Two grueling days passed after seeing that last chance vanish. The boys gave up taking turns as they had estimated before, they were too tired to try again. Even so, during that week, the young people had significant changes in their behavior.
Lester learned that he could handle his insecurities in situations he never expected to face alone. If this had happened 5 years earlier, he wouldn't have done anything useful, let alone accept Victor's feelings. He felt more confident in himself and believed that he could have shown his mother that he would be her greatest pride. Benxamin understood that sometimes he couldn't have full control of his decisions, that he wasn't always the manipulator of his environment. If what he had planned didn't work out, there could be another alternative or just give in and it was okay to emphasize that to others.
Victor took refuge in his negativity, feeling guilty. He meditated on every action he took and every decision he made, not only in this shipwreck but in his personal goals. Before what happened, he thought he would be an actor - whatever it cost him. If a thousand doors closed for him, one would remain open, waiting for his big break. But his intention to work in that world wasn't what he expected to get. Was it something related to him? Didn't people think he was capable of being a good villain or a hero?
Little by little those foolish dreams faded away. He understood that venturing into the unknown sometimes made him delusional and intrepid but unaware of the consequences. As a child he agreed to face dangerous challenges to pursue his own interests, but his determination faded in that canoe - at his most vulnerable moment. Victor always knew that agreeing to work for someone as his boss just to make easy money made him the person he never wanted to be. He was desperate to be free not only from Mr. Estévez, but also from Tamara and her perception of him as an imagined pleasure.
During that day, the three of them shared their last thoughts. They were lying in the small boat, losing hope of being found.
“If I were to see my parents again,... ” Lester said. “... I would have liked to tell them that I was going to be the best film director that exists in the city. I have a script under my bed. It is the story of a woman who is trapped inside a building with four other people. They must all get out of there together, that is the rule or they will be annihilated by bloodthirsty zombies. I would hire Benxamin to be my cinematographer and Victor would be the antagonist. I think you are the one for that role.”
“G-gore… ” Victor gasped. “Consider it... d-done.”
“I don't think there would be that much blood, but there would be a lot of screaming,” Lester stated.
“It's not a good idea for us to talk. We haven't eaten in hours,” Benxamin said.
“I,” Victor continued. “I w-would have liked to have built our... mother's house in... Hephaestus, but f-first I wanted to ask you,... Lester, if you wanted to be my boyfriend and... live with me t-there.”
“I don't think I live on the island. I haven't been able to get used to the heat,” Lester laughed. “But, yes,... I want to be your boyfriend.”
“Well,... then, how… about a less s-sunny… place? And you, Benxamin,... can also live with... us.”
“I don't want to be with you two. I have my plans, but how about you invite me to your wedding? I'll be your photographer, boys. My rates are not that expensive. Besides, I want to live alone soon.”
There were soft laughs between them. After a few minutes, Benxamin looked at his brother.
“Lester,” he said, “help me look at Victor's leg.”
Lester dragged Benxa over to his twin; they could barely move. They had lost a lot of weight, Lester's delicate skin was much more burned than the others. Victor's wound was hard to describe - it was terrifying to see. He never complained, but he began to feel excruciating pain that made him shake. Benxamin slowly approached Lester to confirm something he thought might happen if they weren't rescued in time.
“I'm afraid Victor won't survive.”
Those words affected Lester. He wanted to cry at that moment, but he didn't have the strength to. He crawled over to Victor and hugged him along with Benxamin.
“I r-remember the… name of the… island w…here mom was b-born. It is Marina,” said Victor.
Lester was touched, kissed Benxamin on the forehead and gave Victor one on the cheek. The next time he kissed his future first date - he thought - it would be on his lips.
Several days before.
An old man with a huge beard who was part of a group of crew members of a cargo ship came across something suspicious a few kilometers away. He used his binoculars attached to a strap around his neck to see three boys waving his arms, one of whom had pulled down his green shorts and used them as a flag to call for help.
“Will they need... ? But, what if they are pirates? Don't they have a flare gun?” he asked himself. If they had had a flashlight, they would have turned it on and off to send an SOS signal via Morse code to alert the first ship they saw. But it never crossed their minds to get lost on a short trip.
Once the old man told his captain, they radioed the navy and reported seeing a group of young men in a motorized canoe. It took them 120 hours to find them. It was early in the morning, the sky was completely clear. They were half naked from the heat, without food or gasoline, more than 150 kilometers from Marina.
The guys were taken to another island called Elisa, much closer but on the border of a neighboring country. Once James knew they were alive, he didn't hesitate to let Stella and August know. The reaction of both was particular: the twins' aunt left her vanity and her nonsense to go by ship to Hephaestus. August, who was married to Camille and was expecting his first child, said he was happy for them but did nothing more.
“I'll send you money if they need it,” August said while talking on the telephone.
“They need you to be here!” James responded, frustrated with his boss.
James didn't rush to tell Mira what happened, since she had to be taken to the hospital on the island and he avoided giving her any real details of the boys' situation. When they lost contact with the young men, Lester's parents were literally glued to the police and rescuers for every move they made. Mrs. Haydar became seriously ill as her anguish over the disappearance of her only child grew.
“And if they don't find them? What if Lester dies before me?” she thought.
She was forced to travel back to the city on the orders of James himself. Her husband had to lie to her when he assured that they were found days before the news was true. “They had allegedly gotten lost on a nearby island and had minor injuries”.
Mr. Haydar met Stella the next day at the Hephaestus Police Station to go to General Hospital of Elisa.
“How could you leave them alone? Those f*cking idiots had no idea what they were doing!” Stella yelled at James.
While she reproached him, waiting for a ship that would take them to the port of the island, he remained silent - responsible for everything that happened. They were already aware of the situation and especially of Victor.
“If he loses his leg, it will be your fault!” Stella said.
“l know,” James replied, inclining his head.
Once at the hospital, and knowing the boys' room numbers, Stella walked away from James as if she were running a marathon on her high heels.
“Go see your son, I'm going for my twins. Don't wait for me,” she said.
A few minutes later, she entered the first room, where Benxamin was sleeping on a stretcher. Terrified at seeing his gaunt and thin appearance, she crept closer to stroke her nephew's hair. She then went to see Victor, a nurse was giving him an intravenous medication. The young man seemed sleepy, she approached him and stroked his hair in the same way. Stella lifted the sheets to see his leg, it was bandaged. She stayed a few minutes and left the room without making a sound. She went to the hospital waiting room and sat there for several hours.
Lester was treated for his burns to much of his body, staying awake most of the time thinking about the twins, but also the aftermath of his shipwreck. He started having horrible nightmares in which he saw his friends dying, Victor losing a leg like he was watching a bloody movie, or Benxamin drowning over and over again in terrifying ways.
Benxa, who refused to eat meat, lost weight faster than the others. Victor was much more compromised by an infection that, if not intervened, put not only his leg at risk. Lester came to the conclusion that he failed in his duty to care for and make the twins happy as he promised Mrs. Dautt, but he assured that it would not happen again.
Two days later, Ernest Estévez - or Witsel - went to the island's hospital, dressed in white with an expensive briefcase and sunglasses from a well-known fashion brand. He walked with his prosthesis at a steady pace. The first thing he did was pay all the medical expenses for Victor, Benxamin and, surprisingly, Lester. Stella didn't know him in person but she had an idea who this man was. According to the manager of the bank where she worked, she had once mentioned him as a very “important client”.
“You must be the twins' aunt, right? Victor has told me about you,” he said.
“You are... ,” she received him with surprise in one of the corridors of the hospital.
“Excuse my manners, allow me to introduce myself. I am... ”
“I know. Thank you Mr. Estévez.”
“The receptionist said that you paid for everything, including what my son needs. Are you Victor's boss?” James said, walking towards them when he noticed the man's presence. “We thank you infinitely. We don't know how to repay you for what you did.”
“Victor is my daughter's boyfriend. I will do everything possible for him, his brother and his friend.”
“Her boyfriend? I d-don't know what to say,” Stella said confused.
James was annoyed with such a statement but avoided saying anything. Mira had already told him about Victor's courtship with their son.
The young Dautt, 17 years old, not only had to recover from his injuries, but he found himself involved in much more serious matters than what happened during the shipwreck. Little by little, his life ceased to belong to him, because his boss bought it from that hospital.
The boys are finally rescued, despite what happened they recover little by little from their injuries, however, something happens. Mira becomes seriously ill and has to return to the city. Ernest pays for the young men's medical care and reveals something shocking.
I remind you once again, dear readers, that Ernest Estévez's real last name is Witsel, but he changed it to protect his family.
The next episode will be on May 17.
I admit that this chapter was long. XD
Thank you for reading. See you soon.
They will never be the same after this experience, and I love how you portrayed that to each of them individually. Victor especially I fear will become more daunted by his decisions moving forward; this makes me sad as he will lose a huge part of himself.
Witsel sure knows how to make an entrance, declaring things that are just not true :/ I feel for Victor so much! It feels like that even though they were rescued, he has an ongoing torment now to face.
His illustration is gorgeous, Emalie, as always <3<3.
A brilliant chapter, my dear! I was moved to tears with their rescue!
In a serendipitous twist of fate, Lester Haydar and Victor Dautt cross paths once again, thirteen years after a fateful encounter. Childhood friends turned estranged adults, their unexpected reunion sparks a torrent of emotions, reigniting a dormant connection they never truly forgot.
As their bond deepens, a tantalizing question hangs in the air. Will they forge a shared future? Will they dare to give their relationship the official seal it deserves?
Yet, amidst the tender moments of love and longing, their idyllic fantasy faces a crucible of tests. Forces beyond their control conspire to intrude upon their lives, threatening to shatter their delicate world of happiness and desire.
Join Lester and Victor on an unforgettable journey where passion and adversity intertwine, and discover if their love has the strength to withstand the challenges that lie ahead. In this captivating tale of love rekindled, secrets revealed, and hearts laid bare, prepare to be enthralled by a story that will leave you yearning for more.
A new chapter every 10/11 days.
Description made by Lucky Foot. Thank you so much.