thought something like this would happen.

Matt just stood there for a moment, not believing what was going on. Sure, he was always the guy to take things seriously, and this should have been the most serious thing that's ever happened to them. But it was just too much. His best friend lay on his deathbed, fighting for his life, all because of his parents. Eyes wide, Matt slid down the wall, sitting there, staring at the other side of the hall. There was nothing there but more wall, but he gazed upon it as if it held all the answers to life's questions. Or, at least, his own. Would he live? He sure as hell hoped so.

Cloud stood near Aaron and Tifa. He watched Matt for a moment as his friend slid down the wall in grief, sadness, shock it seemed. He felt just about the same way. His gaze shifted to Tifa, the girl who had been his friend for so very long. Her grief was the most expressed out of all of them. Sure, he wasn't dead. Shouldn't they all be thankful for that? They were. They were more thankful for that than anything else in their lives. It wasn't like they didn't appreciate the fact that Vincent hadn't died, it was just the looming thought that he might die soon. This prolonging terrified all of them, including himself. And watching her, this sadness, it very well close to enraged him. Sure, he was sad too, but his thoughts were that she shouldn't suffer like this. They were all suffering . . . but to him, she deserved it less. Tifa had to be one of the most innocent girls in this town. Sure, at times she had a bad mouth--what teenager here didn't?--but it wasn't like she was a slut or anything. For one, Cloud wouldn't allow it. Neither would her dad, if he even knew anything about it. If there was one thing Cloud could say he agreed with her dad about, it was the fact that Tifa was a very sneaky girl. Not the best at lying, but she could get you with not telling the entire truth.

He sighed, a hand on his forehead as he tried to calm down and grasp the situation realistically without so being so overwhelmed by his feelings. Vincent was in a coma. Those could last for days, weeks, God forbid months, but Cloud knew that they could stretch on for years after the incident that put said person into that state in the first place. He hoped this was not the kind of incident to do something like that to Vincent, and most likely it wouldn't be. He's in a coma, and he's infected with secondary peritonitis. That . . . is also not good. Hell, that's worse than the damn coma. He shook his head, walking away from Tifa and Aaron to the other side of the hallway, still lost in his own thoughts. Peritonitis . . . bacteria in the . . . the . . . peritoneum I think it is . . . that can cause an infection of the bloodstream as well . . . He sighed, sitting down in the chair to think about it a little better. Science was never really his thing. He was surprised he even remembered something like this.

Cloud was bent over in the chair, his elbows on his knees, his fingers feathering his hair as he thought. What else did he know or remember about this particular illness? Or infection that can cause serious illness. Well, he remembered that much. It is caused by a perforation in the gastrointestinal tract . . .which is what connects the stomach and the smaller intestine . . . among other things . . . He was racking his brain about Vincent's injury, just trying to think about it as much as he could. Of course, that was beginning to give him a headache. And no sooner did he need to be released from it did he feel as slight tug on his shirt sleeve. Looking up, there was Tifa. Her eyes were red, and there were still tears running down her cheeks. Lifting the sleeve of her glove, she wiped her face, then sniffled. Cloud stood up, smiling faintly down at her before wrapping his arm around her shoulders. She sighed, leaning her head against his shoulder, while Aaron and Matt stood next to each other across from them. They were, in their own silent, brotherly way, comforting one another. Aaron had his hands in his pockets, Matt, standing once more, taking deep breaths. Each one seemed deeper than the first, as if by air he was digesting the information they'd just got about their best friend. Hopefully, things would turn out okay. If they didn't . . . who knows? Tifa just might keep that promise she's made to his parents and go crazy. I don't want that to happen, but hell. They'd have deserved it . . . if they ever find his parents.

It was then that they all decided to take a walk down the hall. Aaron at least remembered the room number the doctor said Vincent was in.

"Can't you run faster woman!?"

"Well hell! All that damn drinking don't do much!"

A woman held onto her husband's hand, running, running, running through the dense forests that surrounded their small town. The man thought nothing about what he'd done to his own son. Did he ever? No, he wasn't thinking about what kind of condition his son might be in, but instead what would happen to them. He was more worried about saving his own skin than the possibility that the child he'd brought into this world might not live past this night. Of course, every time they laid a hand on him, they hoped to kill him "accidentally." Having a son was a burden they both didn't want. But, they were stuck with him, and there just seemed to be no way to get rid of that kid. And finally, that day, they'd gotten rid of him. Or, so they thought. The only problem is, they could very well get locked up for what Brison did.

"Brison slow down!"

"No! You wanna get caught?"

