"I'm tired of this." Logan's voice sounded heavy, a combination of anger and sadness. Julian was too familiar with this tone, and he braced himself for what he knew would be a long night ahead.
After a short pause, he decided the better option was playing along. "Tired of what?"
Logan made vague gestures with his hands. "This. Feeling like I'm the bad guy. Feeling like I'm the one to blame. Feeling like everything I do just screws me over." His hands fell limp at his sides. "I really cared for Kurt – I really did. And now that I've made a complete ass out of myself, I've hurt him too."
Julian raised an eyebrow. "Take your meds, Logan. You're setting yourself up for a meltdown."
Logan glared at him. "I'm not. Look, Jules, when will you get it? I don't have to take medication every time I feel something." His voice rose dangerously. "I don't have to swallow pills every single time I feel something remotely human."
"You're either going to fall apart, or explode," Julian answered coolly. "When has not taking your meds ever turned out to be a good decision, Logan? You act like an emotional mess, and then a minute later you're screaming and throwing fits." He took a deep breath, trying to steady the frustration that was bubbling inside of him. "And you know what? You never learn to take care of yourself. You're not the only one who has to deal with this… You affect me, and you affect Derek." Julian paused. "And you even affect Hummel." He looked at his friend to see if anything had hit home. Logan's green eyes were stone and his lips were pressed together in a firm line.
Julian waited. For once there was no witty, caustic remark waiting to be thrown at him.
"I don't want to be the one picking up your mess when you break." Julian whispered, standing up and walking towards the door. "I really don't. Not anymore."
A few hours later Julian heard a knock on his bedroom door. "Jules. Will you let me talk to you."
"No," he replied, knowing full well who was on the other side and feeling too drained to deal with said person.
The door opened and Logan casually strode into his bedroom. "I wasn't asking a question." His eyes had become icy and cold, but to Julian they were an indication that Logan was back to normal. As normal as Logan could get, anyways. Julian sighed to himself and tried to feign disinterest.
"I'll – I'll take my meds." This caught Julian's attention. "I thought about what you said. And maybe it was you being your usual prissy self, but I was thinking… maybe there's some truth to it."
Julian stared. This was certainly a first.
Logan made himself comfortable, sitting on Julian's bed and borrowing a pillow to lean on. "But I want to ask you something. And Jules, I don't want you to give me some half-assed answer."
Julian shrugged. "Sure, whatever you want. Go wild."
Logan furrowed his brows, obviously deep in thought. "What keeps you going?"
That question threw Julian off. He waited a few seconds, then coughed. "Uh, excuse me?"
"You know – life. You're a robot that goes from one acting job to the next. You enjoy the girls, you enjoy the fame, you enjoy the spotlight and the attention and having this – this emotional armor surrounding you. You act like nothing can penetrate it and you act like nothing's going on inside."
Julian was shocked. It was his turn, now, to be rendered speechless. "I – what? How is this related to anything? Oh god Logan, if you're turning suicidal or something, I swear I'm – "
"I'm not," Logan answered quickly. "Trust me. I'm not. I just want to know how you do it. You think nobody in the world can read you, and you're right. Nobody can. But I'm your friend, Julian, and when you tell me to take meds and calm down and become as empty and hollow as you've convinced yourself to become – I want to know how you've been living."
Julian stared. "What the hell, Logan? What is this, some personal attack?" he spat out defensively.
But as he looked at his friend, Julian could only see simple, genuine honesty reflected in those green eyes. And suddenly he knew that Logan was willing to make a real, conscious effort to change. But he wanted something in return. He wanted Julian to confide in him as he had confided in Julian, and he was offering a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen to whatever was bottled up inside.
And all of a sudden, it struck Julian. He's noticed that I'm lonely. Sure, it's taken long enough, but that idiot's onto something.
Logan leaned closer, his gaze never leaving Julian's face. "Jules. I'm your friend. I want to know."
Those words hit Julian hard. Friend, he thought bitterly, friend. Of course he would say that, that's what we are. Friends.
It took every ounce of strength and acting ability he could muster up in his body to respond. "Logan, I'll be honest." he started stiffly. "I'm not the person you think I am. You think I'm hurting inside, and that I'm just as vulnerable and weak as the next person. But I'm a celebrity. The lie you think I've been living? It's who I am. Not everyone is a sickly little child who needs to be pitied. And I don't need to depend on anyone." His voice cracked ever so slightly, but he was determined to make it until the end. "You've miscalculated me, Logan. Don't look at me like that. You know you have."
Logan's eyes had grown hard, and the disappointment clearly showed in his face. "You're lying. You're lying through your teeth and you know it. Are you serious right now, Jules?" The hatred and hostility was back in his voice, stronger than ever. "You think you can trick me, you think you can play your shitty mind games with me? You think I'm not worth the truth?"
