Young Forever

Jason McCann,
Everyone observed him as a fierce, cold-blooded criminal.
I'm not exactly like 'Everyone'.
I was told to stay away.
Did I listen? No.
I enjoy discovering the damaged ones,
the ones that need the most healing in their lives.
It's a challenge,
but I was eager to take that challenge no matter what.
Who would ever thought he would actually let me inside his isolated world and his complications.
I could've cared less if 'everyone' thought I was senseless to give in to him.
We were free, a breakaway from all the difficulties, anxiety, and people in our lives.
Did I care that he was on the run from the forces? No.
I was willing to be on the run beside him.
I wasn't just his partner in crime,
I was his girlfriend.
I was His,
something I desired to be from the first time my eyes came across his.
We were convicts together, remaining young forever.

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1. 1 | "Alive"

September 16th, 2010

New York was filled with bright lights, late-night traffic, and it’s famous Times Square. However, one thing that remained the same was the New York's juvenile center. It was probably the quietest building in the whole state. By ten o'clock in the evening, all prisoners were sent to their cells for the night. Some of them drifted off to sleep, some, however, did not. Jason McCann was the one of the prisoners that decided to remain awake by the clock struck ten twenty-seven.

Jason sat upright with puffy, bloodshot eyes. His eyes fixated on the chalked tally marks beside the corner of his bed. Sweat slid down his forehead as his finger hovered the fresh tally-mark. His eyes gradually enlarged. He could not relatively comprehend that he survived three hundred and sixty-five days behind bars.

Every night, he was stuck in the bed underneath his cellmate’s. Kyle Anderson was notorious for his obnoxious snores while he slumbered in the bunk above. Jason protested at first, but was told to suffer the consequences of his wrongdoings.

In aggravation, Jason violently felt around his bedsheets. His hand struck a pillow to cover his ears. He swiftly grasped it, clotting its rough surface over his eardrums. It only particularly helped exclude the deafening snores.

Abruptly, a flashlight illuminated his body as he laid in discomfort. He squeezed his eyes shut and tightened his grasp on his pillow. He grumbled lowly, twisting his body around in his sheets.

"What do you want, Stokes?" Jason hissed, adjusting his eyesight to the glare.

Nick Stokes, the head policeman of NYPD, narrowed his flashlight down to the tiled floor.

He strolled up to Jason's cell, tugging out his keys from his jeans pocket.

"Time to go, McCann," Stokes stated.

Jason smirked broadly, "It's about time."

He scooted up off his bed. He remained attentive not to bump his head on Kyle's bunk him. He would constantly make that idiotic mistake.

Stokes chuckled while he stuck his key into the slot of the cell.

"Come on."

Stokes heaved open the cell door. Jason swiftly launched off the bed and rambled out of the cell. He was attended by Stokes down the corridor of the prison.

Jason examined the other prisoners that gave disturbed expressions in their slumber.

The thought of departing the prison left a huge smile on Jason's lips. So long suckers, he thought to himself. The other prisoners were too fearful to torment Jason while he was locked up. Jason savored that feeling.

Once they reached the front office of the prison, Stokes cleared his throat.

"Wait here." He ordered, swinging his office door open.

Jason nodded, waiting while excitement pumped through his veins.

The moonlight beautifully radiated through the broad windows of the prison. Jason glimpsed out the windows. He slowly began to realize it was his time to observe the outside world again.

Stokes stepped out of his office with a clipboard in his hand. "Sign this."

He handed it to Jason. Jason stared at the sheet. It was a sign-out sheet for prisoners that were being dismissed from lockup. He scribbled down his name before handing it back to Stokes.

Mrs. Sandy, Jason's favorite lady, was opening her late-night shift. A smile grew on Jason's lips while he traveled over to her chestnut wooden desk.

"I guess this is goodbye, Mrs. Sandy."

Mrs. Sandy halted from pressing on her stationary computer. She gazed up at him with enlarged eyes. She appeared to look dissatisfied with his departure.

"Leaving so soon?"

Jason lightly smacked his hand on her desk.

"Come on, Mrs. Sandy. You got to cheer up for me. We've been waiting for this day to arrive."

She laughed, "Yes, we have, Jason. I'm happy for you."

