Hey guys. I'm really nervous about posting this for several reasons. I haven't written slash in over a year, so that alone is making me nervous. I put so much emotion into this… If you don't want to read the story, at least read the author's note at the bottom. But if you do read the story, I hope you enjoy it.
"Don't you get it? No one could ever love me; I'm unlovable."
James felt his stomach twist up in knots as Kendall's words replayed in his mind continuously. The pain that had been embedded in the blond's eyes plagued his mind. The image of the boy's pain-stricken expression seemed to haunt him. Kendall's words had taken him aback—it had pained him to hear him say something like that about himself.
But what had really surprised him, were the exchange of words that had followed.
"What?" James looked up at Kendall from his position on the couch, feeling like someone had sucked the air right out of his lungs. "What do you mean you're unlovable? W-why would you say that?"
Kendall bit down on his bottom lip, doing his best to stop the tears that had gathered in his eyes from flowing down his face. "Because it's true," he said brokenly, turning away from James' concerned eyes.
"It is not true," the brunet said as he pushed himself off the bright orange couch and moved to stand just about a foot away from the shorter boy. "I don't know why you think that, but it is so far from the truth."
"It's not what I think," Kendall muttered bitterly, "it's what I know."
James shook his head from side to side and took a step forward, lifting his arm and letting the palm of his hand rest under Kendall's chin. The blond, who was now staring at the floor, flinched at the touch as James lifted his chin so that they were eye to eye.
"But... What if I said that I love you?"
"You're my best friend, James," Kendall mumbled, "you're supposed to say that."
"No," the taller boy replied, fighting back the feeling of nausea and fear that had resided in the pit of his stomach. "Not like your friend," he practically whispered. "I meant as more than that."
Kendall stood frozen in his spot, not saying anything in response, until he finally broke eye contact with James and faced away from him, letting the tears finally fall. "Don't s-say that, J-James. P-please don't say that," he pleaded.
"Why not?" James asked softly, fighting back the urge to wipe Kendall's tears away.
"B-because... You can't just say that and expect me to believe it. You cannot say that and expect me to be okay again..."
James frowned at Kendall's response, his heart breaking for the boy he had grown to admire and cherish since he was a little boy. He would have never imagined that the blond singer would feel that way about himself. Everybody saw him as confident, bullheaded, and as someone who didn't let things get to him, but here he was now, broken, afraid, and lost—the complete opposite of what others made him out to be.
"Why would I lie about something like that?" the older boy asked. "I would never, Kendall... I would never do that to you."
"Because... someone like you can't love someone like me," Kendall whispered, turning to look at James with tearful eyes full of fear and pain.
James sighed softly as he carefully shifted where he lay, careful not to awaken the sleeping teen that was currently curled up against his side. He stared at the slumbering boy in his arms, watching as his chest rose at a steady pace, indicating that he was finally at peace and not as distraught as he had been just a couple of hours before. Smiling softly, he tangled his fingers in between dirty blond locks, his smile growing a bit wider when Kendall leaned against the touch and gave a content sigh.
If there was anything that James hated, it was seeing Kendall upset, in any way, shape or form. Kendall, although very stubborn and independent, had his breaking points—times in which everything around him became too much, and he couldn't help but be reduced into a puddle of tears. Everyone had a breaking point, so really, James shouldn't have been so surprised when Kendall broke down out of nowhere.
But it wasn't the fact that Kendall had broken down that had scared him. The blond often did his best to hide any kind of negative emotion around Logan and Carlos, and more times than not, it was James that was there when he actually did let his sadness and frustration show. It was what Kendall had said, that had left James feeling afraid and worried for the boy's wellbeing.
"Hey." James smiled warmly at the other boy, doing his best to hide the overwhelming feeling of sadness that seemed to have completely enveloped him in its cold embrace. "You feeling okay?"
Kendall shrugged his shoulders, his eyes drifting from honey colored ones, to stare into space. "I'll be okay," he murmured, finding it hard to speak. Fear had completely consumed him, making it hard to even breathe.