He kept running, his thoughts only on himself. On what would happen to him if the police or anyone found them. On what would happen if Summer went to jail. Of course, he didn't really care much for her either. Not that it was surprising. Both of them were extremely selfish. And the only thing they really had in common was their love for drinking, their son Vincent, and, later they found out, their desire to take out their frustration on something living. When they saw they could do that to Vincent, well, they decided then and there that they could stay together. As long as they had him to hit on and yell at, they would be just fine in their own little world that was full of nothing but alcohol and sex for the both of them.

Brison tripped, which made him stop running and observe his surroundings. His head hurt too bad; he could hear his heart throbbing in his cranium. His left hand came up, holding his forehead. "Goddamn it." He closed his eyes, before opening them slowly again. "Damn hangovers . . . I need a drink."

"You think you need one?" Summer snapped at him. "Christ, I'm caught up with you and your bull! I need one more than you do!"

He growled, walking up to her. "Shut up you ungrateful woman! Everything I've given you--"

Summer cut him off, laughing. "What did you give me, you son of a bitch! Some stupid boy? So what? Never gave me nothing else in my life. All you ever did was drink, then you knocked me up and we had to get married!"

That was the last thing he wanted to hear her say. His hand came up, and he struck her across the face. Summer gasped, eyes wide, just staring at him. "Now you look here woman. You got three options here: Listen to me, stay here and get caught, or I kill you too. Understand?"

She shook her head. "You were always so damn crazy," she told him, glowering.

A deranged grin played on his lips. "What did you expect? Let's go."

"Go where, might I ask?" The couple froze from the familiar voice that rang through the trees. They had heard it one other time, and that voice was the last thing he heard before they packed their bags and headed to this small little town. Now, they knew they were caught for sure.

Brison took the gun, pointed it at Summer, and pulled the trigger.

She only stared at him from across the street, not knowing exactly what to do right now. He . . . was in shock, to say the least. She knew he didn't appreciate her friends too much, especially her son, but from what she understood of it . . . he was only trying to protect her. Not in the right way. I'm not justifying anything he's ever done to Cloud or Vincent, but Tifa's the only thing he's got. That much, she could understand. Cloud's the only thing I've got as well . . . She sighed, wondering how Vincent's parents must feel. Or lack thereof. She had no idea about the abuses he went through; all she knew was that he was frequently staying at her house, which she didn't mind at all. It was nice for Cloud to finally have a friend other than Tifa. And while Tifa was a really nice girl, she always had been, she thought it was good for her son to have a guy to talk to . . . about whatever things boys talk about.

And now, everything was out in the open. Everyone now how a glimpse of just how much Vincent's parents really cared for him. No one knew as much as Cloud and Tifa did, that much Marina could count on, but they all had some form of an idea. There were already people talking about what they must have done to him. She even heard some parents near her saying that he had to have been a really bad kid to make his father so angry as to shoot him. Marina glared at him. They didn't raise him, she realized. I did. That was something she'd never thought about before. Vincent spent more time with her and Cloud than he did his own parents, and even Tifa. All this time, and she's finally come to grips with the fact that she practically had a second son. Now, this whole incident had a new weight on her. If he dies . . . She couldn't even finish the thought; it made her too upset.

Marina thought that maybe she should . . . go up to Derkus and talk to him. The man looked stunned--absolutely horrified, in a sense. A boy was just shot right in front of him. She sucked in a breath, holding her head high in false confidence, even though she twiddled with her fingers, hands clasped behind her back. She pictured herself walking over to him, trying her calm him in some way. Before she knew it, however, her feet were shuffling in his direction. He didn't even look at her; his eyes stayed on the place where Vincent's blood lay only moments before. Several people had just cleaned it up, but only after some forensic people from Midgar took photos and samples. Now there was only the dirt. It was as if nothing happened in the first place.

"Derkus?" Her voice was quiet, soft. She knew she didn't have to be loud to get his attention. He slowly turned to face her, his eyes wide, mouth set in a firm line. Marina bit her lip, not sure of what else to say. There was a lot she wanted to say at the moment. There were many things she wanted to ask. Do you think he did it for you?, What do you think of that Derkus?, His parents are so . . . She sighed, her gaze locking with his own. There . . . wasn't much for her to say really. So, she just settled on something generic to ask him.

"Are you okay?"

He didn't answer her question at first. His eyes went back to the clean spot in front of them. Except, it wasn't clean. It was just contaminated with the blood of a youth who's done nothing wrong. With the lies and filth and abuses that filled his home and his parents. With all of the hurt and pain, and the little bit of love that he was shown since being here. That's what that patch of dirt was filled with. On the surface, it was clean, spotless. But deep within . . . there was nothing but hatred, and anger. The hatred of his parents, Vincent's anger . . . and Derkus's own guilt.

He shook his head then. "No . . . I'm not. Because I just realized . . . I've treated that boy like he was worth nothing. And he just saved my life."

Mm, talk about a life lesson eh?