A/N: This story is dedicated to MissFenway, my best friend and soul mate. It's a very late birthday present. Laura, I hope you like it. Disclaimer: I don't own anything recognizable. If you've seen it before, it probably came from Scott Fellows or Laura.
Logan flipped his hood up and stuck his hands into the pockets of his hoodie as he jogged to Kendall's house. His thudding steps only amplified the dull pain in his shoulder and abdomen, but he was late and his friends were probably worried.
Logan finally reached Kendall's block to see Kendall and Carlos sitting on the Knight's front steps while Katie was riding her scooter up and down the sidewalk. Logan pasted on a smile to mask the now shooting pain as Katie rode up to him.
"Hey, Kit Kat!"
"Logan!" Katie jumped off of her scooter and threw her arms around Logan's legs. "Kendall's freaking out 'cause you missed open ice."
"Aw, well I'm here now, right?" Logan knelt down next to Katie and patted his shoulder. "Hop on."
Kendall looked up from his phone for what felt like the millionth time and exhaled in relief as Logan finally walked up to the house with Katie on his shoulders. "Dude, it's almost twelve. I've called you like four times. Where were you this morning?"
"Yea Logie," Carlos chimed in, "Two on two is hard with three people."
"Sorry I didn't answer my phone, Kendall. I was busy."
Kendall was about to protest Logan's lame excuse when Logan lifted Katie off of his shoulders causing his t-shirt to rise up and reveal what looked like a large, newly forming bruise on his abs. A short gasp told Kendall that Carlos saw it, too.
"Where's James?" Logan asked climbing the steps, before Kendall or Carlos could say anything.
"We heard a rumor about Danny, so he's riding the loop just to check it out." Kendall was referring to the loop around the neighborhood, stretching from the train station southward to the pond where the boys learned to skate. James often rode around on his bike to "patrol" their area of the neighborhood.
"What about him?" Logan questioned as he greeted Carlos and then turned to Kendall. "Just that he's getting cocky." Kendall replied before grabbing Logan's hand and pulling him in for a quick hug. "Nothing really. Now go say hi to my mom before she comes out here asking about you again."
Logan walked into the Knight's kitchen rubbing his sore shoulder to find Mrs. Knight standing rigid and staring at her cell phone.
"Hey, Mama Knight?" Logan ventured, unsure if he was imposing.
"Logan!" Jennifer Knight's voice was filled with relief as she looked up from her phone and took in the fifteen-year-old standing in front of her. "I couldn't decide if I should call or not."
"Nah, I'm fine." Logan returned her hug while wincing slightly only to have her pull away and look sternly into his face. "I was worried sick about you, sweetheart. Where were you this morning for open ice?"
Logan shifted uncomfortably, trying to look anywhere but Mrs. Knight's concerned eyes. "Oh, um, my dad needed me at home this morning."
"Are you sure that's all? You boys haven't missed a Saturday open ice for the past ten years. "
"Yep," Logan forced a grin, "that's all. He's having clients over this afternoon so he had me help clean up the house. He's just super stressed, that's all, so I had no time to call or anything, sorry."
Logan held his breath while Mrs. Knight considered his excuse, only relaxing when she turned and sighed. "Okay, but please try and call next time. Kendall was about to throw a fit."
Logan chuckled, "I'll try," he replied over his shoulder as he headed back outside.
"Tell everyone I'm starting lunch now." Mrs. Knight called after him, "They have about two minutes to get in here and tell me if they want something other than their usual sandwich order."
Logan walked out the door to see James riding up the street. "Logan!" James jumped off his bike and tripped up the stairs in his rush to greet his best friend. "You're alive!"
"Yea, I'm fine," Logan gasped out as James wrapped him in a hug. His shoulder and abs were screaming in protest and Logan screwed up his face in pain. He opened his eyes as James pulled away to see Kendall studying him with a frown on his face.
"Mama Knight is making lunch," Logan hurried to cut off Kendall who had opened his mouth. "You have to go tell her if you don't want your usual sandwich." As he finished speaking, Logan caught Kendall's eye to give him a warning look.
"Okay," Carlos broke in, "so how's the neighborhood look, Jay?"
James sighed and ran a hand through his hair while he settled into his usual spot on the Knight's front steps. "Danny and his crew are lurking around Spruce. I think they're trying to force Sean out and take over the South bend."
"Can they do that?" Carlos asked.
Logan tugged his hood lower over his eyes and settled into the stairs. "Danny's an idiot, but he also lacks any restraint at all. He'll pull some crazy shit. Sean's smarter but I doubt he even thinks of Danny as a threat at all. I say we let them battle it out and just deal with whoever's dumb enough to try and cross the pond."
Kendall stiffened and focused his gaze on Katie. "If anyone even thinks about coming up here…"
"We'll remind them why we run this part of the neighborhood," Logan's voice took on a cool tone that made even his friends shiver. "We worked too hard to take control and make it safe for Kit Kat to lose it to some douchebag. I don't care if it's Sean or Danny, they're not getting near here."
"Speaking of that," Kendall started hesitantly, "Logan did you, um… did you remind anyone on your own this morning?"
"What do you mean?" Logan sat up in confusion.
"Logan, we saw the bruise," Carlos continued for Kendall after catching on.
"The bruise…" Logan trailed off as he realized what his friends saw. "Uh-"
"Look, Logie," Kendall cut Logan off. "I know you can handle yourself out there, I mean you're the best fighter of any of us, but just because you have a reputation doesn't mean you can get into it without us. I thought we agreed that we call each other if shit's about to go down?"
