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    BDANR
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There is No Forever - 17. Chapter 16

Complications arose when Devan told Jesse that Stefan had been staying at his place to keep safe from Chris. Jesse grew worrisome. He didn’t want to be responsible for putting Stefan out. But Devan would receive a phone call offering Jesse an apartment just two days before his stay at Filiberto’s would be over. To make Devan feel better about moving forward, Jesse suggested he’d be employed the first week he was moved in. He had interviews lined up, surely a job would fall into his lap sooner or later? Devan held him to this and Jesse moved into his own place the next day.

With Stefan and Nikolai’s contributions, Devan and Jesse took care of move-in costs and a month’s rent. When Jesse inquired how Devan had that kind of money, Devan declined to answer, just asking Jesse to complete his end of the bargain. The pressure was on, and Jesse would remain in a state of overwhelm for days, applying for jobs and praying that an employer would give him the callback that he desperately needed.

 

Jesse bought a fifth with the leftover money he had for the place. Within Jesse’s apartment, he had a friend’s couch, a bare mattress, and a blanket. He sat on his mattress, opened the bottle, and grabbed the only glass cup he owned. He poured it half full and started sipping. Then gulping. At Filiberto’s, Jesse was not allowed to drink as excessively as he had done before. Filiberto wanted Jesse to be focused on his goals, and he believed Jesse’s alcohol use was a distraction. Now, without being limited, Jesse celebrated with a bottle of Russian Standard. He laughed at himself for having bought a Russian brand vodka. Nikolai must’ve been on his mind…

Jesse poured himself another half cup. He started thinking if he had any more payments? No, he assured himself, he was fine. He can celebrate this victory. He hoped the end of the month wouldn’t be too stressful of a time, money wise, and tried telling himself that employment was on the horizon. Job searching was more difficult than he thought, having been denied by several employers already in the days after his move-in. He thought to buy a fifth every time rent was due just to quell his anxious mind. But with what money?

Jesse found himself getting drunk and thought to stop. He hit over his glass and the vodka spilled on his wood flooring. He laughed some more, for what better cure for stress and the blues?

Another half cup. Jesse was swaying. He started realizing how empty it was in his apartment. And quiet. Jesse hated quiet. He looked around again at the sparse amount of belongings he had. This wasn’t where Jesse saw himself. Wasn’t it just a month ago he was living in a cozy, high-priced condo with the man he loved? Dammit, he thought, don’t start thinking about that again. But Jesse had no choice but to. What did he tell Devan? That he didn’t have time to think about all he’s done when he was on the verge of homelessness? Now that Jesse had a place to lie his head, he had no choice but to take in the full gravity of everything that had transpired.

Now when Jesse saw the brand of vodka he bought, he wondered why he laughed at all. What was so funny about being unable to stop thinking about his ex-lover? He didn’t want this heavy burden of responsibility. Not like this. Can’t Nikolai see that he’s sorry? Can he just come save the day again and take Jesse in his arms? Jesse had been so wrapped up in his fantasy, he didn’t feel his tears.

Why would Nikolai want him back, after everything he’s done? He cheated on him with Filiberto. He cheated on him again with a random from the bar in his condo. He blatantly disregarded his feelings. And now he wants forgiveness and mercy and wants things to go back to how they were? Jesse cursed his selfishness. He didn’t have the right. He had lost Nikolai and there was nothing he could do to reverse it. He couldn’t reverse any of this.

So then he began to cry. He cried for causing the trouble he’s put everyone through. He cried for the hurt that he caused. He cried because he still needed the help. And he cried...for Nikolai.

 

Exactly a week after his move in, Jesse would receive a surprise that would turn it all around, giving him the peace of mind he needed.

“I GOT THE JOB?!” Jesse screamed into the phone. “Oh sorry, sorry. Are you for real? When can I start?!” And now, Devan can rest easy, Jesse thought. He was going to work. Jesse turned off his phone. He looked around at his place. It was meager, though Jesse believed this would be a temporary setup. But didn’t he have rent to pay for? Phone bills? And what about transportation to his job? The number of responsibilities he had on his place was so daunting that it made his head spin. Jesse was thankful for the support he received, but now it was up to him to choose his own destiny.

 

Jesse had a vision for when he had his own place: throwing one of the biggest bashes he could imagine, celebrating his newfound independence and apartment with the who’s who of James Street, loud music playing from the speakers and all kinds of liquor to go around. But he needed to come back to reality: that was not his world anymore and he needed to focus on what matters. He invited Devan and Stefan over to celebrate his new place. He sprayed some Febreeze he got from Devan, hung up come Christmas lights a friend of his gave him, though Christmas was nowhere near, and bought a snack platter to keep the two from getting hungry. It was minimalistic, not exactly the extravagance Jesse was accustomed to.

