A/N. So much for me waiting until December 1st. Self-control fail. Oh well. All right. First of all, I have to say that this story is dedicated to OneManWritingGames, EpicInTheLibrary, WyszLo, and VortexOne for encouraging me to write this story. When I first came up with the idea I was at work and immediately messaged OMWG about it because I was afraid that it might be too much. But she, along with my other three friends, gave me the go-ahead. So here it is. I also want to say that this is not related to anything else I've written because it's way too angsty for that. The only thing that remains the same is the situation with all of the boys' families. Okay. I think that's all. I don't own anything. You'll be glad of that by the time you finish reading this.
Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. For the most part, they are little and harmless mistakes that can be smoothed over and forgotten soon after they happen. Other times, it takes a little work to make everything right again. And still other times, one mistake is all you get. Sometimes a mistake cannot be erased and will leave us with guilt and regret and we try to pick up the pieces and move on. But there will always be a part of us that will wish we could go back in time and do things differently. But it's a stupid, pointless wish. You can't change the past.
Seventeen-year old James Diamond flinched at the sound of the familiar voice. He set aside the textbook he had been reading and closed the dictionary. He had trouble understanding every fourth word in the textbook so it was the only way he could actually make sense of anything. "In here!" He called, clearing his throat of the lump that had taken up residence. "I'm in my room."
The closed door swung open and crashed into the wall with a loud bang. Logan strolled into the room and dropped down on James' bed with a loud sigh. "I'm bored, James. Can we do something?"
"Sure." James said, proud of himself for keeping his voice steady. He was getting better. Maybe practice really did make perfect. "What do you want to do?" he swung around in his chair to face Logan, forcing himself to look into the wide brown eyes.
Instantly, Logan's face brightened. "Let's go to the park!" He said enthusiastically. He jumped back to his feet and grinned broadly. "Can we go to the park? Please James?"
James took a deep breath and nodded. "Yeah. Sounds good to me. Why don't you get Carlos and Kendall and we'll all get ready?"
Logan frowned and shook his head. "Carlos has to go to the dentist and Kendall went with Mrs. Knight and Katie to that one doctor." He shrugged and grinned at James sheepishly. "I think. I forget."
Despite his best efforts, tears gathered in James' eyes but he blinked them away. Logan hated it when anyone cried. "Then it's just me and you today, buddy. Are you sure you want to go to the park? We could stay here and-"
"No!" Logan protested in a whine. "James, let's go to the park! We haven't been there in forever. I want to go on the swings and feed the ducks. Please?"
Just breath. James told himself. You can do this. It will only be for a couple of hours. He forced a smile to his weary face and stood up. "Okay, Logan. I'll go tell Carlos before he leaves. Go get ready."
"Yes!" Logan pumped his fist in the air and rushed off to his room.
"Be careful!" James called after him, automatically. He ran a hand through his short dark hair and sighed. Then he wandered out to the hallway and into the kitchen where he found Carlos. "Logan and I are going to the park" He told his friend, studying the counter top as he spoke. Logan was way easier to fool than Carlos was and he already knew what the other boy's response would be.
"Alone?" Carlos looked at him in concern. "Are you okay with that?"
"Yes." James knew that he sounded like he was trying to convince himself. "We'll be fine. It'll only be for a couple of hours."
"Okay." Carlos nodded his head slowly. "I'll call you when I get out of the dentist and maybe I can meet you there.
The possibility of Carlos joining them brought a rare, genuine smile to James' face. But it was out of relief and not of pleasure. "That would be great. So maybe we'll see you."
Logan rushed into the room and skidded to a stop in front of the other boys. "Guess what! Me and James are going to the park!" He announced happily to Carlos, completely oblivious to the cloud of sadness that hung over them.
"Sweet!" Carlos grinned and gave him a high-five. "Hey, I told James that I might be able to come when I'm done at the dentist. How does that sound?"
"Awesome!" Logan declared. But his attention was quickly diverted and he turned to James. "Can we go now?" He asked eagerly.
"Wait a second." James dropped to his knees on the floor. "Logan, your shoes are on the wrong feet, buddy. Sit down, okay?" He waited until Logan was on the floor in front of him and then quickly undid the Velcro straps and switched the shoes around.
"They're not lighting up anymore." Logan said sadly. He stood up and walked around in a small circle to show James and Carlos. "See?"
