Author's Note: Well I'm a quite a roll now, aren't I? Just bustin' out these babies! Here's another one and boy, is it a doozy. 6,832 words, which blows my previous high-score (er, word count) out of the water by exactly (no joke, exactly) 2,000 words. This story was originally inspired by a line from the song "If You See Kay," by The Script (the line says "They say if you love someone enough you've got to set them free"), and was then reinspired by song "Someone Like You," by Adele (hence the title of the story and the lyrics in the summary). Unbeta'd, so any and all mistakes are mine. IMPORTANT NOTES!: The paragraphs in italics are flashbacks, which take place when they're about 19-20. The story is set in the future, when they're about 30-32. Also, Logan is bisexual in this story. END IMPORTANT NOTES! In this story, there are — as there almost always is — parallels to my other BTR stories, but, as usual, you needn't have read any of them to understand this. Sit back, relax (maybe grab a snack or two — and a tissue), and enjoy. Remember: PLEASE REVIEW!
Disclaimer: Any recognizable names and/or places are the property of their respective owners.
Warings: Overall angst and sadness, and a small allusion to sex.
Logan passed through the open bedroom door, running a towel through his dripping hair. Carlos was sitting on his bed, laptop resting on his thighs.
"Hey, how was the pool?" Carlos asked, eyes still on the computer screen.
"Fine, until Camille came around rehearsing a scene for some new movie, shoved me right into Bitters and into the pool."
Carlos winced, sucking a breath through his teeth.
"I'm not allowed down there for a week," said Logan.
"Sorry, Logie," said Carlos. As Logan started for the bathroom, Carlos suddenly perked up.
"Oh, hey, you got a letter today," said Carlos.
"A letter?" said Logan, eyebrows raised. "From who?"
Carlos shrugged. "Don't remember. I left it on the counter for you."
Logan trekked back through the door, moving to the counter, and pulls of a long white envelope. He flips it over in his hand, staring at the front, looking for the return address. His heart skipped a beat and he quickly turned it over, tearing open the seal. As he scanned the first few lines, Logan's fairly certain his heart actually stopped.
Carlos popped up behind Logan, peering down at the letter. "Anything important?"
"Yes," Logan breathed. "Carlos, I made it."
"Made what?" Carlos asked.
"I got the internship. Remember the interview I went to the a couple months ago, for the 'Doctors Without Borders' thing?" Logan said quickly. Carlos nodded, and Logan continued. "This is from the guy who interviewed me; he said I made it. I made it. Carlos, I made it!"
"Logie, this is so great!" Carlos exclaimed, a large grin on his face. He pulled Logan close, kissing him once. "That's, that's... holy cow, amazing. I'm so proud of you."
Logan smiled, squeezing Carlos once before pulling away, looking back down at the letter.
"I'm going to Ethiopia to help build clinics and dig wells and experience a whole new lifestyle," said Logan, reading from the letter.
"Ethiopia?" said Carlos. "That's — dude, that's in Africa."
Logan smiled. "I know." He ran a shaky hand through his hair, feeling almost sick from the adrenaline coursing through his veins. He slumped back against the counter.
"You okay?" Carlos asked.
"Yeah, I'm just..." Logan let out a breath. "Wow."
Carlos nodded. "Wow."
Logan ran his hand through his hair again, pushing away from the counter. "I've got to find my phone. Let me know when the other guys get home, okay? But don't tell them what happened; I want to."
Carlos laughed, setting his hand on Logan's arm and kissing him again. "Gotcha."
"I've got to call my parents, and then my grandparents..." said Logan, moving back to their bedroom.
"Tell 'em I say hi," said Carlos.
Logan nodded absentmindedly, mumbling to himself, "Ethiopia..."
"Yep," Carlos said quietly, tapping his foot into the ground. He sighed. "Ethiopia."
Carlos shoves his hands deep into his pockets, letting out a shuddering breath as the doorbell finishes ringing. He feels a flutter in his heart as he hears footsteps nearing the door, coming closer, closer...
Logan's calling over his shoulder as he opens the door, the smile on his face fading to a look of shock as he turns to face forward.