Mrs. Sandy resembled a guidance counselor to Jason. She'd give him lectures about his way of life and drag him back up to his intellect when he had no conviction in himself.

He admired her like she was his grandmother, who passed away when he was five years old. Seventy-seven years old and employed at a juvenile center. She, by no means, never failed to astound his sixteen-year-old mind.

She rose from her chair, withdrawing from behind her desk. Her hands gripped on Jason's arms, dragging him into a strong embrace.

Jason sensed the waterworks swelling up in his eyes. He blinked rapidly to retain them from raining down his cheeks.

They drew back from the hug. Mrs. Sandy grinned at him like he was her birth-son.

"Goodbye now, honey. Take care, okay?" She advised, ruffling his hair.

Jason nodded slightly. "You too, Mrs. Sandy."

A hand settled on Jason's shoulder. Jason shifted his attention to see Stokes standing behind him. A medium-sized brown paper bag was clutched in his hand.

"Here're your belongings," Stokes informed.

Jason grasped the big, eyeing the belongings held inside. It was the clothes he was dressed in when he entered the juvenile center.

He departed to the bathroom. He locked the door behind him. Staring into the dreary mirror, he laced down the loose-fitting jumpsuit.

Jason pulled up his navy jeans and tugged his plain black shirt over his head. He heaved his arms in his plaid indigo, russet flannel.

Twisting the rusty doorknob, the door clicked before Jason swung it open. He encountered Stokes at the front exit.

"You're free to go, McCann."

Jason scoffed, "Thank God."

He brushed past Stokes, wandering out of the prison.

"Stay out of trouble!" Stokes advised out the door.

Jason waved a hand in dismay, dashing down the staircase. He tugged out his iPhone and hunted for his gang member, Luke, in his contacts. He clicked the number, positioning the phone up to his ear.

It rung twice before Luke answered with a hoarse tone.

"Jason?"

"Yeah, it's me. Get the gang together and come get me." Jason demanded.

Luke yawned from the other side of the line.

"We'll be there in 15 minutes." Luke addressed.

Jason ended the call, lacking a response to his friend. He shoved his hands into his pockets. He started at the exquisite moon that overcasts the navy nighttime atmosphere. A smile plastered on across Jason's lips.

"A new start." He murmured amongst himself.

He was right. It was a new chapter, a new perspective. There were chances for new experiences, achievements, and relationships.

Jason yearned for all these things, defiantly a tender relationship. To others, it was peculiar for dreams so farfetched to come out of a criminal.

As a young child, Jason witnessed the execution of both of his parents. From then on, he's had a heart lavishing with rage and revulsion for everyone. His gang members were very fortunate to obtain his empathy.

A maroon van hauled up in front of the prison. The vehicle door skidded open, exposing Jason's gang members.

"Long time, no see, McCann." Luke greeted, hopping out of the backseat.

Jason gestured for a handshake.

"I'm glad to be back," Jason replied.

They smacked their hands together, patting each other on the back.

"Look, we need to conclude this for now. I'm half asleep over here!" Brent Baldwin, another one of Jason's gang members, protested.

All Jason could overhear was everyone approving his intolerable statement.

Luke shrugged, slipping back into the backseat. The door sealed behind him. Jason followed, hopping into the passenger's seat.

Mark Adams, another gang member, twisted the keys in the ignition. The car roared to life. He sped off, exiting the juvenile center parking lot.

"Anybody got a cigarette?" Jason probed, curving his head to view everyone in the back seats.

His additional gang members – Quincy Brown, Skylar Jackson, James Preston, and Derek Lee had their heads sagged over top of each other. They were all relaxed in deep slumber.

Luke cleared his throat.

"I got one."

He tugged his pack out of his jeans. His arm extended to the front seat. Jason thanked him before seizing the cigarette. He positioned it between his lips. His eyes gradually narrowed down to a lighter in the cup tray. He snatched it and inspected the front of the cigarette inflame slowly.

His lips pinched together as he sucked in the smoke, then exhaled it back out the window. As the cigarette flame attained the bud, Jason flung it out the window. He operated the window to glide back up.

Mark brought the car to a halt. He extracted the keys out the ignition, announcing that they arrived back home. All the gang members were awake by this time. They proceeded out of the vehicle to head back to the comfort of their own beds.

