A/N. This story is dedicated to One Man Writing Games as an early Christmas present. You're one of my best friends ever in the world and I love you. I hope you enjoy this Jamesangst I wrote for you. After you read it you'll know why it was killing me to write. I don't own anything sadly. We should take over Big Time Rush together okay? Anyway, Merry Christmas!
James jerked out of a sound sleep when an irritating ringing noise reached his ears. With his eyes still closed, he fumbled around blindly for the source of the sound. At last his fingers closed around his cell phone and he stared sleepily at the screen.
"Logan. Hey." A yawn cracked his jaw. "What's up, man?"
"Were you sleeping?"
James rolled his eyes. Logan could never give him a straight answer. "Yeah." He held back another yawn and glanced at the clock to see that it was the middle of the afternoon. "I was up late last night."
"Sorry I woke you." Logan didn't sound apologetic at all.
"No big deal. I should be getting up anyway." James sat up and rubbed his sore shoulder with his free hand. "So you sound excited about something. Do I get to find out what it is? I mean, I think it's the least you could do after waking me up."
"Just come over, okay?" Logan brushed aside James' joke. "We already got Julie on her way home from volunteering at the hospital."
"Hey, I don't appreciate you and Camille stealing my girlfriend." James grinned and waited for Logan's response.
Logan sighed. "You can be so annoying, did you know that?" He complained. "Listen, everyone else is already here so it would be awesome if you could get your sorry butt over here to join us as soon as possible. Or," His voice held just a hint of a threat. "We'll just tell everyone now. Without you."
"Okay, okay." James stood up and headed to the front door. "I'm leaving now. Keep your shirt on, Logie." He ended the call in the middle of a typical Logan rant about the importance of being considerate of the time that other people spared, and walked out the front door. He was grateful that he and Julie lived only ten minutes away from Logan and Camille.
He sped just a little bit down the empty Minnesota roads and arrived at the Mitchell home in seven minutes flat.
"So what's this big news that couldn't wait twenty more minutes?" He asked as he let himself in. He joined Julie on the couch and looked around expectantly.
Kendall and Jo sat across from them and they both raised their hands and nodded in a silent greeting but all of their attention was focused on Logan and Camille.
Carlos and Stephanie both looked ready to bounce of the walls in anticipation. James noticed that Carlos was still dressed in his navy blue police uniform.
"I see you got Carlos at work." He observed, giving Logan a glance, trying to search his friend's face for any tell tale emotions.
Julie clapped a hand over his mouth and kissed him on the cheek. "Be quiet." She said sternly. "We've already been waiting long enough."
Finally, six pairs of eyes turned to the only married couple in the room and waited. Camille sat comfortably in her husband's lap, absolutely glowing. Logan looked ecstatic and nervous at the same time. He gave Camille's hand a quick squeeze before he said anything. "Camille and I have some great news and we wanted you guys to be the first ones to hear." He looked at Camille, his smile spreading. "Do you-"
"I'm pregnant!" Camille said suddenly. She jumped to her feet and clapped her hands together once. Her brown eyes matched Logan's as they sparkled in pure joy.
Jo was the first to react by jumping up with a squeal of delight and pulling her best friend into a hug. Stephanie and Julie were only a second behind as they mimicked her actions.
James felt a huge grin spread across his face and he stood and crossed the room. He pulled Logan to his feet and wrapped him in a tight embrace. He felt Kendall and Carlos pushing for their turn so he released Logan and hugged Camille.
When the excitement died down enough to hear, Julie began pressing for details. "How far along are you? When is the baby due? Do you have any names picked out?"
"Hey," James pulled her closer to him. "Let them talk, Jules."
Camille laughed. "I'm about six weeks along." She answered Julie. "The baby is due in mid-December. And. . . we haven't even thought about names." She admitted with another laugh.
"We have time though." Logan threaded his fingers through Camille's and brought their linked hands up to kiss them. "It's still early but we couldn't keep it to ourselves for very long. Camille's mother is coming for dinner tonight and she'll find out then."
James watched Logan and Camille as the others pestered them with questions and name suggestions. He smiled when he heard Julie, Jo and Stephanie fighting for baby sitting privileges. Words could never describe the happiness he felt at the news. Logan and Camille had been through so much together, even when they were dating as teenagers. Especially as teenagers. They deserved all the happiness in the world.
"Thanks for the ride, James. I know you've been busy lately." Logan fiddled with the radio stations in James' car before he turned the radio off and leaned back, content to ride in silence.
"Thanks for the ride, James. I know you've been busy lately." Logan fiddled with the radio stations in James' car before he turned the radio off and leaned back, content to ride in silence.
"Don't mention it." James waved away his thanks but kept his eyes on the road. "It's nothing."
Logan turned to stare out the window and sighed. "I wish I could be with Camille today. I really hate this. Do you think it'll ever stop?"
James bit his lip and concentrated on keeping his hands steady on the steering wheel. "Better safe than sorry, right? Besides, you'll have plenty of opportunities to go to the doctors with Camille. You know that."
"I know." Logan nodded but kept his gaze on the scene outside.
James drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, uncomfortable in the silence. Then he spoke up. "So any names?" He asked lightly.
He was rewarded when Logan turned to look at him with a smile on his face. "Yeah but I'm under strict instructions from Camille to keep our ideas secret."
"I won't tell." James said hopefully.
Logan laughed then. "She'll find out anyway. She always does."
Determined to keep the light-hearted conversation going, James grinned. "I bet you're going to name him James, right? James Mitchell. I like the sound of that. What do you think?"
"You're all the same." Logan rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Kendall and Carlos both said the same thing to me. Except, of course, they think we're going to name him after them."
"I guess that's one of the reasons we're such good friends." James applied the brakes and came to a stop at a red light. Then he turned to face Logan. "Anyway, I guess I can wait another month to find out his name."
A smile lit up Logan's face and the earlier tension disappeared completely. "One more month." He said, almost as if to himself. "I don't know if I can wait. I guess I have to though."
"We're all excited." James told him. "You and Camille deserve all of this."
"Kendall already bought a pair of hockey skates." Logan said with another smile. "He promised to teach him everything he knows about hockey. Camille said he can but only as long as he promises to pay all the dentist bills when our kid loses all of his teeth."
"Kendall would." James replied, laughing. "Whatever it takes to spread his love of hockey to everyone he knows. If only he could convince Jo."
"I don't think that's ever going to happen." Logan said doubtfully. "They've known each other since we were sixteen. If almost ten years doesn't do anything, then I don't think she'll ever be interested. But I don't think Kendall will mind as long as she's okay with their kids playing. If he ever proposes to her that is."
"Kendall just likes to take his time Maybe next year." James shot a brief glance at his friend. "You and Camille are the only ones to get married so far."
"So far." Logan agreed. "You don't have any room to give Kendall a hard time about Jo. What about you and Julie?"
James felt his face turn red. "I'm. . . waiting for the right time." He stammered.
Logan smirked. "Right. James, if you wait for the "right time" then it's never going to happen."