Carlos shrugs slightly, smiling. Logan blinks, hand still on the door knob. He shakes his head, as if clearing his mind of a fog.
"Hey Logan," Carlos says.
"What—" Logan shakes his head once more, then smiles, despite himself. He lets go of the knob and steps forward, pulling Carlos into a hug. Carlos feels his heart flutter again as he wraps his arms around Logan, holding tight, nose in Logan's neck, breathing in, for the first time in a long time, the scent he never could forget.
"What're you doing here?" Logan asks, letting Carlos go. "I don't mean it like that, I just—"
"No, no, it's fine," Carlos shakes his head. "I was in town, so I figured I'd stop by and say hey. Got your address from Kendall. Okay, that last parts a lie — I looked you up online, but that sounds way creepier."
Logan laughs, his mouth splitting into a wide grin, and Carlos feels his heart skip once again; how long has it been since he's last seen Logan smile?
"Come in, come in," says Logan, pulling open the door fully. "Man, it's been years since I've seen you."
"Crazy, huh?" says Carlos, hands still in his pockets.
"I was just making some coffee," said Logan, leading Carlos towards the kitchen. "You want some?"
"I'm fine, thanks," says Carlos.
A bright purple blur shoots out from a side room, nearly knocking into Carlos in their haste to reach Logan. Logan lets out a quiet "oof!" as the blur collides with his side.
"Ginny, you remember Carlos," says Logan, picking up the small girl.
"Carlos, one of my oldest friends," says Logan, shifting the girl to his hip. "Remember?"
Ginny looks at Carlos, studying him carefully, then shakes her head. "Nope."
"Well, it's been a while," says Carlos. "Pretty sure you were two the last time I saw you."
"Hmm," says Ginny, clearly uninterested in the entire conversation. She turns back to her father. "Dad, can I have some hot chocolate?"
"'Course," says Logan, setting the girl back on the floor. "Hey, go find Jacob for me, will you?"
Ginny nods, trekking back through the door from which she came. "JACOB! COME OUT, COME OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE!"
"Well I could've done that," Logan mutters, shaking his head, continuing on into the kitchen.
"Jacob?" asks Carlos.
"My son," says Logan. "He's seventeen months. Did I not tell you we had another baby?"
"I think I heard, from Kendall," says Carlos. "Haven't met him, though."
"Logan, have you seen my phone?"
A woman emerges from the kitchen, hands at one of her ears, as if putting in an earring. Her long black hair falls to one side, the result of her head tilting, and her eyebrows are raised expectantly.
"On the table by the door," Logan answers.
"Oh, duh. Thanks, babe." Valerie shifts her gaze past Logan to Carlos. She pushes her eyebrows together slightly, pursing her lips, as if searching her brain. She blinks once, twice, then,
"Oh my God, Carlos!"
Valerie pushes past Logan, throwing her arms around Carlos' neck and hugging him. She plants a kiss on his cheek, and Carlos feels the sticky moisture of her lip gloss against his skin.
"I can't believe you're here; it's been what, three years?" she says, pulling back, setting her hands on his shoulders.
"Something like that," says Carlos.
"Well you look great!" she exclaims, throwing her arms up. "How are you? How've you been?"
"Good, good," Carlos nods. "You?"
"Just great," she says, smiling. "And I would love to stay and chat, but I'm actually on my way out to the door. Off to St. Paul to celebrate my parents' anniversary. But it really was great to see you again Carlos, really great."
"Great to see you, too," says Carlos. "Have fun with your family."
"Oh, well, we'll try," Valerie rolls her eyes, then sets off through the door Ginny had come through. "Children! Come give me a kiss, I'm leaving!"
Logan and Carlos stand in the hall for a moment, Carlos examing the pattern of the wallpaper.
"Okay, I'm gone," says Valerie, rushing back into the hall. She gives Logan a quick peck. "See you in three days, hon. Try and keep the kids alive in my absence, okay?"
"I love you, too, Val."
"It was really great to see you again, Carlos," says Valerie, hugging Carlos once more. "Try and stop by more often, okay?"
