Title: With A Little Help
Pairings: Logan/Camille and Kendall/Jo
Disclaimer: I don't really own these characters, I only imagine I do.
Summary: Summer begins with aweek in Vegas that doesn't turn out as planned, but they'll all have to make the best of it. Takes place two months after 'And So It Goes'.
James had not wanted to stay after his brief talk with Kelly, but there was no escaping his mother. For what felt like an eternity, he stuck around, trying his best to act as if nothing was bothering him, which was increasingly harder to do given the dirty looks Kendall kept shooting his way after he'd come to realize Logan had split.
James, momentarily startled out of his own train of thought, looked up in surprise at his older brother.
"It's not nothing," Mark sighed, sitting down next to him and leaning casually against the table so that his back was to the rest of the room. "I can tell. What's going on?"
"I... I screwed up."
"And that's it," James said with a shrug.
"Dude, if that was it then Kendall wouldn't be glaring at you from across the room. Spill."
"It's just really stupid and..."
"So what? I'm your brother. I think all your problems are stupid."
James smiled briefly at that too true statement before beginning.
"Okay, so, Logan and I got into this fight."
Mark nodded as James paused to really consider it.
"Actually," he continued, "we've been having a lot of fights."
"About everything. I don't know. I'm just so angry at him that it's like I can't stop myself from starting up."
"What he'd do?"
"Nothing," James admitted, albeit reluctantly. Only his brother would assume that James wasn't the cause of this mess instead of Logan. "I don't know. I just..."
"No, you know. You're just not telling me."
"He really didn't do anything but... it's his attitude. He doesn't take this seriously because he doesn't think of this as a real job. Logan doesn't act like this is something someone should want to do for the rest of their life but it's exactly what I want. To him it's like something we're doing, that he's above, and..."
"I get it," Mark said. "So, get to the part where you screwed up."
"Fine," James snapped. "Last night we got into a fight again. I started it over something that was obviously not true and it just kind of snowballed from there."
"Not too bad but... Okay, yeah, it was bad. I was wrong and everyone is mad at me. I want to apologize but..."
"So do it."
"I can't just -"
"If you can't just walk up to him and say sorry, James, I don't know what to tell you."
"I can but -"
"You don't want to."
"I do want to. I do want things like they were..."
James trailed off, uncertain of his next words. He didn't want to be so angry anymore, but even now, after admitting it was his fault, James couldn't just let it go. He couldn't figure out why - what the bigger problem was.
"You want my advice?" Mark asked after a lengthy pause.
"First, don't let Kendall give you crap. And don't let Carlos smooth this one over. This is obviously between you and Logan, so you two have to handle it."
"I'm not done," Mark continued. "Second, grow up."
"You heard me, James, grow up. I don't know what you're really angry about, but it isn't about Logan not taking this seriously. I know Logan and he takes everything seriously."
"I thought you were on my side."
"I am always on your side," Mark said, completely sincere, "but you are not telling me everything. Yeah, I'm sure Logan does think a lot of this is dumb and not worth his time. He can be that way. He's always been that way. I get why you'd feel like that, I do. But James, he's still here."
"But not really," James argued. "He's doing these stupid extra credit courses, which he doesn't need. Honestly, how much school can you do? And when it's not that it's Camille who he is always fighting with and he completely doesn't deserve. You'd never know she was his girlfriend, the way he acts. I'm just sick of it."
"Is that what this is really about?"
"No," James said, regretting how quickly he'd answered and how red his cheeks had begun to burn. "It's not... it's nothing like that."
Except, James knew it kind of was. At the heart of all of this was the fact that James cared a lot of Camille, a lot more than he'd ever want to admit, and it was frustrating to see how much she was obviously into to Logan and how little he seemed to return those feelings. It made no sense.
Ever since Logan and Camille had broken up and gotten back together again, Logan had begun to act differently; distant even. He didn't talk about Camille anymore, which he used to do a lot, even before they'd started dating. He didn't seem to want to spend any of his free time with her, although they did still go out sometimes on the weekends. In general, he just didn't seem like he wanted her for his girlfriend or that he even wanted a girlfriend at all.
Of course James knew he wasn't privy to exactly how their relationship worked. Knowing Camille, if she'd been unhappy about any of it, she'd have said so. That wasn't the problem. The problem was that knowing Logan, he would rather suffer silently through anything rather than speak up and potentially hurt someone's feelings. And that's exactly how James saw it. Logan was just waiting it out, and it was infuriating. How could he not want to be Camille's boyfriend? And if he didn't, how dare he string her along? She didn't deserve that.
"Listen," Mark said after another long silence between them. "Obviously, you two need to work this out. I don't know anything about Logan and this girl, Camille. Or you and Camille."
"There's nothing -"
Mark held up his hand and shrugged off his protest.
"It's not important," he continued. "What is important is that you fix it. You've been friends too long to let it end like this."
James sighed and dropped his head into his hands.
"Everyone keeps telling me to fix this like I can whip out a bandage and make it better."
"Just go talk to him. Like I said, if you can't do that, then there's probably nothing left to talk about."
James nodded and let the words sink in, knowing his brother was right. He mumbled a thanks to Mark before getting up to say goodnight to his mother and leaving for the room upstairs.
Before he got to the there, his phone rang, and to his great surprise it was Camille.
He hesitated for a moment, unsure why she'd call or what he could possibly say to her, but found that he couldn't just ignore her. Stopping in the hallway just outside of their hotel room, he answered.
