Title: Of Fire and Brimstone

Summary: "How 'bout this? If you help me successfully get a date with Kendall, I'll buy you a new iPod," Logan smirked. Between his defective iPod, construction workers that just won't allow him a full night of sleep, little black threads, & Logan, James is pretty sure he's going to go insane.

Warnings: Quite a bit of language and a healthy douse of violence. Really, it's all very mild, for the most part.

Disclaimer: I do not own Big Time Rush, nor any of the characters involved. No copyright infringement intended.

The muffled sound of a door being slammed was just barely heard over the music that blasted through his headphones, and James felt himself falter for a moment. His eyebrows furrowed and his grasp around his blanket tightened just a little bit. He could faintly hear someone talking, not loudly enough for the words to be comprehensible over the flow of music, but there nonetheless.

James cursed softly, not wanting to pull the covers back from over his head, or leave the warmth that surrounded him so fully. He was tired and frustrated and why couldn't anyone ever leave him alone for even twelve consecutive minutes? "Go away," he mumbled, not even bothering to remove the headphones from his ears or steal a glance at the person who had entered his bedroom.

Suddenly, the black comforter that had been draped over him was snatched back and he was left cringing as sunlight replaced the previous darkness. It took a long moment before his gaze could fully adjust to the rather abusive light, focus in on the silhouette of a person before him, and realize that, somehow, his music had inexplicably stopped playing. James frowned and poked cautiously at the small black iPod, as though expecting it to grow razor sharp fangs and lunge at him. How curious...


"Yes, Logan?" James murmured, not even lifting his gaze to focus on the pair of brown eyes that were studying him intently. Once James was confident that his iPod wasn't demonic or possessed by some omnipotent force, he picked it up and shook it.

"I need your help," Logan said, not even remotely deterred by the fact that James was currently paying more attention to his iPod.

"Hmm." James' tone held no obvious interest in the discussion, and he simply continued to study his iPod carefully. After several long moments of poking and prodding, James found himself simply staring at the small device with a defiant glare and a single raised eyebrow, as though he was challenging it to continue defying him. How dare his iPod stop working! Didn't it know that James was going to inflict serious damage upon it if it didn't start working soon?

And after several more moments: "James?"

"Yes, Logan?" James repeated, as though they hadn't already had this conversation. However, this time, James lifted his gaze to Logan's, a soft smile easing its way onto his features and causing his hazel eyes to light up in the way that made them appear to be glowing. James' eyes only ever did that when he was around Logan, only ever gleamed when Logan smiled in that crooked way that made James' heart melt.

"Will you help me?" Logan said, and unbeknownst to him, his own eyes lit up as well.

"Sure," James beamed, not even bothering to ask what Logan need help with. James didn't need to know, because he would help him regardless of the circumstances. It wasn't as though he could actually say no to the other boy when he was smiling like that. "With what?" he finally questioned, his gaze dropping to the iPod in his hand once more.

"Well," Logan started, a little hesitant. "We all know you're the most charismatic person I know, right?"

James hummed noncommittally, his attention once again consumed with poking at his music player in a futile attempt to elicit some form of response. If only iPods could talk, James thought, then he would know why it was refusing to obey him now. Such a stubborn little iPod.

"I was thinking...maybe you could help me, y'know...get a date with someone?"

James was listening, he really was, and that was why, when he actually heard the words, he could feel his stomach drop with something that almost felt a little like dread and...maybe just an ounce of disappointment. Pity him for thinking that Logan actually wanted to talk to him.

"Whaddya mean?" he cleared his throat, and his gaze stayed obstinately focused on the iPod, absolutely refusing to look up.

"Please don't make fun of me?" Logan said, sitting down on the edge of James' bed and tugging at a stray, black thread on the blanket that was still partially covering James. "I might have developed...somewhat of an interest...on someone we know," Logan paused for a moment, appearing thoughtful, "one of our friends."