"Yeah well some of us weren't meant to be since the day we met like you and Camille. I mean, you could have gotten married right away. Some relationships take time." James frowned as rain started to fall from the once sunny skies and he flicked on the windshield wipers. When Logan didn't say anything, James looked at him again. "Everything okay?" He asked quietly, seeing the troubled look.
"Can I ask you a question?" Logan asked unexpectedly. "It's something I've been thinking about for a while now and-"
"Logan, you can ask me anything." James interrupted him. "You know that. What's on your mind?" He waited, expecting Logan to ask him another question about Julie since they had just been discussing their relationships. However, he was caught completely off guard by Logan's actual question.
"Do you think I'll be a good dad?"
James' mouth fell open slightly and he turned to stare at Logan in disbelief. "What?" He demanded
"Watch your driving." Logan commented calmly as if his question shouldn't have been such a surprise.
James glared at him and then pulled off to the side of the road. "What kind of question is that, Logan?" He tried and failed to keep the anger out of his voice.
Logan flinched at the tone. "A pretty reasonable one I think." He said quietly. "Think about it, James. Think about my dad. What if bad parenting is hereditary?"
"Logan. . ." James trailed off, fumbling for the words that would convince Logan. "That's ridiculous. First of all, you're nothing like your dad. Your dad was a complete coward and you've always been the bravest person I've known. You couldn't be more different if you tried. I don't think those things run in the family anyway."
Much to his frustration, Logan wouldn't meet his gaze. "How do you know that?" He asked, almost in a whisper.
It had been years since Logan's father Ryan Mitchell had died in a car accident. Even though his death had ended up saving Logan's life through a much needed kidney transplant, irreversible damage had been done. Logan had been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia and he was dying when Ryan Mitchell had decided that he could no longer deal with everything. He had left Logan and nearly killed him in the process. James would never forget the day he and Carlos and Kendall had left their first support group session early because something had happened to Logan. He had thought that they had lost Logan already.
People said that time eventually healed all wounds but Logan was proof that it wasn't entirely true. Every so often James and the others could see a pain in Logan's eyes that should have never been there in the first place. It would never leave altogether and even though he was long dead, James hated Ryan Mitchell for hurting his own son so much.
"Because I know you." He finally answered Logan. "I've known you since we were five, Logan. You're an amazing person and so is Camille. You two won't make good parents, you'll make great parents. Both of you."
He was relieved when a small smile took the place of the frown on Logan's face. "Thanks, James." He said quietly. "That means a lot."
James nodded and pulled back onto the street. "It's true." They were almost at the oncologist's and fear suddenly dried his throat and made talking difficult. He felt the tension return though it had nothing to do with Logan's worry about being a dad. "Where should I drop you off?" He asked as he pulled into the small parking lot.
Logan gestured to the front door entrance. "Right there is fine." He said, suddenly sounding tired. "I'll call you when I'm done."
But James shook his head as he stopped the car by the curb. "I'll find a parking spot and wait." He said, refusing to listen to Logan's protest. "Come on, it's not like it'll take all day." He insisted, laughing around the fear.
"Fine." Logan relented. "But come in okay? No point in waiting out in the car. It's too cold for that." He opened the car door and stepped out, pulling his winter coat tightly around him. "It's times like these that make me miss LA." He muttered to James. "Thanks again."
"Sure. See you." James tried to smile but it wouldn't stick. He watched Logan disappear into the building and then drove aimlessly around the parking lot, searching for an empty space. He found one and turned the car off, remaining in the car and tried to do away with the odd feeling in the pit of his stomach.
It had been seven years since Logan had gone into remission. His check-ups with his oncologist had at first been once a month and then over time they had spread out to once every three months. Each time, Logan brought back good news. He was fine. The cancer hadn't come back. It had become routine and everyone relaxed now. But today, no matter how hard he tried, James couldn't shake off the sensation of fear.
He let out a deep breath and climbed out of the car, slamming the door shut and locking it up carefully. Then he stuck his hands deep inside of his pockets and hurried across the lot into the warm building. He looked around and settled into the chair farthest away from the door.
He hated waiting rooms. They brought back horrible memories of being a teenager and waiting to hear the news about Logan, not knowing if it would be good or bad. They had never known what to expect. There were the days when everything seemed relatively fine and the doctors insisted on keeping Logan overnight because of a slight fever or an unsatisfactory white blood cell count. There were the times when James felt sure that the world had come to an end and they would be told that Logan was dead. That was probably the worst part. They never knew.
James tried to distract himself by reading the old magazines but he could find nothing of interest. The least doctors' offices could do was stock magazines that were actually time relevant. But the most recent one he could find was nearly two years old and he wasn't that into Better Homes and Gardens. He flipped the magazine shut and set it back on the side table.
It was times like this that he wished he had taken Logan to an appointment before. At least he would know what to expect then. He didn't know how long it would take or anything. James shifted uncomfortably in the chair and glanced around the simple room. He felt almost claustrophobic, closed in by the panic that he didn't want. Why did he feel so anxious? He hadn't felt like this in years.
Logan would be fine. He always was. He always would be. In a little while, he would come back and he and James would leave and go out for lunch or something. Logan would give him a hard time about being such a worry wart and James would take it because everything was fine. Nothing else really mattered so long as all of his friends were safe and healthy.
The time seemed to crawl by at a snail's pace. Every time James looked at the clock on the wall he was surprised at how little time had passed so he would double check and look at his watch and then, just to be sure, his phone. He thought about calling Camille and asking her how long she usually had to wait but he knew Logan would kill him once he did come back. So he sat and waited in silence.
He thought about the future baby that everyone was anticipating so much. It was a boy and that was all Logan and Camille told anyone. He tried to think of any possible names but he and Logan and Kendall and Carlos hadn't exactly grown up talking about baby names when they were younger. That was more of a girl thing. They never even talked about having kids because they had always lived in the present, never looking toward the future until Logan had gotten sick and they found themselves facing a possible future without him.
Without Logan. Even now James couldn't imagine a life without one of his best friends. Twenty years of an unbreakable bond would do that. Despite the fear, James managed to relax a little as he thought about Logan's son. Whatever they decided to name him, James knew that being the first kid of the four, or rather eight friends, he would be well loved and probably spoiled. Slowly, his thoughts shifted from Logan to the baby and James was lost in deep thought.
But even the happier thoughts couldn't keep him occupied for very long. James sighed as he looked at the clock and his watch and finally his phone again. He had been waiting for over an hour. The feeling that something was wrong was back in full force and he could do nothing to dispel it. He stood up and crossed the room to the receptionist. "Excuse me." He smiled at her while inside his emotions were whirling and he could hardly think straight.
Before she could even look up, James heard another voice speak his name and the tone of it made him freeze for a few seconds before he found the courage to turn around. Logan was walking toward him, looking very different from the last time James had seen him. The spring in his steps was gone and his shoulders were slumped, eyes on the floor. When he finally did look up, James saw that he was crying.
