A/N. This story is dedicated to AbbyMasrai who is one of my best friends that I've been blessed to meet on this site. She really has been a true friend, listening when I need to talk, inspiring me with her own beautiful writing, and loyally reading and reviewing my own stories, keeping me motivated. This story was inspired by Chris Daughtry's song, "All These Lives". I can't stress the importance of listening to this song before, during, or after you read this. Just listen to it. It's very powerful and I felt this story needed to be written as soon as I heard it. So, read on. I don't own anything.
The Minnesota air is cold; bitterly cold. Seventeen-year-old Kendall Knight bends his head against the wind and walks slowly to the snow covered mailbox. He dusts off the top and then opens the door, pulling out the mail that's bound together by a rubber band. He slams the door shut with a little more force than necessary and begins the trek back to the front door.
It's not a long walk and thanks to the efforts of Kendall and his two best friends, the driveway is free of the two feet of snow that last night's storm dumped on their small neighborhood. The going is easy except for the harsh, unforgiving wind that drives against him relentlessly, trying to force him backwards. Still, it's nothing Kendall can't handle. He was born and raised in Minnesota after all.
The warmth of the house is welcoming. Kendall kicks his boots off and strips his jacket and gloves off. It seems slightly absurd to him that he needs to dress up so much simply to get the mail but it's better than freezing. His numb fingers undo the rubber band and Kendall begins to sort through the variety of mail that the brave postman brought them. He sets aside the bills and Katie's Pop Tiger magazine for his mother and sister to see and begins to throw the rest out when something catches his eye.
It was one of those 'Have You Seen Me?' features nearly hidden at the bottom of an advertisement circular. So many times, Kendall has seen these pictures of smiling boys and girls, men and women who have disappeared. There was a day when he felt a deep sorrow for the family members and friends of these missing people. There was a day when he was grateful that he felt like a horrible person because of the relief that filled him because he wasn't one of those people. Those days are long gone. He'd give anything to have them back.
Tears blur his eyesight and Kendall shakes his head and drags a sleeve over his eyes so he can see the picture. A lump grows in his throat and a pain awakens in his heart. It's incredibly painful to look at the face he misses so much but he feels like it would be worse to look away and pretend he had never seen it in the first place. He takes a deep breath and tries again.
It's exactly the same as he always knew it. The dark hair is spiked in a careful and simple style that characterized its owner so well. The deep, chocolate brown eyes give meaning to the saying, "The eyes are windows to the soul". They're captivating and Kendall is drawn to them more than anything else. He misses seeing them in person so much.
His own green eyes scan the information below the picture. "Logan Mitchell." He says out loud, jumping at the sound of his own voice in the otherwise silent house. "Date of birth, September 14, 1993. Age, 17." Here he has to stop and choke back more tears. They never got to celebrate Logan's birthday with him because. . . he continues on. "Missing since March 3, 2010."
Kendall glances at the calendar that hangs on the wall directly in front of him. November. November 3rd. A shiver shakes his whole body but it's not because of the weather. He's cold but he doesn't think he can ever warm up. The cold is inside of him His heart is cold and no amount of blankets or heaters could warm it up.
Eight months. Eight months to the day. He can't believe that it's been eight months. He can't figure out if it feels like it's been longer or shorter than eight months. All he knows is that up until March of that year, he and Carlos and James and Logan never went more than a week without seeing each other at least once. It had been that way since they were five. He wishes it could have been that way for all of their lives.
Slowly, he traces Logan's face with his fingertip. His hand is shaking so badly that the line he's trying to make slips and slides all over the ad. Tears rise once again and this time he can't hold them back. Kendall bits his lip so hard that he tastes blood but at least it keeps him from making any noises. "Logan." The cry escapes involuntarily and the tears stream down his face. His heart hurts so badly that for a minute he's afraid that he's dying.
He wonders how much longer he can stand it. How much longer can he bear the pain? They haven't hear a thing since Logan's disappearance and sometimes Kendall thinks he's going crazy. He wants to know. He has so many questions and not enough answers. He doesn't have any answers. Where is Logan? Is he okay? Is he still waiting for help or has he given up hope? Who took him? Will they ever get him back? Kendall just wants to know.
Sometimes he answers these questions in his own head, trading what he thinks for what he wants. Logan is. . . somewhere. He's okay and he's still waiting for help. Some monster has him but one day they'll get him back and everything will be okay again. That's what he wants. That's all he wants. Then there's what Kendall thinks. Logan is. . . somewhere. He's not okay. He might not even be alive. If he is then he's probably lost all hope. Some monster has him and God only knows what that monster has been doing to him. They'll never get him back.
