It's never easy to say goodbye, because it could mean two seconds, two hours, or two lifetimes. It's an amazingly ambiguous word. And does it ever really mean what it implies? Good-bye… it's already complex enough. Two words, two different connotations. When you're in love, goodbye is even harder.
Logan Mitchell would miss, well, everything. He'd miss the way the sunlight brought out the shine in his hair. He'd miss the sparkle in his eye when he was telling a joke. Logan would miss his hands, his warmth, his compassion, his lips. Logan's fingers reached to his face, brushing against his lower lip, until he finally balled his fists and put them to his side.
Everything would work out. They had promised each other that it would be okay, and James had never broken a promise to Logan, ever. James would go to Los Angeles with Gustavo Rocque, he'd become famous, and Logan would chase his dream of being a doctor. That was the plan. That had always been the plan. But one day, they knew they would come back to each other. In the meantime, they had cell phones, text messages, phone calls, video chats. They would make it work. They had to. True love conquers all, doesn't it?
Kendall and Carlos didn't know about the hidden meetings after school, when the smart boy and the pretty boy would whisper "I love you" to each other, kissing every inch of their lover's skin. They didn't know, because they wouldn't understand. It had started simple enough, locking eyes in the middle of class or across the ice during practices. They were best friends, and like the others, they knew everything about the other. But there was always something more lingering in their hearts.
Logan called Kendall when his heart was broken or when his parents fought, to talk about it. It was James he had always looked to in order to fix him, to make him feel whole again. They completed each other in the strangest ways, and even through the nagging and the fighting, it had been hard to ignore the building tension, until their first kiss.
Staring at the tall, muscular figure waving back at them, Logan remembered that kiss fondly. He was helping James study for their Biology test. James hadn't passed one test that semester, and Logan knew his friend was on the verge of failing the entire class if he didn't pull his grades up. They were sitting in James' house, and he had sighed, rubbing his face with his hands, and slumping into the couch. Logan couldn't stop staring at him, out of the corner of his eye, James' breathing like a lullaby in the silence.
"I just can't remember this shit, Logan.' James let out a frustrated sigh and his chest sank as he released his breath. "It's too much. I'm too fucking stupid."
Logan set his book down on the coffee table in front of them and leaned back on the couch with a frown. He elbowed James in the ribs softly. Taking a deep breath, he thought about what to say.
"James, you're not stupid. Far from, okay, buddy?" James cocked his eyebrow and rolled his eyes. Logan smiled, patting his friend on the leg. "Okay, fine. While you aren't the smartest person on the planet, or even as smart as me or Kendall? You're still damn intelligent, man. And you have a drive, and that means you're capable of learning anything when you really put your mind to it. We just haven't found the right way for you to learn. Obviously, memorization isn't for you. We should try visual learning next."
Logan felt around the side of the couch and pulled his backpack into his lap as James leaned his elbows on his knees, staring back at the textbook. James hands gripped the edge of the couch, and Logan, fumbling with his books, dropped one of the heavier ones on it. "Ow, man."
"Sorry," Logan mumbled, instinctively grabbing James' hand and checking it for swelling. His hands felt soft and warm, and Logan shivered at the touch. "I didn't mean to-"
James ripped his hand away with another roll of his eyes before looking down at the floor. "No big deal, man. It was just a book."
As soon as James' hand had left his, Logan longed to hold it again. Instead, he shrugged, tossing that book back in his bag. "Yeah, sorry, man. It was just instinct, you know?"
James nodded, and they went back to studying. They tried charts and diagrams, anything visual to try to make James' brain comprehend the lessons, but nothing seemed to work. After an hour of useless attempts, James screamed in frustration, standing up and pacing, kicking his mother's favorite statue in anger. "I can't fucking focus."
"Okay," Logan stated, nodding, "well, when I can't focus, I-"
"No, you don't get it, Logan. I can't focus with you here."