"James," she said on the other side of the line, "I'm sorry to do this, but I have to know. What's going on?"
"What do you mean?"
"Cut it out, James," Camille said quickly, her irritation obvious. "You know what I mean. I read the articles. I talked to Jo and Kendall and Stephanie and -"
"So what do you want me to say?"
"I just want the truth," Camille pleaded. "That's it. I finally got Logan on the phone this afternoon and..."
Her voice hitched and James thought his heart had stopped.
"What happened?" he heard himself ask, as if his brain no longer had any control over his mouth.
"He broke up with me," she managed after a long pause.
"Why? Did you guys fight? What... Camille, listen," James began, rambling on and barely coherent to his own ears, "that person, whoever wrote that, was wrong. Nothing happened."
"I know that," she agreed. "And we didn't fight or anything. It was so strange. Okay, I was mad. When I first saw it, I was, but after I talked to Jo and realized... I know Logan wouldn't do that and I know how things like this get blown out of proportion."
James nodded his head to no one as he slid down the wall, taking a seat on the floor.
"But when I talked to him," Camille continued, "he just... I don't know. I don't know what's wrong or why or anything anymore. You know, first he pulls back, like he doesn't want a serious relationship, and I'm okay with that, but then right before you guys leave he tells me he loves me and then he just breaks up with me less than a week later without any kind of reason or anything. I don't get it. I don't get it at all. What is going on? I just don't understand."
James stopped listening.
As soon as Camille had said that Logan loved her, it was as if his brain shut down. Not for one moment did James doubt what she was saying, or Logan's intent, it was just so completely the opposite of what he thought their relationship was that he was stunned.
And he saw, very clearly, that it wasn't that he'd misread what was going on between them, but that he'd wanted to.
James had wanted this thing between Logan and Camille to be insignificant because it made his own feelings for Camille easier to digest. James didn't want it to be serious but, as he knew, as his brother reminded him just half an hour before, Logan took everything seriously - why would Camille be the exception?
It was almost too much to deal with. James felt dizzy and sick and very much like he'd subconsciously, it had to be subconsciously, betrayed his friend.
"I mean, is this really it? Is this how he wants it to end? I don't know what to do. What should I do? James? James?"
James shut his eyes and slapped his free hand on the ground.
"Are you still there?"
"I am," he finally managed as he heard the distinct ring of the elevator opening at the far end of the hall.
"I shouldn't have called," Camille said with a heavy sigh. "I'm sorry. I just thought... You know us both and maybe... I don't know. You're his best friend and you're mine too and it's probably not fair of me to do this to you. I'm not asking you to take sides. I'm sorry. I just thought you might know why. He wouldn't even tell me why."
"No, don't be sorry," James said quickly, a grimace on his face as he slapped his hand down against the floor again, harder this time. "Let me talk to him. I'll... I need to talk to him anyway. I'm pretty sure most of this is my fault."
James opened his eyes as he felt rather than heard someone sitting down across from him. Kendall offered up a weak smile that couldn't be returned. James had never felt worse in his life; he was sure of it.
"I'm going to fix this, Camille," he continued, shutting his eyes again and resting his head against the wall. "You know Logan. Sometimes he so smart he's stupid. He was probably trying to do something noble and well..."
James let his words trail off, suddenly at a loss and completely unprepared for how much harder this was then he'd ever imagined it would be.
"And," he finally continued after clearing his throat, "you know... I know that he wouldn't want to hurt you. I'll talk to him and... you'll see. Just don't give up on him, okay? He's a good guy. He deserves someone like you."
"Thanks," she returned, her voice soft like a whisper.
"Yeah, well," James continued, his own voice loud and boisterous, as close to normal as he could make it, "the way I see it, if everyone's got a girlfriend but me then technically I get first dibs on the groupies."
She let out a laugh, and he could practically see her shaking her head and smiling.
"As long as you're doing this for the right reasons."
"You know me," he returned, momentarily locking eyes with Kendall who looked exactly as struck as James felt.
"Thanks again, James. I can't tell you how much -"
"You don't have to," he cut in quickly, not wanting to hear her thank him any longer. Not for this. This was killing him.
"Goodnight," he returned, hanging up the phone and waiting for whatever it was Kendall was going to say.
Kendall stared at him for a minute or more, trying to transform his thoughts into words, before ultimately coming out with, "You could have told me."
"I didn't know," James said with a shrug. "I didn't want to. I don't want..."
"Are you..." Kendall started to say, but quickly checked himself. "What are you going to do?"
"First," James said, letting out a deep breath, "I'm going to apologize to Logan. And then... I don't know. I know this is all my fault and, well, I didn't want this. Really."
"This isn't all your fault," Kendall conceded. "Yeah, you pick on Logan and took this thing way too far, but he doesn't make it easy on you, or any of us. And I shouldn't take sides. It's between the two of you and I need to learn to stay out of it. I'm sorry. I wasn't helping."
"You were trying."
"Yeah, well..." Kendall said with a shrug. "Listen -"
"I really don't want to talk about it," James interrupted, knowing where Kendall was heading.
"Well, if you do, I'm here."
"Thanks," James said, "but there's nothing to talk about. I'll... I'll get over it. I'll have to. You know, even if this break-up was real... I couldn't. He'd never forgive me. She'd never take me and I'd never... I'll get over it."
Kendall dropped his eyes and nodded briefly, knowing that he'd done the only thing he could in this situation and hoping it was enough.