"Boys! Katie! Breakfast!" Lacey Knight sets a heaping plate of pancakes on the kitchen table and smiles when her words are answered by cries of delight. The exclamations are quickly followed by the clamor of teenage boys and a ten-year-old girl.
"Pancakes!" Carlos Garcia yells from the top level of their two story apartment. He disappears for a brief time only to emerge at the bottom of 'Swirly', the ridiculous slide that offers a more fun alternative to getting downstairs. He practically skips up to the table and gives Mrs. Knight a hug. "Thanks, Mama K! You make the best pancakes ever!"
The motherly woman rolls her eyes fondly at Carlos. The pancakes are from a boxed mixture and everyone knows that. Still, Carlos' words are honest and genuine. He's not hard to please. "Thank you, Carlos." She says as she returns his hug. "It looks like you get first dibs."
Lacey smiles at him one last time before lifting her gaze to the balcony once again. "Kendall and James, nice of you to join us." She teases as she watches the two other boys stumble sleepily to the stairs. "Careful, boys." She warns. "Don't fall."
"Why does Gustavo want us so early today?" James whines as he finger combs his brown hair that he's extremely fond of. "I didn't get all of my beauty sleep last night."
Kendall rolls his eyes but doesn't shove James like he normally would because he's too busy trying to navigate the stairs, looking like a drunk because he's so unsteady on his feet. "I'm tired." He complains around a huge yawn.
"My question is, why do I have to get up?" Katie joins in the grumbling. She beats her brother and his friend to the bottom by opting for Carlos' way down and joins him at the table. "I'm not part of the band.
"It's 8:00 in the morning." Lacey reminded all of them. "It's a good, healthy time to get up and start the day."
"It's Saturday." Carlos' sunny mood is temporarily dimmed but nobody in the room had ever seen him upset for longer than ten minutes at a time. Today is no exception and he starts to cheer everyone up and creating faces on his pancakes with pats of butter and syrup.
"Logan?" Mrs. Knight stands at the bottom of the stairs, listening for a response. She frowns in concern when silence is her only answer. "Boys, Katie, did you see Logan up there?" She asks
Everyone ceases their chatter and activity to stare at her. "His door was closed when I went by." Kendall says, standing up and joining his mother. "Maybe he didn't hear you. Maybe he's still asleep."
The frown deepens on Mrs. Knight's face. "He's still asleep?" She asks doubtfully. "That's not like him. I hope he's not getting sick." As she speaks, she begins to ascend the staircase, taking notice that she's being followed by all the boys and Katie.
Logan's door is indeed closed when they reach it. Lacey hesitates briefly and then taps lightly at the door. "Logan? Sweetie, are you okay?" There is no answer, not even one sound. Lacey turns the knob and slowly pushes the door open.
The first thing that she's aware of is how cold the room is compared to the rest of the apartment. It feels like they're outside in the unseasonably chilly LA air. Then she notices why it's so cold. Shards of glass from the broken window litter the otherwise floor, casting miniature rainbows all over the walls. The curtain flaps loudly in the silence as a breeze rushes by. The room. The room is empty.
"Mom?" Katie's voice rises above the flapping curtain and they all turn to see her. Her face is white, shock and confusion in her eyes. "Where's Logan?"
But Lacey can't answer her daughter. She can barely breathe. Her eyes tear away from Katie and continue to room around the room like she expects to see Logan reappear at any second. She knows what has happened and yet she can't bring herself to do anything.
Then Carlos steps forward, filling the empty room. "Logie?" He calls, his voice trembling so badly that he sounds like fragile glass that might shatter along with the window. He stands in the center of the room and spins wildly around. Then he rushes to the bed and tears off the rumbled covering. "Logan!"
At first, all anyone can do is watch him. He drops to his hands and knees and lifts up the blankets, looking underneath. Then he hops to his feet and staggers over to the closet, nearly yanking the door straight off its hinges. "Logan!" His voice, overtaken by panic, rises in pitch each time he calls for his friend and is unanswered. "Logan, where are you?"
"Carlos," Lacey finally manages to get enough air into her lungs so she can speak. "Don't touch anything else. There might be. . . evidence." Then she turns to Kendall who seems frozen to the floor behind her. "Kendall," Her voice is suddenly relatively normal, enough so that she gets her son's attention. "Bring me the phone."
She doesn't remember Kendall leaving but suddenly he's handing her the phone. Lacey holds it in one shaking hand and somehow manages to dial the three numbers that everyone should know but no one should ever have to use.
"What's your emergency?" The voice on the other end is calm and collected yet not at all soothing the way it was meant to be.