Jason was the final one to head in the mansion. He groggily climbed up the staircase to his bedroom he missed so dearly. His body collapsed into his satin bed sheets. He inhaled the rich cologne aroma he left behind a year before. Nuzzling his head into the pillow, his eyes sealed shut.

"Finally," He muttered.

JASON

September 17th, 2010

Frosty hands were shaking my body powerfully. Sunbeams were blazing through the curtains on my eyelids, but I kept them clamped shut. My fingers curled around the bed sheets, absorbing their silkiness around my body firmly. I twisted over, but that didn't halt the body-shaking.

Who could possibly have the audacity to disrupt me while I slept?

Everyone in the gang knew better than to awake the beast I had confined within myself. Since I'm the main person to yell in the house... I'll behave for once.

I exhaled, "What do you want?"

The shaking concluded. The cold hands were dismissed from my skin. My eyes batted open to see Mark stood on the verge of the bed.

"Get up, Jason. You have school today." He informed.

His hands slid into his pockets. I scrunched up my eyebrows.

"Nice joke, Mark. How would I have school? I was expelled."

I folded my fingers in my lap, tilting my head. Mark chuckled and shrugged his shoulders.

"Stokes called about twenty minutes ago. He said returning to your school is a part of your year of probation."

I scoffed, "That's a load of bull."

Leaving one nightmare just brought me into another one? Somebody tell me what's going on.

Flinging my bed sheets off my body, I rose from my bed. I sleepily strolled over to my dressers. I drew the top drawer open, scanning my clothes for something to wear.

This was beginning to be such an uneventful return. One minute, I'm back into the comfort of my own bed. Next minute, I'm being confined back into a school setting. Just my luck.

A burgundy flannel, dark skinny jeans, and converse were my final decision. Groaning, I guided myself to my bathroom and slammed the door behind me.

JADE

Exhaustion, shapeless eyes, zombie walking, and an early morning. Do I have to clarify the rest?

When I turned fifteen, I got the gist that high school is supposed to be a mature version of middle school. You ultimately have more independence to do whatever you want. It’s your future and you should make the most of it. I’ve learned quite enough after being in this game for two years so far.

There’s some teenagers that do things that are beyond limits, such as having sex in the bathrooms, smoking cigarettes on school property, and hiding marijuana in their book bags. Other teenagers (the group I would be included in) go to the extent of listening to music to overpower the voices of teachers and other students. That’s no harm, right?

Now, don’t start thinking that Jade Taylor is an angel sent from heaven. I’m still far from anything of the sort. One thing that keeps me from such thing are my so-called friends. You know, the people you feel obligated to be associated with because you don’t want to be caught walking in the hallways alone?

"He's back," Vanessa whispered.

She dropped her tray on the table. Her body slid into the stool seat beside me. I furrowed my eyebrows. I locked my phone to regard the conversation that was ready to begin.

“He is?!" Paige screeched in panic.

I sighed loudly, wishing they'd give more clarification to who this is.

"Guys, whose back?" I questioned.

They both eyed each other before staring at me.

"You don't know who Jason McCann is, do you?" Kristen asked across the table.

Obviously, I do not if I'm so open-handed with these confused facial expressions.

"Who's Jason?"

Paige hit Vanessa's arm lightly. Vanessa snapped her attention to Paige.

"She wasn't here when they arrested him. Remember?"

Vanessa nodded slowly, "Oh!"

My eyes enlarged.

"Arrested him?" I repeated.

Vanessa and Paige nodded.

"Yeah, he got sent to the juvenile center not too far from here. He was locked up for killing Owen Williamson. It was all over the news and social media. His reputation was destroyed since then." Paige explained.

This guy was apparently trouble in their liable perspectives. I couldn't note their allegations because he could have an entirely different representation that what's gossiped.

"If I were you, I wouldn't get involved with him," Vanessa advised.

"Why not?" I objected.

"Shush! He's coming in now!" Paige silenced us and signaled towards the double doors.

I spun around in my cafeteria seat. The cafeteria doors sat open and I could spot Jason McCann roaming through the school hallway. His facial expression screamed that he’s had a rough morning. Three guys that could possibly referred to his posse were walking behind him.

