Story number three in mine and Vermi's fabulous series! No mother possession here this time but still, buckle your seatbelts, because this one is going to be a hell of a ride.

...

Cooper kept his hands shoved in his pockets as he stared at the house in front of him. It was a small place, only two bedrooms and one bathroom and definitely not anywhere near as big as any of the houses he had lived in before. It did sort of have a nice cozy kind of look to it but he didn't want it because of that. Personally, he didn't even really give a shit where he ended up at this point. A one room apartment would have suited him just fine at this point but of course Mindy wouldn't allow that. She and Connor had dragged him all over town looking at places and he had finally just picked a place so he could get moved in before James came roaring in and taking Mindy away from him (which was expected to happen at any minute-the two of them literally could not be away from each other for more than five seconds without some real deep separation anxiety).

"Are you sure this is the one you want?" Mindy asked, giving his hand a squeeze as she scrutinized the house closely. "You don't have to settle for anything you don't want to."

"It's fine," he said with a shrug. "It's three blocks from your place so if Connor runs off he can find me easy enough." It did scare him to be in such close proximity to James. That was really the big downside to this place. He hadn't seen James since he and Mindy had got out of the hospital and he wasn't exactly looking forward to ever seeing him again. As far as he knew, James was going to hate him until the end of time, so the more he avoided him, the better.

"And we're close to the park!" Connor helpfully pointed out. He had Snoopy and Spike by their leashes and was bouncing all around like he had just ate an entire bag of sugar. "And Coopy can take me there when I spend the night with him!" He hugged Cooper so hard that he about cracked a couple of his older brother's ribs. "Imma spend the night a whole bunch Coopy. I don't want you to be lonely."

"Thanks Connor," Cooper said, not saying that that really didn't give him very much comfort. He loved his brother to death but his companionship really only went so far. It wasn't like Cooper could really talk to him or anything. Connor would never ever understand how he was feeling. Mindy was the only one who could but he never got to talk to her as much as he wanted and needed to because she had a hell of a time even getting time to talk to him on the phone, let alone sneaking out to see him face to face. Her and James were pretty much attached to the hip even more than before and neither of them were all that willing to change it. Cooper envied James horribly because he needed Mindy so badly but he tried not to say anything. He knew Mindy would never hear anything that could even be considered a word against James plus he really had no right to talk anyway. He was lucky to even be having Mindy in his life at all and he knew it.

"Well then it's settled," Mindy said. She whipped out her phone so she could make some calls. "I'll make the real estate lady come down here with the keys and paper work and we'll get the power turned on and the plumbing and then we'll go shopping to get your furniture and bed and your food so you have stuff to eat." The home was already coming with a furnished kitchen so they didn't have to buy anything for that except for the food.

Cooper raised his eyebrows. "Damn Mom. You're really taking charge aren't you?"

"Of course," Mindy said brightly. "I'm Mindy freaking Lawson. Taking charge is what I do."

Connor giggled and leaned over so he could whisper loudly into Cooper's ear. "She's got a date with Daddy tonight."

Cooper raised his eyebrows and looked at Mindy. "Is that true?"

Mindy giggled girlishly and nodded. "He's taking me out to dinner and-" Her phone rang at that moment and as soon as she looked at it Cooper could tell by her face it was James.

"Cooper-"

"Answer it," he said with a sigh. Like they had any other option. Mindy and James needed constant updates on the other or all was not right in their world.

Mindy gave him a little smile before stepping away and answering it, chirping away at James happily. Cooper walked away a little bit and sank down to the curb. It was hotter than hell outside today but he didn't feel the heat at all. He just felt so fucking cold that he could barely stand it. I'm fucking dead inside, he thought as he miserably shivered inside of his jacket. It wasn't really a pleasant thought but if fit. It really did fit.

Connor plopped down next to Cooper and hugged him tight. "Daddy put a pool in the backyard Coopy. You should come over and swim with me."

Cooper shook his head. "If I come over to swim, Dad will wring my neck and then string me up from the tallest tree."

Connor pouted his lips and rested his head against Cooper's shoulder. "Mommy and I will make him like you again, okay?" He gave him a huge kiss on the cheek. "It'll be okay Coopy, okay? It'll be okay. Mommy and me will make him like you again and we'll make Jeff like you too so you won't be lonely."