"My name is Lacey Knight." It feels like she's a puppet and a puppeteer is speaking for her. Because Mrs. Knight can't believe the next words that come out of her mouth. "I'm reporting a missing child."
James doesn't want to get up. He doesn't want to move. It's miserable outside and there's nothing to get up to anyway. He buries his head under his pillow, smothering himself until black spots dance in his vision and he comes up for air. He doesn't really want to live because it hurts too much, but he doesn't want to cause any more pain to his loved ones.
They're worth getting up in the morning. His inner voice is right as usual. James throws back the covers and climbs slowly out of bed, Every movement hurts like he used to imagine it would when he was an old man. But he's not old. He's only seventeen.
He dresses quickly, careful to avoid looking at the scars on his arms. He's ashamed of his scars. It's been five months since he last hurt himself by dragging a razor blade over his tender skin. He's been getting help since then. They all have. One could say that he's made improvements since his secret was discovered but James isn't so sure. Inside he's just as broken.
The teen stumbles into his desk as he tries to pull a clean pair of socks on without sitting down. He hears a loud crash and tenses, hoping that it's not what he thinks. It is. He drops to his knees and picks up the picture frame with both hands. He holds it close to his heart, feeling the beat that reminds him he's still alive and then he turns the frame over in his hands.
The glass is cracked in a spiderweb design, making everyone look strange and distorted. He can't have that. He quickly pulls off the backing and removes the picture, letting the broken frame fall once again to the floor, probably breaking even more. He looks at the picture again. Better.
They're so happy in the picture. They had just gotten back from a concert and their faces were still flushed with exhilaration. Their eyes are full of life and their grins are almost too large for their faces. It had been a exhausting day but they were too pumped up to care. Kendall's green eyes stand out from the rest of him, snapping in animation as he laughs at whatever had them so excited. He has one arm at his side and the other slung over Carlos' shoulders. Carlos is just cracking up, looking like he might cry because he's laughing so hard. James is on the other side of the picture, trying to look serious like he's in a professional photo shoot. But he's failing miserably and laughing along with his friends. Logan is between Carlos and James, looking as happy as the others. He's there. He's where he belongs. He's with them.
It's the last picture that was taken before Logan was taken from them by a nameless monster. Four days later he was gone. It's James' most treasured possession and he's scared to death because it's all he has left of Logan.
Why? Why would someone take Logan from them? Why would someone take anyone else like the monster had taken Logan? What kind of person would do that? But James knows better. Logan wasn't taken by another person. No human being was capable of such a disgusting act. It was a monster. It was a disease that affected those who had been left behind.
That was it. A disease. They all had it now. It ate away at them bit by bit. They were all slowly fading, trying to keep each other but losing the battle. It rendered them incapable of functioning normally. Sometimes it's a challenge to get out of bed and go throughout the entire day. Sometimes all they want to do is sleep the day away.
It was different in the beginning when they had hope. During the days, James spent literally hours, waiting by the phone, waiting for the call that never came. During the nights, he laid awake for hours, half of him sure that the phone would ring then, the other half of him terrified that the monster would return to take someone else he loved. He wasn't alone. They were all like that in the beginning.
He isn't quite sure when it all changed. Sometime after they moved back to Minnesota, they stopped waiting night and day by the phone. He and Kendall and Carlos were forced to go back to school where they wandered around like zombies, barely passing their classes, not because they had lost their tutor, but because they had lost their best friend.
But even in their business, Logan is always on their minds. When James wakes up in the morning, his first thought is of Logan and after laying awake for hours, his last thought before he falls asleep is of Logan. He dreams of Logan. He dreams of what their lives used to be like and what they might be like if Logan ever came back. Then he wakes up, crying for those dreams to come true.
James suddenly realizes that he's been sitting on his bedroom floor for close to thirty minutes. He also realizes that he should probably move and do something productive. But he doesn't get up. Instead, he pulls open the bottom drawer of his desk and begins to sift through its contents.
He was never very much like Logan. Logan was organized but here James is with a drawer full of pictures that are far from organized. He doesn't really care though, that when he picks up two pictures, one is from when they were seven and the other was from when they were fourteen.
James has never told anyone, not his parents or Kendall or Carlos or even his noisy therapist, that he's utterly terrified of forgetting Logan. It's a ridiculous notion especially since Logan is constantly on his mind. But he's still scared of waking up and not remembering what Logan looks like. He's sure he would go insane if he's not already over the edge mentally.
There are days and nights when he forgets something. He forgets the sound of Logan's voice. He forgets the little details about him, like the way he always rubbed the back of his neck when he was embarrassed or the way he always frowned in concentration when he studied for school. He forgets the way Logan looks sometimes. It never lasts longer than a few seconds but those few seconds absolutely terrify James.
