Wow, my shortest update ever. Same day as the last. I was going to wait until Friday, but One Man Writing Games made me submit it today so. It doesn't even count, though, because it's like nine forty, so. This is the longset part, more than the first two combined. Which makes is more than half of the story. It's really really really cliche and horrible and corny but please bear with me because I kind of like it. I have to, I worked all day on it.

Also, I just wanted to shout out a HUGE HUGE HUUUUGGEE apology to RyDeNiSlOvE AGAIN because I KNOW you just wrote something with a beach scene but I didn't even realize it until like halfway through when I already had everything planned out and I felt SOSOSO bad for it and I swear, I am going to stop subconsciously stealing all of your stories, okay? I swear, it'll never happen again. EVER. EVEREVEREVER. I LOVE YOU OMG.

I'm a horrible person.


A day or two goes by- James isn't really paying attention. Kendall hasn't spoken to him for real since- well. Since what? James isn't sure what exactly happened that night. It seems like he dreamed it, because he can't remember details and nothing has happened directly because of it. Well, except for Kendall's change in behavior.

To anyone else, it would seem like everything's fine. They goof around, get into trouble, practice and record songs with Gustavo and Kelly, but- nothing's really the same at all. Kendall talks to him, of course he talks to him. He talks to all of them just the same. But it's like, whenever he turns to look at James, he gets this certain look in his eye, like something got caught in there. It's tight and reserved and whenever James tries to get a closer look at it it shrinks back and harbors itself behind the cloudy charade Kendall has at the ready. They aren't as close as they were before, and James sincerely hopes that they're not falling apart. They can't fall apart. Not just for him, but for everyone else. Logan, Carlos, Gustavo. If Kendall and James fall apart, well, everything else falls apart. That can't happen.

Obviously Kendall realizes this too, because on the third day, he comes up and asks James if he still wants to hang out, because he feels bad about forgetting the other night. James tries not to let himself feel warm inside again, because just look what happened last time. It's a bad omen. He casually agrees. He knows that they're just skimming along on thin ice, everything between them boiling and locked up beneath the fragile sheet of crystalized water, waiting for one of them to hit a breaking point so it can all geyser out and sweep them into its chaotic whirlpool and swallow them whole. James doesn't want to drown, but he knows how to swim if it comes down to that. So yeah, he agrees. And now he's alone with Kendall in the latter's room with the door closed, Logan being out somewhere and Carlos being in the livingroom with Mrs. Knight and Katie watching a movie. That should worry him, but it doesn't. What worries him is that he and Kendall are alone, and he remembers what happened last time they were in a similar situation. Maybe not very clearly, but he has the gist of it. And it was not good.

At first they try to play it safe. A hockey game playing on the television, but it's an old replay they saw a few weeks ago, so neither of them are really watching. Still, they can act. They act like they're excited, like they've never seen it before. And maybe Kendall is excited, because really, he gets excited about anything if it's hockey. James knows he's not excited. There's a knot of worry stitching itself bigger and bigger in the pit of his stomach, and it's been growing this whole time. He thinks, every second, this is it. It's going to explode. I'll say something stupid and Kendall will never talk to me again. So really, he's pretty high-strung the whole time. And then Kendall just draws it out, stretching after the game is finished and asking if he wants to go somewhere. James nods wordlessly, afraid of opening his mouth.

They go to the beach. James doesn't know why. Every time they go Kendall complains of cramps in his toes from the water and there hasn't been one beach trip in which he hasn't burnt in painful places. He complains about it nonstop until it's completely gone, and has grown to resent beach trips. But that's where he takes him, and James isn't about to complain. He loves the beach.