"Logan?" He could barely breath as he watched his friend come closer. "What-"
"It's back." Logan said flatly. He stopped in front of James and gazed at him with a haunted expression in his brown eyes. "They ran the tests over and over again but it never changed. The cancer is back." And then his demeanor changed and Logan fell apart right in front of James. He stumbled forward and fell against his taller friend, the tears falling faster and harder than they had before.
James' reaction was automatic and he caught Logan as he slumped against him. He felt Logan's legs give out until he was holding him up. He was dimly aware of Logan sobbing into his shoulder but his brain refused to fully process what was happening. "Logan." He repeated in a dull whisper.
Then everything made sense in a horrible way and James tightened his grip on Logan. His own eyes filled with tears but he refused to let them fall. He had to hold himself together for Logan. "It's going to be okay, Logan." He whispered, his voice choking on unshed tears and shock. "You'll be fine."
Logan pulled away then and James had to stop himself from holding onto him. His sobs had stopped but he was still shaking. "I want to go home to Camille." He said slowly. "I need to see her."
James nodded, feeling like a puppet. "Come on." He placed his hand on Logan's back and led him out the door and into the cold air. The temperature felt like it had dropped about ten degrees since they had gone in and James remembered that he had left his jacket in the waiting room. He didn't turn around though.
Somehow, James didn't know how, they made it back to the car. Somehow his trembling fingers fit the keys into the ignition. Part of his brain came unfrozen and he wondered if he should be driving in his condition. But what was his condition? He didn't even really know. So he pulled out onto the highway and started the drive back to Logan's house.
"I'm sorry." Logan stammered out in an apology. "I just-"
"Don't apologize." James shook his head. "None of this is your fault, Logan." He swallowed hard. "Are you sure?" He asked, even though he knew the answer.
"They ran the tests over and over again." Logan gave him the same exact answer he had before. "It's back." He sighed and ran a shaky hand through his hair. "Why?" He whispered, turning once again to James. "Why is this happening again? Camille and I were so happy. We're supposed to be parents in a month and now this is happening. I just don't understand."
"How bad?" James couldn't help asking.
Logan shrugged. "I don't know. They wanted to run more tests but I had to get out of there. They told me to come back tomorrow and bring all of my medical records with me." He sighed. "I can't believe this. It's been seven years and just when everything was going so well." His voice broke. "How am I going to tell her?"
His eyesight blurred so badly that James almost pulled over. "I don't know." He croaked out weakly. "Will she be home?"
"She should be." Logan's voice shook. "James, everyone is supposed to come over tonight, remember? Jo was taking Camille to her appointment and then they were making dinner for everyone. Carlos and Kendall and Julie and Stephanie. They're all going to be there when we get home."
"Oh." It was all James could think of to say. He cleared his throat and tried again. "I don't know. But if there's anything I can say to make it easier-"
"Make it easier?" Logan said bitterly. "Like how?"
"I-I don't know." James felt helpless as they continued down the road. The drive seemed a lot shorter than it had on their way to the doctors' office. They had no time to think of anything. "Logan, we're your closest friends and we'll be there for you and Camille just like we were the first time. I promise."
"I know." Logan stared blankly out the window. "I'm sorry for snapping at you, James. I'm just. . . scared."
Hearing Logan admit to being scared was hard and it doubled James' fear. He gripped the steering wheel so tightly that his knuckles turned white. He wanted to tell Logan that it would be fine. But he felt stupid for already saying that when no one knew what would happen. Saying something wouldn't make it true.
While they waited at a red light, James stared at Logan. His face was an awful shade of white and his eyes were red with tears His arms were crossed in front of him as if he was holding himself together. When he caught James staring at him, he didn't even try to give him a reassuring smile. He didn't move.
Then they were pulling into the driveway. James turned the ignition off and both of them simply sat in silence. "Well?" James finally asked.
Logan took a deep breath and sighed. "There's nothing else I can do." He said quietly. "There's no easy way to break it to them." He eyed the other cars sitting by the curb and his eyes filled again. "Let's go."
James followed Logan out of the car and up the walk, leading to the small house. His heart pounded so loudly that he half expected their friends to come outside, wondering what the thumping noise was. But the house was quiet and they reached the door without meeting anyone. He took the doorknob and turned it with a shaking hand.
Everyone was there just like Logan said they would be. Kendall and Carlos were glued to the TV watching the sports channel and James could hear the voices of Julie, Jo, Stephanie and Camille coming from the kitchen. He froze in the door way, completely at a loss for what to do next.
"Hey, guys." Kendall greeted them first but his voice faded on the second word and he simply stared at them. They had known each other for so long that as soon as he had seen them, Kendall knew something was horribly wrong and the worst part was that he knew exactly what was wrong.
Carlos hadn't said a word. He had heard the tone of Kendall's voice and simply turned to look at them. His face turned pale and then he stood up, crossing the room in a few short strides. "Logan?" He finally managed to spit out.
James turned to glance at Logan and his heart sank. His friend's face was bleak and hopeless, utter devastation in the brown eyes that had been filled with joy only a short while ago. How had things changed so quickly? He opened his mouth to speak for Logan but the words died on his lips as Camille and the other girls appeared.
"Logan, it's about time you got home. We were getting worried that-" Camille stopped in her tracks and stared at the four friends standing in the entryway to her home. One hand flew to cover her mouth but not in time to stop the tiny cry that escaped her lips. "No." She whispered, pleading for either James or Logan to tell her that everything was okay.
Logan broke from his frozen stance and walked slowly over to his wife almost as if the others didn't exist. "It's back." He told her, using the same words he had used to tell James. Even then he sounded like he couldn't quite believe it himself. But then suddenly he had pulled himself together and he was the old Logan, so incredibly strong when others were weak. He wrapped his arms around Camille and held her as she leaned into his chest, tears already streaming down her face.
James heard Kendall's voice as if from a distance. He tore his gaze away from Logan and Camille, feeling like he was witnessing something far too personal between the couple, and looked at his older friend. He saw Kendall's green eyes filled with the awful realization and at the same time, denial. Next to him was Carlos looking like he was ready to fall apart any second. James nodded.
Logan and Camille had slipped out of the room, unnoticed in the state of shock that everyone was in. Nobody followed them. Instead they slowly made their way back over to the couches, huddling into a tight group as if there was truth in the saying "there's safety in numbers".
"James," Carlos finally said. "James, how. . . I mean-"
"I don't know." James shook his head. "I don't know anything. I was waiting for him and just when it seemed like it was taking a long time he came out and. . ." He trailed off, suddenly choking on tears. "He was crying and. . . he told me."
"Maybe they were wrong." Carlos, ever the optimist, couldn't help saying.
"He said they ran the tests over and over again." James hated himself for destroying the last bit of hope his friend had left. He hated himself for the pain that leaped into Carlos' eyes at his words.