The doorbell rang.

“Come in, boys,” Jesse greeted them. “I know it isn’t as picturesque as it could be, but it should be looking extra fab soon enough.” Stefan and Devan looked around Jesse’s place. Devan wasn’t particularly surprised by anything he saw because he had helped Jesse move-in what little he had to begin with. However, this was Stefan’s first visit, and he wondered how Jesse was acclimating to living so sparingly.

“I’m glad you found a nice place to live, Jesse,” Stefan said.

“Aww, thank you. It’s a nice room, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, we really came through,” Devan said. “It’s great to see you moved in, but I’m hoping you meant what you said about getting a job soon. You sounded pretty confident the other day, so I’m putting a lot of trust in you.”

Jesse put on his mischievous smile. “Well, Mr. Devan, consider your trust well given. You are looking at the new sales associate for Judy’s Boutique.”

Devan’s mouth fell open. “What? You’re kidding me! When did you find out?”

“Just yesterday. You shoulda saw how I went in there, giving them my Tyra Banks walk.” Jesse demonstrated for the two. Devan couldn’t pick his mouth up from the floor. “I should be starting hmm...Tuesday of next week I believe?”

“Oh my god, that is amazing news! Congratulations Jesse!” Devan bear hugged Jesse. Jesse looked as if he had lost all the air in him.

“Alright sweetie,” Jesse said in a breathy voice, “I love you, but you need to let me go.” Devan released him, and Stefan couldn’t help but grin at Devan’s excitement.

“You did it, Jesse,” Stefan said. “I’m happy for you.”

“Well shucks,” Jesse said, feigning nervousness.

“You should be proud of yourself,” Devan said. “I have to admit, you exceeded my expectations, doing this on your own.”

Jesse waved his hand at Devan. “You know damn well I didn’t do this on my own. Thank you for everything, Devan. You too, Stefan. You both pulled through for me, and I’ll be forever grateful.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful to you,” Stefan lamented. “I know you needed more than money and all, but-”

“Stefan,” Jesse interrupted, “I’m not expecting you to be looking out for anyone.” Stefan wanted to protest but remained quiet. His struggles made it difficult for him to offer much emotional comfort at all to Jesse, though Jesse didn’t hold it against him.

Jesse continued, “You should be looking out for yourself… I’m glad you're out of that apartment.” Stefan made a weak smile. “Have you been doing okay?”

“I have my days,” he said, “though Devan’s been a good support.” Devan put his hand on Stefan’s back. “Sometimes I’m working and spending time with you both so I don’t have to think about Chris so much. But when I’m alone, all I want to do is call him on the phone and ask him if he’s okay or if he misses me... It’s hard, Jesse.” Jesse was happy about one thing: Stefan was being open about his struggles. He thought that was a good sign, meaning Stefan trusted the two of them. But what was worrisome was Stefan’s thoughts becoming actions.

Chris had, in fact, been reaching out to Stefan. Stefan answered Chris’ call once and immediately regretted it. Chris was threatening, vicious, making promises that Stefan would regret having left. Stefan would never answer another call from Chris again. Afterward, Stefan would be subjected to voice messages with varying intensities. Sometimes Chris would be violent and repulsive. Other times he played sweet, and Stefan couldn’t help but be pulled in. Stefan knew better than to be impulsive, but he didn’t know much longer he could take this.

“I’m sure it is hard for you… Leaving is only the start. It’s staying away that will be the hard part. But I believe in you, hun. You’ve dropped his ass before, you can do it again.” Stefan nodded.

“He still has a few things left over there,” Devan said. “We should make a plan for all three of us to go. You’ll need to back me up, Jesse. I could kill this guy for what he did.” Devan’s face grew hot. As Stefan began to shed light on the hidden parts of his relationship, Devan fantasized the day he would make Chris pay. Stefan thought to find his friends’ support reassuring, but it only made him afraid for their wellbeing. What if Chris tried to hurt them too? Nothing seemed beyond Chris anymore, and Stefan wouldn’t forgive himself if Jesse or Devan were hurt.