"We do," Logan sighed, "I just… I had to deal with this myself, okay?"
"What bruise?" James broke in confused as he searched his three best friend's faces for a hint as to what was going on. "What did I miss?"
"It's nothing." "It's huge," Logan and Carlos spoke at the same time.
"Logan come on, we'll see it eventually," Kendall said.
"Fine," Logan stood up and spun around to lift his shirt and expose an angry looking black and purple bruise stretching from his belt all the way up his abs on his left side. "It looks worse than it is, okay? I'm fine." Logan sat down in stony silence hoping in vain his friends would leave the issue alone.
"Logan!" Three voices cried simultaneously.
"Bro, what happened?" Kendall asked, shocked.
"Who did that? Let's go and show them what happens when you mess with one of us," James stood up and was down two steps when Logan stopped him.
"Cool it, Jay. It's over."
"Logan," Carlos started to speak but was hushed by Logan's glare. "It's over." Logan reached to the back of his belt and pulled out his switchblade. A silence fell over the group as Logan flicked the blade of his knife in and out, in and out. Kendall was reluctant to let Logan off the hook so easily, but he also knew his best friend well enough to understood Logan's habit as a signal that the conversation was over. Logan only ever played with his knife when he was trying not to explode.
Kendall may be known for his quick temper, but Logan's rage could be terrifying. It didn't come out often, but when it did even his friends backed off. They were used to Logan's "moods" and understood how to navigate through them. No one held Logan's fits against him; as far as they were concerned, he was justified.
They were eleven when tragedy wracked the four boys, seemingly from all sides. Kendall's dad walked out in October, leaving his mother with a waitressing job and two young children to support. He left her the house but took nearly everything of value in it- the TV, the stereo, DVD player- you name it. Mrs. Knight ran out of money to pay the lawyers long before Mr. Knight could be tracked down.
At the same time, James' parents were going through a nasty divorce. Three years later his parents still won't speak to each other. In January, Carlos' older brother shipped off to Iraq, leaving Carlos without his hero and in constant fear for his brother's well being. However, it was a bitterly cold night on February ninth when the boys hit rock bottom. Mr. Mitchell returned home that Tuesday night to find his wife brutally beaten to death after an apparent robbery gone horribly wrong. It was Officer Garcia who responded to the frantic 911 call to find one of his best friends knelt over his wife's dead body, covered in her blood, shaking her to 'please wake up.' Alison Mitchell's murderer was never found.
Kendall, Carlos, and James were there when Mrs. Knight stumbled into Kendall's room at one am that night sobbing hysterically to wake up Alison's son. Kendall, Carlos, and James were there to witness Logan completely fall apart. They were with Logan every step of the way through his deep depression and violent bouts of anger. Logan's moods became unpredictable and extreme, but no one questioned him. Kendall, Carlos, and James simply made it their goal to stop the depression and rage from consuming him.
Logan convinced himself that he should have been home that night to save his mother. From then on, he made it his duty to protect his second mother, Mrs. Knight, and Katie, at all costs. Logan was changed. All of them were changed. Kendall was suddenly the man of the house, James' perfect life unraveled before his eyes, and Carlos was lost without his big brother. They were hardened. They didn't question it when Logan handed them all switchblades when they were thirteen and informed them that they were going to do whatever it took to make their neighborhood safe.
Logan slid his key into the lock and tentatively opened the door to his home, praying in vain that his father's manic episode had subsided. Logan was thirteen when he finally put the pieces together. Robert Mitchell was bipolar. Before his mother's murder, Logan had never thought to pay attention to his dad's emotional state. After her death, the severe depression Robert was plunged into mirrored Logan's and was therefore not a cause for alarm. Slowly, however, Logan became aware of the periods of manic highs his dad experienced periodically. As if he had become superman, Robert would run on next to no sleep and behave as though he were invincible. It was during one of these manic periods that Logan was sitting in his health class and it clicked that his father matched all the criteria for bipolar disorder. Logan went home that day and tentatively broached the subject with a frenzied Robert. Logan quickly learned to never bring up the illness again as he nursed the first bruise his father ever gave him.
"Where were you all day?" Robert's words slurred together as he staggered up to his only son, a bottle of beer clutched in his hand.
"Kendall's." Logan kept his head down and tried to pass his dad to reach the stairs.
Mr. Mitchell's hand shot out to grab Logan's bruised shoulder and stop him in his tracks. Logan winced as Robert tightened his grip, intentionally pressing into the bruise that spread down to his bicep. "You look at me when I'm talking to you."
Logan looked into his father's bloodshot eyes and knew that Robert wasn't in control. His manic periods were one thing to deal with; a drunken manic Robert added a whole new dimension.
"Can you even see through your beer goggles?" Logan scoffed, pushing off his father's hand.
Robert thrashed out, his fist connecting with Logan's sore abs and sending Logan to the floor. "You do not," Robert punctuated his words with a kick to Logan's rib cage, "speak to me that way." Robert pulled Logan up only to slam him into the wall while twisting his bad arm behind his back. "I am in charge in this house, do you understand?"
"Yes," Logan replied through gritted teeth, and was mercifully released.
Robert smacked the back of Logan's head and laughed as he flinched. "I thought hockey players were supposed to know how to fight?" he mocked his son. Robert knocked the wind out of Logan with a swift upper cut into his abdomen before Logan could finish pulling back his fist.
"Oh Logan," Robert shook his head, "we mustn't strike our elders. Straighten up. You're embarrassing yourself."