A/N. One year ago today I posted chapter one of 'Little Hollow'. I had no idea that it would wind up with over fifty chapters and over one thousand reviews. During that time I met my soul mate Lauren who has basically helped me through so much over the past several months. Not just with writing even though she's one of my most faithful reviewers ever and she always reads my future chapters/stories and gives me helpful feedback but she's also always there when I'm an angsty mess and she helps make me feel better all the time. I love her to death. So this is dedicated to her. ILOVEYOU. Oh, and I don't own anything. Fish sticks!
None of the boys knew how long they stayed in the park like that. Each time they thought they had pulled themselves together all they had to do was look at one another and dissolve into tears and laughter all over again. They laid stretched out on the grass, eyes on the blue sky overhead, breathing in their newfound freedom and for the first time in months, dreaming of what the future had in store for them.
It was Kendall who became aware of the passage of time when he felt his phone vibrate in his side pocket. Not wanting to disturb the others he took it out and glanced at the screen. His eyes widened when he saw that he had seven missed calls, all of them from his mother. After scrolling through them with only a small twinge of guilt to interrupt the sense of peace that had flooded through his body, he looked at the time and drew in a sharp breath as he sat up hurriedly.
"Kendall?" Logan's lazy voice broke the stillness as he sat up too and watched his friend, concerned by his sudden change in demeanor. "Is something wrong?"
A short laugh escaped Kendall and he shook his head. "Of course not," he said with a grin. How could anything ever be wrong again? "My mom," he added, holding up his phone. "She's been trying to get a hold of me."
Comprehension dawned on Logan's face as James and Carlos sat up as well. "Oh no," he whispered, sounding appalled with himself. "She must be worried sick."
"Yeah," Kendall nodded, still grinning. "I bet."
Logan punched Kendall's shoulder. "Kendall, I'm serious!" he protested. "We've been gone for hours!"
It was true. But nothing could bring Kendall's mood down. "I guess we should head home then." He sent his mother a quick text message, simply saying that they were on their way back to the apartment and then he stood up and brushed himself off. "Ready?" he questioned.
"What did you tell her?" Logan asked curiously, reaching out a hand so Kendall could pull him up to his feet.
Kendall grasped Logan firmly by the wrist and tugged him up, folding both arms around the smaller boy in an impulsive hug. "I just said we'd be home soon," he mumbled. "I thought you should tell her yourself."
Logan sighed deeply and nodded. "Thanks," he said, resting his head briefly on Kendall's shoulder. "For everything." He felt Kendall's arms tighten in a gentle squeeze and then release him altogether so he stepped back and smiled. "Ready, guys?" he asked, turning to see James and Carlos.
"Ready!" James jumped to his feet and hauled Carlos up as well.
Logan didn't move at first though. He took a moment to observe his friends. Carlos' smile was back to putting the sun to shame with its bright and warm look. The dead emptiness in James' hazel eyes was gone as if it had never existed in the first place. Logan didn't need to turn around and look at Kendall. He felt the old strength and steadiness there in the hand that rested lightly on his shoulder. "Okay then," he said at last when he felt he had gotten his fill of the joy that was surrounding him. "Let's go."
James immediately lifted Carlos off his feet and swung him easily over his broad shoulders. "Onwards!" he cried, ignoring the curious glances he got from a pair of passing joggers.
Logan laughed as he watched his friends fade into the oncoming darkness, Carlos' demands that James run faster, growing fainter. "Come on," he says to Kendall, taking a step forward. "We'd better make sure they don't get lost or something."
"I'm more concerned that they'd get to the car, hot-wire it, and drive off because they forgot about us." Kendall joked. He kept one arm around Logan's shoulders as they followed their friends at a much slower pace.
Logan was glad that they weren't rushing. The emotional storm had left him feeling a little drained. Besides, he was racking his brain for the words he would use to tell his adoptive mother and sister. And Camille. At the thought of his girlfriend and how she had lost her father to the same disease he had just beaten, he couldn't help but shudder a little.
Out of habit, Kendall glanced at him in concern. "Are you okay?" he asked before he could stop himself.
Logan wasn't annoyed though. "I'm fine." he said quietly. "I really am. In fact," he shot a quick glance at Kendall. "I'm fantastic."
