Here Be Dragons

Chapter One

By: Jondy Macmillan

A/N: This is my first BTR fic, but my uhhhh wow, okay- fortieth(!) story for ffn. Which clearly indicates I need a life. Ahem. So, warnings- gayness, perversity, a dash of angst for good measure, and a whole lot of bad language, because cursing like a sailor is so en vogue.

Disclaimer: If I owned Big Time Rush, I probably wouldn't have to write fic to fulfill my sick, twisted fantasies. Then I could just do it on TV.

Boy bands were dead. D. E. A. D.

Hell, Kendall hadn't particularly liked them when they were alive.

N'SYNC, the Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, and Boy Quake. They were a nineties phenomenon that made him glad he'd been too young to remember the better half of the decade.

Which is why him being in one was fucking hilarious.

If someone had told him half a year ago that he was destined to become the next American Idol, he would have politely inquired what kind of acid they were dropping. Pop just wasn't his thing, and the only reason he even knew a bunch of dumb nineties songs was because work practically drilled them inside his skull.

Seriously, they fried his brain.

He couldn't help it if his boss had horrific taste in music. And boy bands; well they were just the lowest of the low. Horrific was an understatement. That they'd gone extinct before his time was something he considered a blessing.

But if there was one think Kendall liked to pride himself in aside from besides being an excellent hockey player, it was being a fantastic friend. Because really, he didn't have much else going for him.

He wasn't handsome or charming like James with his too tight pants and his ridiculously pretty hair.

He wasn't smart like Logan, who was a walking dictionary, assured early decision acceptance from Harvard if he wanted it.

Who wouldn't want it?

And he wasn't funny like Carlos, who could reduce their entire classroom into belly-clutching chuckles in nine seconds flat. Give the boy a one liner and an audience and laughter was pretty much inevitable, even if people weren't always laughing at the joke.

Being fiercely loyal and good at beating shit up were the only positive characteristics Kendall had going for him, and he'd always counted on those characteristics hitching him a ride out of North Bumblefuck, Minnesota.

Of course, he hadn't expected it to happen quite like this.

He'd been betting that he'd get a hockey scholarship to some moderately prestigious school whose recruiter had witnessed his immensely impressive slap shot during a championship game. After university, the NHL would snatch him up and he'd be set for life. Or, if worst came to worst and no school would have him other than the local community college, maybe scared off by his horrendous grades, he'd depend on the benevolence of his friends to get him the hell out of dodge. Logan would be a wealthy doctor, James would be a filthy rich popstar, and Carlos would be a well-off whatever-it-was-Carlos-wanted-to-do-with-his-life, and between the three of them they'd have to be able to afford a cushy mansion with an Olympic size swimming pool in Hawaii for Kendall. Maybe they'd even introduce him to some sultry models.

Instead, this total dickwad of a music producer showed up and threatened to crush James's dreams, completely derailing all of Kendall's nicely laid plans. He had half a mind to tell the guy where he could stick his offer.

In fact, he'd had his entire mind set on it.

Unfortunately for him, James and Logan were especially persuasive when they wanted to be, and man were they devoted to this Kendall as a popstar thing. Somehow they'd gotten him to cave.

Maybe it was all that good-friend shit backfiring on him.

James was ecstatic, so Kendall knew he'd done good. At the same time, his hockey dream had been tenuous at best to begin with, and now it was obliterated. There was no way to impress recruiters when you were a trillion miles away from the championship game.

All of a sudden, he was whisked away from everything he'd ever known, other than those friends he valued so damn much.

Reality was harsh, man.

And it wasn't like he hated singing. He liked to sing, to feel his voice vibrate out of his chest into a sound that was tangible, that he felt like he could taste and touch. He just never imagined sharing that with so many people, like the girls Gustavo promised would soon be knocking down his door. Which was a creepy idea, because while Kendall liked girls, he also liked privacy. Somehow this boy band thing felt like it could get invasive, quick.

Plus, singing in a tiny sound booth with his three closest friends got really…intimate. But that wasn't something Kendall liked to think about.

Anyway, California was uncharted territory. It was like one of those yellowed Old World maps that pictured monsters wherever what really existed was uncertain. Here be dragons, only instead of dragons Kendall had fire breathing record execs and anorexic girls who looked like they might just be able to shoot laser beams out of their eyes. Everywhere he stepped, Kendall wasn't sure if he'd find firm ground.