James raised an eyebrow, only halfheartedly prodding his iPod now, refusing to succumb to the hope that was swelling up beneath his ribcage. He coughed lightly, trying to ease the pressure that was building in his chest, and swallowed back the lump that had caught in his throat. "Oh?" he prompted, desperately trying to sound casual and not particularly interested in what Logan's next few words were going to be.

A comfortable silence filled the room for the next few moments, and James hazarded a small glance at Logan to see if he was even still there. He was relieved when he realized that Logan hadn't just magically disappeared and left him suspended on the edge of a cliff, waiting for the drop to come—waiting for the adrenaline to receded.

"Logan?" he incited once more, and glanced up at Logan from beneath his eyelashes. Logan was perched on the edge of his mattress, tugging mercilessly at the black thread. His dark brown eyes were nearly black with an emotion that James simply couldn't decipher, and there appeared to be a faint blush edging up his neck and pooling in his cheeks.

The silence was suddenly deafening, and James could practically hear the blood rushing through his veins at a breakneck speed. Surely Logan couldn't actually reciprocate his feelings—

"Kendall," Logan whispered abruptly, cutting off James' train of thought. "It's Kendall."

It took a few moments for James to actually process Logan's words, and after they finally connected, it felt as though he had been doused in a bucket of ice cold water. Kendall. Of-fucking-course.

"Oh...right...of course." James felt a little off balance as he spoke, as though his point of equilibrium had been throw off completely. He could feel exasperation flooding through his muscles, building up deep in the core of his stomach. Being woken up at an ungodly hour because of construction directly outside his bedroom window, having his warm blankets forcefully removed from his body and, as such, blinding him—probably beyond all repair—was enough to make James hide in his room for the rest of the day and refuse to come out. But this? Oh, this was just the proverbial icing on the fucking cake.

"I mean, I'm not asking you to set us up or anything, y'know?" Logan had straightened up, his muscles tensing as he stared at James with chocolate brown eyes filled with desperate uncertainty; there was something almost a little naïve and adoring about the way he was watching him, as though he expected James to have all the answers to every question he could possibly ever come up with. There was something almost a little endearing about Logan's unrelenting faith in him, but James was too busy scowling to notice. "Just...I know how good you are with words, okay? You're charming, and trust me, I definitely don't want to inflate your ego any larger than it already is, but it's the truth."

Staring at the iPod in his hand, James wondered what Logan would do if he threw it at his head. It's not like he could get anymore use out of the music device anyway, and using it as a missile directed straight at Logan was a much better option than simply throwing it in the garbage can. Plus, it wasn't as though Logan would even see it coming—it would be completely unexpected, and James could use that to his advantage. Logan certainly wouldn't have time to shield himself from flying, demonically possessed iPods that refused to cooperate.

"James? Please?"

In that instant, James felt himself deflate completely—every defiant emotion spilling out from his body, every ounce of resistance going right along with it, and in its place was a weary resignation. After all, James could never say no to Logan.

Without responding, James returned his gaze to Logan's, focusing on the emotions that were swimming within the dark bands of his irises. The admiration was still there, a few other obscured emotions as well, just an ounce of impatience, and a whole lot of uncertainty—James couldn't help but smile.

"Fine," James said, drawing the word out in mock exasperation, even though exasperation was pretty close to what he was actually feeling. "I'll help you."

The relief that surged through Logan's body was nearly palpable, his eyes sparking with those obscured emotions that James still couldn't identify, no matter how hard he tried. His muscles slackened and he released a deep sigh, offering James a gratifying look. However, his expression changed in a matter of seconds, his gaze shifting to the iPod still held within James' hand. He appeared thoughtful, grinning crookedly. "How 'bout this? If you help me successfully get a date with Kendall...I'll buy you a new iPod." There was a slight lilt to Logan's voice, appreciation mixed with mischief, and his gaze seemed to burn with the unspoken challenge.

Logan offered his hand to James, his grin not faltering in the slightest as he waited for James' acceptance. He knew it would come. James could never turn down a challenge, after all.

With a wicked smirk, James grasped onto Logan's outstretched hand and shook it, sealing the deal, and trying to ignore the feelings of doubt that swam through the depths of his mind.