He ends up pulling the drawer out completely and dumping the pictures all over the floor. Then he lays down and sorts aimlessly through the pile, picking up good ones of Logan and staring until he's confident that the image is forever burned into his memory. He can't forget Logan. He can't lose him anymore than he already has.
They stand and watch as men in dark blue uniforms walk slowly around the room, careful to inspect every inch. The police are professionals. They know what they're doing. The others, the ones watching them, are not professionals. They have no idea what they're doing. They can only sit and watch, helpless to do anything else. Because they're the victims.
"No way." Kendall snaps at the gray haired police chief. "Logan would never do that."
Chief Joseph Randall is ninety-nine percent sure that Logan Mitchell has been kidnapped. But the one percent that isn't convinced wants to believe another option is actually true. "I know that Logan may not seem like-"
"Logan is not playing a practical joke." Kendall insists adamantly. Deep down, he too wants to believe that this is all some sort of sick joke. He wants Logan to come back so he can give him a verbal lashing. Then again, if Logan does come back, Kendall is pretty sure that he'd only be able to cry and hug his friend until neither of them can breathe. "He wouldn't do this to us. Someone-" He chokes on the words and stops short before trying again. "Someone took him."
The chief knows that they can't consider the possibility of a joke for too long. Because if Logan really has been kidnapped, and it's almost a sure bet that he has, then time is important. Every second that they spend in the apartment, searching for clues, the kidnapped is getting farther and farther away with Logan. They can't afford to lose any time. It's worth it if they find the kid on the streets of LA, out to get some alone time without telling anyone. He wants that more than anything.
"When was the last time all of you saw Logan?" A kidnapping. He doesn't want to call it in. At the same time he does want to call it in before he asks the standard questions. He wants to get the kid help as soon as possible. He just doesn't want to admit what he's sure is true.
This is where the black and white of his job blurs into gray. He loves helping people. He loves making the city of Los Angeles a safer place to live. He loves saving people. But then there are the people that he can't save and they make it difficult to keep going. He's haunted by the broken and tortured faces of those who have lost loved ones. It's not even the murders that bother him the most. It's cases like this one. The kidnappings.
Everyone answers at the same time and Chief Randall nods, fighting to keep his professional composure when he's shaken to his inner core. "What time did everyone go to bed?"
The mother of the little girl and the tall blonde boy answers him. "Around 11:00." She says in a distant voice. "The boys had an early rehearsal schedule this morning so even they went to bed early."
She glances around as they all nod in agreement.
"What was Logan's attitude?" The chief questions. "Was he content, angry, or depressed? Anything?"
"He was happy." Carlos says in a small voice. "He was always happy."
"Did anyone hear anything?" This is where it got tricky. He could already see the guilt in their eyes even though it was probably unjustified. Nobody deserved to have a loved one taken from them in this way. "His window was broken from the outside. Anyone hear the glass breaking?"
Again, it was simultaneous. The guilt was intense because they all felt it. He swallows hard, longing to say something reassuring to them. But if he ever did come up with anything, it would be a lie. He can't tell them it'll be okay. He can't tell them that they'll find Logan. "Did you say that you're his guardian, Mrs. Knight?" He asks politely.
The woman nods again, slowly. Her eyes are beginning to fill and it's clear that she's losing control. "I adopted him two years ago when he was fourteen. Both of his parents are dead and he doesn't have any other biological family members."
He turns at the sound of one of his officers talking to him. He's a young kid, fresh out of the academy. Chief Randall forgets his name. "Yes?" He asks tiredly.
The officer has a shock of bright red hair and freckles that stand out even more because whatever he has found has made his face go white. He glances from his chief to the little crowd that's watching and waiting. "Come. . . over here."
Chief Randall walks slowly over to. . . Billy. That's his name. Billy White. He freezes when he sees the bloodstain. It's small enough so that the injury is probably not life threatening. It might have been caused from the small struggle that ensued or it could have been caused by the broken glass. Either way, it's not looking good.
Billy points his booted toe at a tiny object by the wall. It's a pocket knife. "Did he own a pocket knife?"
The chief doesn't bother to reprimand the officer for overstepping his bounds. What does it matter? He watches as all five of them shake their heads. Then he sighs and slowly unclips his walkie-talkie from his belt. It seems heavier than it usually is as Chief Randal switches it on and brings it to his lips. "Chief Randall here." He watches the tears begin to fall and his heart clenches. "We need back-up here. It looks like we've got a genuine kidnapping."