“Now now, I ain’t too confident that imma keep cool around this piece of shit either. But, I don’t think Stefan wants to watch you beat his ex to the ground. You wanna end up in jail?” Devan’s lips were tight. The consequences of his actions meant little to him. The only thing that stopped him was his actions affecting his ability to see Jade. “No fighting unless there’s nothing we can do to avoid it. Deal?”

Devan nodded. “Fine, Jesse. Deal.”

“There we go.” Jesse headed over to the snack platter. “Now, I know I did not use my eight dollars and ninety-five cents for nothing. Come have some cold subs and chips you two!”

 

Stefan sat in Devan’s home alone as Devan went out of town to see Jade. Devan let Stefan know that he could call him and Devan would return as fast as he could if he needed.

A nagging thought repeatedly came up for Stefan. Though the two shook each other’s hands just a few hours before, Stefan saw a look in Devan’s eyes. It was the same look Chandra had the day she picked him up after Chris dropped him off at a gas station on prom night.

“Dammit Stefan, if I were a man I’d-” she exclaimed, then stopped herself. “How does he do something like that to you?! How?” But Chandra never acted on any of her threats. Stefan reassuring her that he wouldn’t go back to him quelled her rage at the time. But bringing Devan in Chris’ vicinity gave him the feeling that nothing good could come of it. And despite these thoughts that came to his head about turning the page to this ugly chapter in his life, a part of him didn’t want it to end. Chris was everything to him, even when he didn’t want him to be.

A ring came to his phone. He had assumed already that it was Chris. He checked the caller ID and realized it was someone he hadn’t expected to receive a call from since he’d been on James Street. He stared at the phone before deciding to answer it.

“...Dad?” His hand wouldn’t stop shaking.

“S-Stefan. H-how have you been?” Stefan could hear the nervousness in his father’s voice on the other end.

“I’m okay. I didn’t expect your call.”

“Oh well, I was just cleaning up the house and… I uh, thought I’d see how you were. Haven’t heard from you in awhile.” Stefan wasn’t sure whether to be enthusiastic or guarded by this phone call. “I...ran into your friend the other day.”

“Was it Chandra?”

“I-I think so. The Girl that uh, uh, used to come see you all the time?”

“Yeah, that’s the one.”

“She said she was coming to see you. How is it over there? You getting around okay?”

Stefan began pacing Devin’s apartment. “I have. It’s...I think I made a good decision. Moving here.”

“That’s good to hear, son… I-I’m glad to hear you’re doing alright up there. You know umm...I never saw you doing something like this. Living in another city. Your mother and I used to say you were always really shy…”

“It seemed like you were more nervous for me.”

Stefan’s dad laughed. “Could be. I uhh...it’s hard to see you all grown up. I didn’t really get to raise you as I would’ve liked to. But your mom and I, we did what we could.” Financially providing for a family, addressing the emotional and physical needs of a wife with severe mental distress as well as his growing son’s. In an ideal world, Stefan’s mother and himself would be equally supported and able to thrive. But Stefan nor his father lived in an ideal world, and his father couldn’t always be the dad he wanted to be. Stefan could hardly speak to his father without having flashbacks of the past.

“...Have you heard from mom?” His father let out a long sigh. Stefan became so tense, he stopped breathing.

“I haven’t, Stefan. I...I know I didn’t make the best decisions trying to keep this family together. I loved your mother very much, and I wished things would’ve been different. She just...grew very sick. All we can hope for is that she received the help that she needed.” Stefan recalled those memories of his mother. He vaguely remembered her being dedicated and caring towards him when she was able. She wanted to be a mother, is what his father always told him. But as he aged, he saw someone who was too difficult to engage and often not present physically or mentally. Stefan couldn’t understand why his mother acted the way she did until his father expressed that the two of them would be leaving without his mother to another town. Stefan never knew what happened to his mom after his father and he left. And his father never told him.

“Do you miss her?”

“I do miss her. I think about her every day.” Stefan sat back on the couch, unsure of what to say. “I should’ve asked...how are you things with you and that young man?”

Stefan gulped. Having the relationship the two of them have, Stefan hardly spoke of his relationship with Chris to his father. As a result, his dad wasn’t aware that Chris was abusive. This was a blessing and a curse: Stefan didn’t have to burden his father with his ordeal and add to his worries. And yet, didn’t every kid who loved their father want his protection?

Stefan made a compromise when he said. “I think I wanna save that conversation for another time, dad.”

“Ok, that’s fine. I know you must want your privacy.”

“Thank you... Alright, I have to let you go. Sorry I haven’t called like I promised...” Stefan’s dad was silent on the other end for some time.

