A/N Thanks to everyone who reviewed the last chappie and to everyone about to read this! I know it's been awhile, sorry!
James sniffled, his cell phone pressed tightly to his ear as he listened to a soft and comforting voice that meant so much to him. It was late into the night, and James was settled on the concrete deck of their balcony, cool wind running through his long brown hair as he watched dark blue waves of the pool below him rustle. A bottle of liquor was clutched in his other hand and Palmwoods was silent and asleep.
"James, honey, are you alright? You sound like you're crying, baby. Why are you still awake at this time? What happened?"
"I just… Miss you a lot mom," James said. He stared grudgingly at the bottle of liquor in his hands before allowing himself to take another swig. He hated himself more and more with every drink he took. It had been 3 nights since he punched Carlos. Since then, Carlos ignored him like the plague and James found himself drinking every night. But, after drinking all night, his fear and pain would numb up completely and he'd fall into a deep, addicting sleep with nothing but blank dreams. No more nightmares, no more anxiety, no more insomnia. He was actually able to function during the day. It was like all his problems were fixed due to such a destructive habit.
"I miss you too honey," Mrs. Diamond said, a bit surprised. James had never called her up feeling homesick before. "How are your nightmares?" She asked. His mother knew, of course, that after the incident on Halloween he became subjective to intense night terrors, but she was hoping they'd have stopped by now.
"I actually haven't had one in a few days," James told her. It was the truth, yet he felt sick telling her that. They weren't really gone, they were just masked by something much worse. "They were getting really bad, but then they just… Stopped."
"Good, honey that's great news," Mrs. Diamond said, hiding a yawn. It was nearly 3 in the morning and, while she'd always be there for her son, she was exhausted. "Is everything okay with the boys? Have you guys been getting along, having fun?"
James paused for a moment, thinking of the betrayed glares he received from Carlos daily, followed by confused and worried ones from Logan and Kendall. Things were not okay with his best friends. There was a rift between them, and James was the one creating it.
"Jamie?" Mrs. Diamond asked, calling him by his childhood pet name. James sighed.
"Mom, can I ask you a question?"
"Of course, sweetie. What is it?"
"Well, what if somebody… Somebody I know, is doing something they know isn't good for them, yet their doing it anyway to kind of fix something that is broken. Wh-what should you say they should do? It's like a… A Robin Hood kind of thing, I guess."
"Well honey, to me wrong is wrong," Mrs. Diamond said. "If this person knows in their heart that what they are doing is going to have negative effects, they need to stop immediately and face the real problem head on."
James nodded, before realizing his mother could not see him. "Oh. But mom… What if that person wants to stop? And they can't. Because they are too scared, and they don't know what else to do." James teared up a bit and his voice caught in his throat.
"Honey, where is this coming from? What's going on? James, are you in trouble?"
James pressed his fist to his eyes, trying to control his breathing so he would sound calm over the phone. "I don't know, mom. I just…"
"You just what, James? Do you need me to come over? I'll have a flight booked right now if you need me-"
"No, mom no please don't do that. It's okay," James said quickly, silently scolding himself for almost letting out the truth. "It's not me, it's a friend, remember?"
Mrs. Diamond was silent for a moment. She didn't know if she quite believed her son or not. "Alright, honey. I know that you are noble enough to do the right thing by this friend. You're the strongest boy I know. Whatever happened, I know you'd be able to fix it."
"Yeah, right. Of course," James said.
"I need you to get some sleep now, okay? You'd feel much better and know what to do in the morning if you sleep on it. I love you, honey."
"No matter what, right?" James asked.
"No matter what, sweetie… You know that."
"I love you too, mommy. I-I'll talk to you later."
"Good night, baby," Mrs. Diamond said. She almost didn't want to hang up. She had this urge to go see James as soon as possible. Something was wrong.
James said good night and hung up his phone. He took a few more drinks and headed inside, where he snuck the alcohol back in the cabinet.
James was about to lay down in the couch to let sweet darkness take over, but a dull thump sounded from across the hallway. James crooked an eyebrow, glancing over to where the sound came from. When he didn't hear another sound, he blamed it on his imagination and sat on the couch, grabbing the throw blanket from off the back of the cushions. He was too dizzy and tired to check out what the noise might have been.
But then, he heard a series of three frightened whimpers coming from Carlos' bedroom. James stood up-a bit too quickly because he nearly fell right back down, and rushed to the bedroom. Carlos was thrashing on his bed, a tangle of comforter and sweaty limbs.
James squinted in the darkness and clicked on a light. The bright yellow glow burned his eyes and he groaned, shutting the light right back off.
