A/N So this is it guys! The last one. After 8 months, 25 chapters, 65 favorites, 88 alerts, and 271+ reviews, this story has come to an end. I really don't want to end it because this is my mindless, I feel like making this person sick today story but I feel like it just needs to end now. So I can, you know, start up some more projects I have been working on for you guys. So alas, (why am I talking like an old man?) the 25th and final chapter of We Can Take the Tears Away.
Chapter 25: Good Enough.
Panicked voices started echoing in Carlos' otherwise happy dreams, threatening to pull him away from his blissful slumber. He tried to ignore the voices, but when a familiar sounding voice practically screeched "James!" He finally woke up. At first, Carlos was confused by his surroundings. He was in a plain white bed in a small room, hugging Logan, who continued to sleep through the panic, oblivious to everything around him because of his fever.
Carlos gripped Logan tighter and peered over the edge of his bed to find James passed out cold on the tile floor with three doctors and Camille hovering over his motionless, pale body. He watched as the doctors carefully placed James on a stretcher and wheeled him away quickly.
"James!" Carlos cried, reaching out towards the stretcher, but the doctors were already halfway out the door. "Wh-where are you taking him?"
"Ssh, ssh, it's ok," a soft voice said soothingly. A hand rubbed up and down Carlos' back, and he turned to see Camille trying to comfort him.
"What happened, Camille?" Carlos asked. All he remembered was falling asleep beside Kendall, who had been extremely sick. He had never been aware that James was sick, too. James had been fine… Hadn't he?
"James is sick buddy," Camille explained. "Judging by his condition, he's probably been sick for a while."
"But… Why didn't he tell us?" Carlos asked innocently, tilting his head to the side in confusion. Camille frowned and ran her hand through his short, dark fluffs of hair before kissing his forehead gently.
"I'm not one hundred percent sure because I wasn't there, but to me, James always struck me as the kind of person who would do anything for his friends. He was probably hiding it from you guys so he could take care of you, but he ended up just exhausting himself and letting himself get sicker and sicker," Camille explained.
"So it's our faults than?" Carlos asked. Camille shook her head quickly, her curls bouncing.
"No, no, Carlos. It's not your fault at all. You guys were sick. James is just hard headed," Camille said.
Carlos sighed and ran a hand over his face. A crease of worry formed on his forehead. "He did seem really stressed and worn out lately. We were just too sick to help him like we should have. And then he started acting really weird and upset about something all the time… Camille, we completely ignored our best friend. He probably thinks we hate him!"
"No, don't even think like that," Camille said sternly. Carlos curled his knees to his chest and buried his face in his knees. Camille watched him curl up in a ball, obviously distressed and in need of comfort. The poor boy was still fighting off the flu and porbably scared to death for his friends.
"Carlos, it's ok buddy. Come here," Camille cooed. The young brunette crawled up onto the bed in between Carlos and Logan and opened her arms wide.
"What are you doing?" Carlos asked with a sniffle, glancing up from his pout to give her a quizzical look. But when he saw her arms open for a hug, he immediately leaned into them and rested his head on her chest, letting a few tears escape. "I don't feel good and I'm worried about James, Cam."
"I know, Carlos. Go back to sleep, you're tired and it's not even morning yet. I'll wake you up soon. James will be just fine."
Carlos trusted her word and allowed himself to close his eyes. Camille cuddled both sick boys in her arms, one fast asleep and one crying himself to sleep, waiting nervously for news on James' condition.
Two days had gone by since the chaotic events that landed both Kendall and James in the hospital. While Carlos and Logan were back to full health besides the occasional cough or sniffle, the two eldest boys were still recovering in their hospital beds.
Kendall was the least worst off and was ready to be released. His fever was nearly gone and he was completely hydrated again, thanks to a saline drip. Carlos, Logan and Camille were all so happy to see him back to his cheerful and stubborn self again minus the I.V's and stuff the doctors had hooked him up to. The main reason they knew Kendall was ok again, though, was by the way he stayed close to James' bedside at all times, just waiting for him to wake up so he could yell at him. As soon as the blonde had found out that James had been hiding a serious illness and gotten himself in jail, he had flipped out and watched over sleeping James in an overly protective manners, his arms folded across his chest and his thick eyebrows furrowed into a scowl. He had every intention of giving James lectures as well as hugs when he finally woke up.