“I’m sorry too, Stefan. I love you and...I want you to come home sometime.”

Stefan smiled. “I will, and I love you too. Take care.”

“Buh bye, son.” Stefan turned off his phone and closed his eyes. One day, dad, he thought. Stefan yearned for the day he could tell his father about what he’s been through. But he stopped himself. He didn’t want to tell his dad a story that hadn’t ended.

 

Devan rose in the morning feeling re-energized from a good night’s sleep. He got himself out of bed and headed to the kitchen to figure out what he could cook for breakfast. Mysteriously, Stefan was nowhere to be found.

Since Stefan’s been staying over, he had never left the house without Devan, even when he needed to go to work. Devan found it hard to watch his once reasonably stable friend become so unwell. He wanted to cook him something to eat, so he thought to give Stefan a call.

He waited through the dial tone. Stefan didn’t answer. What could he be up to? It was then he received a text on his phone. It appeared to be Stefan.

“Hey Devan, sorry for not telling you I was leaving. I didn’t want to wake you. I just needed to get some things done. Alone. I’ll see you soon, okay?”

Devan’s face contorted. It didn’t seem right. What could Stefan need to do that he couldn’t inform Devan of beforehand? Maybe Jesse knew? So Devan gave Jesse a call.

“Gurl, it is nine am,” Jesse said while yawning. “You better have a good reason for calling me.”

Devan said, “Hey, I was just wondering if you heard from Stefan?”

“Well of course not, I’m just now getting up. What’s up?”

“I just got this text from him this morning about needing to ‘get some things done alone’ or whatever, and I wondered if he said anything to you?”

“No...not that I can recall.” Devan tried thinking of reasons to explain this change in behavior. But before long, he heard Jesse make a loud gasp for air on the other end of the phone.

“What? What was that about?”

“Devan, get in your car.”

“W-Why? What are you-”

“Just go to your car and stop talking to me! Stefan might be going over to Chris’! Come get me!” And just as Jesse finished his sentence, Devan grabbed his coat and ran himself out the door.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2017 BDANR; All Rights Reserved.
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Gosh, but you have packed a punch into this chapter. Devan and Jesse and Stefan looking out for each other; Stefan reconnecting with his father; Jesse waking up and actually smelling the coffee of real life...wow.  And then on the top of this merry bonfire, you throw the gasoline of Stefan heading back to Chris? Call an ambulance!

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Things are certainly heating up lol I hope nothing bad happens in the next chapter.  Very good chapter overall. Will be looking for an update. 

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O knew Stefan would do that. I hope we will see Chris get a beat down, with words of course. A few veiled threats. Nicolai is Russian, maybe connections to Russian mafia.

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The conversation between Stephan and his father sounded very realistic. You captured it well. I really enjoyed the awkward exchange when Stephan's dad asked him about "that young man." 

 

Though the boys are going through their own person trials, they seem to be bonding once more. 

 

Well done BDANR! 

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On 9/27/2017 at 1:07 PM, Parker Owens said:

Gosh, but you have packed a punch into this chapter. Devan and Jesse and Stefan looking out for each other; Stefan reconnecting with his father; Jesse waking up and actually smelling the coffee of real life...wow.  And then on the top of this merry bonfire, you throw the gasoline of Stefan heading back to Chris? Call an ambulance!

Haha, this chapter has much more jam-packed in there than most! It's good to know the events I've written have left an impression on you. I hope that's a good thing at least! ;)

Edited by BDANR
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On 9/27/2017 at 6:01 PM, Remijay said:

Things are certainly heating up lol I hope nothing bad happens in the next chapter.  Very good chapter overall. Will be looking for an update. 

Thanks for following my story, Remijay :heart: !

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On 9/27/2017 at 10:22 PM, BlindAmbition said:

O knew Stefan would do that. I hope we will see Chris get a beat down, with words of course. A few veiled threats. Nicolai is Russian, maybe connections to Russian mafia.

The next chapter may not have been what you were expecting, but I'm glad you enjoyed it :D !

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On 10/3/2017 at 7:20 AM, R J Drew said:

The conversation between Stephan and his father sounded very realistic. You captured it well. I really enjoyed the awkward exchange when Stephan's dad asked him about "that young man." 

 

Though the boys are going through their own person trials, they seem to be bonding once more. 

 

Well done BDANR! 

Thank you! Dialogue can be really difficult to write, so I love to hear when I've done it well :). It's been great telling a story about three different characters battling against the odds and working together to get through their issues.

 

Thanks so much for your comments :D !

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