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There is No Forever - 16. Chapter 15

Devan had to admit something the second he woke up that morning: He was clearly in way over his head. Jesse and himself searched for apartments for the last three days without luck. Despite the combined contributions of Filiberto and himself, even if Jesse were to get a job, he wouldn’t be able to pay rent for at least another month. In addition, Filiberto wasn’t too keen on Jesse staying awhile longer in his place. If things didn’t work out, Devan would need to have Jesse live with him.

He thought to reach out to Stefan, who may be able to contribute financially to this dilemma. After all, Stefan was the most financially stable out of all three of them. But based on what Jesse had been saying about Stefan’s state of mind these last few days, Devan wondered if this was feasible. He didn’t want to add to Stefan’s burden, though it seemed all three of them were facing great struggles.

Devan thought this plan was a bust. Who in their group had even close to the amount of money needed to secure Jesse a place to live? There was only one person in mind that Devan knew had the means to help, but he didn’t think this person would be willing to do it. And rightfully so. But this person was Jesse’s last hope, and Devan thought to reach out to him today.

Devan arrived at their home sometime in the afternoon. He realized he hardly ever came to this residence unless Jesse and he had one of their drunken escapades. Devan knocked on the door cautiously and waited for an answer. The door opened.

“Devan,” said Nikolai. “It’s nice to see you, my dear.”


Devan sat in the living room. Nikolai served him tea and the two of them hung out on a couch that Devan figured was new, having replaced the other that he remembers having slept on once upon a time. Nikolai was in alright spirits, Devan thought. He didn’t seem torn up. But his affect was soberer than Devan was used to.

“How have you been doing, Nikolai?” Devan asked.

“Mmm, I’ve been managing the best I can,” he said. “This home is...not quite like it used to be. Very lonely.”

Devan looked sadly at Nikolai. “I’m sorry about what happened with you and Jesse. I know he meant a lot to you.” Nikolai didn’t respond to this. He sipped his tea and stared blankly ahead of him. “Do you miss him?”

“I have my days. Sometimes I’m...happy. I should be, right? He could be very unkind to me. I know you must not want to hear of the ways your friend can be cruel. But it is true. And I want to be happy that he’s no longer able to do any more damage than he’s already done. But…” Nikolai trailed off. Devan heard Nikolai’s grandfather clock in the background.

“Why Devan? Why do we try to hold onto things that we know aren’t good for us?” Nikolai's face was grim as he set his tea down and looked at the floor, pondering his next words. 

“Devan...Did you know Jesse wasn’t being faithful?” Devan deflated. It didn't occur to him that this skeleton would come up. He didn't want to add to Nikolai's anguish but didn't want to keep him from the truth. Nikolai didn't deserve any more lies.

“Yes… I did know Jesse was being unfaithful.” Nikolai didn’t move. He closed his eyes as if in contemplation. “I apologize. I should’ve been upfront with you from the start. I... tried to talk to him. But what I should’ve done is come to you. I didn’t mean to keep anything from you, and I didn’t mean for any of this to happen the way it did.” Nikolai’s eyes remained closed. He was stiff as if the shock had frozen him in place. What have I done, Devan thought. How will this man ever trust another human being again?

Nikolai opened his eyes. “Thank you for being honest,” he said. “I can’t blame you for Jesse’s behavior. All of James Street was telling me about Jesse. But I wouldn’t listen. Your words would’ve changed nothing, though I’m grateful for your apology.” Nikolai put his hand on Devan’s shoulder. A tear fell, and Nikolai barely smiled. But he looked content.

“You are a good friend,” Nikolai said, “Jesse is lucky to have you.” Devan admired Nikolai’s capacity to forgive, a lesson he saw himself finding a use for in his own life. His guilt for not revealing Jesse’s infidelity from the start was lifted. “Can I ask you something?”

“Of course.”

“How is Jesse doing?”

Devan frowned. “He’s...definitely paying the price for what he’s done. He doesn’t have a place to live right now, Nikolai. I’m helping him look at apartments and encouraging him to look for work. But without the money to move into a place, Jesse’s pretty much homeless.” Nikolai hummed in understanding. He rose himself from the couch and walked over to his desk. He lifted up a picture frame he laid face down. It was the same one he saw, of Jesse and himself, when he removed him from his home.

“And how do you both plan on getting this money?” Devan hesitated to say. “Now Devan, I know you didn’t come here just to check on me. Your friend is in trouble, and you’re only trying to help...I can’t say I’m too eager to assist after all he’s done.”

“I understand…” Nikolai looked at Devan some more. He laid the picture of Jesse and himself face up.