"You're not unlovable, Ken," James said in a soft tone as he took ahold of Kendall's left hand and intertwined their fingers together. "You're loved by many. Your mom, Katie, Logan, Carlos, me. I'm not sure what has made you think otherwise, but I can assure you that you are loved, and you are wanted, and you are needed."
"How long?" the blond asked, ignoring what James had said, as he stared at his and James' hands, his fingers tightening against the brunet's.
"How long what?" James questioned, not knowing what Kendall was referring to.
"How long have you, um, loved me?"
James closed his eyes, doing his best to not panic at the question. He hadn't meant to tell Kendall that he loved him—it had just slipped in the spur of the moment. But now that he had, he didn't know if he should have waited; didn't know if now was a good time. But of course, it was too late to take back his words.
"As cheesy as this might sound, I think I always have," he practically whispered. "You were my first best friend, and even after Carlos and Logan came into the picture... I felt like there was something special—"
"Special?" Kendall asked, looking up at James with curious eyes.
"Yeah," James said, still refusing to look back at the dirty blond. "Something special about you, I guess. I always felt this need to protect you, to look after you, to make you happy, to simply have you close, even more so than Logan and Carlos. With you... it was different, different in a way that's hard to explain, and... and deep down, I knew—knew there was something more to it, but... but I didn't want to believe it," he said quietly, his eyes filling with tears.
Kendall opened his mouth to speak, but before he could do so, James spoke again. "So, I tried to hide it. I-I tried to hide it by dating girls. And I tried so hard to push those feelings to the back of my mind, but the more I tried to hide it, the more I hated myself. I hated myself, because no matter how many girls I dated, I still liked you, and there was nothing I could do about it."
"You could have told me," Kendall said softly as he sat up on the bed, leaning his back against the headboard. James followed his actions but didn't turn to look at him. "I wouldn't have been mad. Even if I didn't like you back, I wouldn't have been mad."
James pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them, sighing in response. "I know you wouldn't have been—well, I know that now—but back then, I didn't know what to think. I thought you'd be weirded out, or that you'd hate me, or that you'd no longer want to be my friend. And I just... You mean a lot to me, Kendall," James said, practically whispering the last sentence. No longer being able to hold back his tears, he let them fall as he looked at Kendall with saddened eyes. "I preferred to have you as my friend, and only my friend, than to not have you in my life at all. And now... now I don't just like you. I wish I could say that what I felt diminished with time, but... it intensified..."
"James... don't cry, James." Kendall's heart broke as he stared at the brunet. "I don't hate you. I could never, ever hate you, especially for something like that." He could feel tears prickling at his eyes, but he did his best to hold them back. "You mean so much to me, too..."
James smiled a little at the blond's words, but the fear that seemed to be suffocating him would not vanish.
"I'm scared," Kendall said quietly. "I'm... I'm scared, because I think I might love you, too..."
"W-what?" the taller boy stammered, not believing what he had heard. "You what...?"
Kendall looked down, unable to meet James' eyes. He felt nauseous all of a sudden, extremely nauseous. He felt like he couldn't breathe, and like everything around him was caving in on him. "I-I love you, too..." he whispered quietly, tears swimming in his emerald eyes.
Smiling, James pulled the smaller boy into a hug. Sniffling, Kendall rested his head against the older boy's shoulder and closed his eyes, tears falling freely and rapidly.
"It's okay," James whispered as he held Kendall close. "Kendy, don't cry... I hate it when you cry... Everything will be okay."
"I'm scared, James... I'm scared, I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry, you've done nothing wrong. But you don't have to be scared."
"I-I shouldn't have told you—"
"Kendall, no." Gently, James pulled away from the smaller boy and took ahold of his face in between his hands, forcing the two to look into each other's eyes. "I care so much about you... more than I could ever put into words," he said softly. "You're my best friend, and I know you're scared—I am, too. But... if you want us to, we could be more than that," he said, fear completely consuming him as he stared into Kendall's eyes. "It's okay if you don't want us to, though. I'd understand."
"I-I want us to, I'm... I'm just afraid."
"Remember when we were seven, and you were getting bullied?" James asked as he wrapped his arms around the dirty blond, allowing Kendall to rest his head against his chest. Kendall only gave a nod in response. "Remember what I promised you?"