The scent of sea salt on the highways made him dizzy, the people drove so fast they might as well have been on the Autobahn, the air was too dry, and the sky was invisible under a thick sheet of smog. At night, the stars hid beneath that same smog, disorienting him, making him feel like he'd left the planet instead of just Minnesota.

James, Logan, and Carolos didn't seem to care. They loved it here, where the sun was always shining and hiking was an extracurricular activity instead of something you had to do to get to school. They loved that aside from the nasty populace in showbiz, the whole place was full of Stepford people, unnaturally happy and helpful to the point of being nauseating. They loved walking on the streets and spotting superstars, even though the superstars were too snooty and full of themselves to spot anyone but themselves.

His friends didn't seem to see past the glitter of Hollywood, down to the grimy, gritty reality of it.

Everything was fake. The adobe houses and the plasticized girls and the blue of the swimming pools. It was all doctored, and Kendall couldn't stand it.

When they drove down the streets at night, he wasn't watching the lights of Grauman's Chinese Theater. He was looking at the neon-like glow of the strip clubs and the decrepit adult video stores, the decay of the homeless wandering, unloved, and wondering how this corruption had been integrated so far into this city that no one seemed to even notice it. Minnesota might have been the Middle-of-Nowhere, USA, but it was a hundred times more real than this whole state.

He knew that if he had a chance to go back and change what he'd done, he wouldn't.

The problem with loyalty was that it wasn't something you could turn on and off. So if the guys were happy, Kendall resolved that he would have to be happy.

There would be no more hot tub parties at Jenny Tinkler's when her parents were on vacation. Sitting in the champagne bubble Jacuzzi surrounded by endless, pristine snow with the stars blazing overhead and everyone he'd ever known crushed in around him, sipping cans of PBR and hooking up with ambitionless girls hadn't been all that great. Playing shopping cart mini-golf in the Sherwood's parking lot until he was so cold his hands were numb had really just been a waste of time. And hockey? Well, hockey was a dumb sport anyway. It wasn't like Kendall relished the sportsmanship or the closeness of his team. They'd be fine minus four players. After all, that's why alternates were created.

Yeah, California was great, and Kendall would learn to love it.

At least, that was the plan.

"Dude. No. Just- no," Logan laughed, pushing Kendall's hands away, "This is not going to end well."

"Yes it is," Kendall replied, trying to make his eyes as wide and innocent as humanly possible, "Look, how often do you think we're going to get this opportunity?"

"Hopefully many, many times," the shorter boy replied with a mischievous laugh, ducking as his friend grabbed for him again.

This was why Logan was his favorite. Carlos was too gullible; it was a cinch to get him to do something. James was pretty much Kendall's Siamese twin when it came to pranks, so there was never any coercion needed. But Logan- Logan was a challenge.

Kendall loved challenges.

He narrowed his eyes, "Yeah? You're willing to chance it?"

Doubt crossed Logan's face.

That was all Kendall needed. He pounced, throwing his arms around Logan's shoulders and pushing him forward, hissing, "Careful, she's on the move."

"I really need new friends," Logan muttered, pulling himself up to his full height and walking with purpose toward a girl wearing a white t-shirt and a mini skirt.

Then his footsteps stuttered to a standstill. He turned back toward Kendall and inquired meekly, "Are you sure we didn't we learn our lesson last time? I mean, I'm pretty sure I'm still bruised from those field hockey sticks."

Logan was going to chicken out.

That could not be allowed to happen. Jennifers wearing white and going braless around the pool were not a common occurrence. They could have to wait months, nay years, for the next opportunity.

Kendall didn't like to live with regret.

Sighing, Kendall patted his shorts, making sure his cell phone and wallet were where they belonged, which at this point was anywhere but here. He felt nothing but cloth covering skin. Reassured that his pockets were empty, he met Logan's eyes, lips twisting into a smirk.

James and Carlos were going to be so pissed they missed it.

"No. No, no, no," Logan began yelping, more familiar with the look on Kendall's face than he liked, "Stop. Halt. Don't come any closer."

"C'mon," Kendall's smirk turned into a full-fledged grin, "I promise, I'll be gentle."

It was all the warning Logan got.