"Yes ma'am," Carlos nods, giving her a quick squeeze. "Have a safe trip."
"Now where's my phone?" Valerie asks, grabbing her keys from the table by the door. "Oh, right here. Nevermind. See you guys later!"
"Well, she's as big a whirlwind as I remember," says Carlos, once the door closes. Logan snorts, shaking his head.
"Val never stops moving, that's for sure."
Carlos pushed his hand through Logan's hair, chin resting at the top of Logan's head. Logan was curled up beside him, pulling nervously at Carlos' shirt.
"What're you worried about?" Carlos asked.
"Everything. Carlos, I'm going to the other side of the world. To Africa. By myself. For eighteen months."
"You've always wanted to go to Africa, Logan," said Carlos. "And you won't be by yourself; there's eleven other interns, plus the doctors."
"You know what I mean," said Logan. "Nobody that I know."
"And eighteen months really isn't that long," Carlos continued.
"It's a year and a half!" Logan cried. "In Africa! By myself!"
"It's going to be awesome, Logan."
"But what if I get sick with like, dysentry or malaria or something? Or I hurt myself? What if—"
"You're going to be surrounded by doctors every day all the time. I think you'll be okay."
"And what about the band? There can't be a band without me. That sounds conceited, I know, but—"
"Don't worry about that, Logan."
"What about us?"
Carlos' hand paused. "What about us?"
"What's going to happen? Ethipoia's on the other side of the world."
"So? We have phones."
"I really don't think I'm going to get good reception."
"I can e-mail."
"Internet connection can't be reliable in the rainforest."
"I'll write you letters."
"That'll take ages, though. And what if it gets lost in the mail?"
"Then I'll send you smoke signals, for crying out loud!" said Carlos, slightly exasperated. "What do you want me to say, Logan?"
"Nothing, I just..." Logan sighed. "I'm going to be really far away for a really long time."
"I know," said Carlos. "And that's okay."
"What if — what if while I'm gone, we grow apart? What if you meet someone, or I meet someone?"
"Mi amor, I don't know about you, but I'm not going to meet anybody else." He kissed the top of Logan's forehead. "You know, if you're this worried, you don't actually have to go."
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I have to go."
"I know, and I want you to go, I just don't want you to leave worried about absolutely everything."
"Fat chance that'll happen."
Carlos chuckled low in his throat, looking at the clock on the nightstand. "It's almost one; you should get to bed. Plane leaves bright and early tomorrow."
"'Night, Logie. I love you."
Logan squeezed Carlos a little bit tighter. "I love you, too."
"What were we talking about?" asks Logan, moving into the kitchen. "Oh, that's right, Jacob. Listen, I'm really sorry I never called. Life's just so busy, you know? I mean to try and get in touch with you, but—"
"It's okay, Logie, it goes both ways. I haven't called you much lately, either," says Carlos, smiling gently. Logan feels a sudden, faint tug somewhere deep inside; he hasn't been called "Logie" in years. He stays in place for a moment before moving towards the cabinets.
Carlos glances around the room, taking in the faint yellow walls and the dark wood table off in front of floor-to-ceiling windows, light reflecting off the polished surface.
"Your house is beautiful," Carlos comments. Logan looks out from behind the fridge, smiling.
"Thanks; Val picked everything out," he says.
"She's always had good taste," says Carlos. Logan grunts in acknowledgment.
"So how've you been?" asks Logan, pouring a small amount of milk into a green mug.
"Good," says Carlos, nodding.
"Are you still living in California?" asks Logan.
"Just moved back, actually," says Carlos.
"Really? New job?"
"No, my um—my mom's sick," says Carlos. "She needed some extra help around the house, so I came back up."
"Is she okay? What's wrong?"
Carlos shrugs heavily. "Life's catching up with her, I guess. Not as young or as strong as she used to be. They think it might be her heart."
"Oh, Carlos, I'm sorry," Logan frowns. "Here, I can give you the number to a cardiologist I know; he's great." Logan gropes around the counter for a pen, tearing off a bit of yesterday's newspaper.