And, hey, there was a good chance he might get a new iPod out of this entire scheme. Preferably one that didn't have a rebellious streak. It was better than nothing, and certainly more than he had right now.

"James," Logan's tone was dangerously close to a whine, and James could feel an involuntary smirk pulling at the corners of his lips.

James was sitting on his bed with his dismembered iPod on display in front of him as though each individual component was a piece to a puzzle. However, no matter how many different ways James tried to put the pieces together, the results were always the same: a broken—and rather insubordinate—iPod. "You," James started, glaring at the screen menacingly, "are a music player. You are suppose to play my music. Why won't you obey me? Ba-a-ad."

"James!" Logan snapped from where he was spinning around on James' computer chair. He put his feet down to stop the movement and tried to scowl at James, but realized a little belatedly his head was spinning and he could barely managed to simply glance at the other boy. "Aren't you suppose to be helping me?"

It was a week after James had accepted Logan's challenge, and really, neither of them had gotten very far in their pursuits.

James glanced up at Logan from beneath his eyelashes, offering a small, sheepish smile. "Sorry, I just don't quite know how to approach this." In one swift move, he was sitting on the edge of his bed, facing Logan, with the pieces of his iPod strewn out behind him. He kicked his legs back and forth, hitting Logan's chair with the tips of his toes every time they went up. "I kinda still can't believe that you actually want to date Kendall," James continued, laughing lightly to himself as he watched Logan's cheeks turn a faint crimson.

Logan glared. "You know, I kind of regret telling you now."

"Oh, c'mon, Logan, you know I'm just kidding."

"Yeah, well you're not helping me, so it's pointless."

James faltered for a moment, his legs going still against the bed as he stared down at the floor. For some unfathomable reason, James had thought that Logan had told him his secret because he actually trusted James enough—that he valued James' approval. Once again, he felt as though a bucket of cold water had been poured over top him, drenching him completely with the realization that his opinion really didn't matter in the slightest. It stung. Logan's opinion meant the world to James.

"That the only reason you told me?" James asked, scowling at the floor.

"Well, yeah," Logan said, his eyebrows pulling together in uncertainty. "Why else?"

"Ouch, okay, then." James cleared his throat and hid his vague sense of resentment behind an expressionless mask. "Let's get to work then."

"Wait." Logan watched James for a moment, studying his suddenly indifferent expression for some hint as to what just happened to cause the abrupt shift in the atmosphere. Everything was calm and lighthearted one minute, and then in the next, it was as though everything had turned professional and impersonal. There was very little trace left of the person who had just been talking to a dismembered iPod and kicking his legs back and forth like an energetic, young child. "What just happened?"

"What are you talking about?" James asked, his tone neutral, as he raised an eyebrow.

"Everything's different now, and you're being too serious."

James feigned a chuckle. "I really don't know what you're—"

"James. Seriously," Logan said, knowing something was clearly wrong. James had been one of his best friends for years and, c'mon, they'd been living in the same apartment for almost nine months, sharing a bedroom for the entire duration of that time; Logan knew James better than he knew the back of his own hand. In fact, Logan thought he probably knew James better than he knew Carlos and even Kendall.

"It's nothing," James grounded out from between clenched teeth, tension obviously writhing and coiling through every muscle in his body.

"Tell me." Logan glared, James glared back, and really, the heat that existed between their two gazes was enough to ignite a thousand furious flames—Logan didn't really want to think about what might happen if this continued to escalate. Images of the both of them fighting desperately against one another formed in his mind. That happened much too often, and now was really not the time.

However, he was saved the immediate weariness as James seemed to suddenly deflate under Logan's demanding stare. "You don't trust me, do you? The only reason you told me was because you needed my help."

Logan felt a bit winded for a second, almost forgetting that he actually had a motive for glaring at James in the first, and it wasn't just the product of some overwhelming emotions getting the better of him. "Huh?"

James released a deep sigh, flipping backwards and lying back on his bed, staring up at the ceiling with a dark scowl. "You don't trust me. How can I make the statement any clearer?"