“I’ll give you a deal. You prove to me Jesse is serious about changing things around. When you do, I will match whatever the amount of money you and your friends gather up.”

Devan’s eyes widened. “Thank you, Nikolai. You’re doing much more than most would do in your situation.”

Nikolai nodded. “Money is no obstacle for me. What more should you do with wealth than give it away? Especially to a friend.” Nikolai smiled genuinely. Devan wondered if Nikolai was referring to him or Jesse. “But there is a favor I must ask of you.”

“What would that be?”

“Don’t tell him where this money is coming from.” Devan thought to ask why but didn’t. It didn’t seem right for him to ask. “Take care of Jesse, Devan. He has a lot of growing up to do before he can become the man he needs to be.”


Devan returned home. He was hopeful. All he had to was have Jesse complete his end of the bargain. He knew finding a job wouldn’t be easy, especially for Jesse who hadn’t worked a day in his life. But he was banking on the universe being in their favor.

After Jesse expressed his concern about Stefan, Devan thought to invite Stefan over. Devan had watched Stefan be his most dedicated when he lost his brother. He thought it was only right to show him the same kind of commitment. So when his doorbell rang that evening, he knew exactly who to expect.

“Hey Stefan, make yourself comfortable. I got us some takeout.” Stefan came in and appeared more timid than usual. When Devan rose his arms to give Stefan a hug, he saw him flinch. Stefan sat on the couch and folded his hands. Devan started preparing dishes.

“How are you doing?” he asked.

“It’s been umm...It’s been alright, I guess.”

“You guess?”

Stefan took a while to speak. He shrugged and said, “I don’t know what else to say.” Devan studied Stefan. He hardly looked him in the eyes. Devan grabbed for the plates and sat one in front of Stefan.

“Jesse was telling me you were pretty out of it the last time he saw you. Are you-”

“What did he say?!” The excitement in Stefan’s voice startled Devan.

“Just...that you didn’t seem okay.” Stefan exhaled. “You know you could tell me if anything’s weighing on your mind, right?”

Stefan hesitated before nodding. “I know… Thanks, Devan.” Devan smirked at Stefan. They both started eating, with Devan not even thinking to turn on the TV. The silence seemed to put Stefan at ease.

“I’ve been taking Jesse out to do some apartment hunting.”


“Mhm. I think we might have a chance to get him his own place soon.”

“That’s really good. When we hung out last, he told me what was going on. I was really worried... I wish I could’ve been more helpful. I feel so useless...”

Devan frowned. “You don’t have to beat yourself up for it. I don’t know if there’s any right way to deal with that situation.” Stefan took in Devan’s words, trying to use them to alleviate the crushing, self-doubting messages that occupied his head. Devan’s empathy was giving him some encouragement. “There’s a way that you can help. Nikolai, Filiberto, and I are putting some money together to get him his own place. I think it’d make a big difference if you were able to contribute.” Stefan seemed distracted. It’s been harder for him to concentrate since the episode with Chris. He felt so overwhelmed.

“Umm sure. Whatever I can do to help.” Devan was overjoyed by Stefan’s support. He wanted to tell him how much this gesture meant to him and would mean to Jesse, but Stefan was hardly mentally present. “Devan.”


“When Leroy started... harassing you, what did you do?”

Devan slowed down his eating. “I made sure to keep my distance. I didn’t know what he was capable of, sober or drunk, so I only communicated with him by phone.”

Stefan listened but felt that answer wasn’t enough. “B-but you loved him right? Wasn’t it hard for you to stay away? Didn’t you want to see him and have him be the big brother to you that he once was?”

“Of course I did. I love my brother. But I wasn’t going to be near anyone who insulted and threatened me. That’s putting you in a situation where someone could harm you.” Stefan sucked in his lips. 

Devan said, “Why do you ask?”

Stefan stopped eating. He gauged what he could and couldn’t say, though he never had any reason to not to trust Devan. He put his fork down.

“I’m...trying to figure out why I stay...” Devan stopped in mid-bite. Stefan’s tone was melancholy as he spoke. “When you told me how you still loved Leroy and wanted to connect with his daughter, I was so moved. I saw your loyalty to him, even after what he’d done to you. I thought that could apply to my situation too. But to hear you say you knew better than to be around him...I don’t know. I have trouble trusting my judgment these days.”

“What are you saying? If I gave you the idea that anything Leroy did was acceptable, then I’m telling you now that it wasn’t. Don’t let my choice to keep in contact with my brother confuse you. No one should ever be trying to purposefully hurt you.”