"That's okay, you don't have to do that," says Carlos. "We've already seen a few doctors."
"Well, in case you want another opinion," says Logan, holding out the scrap of paper. Carlos takes it, fingertips brushing against Logan's. He tucks it into his pocket. "Let him know I sent you."
The corner of Carlos' mouth turn up for a moment, nodding. "Thank you."
They stand in silence for a moment.
"So uh, how's your brother?" asks Logan.
"Haven't talked to him in a few weeks, but last I heard, he's good," says Carlos.
"Is he still in the Air Force?" asks Logan.
"Navy," Carlos corrects. "But yeah, he's stationed in Germany right now."
"Wow," says Logan, eyes widening for a moment. He places the mug of milk into the microwave, turning it on. "How's his family? He has two kids...?"
"Three girls," says Carlos. "And they're expecting a fourth in December."
"That must be interesting," says Logan. Carlos scoffs.
"Interesting doesn't even begin to cover it. We're all not-so-secretly praying for a boy with this next one," says Carlos. "Gabe loves the girls, but he needs a little extra testosterone around the house."
"I would imagine," says Logan.
Carlos knocks gently against the counter, cool marble beneath his knuckles, as Ginny comes goose stepping into the kitchen.
"Found him!" she says proudly, a baby boy trapped in her arms, shirt riding up as he gradually slips further and further from her grasp.
"Whoa, here, how about I hold Jacob?" says Logan, rushing forward and gently grabbing the baby from his daughter. He tosses Jacob playfully into the air, catching him as he comes back down, smiling at the boy.
"Is my hot chocolate ready?" Ginny asks, microwave beeping as she spoke.
"Almost; I'll bring it to you in the living room, okay? But don't leave it on the coffee table, Jacob could grab it."
"Got it," Ginny nods, moving to exit the room.
"Hey, don't I get a kiss?" asks Logan. Ginny rushes back to her father as Logan bends down. She places her hands on his shoulders and lightly pecks his lips.
"Thank you, Daddy, I love you!" she calls, sprinting back out. Logan lets out a small sigh, smiling at the spot where she once stood. He turns back to the microwave, pulling out the mug, then begins to search the pantry for the hot chocolate mix. He pulls out a tub of mix, bringing it to the counter. He looks first towards the mug, then the baby in his arms, letting out a quiet noise of deliberation.
"I can take him," says Carlos, rounding the counter.
"Do you mind?" asks Logan.
"Logan, this is me you're talking to," says Carlos, stretching out his arms to the small boy in Logan's arms, all thick dark hair and brilliantly green eyes.
"Alrighty then, come on, Jacob," says Logan, shifting the baby in his arms. "Daddy's got to make your sister some hot chocolate."
Jacob lets out a tiny whine of complaint, latching onto his father, burying his face in his chest. Carlos cocks his head, setting his hands on his hips.
"Really Jacob, I'm way more fun than your dad," says Carlos. Jacob peeks over his shoulder at Carlos, fist tightening around his father's shirt collar.
"Oh, hey, you want to see something cool?" Carlos digs around his pocket, pulling out a tiny keychain. It's the size of a dog tag, flat and silver, with a small hollow spot on the front where a Sword of Valor had been cut into the front. Carlos holds it out to Jacob, eyesbrows slightly raised. Jacob studies him for a moment before stretching out his hand, slightly wet from having been in his mouth the previous moment, and snatching the keychain. Carlos smiles, then holds out his hands, which the baby leans in towards.
"Thought you'd like that," says Carlos, sliding his hands just below Jacob's bottom. "I'm a sucker for shiny stuff, too."
Carlos shifts his legs to one foot, watching as Jacob turns the keychain in his hands.
"See that?" asks Carlos, pointing to the words engraved on the back. "The top parts a verse, from the Bible. The stuff on my bottom is mi papí's — that's Spanish for 'my daddy's' — name. This was his, a long time ago, when he was a police officer. Me and my older brother got it for him to celebrate his second year on the force. Papí's gone now, shot one night when he was working, almost fourteen years ago."
Logan feels his throat catch, hands pausing in his stirring as he remembers the night Carlos lost his father. He closes his eyes for a moment.
"That was a long time ago, though," Carlos continues, "and he's in Heaven, so it's all good. I'll see him again eventually."
Logan smiles gently, recapping the tub of cocoa mix and placing it back in the pantry.
"Hey, I saw your dad throw you up in the air before, but has he ever dropped you?"
Logan freezes, turning his head just in time to see Carlos suddenly drop forward at his hips, Jacob letting out a shriek as they both hang upside down, heads only a few inches off the ground. Logan lets out a strangled breath as Carlos rights himself, face slightly flushed from having hung upside down, Jacob's eyes wide.
"Come on, now, Logan, I wouldn't actually drop your child." Carlos shakes his head, then turns his attention back to Jacob. "Now let's try that again, Jacob. On three, ready? One, two, three!"
Carlos bends forward again, fast and sudden, hands placed firmly around Jacob's hips and neck to hold him in place. He hangs upside down, locking eyes with the baby. After a moment, Jacob smiles.
"See? It's fun, right?" says Carlos as he straightens up. "One, two... THREE!"
Jacob lets out a wild giggle, slapping at Carlos' face, keychain swinging freely. Logan smiles at the sound of his son's laugh, relaxing the nervous tension in his shoulders.
"I'm going to take this to Ginny," says Logan, walking past the pair. "Please, just... be careful, okay?"
"Your daddy doesn't trust me with you," Carlos whispers in Jacob's ear, watching as Logan exits the kitchen. "But I really only dropped a kid once."
Carlos smiles as he hears Logan's footsteps stop.
"Kidding!" he calls, shaking his head. "I'm just kidding."
Carlos places a quick kiss on the baby's cheek. "Like I could drop something this precious."
Logan jiggled his leg anxiously, feeling a bead of sweat roll down the center of his back. A garbled noise filled his ear as he adjusted himself on the small stool, moving around until he found the phone was ringing clearly. Outside his tent, he heard a loud crash; he turned his head as he heard someone call out, "I'm fine!" He looked back down at his lap, the ringing coming to an abrupt halt.
Logan felt his heart skip. "Carlos?"
Logan let out a breath, eyes fluttering with relief. "Yeah, it's me. Did I wake you?"
"Uh, yeah," said Carlos plainly. "It's one in the morning. What time's it over there?"
"Two past seven. I'm sorry to call you so late, but we're moving down the border today, and I don't know when the next time I'll be able to call is."
"No worries, I'm happy you called; almost forgot what your voice sounded like," said Carlos. "How are you? How's Ethiopia? Having fun?"
Logan smiled. "I love it. It's so amazing; the other day we finished building an orphanage, and then I helped vaccinate the two hundred kids who'd be staying there. I've seen people perform surgeries, deliver babies, bring people back to life — I've actually help save people over here, Carlos. And it's absolutely beautiful; LA has nothing on the rainforest."
"My little humanitarian," Carlos chuckled. "Busy bee, huh?"
"I think this is the first time I've sat down in three days! I'm exhausted."
"I'm really proud of you, Logan. That's so awesome."
"How're things over there?" Logan asked, picking at a scab on his knee.
"Same as always," said Carlos. "I think we're ending 'Big Time Rush,' though. We all know it's not the same without you, and Gustavo's been shouting about how we haven't been sounding as good without the falsetto in our harmonies."
Logan frowned. "I'm sorry."
"It's cool; it's not as fun without you here," said Carlos. "Besides, James just got a role in a movie, and Kendall's leaving this weekend to go visit Jo in New Zealand."
"You have any big plans?"
"I think I'm going to be a stunt double."
Logan laughed, long and loud, hearing Carlos do the same.
"What's so funny?" Carlos asked, still giggling. Logan shook his head.
"Nothing," Logan sighed, rubbing his eyes, feeling a layer of grime covering his eyelids. "Just miss you, is all."
"I miss you too, Logie."
Logan leaned back on his stool, peering through the flaps of his tent. Outside, the rest of camp was bustling about, getting things packed up.
"Look, I think I've got to go," said Logan. "I've got to pack up my stuff before we move."