"What do you mean I don't trust you? Of course I trust you!"

"You said that the only reason you told me was because you needed my help," James said, smirking rather viciously and appearing smug.

"Oh," Logan shrank, having his own words thrown back at him, and only just realizing how they had sounded. "That's definitely not what I meant."

"Oh?" James prompted, his smirk still quite condescending and malicious. Logan knew immediately that it was a defense mechanism, and nothing more. If James felt attacked, he would bristle and snap and fight back and do anything he possibly could to save face.

"I trust you, James, more than I trust anyone else obviously," Logan said, rolling his eyes.

In that instant, James' entire demeanor shifted, his muscles slackening and his expression going blank as he considered the response. Then he smiled, a little sheepishly at first, his eyes were gleaming, and the front that he had up was completely absent. There was something about the timid and mildly apologetic expression that had settled over James' features that caused something to stir beneath Logan's ribcage, a slight flutter of his heart, or something else as equally unexplainable. It was an unsettling feeling at first, different in a novel sort of way, but not entirely unpleasant.

"Sorry," James mumbled, staring at Logan from beneath his fringe, and it was so innocent and warm that, before he'd even realized it, he was smiling back at the other boy.

Another week later and, despite the fact that they'd spent several hours a day together, neither of them were even remotely closer to their end goals. James still didn't have an iPod, and Logan still hadn't gotten any closer to Kendall—if anything, he'd probably only managed to push the him further away, given the amount of time he was spending with James.

James and Logan were sitting on the orange couch in the living room, facing each other with their legs stretched out in front of them, pressed together from hip to ankle. James was watching Logan carefully with an easy smile, wrapping the cord of his headphones around his fingers. Logan, however, was reading; his book resting calmly in his lap as he stared down and read the words. It was a comfortable silence, and while both of them knew they should be coming up with plans or something, neither said a single word. There was something entirely too domestic about the entire scene, and James could feel warmth consume him at the thought. This was easy and fucking perfect.

He could sit here with Logan for his entire life, he thought wistfully. Even if he did get bored, he could always provoke Logan into fighting with him, and that was always fun. There was not a single person on the entire planet that James would rather spar with; Logan was level-headed and considered his moves before acting, treating every action as though it was a chess strategy, and he was swift. James, on the other hand, was impulsive and reckless, acting purely on blind force. It was like they were personalized for each other, matching every move tit for fucking tat. And not just when they fought, if he wanted to be completely honest with himself. He supposed that was only one of the reasons he had fallen in love him the other boy.

James smirked at his thoughts, and returned his attention to his brunette friend at the opposite end of the couch. He moved his foot slightly, just enough to lift the flap of Logan's book and close it.

Logan lifted his head only a second later and watched James with a faint bit of amusement and exasperation. "Why?" he asked, smirking and moving his book to the coffee table before settling once again at James' side.

James chuckled. "You were boring me."

"Of course," Logan sighed, stifling a yawn. It was, after all, 12:30 in the morning. "Why are we even still awake in the first place?"

James rested his head against the couch and continued to watch his friend. "Because you clearly love me, and enjoy spending time with me, of course."

"Yeah, that's it," Logan said sarcastically, chuckling.

"I should be trying to fix my iPod."

Logan quirked an eyebrow. "I don't even know why you bother. I told you I'd buy a new one if you help me."

"No, you said you'd buy me a new one if I successfully help you. There's a difference," James said, bouncing his head lightly against the couch cushion.

"James Diamond," Logan looked truly scandalized, "are you doubting your charismatic skills and ability to charm? I never thought I'd see the day."

"Asshole," James said, grinning despite himself. "It's different when I'm telling other people how to act, you know."

Logan laughed. "I have faith in you."

And James beamed.

It sounded like someone was throwing a fucking wrecking ball through his bedroom window. And really? This had been going on for a little over two weeks now; if James didn't get a solid eight hours of sleep soon, he would going to end up throttling the construction workers with the very jackhammer they were currently using directly below his bedroom window.

He didn't even have his iPod to drown out the noise anymore. Life was rather cruel to him, lately.

Growling softly, James buried his face into his pillow, trying to cover his ears with the warm fabric and suppress the relentless noise. He pulled his dark blanket over his head, doing anything he could possibly think of to stifle the sounds, to just make it stop already, because it was 6:30 in the morning, and he was tired.

Suddenly, and almost reminiscent of two weeks prior, his blankets were forcefully torn from his grasp and he was left staring up at the silhouette of Logan. He blinked and squinted his eyes against the sunlight that was just barely beginning to peek above the horizon, filling their bedroom with varying shades of deep reds and oranges. Unsurprisingly, the L.A. sun was blinding even at dawn.

Logan rubbed his eyes and stared down at James. His hair was tousled and sticking up in several different directions, his eyes were slightly red and blood shot, and there was a frown pulling at the corners of his lips. Almost immediately, James realized that, of course, Logan wouldn't be able to sleep either.

James sighed and offered Logan a sympathetic glance, realizing a little belatedly that he probably looked just as worn out as his friend did, and not really bothering to care at this moment.

"I miss my iPod," James complained after several long seconds of silence between the two of them. Rather than empathizing with James' obvious loss, Logan simply quirked his eyebrow, chuckled, and hit James upside the head with the pillow he had clutched within his hand.

"Let's go see if we can sleep in Carlos and Kendall's room."

James tugged at the black thread of his blanket, remembering two weeks ago when Logan had done the same. "They only have two beds..."

"Well, we'll figure it out...I'm tired. And this is ridiculous."

Both James and Logan crept slowly down the hallway toward theirs friends' combined bedroom, trying to remain as quiet as possible so as to not wake up Katie or Mama Knight. The construction could still be heard, but it wasn't as loud and obnoxious as it had been in their bedroom—of course they were lucky enough to have the room that was closest to the outdoors.

James stepped down and the floorboard beneath his feet creaked ever so slightly, causing him to hiss and glared at the offending piece of wood. How dare it creak so loudly when James was trying to be quiet!

When Logan saw James scowling at the floorboard, he couldn't help but chuckle at the way his friend seemed to challenge almost anything that went against him—living or otherwise. After a few more moments, they gently pushed the door to Carlos and Kendall's room open, creeping inside and shutting it once more. As they stood in the center of the dark bedroom, James faltered, not quite sure how to handle this situation, but refusing to leave and return to their bright and noisy excuse for a sleeping environment.

"Ca-ar-los," Logan hissed suddenly, approaching his friend's bed and shaking him gently. Apparently Logan was loud enough to not only wake up Carlos, but Kendall as well. Good, James thought, if the rest of them were awake, Kendall could be awake as well. And there was absolutely no resentment in that thought; no, none at all.

"What are you guys doing?" Kendall asked, his eyebrows pulling together as he took in the sight before him. Carlos was still half-asleep, barely coherent enough to realize that Logan was still shaking him.

"We have to sleep in here," James tried, sounding just a bit desperate. "It's too loud in our room—"

"—and we haven't gotten eight consecutive hours of sleep in over two weeks," Logan finished for him, trying to hold Carlos up in attempt to rouse him further. It seemed rather hopeless, if James wanted to be completely honest, and he couldn't help but grin.

Kendall sighed and ran a hand through his hair, studying the scene for several long moments. "Fine, I guess we'll have to share beds until they're finished with the construction."

James nearly sighed in relief.

"Okay," Logan mumbled, smiling as Carlos finally opened his eyes. "How are we going to do this then?"

Kendall flopped back down on his mattress, staring up at the ceiling with an ambiguous grin. There was something about the way his eyes seemed to gleam with mischief, almost as though he knew something that no one else seemed to know. The light green band of his irises was positively glowing with it, and James desperately wanted to know what was going through his friend's mind.

Then James realized that there was a decent chance that Logan and Kendall would be sharing a bed and sleeping next to one another. Was Kendall aware of that possibly? Was that why he seemed to be radiating an emotion that could only be called satisfaction and approval, staring at James with a smug expression. Did he fucking know?