Carlos stares in disbelief at the man in front of him. The man that used to be his hero for as long as he could remember. "What?" He chokes on the one word and has to swallow the bile that rises in his throat. He feels sick to his stomach. This can't be happening. He refuses to believe that it's happening. "What do you mean you're giving up?"
His father sighs and reaches out to Carlos who steps out of reach. "Carlos, I didn't say I was giving up. But we haven't had a lead since Logan disappeared. We're not making any progress at all in this case. We're just taking wild guesses. They could be leading us closer but they could also be leading us in the wrong direction. There's nothing we can do anymore."
"B-but." Carlos stutters wildly, frantically trying to come up with something to say that would convince his father that he's wrong. "You can't stop looking." He says weakly. "You can't ever stop looking until you find him."
A worried frown crosses Mr. Garcia's face. "Carlos," He begins gently. "You do know that after all this time that Logan. . . Logan might not be alive by now."
Carlos steps back like his father has slapped him. "Don't say that!" He begs. "Logan is alive. He has to be."
At last Carlos Garcia Sr. has managed to reach his son and he wraps him in a tight embrace. "It's been eight months, son." He says quietly. "Eight months without one sign. I want him to be alive just as much as you do. But we can't fool ourselves. You have to face the facts-"
But Carlos jerks away before his father can finish speaking. "I don't want to face the facts." He hisses angrily. "I want to believe that Logan is alive and that we're going to find him." He has the vague realization that he's yelling at his father. This has never happened before and he's slightly upset by it. But his anger and disappointment is to great for him to stop.
"You're a police man!" He continues to fume. "You're supposed to help people. You're supposed to save people. You always have." He doesn't remember the tears beginning to fall but suddenly he can't see. A sob shakes him and nearly knocks him off his feet. "Why can't you save, Logan? He's my best friend?"
His father reaches out once again to steady Carlos, but the distraught teen jerks away and stumbles backward. "Don't touch me." He whispers in between sobs. "You're giving up on Logan." He still can't quite believe it. The one person he thought he would come through has failed him. "I hate you." He doesn't really mean it but there's enough venom in his voice to make his father freeze so that he can turn and run upstairs.
He's coming undone and there's nothing he can do to stop it. Carlos collapses onto his bed cries hard into his pillow. "Logan," He says into the cotton pillow. "Where are you?" He knows that he won't get an answer but that doesn't male it easier. "Come back." He whispers as his sobs begin to slow. "Please. Come back to us."
The door to his bedroom opens slowly and Carlos stiffens with the knowledge of what's coming. Sure enough his mattress gives under a new weight and his father gathers him into his arms. Carlos tries to resist the contact, pushing away and when that doesn't work, beating his fists against his father's chest. But the arms only tighten their hold and eventually Carlos' punches get weaker and weaker until he gives in and accepts the comfort offered to him.
"I'm s-sorry." He stammers out in between sobs. "I didn't mean it. I love you." His fingers dig into the fabric of his father's shirt, holding him as close as he possibly can. Everything had changed. They had all changed and none of it had been for the better. It had all been for the worse. Carlos often finds himself saying and doing things that he regrets as soon as they happen. He finds it harder to think about the consequences, not in an immature, irresponsible way, but just because it's too hard to think at all.
"I know, son."
The words bring all the comfort that they possibly can. Carlos is just glad that his father knows he didn't mean the awful words and that he still needs him. He's terrified of losing someone else. "Don't leave me." He finally begs, voice muffled from his face being buried into his father's chest.
"I'm always here for you, Carlos and 'll never give up until we have answers."
Carlos shuts his eyes and allows his father to hold him, rocking gently back and forth. He ignores the fact that he's seventeen and far too old for this kind of contact. He doesn't care because it's truly the only thing that keeps him together when he's splitting apart at the seams.
It's a blessing and a curse that his father is a police officer. When Carlos was little it was always a blessing because his father was just so cool. He helped people. But now it's nothing just a curse because Carlos has learned that even his father, his hero, can't save everyone. Not even if the victim is one of Carlos' best friends. It's also a curse because Carlos knows all of statistics for all of the crimes.
He knows that most kidnapping victims are female, that most kidnappers are male. He knows that the majority of kidnappings involve the victim being taken by a family member with no custody of them. He knows that Logan was taken by a complete stranger and it's the unknown that terrifies him the most.
Any minute now he's going to come walking through the door and I'm going to- Kendall's train of thought stops there because he has no idea how he would react if Logan actually did walk through the door. It depends, he supposes, on the mental, emotional, and psychical well-being of his friend. If Logan is perfectly fine then maybe Kendall will. . . but no. He just can't imagine beating Logan up or even yelling at him for scaring everyone half to death. He knows what he would do. He would pull Logan into a hug and cry until there was nothing left in him.