“I understand…”

Devan finished his meal and put his empty plate on the table that faced the TV. “I hope you’re doing what you need to do to protect yourself from this person. I’d hate for anything to happen to you.” Stefan looked blankly at Devan. Devan saw Stefan hardly ate his meal. “I can save the rest for you if you’d like.” Stefan handed over his plate to Devan. Devan walked himself to the kitchen and began washing the dishes. Stefan couldn't hold it in any longer.

“It’s… it’s Chris, Devan...” Devan let a plate slip from his grip. Stefan’s eyes shot over as the plate slammed into the sink. Devan grabbed it and laid it on the edge of the sink. Devan had shut off the faucet.


Stefan glanced at Devan. “Umm...he’s the one. He’s the one who...talks to me in a way that he shouldn’t...and threatens to hurt me. Not all the time, I mean...” Was he hearing Stefan correctly? Devan stood still, eliminating any sounds that would distort Stefan's words. “Just a few days ago, he was holding me down. I tried to get him off, but he wouldn’t listen to me. Then he started screaming. I was afraid, I-” Stefan’s voice cut off abruptly. Devan froze.

“Stefan...is that true?” Stefan turned to him. He had great pain in his eyes. He nodded slowly.

Devan didn’t know how to take Stefan’s revelation. Chris didn’t seem like the type who would do something like that. Or would he? Devan hardly knew him, how would he know? He left the kitchen, joining Stefan on the couch. “I can’t believe that happened to you. I-I'm sorry Stefan. I don’t know what to say.” 

Stefan’s lips started to quiver. “I can’t go back. I don’t know what he might do.” Devan instinctively had the urge to hold Stefan like he had done for him once before. But remembering how he reacted to his hug when he came through the door, Devan second-guessed himself. 

“I don’t want you to have to go back either,” said Devan. “You can stay with me.”

Stefan was wiping away his tears. “I’m scared, Devan.”

Devan bit his lower lip. “He can’t find you here. You’ll be okay here with me. I promise.”


Stefan left Devan’s place in the early afternoon. He informed Devan he was going to take a walk in a park to clear his head. This, however, was a lie. Stefan felt vulnerable after telling Devan what Chris did to him. While he felt cautious towards Chris, Stefan knew he had to return home at some point. He dreaded it. If Chris could threaten Stefan into having sex with him, what else was he capable of?

He stopped at the entrance to his apartment. He looked through the window into his room, wondering if he might get a glance of Chris. Stefan was getting cold feet. He tried to figure out what he could do to comfort himself. He thought of Devan and Jesse, but he didn’t want to keep worrying them. Fortunately, he remembered there was one other person he could call who had got him through this before. He needed someone to remind him that it would be okay.

“Hey brother,” Chandra greeted Stefan through the phone. “I knew you’d miss me too much to want to stay away.”

“Chandra,” Stefan said her name softly, “I need you to stay on the line with me.”

“Sure....for what?”

Stefan began to steadily walk towards his apartment. “I needed someone to talk to. I-I think I need to keep away from Chris for a while, and I came back to my place to grab a few things. I didn’t want to be alone while I’m doing it.”

“Okay, I got you. Just keep me on the phone. I’m glad you called me, Stefan.” Stefan began to walk up the stairwell to his place. Every creak and unexplained shadow sent shivers down his spine. Even though he knew how unlikely it was, every sound made him fear that Chris would pop up right beside him.

Chandra asked. “What happened? Why now?” Stefan exhaled and told Chandra about Chris’ attempt to rape him. Chandra gasped as though she were in pain. “He did what?! Ugh, that low-down - I’m so sorry, Stefan.”

Stefan couldn't help but cry. “I feel so stupid. I keep going back and every time I regret it. How could I let him do that to me, Chandra?”

“You didn’t let him do anything. And you’re not stupid. You loved him and you believed he could change. There’s nothing stupid about having faith in people. You just risk getting let down.” Stefan didn’t take into consideration the impact of Chris’ behavior. If Chris’ abuse affected him, what must it do to his friends who watch him go through this? Chandra's support was a godsend, he couldn’t imagine the load she’s carried all these years.

Chandra said, “You don’t deserve this kind of love. Whatever part of you is telling you that the treatment you’re given is justified is wrong. Nobody deserves this… Stefan, you’re hearing me?”

Stefan wiped away his tears as he opened the door to his apartment floor’s hallway. “I’m hearing you.”