"Alright," said Carlos, his voice slightly dejected.
"I'll call as soon as possible," Logan promised. "And at a normal hour, if I can."
"I'll keep my phone on."
"I love you, Carlos."
"I love you too, Logie."
Carlos leans back against the counter, crossing one ankle over the other and letting Jacob rest on his stomach. He pokes Jacob gently in his side. Jacob quickly sucks in his stomach, smiling. Carlos pokes him again, wrapping his thumb and forefinger around Jacob's side and gently pinching, much to Jacob's delight. He squeals, wriggling in Carlos' arm, giggling madly as Carlos pretends to bite his neck.
"I'm going to eat you!" Carlos declares, earning himself even more laughter. He smiles, stopping to let Jacob catch his breath, and shifts Jacob in his arms again, arms looped just under his diaper. Jacob stares at him for a moment before smiling through a large yawn. He smacks his lips, bringing his fists up to rub his eyes, keychain flopping against his nose.
"Sleepy?" Carlos asks. Jacob responds by laying his head down on Carlos' chest. Carlos smiles widely, moving one hand up to Jacob's soft hair, pushing the baby a little further up his shoulder.
"Oh, sweetheart, you're trying to kill me, I know it," says Carlos, giving the boy a quick squeeze. He pinches the boy's side once more. "I just know it."
Logan reappears at Carlos' side, arms outstretched to Jacob. "C'mere, lovebug, it's naptime."
Jacob lingers a moment longer before leaning towards Logan, allowing himself to be lifted from Carlos' arms. He lays his head back to rest on Logan's shoulder, bringing his hands up under his chin and closing his eyes. Logan kisses the top of his head. Jacob's eyes suddenly snap open and he sits up, Logan bringing one of his hands out behind Jacob's back to keep him from toppling over. Jacob looks at Carlos, stretching out his hand, keychain dangling from his fist. Carlos smiles at Jacob.
"Thanks for giving this back, Jacob," said Carlos, taking the keychain. He kissed Jacob's fist. "Means a lot to me. Wouldn't want to lose it, like I've lost some other things."
Jacob yawns, laying his head back on Logan's shoulder, and closes his eyes.
"I'll be right back," says Logan. Carlos nods, pushing himself away from the counter. As Logan leaves, Carlos crosses the kitchen, moving to the photos hanging on the wall beside the table and beginning to study them. One of the whole family on a boat on a lake. Logan with his dad. Ginny hanging upside down from a set of monkey bars. A picture of Logan and Valerie, standing atop a mountain — from Ethiopia, Carlos knew, by how young Logan looked. Beside that was a picture of the two from their wedding day.
Carlos takes in a breath, remembering the taut, burning sensation that was in his chest as he stood listening to their vows, standing behind James on church steps, third in line, two behind Kendall, the Best Man. What it felt like to watch Logan smile at Valerie, nothing but love and joy and adoration on his face, and remembering when Logan used to look at him like that. What it felt like when Logan got back from Ethiopia, and explained that he wanted them to break up.
Carlos turns and looks back, hearing the floor creak. Logan hooks his thumb over his shoulder.
"You're really great with him," says Logan.
"You act like this is a recent development," says Carlos, hands in his pockets, keychain still trapped between his fingers.
"Kinda forgot, I guess," Logan says. Carlos shrugs.
"Forget a lot of things when you don't see someone for four years."
Logan looks at the ground, suddenly feeling awkward.
"Look, I'm sorry I wasn't able to see you, and that we lost touch," says Logan. "I didn't want that to happen, but I have a job now, and a family, and responsibilities. We're not in high school anymore, or at the Palm Woods. We're adults."
"Growed ups," Carlos says, beneath his breath. Logan furrows his brow.
"When we were little, that's what you used to call adults," says Carlos, speaking louder this time, "'growed ups.'"
Logan trekked across the dirt, feet meeting the cool, smooth ground. He wasn't sure what time it was, only that it was very late at night (or, rather, extremely early in the morning), and he should be sleeping. With each step he took, he was wondering why, after a day of hiking, he'd chosen to stay up to take a shower instead of going straight to bed. Then he remembered he hadn't bathed in twelve days, and likely wouldn't get another opportunity to do so for at least another week.