"We'll get you new shoes, Logie." Carlos promised solemnly.
James nodded in agreement and stood up. "All right, now you're ready. Wait." He grabbed Logan's arm before he could run off. "You forgot something." Rather than tell Logan what exactly he had forgotten, James waited patiently until Logan remembered for himself.
Logan hit himself dramatically on the forehead.
"Logan, don't do that." James said quickly, pulling Logan's hand away before he could repeat the process. "You don't want to hurt your head."
"No way." Logan said seriously. He walked carefully over to the closet and pulled out a black hockey helmet and placed it carefully on his head. "Okay. I'm ready now. Can we go?"
"Yup." James' cheerfulness was false but only Carlos could tell. James gave his friend a quick wave and hurried after Logan.
Logan was waiting for him impatiently by the elevator door. When it opened, the two of them walked in and Logan pressed the floor level button happily. As they descended, James leaned against the wall and watched Logan. The smaller boy rocked back and forth on his heels, humming a familiar tune that James couldn't quite place. It was probably from one of the many Saturday morning cartoons that he liked so much.
James was relieved when they finally walked outside into the bright sun. A small breeze blew through the trees and made it the perfect August day in California. James quickened his steps when Logan got to far ahead. "Slow down." He cautioned. "Wait for me."
"Slowpoke." Logan retorted with a laugh. He waved at an elderly couple as they crossed paths and grinned happily when they returned his friendly gesture. When they came to a busy intersection right by the park, Logan grabbed James' hand and held on tightly.
James bit his lip. He always hated it when this happened. As they crossed, the stares they got were impossible to ignore. Most of them started out filled with disgust at the sight of two teenage boys holding hands. But when their harsh, judgmental eyes took in Logan's helmet and unsteady gait, understanding dawned on them and they regarded the boys with pity. James wondered if they would still feel sorry for him if they knew that he was to blame for Logan's state.
"Let's feed the ducks first." Logan said as soon as their feet went from the pavement to the soft grass. He dropped James' hand and pointed. "Look. There's the pretzel lady right over there." He took off running to his destination.
James kept pace easily with Logan's gimpy, awkward way of running. "Careful, Logan." He said, sounding like a broken record. "You don't want to make your leg hurt."
Logan scowled but obediently slowed down. "It's not going to hurt my leg." He protested. A smile chased away the brooding look when he approached the woman selling soft pretzels. "Hi." He greeted her in the friendly way that he used with everyone he knew. Strangers made him a comfortable, a fact that James was always grateful for.
"Hi, sweetie." The pretzel lady, James never thought to ask her for her real name, returned Logan's radiant smile with one of her own. She handed him a paper bag and two pretzels to James. "Now, those pretzels are for you boys." She ordered. "The ducks have enough with those scraps. You both could use some more fat on those bones." She smiled again when she saw Logan look at the pretzels hungrily. "You know, those ducks really love you for feeding them."
"They already love me." Logan said seriously. He turned to go, the paper bag clutched tightly in his hands, but James stopped him.
"What do you say, Logan?"
Logan blinked and stared at him in confusion. "Um. . ." He tipped his head to one side as he struggled to remember. Then a wide smile split his face. "Thank you!"
"You're very welcome." The pretzel lady assured him. "Have fun you two."
James thanked her and nodded at Logan who immediately took off toward the duck pond. He followed slowly this time, allowing Logan to have a little space to himself and dropped down to sit on the grass and watched Logan. Even now he had a way with animals. It was his calm and gentle demeanor that made all kinds of creatures trust him the way Logan trusted James and everyone else around him. James felt his inner strength break slightly and a lone tear slid down his cheek. He brushed it away before Logan saw it and got upset.
He balled his hands into tight fists. What had happened to Logan was all his fault. No one could argue with that. He would never forgive himself for ruining Logan's life. He had been brilliant and full of potential. He was going to be a doctor. Now he was only a shadow of his former self. Because in James' case, all it had taken was one mistake and their lives were changed forever.
A/N. Review? Maybe? Possible? This was obviously a prologue. We'll go back in time now. I can't promise that I'll be able to update very soon because school is ending in three weeks and I have a ton of work to do. But then I have a month off for winter break so I should be able to do a lot of writing then. Until then, let me know what you think!