It's sunny, as expected, and breezy. Which is nice, because usually the wind knocks James' hair all over the place and he has to just jump into the ocean and keep his hair flat with water. This time he doesn't have his swim trunks, though, so he's fine with what they're doing now. Walking. Strolling. Whatever. There's a boardwalk running parallel to the beach filled with little shops and restaurants, and it's just overall a nice place to be. The architecture is fun to look at, colorful with pastels and clear sunshine that lights everything in just the right way. It's so easy for James to just forget everything as he walks down that street and stares at the Easter egg houses with their balconies and window walls and hears the sand crunching between his shoes and the worn wood of the walk. He finds himself smiling a lot, and it must be infectious because Kendall smiles back every time, and this time there's nothing hidden in his eyes. It seems almost easy. He feels free, like there's nothing pulling at his ankles, holding him back. Actually, it's just the back of his mind that feels heavy, but every time he succumbs to it and leans his head back, all he sees is clear blue skies caught between the roofs of the buildings, and all he can do is smile again, forgetting his worries easy as one, two, three.

They spend the better part of their afternoon window shopping and talking about small, meaningless things, but to James, it means a lot, really. That they can have this, just talking with the ease of breathing, picking on each other and maybe even laughing from time to time. It's fun, and even though nothing is solved, James is glad he gets to have this little snippet of paradise; just him, Kendall, and nobody else.

It gets to be five thirty and they both start to get hungry, so they get to go into one of those little restaurants they were looking at earlier. It's got seafood, which James doesn't have all that often. He gets to try lobster for the first time. Kendall laughs at how he stares it down like he doesn't know how to eat it and guides him through, because obviously he's had some in the magical land of I've-tried-every-single-food-ever-Kendall-land. Whatever, it's good. And their seat has a good view of the ocean, which is really cool because the sky is just starting to light up pink and the water is bright with a million reflections of the setting sun, pure white and shining so that James can't look at it for more than a second. The image imprints itself on his eyelids so that whenever he closes his eyes he can see its ghost.

When they finish eating they decide to go walking on the beach. James holds his socks and shoes in his hands so that he can feel the sand between his toes, rolling his jeans up to his knees so they don't get wet. Kendall laughs and tells him he looks funny, but he just says it's nothing compared to the faces Kendall makes sometimes.

"Touché," Kendall responds easily, making a stupid face at him, James laughing before they move on.

There are little rocks and shells all over the place, the pebbles patterned with sparkling stars and the shells shining with rainbows cast by the fading light. The sky is lit up a bright, fiery orange, the sun sinking further, eager to grasp the rolling waves in its rayed fingers, sending its glow across the ripples and rifts of the water to reach just at James' feet, almost like it's pointing at him. He tells Kendall, and Kendall says it's because the sun revolves around him.

"No it doesn't, the sun stays still!" James counters. When Kendall just keeps staring at him with an amused grin stuck over his lips, he falters slightly. "...Right?"

"I was joking," Kendall laughs, and James feels stupid, but he just smiles like the dork he is and follows Kendall as he moves on to pick up something from the sand. "It looks like you," Kendall declares, turning around to show James the palm-sized rock he found. It's rugged, almost kind of square-shaped, and it's white and sparkly; basically just like all the other pebbles they found. And it does not in any way resemble James. He arches an eyebrow at Kendall in confusion until he rolls his eyes in good nature and explains, pointing to the ridges and planes of the stone, "It's shaped all spontaneous, like you, and it shines. Like you." It makes James smile on the inside, but instead of killing the fun with something sentimental or corny, he just grins lazily and gives an exaggerated fake sigh of relief.

"Oh. I thought you were calling me a vampire," he says, gesturing to the millions of tiny sparkles adorning the whiteness of the stone. Kendall smirks.

"Actually, I was. I just made up all that stuff right now." James shoves at Kendall's shoulder and swoops down to the sand to snatch up a rainbow shell.

"Well then this looks like you," he announces with finality. "It's colorful and full of pride, like you."

"Aw, really?" Kendall clasps his hands together and bats his eyes, likening himself even more to the shell. James grins.

"Nope. You're just really gay."

"Well you're sparkly!"

James chases Kendall all the way down the beach. Well, at least until they reach a pier, smaller than the others they've been passing. It looks like it's only about twenty feet long, and not very high off the water, either. There's no one else around, so they decide to explore.