He stares blankly at the wall in front of him for a few more minutes before stealing a glance at the clock off to his right. 3:25pm. Logan has been missing since. . . they don't even know. They do know that he's been missing for at least seven and a half hours. In reality that's not really a long time but it is also an endless amount of time when they haven't even heard from Logan.
They can't hear from him because he was taken. He didn't just slip off by himself for the day. Logan would never ever do something so irresponsible. He would leave a not and take his cell phone. He wouldn't go outside and break his bedroom window. He wouldn't leave a pocket knife that didn't belong to him laying on his floor. He wouldn't. . . Kendall shudders. Logan wouldn't leave behind a bloodstain on his carpet.
Kendall isn't alone. His mother and sister, both in tears, are seated on either side of him. Carlos sits at his feet, tucked in a tiny ball, his head resting on his knees, perfectly still and quiet. James has an arm draped loosely over Carlos as he stares at absolutely nothing. Maybe that's why Kendall feels like he's alone even though he's surrounded by people.
The most frustrating thing about this whole nightmare is that they can do nothing to help Logan. They're so freaking helpless. The police have no leads. They have taken the pocketknife in but found no fingerprints. They have tested the blood and found it to be Logan's. They have searched all over the Palm Woods grounds and are still questioning the other residents. They have turned up nothing.
Carlos' family is on their way, expected to arrive later that night. James' parents are also expected then. Kendall can't remember if they ended up getting the same flight or what. The only thing he knows is that Carlos' dad is part of the Minnesota state police force and that surely he's going to help the LAPD find Logan.
Kendall glances at the clock, a soft groan escaping when he sees the time. 3:31pm. It's only been six minutes. The day as crawled by as slow as anything could possibly go. It's literally dragging. Seconds seem like minutes and minutes seem like days. Will it ever end?
The sound of footsteps catches Kendall's attention and he jerks up. The ad slides off the edge of the counter and starts to float to the floor. He snatches it up quickly and then tenderly smooths over the creases that have appeared on Logan's face. Then he turns to greet the newcomer. "James,"
"Hi," The tall boy walks slowly up to Kendall and pulls up a stool, sitting with him at the counter. "I was. . . I don't know. I wanted to come over. I know I was just over but-"
Kendall moves quickly and catches his friend in a hug. His shoulder is wet with James' tears in mere seconds and he's sure that James' shirt is in the same condition. He feels James shaking in his arms and he aches to say something to stop the tears and lessen the pain.
"Why Logan?" James cries even though Kendall is wondering the same thing. Kendall's body jerks in an answering sob and James forces himself to take a deep breath. "I'm sorry." The tears haven't slowed but at least he can speak.
"Don't." Kendall shakes his head. "Don't apologize." He releases James and then takes him by the elbow and leads him into the family room where they slump into the couch and are silent for a long while. Kendall's hands open and close in tight fists and his breathing is unsteady as he struggles for a sense of control. "If I ever get my hands on that. . . freak who took Logan-"
"Me too." Rarely do their voices hold any sort of emotion anymore. But both James and Kendall are seething with unchecked anger and hatred In his mind, James is thinking of ways to kill off the monster. He doesn't know if their tormentor deserves a slow and painful death or if he just wants that horrible life to end.
"I didn't hear you come in." Kendall changes the subject unexpectedly. His tone is back to its dull and lifeless state that he's been stuck in for months now.
James allows the change in subject because it's less painful that way. He shrugs. "I guess you were distracted." He doesn't ask any questions, knowing that Kendall will fill in the blanks if he wants to. A piece of paper is shoved into his hand and when James looks down he sees his answer. "Oh," He says quietly, staring at Logan's face. "Wow."
It never fails to run a shock through him, seeing Logan this way. He's seen it all over the news and in the papers and magazines and on posters and. . . everything. Still, it's not the sort of thing that someone can ever get used to.
They both hear the door and look up to see Carlos walk in, wearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. He doesn't bother to greet them with a smile. That smile, the one that put the sun to shame with its genuine brightness and infectiousness, is long gone. Nobody has seen it for months.
"Carlitos," Kendall's voice has shifted to a worried, mournful tone. He pats the empty spot on the couch beside him, not telling James to move over to make more room. They all like the closeness.
Carlos obediently sits, like a robot or a dog. He has hardly any life in him at all as he lays his head on Kendall's shoulder, wrung dry of everything. He's numb. "I don't understand why this is still happening." He says out loud, making Kendall and James jump. "I thought it would be over by now."
Kendall and James nod because they all thought it would be over a long time ago.