It turned out that the illness James had been hiding was double lung pneumonia. The gang had been shocked when the doctor told them this. They couldn't believe that they had let something so serious slip through their fingers. They didn't know if it was denial or blindness, but none of them would have ever guessed that pneumonia had been making James so fussy and sick. Kendall, Carlos, and Logan practically had panic attacks when they found out, while Camille slapped them each upside the head for not asking for help before the situation became so out of control.
"When is he going to wake up guys?"
Carlos' whiny voice interrupted the silence in the tiny white room. He was sprawled out on the linoleum floor, mindlessly reading a comic book that Camille had brought him from home.
"When he's ready to wake up," Logan said for the hundredth time. Carlos asked this question pretty much every hour. The small brunette scratched at a fading rash on his tummy and went back to reading his novel. While he wished James would wake up, he also knew he didn't have to be too worried. James' body was simply exhausted and needed to catch up on much needed sleep, a sleep that was lasting nearly 48 hours. The doctors were keeping a good eye on him and doing everything Logan would do, and the pretty boy was showing signs of recovering. He was just really, really tired.
"I'm going to beat him if he doesn't wake up soon," Kendall growled. He stared at James without a trace of menace on his face. Logan and Carlos knew his threats were empty, and that when James finally did wake up, he would probably turn into a soft mother hen instead of Mister Tough Guy, like he always did whenever the boys did something reckless and stupid.
"Well, looks like James won't have endure your fists Kendall," Camille teased. The boys looked at the curly brunette questioningly. She pointed to James' bed, where the sick boy was slowly becoming aware of his surroundings.
"James!" Carlos cried, hopping to his feet and rushing to his bedside. "Are you ok?"
"Ssh, he's fine," Logan said, putting his hands on Carlos' shoulders to calm him down even though he was as equally eager to see James' eyes open. Kendall leaned so far over in his chair that he looked like he was about to fall out at any moment, anxiously waiting for James to respond. Camille stroked James' hair soothingly while he woke up from his very long nap.
"Hey Jamie," Camille cooed as long black lashes fluttered open to reveal hazy, feverish light brown eyes. James moaned and coughed suddenly. The small, worried crowd gathered around him and cringed in sympathy.
"How are you feeling buddy?" Logan asked, giving James' hand a squeeze. James winced while he swallowed and simply said, in a very hoarse voice, "Ow."
James' friends gave small chuckles and several hands reached out to comfort him.
"Yeah, you're pretty sick buddy," Logan said.
James rubbed his grainy feeling eyes, trying to focus on the room. "A-am I in jail?"
"No buddy you're at the hospital, you've been out for days," Carlos said. The Latino wondered how James could still even think he was in jail. He must have really been out of it.
"Hospital?" James asked. His voice was barely above a whisper, but his eyes shone with panic. "Where's Kendall? Is he-"
"Ssh ssh, I'm right here," Kendall said, realizing he wasn't in James' view. He moved from where he was slightly in back of Camille and sat on James' bed. The brunette visibly relaxed at the sight of his best friend. Even though it pained him to do so, James sat up and practically fell in Kendall's arm. The blonde held the back of his head with one hand, tangling his long fingers in James' long brown locks, while his other hand rubbed circles on his back.
"I'm ok, I'm all better I promise. I'm not sick anymore," Kendall said. "It's time to worry about you now. I'm ok."
"Thank God," James whispered. He was too ashamed to admit at the moment that he truly had thought Kendall might have died.
"Are you feeling alright?" Camille asked. "Do you need a doctor?"
James pulled away from Kendall and settled back onto his pillows. "I'm ok, I don't need a doctor Camille."
"Ok. I'm going to head out and give you guys some time to talk things over," Camille said. James smiled weakly and grabbed her hand, giving it a light squeeze.
"Thanks, Cam. For everything," James said. Camille brushed a strand of hair from his eyes affectionately.
"No problem. I'm just glad you guys are all ok, I can rest easy now. And James, I would probably get ready for some major lectures from these guys if I were you."