James' bare feet make wet footprints all the way down the walk, soaking into the already sea sprayed wood. There are a few rocks jutting out of the water a little ways off from the end of the pier, sending the water from the waves spraying up into the air. It's not close enough to get them very wet, which is a good thing because it's getting cold, especially with the breeze still kicked in. When they reach the end they both sit down, James setting his shoes and socks to the left of him while Kendall simply sits cross-legged to his right. And they die down to silence so they can watch the sunset.

It's so... strange. It's beautiful and everything, but James feels like there's something missing. Kendall's hand in his, maybe? The romantic beach sunset kiss? He knows that'll never, ever happen, but it still feels incomplete. Maybe he should stop watching all those romantic comedy chick flicks he keeps getting into, but he can't stop. Really, what else is there to do besides totally turn yourself into a lovesick girl? It's just one step over from being a lovesick guy, and hey, what's the difference, really? Well, a lot of things. Maybe that's why Kendall wanted to get him out of the house.

He stares at the sunset, at the magnificent red-orange colors of the sky, of the blood red sun dipped halfway into the ocean, the deep waters stealing the light from the world and stretching their shadows out longer and longer until they can touch the other side of the horizon, bringing nightfall. He stares at the millions of mirror surfaces reflecting the light right back at them, sweeping gently over the waves and ripples of the ocean, swirling back to him. But it's not him, because his world does not revolve around him. It revolves around Kendall. The sun is pointing at Kendall, not him. And it's so true, because when he turns from the radiating sky to face his best friend, he finds Kendall's face lit up with orange and red and pink and clear glowing ripples of the water beneath them, and it's just... breathtaking. He's more beautiful than the sunset, and when he turns to look at James, when he focuses those eyes on his, James feels himself lock into place, and he swears, if there were nothing holding him back, no ties knotted in the back of his mind, he would just kiss Kendall right here and now, holding nothing back, letting everything go. Like that night, when Kendall held him while he let everything out, except in a different way. With love instead of tears. He wants to explode in a supernova and hang onto the shards of a star, sailing out forever and ever, and he wants Kendall there, by his side. Like right now.

But he can't kiss Kendall, so he doesn't.

Instead, he just smiles and turns back to the scene before him, wishing he at least had the courage to scoot closer and lean into him. He doesn't, but hey, he's watching a sunset alone with Kendall; he'll take what he can get.

It ends all too quickly, and soon the world around him is shrouded in shadow. The water is freezing up to his ankles, so he pulls his feet out and sits with his knees bent and his arms wrapped around them, waiting for his feet to dry. The day is over, and so is their charade. He knows that. He just doesn't want to be the first to shatter the dream.

"James."

Kendall was always the brave one.

"Yeah?"

But he doesn't answer. Just stares out at the water, the vast, neverending sea. James doesn't look at Kendall, either. He thinks this might be easier if he doesn't have to look at his face. There's still a pale blue glow stroking the flat horizon where the ocean ends, so maybe the day isn't over yet. Maybe Kendall wants to wait for it to leave, so that their perfect day won't be ruined just at the very end.

Kendall sighs. "This was fun." James grins slightly and agrees.

"It was awesome."

"I..." He stops, swallowing and ending the sentence right there. I. You what? Shaking his head, he starts up again. A faint glow flickers on from behind them as the lights from the buildings and lampposts switch on for the night. It's barely there, but at least it casts a slight bit of light in their direction. It doesn't even matter, though, because Kendall is talking again. "James, I'm really sorry about the other night. I feel like the worst friend in the world."

"Kendall, it's fine," James sighs for the millionth time. "Really, it is. We already worked it out, and it's behind us now. Besides, we got to spend most of today here. I think that makes up for it hundredfold." James doesn't know why he's saying so much. Maybe he's sill living the dream, still convinced that he and Kendall can just talk as easily as they always have since practically birth. Kendall is nodding slowly, like he understands, but his next words still go against him.