Four weeks, five days, thirteen hours, and twenty-seven minutes. James stares out the window of the plane he's in with his family and friends. They're going back to Minnesota because Big Time Rush was dropped when weeks went by without a sign of Logan. James doesn't care about Big Time Rush. He wishes that it had never happened.
It's his fault that Logan is missing. If he hadn't been so insistent on going to that stupid audition so long ago then they never would have gone to LA in the first place. They'd be shoveling driveways and having snowball fights and playing hockey at the rink and at their pond. James would give anything to go back in time so he could choose to ignore the news on Kendall's TV. He wants to be back with his friends. All of them.
He's going crazy. He's losing control. He can't sleep at night anymore. He's always had trouble sleeping. Logan used to have the same problems and he and James would doze off and wake up again together. James was never alone on those nights. But now he was.
James has cut himself too. Only a few times and he tells himself every night that he can stop if he really wants to. But the stinging pain in his arm that is caused by the razor blade is a nice change from the never ending ache in his heart. It distracts James from his heart ache so he doesn't really care if it's stupid.
He can't believe that it's been a month. Each day he waits for the phone to ring with good news. Each day it remains silent except for the stupid telemarketers that James would scream at if he didn't want to leave the line open just in case. Each day he stares at the door, waiting for the LAPD to come through with Logan safely in tow. It's never happened.
James doesn't want to go back home with Minnesota. He wants to stay in LA and help the police find Logan. He doesn't care if they haven't let him done anything anyway. He wants to be there for Logan when they bring him home. Now Logan is going to have to take a plane ride all by himself back to Minnesota and it'll be more hours to add to their wait until they see him again.
He ignores the fact that after a month, the police still don't have any leads. He doesn't care that they think they're just running in circles because they have no idea where to look. He doesn't care that they don't even have a suspect. He doesn't care that even though they try to hide it, the police have lost hope. Logan will come back to them.
"Should we go?" Kendall asks quietly. They've sat in silence for nearly an hour when he realizes that it's almost time. He's not sure if he wants to go because sometimes he wants to pretend that this isn't happening. But he rises to his feet when James and Carlos nod slowly.
They don't feel the cold when they step outside this time. They feel nothing. Still, Kendall checks twice to make sure that James and Carlos are properly dressed. They're quiet as they walk down the empty Minnesota streets. There's nothing any of them can say.
As they near their destination, James stops and lowers his backpack to the ground. "I have to make sure that I have everything." He mutters, so low that he's not sure if his friends can hear him. His fingers someone manage to grasp the zipper and undo it then he looks inside.
Kendall sounds so tired and Carlos hasn't spoken at all. "Yes." James' voice cracks and before he knows it, he's crying again. The others break from their frozen stances to drop to the snow beside him and they're locked in a group hug. "I. . . c-can't do th-this." James gasps out, shaking his head. "It'll be like giving up on him."
"No it won't."
Carlos rarely speaks up anymore so it's enough to catch James' attention when he finally does. He doesn't reply, just waits for an explanation.
"We're not giving up on him. We never will."
James waits and then nods when he realizes that's all Carlos can say. He stands unsteadily to his feet and heaves his pack over his shoulders once again. "Okay." He says, voice still sounding like someone has him by the shoulders and is shaking him. "Let's go."
They reach the pond without another breakdown although they both feel that one isn't far away. Everyone else is already there and Kendall is briefly ashamed that they're the last to arrive. But he knows that they all understand.
James hands a candle to Kendall and one to Carlos and they all set them at the edge of the lake where the snow has already been removed. The first candle is lit all the way across the pond and the boys watch in silence as the light makes its way along the edge in both directions, getting closer and closer to where they can only wait.
Five months, two weeks, three days, nineteen minutes. Carlos doesn't know what to do with himself. He hates sitting at home, by himself, doing nothing. It's not helping Logan. But he can't do anything to help Logan anyway so he does what Logan would want him to do.
The walk to Kendall's house is short but it gives him time to think to himself. Was it his fault? His bedroom was closest to Logan's. Why didn't he hear the window breaking? Why didn't he hear Logan struggling against his captor? If Carlos wasn't such a sound sleeper, maybe he would have heard something. Maybe Logan could have been saved.
James is already there when Carlos walks into Kendall's bedroom. They're looking through old photos, talking quietly. They've read each others minds once again. Carlos sinks down wordlessly between his two friends and they talk.
He doesn't know what they start talking about but suddenly he has to know. "Is it my fault?" He interrupts James saying and watches as they look up to stare at him. "I should have heard something." He confesses in a trembling voice.