He pushed open the door to the bathhouse. It was long, short, maybe twenty-five feet wide. On one wall was a row of bathroom stalls, followed by two sinks, and on the opposite wall stood five showerheads. No curtains, no dividers, just a line of faucets. The building was empty — not that Logan would've minded otherwise. After months of caring for sick patients, some without any clothes at all, Logan liked to think he was immune to just about everything. A body was a body, plain and simple.
Logan shivered as the water, not yet warm, poured down his back. He scrubbed his face then stuck his hair under the spray, running his hands through it. It was sticky, shorter than he would like, purely by necessity; it was far too hot to have any hair at all in Ethiopia. As he scratched at his head, Logan thought on all that needed to be done later that day. He'd have to hike later in the morning to help at the clinic on the other side of the lake, help out over there, hike back and help at the clinic here, maybe stop and nap for twenty minutes, if he was lucky... And write back to Carlos. It'd been almost two months since he'd last sent him a letter. He'd tried to write Carlos, but everytime he sat down and began to think of things to tell him, Logan was hit by the painful realization of just how far apart they were.
Logan peeked an eye open after a moment, hearing the door open. At the opposite end of the wall stood another intern, Valerie, yawning. She grunted once, eyes half-closed as she pulled off her shirt. Logan nodded back, closing his eyes and resuming scrubbing what felt like a months' worth of dirt from his hair. Logan heard the squeak of a faucet knob being turned, and the water pressure lessened slightly.
"Oh dear God, this is the most amazing shower I've ever taken in my entire life."
Logan barked out a laugh, turning his head to look at Valerie. She was standing directly under the spray, water flowing freely over her face.
"You just started," Logan pointed out.
"I don't care, I already know it's going to be the most amazing shower I've ever taken in my entire life."
Logan laughed again, reaching down to grab his shampoo bottle. He poured a large glob into his palm, slathering it over his hair.
"It's funny to think how much we take for granted back at home," said Valerie. "Showers, foods, a house—"
"Sleep," Logan added.
"Oh yes, sleep. I think I've forgotten what it feels like to close my eyes for more than an hour at a time."
Logan laughed again, having to rest forward and brace his hands against his knees. He felt nearly hysterical, his entire body dizzy with fatigue, exhausted from eleven months of hard labor and little sleep.
"Pull yourself together, Mitchell, you're going crazy over there."
"I'm so freaking tired," he said, straightening up, shaking his head. "Why didn't they tell we'd be this tired all the time?"
"Nobody would come," Valerie said simply. She picked up her shampoo bottle, turning it upside down and squeezing. She groaned after a moment, letting her head roll back.
"Out of shampoo?" Logan asked.
"Of course," she said, dropping the bottle. Logan bent down, picking up his, and held it out to her. She looked over at him, smiling in a relieved sort of way, and turned off her faucet. She walked over to Logan, turning on the faucet beside him, and taking the bottle from his hands.
"Thank you," she said earnestly. Logan shrugged.
Logan wasn't quite sure what happened after that. All he knows is that they somehow both ended up in his cot, his body next to hers, and suddenly, the ache of loneliness and pain that came from being apart from the one he loved for so long was gone.
Logan lets out a breath, closing his eyes for a moment.
"You want to sit?" asks Logan, breaking the silence. "In the backyard, to catch up?"
Carlos shrugs heavily, checking his watch. "I think I'm gonna go, actually."
"Go? You just got here."
"I know, but..." Carlos shakes his head. "Didn't want to stay long, just drop by and say hi, make sure you were doing okay."
"Are you sure?" There's a desperate feeling in Logan's chest now; Carlos has to stay. He has to stay. "I could drop Ginny off at a friend's house, so we could talk—"
"Nah, it's okay," Carlos shakes his head. "Mom's going to need some help making dinner, so I should get going. Got some groceries to pick up, anyways."
"You guys could have dinner here," Logan says quickly. Carlos smiles.