“Then listen: It’s time. You’ve found a beautiful new city to call home, with beautiful friends, and a place to feel safe. Chris doesn’t care that you have any of these things. He doesn’t care if you're safe. He doesn’t care that he has you living in fear. He doesn’t care if you thrive, and he doesn’t care that he hurts you. Don’t let him hold you back, Stefan. It’s time to let him go…” Stefan held on to Chandra’s words. He was weak, he could feel it. It never crossed his mind, living on James Street without Chris. The idea of it frightened him. But Stefan had to come to terms with that possibility, and he was grateful for Chandra getting him to that point.

Stefan walked up to the front of his apartment. He didn’t hear any sounds inside, a good sign. He turned his key in the key knob and opened the door.

“I’m coming into my apartment,” he said.

“Okay, hear you loud and clear,” Chandra replied.

The apartment was clear for the most part. He didn’t hear any footsteps. The TV was shut off and the kitchen looked out of order with piling dishes and stained countertops. He walked slowly through. As he sat in the silence some more, he let out a breath of relief. Stefan felt confident that Chris was at work.

“Okay Chandra, he’s gone. I’ll call you soon...Thank you.”

“Anytime. You can do this.” Stefan clicked his phone off. He had to figure out what his next steps were before Chris returned home.

He went into the bedroom. The bed wasn’t made, sheets and blankets laid there in a disheveled manner, nearly falling on the side of the bed. His attention would go to his side of the bed. He walked closer to examine his desk, which had a glass vase of roses on top. This was peculiar. He grabbed the note that was stuck on the vase and read it to himself.

“Hey love, I’m really sorry for the other day. My temper got a little carried away. I miss seeing you. I love you, and I can’t wait to hold you when I come home. - Chris.”

Stefan held the note so tightly in his hands it could’ve ripped. What was this? Did he actually feel...bad? Did he want to forgive Chris? Stefan became so angry with himself. He wished he could throw the vase and the flowers out the window. Then he wanted to break the screen on the TV in the living room, trash Chris’ clothes, and break the pictures Chris found dear. He wanted to destroy anything that Chris was even remotely fond of. Because wasn’t that fair? Shouldn’t Stefan get to hurt Chris as he’s hurt him?

But Stefan wasn’t Chris. He couldn’t play out any of his revenge scenarios because that wasn’t him. Stefan wrestled with his seething fury. He didn’t come here to take his pain out on Chris’ things.

He quickly packed a week’s worth of clothes and grabbed any essential hygiene item he would need. He looked for any private items he couldn’t do without, then returned back to the kitchen. His picture of his mom, dad, and himself was lying on the countertop. He stuffed in his bag, checked if he had everything, and headed for the door.

Was this it? Was this the end? There was one way to make it official. Stefan stopped by the door and called a number on his cell.

It didn’t pick up, which Stefan had hoped for. It’d make it easier, make things safer. He was prompted to the voice message system.

Stefan took a deep breath. “Morning...I saw the roses you left me in the room. I... won't be taking those with me. Chris, I can't do this with you anymore. I can’t stay with you, not after everything that’s happened. I want things to be different, but I don’t think that’s best for me right now. Please don’t try to find me. I’ll call you for the rest of my things. Goodbye, Chris.”

Just as he grabbed the knob, he gave the apartment a look over. He couldn’t believe he was leaving all this behind. His home. The home Chris, Jesse, and even Devan had a hand in making together. Stefan opened the door, and then he was gone.


That night, Devan had returned from work and settled in his living room. Jesse and he had found an apartment and were working on the final steps to move Jesse in. To add to this development, Jesse was getting interviews. Devan had renewed hope that his efforts to secure Jesse a place to live were coming to fruition. 

Then a knock came to his door.

Devan wasn’t expecting anyone tonight. He walked toward the door slowly. After looking through the peephole, he opened the door.

Stefan had a single duffel bag of clothes and belongings he brought with him. His eyes were all cried out.

He said, “I didn’t have anywhere to go.” Devan didn’t take long to figure out what had happened. He gave Stefan the up-and-down. He looked tired, physically and emotionally.

Devan nodded. “I’m glad you’re okay, Stefan. Come in…”

Thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2017 BDANR; All Rights Reserved.
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I can only say I'm happy Stefan found the strength. Jesse has no idea what he threw away. Yes he has regret. A man still willing to help after his cheating. 

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Posted (edited)

On 9/27/2017 at 10:00 PM, BlindAmbition said:

I can only say I'm happy Stefan found the strength. Jesse has no idea what he threw away. Yes he has regret. A man still willing to help after his cheating. 

Stefan's free! The moment we've been waiting for. And fortunately, he has Devan to stay with :).


Mmhmm, Jesse lost someone pretty good. Though you've already read the chapter, Jesse starts to realize just how much he's given up.

Edited by BDANR
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