His hair was swooped to the side, colored with a shiny, chestnut-brown. His eyes reminded me of those caramel creams you can buy from the dollar store. Only difference was that the cream was on the outside instead. He was dress in a dark, maroon polyester plaid flannel and indigo ragged jeans. He strolled in wearing beat up black and white converses.

A groan blew from Kristen's lips across the cafeteria table.

"I don't understand why they allowed him to reappear here. Why couldn't they had transferred him to another school in the area? It would have made sense."

"There was not another school bothered to tolerate me."

Everyone flinched in their seats. We all spun around to see Jason standing before us. Jason earned scowls from all my friends. Vanessa sighed dramatically, pulling out her nail filer.

"Nobody asked you to pitch in, McCann."

"Nobody asked you to make me the topic of the discussion, Francis."

"Oh!" The group of guys hollered behind Jason.

I bit my tongue to keep myself from laughing because it would just annoy Vanessa. I grinned a bit because his remark was classic.

Jason rolled his eyes, departing from our table. The group of guys shadowed his footsteps out of the cafeteria and down the corridor.

Paige munched into her dry bread roll.

"He did have a decent comeback..."

Vanessa snatched a grape from her tray and flung it at Paige. It bounced off of Paige’s cheek and splattered on the floor.

"Nobody asked you, Paige!" Vanessa barked while I snickered quietly.

Paige tossed her hands up in defense. She picked up her apple juice and gulped it down.

Vanessa Francis – She has generally been the feistiest member of our group. I heard that she was a star cheerleader before I came here, but she gave up because everyone was spreading rumors about her on the team. Now, she just shows off in class, receives a detention slip, and complains about them when she was the one at fault.

Paige Campbell – She’s a bashful girl, like myself. She has never had a boyfriend, unless online ones count. She’s my favorite out of all three of them.

Last of all, Kristen Bailey – She’s one of the biggest sluts in school (Everyone could call her that, she's never offended). She was the girl version of a player. She'd hang out with any guy in the school. She's essentially been seen with every guy, not including for Jason, I suppose.

The bell rang, alerting students to dismiss to their last class period. Everyone rose from their cafeteria seats, tossing away trays, and departing the lunch room. I grabbed my books, pressing them against my chest.

Vanessa lingered behind, reapplying lipstick on her lips. Paige hurried to the trash bin, tossing her styrofoam tray away. Kristen's current guy, Joey Quinn, escorted her to her next class.

Instead of waiting for Vanessa to finish smearing her lipstick in. I decided to roam off to the girl's bathroom with Paige alongside me.

"What do you think of Jason?" Paige grilled while inspecting herself in the mirror.

I shrugged. "He's okay."

I was fibbing at that moment, but I was not going to have a bomb set off inside of me and develop an obsession towards the guy. I didn't even know his past.

Was I dying to know?  

Maybe so, but I'm not going to determine that out from blabbermouths. I enjoyed going to the source itself. It was the appropriate thing to do, in my opinion.

I thought she was going to interrogate me more, but I guess not.

"I'm going to head off to class. I'll text you later today."

Paige waved a hand in dismay, "Alright."

I hurried into my last period class, locating myself into a seat in the back. My adrenaline was pumping by the time I stepped into the classroom.

The teacher introduced today's lesson while I struggled to get my few breaths back. That's it! My face is going to collide into my pillow when I return home this evening.

• • •

"That's it for today class," My algebra 2 teacher struggled to state as the bell muted out her voice. I grinned, leaping out of my seat. Everyone else was accurately shadowing my steps, preparing to depart.

I hurried out the classroom, pacing down the corridor and to my locker. I twirled the combination, yanking it open to get my book bag and books.

It's like the back-double doors were my heaven out of this gate of hell. I roamed out into the school parking lot, detecting every car for my black Mercedes.

Once my eyes caught my car, I sprinted over to it and tapped unlock on my keys. I unlocked it, sliding into the driver's seat. I jammed my keys in the ignition, roaring it to life.

I pivoted the wheel, backing out and departing school parking lot. I drove down the vacant street, turning on a corner, and slamming on the breaks when I was in front of a diner.

A sign that read Maxine's Diner. It enhanced all throughout the day and going into the dead of night. This diner was like a second home, sadly.