Without warning they were seventeen all over again. Memories flooded James and no matter how hard he tried to push them away, they invaded his thoughts until he couldn't concentrate on anything else. He heard Jo start to cry first, because of the four girls, she and Camille were the closest. Then Stephanie started followed quickly by Julie.
Part of him knew that he should reach out to comfort Julie. But the rest of him was numb with shock and disbelief. He couldn't move if he wanted to. Even when his girlfriend leaned into him shaking with sobs, he couldn't bring himself to wrap her in a hug.
"He'll be fine." He heard a voice say. When he saw five faces turn and stare at him, he realized that it was his own voice. He also realized that he believed himself. "He'll be fine." He repeated, feeling all the more confident as the seconds ticked by. "He beat cancer one time so he can do it again."
"James," Julie whispered softly. She reached out and touched him on the arm, hesitating when he flinched away. "Listen-"
"No." He wouldn't listen. He didn't care if Julie had been working in the hospital as someone who brightened the dismal days of cancer patients and their families. He didn't care that she probably knew more about cancer than she would have liked to know. He knew a lot about cancer too, by default. He stood up and began to pace around the room. "Logan will be fine. He has to be. He's going to be a dad and-"
"James, just listen to me." Julie caught his arm and tugged him back to the rest of the group. She took a deep, shuddering breath. "Cancer isn't like a cold or the flu. You can't build up your immune system against it."
"I know that." James insisted. "I'm not stupid."
Julie's eyes were filled with tears as she spoke. "Cancer is much different." She said for the benefit of them all. "If it comes back then. . . then it's harder to beat the second time around."
There was so much about the medical field that James would never understand. It seemed perfect reasonable to believe that if Logan had beaten his cancer once, then he would stand an even better chance if it happened to come back. But according to Julie, the exact opposite was true.
They were seventeen again and life was so unfair.
"How are you holding up?"
"Me?" James glanced at Kendall. "What kind of question is that, Kendall? How am I holding up?"
"That's what he said." Carlos replied dryly. "And I think it's a pretty good question."
James sighed, masking his fear with impatience. "Does it matter?"
At that, Kendall looked annoyed. "Of course it matters, James. You matter. We're worried about Logan of course, but we're worried about you too. It's not like we forgot about what happened last time."
The words came so easily to Kendall and James turned to glare at him. "What, how I was practically suicidal the last time Logan was sick?" He asked, hurt in his voice. "You think I'm going to go off the deep end all over again? I'm older now, Kendall. I can handle it better."
"Handle it?" Carlos asked, shakily. "How do you handle something like this?"
Carlos' words eased the tension between the other two and James sighed. "I don't know." He said quietly. "I don't really know anything anymore."
"He's really sick this time isn't he?" Kendall asked in resignation. "When I talked to him last night on the phone he sounded really tired and it was only 6:30. Camille told me that he didn't do anything all day either. Not anything that would tire him out or anything."
"He was really sick the first time too." James pointed out, stubbornly refusing to admit what they all knew was true. This time was much worse then the first. "Anyway, he has something to really look forward to. The baby."
The baby. James was actually positive that the only reason Logan was still alive was that he was holding onto the thought of being a father. The baby was due in only a couple of weeks but if James was completely honest with himself, he didn't know if Logan would live to see his son.
Kendall came to a stop at the curb outside the Mitchell home and they all got out of his car. They walked slowly to the front porch and up the steps. Carlos and James stepped back and let Kendall knock.
It opened almost as soon as Kendall drew his hand away. "Hi, Camille." He said quietly. "How is he?"
Camille's eyes were red and teary. "He was sleeping a few minutes ago." She answered in a small voice. "But he's been sleeping all day so maybe he's up for some visitors now. I'm sure he'd love to see you guys." As she spoke, she pulled on a winter coat, smiling a little as James automatically reached out to help her. "Thanks so much for coming by. I'm afraid to leave him alone for very long."
"Anytime. Thanks for asking us." Carlos said gratefully.
Camille's smile was a little more at ease as she spoke then. "You're his best friends. I can't think of anyone I'd trust more to take good care of him." She pulled the zipper of her coat up to her chin and then gave them all hugs. "My appointment shouldn't take more than an hour. I'll be back soon."
A glance out the window showed James that Jo had already arrived to take Camille to her regular check-up. He watched as the other young woman got out of her car so she could give Camille and gentle hug and then the two of them were gone.
"Should we go check on him?" Kendall looked at his friends and when they nodded slowly, he led the way down the hallway and into the family room.
Logan was fast asleep on the couch, buried beneath a heavy blanket. James felt his mouth drop open a tiny bit at the sight of his friend and he stumbled over to the closest chair and collapsed into it. Logan looked horrible. His face was a deathly shade of white and dark circles made hollows under his eyes. His breathing, even in sleep seemed labored and he shivered every once in a while.
From behind him, James heard Kendall curse softly as he and Carlos sank into the couch beside James. Logan flinched at the sound and his eyes opened slowly, moving around the room in confusion at first, and then he smiled. "Hey."
He sounded so weak and so tired. Even when they were teenagers, James couldn't remember Logan ever looking so sick. He wanted to snap at Kendall for waking Logan up but he was too relieved to see Logan awake in the first place. "Hey, Logan."
Slowly, as if each movement pained him, Logan started to sit up. "It's okay." He whispered as all three of them leaned forward to either stop or help him. "I'll be fine." He managed to get into a sitting position and leaned back against the back of the couch, breathing heavily with the effort the simple action had cost him. "See?" He asked, forcing a smile.
"Logan," Carlos finally choked out in disbelief.
It had only been two weeks since they had learned the nightmare was back and already James could see that Logan was slipping away from them. When he sat up, the blanket fell from his shoulders, revealing an emaciated form underneath. Logan was a living skeleton. "I'm sorry." He apologized sadly. "I know I must look bad. Camille can't look at me without crying."
Kendall gently replaced the blanket over Logan and sat back. "Are you. . . do you feel that bad?" He ventured carefully.
"I do." Logan said honestly. "I don't know how it happened so fast. I never felt this sick the first time. I can't do anything. I've been sleeping down here for the past few days because I can't walk upstairs."
"Why didn't you call us?" Carlos asked in confusion and hurt. "We would have helped you."
Logan laughed and then coughed harshly, his body shuddering with the motion. "What, call you to come carry me upstairs? I couldn't do that. I don't want to be that helpless. There's nothing wrong with this couch."
"Logan-" Kendall began in exasperation.
"Wait." Logan cut him off. "I'm glad all three of you are here. I want to talk to you about something."
"What?" James asked nervously.
Logan glanced around the room. "Did Camille leave for her appointment yet?"
James could only nod, knowing without looking that Kendall and Carlos were doing the same thing. His stomach clenched nervously. He had an awful feeling that he knew what Logan was about to say.
Nobody spoke at first. There was only the sound of Logan's ragged breathing, each breath sounding like it was harder than the last. He looked down at his hands in his lap and when he looked back up, there were tears were in his eyes. "I need to ask you guys something."
James closed his eyes tightly, feeling tears begin to burn. It was no longer an apprehensive feeling. He knew what Logan was going to say.