"Well, yeah, but before that, too. I just..." He sighs, running a hand back through his hair and making it stick up more than it already is from the breezes they've had all day. The breezes have settled down, though, and so have Kendall and James. He finally turns to face James, and James just can't help doing the same. Kendall stares into his eyes, dead serious, and says, "James, there's a reason we haven't been hanging out like this lately."

James' breath catches in his throat, maybe stops altogether. Now his attention is focused on him more than ever. He waits in suspense, practically choking over his need to hear, to know. He waits for Kendall to compose himself, ready when he is. Eventually Kendall does speak again, and there's a slight, almost undetectable quaver in his voice, almost like- fear? But that's not right, Kendall's never afraid. Ever.

"I..." He stops to chuckle mirthlessly, shaking his head. "This is going to sound really ironic, but I like you. I... For a while now." His voice is quiet, matching the slow, gentle murmur of the tide coming in beneath the pier they sit on. "I just- was starting to get too attached to you, and I knew you would never feel the same way, so I started trying to distance myself from you. I made myself busy all the time, and I always went places you weren't. So I wouldn't have to look at you, see you when it would always remind me of... well. I just thought it would work, that I could get over it after enough time. But I didn't." He laughs again, this time maybe a little bitterly. "I was stupid, James, and it was hurting you. I'm sorry."

James doesn't know what to say. Quite frankly, he's speechless. It's a dream, right? That's his first thought. Because it's impossible to go through a perfect day and end it with a love confession from the one person he's been obsessed with for- well, at least six months. Which is a long, long time when you miss something. Before James can think of anything to say, Kendall decides to speak again. He laughs once more, shaking his head as if to berate himself.

"That night, when you said you loved me... God, I was so stupid." He sighs and pulls his knees up so they're pressed into his chest, hugging them so he's in a position similar to James', ankles crossed. When he speaks, it seems as if he's forgotten James is there and is simply talking to himself. "I thought you meant it, and I was- confused, at first. I thought I had misheard you, like you were just crying and my mind made it up on its own, because that was what it wanted to hear. But then you fell asleep and I had time to think. I convinced myself you had actually said it, and I..." He stops himself, eyes refocusing on James, throat tripping on a swallow. "Well, I was wrong," he finishes quietly, looking down and away from James' face. James still can't find the words to say, and Kendall is continuing again, speaking softly like he almost doesn't want James to hear. "I just thought you should know, because it's not fair to you that I keep doing these things just because I... And I've been keeping it in for too long, and I just had to- tell you. So I'm sorry, James. I should've told you earlier." He sighs heavily, like he just gave up something incredibly important to him, and maybe he thinks he did. Maybe he thinks James will hate him now, and that everything is going to fall apart between them and they'll never be the same again. Maybe he is scared. Fearless Kendall, afraid of telling the truth. But Kendall hates liars, so how could he keep living a lie like that? He's truthful, but James thinks maybe that was getting too far into it? Because if James had something like that to say, he wouldn't. Because that last part, that was personal. He didn't have to say that. Maybe he really, really trusts James. That thought makes James feel happy inside. But he can't dwell on that, he has to fix it, right now.

"Kendall," he finally says, voice sounding thin and unsteady to him. "I..." If Kendall was brave enough to share that, then he has to be brave, too. No matter how much Kendall hates being fake. "Kendall, I lied."

Kendall looks back up into James' eyes, surprised. "What?"

James takes a deep, shaky breath. "I was weak, and I lied. That night when I said I loved you. I lied."

"I know," Kendall murmurs. His eyes look hurt. "You told me."

"What I told you was the lie," James presses, and Kendall looks confused. It makes James' chest ache. "When I said what I said, the first time, that was the truth. But I was scared that if you found out, everything would be ruined."

"So you... lied?"

James nods, hanging his head in shame. "I thought you wouldn't like me anymore. It was stupid. I'm really, really sorry."