I'm always here that even customers that come occasionally know my name.

I sighed heavily, taking my uniform out from my glove compartment. Swinging open the car door, I slid one foot out the car and rose from the seat.

My hand met the front door of the diner, yanking it open and roaming myself inside. There were a few customers at tables.

I didn't even dare to mention to the girls where I worked. They would fall to the floor holding their stomachs, barely able to breathe. I mean, that's not completely true, but this isn't the best job out there for a teenager.

Vanessa's mom owns a nail salon and lets Vanessa be a part of the business. Kristen helps her dad construct houses around the area. Paige's uncle is a club owner. She's a bartender at one of the bars not too far from this diner. I always made sure we're never working at the same time.

"Jason McCann! How have you been, bud?" My boss, Maxine, screeched over the front counter while I began washing the revolting filthy dishes loaded in the sink.

My eyes widened as I observed him stroll up to a stool settled in front of the counter and sit down. A smile smeared on his face as he clamped his hands together. He had this representation of cute baby smile.

For a criminal, he's sure adorable.

He slapped his hand down on the counter, "I'm great! How are you, Maxine?"

They went into a long drawn out conversation and of course, I was ease dropping. I mean, I had to! How was this kid so famous in this town? I just relocated here earlier this year from Canada.

"Who's your dishwasher back there?" Jason swerved his head to the left, looking back at me.

Don't say my name. Please, do not say my name.

Maxine crooked her head and snickered, "That's just my employee, Jade."

Darn you, Maxine.

Jason aimed a finger in my direction.

"Oh! Are you the one with the lovely Mercedes parked out front?"

I felt entirely uncomfortable with him seeing me in my uniform, but I played along.

"Yep, that's me," I admitted, pulling off a phony grin.

Jason nodded, renovating his smile into a smirk a second later.

He has literally no other better facial expressions, I'm guessing.

Maxine jogged out from behind the counter to assist a customer.

Concluding the last of the dishes, I slammed the dishwasher shut. I clutched my Michael Kors purse and wandered out the back exit to go on my break.

I leaned against the back door, tugging out my iPhone from my back pocket of my denim jeans. A figure approached and rested up alongside the brick wall of the cemented building.

"Need some company?"

I glanced up from my phone to see Jason standing there.

This boy is really trying to get butterflies to roam around in my stomach. I'm not the type to have many crushes. I had a few in the past, but they weren't major to the point where the guy found out.

Vanessa had many guys find out. Her method was staring at them – which made them uncomfortable to be in her presence. It was hilarious.

"Sure," I replied.

He shoved his hand into his pocket and dragged out a pack of cigarettes. Ugh, cigarettes are a turn-off. Well for the record, he's still attractive so it's not damaging anything but his lungs.

My body was slightly trembling from the gusty wind. I didn't even suspect it would be this cold already. Autumn just began like a week ago. Why, Mother Nature?

"Here," Jason breathed, dragging off his black leather jacket. He positioned it on my shoulders. My cheeks grew warm from his way of generosity towards me.

"You honestly didn't have to-" I started.

He raised a hand to silence me.

His cigarette dangled from his lips as he spoke, "Why do girls always say that? I didn't want you to freeze up. Mother Nature is hitting us early this year. You got to dress warmer, babe."

"I didn't think it would be this cold."

"Nobody did. God amazes us every day," He replied while throwing his cigarette to the ground and grazing with his shoe.

JASON

I poked my keys into the slot, rotating the doorknob and escorting myself inside. The boys were huddled around the staircase. This is the first time I came in and they weren't eye-glued into the television screen.

Hearing my return, Luke glanced back with a troubled look appearing on his face.

He waved me over to the crowd.

"Jason, come over here and look at this,"

I furrowed my eyebrows together, locking the door and hung up my coat. Dropping my keys on the coffee table, I strolled over to where the gang was gathered.

As I got closer, I noticed there was graffiti spewed on the white wall. The graffiti was a message. My eyes fixated on it. I struggled through the crowd to get a closer look at it.

The note read,

"Bet you didn’t expect to see us again. Well, we're back, McCann, and stronger than ever. Pass the message to your pathetic brother. See you soon, rival. – The Demon Knives"

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