"I don't want to die." The effort that it took Logan to say those five words was great. He paused, taking his time to regain his strength. "I didn't want the cancer to come back, especially now. I want to live to see my son. I want to teach him how to skate and how to read and how to climb trees and-"
"Logan," Kendall stopped him. "You will. You're going to be fine. You'll be able to teach him all of those things and more. Just wait."
"No." Logan sighed and then clearly exhausted, he slumped over on the couch again. "I can't win this time."
"Logan, don't say that." Carlos protested weakly. "You don't know that."
Logan nodded. "I do. I can't. . . I can't fight anymore. It's too hard. It's only been a couple of weeks and I know it's not going to be too much longer. I'm going to die."
The burning tears began to fall and James wiped them hurriedly away. He wasn't a little kid anymore. He was too old to be crying like a baby. "Stop." He pleaded.
"I can't." Logan's eyes were begging them to understand. "I can't stop. I need you to listen to me. I need to tell you this now before it's too late. Please just hear me out."
"Okay." Kendall took a deep breath and sat up, looking determined to stay strong for Logan's sake. "We'll listen."
"Will you take care of them for me?"
The words shattered the hope that James had been holding onto. They took his breath away and he leaned forward, concentrating on his shoes, until the world stopped spinning. He heard Logan continue to talk, each word sending a sharp pain rushing through him.
"Please take care of Camille and the baby for me. Be there for Camille and. . . teach him everything every boy needs to know. Teach him how to play hockey and when the snow is just right for building snowmen and snow forts and having snowball fights. Tell him that I'm sorry that I couldn't be a better dad." Logan had started to cry quietly as he spoke so that it took him even longer to finish each sentence. "Please promise me. I need you guys."
"You're not going to die." James didn't really care if he sounded childish. He couldn't accept the fact that Logan was dying. It was too fast and too soon. Only three weeks ago everything had been fine and now Logan was telling them that he was going to die. "You can't die."
"We promise." Kendall said before Logan could answer James. "We promise, Logan." He glanced at Carlos and James, taking in their shocked expressions with sorrow in his eyes. He knew too. He took a deep breath and went on. "Logan, I said this when we were teenagers and I'll say it again. If I could trade places with you then I would do it in an instant."
Logan smiled through his suffering. "And I still say you're stupid for saying that." He spoke gently, too tired to put any force behind the words. "You have your own family to think about, Kendall. What about them?"
"It's worse for you this time." Kendall whispered. "What about Camille and the baby?"
Pain filled Logan's eyes. "I hate myself for leaving Camille and the baby and all of you. That's the hardest part about this stupid cancer. I don't mind feeling tired and sick all the time. But I hate how it's killing everyone I love and I don't want to die and leave you behind. I don't want you to miss me."
"Well," Carlos cleared his throat of the lump that was making it difficult for him to talk. "That's impossible, Logan. We. . . we will miss you."
"But you'll be okay." Logan said, suddenly firm. "I know you will. Everything will be okay. It's just. . . going to get worse before it gets better I guess. If there was any way I could make it easier then I would."
"We know." James forced himself to say something, anything.
"Promise?" Logan asked again. "You'll take care of them won't you?"
"We will." Carlos nodded, looking regretful all the while, as if he thought his promise would sentence Logan to death.
"James?" And out of nowhere, Logan looked concerned for James. "You're going to be okay, James. Promise me that you won't do anything stupid."
The words were blunt and honest. They all knew what Logan meant. In his heart, James knew that he couldn't make a promise like that. So he lied. He lied to his dying best friend. "I promise. And I promise that I'll take care of Camille and your son. We'll teach him everything and tell him what a great person you. . . were." It felt strange and sick to be talking about Logan in the past tense.
"Thank you." Logan looked so relieved and so peaceful. He smiled then and the pain eased from his face. "I'm really sorry that I couldn't make it anymore."
"It's not your fault." James ached to give his friend at least a small sense of comfort.
"I know." Logan said honestly. "I do. It's still hard. I'm still sorry."
Kendall bit his lip and then leaned forward again and touched Logan gently on the shoulder. "We're here for us when you need us, Logan. We always will be. And I promise that we'll always be right here for Camille and your baby too whenever they need us. Get some rest for now, okay?"
James instantly wanted to protest Logan going to sleep. What if he never woke up? What if Camille came back from her appointment to find that her husband had died in his sleep right after his best friends had basically told him that it was okay if he gave up?
He was giving up. Logan was giving up. No. He had already given up. He was dying. He was going to die. They would be given no miracle this time. Logan was going to die and he wasn't going to come back. There was nothing any of them could do about it. They were letting him go. They had let him go. It was only a matter of time.
James didn't remember falling asleep but then again, everything in the past few weeks had been somewhat of a blur for him. When he opened his eyes he realized that it was around one in the morning and the movie he had been watching had ended long ago and been exchanged for an infomercial.
He stared in sleepy eyed confusion at the TV, watching as the man demonstrated how the knife he was holding could cut through pennies and leather boots. Who needed a knife that did that? As far as James was concerned it was a good waste of spare change and decent footwear. He found the remote on the floor and pointed it at the TV to turn it off when something stopped him.
His cell phone was ringing. He groaned. Who would be calling him after one in the morning? But as soon as they annoyed thought flickered through his mind, James realized something. It must be Logan. Since he lived the closest to Logan and Camille, James had told them that he would drive them to the hospital when it came time for Camille to have the baby. She was due any day now so it made sense.
He quickly located his cell phone and stared at the screen. Logan. It was Logan. A wide grin spread across James' face and he forgot all about being tired. Logan and Camille would be parents in only a short while. He pressed the OK button to answer the call and held it up to his ear. "Hello?"
Silence greeted him and James frowned. He waited for Logan's voice to answer him and when it didn't come he tried again. "Hello?" He glanced at his phone to see if the call had somehow been dropped but that wasn't the case. "Logan?" He pressed, growing a little worried now. "Are you there? Can you hear me?"
At last the silence was broken up but the sound that reached James' ear was the last thing he had been expecting. It was a heartbroken sob and then a voice whispered his name. "James."
Camille. It was Camille. James' breath caught in his throat so he couldn't answer Camille right away. Camille. Why was Camille calling him? It didn't make sense. Logan was supposed to be calling him and telling him to come pick them up and take them to the hospital. But this. . . this was all wrong. It shouldn't be happening.
"Camille." He finally whispered. "What's the matter? Are you okay? Is the baby okay?" He refused to even think about the third possibility could be. He refused to entertain the idea that she was most likely not calling about herself or the baby. He couldn't. He rose to his feet and hurried to the front door, jerking on the pair of sneakers that laid there. "I'm on my way. Where are you? Where's Logan? Can I talk to him?"
"No." Camille stopped him in his tracks with the one word. She was still crying hard but she still managed to bring the world to a halt with her next words. "James, it's Logan. He's. . . gone."
Gone. James sank to the floor by his front door, his legs refusing to hold him any longer. A numb sensation stole over him and it was all he could do to keep his grip on the cell phone. His gaze strayed to the television that was still featuring the sharp knife and he could almost feel it slicing his heart in two as he listened to Camille sobbing over the phone. "Camille." He spoke her name again and the sound of his voice made him jump. He tried to form more words but his mouth along with the rest of his body had simply stopped functioning.
He didn't know how much time passed while he simply sat on his floor and listened to Camille cry, unable to speak. The infomercial about the knife ended and a new one started up and the woman talked about some sort of storage device. Infomercials were long so James knew that he had been sitting there for a while. He cleared his throat and tried to speak. "Where are you?" He didn't know exactly what else to say to her.
"I'm at the morgue." Camille sounded like she couldn't quite believe it herself. "They came and took him here. I don't know what to do, James."
"I'll be right over." James grabbed the door knob and used it to pull himself up. "I'll. . . I'll call everyone too." When she didn't answer him he looked at the screen to see that the call had been ended. Mechanically, he scrolled down his list of contacts and called the first familiar name on the list. As it rang he moved slowly out the door into the cold Minnesota night.
It rang and rang until Carlos' voice mail picked up and James stubbornly pressed the Redial button because there was no way that he was leaving a message about this. His body didn't register the freezing temperature and even when he was inside his car, James didn't bother to turn on the heat.
"Hello?" Carlos' sleep voice finally interrupted the fourth ring on James' second try. "James?"
It was then that James found himself completely tongue tied. How was he supposed to break the news? "Carlos, it's James." He began pathetically. Carlos already knew it was him. He was reminded though, of just how perceptive Carlos had always been because he didn't need to say anything else.
"Oh." Already there were tears in his voice and James heard Carlos take a deep breath before he said anything else. "When?"
"I. . . don't know." He didn't know. Not really. He and Camille had barely talked. All he knew was that Logan was. . . gone and that the coroners had already taken him away. "Camille just called a little while ago." He didn't bother to tell Carlos that he had been stupid enough to think that the call from Logan's cell phone had been about Camille and the baby and not about their best friend.
"Okay." Carlos sounded surprisingly strong but James knew that he was just as broken as he was. No one could ever be prepared for the death of a loved one even when they knew it was coming. "I'll call Kendall."
James was grateful that Carlos was calling Kendall. He didn't know if he could talk to anyone else. He let his cell phone fall to the floor of his car, not even thinking about Julie. She would find out when Jo and Stephanie found out. He needed to concentrate on driving.
It had been a little over a month since Logan's cancer returned. How did everything happen so quickly? The first time he had fought for a year and won. Now he was supposed to believe that after four and a half weeks Logan had lost? He didn't like to think about it that way though. He didn't want to think about Logan giving up or losing. But he didn't know how else to think about it.
It wasn't safe for him to be driving on the icy roads while so impaired. He probably would have been safer and steadier if he were drunk. But by some miracle he made it to the morgue without crashing into a tree and giving his friends another reason to grieve. Maybe there was some good in life after all.
Camille, for whatever reason, was waiting for him in the front room. She hurried to him and they hugged tightly, despite the unborn baby inside of her making things a little difficult for them. She shook with horrible sobs in his arms and all James could do was hold her. He was powerless to do anything else. There was nothing he could say that would bring her even an ounce of comfort.
She pulled away and looked at him, nothing but pain and loss in her once bright eyes. "Do you want to see him?"
Did he want to see Logan? Logan was gone. He was dead. Did he really want to see his best friend like that? "Yes." He heard himself say. "I. . . called Carlos. He was going to call Kendall."
Camille nodded slowly and took his hand in hers. "We don't have to wait for them." She told him as she led him down the dark halls.
He had never been inside a morgue and had he not been so numb with grief then he would have found himself to be freaked out by how creepy the place was. There were dead bodies in the building after all. But one of those dead bodies was Logan and James couldn't be even slightly freaked out by that.
It was just like in the movies only it was real. The room was small and dimly lit. Camille's tears had continued to fall but she was holding herself together remarkably well even when she pulled back the sheet to reveal Logan's face.
He looked like he was sleeping. For once there was no pain on his face and he looked peaceful. If it hadn't been for the marble-like look and the lack of breathing, James could have convinced himself that Logan was just sleeping. But his face was an awful shade of gray and he wasn't breathing even a little bit. He was still. Too still.
"I'm going to go see if the others are here." Camille said slowly. She reached out and gently stroked Logan's face before leaving James alone.
Was a person alone when they were with a dead body? Because James didn't want to be alone. One hand lifted from it's place at his side and he touched Logan on the shoulder, jerking away at the cold feel. "Logan," He whispered, still numb with disbelief.
It was for real this time. It wasn't one of the many nightmares he had been plagued with as a teenager. He would never wake up from this. Still, James gave Logan a small and gentle shake. Nothing. Then he took one of the cold and lifeless hands and shut his eyes. If he concentrated hard enough then maybe he could take Logan's place.
"He wouldn't want that."
James jerked upward and stared. Kendall and Carlos walked in slowly. "Don't tell me that you're not thinking the same thing right now." He answered Kendall.
Kendall didn't look at him. He and Carlos were staring at Logan. "I know." He said as he continued to look at Logan like he was expecting him to start breathing again at any time. "But he wouldn't want that."
"Hey, Logan." Carlos ignored Kendall and James as they both jumped at the sound of his voice. "We'll miss you but I'm glad you don't have to be sick anymore. We'll take good care of Camille and your baby just like we promised." Then, forgetting that he was no longer a boy but a full grown man, Carlos cried.
Kendall moved away from Logan enough so that he could hug Carlos. Then he broke away and did the same with James. "Camille's out waiting for the other girls." He whispered into his ear. "She wanted to give us some time alone."
That was typical of Camille. She was Logan's wife, or rather widow now, and she was still unselfish enough to know that they were hurting too. She knew that having known Logan for twenty years, they would need to say their goodbyes. James couldn't speak though so he simply nodded.
They weren't alone for very long and the girls came in, each going to their boyfriends, and Camille standing by Logan. "We were just talking a few hours ago." She said quietly. "He was telling me that he was going to die. I didn't want to believe him. I wanted him to stop."
"It's not fair." James spoke up, sounding like a little kid. But his reasoning was justified this time. "He'll never know his dad."
"I wish he could have at least seen our son." Camille answered him, still holding together remarkably well. She took one of Logan's hands and laid it on her stomach. "But this baby will always have a father."
Waiting rooms should be called torture rooms instead. James watched as Kendall paced back and forth, his eyes on the floor. Beside him, Carlos was perfectly still, his face buried in his hands. James' eyes moved around the otherwise empty room and he thought about how wrong everything was. Julie and Jo and Stephanie should have been waiting with them. But they were with Camille. Because Camille would have been alone without them.
Nothing had worked out the way James thought it would. This time in the waiting room was supposed to be nerve wracking but exciting. He didn't know what he felt. He didn't know how long they had been waiting either. He looked at the clock but the time made no difference to him because he had no idea when they had first arrived.