"I know," Kendall said quietly. "I guess it'll just take some time getting used to. I don't mind though. Not at all. Is something on your mind then?"
"I just don't know how I'm supposed to tell everyone," Logan admitted as they reached the car where James and Carlos were waiting.
"What was wrong with the way you told us?" James asked as he set Carlos back down on his feet and leaned against the car.
"Nothing!" Carlos answered for Logan in a bright tone. "Just tell them, Logie. It doesn't matter how." He grinned and bounced on his feet a couple of times before throwing his arms around Logan. "Say it again!" he pleaded, closing his eyes to block out everything else around him.
"My cancer," Logan said slowly, his voice shaking with emotion. "Is gone. I'm not sick anymore."
"I know," Carlos sighed happily. "I just wanted to hear it again. Come on, let's go home."
It took Kendall several tries before he actually succeeded in fitting the key into the ignition and starting the car. His hands were shaking with excitement but when he gripped the steering wheel they were quick to steady. He pulled out of the parking lot and onto the highway, resisting the urge to speed so they'd get back more quickly.
Next to him in the passenger seat, Logan drummed his fingers anxiously on his armrest and stared out the window. His heart beat rapidly in his chest but for once it was not out of fear, but joy instead. He glanced up at the mirror overhead and surveyed himself to find that he looked just like his friends. His face was flushed with color and though his eyes were red and swollen they were also bright and happy. He caught James and Carlos watching him and flashed them a grin that they both returned.
At last they pulled into the Palm Woods and Kendall parked the car. He sat perfectly still for a moment, trying to comprehend that he was about to share the news of Logan being cancer-free. But then there was a quick knock at his window and he jumped and turned to see that his friends were already out of the car and waiting for him.
The four boys walked quickly into the lobby and started to walk towards the elevator when Logan stopped suddenly and changed directions. Confused, they followed his gaze to see the girls sitting together and taking quietly.
"Logan," Camille stood and caught the hand he offered her. "Hi-"
Logan leaned forward and pressed a quick kiss to her lips then drew back. "Are you busy?" he asked anxiously. "I need to talk to you in a little while. Just the two of us."
Camille stared closely at Logan and then at his friends. She was confused, that much was easy to see, but she nodded her head anyway.
"Okay," Logan started to pull away, their fingers lingering together. "I don't think I'll be that long," he added, hoping that everyone understood how important she was to him. Then he turned and left. He went first and opened the door to Apartment 2J. Immediately, they were surrounded by Mrs. Knight and Katie, both demanding questions left and right. "I'm sorry," Logan held up his hands to stop them. "We should have been home a long time ago."
"Sweetheart," Mrs. Knight breathed, laying her hands on his shoulders and looking closely at him. "Is everything okay? What- what did the doctor want?" Her hands moved up to cup his face and tilt it so that he was looking at her.
He hated that she and Katie were so worried and scared. Logan lifted a hand and laid it on hers, closing his eyes. "It's gone," he whispered, getting straight to the point this time. He heard them both gasp but after that there was no sound. After several long seconds ticked by with no noises, Logan opened his eyes and looked at the woman who had been his mother ever since his real mom had died. It wasn't until last year that their relationship had been official but that didn't mean he hadn't thought of her that way in all the years before. He only caught a glimpse of her face and the tears streaming from her eyes before he was trapped in the middle of her and Katie as they hugged him tightly.
"Really?" Katie asked, hardly daring to hope although it was all they had ever wanted.
Logan simply nodded and moved so that one arm was draped over his younger sister's shoulders. A lump grew in his throat so that speech was impossible. He wondered if he would ever run out of tears anytime soon. But it was hard not to cry when everyone around him was in tears.
"Logan," Mrs. Knight whispered softly, taking a quick glance at the other boys. She didn't want to question the news that they had dreamed of but after so many months, no one could blame her. "Are you- the doctors. . . sure?"
"Yeah," Logan laughed then, a sob catching in his throat. "That's part of the reason it took so long. They wanted to make sure." He took a deep breath before going on. "Then I. . . I went back to the park and. . . I told them and that's where we've been all this time. I'm sorry that we worried you."