James sat back down on the couch with a sigh, and Logan's eyebrows furrowed. He didn't understand. James had been the one to ask for help, and Logan agreed, knowing his friend was in trouble. If he couldn't focus because there was someone else around, maybe Logan should leave so James could study. He shoved books in his bag and stood up.
"Sorry, I'll let you study in peace then."
James laughed, leaning his head back on the sofa. "You're still not getting it. I thought I was the dumb one."
Logan shrugged, throwing his bag on the couch and huffing. "Okay, James, I am officially confused now."
Logan had been thinking a lot of things over the last year, hoping for even more, so he never expected James to stand up, walk to him, and place his hand on Logan's neck. Taking a deep breath, Logan closed his eyes and breathed in James' scent, a mixture of fresh rain and pineapple. It sent shivers down his spine, and when James leaned down, his breath hot on Logan's face, he couldn't breathe anymore.
"If I told you I love you, what would you say, Logan?"
James' eyes were dark and his palms were sweaty. He licked his lips, his warm hazel eyes never leaving the dark brown irises he loved so much about Logan. He was waiting, anxiously, and the right answer would lead to those soft, full lips on Logan's. That scared them both more than either would admit.
He had never wanted to feel this way about James, but he was the only boy he could see himself with. The only boy who could make him feel safe, special. No girl could ever even begin to touch the perfection that was James Diamond. And now, Logan knew James felt the same way. He loved him. Wasn't that what he was saying? Everything in Logan's head was fuzzy, confused, numb.
When Logan spoke, his voice was hoarse. "I think-" He gazed down at his feet a moment before gulping, and taking a stand. He pulled James' face close, pressing their lips softly together. He pulled away slightly. "I'd say I love you too and always have."
Six months later, here they were, standing on opposite ends of an airport terminal, letting the other slip away. Logan closed his eyes and turned away as James walked through security, and when he looked back up, he was completely gone. Things would never be the same after that. Everything changed so quickly. The plan faltered and failed.
It would take more than ten years, close to fifteen to be exact, but Logan would move on. Seeing James on the television no longer made him want to cry from tears mixed of pride and distraught rage. Now he was just happy to have once known and loved the man making hits and storming through the charts.
"Baby," she mumbled, rolling over in bed and wrapping her arms around his waist. "Don't you have to go to work today? Saving lives has a strict time schedule, right?"
Logan laughed, rolling over and kissing his girlfriend, Camille. "The hospital gave me the day off. They said I've been working too much, which is very true."
Camille giggled, resting her head on Logan's chest and running her fingers over his shoulders, making goosebumps rise on his skin. "So does that mean we can just stay in bed all day?"
Logan nodded, staring at the ceiling. "Yeah, baby. We'll do nothing today, and yet do everything." The two of them groaned when the phone rang, disrupting their peaceful quiet. Logan reached over and picked up the receiver, answering with a gruff "Hello."
"Hey, Logie, it's Kendall. Guess what asshole just called me up wanting to see us all again?"
Logan rubbed his eyes, looking down at Camille, who was exasperated, getting out of bed, because she knew the second whoever it was on the other end said one thing, Logan would be gone. She never got to keep him. He always kept her just far enough away. Sometimes, she wondered why he even bothered with her, and whys he bothered with him.
"I don't know, Kendall, who?" Logan watched as Camille angrily found some clothes in the closet and got dressed, her long brown curls slinking over her soft skin. She turned around and faced him, and he just shrugged. She slammed the bedroom door on her way out.
"James Diamond decided to grace us with his presence in Minnesota for the first time in fourteen years, man." Kendall laughed on the other end, and he shuffled, making a quiet shushing noise. Logan smiled, knowing Kendall was juggling his newborn son in his arms and a phone to his ear. He still hadn't gotten the whole "father" thing down. "He was asking about you. I told him you'd gone to Harvard and stayed in Boston after you graduated. He sounded pretty upset when I told him you weren't here."
A lump developed in his throat and his stomach tied in knots. Logan felt like he wanted to throw up, or punch something. He hadn't felt those feelings in awhile, but as he thought about the look on James' face, the one he always had when he was heartbroken, made Logan's chest tighten and his heart beat quick.
"How long is he in Sherwood?" The words left Logan's throat before he could stop them. He didn't know why he cared anymore. They had sunk so long ago. No phone calls, no text messages, nothing, for fourteen years. Logan knew he would be busy, but he hadn't expected him to just stop caring. That had been the hardest part, knowing someone who claimed he loved you didn't care enough to even keep in touch.
So why now, of all the time in the world, was James trying to reconnect with them? It made no sense. He had a happy life now, a pretty girlfriend last Logan had heard, and that perfect career that just kept getting better and better. James Diamond had everything he had ever wanted. He hadn't needed his friends in a very long time, and the three of them hadn't needed him either.
"A couple of weeks, I think," Kendall sighed. "He's here visiting his mom. I told you she has cancer, right? They don't think she'll make it through the chemo, so, he's here at least for- that, I guess."
Logan took a deep breath and crawled out of bed. Kendall had told him countless times that Brooke Diamond had been diagnosed with lung cancer, but it had never fully registered until that moment. It could mean a number of things, but most importantly, it meant James was hurting.
It all made sense to Logan now. James was home and needed his old friends. It was rather petty, but Logan sadly understood. He was a surgeon, and he had seen families go back to their roots and remember the old times more often that they looked to the future. It was their way of holding on, keeping hope. James was holding on to his childhood… to the good times. And Logan could play along. For now. In the back of his mind, he knew he wanted to see James again anyway.
"I'll be there tomorrow," Logan sighed into the phone. He knew he would regret it.
"Fine, Logan. Just go. Run back to a bunch of friends who never really cared about you in the first place."
"How DARE you," Logan yelled, pulling the shoe he was battling onto his foot. "You don't know them. They're my best friends and-"
"WERE your best friends, Logan. Were. You've barely spoken to any of them in fourteen years. They don't care, and any other time Kendall has called, begging you to come back to Minnesota, you've told him no. Why the change now, Logan? What's so damn special now?"
Logan ran his fingers through his hair, pulling Camille to his chest and squeezing her tight. He didn't like to fight with her. She was important to him. He loved her. He really loved her, and that was why he couldn't answer her question. He shouldn't have given a damn about them because they hadn't given a damn about him. They had grown apart over the years. It happened to the best of friends sometimes. He wasn't bitter.
Pecking her chin, Logan cocked a grin. "I don't exactly know, baby. But, this might be the last chance I get to see all of the guys again, together. And, I think we all need this right now."
"Just call me when you get there, baby." Camille knew she couldn't win with him. Hortense Logan Mitchell was indecisive… except when it came to James Edward Diamond. And when he finally made up his mind about something, there was no talking him out of it. He was stubborn with a cause.
Logan's entire body was numb and his face felt frozen. Everything was cold, so, hell, he probably wasfrozen. He could barely even move his gloved hand to ring the doorbell. He waited, hearing three sets of familiar male laughter coming from inside the posh home. One voice grew closer, a deep, devastating laugh. James. Of course he'd be the one to answer the fucking door, Logan thought, bracing himself for the inevitable. He rubbed his hands together and puffed his breath in the cold air, watching the smoke linger by his mouth.
The door creaked open, and that perfect warm smile and hazel eyes, plagued by dark rings underneath, greeted him. James shook his head in disbelief and rubbed his scruffy face before pulling Logan into a tight hug. It took every ounce of energy Logan had in his body to keep from holding James tight to his body and breathing everything about him in again, like huffing a drug. James was already overpowering him, intoxicating him.
"I didn't expect you to follow through," James choked on his words, obviously fighting back tears. "Kendall told me that-"
"I couldn't just let you three deal with all of this by yourselves, now could I?"
James licked his lips and led him inside. Logan gulped, feeling his heart beat quicker in his chest. It hurt to look at him. It hurt to breathe. Hadn't he gotten over James? Hadn't he moved on with his life? Clearly James had. He looked, despite the sleep deprivation in his eyes, healthy, vibrant, formerly happy. He looked like he had a good thing going, and Logan felt a mixture of pity, regret, and pride. He would always be proud of James, but his bitterness overwhelmed him.
"How is your Mom?" Logan asked quietly as they walked down the hallway, hanging Logan's coat in the closet. James' fists clenched and his jaw tightened.
"Not good, Logan. She gets worse every day."
Logan flinched, fighting the urge to reach out and stroke James' stubbly cheek. He clearly hadn't shaved in a few days, and he looked older, sophisticated, and more beautiful than Logan had ever remembered. It was just like high school again, pining for a boy that had abandoned him. Logan felt like a stupid teenage girl who had her heart broken by a bad boy.
He felt low. He felt cheap. He remembered Camille, and felt his brain throbbed. What the hell was he doing? Anger bubbled, at himself, at James, at everything. He wanted answers.
James tried to walk away, but Logan gripped his hand tight, squeezing it and snapping him back around to face him. Hazel locked on chocolate and made the sweetest dessert of pain and heartache imaginable. Logan still heard everyone in the living room, laughing. Now was as good a time to get the first statement out.
"I'm here because I never stopped caring," he breathed. "Even when you stopped caring about me, I always knew I'd still love you. I guess I'm here because I need a resolution. After all this time, I need to get over you. I love someone else but I can't be with her and still feel-"
Carlos interrupted them as he peeked his head into the hallway. Logan dropped James' hand before Carlos could notice and shoved his palms in his pockets. "Logan," Carlos looked shocked, but he smiled and came over to hug him. Logan wrapped his arms around his once best friend, and closed his eyes as Carlos spoke. "We didn't think you'd make it. We thought that- Well it doesn't matter. You're here, and that's the thing."
Carlos walked back to the group, shouting. "Hey, guys, Dr. Mitchell actually made it home. Imagine that."
James cleared his throat as Logan took a step toward the others. They were out of view as James brushed his fingers across Logan's, whispering in his ear. "I never meant to be be gone so long, Logie. I always wanted to come back for you. I was just… scared. The fame, the tabloids, it all… it all got too hard, and I didn't- I was stupid, and I let you slip away. I'd do anything to get that time back, to make things right."
Logan paused in the doorway, and took a deep breath. "The past can't be written again, Jamie. I'm in love with this great girl, you know. She makes me happy, and she's always been right. I just need to let all of you go." He brushed past everyone and sat in a corner, assimilating himself into the conversation as effortlessly as possible. In ways, it was like they had never grown apart, and in other ways, that rift between all of them was even more dynamic and unfavorable.
For the three days he was back "home," Logan played nice. He was there for James, heard the news that Brooke probably wouldn't last through the weekend. That night, lying awake in the hotel room, stumbling over his mixed thoughts, his cell phone rang. Mumbling, he rolled over and answered it.
"Hello," he groaned, checking the number when he answered. It was James.
"I need you. Mom is… she just… she's dead. I can't- I can't. I lost my best friends. I lost my Mom. I have no one. I- I need you, Logan. I've never needed anyone as much as I need you, as much as I've always needed you."
Biting his lip, Logan stared at the wall, sitting up in bed. "I never wanted to lose you either, but I did. We just- we lose people, Jamie. I'm- I'm so sorry about your Mom. I wish I could make it better."
"You can," James breathed and Logan flinched as a light tap knocked on his door. Logan got out of bed and looked through the peep hole as the line disconnected. He slumped against the wall as James knocked again, and Logan tossed his phone on the bed.
Opening the door, Logan ran his fingers through his hair. "James, you're hurting. I know. But now isn't the time to talk about-"
James' lips were on his, and Logan's eyes drooped shut. He had forgotten how soft they were, how his lips and his hands had felt perfect on him, like they were made just for him. Logan moaned into James' mouth, pulling his body closer as James cupped his love's face. He pulled away, planting soft, wet kisses down Logan's neck before burying his face there, whispering against his skin.
"When we dated, I always wanted to tell the guys. In the airport, the day I left, I wanted you to ask me to stay. I wanted you to be the reason I stayed."
"And I wanted you to chase your dream," Logan breathed unevenly, fighting against every instinct and every emotion. He was fighting a battle he didn't know if he wanted to win or lose.
"My dream was always to be happy with you. That's all I want Logie. To be happy again. My life was a wreck once I let you go, but, I'm here now, if… if you'll have me again."
It was all too easy to forget about Camille when he was in James' strong arms. It was easy to forget he loved her when James' plump lips tempted his veins, making his body ache in desire. It was easy to forgive James, easy to let the past go, easy to lie panting in bed after a night of bliss and passion. Limbs tangled with limps and Logan woke up the next morning to light kisses on his chest from James. He pushed him away gently and shook his head. In the morning it wasn't so easy to forget.
"Last night was a mistake, James. You were gone too long. I just- I love you, but we this was stupid. I fucked up. I just made a mess of everything. This- we- just- Too much time has passed."
And he knew it was true. More than anything else, Logan Mitchell knew that letting James Diamond charm his way back into his life was a mistake. Camille took care of him when his heart got broken. James had done the breaking, and as much as he wanted them to work out. He didn't know if he could handle the heartache again. Love makes fools out of the brightest men.
When he checked his mailbox, there was five days worth of letters, bills, and a key. His key, to be in fact. Furrowing his eyebrows, he sifted through the mail, and he saw it. The envelope was plain, but it had her perfect writing on it. "For Logan." He slid the other mail back and leaned on the box, opening the letter delicately.
I left your key in the mail box, and you'll notice all of my things are gone. I can't do this anymore, Logan. I can't be the replacement for someone. I don't know who for, but, I know I'm not what you want, or what you need. I love you, so much, and I know you love me, and this is going to hurt both of us for a very long time. But if we don't do something- If I don't do something- we'll grow to hate each other. I don't want that. Ever, Logan. I only want both of us to be truly happy, and we work, sometimes, but we just aren't meant for each other. We fight and we ignore each other and we put so much energy into getting away from the other or forcing ourselves to work that it just hurts. I hope… I hope you have a great life, Logan. Without me. I love you. And I'm looking forward to the day when I don't need to say that anymore, and neither will you. Love, Camille.
He was a mess for three weeks. The hospital was the only time he could function. Saving lives numbed the pain. He had a routine, and he didn't have to think of anyone else, except his patients. They were important. It was always going home that was the problem. Logan would take a shower and crawl into bed. He couldn't remember eating anything at home after Camille left. Food tasted bland. Smells lost their appeal. The only thing he wanted to do when he wasn't at work was sleep. As sunlight crept through the blinds for the 22nd day in a row, Logan threw his alarm clock across the room as it beeped. He didn't want to wake up. It was his day off, but he couldn't face another lonely day.
The other line kept ringing and ringing. Five consecutive tries, it had gone to voicemail. He thought about giving up, but, instead, he dialed a sixth time. And his voice was like an angel singing in his ear.
"Logan…?" James asked, his voice quiet and suspicious. "What's up?"
"I fucking miss you, Jamie."
Over the line, Logan could practically hear James smiling. "I fucking miss you too, Logie. I love you."
"I love you more," Logan breathed, licking his lips.
For the first time in 22 days, blinking sunlight out of his eyes, it didn't seem so painful. As they talked, Logan's sadness eased enough. Maybe they could work it out. Maybe, neither of them had really ever been gone like they thought. Maybe they were always right where they could find each other. They just needed the right place and the right time.