It took milliseconds for me to jump over Johnny, Jimmy, and the couch in one move. I slid on the tile, crashing into Jesse's open arms. Tears didn't even explain how I was acting. I flew into hysterics. I was sobbing, yelling, and punching Jesse in his chest all at once, "How could you do that to me!?" I screamed and he let me take it out on him until I was done to speak.

"I had to make sure you would get home safely," He said softly.

"Did you have to convince me that you died!?" I yelled, but silenced me by pulling me into his arms once more.

Everyone once again gathered around the couch, me leaning into Jesse for support. I lost him once, and I wasn't going to lost him again. Ever. He held my hand tightly as he retold the story in his words, "I had two guns. The one I gave to Van was loaded, mine wasn't," He explained.

"Why would you give a fifteen year old a gun?" Johnny asked and Jesse laughed.

"Because I knew once they were done with me, they'd go after her. If I had a weapon, it would've been harder to get out of my situation."

"So how exactly did you raise from the dead?" Zacky asked and Jesse sighed.

"It was dark out, and I knew the guy who was supposed to kill me had trouble seeing. He kept tripping over rocks and shit when we were trying to walk through the park. When we stopped, I turned slightly to the side so when he shot me, he only clipped my arm," He motioned to his upper arm that was bandaged up.

"And when did they beat the ever loving shit out of you?" Jimmy questioned.

"Right after Van took Vanessa away. When they realized Vanessa was gone, they came to me to ask where they were going. I didn't know and I wouldn't tell anyways, so they beat me. When they realized I wouldn't talk, Derek had one of his friends take me through the park to kill me. When he shot me in the arm, I played dead or a few minutes and once they left I got up and drove myself to the hospital."

"So you kind of had this planned all along?" I asked and he nodded.

"I would never leave you like that, Van. If I were planning my death, I'd make sure you'd be alright first," He assured and I looked towards Brian and Michelle.

"Actually, I had just told Van that we wanted her to live with us. But it's all great now that you're alive," Michelle smiled and Brian nodded.

"Thank you," Jesse smiled, "Well, we should get home. It's dark and I think we need to spend some quality time together," He grinned down at me and I hugged his middle.

The drive home was silent and peaceful. Jesse rolled down the windows and turned off the radio so we could just listen to the waves crash along the beach. He drove slow, so we could spend more time outside than locked away at home. But I was glad when we parked. Jesse opened the door for me and grabbed my hand, holding it the whole way up the stairs and to our door. He locked the door and entered the apartment without a word. I looked up at him once we were in the living room, I was happy to be back. I was about to turn away when Jesse stopped me, "Come here," He whispered and pulled me into him so our lips crashed together.

This kiss wasn't like the one at the park. It wasn't a simple peck, but he didn't shove his tongue down my throat either. It was a kiss that told me he needed me, like he couldn't live without me. I couldn't live without him ether, so I kissed back. Our lips moved together and his arms wrapped around my waist as my hands laced up around his neck. Butterflies swarmed my stomach as I let my fingertips intertwine with his long brown hair. It was pure bliss.



"Did you show her the picture?" I asked, handing Michelle a cup of coffee. She nodded, taking a slow sip from the steaming cup, "How did she react?"

"She told me that she thought Avery looked like me," She sighed and I could sense the doubt in her voice, "What if it's not her, Zack? What if we're just playing tricks with ourselves, trying to bring something back that we can't?" She asked and I shook my head.

"This is real, Michelle. I had every reason to believe Van is truly Avery. You can't hide that connection you and Brian feel with her."

"I know but..." She paused, "What if she knows we're her parents, but she just doesn't want to come to us?"

"Why would you think that? She wants to see her parents again," I explained and she shook her head.

"Maybe she just doesn't want to leave what she already has," She said softly.

"Jesse," I finished and she nodded, "He's the only thing standing in your way."

"I don't want to see her get hurt, Zack. If we pull Jesse away... I don't want her to feel abandoned," She told me and I nodded.

"I'm going to take care of everything, Mich. Trust me."

I walked out of their house, hopping into my car and speeding off down the street. I was heading home, but not without a detour. I pulled into the familiar parking lot of Jesse's apartment. I parked before heading up the flight of stairs and arriving at the door. I knocked softly and moments later the door opened. Jesse stood there, hair slightly messed up and his shirt wrinkled, "Hey, Zacky," He seemed out of breath, "What's up?" He asked.