Before he had time to ask Carlos or Kendall if they knew anything, James heard footsteps. He looked up and seeing Julie approaching them he rose quickly to his feet. He returned the hug she gave him and then waited.
"It's a boy." Julie told them, forgetting that they had already known that for months. "He's perfectly healthy. Camille wants you to meet him." She took James' hand. "Come on."
They all followed her in complete silence. James was confused. They were supposed to be rejoicing over the newborn and instead it felt like they were mourning all over again. Then again, they weren't exactly finished mourning to begin with.
Camille was sitting in the hospital bed looked tired but almost happy. "Hi." She greeted them as they filed in slowly. "Come meet him."
The baby looked so tiny and helpless. But James was completely stunned to see how much he already resembled his father. He already had a full head of raven colored hair that was the exact same shade as Logan's but it was his eyes that affected everyone the most. They were small and barely open but the deep chocolate colored eyes that stared back at them were Logan's eyes.
James was the closest and before he knew what was happening he found the baby in his arms. He cradled the tiny newborn in his arms and despite his whirlwind of emotions he smiled. He couldn't take his eyes off of the baby no matter how hard he tried. He became less aware of everyone else in the room and more aware of his best friend's son and nothing else. He felt a tiny hand suddenly grasp his index finger and hold onto it with a strength that surprised him. "Wow." He whispered, at a loss for anything else to say.
"His name is Logan." Camille said in a small voice. "Logan Demetri Mitchell."
The ache returned full force and the baby in front of James blurred behind the film of tears. "Logan." He repeated in a whisper. He wished so much that he could be talking to his best friend again. "It's perfect." He told Camille." Baby Logan started to cry then as if even as a newborn he sensed the grief in the room. James started to hand him back to Camille but paused long enough to drop a kiss on the newborn's soft head. "I'll take care of you." He whispered, just so Logan could hear. "I promise."
Some things were easier said than done though. It was easy to promise Logan that he would take care of Camille and the baby when Logan was dying and pleading with his best friends. It was easy to promise Baby Logan that he'd have someone looking out for him even though he would never know his father. Maybe that's what Kendall and Carlos were for.
James stared at the blue pills in the palm of his hand and tried to recall when his life had gone downhill. It hadn't started right after Logan's death. Because right after that the baby had been born and then there was a rush to have the funeral and James had been too busy to grieve properly.
Christmas. Everyone had forgotten completely about Christmas. They had buried Logan two days before Christmas and the holiday itself came and went without a word. James hadn't even realized they had missed it until he turned on the TV for a distraction and saw the newscasters talking about the party in Times Square.
But when did he screw up so badly? When did he break his promise to Logan? "When you break a promise, you break a heart." Kendall used to say that all the time when they were younger. James wondered if you could break a heart if that person was no longer living.
In one smooth motion he flung his head back and dropped the pills down his throat. He had learned to take them without water so that wasn't a problem. He sighed in relief as the familiar, floating sensation came over him, cutting through the pain so that it didn't exist, or if it did, he didn't feel it. He didn't feel anything. He preferred the numbness to anything else.
James sank down on the couch and closed his eyes, waiting for the initial spinning to stop so that he didn't feel so dizzy. But he didn't have much time alone to himself to enjoy the peace. He heard the front door swing open and someone walking toward him.
He sat up quickly and nearly fell over when his head felt like it was going to spin right off of his neck. "Julie." He croaked. "What are you doing here?"
"What am I doing here?" Julie repeated. "James, we were supposed to go see Camille and Logan today."
Camille and Logan. James winced at the reversed order of words that everyone had automatically started to use. It used to be Logan and Camille. "We were?" He honestly couldn't remember having such a discussion with Julie. "When?"
"Now." Julie looked at him closely, a deep frown on her pretty face. "Are you okay?"
"Okay." He sounded like a parrot but it was all he could managed in his foggy state. What did she mean by "okay" anyway?
"Oh, James." The concern shifted to frustration. "I thought you stopped."
He never stopped. He had been hung up on his "happy pills" for months now. It had gotten to the point where the only thing that got him through the day was the thought of the pills waiting for him. They always made everything better. "No. I didn't." He hung his head in shame. "I can't."
"You need help." Julie took his hand and squeezed it. "This is serious, James. You can't keep living like this. What would Logan think?"
James jerked his hand away. "Logan's dead." He said harshly, ignoring the look of hurt that passed over Julie's face. He was angry at her for ruining his good mood. He just wanted to forget everything. "Let's just go."
"No." Julie put her hands on his shoulders and made him sit back down. "You're not going. You're not going to see Camille and Logan like this. You're high, James. Maybe not completely high but you're definitely affected. Do you really want either of them to see you like this?"
"I don't know." He was too tired to argue.
"Well you're not." Julie turned to go but stopped and turned back to him. "I can't do this anymore, James."
His brain took its good old time before it caught up to what her words could possibly mean. But when they finally made sense to him, James looked up at her. "What?" He asked in disbelief.
She started to cry but she wiped the tears away and pulled herself back together. "I can't be with you anymore if you're going to continue to push me and everyone else away. Besides James, I spend my days at the hospital with people who have to take drugs so that they have a better chance of living. And then I come here and you're taking pills because you won't let anyone else help you."
"You're breaking up with me." James stated. He searched Julie's face for any hint of hesitation or regret but found none. "You can't. . . I mean not after all we've been through together. It's been eight years, Julie."
"We have been through a lot together." Julie smiled gently and brushed James' bangs away from his eyes so she could kiss him on the forehead. "But I can't keep pretending that everything's okay when it's obviously not. You don't want me, James."
"I need you, Julie." James begged. "You can't leave me."
"You need help." Julie told him once again. "You need help that I can't give." She took his hand in his one last time. "I'll be here for you, James. But only as a friend. I'm going to see Camille and Logan now. Please. Get help."
James watched as she let go of his hand and walked away, never once looking back as she walked out the door. Then he laid back down on the couch and stared up at the ceiling.
Everyone was leaving him. Logan. Julie. He wouldn't be surprised if Kendall and Carlos were next. He deserved it. He was a pathetic failure who had lied to his best friend as he was dying. He had lied to a newborn baby too. What kind of person was he? Who was he?
James didn't know how much time had passed after Julie left. He had fallen asleep rather quickly and when he woke up to the sound of someone pounding on his front door, it was dark outside. He groaned at the interruption and stood unsteadily then walked slowly to the front door.
As soon as he opened it, Kendall and Carlos pushed past him and stormed into the house. Carlos caught his arm as he went past and dragged James back into the living room with them. "What are you doing?" James gasped as he was unceremoniously shoved back on the couch. "What's your problem?"
"What's our problem?" Kendall asked him. "What's your problem, James?"
He didn't try to argue or fight back. He slumped against the couch and dropped his gaze to the floor because he couldn't look at his friends. He was too much of a coward. "I miss him." He said in a broken voice. "How are you handling it? I can't. It hurts too much."