"That you'd protect me... that you'd always protect me," Kendall said quietly.
"I always will," James said as he rested his chin on top of Kendall's head. "I'd never hurt you intentionally."
"I wouldn't either, but I'm not afraid that you'll hurt me."
"Then what are you afraid of?"
"I'm... I'm afraid of so many things, I wouldn't even know where to start, but most of all... I'm afraid that things won't work out, and that our friendship will be ruined..."
"I wouldn't let this come between our friendship, and I'm sure you wouldn't either. You're my best friend; you always have been, and you always will be."
"You're mine, too," Kendall said as he looked up at James.
James smiled and leaned forward, resting his forehead against Kendall's. "Don't be afraid. You don't have to be, trust me."
Kendall smiled as James brushed his tears away with his thumb, and for the first time in a long time, he felt safe. He felt loved, he felt needed. He felt wanted. "Thank you."
"For what?" James asked, puzzled.
"For being you," Kendall said as he hugged James tightly. "For being there for me, for not leaving, for keeping your promise... literally for everything. I-I love you."
With a smile on his face, James kissed the side of the blond's head and closed his eyes, the feeling of butterflies fluttering in his stomach intensifying with each passing second. "I love you, too. Can I... ask you something, though?"
"Sure," Kendall responded, already dreading the question before James could even say it out loud.
"Why did you think you were unlovable?" the older boy asked, his eyes searching Kendall's features for any sign of a change in mood.
Kendall turned away from James, his mind going into overdrive as thought after thought ran wildly in his head. "When I said I was unlovable, I didn't mean I thought no one loved me. I know you love me, I know mom loves me, Katie, the guys, but... I never saw you loving me like I love you."
"Why not?" James asked as he placed a hand on top of Kendall's cold one, his fingertips ghosting over his skin.
"Because... Because I don't know what I am."
"What you are?"
"I'm not... I'm not gay, James."
"Oh... That's not important—"
"But it is!" Kendall said, finally looking up and meeting James' eyes. "I know it's not important, I know it shouldn't matter, but it does. It does because society has this crazy idea that if you're not straight, you're not normal, and I'm so sick of it. I'm sick of having to act normal, because that is not me. Part of me hates the fact that there's labels. But then there's the other part of me that feels broken and out of place, because I don't know where I belong."
"Kendall... You're not broken or out of place. I know what you mean, and it's okay to feel that way. It's okay to feel a little lost. What's not okay is for you to think you're unlovable, or that you don't deserve to be loved, because you do. I know what—no, who you are. You're Kendall; you're my best friend, you're the best thing that could have ever happened to me, you're everything and more. A label is not going to define your worth in this world. You're you, and that's all that matters, all that should matter. And even if it did matter, it wouldn't matter to me, because I love you for you, and a stupid label could never change that."
Being left at a loss for words, Kendall wrapped his arms around James so tightly that there was not an inch of space left between them. "Thank you... I love you."
"I love you, too," James whispered, a smile adorning his face as he hugged Kendall back. "I love you so much."
So, first of all, the lyrics in the summary come from one of Heffron Drive's songs, Passing Time, which is an absolutely beautiful song that I recommend you all listen to. It has so much meaning, and it's one of my favorites (so you can only imagine how stoked I was when I found out Logan would be featured on the unplugged version of it). And the title comes from Love Defined—another one of their songs.
But anyway... I put a lot of thought into this story. I wanted it to be special... There's a part in the story where Kendall tells James that he doesn't know where he belongs or what he is, to which James says that a label will not define who he is as a person, because what's important is who he is in the inside. I feel like... we live in a world where we are made to believe that everything and everyone needs a label, and we are told that if you do not fit society's definition of "normal," you're weird or don't belong, and that's something that really bothers me. And, I just want you guys to know that if you feel lost or like you don't belong anywhere, you're not alone. If you feel like you're not normal, if you feel like an outsider, that's okay. I know how awful it can be to not fit in and to feel alone, but you're not... You guys—all of you—you mean a lot to me, even if I don't know you. My PM box is always open, and I want you to know that if you ever need someone, I'm here for you. I love you guys a lot, and your support means the world to me.
Thank you for reading.