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His name was Valentyne Leblanc...Ever since he was in the third grade, every year before the first class started, he would make the effort to go inside to ask the teacher not to introduce him by that name...Val was his name, nothing more, it even said that on his school ID.
The name wasn't his idea of course, nor was it his father's, but when he was born, his mother was sick...And remained sick...His father couldn't say no despite it being a sensitive name.
Grant Leblanc, retired veteran of the US Army, a hard ass with what he thought was the best in mind for his family originally came up with Val since he was embarrassed to call out his sons name in public, while his mother Amelia Leblanc only referred to him as Valentyne... Her endearing tone making him forget the hatred for his own name even if just for a moment.
At the moment he was leaning his head back on his bed, thanking God that he was the only kid in the house that got his own room since he could hear screaming in the next room about stealing a barbie or some shit. He was the oldest of the house of five kids. It was a miracle his mother gave birth three more times after him, the second oldest girls were twins. Reaching up and running a hand through his hair he breathed out slowly.
"Val!" The sharp authoritative voice commanded from downstairs making him jump up without hesitation.
"Coming dad!" He said with mostly disinterest before slipping an old tanktop on as he trotted down the stairs as his dad read the paper, the TV on in the background, who the hell read the paper anymore?
"Here take this, your mom needs her prescription picked up." The older man stated and handed him a small wad of cash. "Pick me up some cigar's too." He then added, Val paused and glanced up to his dad as he took the cash, the man glanced up and arched a brow. "What? You're eighteen now." He stated.
"Oh...Yeah, right." Val muttered and took the cash.
"Valentyne!" The sound of his youngest sister wailing caught his ear, the sound of his name inwardly cringing as he turned to see her running towards him down the stairs. "Can I come?" She asked.
Regina, she was seven years old, and while Vall loved her, he got tired of her incessant questions from time to time.
"Ask dad." Val replied shortly as he walked towards the door to slip on some flip-flops, he wasn't walking far anyway.
"Daddy, daddy pleeeeeeeaaaase?" She whined, Val waited somewhat impatiently as he leaned against the door, hoping his father would say no.
"Sure, Val you watch after her." He ordered seriously.
"Always do." Val sighed and opened the door for Regina to walk through and she strolled through as if she were a princess.
Val rolled his eyes but smiled subtly before he walked down the stairs to their porch and looked back to her, her puppy eyes making Val groan before he sat down on the bottom step.
"Get on." He said and Regina squealed softly before she hopped onto his back, wrapping her arms around his neck and wrapping her legs around his waist as he stood up.
Val reached down and gently grabbed her legs to keep a steady hold on her as he began walking towards the pharmacy. He was glad to get out of the house.
"Please don't call me that outside." He quickly corrected, trying not to sound too harsh.
"But why?" She quizzed.
"You know I don't like it." He replied.
"But why?" She repeated, Val huffing and biting his tongue for a moment.
"I just don't like it...So unless you wanna walk the rest of the way don't call me that again." He said sternly, Regina went quiet for a moment.
"I like it..." She muttered almost sadly.
"Yeah well, you don't have to live with it." He scoffed.
The weather was hot, and Val could feel himself sweating with the weight of his sister on his back, but he didn't complain...At least out loud. He wasn't ready to start his senior year of high school, and he only had a week left of his summer vacation.
"Are we picking up mommy's medicine?" Regina asked.
"...Yeah." Val sighed softly.
"When does she get to stop taking it?"
"...I don't know, maybe never." Val mumbled, he hated talking about his mother's illness.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in the early stages of Val's pregnancy, and she was given the choice to have an abortion and treat her cancer or go through with the pregnancy and risk the cancer metastasizing...She chose the latter and now she would possibly never get better.
Val was thankful when they finally got to the pharmacy, he let Regina off his back and stretched some as she zoomed inside.
"Hey, stay where I can see you." He called as he walked towards the counter, turning his head occasionally to see Regina looking at some coloring books before the familiar pharmacist walked up to the counter.