The boys all nodded, while James looked down at his hospital gown guiltily. Camille gave each boy a kiss on the cheek and left the room.
"Guess I'm not being let off the hook easy, huh?" James asked sheepishly. Carlos, Kendall and Logan crossed their arms and shook their heads no. James felt his cheeks heating up, and it wasn't because of his fever.
"Fess up dude. Why'd you do it?" Kendall asked bluntly. James shrugged, trying to act like he didn't know what Kendall was talking about, but the blonde knew better. "James, this is serious buddy. What was going on back at the house that would lead you to hiding pneumonia and driving around in the rain for medicine I didn't even really need?"
"Didn't need?" James asked, and his voice finally rose over a whisper with disbelief. It hurt his throat, but he ignored it. "Dude, you were practically dying! If Camille didn't come when she did, you would be a goner from literally puking your guts out!"
Logan cringed, muttering "too much info," while Carlos nodded.
"It's true Kendall, you were really sick too and you know it," Carlos said. "You would have done the same thing James had done whether you were sick or not if it had been James who was puking his guts out."
Kendall scowled. "Whatever. Still, even before I started throwing up that night, you were hiding something from us James. And I'm really sorry that we didn't catch on sooner and helped you, but you should have told us. I mean we tell each other everything bro. Now all of a sudden you get this sick and you refuse to let us know? Why didn't you tell us?"
"I didn't think I was that sick," James lied.
"Kendall!" Logan warned. Kendall scowled once again, his eyes emerald with chagrin. The blonde caught his words and sighed before continuing.
" Yeah right, James," Kendall said condescendingly. "You were fine these past few days just like you were 'fine' when Camille just asked you if you needed a doctor, when I can see it in your eyes that you are hurting and you really don't feel good." Kendall watched as James flinched at being caught in his lie. "Even in a hospital bed after waking up from passing out cold for two days straight, you still won't tell me what's wrong. Why?"
James shrugged again and wrung his hands nervously. He felt like that was all he was capable of doing. He wished Kendall would stop yelling at him because it was only making him feel worse.
"James you have pneumonia, that's serious business dude!" Kendall continued. He seemed oblivious to the fact that tears were starting to well up in James' eyes, but Logan caught on and put his hand on Kendall's back.
"Ok bro that's enough, he's too sick right now," Logan whispered. Kendall calmed down a bit, realizing immediately that he was being way too hard on James.
"I just want to know why you won't tell me," Kendall said, lowering his voice considerably.
"You haven't really given him a chance yet," Carlos pointed out timorously. "You keep yelling at him."
"Oh," Kendall said, ducking his head. He glanced at James, who nodded in agreement with Carlos. There was an uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. James was obviously having an inward struggle with himself to not cry. He was angry at himself for screwing up when he was just trying so hard to take care of them.
"I never meant for any of this to happen, I thought I would be fine," James finally said. He felt embarrassed when three pairs of eyes stared at him with undivided attention, and he avoided looking at any of his friends, playing with his thin white blanket instead. "It's not that I wasn't going to tell you guys, I just wanted to get you all better first before I allowed myself to be sick."
"Nobody told you that you had to play doctor for all three of us, especially when you weren't feeling good yourself," Kendall said. "You could have asked Camille for help or even Kelly and Gustavo. Well maybe not Gustavo, but definitely Kelly."
"But I didn't want help," James said. "I wanted to prove to you guys I could take care of you, and then it just kind of got out of hand."
"Prove to us…?" Carlos asked, confused. "What would you need to prove to us?"
"That I'm not just, you know, 'the face,'" James explained. "I wanted to contribute something towards this friendship besides my voice. I wanted to be the one to help you guys when you really needed somebody, and getting sick just kind of got in my way of that so I ignored it 'til it was too late."
Logan, Carlos and Kendall were absolutely startled by this revelation. This whole thing was because James, James freaking Isaac Diamond, was having a confidence issue?
"Dude, you really believe that?" Carlos asked.
"Well, yeah," James said. A few hot tears spilled from his eyes and he cursed himself under his breath for crying.