"No, Carlos." A trace of the old Kendall Knight appears and he's strong for the time being. "I want to blame myself too. I'm supposed to be protecting you guys. But. . ." He shakes his head. "There was nothing anyone could do. We all failed Logan but it wasn't our fault."
Carlos isn't completely convinced but James' stony silence alerts him. "James," He says fearfully. "You don't blame yourself, do you?"
James nods without saying anything. He jaw tightens and tears fill his eyes. "It was my stupid dream that made all of this happen." He finally whispers when Kendall and Carlos remain to shocked to say anything.
"No," Kendall's bravado is wearing off already and he's choking on his own tears. "James, it wasn't your fault. Don't blame yourself. Logan wouldn't want you to."
"Logan is gone because of me." James insists. "He would have been right here with us safe and sound. We never would have gone to LA and he never would have been kidnapped. It was all because of me."
Kendall shakes his head, unable to speak. "J-James," He reaches out and tugs his friend into a hug. "It's not."
Carlos is squished between his friends as they cry. He hates this. He hates all the uncertainty and the fact that they're all blaming themselves. The thing is, Kendall is only a little right. It's not their fault individual but it's their fault collectively. They all could have prevented Logan's kidnapping if they paid a little more attention. But they slipped up, rested, and that was just enough. There's nothing they can do about it now.
"How are you holding up?"
Carlos didn't even notice that he's sitting next to Camille, Logan's old girlfriend until she speaks. He shrugs. There's nothing he can say. The desired response is, "Getting better", but he's not getting better. He doesn't want to lie to Camille.
Camille understands his shrug. She nods and then hugs each of them individually. "I miss him too." She whispers. "I miss all of you."
She moves to the side to make room for Jo. The other girl does the same and hugs the boys, holding them tight and trying to hold back her tears. Then they all sit together, not feeling the cold of the snow or the chill of the air around them. They feel nothing.
The light is getting closer and Carlos mentally prepares himself. He feels James nudge him and he takes the picture from the other boy's hands, nodding his thanks. They're all holding one. They're all holding a different picture of Logan. A picture of Logan with each of them. Carlos looks down at his.
They were twelve and there's nothing remarkable about this particular photo. But it's Logan and Carlos holds it tightly to his chest, against the beat of his heart, until he sets it in the little stand that James hands over.
He feels another nudge, this time from Camille. She hands him the lighter and he checks to make sure that James and Kendall have their own lighters. They have already agreed that their candles would finish off the circle and that they would do it the way they did everything: Together.
Kendall and James are ready and slowly, they lit their candles and transform the lake. They stand up and step back slightly to observe. Someone has already plowed the lake of all the snow so that it's perfectly clear and smooth like glass. The light reflects off of the surface. It's one of the most beautiful things Carlos has ever seen in his whole life. No, it is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen in his life.
But even the beauty can't take away the pain, not even for a second. Carlos hears the sobs from all over. It's only a matter of time before he joins the community in their mourning of one of their own. He hears Camille whisper Logan's name in between her sobs and he hears Jo trying in vain to comfort her while she's suffering as well. Then he hears it.
Kendall is sobbing, loudly. He's crying harder than Carlos has ever seen him even after all that's happened. But that's not the worst part. At first he merely sinks to his knees, staring out at the candlelit lake. The his mouth begins to move and soon Carlos hears the words.
"Come back, come back, come back." Kendall chants over and over again. It's a wonder he can talk so much when he's crying so hard but then his voice rises above everything else. "Please, Logan. Come back."
As one, James and Carlos move to be near Kendall. They're shaking and crying too. They cling tightly to each other, afraid of losing sight of each other. There's nothing anyone can say to them and everyone gets the sense that the three boys need to be left alone, wrapped in a triangular hug that used to be a square.
Finally, Kendall stops talking and simply cries. They all do. They fall apart together, feeling their broken hearts breaking into tinier pieces. The only thing that can mend them is the return of their friend. The only person that can make their endless pain go away is Logan. Yet it's been eight months and nothing has changed. They refuse to lose hope but it's getting harder and harder to hold on with each passing day.
All they can do is hope.
A/N. I seriously listened to "All These Lives" on repeat the entire time I was writing this story. It made everything flow so perfectly. I know you were all waiting for a happy ending and I wanted one too. But the writing side of me wanted to make this as realistic as possible and this is what happened. However, I left it open for a sequel that could go either way. I can't promise it'll happen soon though because this was the hardest thing I've ever written. Kidnapping, in my opinion, is the worst possible crime and my heart breaks for those who have to suffer in this way. I hope that you enjoyed this as much as anyone can enjoy such a horribly tragic story. Please review and let me know what you thought. Thank you for reading.