"Don't be sorry, sweetie." Mrs. Knight hugged him again and then drew slowly away, smiling. "This means the world to me. To all of us. I am so proud of you, Logan. You've been so brave and you overcame so much-"
"Only because of all of you though." Logan interrupted softly. "You gave me something to live for and that's why I kept fighting." "Still," Katie insisted, as she continued to cling to him. We're all proud of you."
"Thanks," Logan smiled then and gave Katie a strong hug. "I love you all."
Katie looked up at him and smiled. "So, does anyone else know?" It was obvious that now that she believed the good news for herself, she wanted to tell everyone.
"Just everyone here," Logan told her. "I don't mind how everyone finds out except for Camille. I'd like to tell her when it's just the two of us." He smiled uncertainly. "That's okay, right?"
"It's perfect," James declared. "We'll go down together and you take Camille down to the beach or something. Then if you're okay with it, we'll tell the other girls." He wrapped an arm around Logan's shoulders and together they led the way down to the lobby.
Logan's footsteps faltered for an instant as they approached the girls again but the gentlest of shoves from James got him moving again. "Ready, Camille?" he asked when there was a pause in their conversation.
Camille grew instantly serious as she looked closely at Logan's teary-red eyes. "Yes," she said in a small voice as she stood up.
Logan took her hand and squeezed it. "Let's go down to the beach and take a walk." he suggested smoothly. "We'll see you guys in a little while, okay?"
The rest of the group watched them go, the boys peacefully and the girls anxiously. Jo turned to Kendall when they could no longer see the couple. "Kendall?"
"Hm?" Kendall asked distractedly.
"Is. . ." Jo continued to stare at Kendall's face for any hints as to what they were all hiding. "Is Logan okay?" she finally blurted out.
A wide smile spread over Kendall's face and he hugged Jo closely. "Logan," he whispered. "Has never been better."
Camille was perfectly quiet as she and Logan walked down to the beach. Her mind was racing, trying to guess what might be so important that he needed to tell her in private. All she came up with was negative thoughts that scared her. His red, swollen eyes were proof that he had been crying and he walked almost as if he was in some sort of dreamlike trance. Hadn't he had a doctor's appointment earlier in the day? An unexpected one? Katie had been down in the lobby a few hours ago and had mentioned something about the boys going to the hospital for an unscheduled check-up. What if his cancer was worse? He had been so healthy for so long now but Camille knew how quickly things could change. What if they had changed for the worse once again? What if he told her something like that? What if he said he had been given six months to live?
Logan glanced back at Camille, his expression unreadable except for the gentleness in his brown eyes. To an outsider, he was the picture of perfect health. But who knew what was really going on with the cancer waging its war on his body? "Just a little farther," he said encouragingly. It was only because he was holding onto her hand that she was able to keep walking in the first place. Camille nodded and then stumbled a bit, blinded by her tears. He held her steady though and they continued walking. The beach was empty even though it was a beautiful evening. The sun was starting to set across the water and for a second, Camille forgot about being worried. She stared at the ocean and sighed as a sense of peace enveloped her. But the peace was only temporary and when Logan stopped walking to stand just out of reach of the waves, she was filled with fear all over again.
"I have something to tell you," Logan turned to face her, his face serious. "Doctor Walsh called me today and asked me if I could come in for some more tests because the last ones were irregular."
Camille felt her heartbeat quicken and she took a deep breath. "Irregular?" It was all she could manage to speak. Inside though, her brain was racing repeating one word over and over again. No no no no no.
Logan nodded and took a deep breath. "So we went and. . ." There were tears in his eyes and he couldn't speak for a while. He struggled furiously against the emotions that were pounding him as hard as the bigger waves pounded the shore. "Camille," he finally whispered, looking deep into her eyes. "I'm not sick anymore."
Although it had been the thing she had been dreaming and hoping for, it was the very last thing Camille had imagined he would say. She stared at him speechlessly, trying to make sense of his words as they ran circles in her mind. She shut her eyes and shook her head, opening her eyes to find that the moment was real. "What?" she asked faintly as the first tears began to blur everything in front of her.
Logan reached out and gently brushed away a tear that had fallen. "My cancer is gone." he said, leaning forward to press a gentle kiss to her lips.
Camille could hardly breathe. It wasn't just the fact that whenever Logan kissed her, she forgot to breathe consciously. His words had stolen the air right from her lungs and she could only stare at him in wonder. She felt Logan's breath tickle her cheek as he leaned in close and closed her eyes to listen.