"Is this a bad time?" I asked and he looked around.

"Uh, no. Come on in," He smiled and opened the door widely for me to step inside. I looked around and nothing seemed unusual.

"Where's Van?"

"Van? Oh, uh, she's asleep," He seemed very jumpy and I as becoming suspicious.

"Okay, well I came to talk to you about her," I rubbed the back of my neck. This was a sore subject for Jesse. After witnessing everything he would do for Van, I felt bad for putting this on him, but Van needed to be where she belongs.

"We found Vanessa, Zack, I don't know what else you want to tell me," He sighed and I looked to my feet.

"I think you're covering up for the fact that Van is really Avery Valen Haner," I replied and he shook his head.

"No," He whispered, "She's Van Blumenfield."

"Don't be like this, Jesse. I know this is hard, but you have to realize the truth and face it," He shook his head viciously and I realized he was starting to cry and breath hard.

"I can't help it, Zack! You understand that she's all I have! Don't you get it? Van is everything to me," He pleaded and almost looked like he couldn't take the stress, "I can't let her go, Zack! Listen, I understand Michelle and Brian, I really do. I want Van to find her family, but at the same time I want to keep her with me forever."

"Well, you can still see her. She'll just live somewhere else, and once she's eighteen she's free to go wherever she wants." He still shook his head.

"Please don't take her from me," He whispered.

This wasn't Jesse, this was a whole different person. Jesse was strong and intimidating. This guy had tears streaking his cheeks and pretty much looked like a mess. For the first time, I felt sorry for Jesse.

"I won't tell Van. But when the time comes for her to find out on her own, I'll leave the decision to her."

"Do Brian and Michelle know?" He asked, wiping his face with the inside of his shirt.

"Michelle knows and Brian is in denial. When he does find out though... He might not be as understanding as me," I said softly and he nodded, "Take care of yourself, Jess."



I pulled my ear away from the door, probably crying just as much as Jesse. I didn't want to exactly leave Jesse. I wanted to find my parents, but I hadn't thought everything through about possibly leaving the first person to ever care about me.

The door started to open, but I couldn't get back to my bed in time, "Van?" He asked, the light pouring in from the hall illuminating my tear-streaked face, "You heard all that?" He asked and I nodded.

I was right about crying as much as him. He walked forward, picked me up and set me on my bed, then pulled the covers up to my shoulders. He sighed, kissed my cheek, before getting up to leave, but I pulled him back, "Van," He whispered and I shook my head, wrapping my arms around him. He sighed once more before giving in and finally getting under the covers with me, "They can take you away," He started, "It's California law that you need parents, and since I don't have guardianship they can put me in jail."

"They can put you in jail for a lot of things, Jess," I muttered and he gave a chuckle and nodded.

"You're right, but that doesn't mean we can go on like this," He paused, "If you want to go with your parents, I won't protest." I looked up at him in shock.

"What?" I asked and he nodded.

"I want you to be happy, and if that means I have to wait a while to be with you again, then I'll take it."

"But Jess," I whispered, "I don't know where I want to go."

"You'll know, Van. Just take some time to think about it... And if you ever want to talk I'm here," He said before relaxing into the pillow. I rested my head on his chest, slowly starting to drift asleep.



"Well?" Gena was waiting for me when I got home, hoping to hear good news of Van.

"Where's Vanessa?" I asked and she looked to the stairs.

"Sleeping. I put her in the guest room," She answered softly and I nodded, "Did you talk to Jesse?"

"Uh," I paused, "No."

"Well why not?" She questioned.

"I was, but Gena he's been through a lot these past few days. I figured I'd give him some time before I put this all on him," I took a deep breath in, "It's not like he knows anything about what's really going on," I lied.

"Zack, I understand you're trying to be fair to him but think of the pain he went through in one day and compare it to Michelle and Brian for the past twelve years," She told me, hand on her hip as she walked up the stairs and to our room.
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language: dutch

sorry i didn't get around to the fourth update last night. boo for false hope. i'll try to update more again today, but i have practice at six and the house needs to be clean before i leave. boo for cleaning :/ but i'll update more soon :)