Immediately Carlos' face softened and he joined James on the couch, wrapping an arm around his taller friend's shoulders. "We miss him too, James. Every single day. Some days are easier than others but most days I have to remind myself of what I have to look forward to for the day." A smile crossed his face. "Like Logan. He's growing up so fast, James. You're missing everything."
"So is Logan." James felt himself coming undone all over again and it didn't help anything when Kendall say on his other side. "Logan is going to miss everything. Nothing anyone says or does will change that."
"That's why he asked us to take care of Camille and his son." Kendall told him gently. "And you, we all promised him that he would. Remember?"
"I broke my promise." James sighed deeply. "If he were alive I bet Logan would hate me."
"I don't think Logan was capable of hating anyone." Carlos disagreed quickly. "He wouldn't hate you either, James. Yeah he'd probably be mad at you but I think he would be more worried than anything else. He'd want you to get help."
"That's what Julie said. She broke up with me today. She left me." James said sorrowfully.
Kendall exchanged a glance with Carlos and then nodded. "We know. We saw her today. You can't really blame her. Not after everything she sees in the hospital."
James knew both of his friends were right. "How did I screw-up so badly?" He groaned. "I let everyone down."
"We let you down too." Carlos told him sadly. "None of this should have happened to you. We should have been there for you before it got too bad. We're sorry, James."
"I need help." James admitted. "But I don't want to go to rehab or anything."
To his relief, they understood. "Well," Kendall said slowly. "Maybe we can try it on our own first if you really don't want that help. Or maybe you can just try a counselor to begin with. James, we just want you to get better. So does Camille. She wants you to visit soon."
James shook his head quickly. "I can't visit now. Not like this."
"I know." Kendall nodded again. "But later. When you get better. Because you will get better, James. You'll get through this. We all will. Together."
James paced nervously around on his front porch. He was much too anxious to wait inside and besides, it was a beautiful day. Summer days in Minnesota were often rainy and dismal. But today was different. It was as if the sky knew what was going on because it was clear and bright and sunny.
He glanced at his watch. 12:24. He told himself he would leave at 12:30 but he doubted he could wait even six more minutes. She wouldn't mind if he was a little early would she? James stood for a while, debating back and forth. He reached the decision to go early and looked at his watch again. 12:32. Well.
The short drive felt twice as long. James felt like a little kid again, waiting for his birthday or Christmas. The week before, time seemed to slow down until it hardly moved at all. That was the way he felt now. He felt like his car was moving in slow motion and it was all he could do to keep from speeding. It wouldn't help anyone if he got in an accident.
When he reached his destination, James sat in his car for a few minutes, gathering his scattered courage back together again. He glanced out the window. The house looked the same as it always had. He found that comforting. Finally, he took a deep breath and got out.
He made his way slowly up to the front door and raised his fist to knock when it opened. He smiled. "Camille."
"James, it's so good to see you." Camille stepped forward and wrapped her arms around James in a tight hug."I've missed you so much." She pulled away and held James at arms length, studying him closely. "You look good. How are you?"
"Better." James nodded. "I've missed you too, Camille. I'm so sorry for everything. I should have always been there for you. I promised him-"
Camille cut him off with another quick hug. "It's fine, James." She said with tears in her eyes. "We're just glad you're okay now." She drew away again, this time with a huge smile on her face. "Are you ready to see him?"
James froze for an instant and then nodded. "Yeah. I'd like to."
Camille took his hand. "Come on then." She said as she led him away from the door. "He's in here." She pulled him into the kitchen and stopped in front of a baby walker. She stooped over and picked up the baby, turning around so that James could see him better.
"Wow." James stared. It wasn't a baby anymore that Camille held in her arms. The toddler gazed back at him with huge brown eyes, Doe eyes. Logan's eyes. His hair covered his head now in a soft dark mass, sticking up just slightly in the front. "Hi, Logan."
"He's a little shy." Camille apologized as Logan hid his face in her shoulder. "He just needs to get reacquainted with you, that's all."
It was deja vu all over again. James automatically reached out and took the child as Camille held him out. At first he squirmed in the unfamiliar arms and then he stopped to look at James curiously. He glanced at his mother as if he was asking her who was holding him.
"Logan, this is James." Camille said with a gentle laugh. "Remember Kendall and Carlos? This is your daddy's other best friend." She nudged James carefully. "Come into the other room and sit down with him."
James followed her slowly, keeping his eyes on the little boy in his arms. He obediently sat down and moved Logan to his knees. "Hey, buddy." He said softly. "How's it going?" He swallowed hard and turned to Camille. "He looks so much like Logan." He told her, shaking his head. "Those eyes."
"I know." Tears filled Camille's eyes and spilled down her cheeks. "It's like he never left after all."
James simply shook his head again and turned his attention back to Logan. "So, Logie. What do you like to play?"
He finally got a reaction out of Logan. A smile lit up the small face and James saw the dimples. Logan pointed a small finger to the corner of the room where a small pile of toys was piled carefully. He slid off James' lap, wrapping his hand around James' finger and pulling him along with him.
The two sat on the floor as Logan showed James each of his toys, typically playthings for a little boy who wasn't quite a year old. "He's walking already?" James said over his shoulder to Camille.
Camille joined them on the floor and laughed again. "He's been walking for two weeks now." She said proudly.
James turned somber again. "I'm sorry I missed it." He gazed at Logan for a while. "Is there anything about him that doesn't remind you of Logan?"
"No." Camille shook her head. "He's so much like him, James. He's the one who has really kept me together these past few months. They haven't been easy and I don't know if I would have made it without Logan."
James brushed away a stray tear and smiled at Logan. "These are great toys. What's your favorite?"
Without hesitating, Logan held up a toddler sized hockey stick for James' approval.
"I bet Kendall gave that to you." James laughed when Camille rolled her eyes and nodded. "That's really cool, Logan."
Logan smiled shyly and then crawled back into James' lap and handed him the hockey stick.
"Thanks." James set the stick carefully aside so that he could hold Logan better. "Just wait. When you get older, Logan I'll teach you how to play hockey with Kendall and Carlos. How does that sound?"
Logan's voice was so soft that James would have missed the whisper if he hadn't been looking at the little boy. He felt tears come to his eyes but he didn't bother to brush them away. He gave Logan a hug. "That's right, buddy." He whispered.
Logan would never really be gone as long as they didn't forget him. And they would never forget him. James knew that. The little boy in his arms was proof.
A/N. Obviously this was based off of 'He Lives On' which was based off of 'Little Hollow'. It's a circle of angst. Haha. -dead- Anyway, my dear Angst Twin, I really hope you liked this. I'm sorry for basing it off of one of your stories but you have no idea how much I love 'He Lives On' even though it kills me every time I read it. It's my favorite story ever and I thought you would enjoy it from James' POV. I had to read 'He Lives On' several times in the past few days and I thought I was going to die because I consumed an unhealthy amount of angst but it was worth it. I love you!