Daniel's routine was nothing exceptional. He was used to living with the luxuries that Ernest gave him - clothes, food, a spacious room to sleep comfortably in a three-story house. But was that enough to make him happy? He lived with his father and Tamara, his supposed big sister and the one he considered his best friend to whom he told absolutely everything. She knew that Daniel liked a girl in his class. The child was too shy, he blushed when he saw her and it was difficult for him to even greet her or say goodbye to her. The girl in question had noticed his behavior and she didn't feel uncomfortable at all, she tried to socialize with him in a friendly manner but without very good results. Daniel didn't have the courage to talk to her and it not only happened to the girl, but to all of his classmates, so using bullying was a wrong way to be sociable. The boy made jokes, he made fun of the other students, he acted like someone who was unruly, but he had his limits - he didn't behave like Marcel did in the past.
His cousin and teacher had the enormous responsibility of caring for and teaching Daniel how to properly socialize, so he used his profession to set the example he needed and it became evident by gaining the trust of the parents and legal guardians of the students. His appearance wasn't the only thing important; Marcel was the best and most committed teacher in the entire school. He was admired for his work and for his decisions on behalf of his students - such as scheduling sports tournaments or teaching children to learn in a more creative way. Secretly, Dani admired his cousin in many ways. The boy knew that this man was someone different from any teacher, and it was great for his relative. In his case, he didn't crave that attention, because he felt like he didn't live up to the expectations he wanted. This did not discourage Marcel, when he could he gave him advice on how to play baseball, but also how to get along with his classmates, however these changes didn't depend on anyone but Daniel.
Regarding his "father", the boy knew that he was a very busy man, but he wondered why it was so difficult to talk to him. Ernest worked in the north of the city very early in the morning and was home until midnight, except on Sundays, when he stayed in his study or played with his son - but irregularly.
Sometimes Daniel wanted to tell him that he didn't like playing that sport or any other - that it wasn't his passion -, but that he hadn't found the calling to dream of something different either. He didn't want to bother Witsel; he was a little afraid of him, he felt that there was something about him that differentiated him from a father. It's not that he despised the life that Ernest had chosen for him, but at only 11 years old Dani believed that something was not right.
From time to time, he asked Tamara - because he didn't feel comfortable sharing his doubts with his father -, where his real mother was. The woman herself was not able to tell him the truth, she demonstrated him affection as if she were a sister, as if it were enough to heal Daniel's wounds. Witnessing those mothers who went hand in hand with their children to parents' meetings and how they caressed them, played or laughed with them, made him feel a strange sensation that was difficult to ignore. He had his sister as his only friend, but she planned to marry someone twice her age and with that - the boy thought -, there was no other person with whom to express his insecurities.
Dani felt alone with his life of privilege. His father was not a “bad person” - but there was a disconnect in the paternal bond. Witsel was distant towards the boy, did not ask him about his grades or his academic activities. He never expressed any feeling of satisfaction for his achievements. There was only one thing to keep in mind: the father never yelled at him, much less abused him. Ernest only cared about his job. His own daughter knew this and suspected that he was still the same dangerous man.
Due to all of the above, the boy tried to make a change in his life and began to divert his thoughts using social media. He suggested this idea to Tamara and she accepted under her "strict supervision”. Daniel created an account to discover lives and worlds beyond his normality. One hour, every day. During these explorations, he watched a video of a woman named Lorna, who went from actress to director of a documentary about the lives of a group of inmates who became actors, which did not interest him in the least until he had vague memories of his childhood when he saw Victor talking to Derek in said documentary. The man with the freckles, could it be him? That person who played with him and treated him with respect?
“My... friend? Vic... Victor?” the boy thought.
He showed the video to Tamara; Daniel wasn't sure if he was that playmate. On the other hand, people in the comments were talking about Derek and not so much about the importance of the documentary; opinions were divided.
“Killer," some reproached.
“He tried to save his son. He made a big mistake,” others claimed.
Victor's and even Lester's names were also in the credits, luckily Tamara didn't notice - she was receiving an important call from her partner.
The next day, there was an important baseball game at school. The guys had to compete with students from another academy. Daniel played as one of the pitchers, but stood out for being one of the worst. He didn't have good reflexes and didn't run fast. Marcel felt that his cousin was not making an effort and asked him to sit on the bench with the substitutes. This generated ridicule from the guys, he didn't care; he didn't want to be there. Marcel noticed his lazy attitude - he didn't scold him -, in the coach's mind there were other plans that could not be postponed.
Before the game ended, three men appeared out of nowhere and sat on one of the farthest benches so as not to attract attention. Daniel became aware of their presence. They were the same age as Marcel; two of them were identical, curly-haired, and tanned. They were laughing, talking nonsense, and engaging in friendly conversation with the third man, pale and black-haired: Victor, Benxamin, and Lester.
“Next time we'll do better,” Marcel said. The team lost - because of Daniel.
Minutes later, as the guys began to disperse, the coach called his cousin by name,
“Dani! A friend of yours came to talk to you. I promise I'll take you home after that, it's important. Can you wait?”
“Sure,” he said dryly.
Marcel took him to the cafeteria. The place was empty - it was almost three in the afternoon (15:00) and most of the students were at home. Daniel had complete confidence in his cousin. Victor was sitting by the window, holding a large box wrapped in a gift bag. Benxamin and Lester - in a corner -, moved away so as not to interrupt what was about to happen.
This was illegal, they had an hour to talk to Daniel. They were going to avoid giving him details about his real father. Their purpose was simply to be friendly, but they planned to see him again whenever they could.
“Come on, Dani,” his coach affirmed.
The boy didn't say anything, he sat in front of Victor. His cousin did the same, wanting to make him feel comfortable. The twin greeted him cordially and Daniel responded in kind. The resemblance was amazing. There weren't too many freckles dominating his face, much less striking green eyes, but everything else, he was Victor - Lester perceived it that way.
“Daniel, I don't think it's easy for you to remember, but several years ago you visited me in prison with your... father. I know this is sudden and confusing, but I just want to talk to you,” Victor declared.
“Uh,” his son said.
The father had a hard time staying calm, his hands were constantly sweating. Daniel was in front of him, but not like the baby or the child he last saw. He felt a great pressure in his chest that, without knowing why, made it seem like talking to his 11-year-old son was not real.
A minute of silence made the situation much more uncomfortable. Lester wanted to intervene, Benxamin shook his head. He trusted what he was doing to his brother. Previously Marcel had told them that Daniel was not a good baseball player, this helped Victor resume the conversation,
“We saw you play in the game but I think you would like to do something else, right? There is no problem with that, I don't like baseball either,” he expressed.
“Hmm... ,” the child replied.
“He's like his father,” Benxa murmured to Lester.
“I prefer to act or sing. My friend there also played baseball when he was your age, and my clone, he's a weirdo who likes to draw dead people,” Victor explained, pointing at Lester and Benxamin. Both men greeted the boy who responded sheepishly.
The man sighed, wondering what else to say, and it occurred to him that it was time to give Daniel the gift. “Look, I hope you like it.”
Dani seemed nervous, but Marcel nodded in acceptance,
“C-can I open it?” the son asked.
“Of course!” his father said, with a sincere smile.
It was a game console, a much-appreciated gift for any child his age, but for him: “my dad already bought me one of these.”
Victor continued laughing, embarrassed; Lester panicked: “Well, you have two, there won't be another child who has the same thing as you. But if you prefer, you can try something different, do other types of activities, from the least risky ones like learning languages, to the silliest ones like hitting Marcel.”
“D-did you hit my cousin?!” Dani inquired in astonishment.
Victor changed the subject so abruptly that he had to explain what he meant, his intention was to be funny however he ended up saying something meaningless, “I.... we were possibly the same age as you. The four of us studied at the same school and I don't remember exactly why I did it, but I didn't hurt your cousin too much.”
“Thanks for reminding me, Vic. Those are memories I can never forget!” Marcel smiled.
“HAHAHAHA!” Victor reacted with a big laugh.
Hearing him, Daniel's eyes widened as he remembered the video he had seen the day before,
“You… ,” he hesitated. “… you have a beard now, but you were funny. My dad and I used to visit you when I was younger… and you always laughed like that. Victor, right?”
“Yes, Daniel,” his father replied, breathing deeply to avoid sobbing in front of him.
“When I was younger?” Lester repeated. He found his way of expressing himself too sweet. “I feel like he talks like you, Benxa.”
“If he's sarcastic, I'll believe it,” manifested Benxamin with his ego through the roof.
“I remember you were very playful and you liked me pretending to be a dog,” Victor continued.
“Hahaha,” nodded the child.
From that moment on, Daniel began to speak with more confidence in front of his father. Benxamin and Lester came over and sat next to the boy. The four men shared with Dani their uncomfortable experiences at school without going into detail about serious topics such as bullying. He listened to them attentively, he felt happy to be part of their group.
Exactly one hour later and just as the three guests were saying goodbye to him, Victor took his phone out of his pocket to share his number with his son's.
“Do you have a cell phone?!" inquired Benxa.
“Yes, I made him buy one,” Lester smiled.
Victor rolled his eyes and laughed.
On the way home, while Marcel walked with Dani, he asked his cousin not to tell Ernest anything about his conversation with the twin or the origin of the gift. Daniel didn't understand why he had to lie, his teacher explained to him that it was better not to share that secret at least for that moment and say that he was the one who had given it to him.
“But... ,” the boy reproached.
“Take it as a game, no one should know except your new friends and me. I promise we will talk to your father about this,” Marcel made the mistake of not mentioning the other person who lived with Daniel.
That same night - before going to sleep -, Daniel told Tamara about his adventure, his entire adventure. He loved her enough to never hide anything from her.
“Promise me you won't tell dad. I don't want to get into trouble with him, plus Victor and the others are fun, I had a great time,” he expressed as he looked at the console that was on his nightstand.
“Good night,” she replied.
Tamara perfectly hid her astonishment, hugged him and left his room to go to her father's study, she did not hit the door but opened it like a true drama queen.
“I'm busy!” Witsel said. Surprised, he stood up from his chair while reading some papers on his desk.
“Victor spoke with Dani today at school, in case you are interested in knowing. Thank you for enrolling him in the same place where Marcel works, how smart of you.”
Ernest looked at her as if she were a specter. ”Victor?”
The two talked for hours about it; it was inevitable. Victor had the right to talk to Daniel but Ernest seemed upset - it wasn't the right time. Suddenly, he began to touch his chest because he felt a strange oppression, in his thoughts he tried to find an answer... this can't be. How am I going to confess everything to the child? How is Daniel going to react?
“I had planned to tell him when he turned 18,” he said.
“Do you think it's okay to have lied to Daniel all this time?!” she hinted.
“And do you blame me, Tamara? Why do you keep your mouth shut? Wake him up and tell him that I'm not his father and that you are the mother he's been looking for. Why don't you tell him that his father played with him in prison? Do it!”
“I know! And you? Is that child an excuse for you? You're no longer the man who runs the city with money. Lately you've been receiving threats from your former clients,” Tamara pointed to the papers Ernest still had in his hands.
“What the hell are you talking to me about?” Witsel inquired, pretending not to understand her.
“Don't lie to me anymore. Those people tell you that you have to leave the country or you're a dead man. What if someone tries to kill you and Daniel is with you? Why do you think I'm getting married? I'll take the child with me,” she said, sobbing as if that would fix the situation.
“I did all this for you and this is how you thank me?” he expressed disbelief at his daughter's thoughts.
They were talking "quietly", but without realizing it, Dani heard them as he went downstairs to go to the bathroom.
The next day, Ernest took his son to school in one of his luxurious vehicles. The man noticed that Daniel was thoughtful. Witsel was not feeling well; he was worried about the strange beating he felt in his heart since the previous night. He wasn't in the mood to ask the boy why he was behaving like that and he left him at the entrance. Daniel had a lost look - he had not slept well. Instead of entering the school, he saw his classmates pass by him, as if he were an invisible being and decided to turn to his left. A girl saw Daniel walk away, getting lost among the people.
I want to say a huge thank you to Nickolaidas for the amazing feedback he gave me on the last chapter. I didn't understand how many mistakes I made and continue to make, I apologize for what happened. With this, without a doubt, I learn to be a better person and, above all, to face one of my greatest difficulties, improving with English.
Thanks for your advice, not just to me, but to a lot of guys, Nick. It's really appreciated. Please readers, I ask you to support this talented artist, not with subxsub, it is not necessary, but by reading and subscribing to his comic.
I also want to thank iHateFridays for their fanart. I love seeing Victor and Lester in their style. It was an amazing surprise.
The Ultimate Sacrifice
Daniel is aware that something is not going well in his life. Victor, with the help of Marcel, tries to be his friend after a baseball game. The next episode will be on September 27, but first I want to share one last thing with you and it will be this WEDNESDAY!
Things seem to be unravelling for Witsel, and fast, which is great. Great karma as even his daughter is turning her back and trying to stay away. And now Daniel has overheard something confirming that all is not what it seems with his imposter family! It will be a great shock for the boy, but he deserves to know. Well done, Emalie👏💓💓💓💓.
I also really enjoy how tactful the conversation was between Dani and Victor! I really, really hope they find each other as father and son 😭😭💓💓💓💓. The illustration was so spot on and beautiful, as ways!!
Thank you so much for this chapter, Emalie 💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓
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.