"Thanks, Logan, but I don't think tonight'll work," he says.
"Oh, well, then," Logan swallows. "I'll walk you out."
Logan leads Carlos towards the front door, the sense of desperation blooming in his chest, growing stronger with each step. Something tells him to stop, to keep Carlos in place, but they're out the door and at Carlos' car in a blink.
"It was really nice to finally see you," says Carlos, standing on the last sidewalk square of the front walk, back turned towards his car.
"You, too," says Logan. "It's been too long."
Carlos nods. "You have a great family. They're all beautiful, Logie."
There it is again — Logie. Logan feels another tug. They stand in silence for a moment, and it's Carlos who breaks it this time. Hands deep in his pockets, he tilts his head and asks, "Logan, are you happy?"
Logan furrows his brow, taken aback by the question. "What?"
"Are you happy, with your life? When you got to sleep at night, and Ginny and Jacob are in bed, and Valerie's laying beside you... are you happy?"
Logan falters for a moment, beginning to question — if only because Carlos asked him — was he really?
"Yes," he answers finally, but it feels almost obligatory. Of course he's happy. He has a job, a family, a nice house. He's supposed to be happy.
Carlos smiles, the corners of his eyes crinkling up, and takes a step forward to hug Logan. It's tight and warm, Carlos' arms finding those familiar, perfect spots around his waist and on his shoulder. Logan hugs him back and suddenly finds himself longing for the time when he got hugs like this everyday, whenever he wanted.
"Good," Carlos says, speaking right into Logan's ear, "because that's all I want for you."
The desperate feeling is stronger than ever now and Logan shuts his eyes.
"Let's get together sometime soon, okay?" Logan says, though they both know full well it will never happen. His voice nearly fails him when he speaks. "I miss you."
Not missed — miss. Logan misses Carlos. He's never been more aware of that fact than right this very second.
Carlos' hand reaches up into Logan's hair. "I miss you, too."
Logan feels Carlos' grip loosen ever so slightly, as if he's about to let go, and Logan grips him even tighter, getting a sudden, dizzying blast of déjà vu.
Carlos smiled gently, pulling Logan close. He felt Logan squeezing him, hands clenching into fists on his back.
"You're going to be so great," Carlos whispered. Despite the noise and bustle of the airport, Logan heard every word clearly. "I am so proud of you."
Logan clutched him tightly, balling his hands into fists. He shook his head. "I don't want to go anymore."
"Oh, mi amor, why?"
Logan felt tears springing in his eyes, pain striking his chest. "I'm scared."
Carlos chuckled softly in his ear, reaching a hand up to Logan's hair. "You have no reason to be."
Logan's heart skipped as he heard his flight being called overhead. He squeezed Carlos tighter, face buried in his neck. His chin was trembling now, he could feel it, and he was sure if he tried to speak he'd start crying. Carlos pulled away, setting his hands on Logan's cheek.
"Don't forget to write me, okay?" said Carlos, raising his eyebrows, and Logan nodded. "Call me when you can; doesn't matter what time it is."
Carlos kissed Logan's cheek, then smiled at him. He nodded his head towards the terminal.
"Go be amazing."
Only this time, Carlos is the one leaving, and Logan gets the horrible, sinking feeling that he isn't coming back.
Carlos turns his head, pressing his lips to Logan's cheek for a moment. "Love you, Logie."
Logan shuts his eyes, a bowling ball settling itself somewhere in his throat, making it impossible for him to take a breath, but he somehow manages a few more words. "I love you, too."
Carlos drops his hands, breaking away from their embrace, and for a moment Logan's positive there're tears in Carlos' eyes. But Carlos blinks, and they've disappeared.
Carlos takes a step backward, then another, finally making his way around to the drivers side. He pulls open the door, sliding inside, and starts the car. He leans forward slightly, raising his hand to Logan, then pulls on his seatbelt.
The sinking feeling is back in Logan's chest as he raises his hand, the car starting to pull away from the curb. There's a moment where he feels the urge to open the car door, bang on the window, shout, do something, because he can't just let Carlos leave, but he doesn't.
And then Carlos is gone.
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