Cooper's breath hitched as soon as Jeff's name was uttered. Jeff. Oh God he hated thinking about Jeff. Any nightmare that did not revolve around Joie leaving him again or watching himself hurt Mindy involved Jeff and the utter disgust he now felt towards him. He knew he had fucked up horribly and Jeff had no reason to forgive him. But that didn't stop him from missing him. Contrary to what Jeff probably believed, Cooper did love him. He really did. It was just his own stupidity had completely clouded his judgment and he had made himself unhappy with what he had. And now that it was gone, he missed it and needed it back more than ever.

"Coopy?" Connor said with a small frown. "Are you okay?"

Cooper blinked and looked down, not even able to make eye contact with his own brother anymore. "I'm fine," he lied. "Just fine."

Eventually Mindy was able to get off the phone with James (although they then resorted to texting each other every couple seconds and she, Cooper and Connor went furniture shopping. There were some paparazzi that tried to follow them, but Connor scared them off by letting out his "infidel killing" cry, which basically just him screaming gibberish at the top of his lungs while waving his arms around. "Did I do good Mommy?" he asked Mindy eagerly. "Huh? Did I do good?"

Mindy giggled and kissed his cheek. "YES!" she assured him. She gave him a big kiss on the cheek and then linked arms with both him and Cooper as they went inside the building. "Now what kind of look are you going for in your new home?"

"Look?" Cooper said incredulously. "Mom I'm essentially living by myself. The look don't matter. I just want the shit to be comfortable and not hideously ugly."

"Like this one!" Connor said. He ran over to a living room set and jumped over the back of the couch, plopping down ass first on one of the cushions. "This looks like something Tryggy threw up the other day!"

Cooper wrinkled his nose in disgust. "I could have gone without knowing that Connor. I mean really."

Connor giggled and shook his head. "I love you Coopy."

Cooper just rolled his eyes and looked around at the living room sets in front of him. "What about-" Mindy's phone rang again and of course it was James. She gave Cooper an apologetic look before taking the call, looking so happy to hear James's voice that Cooper couldn't stand it. He slipped away from the distracted duo of Mindy and Connor (he was now trying to stick himself inside a washer, much to the employees' chagrin) and went into the bathroom, making sure he was alone before locking himself in there. For a moment he just stood at the door, resting his head against it and trying to will the pain he was in to just go away. He was tired of it. He wanted it gone and he wanted it gone now. Why did it keep having to torture him? He knew he was a fuckup and a loser that didn't deserve to live but it didn't have to keep rubbing his face in it.

Letting out a shaky breath, he went over to the mirror and stared at his reflection hatefully. He hated the man that was staring back at him so much that he could hardly stand it. His face was starting to grow a little bit of stubble because he hadn't shaved and the black was beginning to fade from his hair because he hadn't been dyeing it. He knew he needed to do both of those things soon but the problem was, he had no inspiration to do either of those things. It was all he could do at this point to even keep on surviving. What did it matter how he looked? How could it even begin to matter at this point? He let out a long sigh and ran his hand through his hair. He wanted to turn back the clock and change so much that it wasn't even funny. He wanted to fix the mess that was his life by changing his decisions but he couldn't. What was done was done and nothing was going to change that.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out the little prepaid cell phone he had purchased not too long ago. Glancing back towards the door, he dialed Jeff's number and waited anxiously. He couldn't use his own phone because Jeff would recognize the number and never answer it. "Come on," he said under his breath, anxiously pacing back and forth now. "Come on come on…"

"Hello?"

Cooper froze. Jeff had actually answered. He had called from this number a couple of times before but had only gotten his voicemail (and he never left a message because he doubted that Jeff would ever really call him back). Hearing his voice though now rocked Cooper's world and it left him utterly speechless.

"Hello?" Jeff said impatiently. "Anyone there?"

Cooper wanted to say something so bad that it hurt but he couldn't do it. He didn't have the balls to speak up. Hating himself for it, he hung up and put his phone back, slowly sinking down to the ground so he could hug his legs to his chest and just wish he could shrivel up and die right then and there.