"Carlos! What are you doing?" He asked. His alcohol-ridden mind didn't realize Carlos was having a nightmare. "Carlitos?" James stumbled over to Carlos' bed. The alcohol was really beginning to hit him now. He shook Carlos, and the Latino stopped thrashing at once, but his eyes were still closed and tiny crystal tears were leaking from under his long black lashes.
"Carlos?" James whispered, worried. He sat on Carlos' bed and lifted the crying, sleeping boy into his arms, trying to wake him up.
"James... Jamie no, please," Carlos whimpered.
"Hey, I'm right here, don't worry. Wake up Carlos. It's okay," James cooed, rocking Carlos gently. He felt like a big brother again, just like he used to. This was the most interaction he had with Carlos in a very long time that wasn't a fight.
Finally, Carlos woke up, finding himself pressed to James' chest. He clung to the larger boy, trying to shake away the remnants of the nightmare.
"James… I had a dream you died and-"
"No, I'm right here. Ssh, I didn't die," James said. Carlos looked up, noticing his' voice sounded kind of funny. His words were slurring together.
"James?" Carlos asked, and that's when he got an overpowering whiff of James' alcoholic breath. The bitter smell was so strong it rendered him dizzy for a second. He pushed away from James and stood up, glaring at him.
"You smell like alcohol, James," Carlos said, drying his tears.
"Carlos, come here. You're upset. Come on, I'll hold you," James said, outstretching his arms. Carlos pushed him away, feeling disgusted.
"No, I don't want you to. Just get out of here," Carlos told him. James visibly flinched, feeling like he was slapped in the face.
"Carlos, you don't mean that-"
"Why are you doing this to yourself? It's wrong James! You're not an alcoholic. You're not the James I know. I don't want you in here. Go away."
James pressed a hand to his temple when he felt a sudden head rush. He couldn't deal with this right now, not when he was drunk. "Carlos, let's just lie down. I didn't drink that much-"
"You're drunk!" Carlos said, swatting James' hands away when the brunet tried to pull him back by the waist. "Stop it, James! Let me go!" Carlos gave James one last push, and the drunken boy fell to the floor with a loud thud on the other end of the bed.
"James?" Carlos asked when his friend didn't get back up. He didn't even make a sound… Did he kill him?
"Jamie, are you okay?" Carlos asked, peering over the bed. James let out a snore, body twisted awkwardly on the floor, his legs straight up and resting on the side of Carlos' bed. He was passed out cold. Carlos shook his head.
"Unbelievable," He scoffed. He pulled his comforter and pillow away to make up his own bed on the couch, but no matter how angry he was at James, he couldn't just leave him like that on the floor.
"Ugh, serves you right to wake up in the morning like this," Carlos said to James' knocked out body. "But, since I don't want you to choke on your own freaking vomit…" Carlos grunted as he pulled James up on the bed face down and covered him on blankets. "Yeah, you can thank me in the morning if you're not too hungover."
James just let out a snore, and Carlos shook his head. He missed James. He wanted him back. The old James was too amazing and awesome to be gone forever.
"I wish I could save you," Carlos said, lying down in James' bed. He didn't want to spend the night with a drunk James, but he was afraid something would happen to him in the night, something bad, and he wanted to be there for him just in case.
The next morning, James woke up at 11 o' clock. He moaned, feeling his head pound.
"Ugh… Carlos, why am I in your bed?" He asked, blinking his eyes open. Carlos was getting dressed for the day across the room.
"Maybe because you were passed out on the floor and probably could have broken your neck if you tried to sleep all night like that," Carlos spat out. He sprayed his cologne on and went to leave.
"Look, I don't remember what even happened last night-"
"Of course you don't," Carlos said, his hand frozen on the door handle.
"But I'm sorry, Carlos. And thanks for you know… Taking care of me last night."
"James, if you're going to do this to yourself every single night, then I don't want you in my room. Don't even bother coming in here even more. I don't even want to be around you. I'm serious. Just stay away from me." Carlos didn't even glance back. He opened the door and slammed it shut. James flinched at the loud sound and buried his face in his pillow, letting out a muffled, quiet scream. He deserved that, but it didn't make it hurt any less.
James shuffled into the bathroom, swallowed a couple of aspirins and cleaned up. His hair was neatly combed and his clothes were neat and fashionable, and with his headache fading, he felt energized enough to actually do well at the studio. James smiled. He felt good and he looked good. If only Carlos understood how much better he was now, he wouldn't be so mad.
"James, you ready to go yet? Gustavo wants us at the studio now!" Kendall called.
"Yep, I'm coming!" James yelled back. He straightened his collar and plastered a smile on his face, pleased with his appearance, because on the outside, it looked like nothing was wrong with him at all.
A/N Thanks for reading! I know you're busy but… Review?