"You don't have to be afraid anymore." Logan drew back, waiting for her response.
Camille opened her eyes to find that she was not dreaming, that Logan really was standing in front of her, telling her that she didn't need to be afraid anymore because his cancer was gone. "Logan," she whispered right before she let herself fall into his waiting arms. He caught and held her easily with a strength neither of them had been aware of until it was needed. "Shhh," he murmured gently when he felt her start to shake. "Cam," The nickname brought tears to her eyes. Her dad used to call her that all the time and Logan was really the only person who could call her that now. She was trembling violently and yet she had never felt so steady in all her life. "Logan," she finally sobbed out. "You're better."
Logan chuckled quietly at her simple choice of words and nodded, her dark hair brushing against his face. "Yeah. I am. I just. . ."
Camille's sobs stilled and she pulled away from Logan to look at him. "What?" she asked breathlessly. "Is everything okay?" There was a sudden sorrow in Logan's eyes that she didn't understand. "Logan? You're okay now. What could be better?"
"I wish it was your dad instead of me." The words slipped out because they had been locked away in his mind since Doctor Walsh told him he was cancer free. Why couldn't it have been Camille's father? Surely he had been a much better man than Logan could have ever hoped to be.
Camille couldn't help but smile and she knew that the action surprised Logan. "That's one of the many reasons I love you so much." she murmured. "You're so much like my dad was. I don't mean that you're a sort of replacement, not at all. You're exactly what I need, Logan. I miss my dad every day of my life but it's so much easier with you by my side. I know that if my dad was alive today he would say that he would rather die than you. He would know that he could trust you to take care of me. I don't love you more than I loved him but I love you just as much."
It meant so much to Logan to hear that Camille had no doubts of her father's approval even though he would never meet the man. It meant even more to realize the depth of love and affection she had for him was at the same level as his love and affection was for her. "Thank you," he whispered, feeling like there were no real words to express his gratitude. "Thank you," Camille replied, kissing his nose gently. "For fighting and winning. For not leaving me." Then she flung her arms around him, allowing the joy that had been filling her to overflow in a flurry of emotions.
Logan was quick to react, wrapping his arms around Camille's waist and pulling her as close as possible. "I'll always be with you as long as you'll have me."
"Forever then," Camille promised.
Logan smiled and lifted her into his arms. "Sounds good to me."
Camille wrapped her legs around his waist, marveling that she didn't have an ounce of fear within her. Logan was fine. Perfectly healthy. He felt so strong as he held her up and she linked her hands behind his head and rested her forehead in the crook of his neck. "It's perfect."
The intimacy of their embrace was unfamiliar but at the same time it felt natural to Logan. He closed his eyes, letting his other senses fill in the blanks. He felt Camille close against him, their hearts beating one steady rhythm together that would have been a song if it had sound. He smelled the strawberry scented shampoo she always used in the hair that blew in the wind, ghosting across his own face. He heard her sniffing quietly, still overcome by emotion. Then he heard the sudden loud roar of a wave and Camille shriek in surprise. He tasted the salt spray and he felt the wave crash into them with an unexpected force that knocked him right off his feet. They both went tumbling into the water, gasping at the chill.
"Logan!" Camille sat up, sputtering and wiping salt water from her stinging eyes. "Logan, are you okay?" Okay, maybe she wasn't completely used to the whole idea of Logan not being fragile but she had to make sure. Arms lifted her gently and carried her away from the fierce ocean. Her feet came in contact with the warm and dry sand and she turned to look at her rescuer.
"Never better," Logan assured her with a grin. He was soaked through and covered in wet sand but he was absolutely wonderful.
Camille laughed and pulled a piece of seaweed out of his hair before kissing him. "I know how to make it even better." she whispered. "Let's go back home and celebrate with everyone. What do you think about that?"
Logan's lips twitched into a crooked grin and he nodded. "I think you're right." He reached for her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze before setting off to the Palm Woods, ready for as Camille said, a true celebration with all of his family and friends. After all, they were the reasons he was alive in the first place.
A/N. Happy Birthday, Little Hollow and thanks once again to Lauren for everything. I am off in my Weeping Corner because I am now going through LH Withdrawal and it's not pretty. Let me know if you liked this!