Now this was Julian's comfort zone, where he became the expert. "Please, Logan," he smirked. "Telling you the truth is almost a good idea as you deciding not to take your meds."
An angry hiss came from the boy who sat on his bed. And suddenly, all of Logan's self control disappeared. He practically leaped off the bed and grabbed Julian, slamming him against the wall. Logan's breathing was heavy and erratic, and even he knew he was in trouble. He strengthened his grip on Julian's arms, but was taken by surprise when he saw tears falling.
It was the first crack Logan had ever seen in Julian's armor. He loosened his grip, concerned, and instantly Julian's hands were rubbing fiercely at his eyes.
"Get out. I hate you."
Logan cautiously backed away and left Julian's bedroom, closing the door softly. He pressed his ear against the door, and felt a guilty pang in his chest when he heard stifled sobs coming from inside. He stood there, outside his best friend's room, drinking in the sound of Julian being hurt and wishing he could have said something to comfort instead of upset him.
It was a curious feeling Logan had in his body. Normally he would react to this situation with even more fury and rage, but instead he felt a strange sense of emptiness. It wasn't the kind of emptiness he got from his medication. It was an unfamiliar hollowness that drowned out every thought in his mind, and turned the world gray and colorless with misery and sadness and longing.
Is this what Jules has been feeling all this time? Logan wondered helplessly, and as he listened he had a sinking suspicion that the answer was a clear, resounding yes.
"Derek. Can I talk to you?"
"A bit busy right now, Logan," came the muffled reply behind mountains of papers and textbooks.
He coughed nervously. "I'm sorry, but it's important."
An annoyed face emerged. "Logan. I've got to finish my term papers and turn them in before practice starts tonight. And I'm determined to get full marks. I'm sorry to be cranky, but as much as I'd like to hear you obsess over Kurt –"
"It's not about Kurt. It's about Jules."
Derek didn't have the patience to look confused. "Julian? Of all people… well, hurry up and get on with it."
Logan paused, deciding to approach the topic carefully. "Derek. Have you noticed something – well, something… different about Julian lately? Something's off about him, and it doesn't feel right. We were arguing the other day and he was really hurt." He peered over the books to see what the reaction from the other boy was. "I could tell, Derek. I could tell that he's been hurting. I just don't think he tells us. But… if he had to tell someone, anyone, I figured it'd be you."
"Logan, you're not off your meds again, are you?"
"I actually took them this morning, thanks," was the indignant reply. "Why is that the response to everything I say? This is about Julian."
"And you think I can tell you why?"
Logan nodded, acting like it was obvious.
Derek sighed, putting down his book. "Let me tell you this. And I swear you better listen the first time I say this, because if I don't score well on these papers I'm going after your blood. Julian has been hurting ever since he set foot in Dalton. This has been going on for years, and years, and years. I won't tell you why, but I don't have a problem telling you how long. Logan, you've been chasing after Blaine and Kurt and God-knows-who for so long that you can't even tell what's going on under your nose." He looked unimpressed as Logan drew himself to his full height and fixed his intense stare upon him. "When have you ever cared about Julian? When have you ever put your friends first, before your love interests?"
Logan took a moment to absorb the information. "It doesn't matter who I put first, Derek –"
"It does," Derek countered, knowing that victory was close. "The first time you put Julian before Kurt, or Blaine, or anyone else in the whole damn world, was when you talked to him the other day. That's when you saw Julian for who he really is. And you think the hurt is something new, but you fail to realize that in this situation, Julian's the constant."
"You're the one who changed." Derek simplified, before diving behind the mountain of work and resuming his furious scribbling.
"Wait – Derek!" Logan pleaded, but only received a thrown textbook aimed at his head in response. "I swear, every damn Stuart…" he muttered under his breath, giving up.
But he looked back as he turned to leave. "Derek? I think I figured it out. T – Thank you."
Julian heard the nervous breathing outside his door and sighed in defeat. This couldn't go on any longer. He yanked the door open and made disapproving noises as a shocked Logan tumbled in.
"You caught me off guard." Logan attempted to crack a smile.
"Logan. What. Are. You. Doing."
Logan brushed off imaginary dust from his jacket as he stood up. "Just wanted a nice chat with my best friend, but I wasn't quite sure if I was welcome," he said cheerfully.
Julian stared at him suspiciously.
He held up his hands as if indicating he had nothing to hide. "Come on, Jules, don't look at me like that. Sure, we're at each other's throats every chance we get, and sure, we've had our share of physical and verbal fights… but I do care about you, you know."
Julian slowly breathed in and counted to three.
"So you have some troubles," Logan said comfortingly, "But we all do. I don't want you to keep it in and end up a nut case. You'll have to end up taking even more medication than me."