"James, you're 'the face' to all the kids in high school, and to our marketing directors and producers," Kendall said. "But to me and Carlos and Logan, you know you're so much more than that. You're our best buddy. You help me protect Carlos and Logan when they get their butts in trouble with bullies. You're my main man in hockey. You have won our team more games than I can count."
"That was all in Minnesota," James said. "But it's different here in LA. I feel like all I am good for is singing."
"But that's not true at all," Carlos said. "You give us dating advice, and you always stick up for us. You motivate us to work hard and never give up. You are the reason why our dreams are coming true right in front of us. So never think you're not good enough, when you've changed our lives and made us something amazing, James."
"Taking care of three sick friends at the same time is too much for anyone to handle, including myself," Logan said. "And you did a really, really good job. I'm impressed James."
"Really?" James asked hopefully.
"Really, bro," Kendall said. "Don't be afraid to ask for help sometimes. And never feel that way again. You mean the world to us. You might not be some kind of ridiculously genius doctor like Logan, but you are so much more than the face, ok?"
"Yeah, and that is more than good enough for us," Logan said.
"Ok, I'm sorry guys," James said, opening his arms for a four way hug. The friends all wrapped each other in a snuggly, warm group hug.
"Can we be done with the mushy, chick flick stuff now?" James asked desperately. He was starting to feel extremely tired, even though he had only just woken up, not to mention he was starving.
"Nope, not done yet," Kendall said, squeezing his friends tighter.
Several days later…
"So basically, in one week's time, you guys survived nearly being hit by a car, broken bones, ear infections, the flu, the measles, epic puke fests, pneumonia, jail, more hospital visits than I can count, and a severe case of low-self-confidence-itis?" Camille asked.
James, Kendall and Logan nodded with giant grins on their faces, as if they were proud of themselves for getting horribly sick and living through it without the help of their moms for the first time. The boys, who were finally healthy (even James) sat around the fire pit with all their palmwoods friends, telling them the crazy events from last week. Guitar Dude made up some disgusting song about vomit while the Jennifers didn't know whether to be appalled or sympathetic for the boys, and the rest of their friends were thoroughly intrigued.
"Yep, pretty much!" Kendall said. "Although when you say it like that, it kind of sounds like one of those overly-dramatic stories that our obsessed fangirls write, what is it called?"
"Oh, fanfic," Logan said with a snap of his fingers.
"Yeah, those are creepy," Kendall said with a shudder. Camille laughed.
"And it pretty much started because Carlos wanted to do a stupid stunt?" Blonde Jennifer asked.
"Yeah… Where is Carlos anyway?" James asked, looking around the patio for his small, helmeted friend.
"Over there, doing a stupid stunt," brunette Jennifer said.
"Look out guys, I reinvented my rocket-roller-skates recipe to be even faster. They can even shoot out fire up to five feet!" Carlos said excitedly from across the pool. "Let's see if I can skim water with them!"
The medium-sized crowd around the fire pit scrambled to their feet to get out of the way of the sure-to-be-disaster.
"Carlos, no!" Several voices yelled. Carlos' giggling was cut off by James body-slamming him into the pool, causing the rocket skates to drown with chlorine water.
"I am not getting pneumonia again," James said. Carlos re-surfaced and spit a fountain of water from his mouth. Kendall and Logan laughed and cheered for James, fist-bumping each other while Carlos scowled.
"Maybe all this crazy stuff was supposed to happen," Logan said, leaning back and putting on a pair of sunglasses. He closed his eyes and set his bare feet up near the fire letting the flames warm them up. "I mean, in a way, it brought us all closer, and we learned stuff about each other we never even knew before…" Logan started in on a rant, while Kendall, Carlos and James all exchanged mischievous looks. James gave Carlos a hand and helped him out of the pool and snuck up to Logan. The trio quickly snatched Logan in their arms and quickly brought him to the pool, dropping him in with a loud splash and a screech of unpleasant surprise.
"Ok, that takes care of the chick flick moments!" James said, brushing his hands off like his work was done. "Who wants a burger?"
A/N Annnndddd, it's DONE. Yay :') I'm actually really happy with the way this story turned out! And I am so glad it's over 'cause now I can post new stories for you guys! Thanks so, so much for all of your support on this story… Love you guys! Hope you are all happy with the final chapter! Review? ;) xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo!