A/N. As some of you may know, I have been working on a story called, "Thirteen Reasons Why", a different take on Jay Asher's beautiful novel about a young woman who takes her own life and leaves behind a set of tapes with the thirteen reasons why she made such a choice. In my story, Logan also has thirteen reasons, but they're thirteen reasons why he decided not to take his own life and why he decided that his life is worth living. One night when I was struggling a lot, I put my iPod on shuffle and "The Last Night" by Skillet came on. Even though it was around 3 in the morning, I started crying like a baby and wound up creating my own list. A list like Logan's where I wrote thirteen reasons why I haven't given up no matter how hopeless things have gotten for me. On that list were all the wonderful people I've met since I started writing Big Time Rush fan fiction, including Courtney.
I have a list of stories to write for all of these people. You've hopefull read "Ohana" which I wrote for Lauren and hopefully you'll read this and all the others. But not a day goes by that I don't thank God for the wonderful girls He has blessed me with. They've all given me so much underserved love and support and encouragement and I love them so much for it. They're all beautiful people and Courtney is certainly no exception.
Courtney, I love you more than rainbows and unicorns and writing and big Time Rush and Boyce Avenue and Logan Henderson and all things bright and beautiful. Thank you so much fo everything that you are. I am blessed beyond measure to have you in my life. I hope you like this story! Also, thanks so much to Lauren for helping me brainstorm the idea. Wonderul people, my best friends are.
I don't own anything.
"Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true."
The words of his grandmother floated in and out of James' thoughts continually as if they were haunting him. He could practically see his father's mother sitting right next to him, a stern look on her face. He could almost hear her voice, whispering the warning in his ear. In fact, the only thing that kept him from going absolutely insane because of the past was because of the present, something that was happening right now.
Kendall. They were waiting for news on Kendall. Kendall Knight was one of James' best friends, had been one of his best friends since they were five. They were sixteen now. Eleven years of the kind of friendship that most people only dreamed about. Twelve years of a bond between four boys that could never fully be understood by any outsiders.
They had established their positions from day one. Kendall was the oldest, the undisputed leader and protector of the three younger boys. The few times he wasn't available, James would readily step up to the plate, trying so hard to replace the irreplaceable and usually holding everything together until
Kendall's return. Then there was Logan, whose intelligence and sensibility kept them grounded and out of trouble or got them out of trouble. Last was Carlos, the youngest, the innocent, the one that kept them all happy and carefree. They were perfect together.
Okay, maybe perfect was a bit of a stretch. They all had their faults. Didn't everyone? Kendall was headstrong and stubborn, sometimes dragging them headlong into situations without listening to Logan's cautious advice. But that didn't matter though because he always got them through those situations safely and in one piece. Logan, on the other hand, could be too cautious and timid, doubting
himself. But once again, he always managed to be encouraged to take a risk and come out on top, much to his friends' collective pride in him. Carlos was reckless and sometimes a little bit tactless. He liked to state things exactly as he saw them. But he knew when he was wrong and would always go overboard in making it up to the person he had hurt very unintentionally. It was hard to stay mad at Carlos for longer than an hour.
James' three friends had their faults, just like everyone else, but they knew them and made up for them. James himself. . . he wasn't so sure about his faults and how he handled them. He knew he could be self-absorbed and that his dreaming and passionate personality could sometimes interfere with his relationships with other people. Sometimes he got caught up in what he wanted and he forgot that
other people were involved. He knew all this and he hated it. He just wasn't sure how to handle it.
Now he found himself put in a position that just a week ago, he had been craving. He had been jealous of Kendall's leadership in everything they did. He was jealous that Kendall made all the calls and that Kendall got the most attention, even when it came to their band, Big Time Rush. It had been James'
dream in the first place, to become a pop star. But it had been Kendall whom Gustavo had picked and even though Gustavo had given into the idea of the four of them being a singing group, it had always been obvious that Kendall was the famous rock producer's favorite member.
James had never understood that, but he always managed to keep his feelings of jealousy and discontent well hidden and subdued. He knew it was stupid for him to feel that way, especially toward one of his best friends. But maybe it would have been better if it had all come to the surface earlier on, before it could become a real mess. Instead, he had let his feelings build up higher and higher until-
He couldn't remember what exactly it was that had finally become the last straw for him, but the end result had been the worst fight he had ever had with any of his friends in his entire life. James was actually pretty sure that it was the worst fight any of his friends had been in with each other. He had always figured that it would be between Kendall and himself. They were both stubborn and hardheaded, but up until last week, they always knew where to draw the lines.
Last week, James had snapped and Kendall had snapped right back and before James knew it, they were full out yelling at each other, insulting each other, and nearly coming to actual blows before Logan and Carlos finally managed to intervene and grab their attention. But it was too late. The damage had been done, and it was a lot of damage. The two boys had stalked off in opposite directions with Logan following Kendall and James being pursued by Carlos.
Nothing either of the younger boys could say convinced Kendall and James to make up. They went about the next several days, cool and distant to each other, only acknowledging each other when it was absolutely necessary. They refused to listen to anything anyone else had to say on the matter, absolutely convinced that they were right and that the other was wrong.
Basically, James had not only insulted several of Kendall's most recent choices that had led them into less than desirable situations, but he also insisted that he could do a better job and that he should be the leader, at least where Big Time Rush was concerned. It had been his dream after all that had led them to
Los Angeles, California. They would still be a bunch of no-name hockey stars in their small Minnesota town.
Kendall had retaliated by calling everything about James' dream stupid and selfish, going as far as to say that he regretted helping him out and that he wished they were back in Minnesota because they were going to go nowhere. Kendall said that he, that James, was going nowhere. It had been one of those times that he lost control of his famous temper, but this time, he never tried to make up for it.
Now, sitting in the hospital waiting room where they had been for nearly an hour, James realized that it wasn't just Kendall who should have apologized. He had hurt Kendall deeply by calling them all no-name hockey stars. It was Kendall's dream to be a professional hockey star and for James to insult him
like he had. . . now James could see that he had just been a huge hypocrite for getting mad at Kendall's insults. They hadn't even meant anything, they were just so angry. But usually, when they were angry, they eventually made up. Now, it might be too late. James might never get the chance to tell Kendall how sorry he was for everything.
A car accident. A stupid car accident. Kendall had gone to the rink by himself earlier that morning and had never returned. They got a the call a little around lunchtime when they were just beginning to worry. James would never be able to erase the image of Mrs. Knight's face when she received the news that her son had been taken to Lincoln Memorial Hospital. It would haunt him for the rest of his life. Everything about the day and the past week would haunt him.
So now they could only wait and hope. James glanced from side to side to see how everyone else was holding up. Katie was tucked into her mother's embrace, her face hidden so that James couldn't tell if she was shaking with sobs or simply from the fear that she might lose her big brother. Mrs. Knight was doing her best to comfort her but James could see that she was close to the edge of hysteria herself. Carlos was sitting stiller than James had ever seen him, hardly breathing as he stared straight ahead in complete silence. He was like another person. James couldn't even bear to look at Logan.
He had been jealous of Kendall in more ways than one. He had been jealous of how he was always put in the leadership position but he was also jealous of the bond he had with Logan. James always liked to think that the four of them shared the same bond, and to some extent they did. But Kendall and Logan, because of their broken families, had another, deeper bond. James knew that Kendall didn't love Logan more than he loved James and Carlos, but his parents' divorce and the death of both of Logan's parents and the resulting adoption of Logan into the Knight family, made the two close in a way that James couldn't understand if he tried.
If Kendall was here, he would know just what to say to Logan to ease his fears. Then again, if Kendall was here, they'd be perfectly happy at Apartment 2J and not wondering if they would lose the cornerstone of their friendship. James couldn't help but blame himself for the entire thing. Kendall only went to the rink by himself when he needed to clear his mind. He wouldn't have needed to clear his mind if he and James hadn't had that awful argument.
James jumped at the sound of Logan's voice and turned to look at his younger friend. He felt his heart ache when he saw Logan's pale tear streaked face and the way his hands were shaking even though he had them clenched into fists. "What-" his voice cracked and James cleared his throat before trying again. "What is it, Logan?"
Logan looked like he was about six years old, with his wide brown eyes full of fear, pleading for James to reassure him. "Will Kendall be okay?" he asked so quietly that only James could hear him.
James had no idea if Kendall would be okay but he was certain that he was dying slowly himself. His heart was throbbing painfully and he felt sick to his stomach. This is what he wanted it, isn't it? A voice taunted him. You wanted to be the leader, well here you are. The leader. Now live up to what you told Kendall you would be.
Slowly, James reached out to Logan and put an arm over the smaller boy's shoulders, pulling him close. It was only a few seconds before Logan turned to him and he felt tears begin to soak into the shoulder of his t-shirt. "Logan," he murmured around the choking lump in his voice. "I don't know, buddy." He
couldn't think of anything else to say and he knew that what he had said wasn't helpful. But he felt even worse when Logan started to sob as if James had told him that Kendall was already dead.
"Oh, sweetie." Instantly Mrs. Knight was taking Logan away from James and holding both him and Katie, trying to keep her own tears hidden for the sake of her distraught children.
"Kendall. . . can't. . . d-die!" Logan said in between gasps for air. "He can't, he can't he can't-"
He was in hysterics now and it took all of James' power to keep from clamping his hands over his ears to block out the horrible noises. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Carlos start to break and he moved quickly to his friend's side, holding onto him as tightly as possible because it felt like he already lost Kendall and maybe Logan now, and he just couldn't stand to lose Carlos too.
Just then, the group finally spied a doctor walking towards them and they all struggling to get their emotions back under control. Carlos didn't budge from where he sat with James and James wasn't about to release him either. He squeezed his eyes shut and listened to the conversation that followed between
the strange man and his best friend's mother.
"I'm afraid your son is in very bad shape," the doctor who had introduced himself as Samuel Winters said quietly. "He was crossing an intersection at the right time, but there. . ." he paused, his sharp blue eyes surveying Katie's young face. "There was another car," he finally went on. "The driver had been
drinking. They crossed at the same as Kendall. They collided like this-" The doctor demonstrated by making a T with his hands. "Most of the impact I'm afraid, was on the driver's side of your son's car."
"But he's alive," Katie said, surprising everyone when she finally spoke. "You said that he's in bad shape, but that means he's alive. He can't be in bad shape if he's not alive." Her voice quivered more with each word and she fell silent once more.
"Yes," Doctor Winters relented, unwilling to give them too much hope. "He has a broken left leg and arm. His left lung was collapsed and two ribs are cracked. The entire left side of his body was almost completely crushed."
"Is he going to be all right?" Mrs. Knight asked, while James squeezed his eyes shut even tighter and prayed as hard as he could that God would take him instead of Kendall.
"I'm afraid that Kendall also suffered a severe amount of head trauma," the doctor replied slowly. "He was wearing his seat belt, but he still hit his head with tremendous force against his window. He's. . . he's in a coma right now."
"Coma," Mrs. Knight repeated dazedly. "Kendall." James was almost positive that she was unaware of the fact that she had one hand over her heart as she tried to steady her breathing. "What have you done for him?"
Doctor Winter's face conveyed nothing but sympathy and for this reason, James found himself hating him. He had given up. "We've done all we can," he started. "We've stopped the bleeding, hooked him up to an artificial breathing machine to give his lung plenty of time to heal, wrapped his ribs, and put casts his broken bones. But as for the head trauma. . . there was only so much we could do. Now he's resting as comfortably as possible right now, however. . ." the doctor shook his head. "He's in a coma right now and to be perfectly honest, Mrs. Knight, it's very unlikely that he'll ever wake up. We need a miracle right now."
A miracle, James thought just as Mrs. Knight finally began to cry. He believed in miracles. His favorite movie was called Miracle. He believed that a miracle would bring Kendall back to them. There just wasn't any other option.
So he felt surprisingly steady as he stood up, still holding onto Carlos, and asked in a strong and clear voice if they could see Kendall.
"Yes," Doctor Winters said right away. "Of course. Please come with me."
Logan was the first to follow the doctor, catching James by surprise. He tightened his grip on Carlos and hurried after his other friend who was staggering down the hall as if he was intoxicated. "Logan," James called as he gently caught Logan by the wrist. "Take it easy, buddy."
"James," Logan blinked at him, his eyes so red and swollen from all his crying that James couldn't even tell that they had once been brown. "James, he's going to be okay. He has to be. You'll see. He's Kendall. He can't-"
"Shhh," James let go of Logan's wrist so he could drop his arm over his shoulders in a protective gesture. "I know. I know it's going to be okay. Kendall will be fine. The doctor said that- that all we need is a miracle. And miracles happen every single day."
Logan nodded his head so hard that his already compromised balance was thrown off even more and he would have fallen if James wasn't holding him up. "Right," he said breathlessly. "And Kendall is really strong."
In spite of all of his fears and doubts and uncertainties, James couldn't help but smile a little bit. "That's right," he said softly. "Kendall is really strong. He'll be okay."
Doctor Winters had come to a stop in front of a closed door and turned around to face the boys and Mrs. Knight and Katie who were close behind. "I should warn you that he-"
Before he could finish, Logan had slipped out of James' grasp and shoved past the doctor, walking into the room where Kendall was. James heard Mrs. Knight whisper a quiet thank you before she and Katie and then Carlos followed after Logan. He stood frozen, alone in the hall for maybe five seconds before joining everyone else.
He wasn't sure that he had been prepared to see Kendall, especially after the warning Doctor Winters had tried to give them. As soon as he stepped inside the room, James knew that he hadn't been ready at all.
His first thought was that there had been some sort of horrible mistake and the swollen and bruised and cut person in the bed could not possibly be Kendall Knight. He didn't look anything like Kendall. The part of his face that hadn't been bandaged was disfigured by ugly bluish and purplish colors. His leg and his arm were both wrapped in heavy casts. A number of different wires and tubes seemed to be coming out of him and connecting to the machines that were set up around the bed. Worse than anything else was the tube down his throat and the terrifying noise that the machine made as it literally breathed for the unconscious boy. He looked far too vulnerable to be the Kendall James had grown up with.
Mrs. Knight and Katie had gone to the right off his bed where Mrs. Knight held his uninjured hand in both of hers and kissed the fingers over and over again, pleading for him to wake up while tears streamed down her pale face. Katie was still and silent, obviously in too great off a shock to say or do anything. She sat mutely by her mother's side, her eyes on the big brother who had always taken such good care of her, now so broken as he clung to his life.
Carlos and Logan sat on the other side. Carlos had already launched into a cheery and steady stream of one-sided conversation, only his eyes betraying how terrified he really was as they flew around the room, refusing to even look at the figure on the bed. Logan was right next to him, so close that their
shoulders touched. His hands fluttered around, searching for a part of Kendall that was unharmed. The tips of Kendall's fingers on his left hand could just be seen sticking out of the white cast and Logan settled for touching them lightly before bursting into a fresh torrent of tears.
James was terrified. He was terrified for Kendall who might not survive the night, but he was also terrified for Logan who was surely going to make himself sick with all the crying he had done. The sobs were so violent and body wrenching that James felt his own stomach and chest begin to ache just by watching the harsh tremors that were in complete control of Logan.
Do something! His mind screamed at him. Kendall wouldn't just sit by and watch one of his friends come completely undone. James forced his feet to come unglued from the floor and he slowly moved to Logan's side, all the while desperately trying to think of what Kendall would say.
As soon as he reached Logan, James was forced backwards a step when Logan spun around and gagged before vomiting on the floor between them. "Logie," James murmured, quickly stepping around the mess where he placed his hand on Logan's back and rubbed it as Logan continued to heave.
"James?" Carlos had stopped talking to the unresponsive Kendall and was watching Logan in fear. "Mama Knight. . ."
But Mrs. Knight had already pressed the call button to summon Doctor Winters or the closest nurse. "Logan, honey, you need to breathe."
It was like Logan was totally unaware of her. He had stopped throwing up but he was still doubled over, choking and gasping for air. His dark hair stuck to his forehead in sweaty clumps and his pale face was glistening. His eyes were feverish and unfocused. His mouth was forming one word, one name, but no sound escaped his lips except for a wheezing sound that James assumed was supposed to
be him breathing.
"Logan!" James practically yelled, wanting to yell at Kendall too. He wanted to yell and scream until Kendall woke up and fixed Logan. "Logan, please! Look at me!"
Carlos was suddenly there, reaching out to slap Logan's face. It was a fairly light slap but with just enough force to finally get the other boy's attention. "Logan," he whispered. "You're okay, buddy. Just-"
"But Kendall's not," Logan interrupted, shaking his head. "Kendall's not okay. He's not okay, Carlos. He could- he could die! And if he d-dies, then I won't be okay, Carlos. None of us will be okay. I need him. We all need him."
James somehow found himself on the outside of the little circle that had been formed around Logan. By now, Doctor Winters and a nurse had come in and were trying to assist in calming the distraught teenager down.
Helpless to do anything else, James returned to his seat besides Kendall's bed, his eyes darting from Logan to Kendall and back to Logan again. "Kendall," he pleaded as tears began to slip down his cheeks. "Logan's right. We need you. Please wake up, Kendall. Please."
Suddenly, a smaller pair of arms wrapped around James and Katie was holding on for dear life. She seemed to need someone to hold onto as much as James did. He was quick to return the tight embrace, pulling her as close as possible and letting her sob into his shoulder. At least he could do something right.
James' eyes were growing heavier with each second that passed. He refused to let himself fall asleep though, terrified that Logan would wake up and have another panic attack. He had to stay awake in case he was needed.
Curled up on the chair across the hospital bed was Carlos. The youngest boy had fallen into a fitful sleep, tossing and turning so much that James was worried he would fall off the chair. But at least he was sleeping, hopefully escaping the real life nightmare they had found themselves in.
In the bed was Logan, drugged by the sedatives that the doctors had been forced to give him when he continued to panic over Kendall's grave condition. James reached out slowly and laid his hand lightly over Logan's pale one. His fingers tightened around the thin wrist and James was thankful that he had been able to convince the doctors to take the restraints off.
Logan had been beside himself, completely unaware of everyone around him and their failed attempts to calm him down. He had hyperventilated so badly that he nearly passed out and finally Doctor Winters had him taken from Kendall's room to be cared for in his awful, hysterical state. But that only worsened Logan's panic and he struggled violently until the doctors had been forced to use the restraints around his wrist until they had him still enough for a sedative.
Now they had him hooked up to a heart monitor just to make sure. As scary as it was seeing Logan shatter like that, James was relieved that he could see an improvement. The restraints around his wrists hadn't been the only things to disappear. At first they had been so concerned about his breathing that the
doctors had also given Logan an oxygen mask. But once he had fallen into his deep, medicated sleep, everything and everyone had become more relaxed.
That didn't mean that James was about to fall asleep. Mrs. Knight had asked him and Carlos to watch over Logan in his room while she and Katie spent the night in Kendall's room. James was afraid to leave Kendall's side because Doctor Winters had said he might not make it through the night. But she couldn't be in two places at once herself and it meant a lot to James that she had entrusted Logan in his care even though he had been of absolutely no use so far. So that was another reason why James was so determined to stay awake.
Just then, Logan's fingers twitched in James' hand and be hurriedly straightened up to look at his friend. "Logan, just relax." he cautioned as he watched Logan pull himself out of his dreams. "You're okay, buddy."
"James?" Logan asked with a sleepy yawn. His eyes fluttered open, revealing brown once again now that the swelling had gone down and the redness had faded.
"Right here." James squeezed Logan's hand and offered him a small smile.
Logan blinked up at him in confusion and then glanced around the room, catching sight of Carlos almost right away. "What. . . happened?" he asked slowly.
He didn't remember. James had been warned that he might be a little dazed at first, so he didn't panic right away. "Logan," he said gently, taking a deep breath. "Kendall. . . Kendall was in an accident earlier today and you- you pretty much broke up and hyperventilated. It was really bad." James bit his lip. "You had us really worried."
Tears filled Logan's eyes as the memories returned. "I'm sorry," he whispered sadly. "I'm sorry I scared you."
James' heart sank. He kept saying and doing all the wrong things. He was either not helping people at all or upsetting them even more. "Logan, no!" he exclaimed, shaking his head. "Don't apologize, Logan. It wasn't your fault, trust me. This is no one' fault."
He didn't actually believe his own words. It was his fault, all of it. But James was not about to tell that to Logan. "Hey," he said softly when Logan dropped his gaze. "Look at me."
Logan obeyed and James felt like a stake had been driven deep into his heart because he had never seem anyone look so sad in his entire life. And this was Logan, his best friend. Sorrow so deep that he felt like he was drowning welled up inside of James and he moved quickly to the edge of the bed so that he could hold Logan. "I'm right here, Logan." he whispered. "Carlos is here too. We're here for you."
Logan nodded as he clung to James. "I'm okay now," he said with a sigh. "You and Carlos should go be with Kendall now. Is that where my mom and Katie are now? You should go be with them, James. I'll be okay here until they let me out. Will they let me out soon, James?"
"Tomorrow," James repeated the doctor's words. "You just have to stay quiet and get plenty of rest. And Carlos and I aren't going anywhere. We'll be right here with you, bud."
"But Kendall-" Logan began.
"Your mom and Katie are with him," James interrupted gently. "We're split up a little for tonight, Logan, but tomorrow we'll be together again. And we're going to get through this, okay?"
It was painfully obvious that Logan wasn't completely comforted. But he put on a half smile for James and nodded. "Okay," he said tiredly. "Thanks, James."
Relieved that it didn't look like Logan would be needing an oxygen mask or restraints any time soon, James loosened his grip and sat back. "Why don't you try to get some more sleep?" he suggested quietly. "You need to rest."
Logan nodded again, but was hesitant. "James, will you. . . . wake me up if you hear anything?" he asked. "About Kendall, I mean."
This time it was James who nodded. "Of course, I will. You'll be the first one I'll talk to, Logan. I promise."
Logan laid back down again, the worries and fears drifting away from him as he started to relax again. The medication obviously hadn't started to fade in the first place. Not yet. He was hardly aware of his surroundings. "Good," he mumbled, his eyes already closing. "I want to know right when he wakes up."
James didn't say anything. He let Logan's words fall into empty air, and once Logan was back asleep, he let the tears come. They were silent as they slid down his cheeks, because James was determined to make sure that his younger friends stayed asleep. But he did cry.
He cried because Carlos had hardly spoken at all since Logan's breakdown. He cried because Logan was so scared. And he cried because he wanted so desperately for Kendall to wake up. He cried because when it mattered most, he might not get what he wanted or needed more than anything else in the world.
"Please," he prayed, lowering his head until he was cradling it in his hands. "Please, God. If you're going to take anyone away, please take me. I'm the one who should be in Kendall's place right now. Kendall can't- he can't die. Not now. Please. Take me instead, God."
And then James cried because no matter what he said, it wouldn't change anything. God wouldn't want him to trade places with Kendall. Kendall belonged in Heaven. James didn't.
James wasn't sure how much longer he could keep the act up. It had been three days since Kendall's accident and his best friend showed no sign that he was waking up or was even aware of his worried family and friends. Everything was coming undone, slowly but surely. James' life was unraveling and all he could do was sit back and watch it.
He had been trying so hard to do what Kendall would be doing if he was in James' place. Kendall would hold everyone together and be strong for everyone. He would give them one of those pep talks that they always made fun of even though they worked. Kendall always knew just what to say and do to make people feel reassured. It wasn't until now that James knew that he had no idea.
They weren't allowed to all spend the nights in Kendall's hospital room. Mrs. Knight did while James took Carlos, Logan, and Katie home when visiting hours ended. They would wait, hardly sleeping, at Apartment 2J until visiting hours started back up again. Those hours between eight at night and eight in the morning were the worst twelve hours.
James had always struggled with insomnia and the recent events had made things even worse. Not a single night had passed without him hearing either Logan or Katie or Carlos crying in their room and he went in there to try and make them feel better. He had the feeling that he was failing miserably though.
Just as he was thinking of this, James heard a muffled sob coming from Logan's room. He rubbed his eyes and glanced over at the clock. 4:36 in the morning. Three hours since he had talked with Carlos until he fell asleep and an hour and a half since Katie had cried herself to sleep in his arms. He had been waiting for Logan to break too.
He got up slowly and quietly so that he didn't wake up Katie. The little girl stirred slightly as James moved her head from his shoulder to the pillow on the bed and James froze. He set his hand on her shoulder and closed his eyes, praying that would stay asleep at least for a little while. "It's okay, Katie." he whispered. "Everything's okay."
The lie made his stomach twist but it kept Katie asleep. Smoothing her hair away from her face, James stood up and left the room, leaving the door open a crack, just in case. Then he felt along the dark walls of the hallway until he came to Logan's room. Pushing the door open, he stepped inside, already talking to Logan.
"Logan," he sat on the edge of Logan's bed and touched Logan's back lightly. "Buddy, wake up." Unlike Carlos and Katie who didn't fall asleep until they had cried themselves into exhaustion, Logan often fell asleep right away only to become locked inside some awful nightmare and cry in his sleep.
The ache in his heart almost made James cry out. He bit his lip so hard that it started to bleed, but ignoring his own pain, he reached out to Logan. "Logie, it's me. James."
Logan's eyes fluttered open, confused and scared. "James?" he repeated, sounding disappointed.
James swallowed hard and nodded. "Yeah, it's me." he said with a tiny smile.
Immediately, Logan realized his mistake and sat up, letting James hug him. "I'm sorry," he murmured sadly. "I was dreaming again. You sounded so much like Kendall for a minute there."
"I kind of figured you were dreaming," James said quietly. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Logan hesitated and then gave a small nod. "We were in the hospital," he started. "Kendall's room. He was still. . . you know." He fell silent for a little while and James tightened his grip. Then Logan sighed and went on. "We were all talking to him but. . . he wasn't. . . waking up. And then-"
James had a pretty good idea of what happened next so he didn't push Logan when he broke off and started to cry again quietly. He waited again, holding onto Logan as tightly as he could and wishing that Kendall would come in the room and wake them all up from this horrible nightmare. "It was just a dream, Logan." he said quietly. "Kendall. .. he's still with us. We'll see him in a few hours."
"I k-know," Logan sighed shakily and took a deep breath, calming himself down. "So y-yeah, in my dream. . . he. . . died." Logan's voice broke on the word, but this time he kept going. "And we were all c-crying and then you came in and talked to me and. . . and it sounded just like Kendall. Then I woke up." He brushed a hand over his eyes and then added, "I miss Kendall's voice. I miss Kendall."
"I know, believe me, so do I." James blinked back tears and sniffed. "It's only been three days and. . . he's still with us. But I miss him so much, Logan. I miss him getting us in and out of trouble and giving us pep talks and picking fights with Gustavo. I miss singing with him and talking with him and playing hockey and video games with him. I miss- I miss him being able to fix everything."
Logan stopped crying and looked up at James, hardly seeing his face in the darkness. "James," he said softly. "You're not Kendall, but you're doing a really good job of holding us together. Kendall would be so proud of you. He will be proud of you when he wakes up."
James had thought that Logan mistaking him for Kendall had hurt. But Logan saying that Kendall would be proud of him hurt a thousand times worse. "Logan," he choked out. "That's not-"
"Yes it is true!" Logan insisted, the awful despair in his voice disappearing for an instant as he tried to convince James. "James, I don't know what we'd do without you. You've been so strong for all of us this whole time."
"I'm not strong," James said, failing to keep his tears from falling. "Logan. I'm not strong at all. I feel like I'm falling apart more and more every single day. I haven't been able to help anyone at all. Kendall would-"
"Jay," Logan began. "Do you really think that Kendall feels strong when he's helping us through something? Do you really think that he doesn't fall apart on the inside when something goes really wrong?"
"Um," James loosened his grip on Logan and pulled away so that he could look at him. "I don't- I don't know. I guess I always thought that he was really strong."
"He is," Logan said quickly. "But, James, if you were in his place, do you really think that he'd be better off than you right now? He'd be terrified, just like you are now. Kendall being strong means that he hides his own fears so he can help us."
"Because he's unselfish," James agreed. "But I'm not, Logan. I'm so selfish, it's disgusting. Sometimes, all I think about is myself and my stupid dreams and I forget about you guys. That's why Kendall's in the hospital now. Because we had a fight and I was selfish and he went to the rink by himself so he could clear his mind. It's all my fault, Logan."
Logan regarded him quietly with sad brown eyes. "It was just an accident, James."
"An accident that I caused." James replied stubbornly.
"I don't think I can convince you that it's not your fault," Logan said honestly. "But I think Kendall can. When he wakes up. Because he will wake up, James. He has to. No matter what any of those doctors say."
James felt hope return with Logan's words. "They don't know him like we do," he said softly.
Logan's smile was barely there but it was real. "Right," he agreed. "And when he does wake up, he'll tell you that none of this was your fault. For now though, James, you have been amazingly strong for all of us. I know it doesn't feel like you have, but really, it's true. You've taken care of us exactly the way Kendall would. Thanks for everything, James."
At first, Logan's words helped James. They gave him strength to keep going, holding everyone together. But as time wore on and Kendall still showed no signs of returning to them and the doctors began to suggest taking him off life support, James began to feel that strength slipping away from him.
It had been two and half weeks now and nothing had changed. They all sat with Kendall from eight am to eight pm and then James would take Carlos, Katie, and Logan home, leaving Mrs. Knight in the hospital with her son overnight. James would fall into an exhausted sleep only to be woken by someone crying. He would do his best, but he could tell that his resolve was getting weaker and weaker.
It was overwhelming, feeling like he had to help everyone at once and being unable to do so. Katie refused to talk to anyone except Kendall when they were at the hospital. She let James hold her until she cried herself to sleep every night, but he could tell that all she wanted was for her big brother to be holding her.
James had once been able to make Carlos feel better all the time. But this was different. Any promises he wanted to make about Kendall waking up and everything being okay would be empty, so there was nothing he could say that would make the younger boy happy. He became a silent shadow that followed James and Logan everywhere as if he was afraid that they might leave him too.
The worst was Logan, because even though he tried to put on a brave face so that James would feel better about himself, James could tell that the act was wearing thin. Logan was depressed and lost without Kendall. His nightmares had stopped but that was only because he came home from the hospital, shut himself away in his room and slept until it came time to go back to Kendall.
James couldn't give in though. Giving in would be letting Kendall down and he had already done that enough for a lifetime. He thought of what Kendall would do. Kendall would be everything that they needed him to be. It was just hard figuring out the difference between what his friends wanted and what they needed. He wasn't sure how far to push them to male sure they didn't lose themselves.
He tried talking to Katie but she was almost as unresponsive as her brother. Sometimes James would break down into tears and she would start to cry to and then apologize. Then she would talk, but only for a little while before emotional exhaustion took her into a blissfully oblivious sleep. James felt bad for making her cry and he wondered if it was right. But it couldn't right to let her be so mute.
Carlos was difficult too. Because he was afraid of being alone and there were times when James had to leave him to make sure Katie and Logan were okay. He slept on the floor in the younger boy's room, but often he had to go comfort Katie and on occasion, Logan. Every time he returned, he would find Carlos awake and crying quietly.
He was afraid to leave Logan, because even though he almost cried, James was worried. He was actually even more worried that Logan didn't cry. Everything was getting worse. He may have been able to help his friends before, but as time crept by, he felt like he was losing them anyway.
The shrill ringing of the telephone dragged James out of a light sleep and he picked himself up from Carlos' floor to check the time. 5:27 in the morning. His heart stopped in fear and he could barely stand up and stumble into the kitchen where the land-line was. Why was someone calling so early?
He knew the answer. It was Mrs. Knight, calling about Kendall. She promised them that if anything ever changed, she would call them right away. It couldn't possibly be anyone else. With a trembling hand, James picked up the receiver and immediately sank to the floor. "Hello?" he whispered.
She was crying. James gripped the phone tightly with one hand and clutched his chest with the other. He was having a heart attack, he was positive. "Mama Knight," he choked out, tears clogging his throat and blinding him.
"James, sweetie." Mrs. Knight inhaled sharply, her voice surprisingly calm despite her tears. "Everything's okay, sweetie. The doctors think he may be waking up."
That was the one thing James had been hoping for, but the last thing he had been expecting. He stopped breathing completely for a few seconds as he tried to understand her words. Okay. Kendall. Waking. "W-what?" he finally gasped out, oblivious to the fact that he wasn't alone and Carlos, Logan, and Katie were crowded around him.
"He's waking up, James." Mrs. Knight said again, as gently as possible. "He's been nodding and shaking his head and- and squeezing my hand, James."
James closed his eyes and lowered his head until it was resting on his knees. His response was muffled when he finally spoke. "Can. . . can we come. Please?"
"Yes, of course, sweetie." She kept calling him sweetie, not that James was about to protest. She could call him anything she wanted to and he could care less. Kendall was maybe waking up. That was all that mattered.
He forgot to say goodbye. He just hung up. Then he glanced over and noticed the others for the first time. They were pale and scared looking, unable to tell what was happening from the dazed look on his face. James suddenly picked up Katie and spun her around until he got dizzy. "He's waking up!" he shouted.
"He's what?" Katie shouted back, grabbing onto his arms to keep him still. "James, what did you say?"
It was as if the old Carlos had never disappeared in the first place. Carlos jumped at James, nearly knocking him over with a violent hug. "He's waking up!" he shouted joyfully. "Kendall's waking up! That's what James said, right, James?"
James laughed, surprising himself. "Yes! Mama Knight just called me. He's nodding and shaking his head and squeezing her hand! He's responding to everyone and the doctors said that he might be waking up soon!"
Logan was already at the door and James had enough presence of mind to grab the set of car keys before leading the way after him. It was only when they actually got in the car and he could barely steady his hands enough to put the keys in the ignition that there might be a problem. "I don't know if I can drive," he admitted breathlessly.
"James!" Logan exclaimed, so loudly and unexpectedly that they all jumped.
"Okay, okay." James turned the key, jumping again when the engine roared to life. He took a deep breath and placed his hands on the steering wheel. "Let's go then."
He did a much better job of driving than he expected. And by that, James was surprised that he remembered where the hospital was in the first place. It was fortunate that it was so early in the morning and that there were so few cars on the street, because in hindsight, he had no memory of the drive at all. One minute, they were pulling out of the Palm Woods parking lot and the next, he had parked illegally in the ambulance parking lot in front of the hospital.
They found Mrs. Knight and Kendall just as they had left them hours before. Except that Doctor Winters was there too and both of them were leaning intently over Kendall's bed with hopeful expressions. And Kendall-
James found himself sitting on the floor, hardly able to breath. Kendall was awake. Dimly, over the strange roaring sound in his ears, he could hear Carlos and Katie and Logan talking rapidly and he could hear them crying.
"Is James okay?"
Kendall. He could hear Kendall's voice. For the first time in nearly three weeks, James could hear Kendall's voice and yet he couldn't respond to it. He was crying so hard that he forgot he was on his knees on the hospital floor. He didn't know anything except that Kendall was awake and talking.
Arms were around him and James could hear Kendall's mother talking to him, whispering soothing words to him as she gently rubbing his back. "It's okay, sweetie. Everything's okay. He's going to be fine."
He knew she was trying to make him feel better and stop crying. He did feel better, but he didn't stop crying. He cried even harder when he heard those words. He's going to be okay. James had never cried so hard in his entire life, but it was like the past two and a half weeks had finally caught up to him. All the tears he had hidden for the sake of the others had collided with the extraordinary relief that he felt and all of his self control was gone as if it had never existed.
At last, he managed to get the violent, choking sobs under control and James found himself nodding his head. "I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay."
"Just breathe, James." Mrs. Knight advised gently.
"He's right here, James. Just try to relax and breathe for a little while."
James nodded again and then tried his best to obey. Obviously, he wasn't going to be able to get off the floor and see his best friend if he didn't get himself under control first. He shut his eyes and took deep breaths, listening to the voices around him.
Carlos and Katie were talking slowly and quietly. James couldn't make out their words, but they were talking and even though they still sounded like they were crying, they sounded so happy. He could hear Kendall too. He sounded incredibly weak, but already James could hear the strength that had always kept them together. The only person he couldn't hear was Logan, and that worried James.
He finally stood unsteadily on his feet and staggered over to the bed. Carlos and Katie were sitting on one side, their faces wet with tears, but their eyes shinning with joy. Logan was on the other side, not speaking or crying. He was staring with wide eyes at Kendall, as if he was afraid to even blink. He was holding tightly to Kendall's hand and James didn't know that he was aware of anything else, until he shifted aside just enough to make room for James next to the bed.
Kendall had been talking to Carlos and Katie, and watching Logan, but as soon as James moved into view, all of his focus was on his other best friend. "Hey, Jay." he said quietly. "You okay, buddy?"
It took all of James' strength to keep from falling apart all over again. He smiled and then laughed through his tears. "I'm okay, Kendall."
It was obvious that Kendall didn't believe him. But he was still way too tired and weak to push the argument. So he gently freed his hand from Logan's and held out his arm for James. When James carefully leaned down to hug him, Kendall held him as tightly as he could. "It's okay, James." he said softly.
For the first time since before the accident, James could believe that everything really was okay.
The sound of a shattering glass woke James up out of the soundest sleep he had been in since before Kendall's accident. He jumped and tumbled from the couch to the floor, the air exploding out of his lungs. For a few long seconds, he stayed on the floor, his face pressed into the wooden floor while he waited for his lungs to refill.
"James, are you okay?" J
ames was still gasping for air when he heard the wheels of Kendall's chair turning and he struggled to his hands and knees. "Kendall, no, wait." He pulled himself up by the couch and stood unsteadily before moving slowly to where Kendall was waiting in the kitchen. A satisfied grin spread across his face. "Hey, you listened!"
Kendall rolled his eyes and gestured to his left arm, still in its cast. "I really don't have much of a choice, do I?"
James stepped behind Kendall's chair and pushed it into the family room before leaving him there and returning to the kitchen. "So," he called out. "What were you doing in there in the first place? Why didn't you ask for help?"
"Because," Kendall said with a sigh. "I thought if I could do one thing by myself, I could get a drink of water. I almost did too. Then I dropped it."
James hissed in pain when a small piece of the broken glass cut into his finger. "I can see that," he remarked, mopping up the water with his other hand and frantically trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding without Kendall noticing. "You've always been a klutz, Kendall. Even with two good hands." He heard Kendall laugh from the other room and he closed his eyes, committing the sound to his memory. The stinging in his finger made him open his eyes and he looked down in dismay to see that the blood had started to soak through the dish towel. "I'll get you some water in a second, hang on."
"What did you do this time?" Kendall's tone was joking. He was just teasing James because he knew the other boy was preoccupied with something other than mopping up water. So James felt like kicking himself when he couldn't joke back and instead started to cry.
"James?" Kendall sounded unreasonably panicked now and James could hear him fumbling around with his one good hand as he tried to wheel himself to James again.
"I'm okay! Stay there, Kendall." He picked himself up off the floor and swiped a hand across his eyes, flashing James a thumbs up.
Kendall's eyes narrowed and then widened. "What did you do to your hand?"
James groaned. So much from hiding his stupid cut from Kendall. "I cut myself on the glass," he mumbled in embarrassment.
"Come here," Kendall ordered. When James was at his side, he took the towel and pressed it firmly to the cut, avoiding the actual blood since that was something that he could never really stand. "So why are you so upset right now?" he asked, weary but concerned green eyes studying James' exhausted and haunted hazel eyes.
"I'm not upset, Kendall." James insisted with a fake smile. "Why would I be upset? You're home with is and you're getting better every day."
"Yeah, but something is still upsetting you. You've been. . . off ever since I woke up. I mean, I know it must have been really scary-" Kendall broke off and shivered. "I can't imagine how awful it must have been. But there's nothing to be scared of anymore, James."
"I'm not scared," James says honestly. "It's nothing, Kendall. Really." He dropped his gaze and tried to pull his hand away from Kendall.
Kendall took a firmer hold on his wrist and carefully lifted the towel away. "The bleeding is slowing," he said with a sigh of relief.
"It's just a cut," James pointed out. "You're the one in the wheelchair."
"Yeah and it sucks," Kendall said with a bitter laugh. "But you know what sucks more? The fact that you won't tell me what's up with you. I mean, my mom and Katie and Carlos and Logan are pretty obvious about their feelings. Mom finally stopped crying every time she sees him and Carlos and Katie finally stopped gluing themselves to me."
"Logan's still sleeping on your floor," James said, trying to get the focus off himself.
"Yeah, but he's sleeping." Kendall replied. "You look like a raccoon with those dark circles. I think you sleep more during the day than you do at night. And that's only because you're just so exhausted."
James flinched away from Kendall's concern. "I just- Kendall, if we hadn't fought like we did. . . you would be so hurt. It was all my fault. Everything."
The towel fell to the floor unnoticed as Kendall stared at James in disbelief. "You seriously think the accident was your fault? James, the other driver was drunk at 12:00 in the afternoon. How is that your fault?"
"Because," James sniffed miserably. "You wouldn't have been out if we hadn't fought. You only go to the rink by yourself when you're upset. It was my fault that you were upset, Kendall."
"Is that what you really think?" Kendall asked, shaking his head. "So no one told you?"
James looked at him in confusion. "Told me what?" he asked.
Kendall sighed heavily. "I went to the rink because some college scouts were going to be there. I told everyone but you because- well because I was mad at you. But James, I didn't go alone because of you."
"Why. . ." James ran his fingers through his hair. "If you hadn't been mad at me then you wouldn't have gone alone."
"Maybe," Kendall admitted. Then he looked up and James was surprised to see tears in his eyes. "But then maybe you would have been with me when I got hit. I know that the car hit me on the driver's side, but you and Carlos and Logan could still have been hurt. Maybe even-" he broke off and shook his head. "James, what happened to me. It wasn't your fault. None of it was. If you were to blame at all, then so would I. An argument is always two-sided, Jay."
"I started it. By telling you that I could lead just as well as you. And then I said that your hockey dream was stupid. But I was so wrong, Kendall. I mean, you've always been an amazing hockey player, so for me to say that you couldn't go pro. . . that was just dumb. But me thinking I could lead was even stupider."
"I agree that the hockey thing was really stupid," Kendall joked. "But James, who kept everyone together while I couldn't?" When James didn't answer, Kendall punched him gently in the arm to get his attention. "Logan told me everything," he said quietly. "James, you might not think that you did anything. But everyone else thinks something different. Logan told me how you helped Katie get to sleep at night. He told me how you slept on Carlos' floor at night because he was afraid to be alone. And he told me how you sat with him every single time he had a nightmare and helped him. You helped him every night, James. You helped everyone every night."
"I don't feel like I did," James confessed. "Especially the more time that went by."
"Logan told me that you were the only one who kept him from going insane," Kendall informed James. "I know how you feel, James. Being the leader isn't about being in charge and all together even when everyone else is falling apart. Being the leader is letting go of what you're scared of, all of your problems, so you can be there for others. From what Logan told me, that's what you did. You were still really scared and upset, but you put your feelings after everyone else."
"I took you for granted," James shook his head in disgust. "I thought I could do it so easily, Kendall, but it was so hard."
Kendall laid his hand on James' shoulder and gave it a squeeze. "But you were amazing. You're still amazing. You've always been amazing, James, and you always will be. I can't thank you enough for looking out for everyone."
James laughed a little, wiping stubborn tears from his eyes. "I know how you can. You can um, forgive me for being so stupid and-"
"There was never anything to forgive. You learned everything you needed to, James." Kendall promised him. "Neither of us meant what we said and I think that- I think that now we'll be a little more careful."
"Right, well then, never get hurt like that again." James knew his words were childish and that Kendall couldn't make a promise like that, but he also didn't really care.
Kendall smiled and lifted his good arm, bringing it around James for the best hug he could manage. "I'll try not to, bro. But at least I know that everyone else is in good hands with you."
"Please don't say that," James begged. "I don't want to talk about it, Kendall."
Ignoring the pain in his broken arm, Kendall lifted it carefully so that he had both arms around James. "Sorry, buddy." he whispered. "We won't talk about it anymore, I promise. I'm right here and we're all okay. But, James? Thanks for everything. Seriously. I'm really proud of you."
Remembering Logan's words that Kendall would be proud of him, James had to swallow a lump in his throat before he could answer. "Thank you, Kendall. Thanks for staying with us." He knew it was a miracle that Kendall was sitting with him right now, talking to him and comforting him. But looking back on it, James wasn't really all that surprised. He had always believed in miracles and he had always thought that Kendall was the perfect person to have a miracle happen to him. So it made perfect sense. And James wasn't about to take Kendall or his gift of leadership or his miracle for granted. They were things that would remain with him for the rest of his life.
A/N. The end! Courtney, I know you love James best and Kames bromance also so I hope that this was to your liking! Lauren gave me the idea and all I told her was that you loved James best so the Kames was a bonus! Either that or she's just psychic. Wouldn't surprise me lol. But hey, you teo helped me with the other's Christmas presents so yay! You both rock epically, all right? All right. Merry Christmas, darlin'. Everything's better with you. XOXO, LH (Laura Henderson lol). I LVOE YOU SO MUCH! 3333333333