"Hey there Val, here for your mother's prescription?" He asked.
"Yep, the usual." Val replied, again glancing to Regina before resuming the small talk as his purchase was ringed up.
"Alright Val, good luck with football this year." The pharmacist concluded with a smile.
"Hey thanks, alright Regina let's—" Val looked over, and Regina wasn't there. "Regina?" He asked and began walking towards where he last saw her and she was nowhere to be found.
His heart started plummeting as he quickly walked through the isles, looking around frantically until he saw her at the register up front talking to a boy about his age. He sighed in relief but it was soon filled with anger.
"Regina!" He barked and she gasped, looking over to him. "What did I tell you? Stay where I could see you." He growled before looking up to who she was talking too, for a moment his voice faltered.
The boy in front of him, Val didn't recognize him, and in a small town where everyone knew everyone, that was unusual...But what was more unusual is the fact that he found that his voice was lost for a moment, but he quickly cleared his throat.
"S-Sorry, I hope she wasn't bothering you." He muttered softly.
"It's no problem, she's cute." The other replied smoothly, smiling at Regina who seemed to blush and clung to Val's leg.
"Sorry..." She whimpered looking up to Val with puppy dog eyes, Val rolled his own hazel hues and looked back to her.
"You have to listen or I'm not taking you with me anymore." He said somewhat seriously before looking back up to the stranger. "...I know most everyone...And I don't know you." He mused and the other seemed to shrug.
"I-I'm sort of new. I'm Luke, Luke Shaw." The newcomer introduced.
"Val Leblanc, you in high school?" Val inquired, Luke nodded in reply. "Then I'll see you there, I gotta get my moms medicine back home." He stated and gently brushed past Luke, who turned to tilt his head.
"What? How do you know?" Luke questioned, Val paused and glanced back.
"...There's only one high school here, dude." Val chuckled softly before he walked out with Regina who waved her goodbye, kneeling and allowing Regina to climb on top of him again.
"I like him." Regina said.
"You just have a crush on him." Val chortled softly as they began walking back towards the house, Val walked into the smoke shop right before turning into their neighborhood and buying his fathers cigars.
When he and Regina walked through the door, he let Regina plop onto her feet before stretching and handing his dad the smokes, who hadn't moved from his spot.
"My change?" He asked, Val then handed his dad the bills, the older man then rifled through them and handed Val back a ten.
"Oh...Thanks, dad." Val said with surprise to which his dad hummed in reply before Val began climbing up the stairs.
He paused in front of his mother's and father's bedroom and took a small breath. It was always so hard to be around his mother after chemo, not because her attitude changed but it was hard to see her so sick and in so much pain.
He gently knocked on her door.
"Come in..." A sickly rasp called, Val walked into the darkened room and quickly shut the door behind him when he heard her hiss from the light.
"Sorry, mom." He apologized.
"It's okay, baby...What is it?" She asked.
"Oh, I got your medication." He replied, approaching her and sitting at her bedside in the dim light.
"Oh, thank god..." She groaned as Val tore open the packaging.
Seeing her trying to weakly sit up, and fail, Val quickly got up and gently pulled her up and taking the empty water glass by her bedside and trotting into the bathroom connected to the master bedroom and filling it before bringing it back to her. He didn't hesitate to open the prescription bottle and take out the maximum amount of pills she was able to take.
"Open up." Val said softly and fed her the pills, gently bringing the water to her lips.
Once she was done he placed the water back at her side table and carefully helping her lay back down. Every round of chemo made her weaker. The girls weren't allowed in her room until the worst of it was over which usually took about two weeks, she was on day five.
"Do you want to try and get some soup down?" Val asked, taking her hand, feeling her grasp it shakily.
"No...Thank you, honey...How was your day?" She asked.
"Fine...Met someone new, he just moved here." Val replied.
"What's his name?" She prodded.