Kendall doesn't speak. Kendall hates liars. James lied, and it hurt Kendall. He hopes Kendall never talks to him again, because he doesn't deserve it. He wishes he could disappear, and reappear a few hours earlier, when they were exploring the boardwalk's houses together, laughing without a care in the world, perpetual smiles on their faces. Now, though, now that's all gone. Forever, even, because if Kendall never talks to him again, they'll never have fun together again. They'll never stroll down boardwalks, they'll never eat out at seafood restaurants and try new foods they don't even know how to eat, they'll never walk down the beach together, dipping down where the waves wash over their feet in the most refreshing way, they'll never share the salty scent of the ocean spray in the air, they'll never watch sunsets together on the end of a pier, all alone to keep the moment to just themselves. His fingers clench around the rock Kendall gave him, the one he said looks just like him. He doesn't care if it was a joke, it means everything to him. Kendall gave it to him. It might be the last thing he'll ever really know of him.

"So... You do love me?"

"Mhmm," James hums, unable to bring himself to speak. Kendall only hesitates another moment.

"So you wouldn't mind if we... kissed?"

James' heart leaps into his throat and pounds hard against his Adam's apple, making it bob in a sharp swallow as his breath hitches, maybe stops altogether. He finally turns back to look at Kendall, and he's just staring at him, waiting for an answer. He's not joking. He's serious. James finds his voice, croaking out a crooked, "No," and Kendall's eyes shine before he's leaning in, closing the distance between them like James imagined earlier, the thing that would make everything so absolutely perfect, and it's almost too overwhelming that it's happening for real, right here, right now. But he gets over it, telling himself to take the chance right now or it might never come up again. He shakily scoots closer like he was so afraid to do earlier and leans in, raising a hand to place on the side of Kendall's face, fingers barely brushing the golden strands of hair curling forward to meet him, and Kendall's eyes flicker shut at the touch. James barely has time to close his own eyes before they're touching in the most breathtaking way possible.

James' lips graze over Kendall's so softly it's almost not a touch, but then Kendall presses closer and every movement he makes is like a new, totally different experience for him. Maybe it's sparks, maybe it's fireworks, or maybe it's Niagra Falls crashing down on him. He can't really say, it's hard to define the experience of kissing Kendall. He swallows slowly and tries to move his lips on Kendall's, tries to let go of his worry and fear, letting the other boy guide him through because Kendall just always knows better than him. He breathes out gradually through his nose, and it's just so hard to grasp because he never thought something like this could be possible in his lifetime, or any lifetime, really. It's incredible, and he wouldn't trade it for anything else, even to relive the whole day and its carefree elation that glowed in his chest, because now he has ecstasy spreading through his body from his fingers to his toes and most prominently in his ribcage, making the bones hum happily, but it's a slow, careful kind of happiness, the tentative kind that knows it could be torn away at any given moment. But Kendall's not tearing himself away, and it just makes everything glow brighter until James is sure he's glowing on the outside, too.

They kiss until they reach the end of the world, and when they finally separate, James keeps his eyes shut, afraid of opening them and letting it end. But when he does Kendall's still there, smiling gently at him, and all he can do is smile back. It's infectious. It has been all day. And for once in his life, James has nothing gnawing at the back of his mind, nothing chewing him out, just nothing. He's free, he's weightless, and it's the best thing in the world. He embraces Kendall, shutting his eyes again, and it's perfect. The perfect day, the best day of his life. He's happy.

Six, five nine.

Seven.

...

Yay, the end! It's seven o'clock, in case you didn't get that. At the end of the story? Seven is a lucky number? Eh? Eh. I named the story numbers, I had to make it work in the end somehow. Also, everyone please tell me how ridiculously cheesy and cliche this whole thing was, plase. In a review. Meaning review and don't just favorite. Because I got a bunch of alerts today and no reviews and it made me sad. So please, review. These stories don't just come out of nowhere, you know. There are people who work their butts off writing and editing and going over them a thousand times to make them perfect only to get a bunch of faves and alerts. So please. Review, review, review. Not just me, either. Everyone, man. Every author deserves a nice review. ;3;