"You're never gentle-"

Kendall began running, flying, leaping toward him so that the dark haired boy stumbled backward, tripping over his own feet and right into the unsuspecting Jennifer lounging on the edge of the pool, kicking her feet through the chlorinated water.

For a second, all Kendall felt was triumph as he heard the girl's screech and Logan's less-than-dignified yell drowned out as they went under.

Then he realized he'd forgotten to hold his breath.

His lungs filled, burning, choking off his air supply. All around him it was rippling blue, stinging his eyes, turning everything surreal. He caught a glance of white like the underbelly of a fish before he caught a limb to the face. Reeling back, Kendall felt his feet scrape the terracotta floor of the pool. He propelled himself off it, surging upwards.

Coughing and spluttering and kind of laughing, he broke the surface. His cheek ached where someone had- what, hit him, kicked him? Kendall wasn't sure, and he didn't really care.

The Jennifer he'd just doused with the Palm Wood's finest recreational amenity was screaming bloody murder, and it wasn't until she caught him staring rather pointedly somewhere that wasn't her face that she had the good sense to cross her arms and hide what her mama or Hollywood's best plastic surgeon had given her.

"You- you," she looked like she wanted to jab a finger in his direction, and man, he really hoped she would, "Jerk!"

Kendall shrugged. He'd been called worse, "Sorry. I tripped."

He glanced around for Logan, only to find him all the way at the kiddy side of the pool with a five year old girl on his back crying, "Pony! Pony!"

Kendall swam over, ignoring the way the Jennifer, whichever one she was, yelled after him. She obviously didn't buy his explanation, but whatever.

Girl was a total bitch anyway.

"Dude. Miss the show?"

Logan was halfway between cracking up and spontaneously combusting. He decided on the former as soon as Kendall helped him remove the overly enthusiastic kid, "Those can't be real."

Pleased that he was currently reigning king of all things fun, Kendall grinned, "I know, right?"

Eyes dancing, Logan relented, "Okay. I admit it. That- was a good idea."

They watched the Jennifer climb out of the pool, getting a better look at the clear outline of her breasts as she pulled herself up the ladder and then folded her arms again. She shot lethal glares in their direction, which only served to make them laugh more.

"Of course it was a good idea. I have all the best ideas," Kendall declared, never one for modesty.

"Really?" Logan asked dryly, "I hadn't noticed."

Kendall began making his way out of the pool, "Shut up. You love it."

"Love is such a strong word," Logan told him, "I don't know if I can love something that's going to get me killed one day."

When he reached the top of the steps, he reached out for Logan, who was floating on his back. The water reflected the blue-gray sky overhead, so it appeared that he was hovering on clouds and sunlight, like an angel.

Except Kendall knew better than anyone that Logan Mitchell was no angel. They'd been friends since third grade.

Logan righted himself and reached for his friend's hand. His cold, slightly pruney fingers wrapped around Kendall's, just as he was teasing, "Aw, I wouldn't let you die."

That was the moment everything changed.

Kendall felt Logan's warmth all the way down to his bones, to his marrow. Gasping, he snatched his hand back. Logan fell, arms spread wide like a starfish. When his back hit the water the sound echoed around the pool, and the splash splattered Kendall's legs.

He didn't even notice; he was staring at the light playing over his hand and the glistening droplets like diamonds pooling in the crescents between his fingers and the valley-like lines of his palm.

What the fuck had just happened?

Logan seemed to agree. When his head surfaced again, he was seething mad. He delivered a line of expletives that ended up getting them both kicked off poolside property for the rest of the day. The Palm Woods was a family friendly hotel.

"You are such a douchebag. You know that?" Logan groaned as they were sent packing back to their room.

"Speak for yourself assface," Kendall snapped in reply, trying hard to keep his eyes on the hideous wallpaper lining the halls, the fake potted palms; anywhere but Logan's face.

For the first time Kendall accepted he'd never, ever get used to California.

On top of the dragons, on top of the counterfeit brightness and the phony people, and on top of the fact that he was totally out of his element…

There was obviously something in the water.

A/N: Ookay, so this was supposed to be a oneshot. It no longer is. Otherwise that would be the crappiest ending in the history of endings. So ummmm, if you think this story has potential, maybe, review? Otherwise I might vanish back into the realm of SP fic, where I shall finish writing what I'm actually supposed to be writing instead of cheating on my fandom with BTR. Um, yes, and there will be James in the next chapter. Because love triangles are fun.