"Hey, look at you being all emotional and caring."
Julian smiled at the boy, offering him a pillow as a peace token. Logan, as usual, had already claimed his bed and looked quite at home.
"Julian, you can tell me. I won't tell anyone else, you know that. You know I'm here for you."
His breath hitched. "No. Logan, no. This is not a conversation you want to have."
Logan was quiet. Julian, assuming he had successfully ended the conversation, turned back around.
"You're heartbroken, aren't you?"
Julian whipped his head around so fast he thought his neck had snapped. "Who – who told you?" he blundered, forgetting his plan to deny anything Logan threw at him.
"Caught off guard, are you? Well, for your information, nobody told me. Well – I did receive a hint or two, but I'm proud to say I figured this out for myself. Mostly."
"Oh, really?" Julian's voice dripped with sarcasm. "Well, good for you. Tell me how you figured it out then."
Logan hummed under his breath. "Julian, for someone who claims to be all-knowing, you really are dense. Come on, you've heard me whine about Blaine and Kurt for months, if not years. I've been heartbroken… well, more accurately, I am heartbroken. And I've come to the realization that you're the same as me. You're hurting for someone too, just like I'm hurting for K – Kurt."
"I can't believe it," Julian leaned back, eyes wide. "You finally notice something besides yourself."
"So I'm right!" Logan yelled triumphantly, and Julian cringed. "Come on now, be a good sport. Admit it."
Julian looked uncomfortable. "Logan…"
The prefect turned serious. "Julian, just tell me the truth."
"No. Drop it before I get mad."
"What's the big deal?" Logan said heatedly. "I'm sure you've told Derek, I'm sure you've told someone else, and at the end of the day it's just a crush. That's all it is! You're making a big deal out of it, when the truth is that it doesn't have to hurt so bad."
Fire burned in Julian's eyes. "Don't you dare say it's just a crush, Logan," he roared, "don't you dare! You – you oblivious jerk, you know nothing!" He caught himself just in time (the other Stuarts would not appreciate any loud noises) and lowered his voice. "I've loved the same person for an eternity, Logan, I sacrificed whatever I had for him and he still put me last. He would put every single person in the world before me. It's hopeless, and I know it, and yet I accept the fact that I'll be trapped forever. It keeps me up at night, and it keeps me bothered during the day. It's eating away at me, it really is." He seemed to crumple in his chair. "And for you to dismiss it as a simple crush – you're a real idiot, aren't you, Logan?"
Logan seemed deep in thought. Julian let out a disgusted sigh and buried his head in his arms.
After what felt like eons, Logan reached out and caught the other boy's wrist. "Jules."
Julian slapped him away like he was burned. "What?"
"Julian... I know now. You're talking about me."
He let out a half-choked gasp. "What? No, no Logan, I wasn't –"
Logan towered over him silently, his pale green eyes calm and unclouded. "It all makes sense," he breathed out. "It all makes sense, what Derek told me before and what you told me now, it's just that I've never noticed it and I've hurt you instead..."
Julian felt the blood rushing to his face. "No – you're wrong," he mumbled, looking away.
He felt a hand on his cheek, tilting his face upward, and suddenly Logan Wright was passionately kissing him. It was a scene straight from those cliché romance films he'd acted in too many times to count, and yet Julian couldn't bear to pull himself away. An arm wrapped around his waist, lifting him up, and he felt his body instinctively lean into Logan's.
Logan reluctantly pulled away, but kept his arm around him. His green eyes seemed to ask a barrage of silent questions. Julian just shook his head and threw his arms around Logan's neck, closing his eyes and breathing heavily.
"I was right, wasn't I," Logan finally whispered into Julian's ear. "You're in love with me, aren't you."
It wasn't a question. With Logan, it was never a question.
Julian pushed away the boy, tears starting to form in his eyes. "Fine. You win. Logan, I'm in love with you. I've always been. But I'm not another part of your game. You need to realize that and stop playing with me." He drew out a shaky breath. "I know you love Kurt, and I know I've never been an option for you."
Logan looked at him sadly. "Jules, you're right. I was stupid. I could have gone my entire life not sparing a second glance for you. But once I started thinking about it, I couldn't stop." He heard Julian sniff and fumble around, looking for a tissue. "You always act so tough, and it bothered me to know that you hurt so much inside and there was nobody you could turn to." He grabbed his shoulders and turned him around. "And the last thing I want is to be the cause of all that hurt."
He wiped away the tears running down Julian's face and leaned in for another kiss – this time on the cheek.
Julian was a beautiful mess. "I freaking hate you," he hiccupped miserably, but didn't try to push away as Logan held him close again.
Logan chuckled softly. "Come on Julian, I'm sorry. At least I made you feel human. And I promise I'll always be here for you now, wherever and whenever you need me."