James just barely resisted the urge to growl.

"I don't care," Kendall murmured noncommittally, his gaze still focused on James' hazel eyes. There was a challenge buried within those light green irises, something all-knowing and a little disconcerting, and James simply couldn't understand it. It was almost as though Kendall was urging him—provoking him into action—but James couldn't figure out the motive or the purpose or the direction of where Kendall was pushing him in the first place. Oh, the challenge was there alright, but James didn't exactly know what the challenge was.

Those intense green eyes seemed to be burning straight through James' defenses, seeing each emotion for what it was worth, and James had an odd feeling that Kendall knew even more than he had initially suspected. As though he had set up some elaborate plan and was just watching it unfold before his very eyes, enjoying the sight of his victims being tortured. His grin was dark and wicked.

"Well," Logan started after a moment of silence. "I'll share a bed with James, and you and Carlos can share." Logan's eyebrows were furrowed in concentration, pausing to consider his words. "It makes sense since we already share bedrooms, y'know?" He added quickly, as though trying to justify his decision and explain himself for choosing to sleep with James rather than Carlos or Kendall.

James simply stared at his friend, completely perplexed by his choice. If anything, James had been almost one-hundred percent certain that Logan would have chose to sleep with Kendall. He liked Kendall, and that would be reason enough to share a bed with the other boy, and here Logan had been given the perfect opportunity, and he'd opted instead to sleep with James.

All of this was making his head spin, and James could feel his blood rushing through his veins, pooling in the center of his chest like a sphere of fire and ash. Kendall was acting suspiciously pleased with himself, Logan was making unexpected decisions, and Carlos...well, James was pretty sure that Carlos was sleeping again.

In the next moment, Logan turned to face Carlos once more and shook him a little more roughly. "Go to Kendall's bed," he growled, trying desperately to elicit a response.

Without even acknowledging anyone in the room, Carlos quietly walked over to Kendall's bed and dropped down, nearly collapsing on his friend in the process. Kendall simply chuckled and shoved him lightly, before returning his attention to the James and Logan. "Okay, then. Until the construction's over, you and James will share Carlos' bed," he said, smiling viciously.

James nodded silently and turned to crawl in the bed. He was entirely too tired to deal with this at the moment; his mind was desperately trying to catch up with everything that was happening around him, trying to process all of these puzzle pieces that just didn't fucking fit at all.

Logan curled up beside him, a little closer than necessary, but James really wasn't complaining. In fact, he was quite content to be lying here next to Logan, feeling the warmth that pierced through their clothing and made him feel as though he was closer to Logan than he actually was. It was pleasant, and James found himself wishing that the construction would continue to go on for several months.

James glanced across the room once more, just barely catching a glimpse of Kendall's bright green eyes, still glowing with something inexplicable and foreign. He just smirked and turned to face the wall, leaving James feeling lost a just a little bit vulnerable. What the actual fuck?

Oh, well. There was nothing James could do about it right now, he thought a little morosely. He was tired, his surroundings were uncharacteristically dark and quiet, and he had a warm body pressed against his side. In fact, there was very little he wanted to do about it—everything was quite fine as it was, really.

With a contented sigh, James slept.

Author's Note: So, it's been a while since I've posted anything. However, I have been writing quite a bit. This story will be broken down into three parts, and it currently stands at around 13,000 words. There's only one more scene that I need to decide on and add before it's complete. I've had this idea for a while now, but it seems to have developed into something beyond my control. It can be seen as a potential prequel to another story I have posted, Behind Closed Doors, however, both stories stand alone. You do not have to read one to understand the other.

Other than this, I've been working on another Big Time Rush story, as well (which is currently around 5,000 words, and not even close to being finished). I don't know when or if it will ever get completed and posted, but I definitely hope it will.

And once again, thank you so, so much to everyone who has been reading and/or reviewing any of the stories I have posted. Your encouragement means the world to me. :)

So what are your thoughts on this idea? What do you think will happen next? Thoughts, opinions, predictions? :)