Title: Light Up My World
Summary: Kendall thinks James is more of a supernova, beautiful, sparkling, ready to explode, ready to shower the universe with his talent. Kendall/James
Author's Notes: This has more of a story than my usual fluffy one-shots. But, because it's me, it starts off with the boys in first grade. They're way too fun to write as little kids. Rated T for some minor swear words. Also, there's a big void between first grade and fifth grade. Just imagine that James does a lot of singing for friends and family during that time period.
James Diamond thinks that turning their friend group into a band and putting on a performance for their entire first grade class is a good idea. Kendall doesn't. It would be embarrassing and, besides, they don't even own any instruments. So Kendall protests, saying that building a Lego tower or throwing crayons at girls would be way better uses of their time. Then James says that they can play computer games at his house later instead of going outside and eat nachos instead of vegetables for snack and Kendall's pretty much on board.
The smile on James' face is bright enough to light the entire room.
James goes crazy with preparations for their performance. He sends Logan off to create a make-shift guitar with a shoe-box and rubber-bands, tells Carlos to learn to bang out a beat on the drums (desks) and enlists Kendall to help him pick a song.
After a week of practicing during recess, James deems them ready to perform. Kendall's not quite sure the butterflies in his stomach agree with that, but James is exuding confidence and it's now or never, right? So they make their way to the front of the classroom, the whole class staring. Carlos counts to three, then starts banging on the desk in some sort of rhythm while Logan strums his makeshift guitar.
And then James starts to sing and, wow, he sounded good in rehearsal, but he's even better in front of an audience. Kendall is so impressed that he almost forgets to sing his line, but it wouldn't have mattered much. James totally stole the show.
The weird thing is, for someone who likes to win, Kendall's not too upset about it.
In fifth grade, James wants them all to enter the talent show. They're the big kids on campus now so what have they got to lose? Logan refuses, muttering about homework and preparing for middle school, and surprisingly so does Carlos. Kendall's about to say no too when James gives him these puppy-dog eyes and goshdarnit, he's Kendall Knight and he can't upset a friend. So he agrees.
When James launches into descriptions of costume ideas, song arrangements, choreography, and whether or not pyrotechnics will be allowed, Kendall kind of regrets his decision. And then he remembers how James comes alive in front of an audience, and, hey, it's worth it just to see his best friend shine.
The big night comes and Kendall is nervous. Carlos and Logan are sitting faithfully in the first row, the former holding a homemade sign, but there are so many unfamiliar faces. James looks excited, though. He's doing these weird stretches and warming up his voice and Kendall kind of wants to pretend that he doesn't know him, but then their names are announced and it's time to go onstage.
They sing to a prerecorded track and do some dance moves that James thought up himself and the audience loves it. Kendall was on the wrong foot half of the time and he totally sang the wrong lyric towards the beginning, but whatever. It doesn't matter. James is eating up the attention, his smile brighter than Kendall's ever seen it.
That smile is contagious and as soon as they get offstage, they're jumping up and down, laughing, and hugging each other. Kendall's pretty sure that James is glowing with excitement.
He belongs on stage, Kendall decides right then and there.
James goes out for the musical in sixth grade even though countless classmates taunt and tease him for it. Kendall wants to punch every single one of them in the face, but he's trying to control his anger issues and not, you know, get sent to the principal's office every day. His mom said that if he gets sent down there more than once, he's off the hockey team, and that would so not be cool. Kendall can't afford that.
Him and Carlos and Logan encourage James, though, and let him practice his audition song however many times he wants. It sounds pretty perfect to Kendall, but James keeps insisting that something's wrong every single time.
He's a bundle of nerves the day of auditions even though it's a middle school play and everyone makes it, so Kendall sneaks into the auditorium for moral support. He watches as twenty or so kids with squeaky voices go up on stage, one after the other, and sing their songs.
And then it's James' turn. He walks up on stage with all the confidence a sixth-grader can muster and starts to belt out his song. He totally owns every single other auditioner, Kendall thinks. He commands that stage, captures the audience like no one else was able to. Kendall cheers wildly when the song is over, clapping and whooping and sort of making a scene.
He gets kicked out of the auditorium for "disturbing the auditions".
James is cast in the ensemble. Kendall thinks that's baloney. He deserved a lead role, damnit.
The musical opens a month later and James is pretty freaking amazing. Like, seriously, there was no point of casting anybody else because he outshone them all. Granted, Kendall's a bit biased, but still. James held the audience's attention every single second he was on stage, like he was the only one performing.
James gets the lead role the next two years of middle school and the teasing mostly stops when people recognize his talent. Girls flock to him, telling him how gorgeous and wonderful he is, how he has the voice of an angel, and James is thrilled with the attention. He flashes them that smile, that brilliant, dazzling, radiant smile that he normally reserves for onstage and his best friends. Kendall's a little pissed. He doesn't understand how James could possibly think that stupid, giggly girls are more important than best friends. Because they aren't, and never will be, according to Kendall.
But, James keeps smiling away at those girls that he barely knows, that only like him for his looks and voice, and that certainly aren't interested in the real James Diamond.
A month or so into ninth grade, a school-wide singing competition is announced. James comes bouncing over to the lunch table, waving the pamphlet back and forth, eyes lit up with excitement.
"Guys guys guys, look at this," he says, setting the lunch tray down with such enthusiasm that his soup overflows. He doesn't notice.
"Isn't this the greatest thing ever?" Girls migrate over to the table, wanting to know if he'll be entering and he waves them away. He actually waves them away. Kendall's shocked.
"What should I sing? I don't know what to sing, guys. Any suggestions? Oh! And what should I wear? And-"
"James," Kendall says, looking him straight in the eye. "It's not for another three weeks. Calm down."
"But, but there's so much to rehearse!" James says, spearing a potato with his fork.
"And I'll help you rehearse. It's going to be fine."
James looks a mixture of relieved and something else Kendall can't quite put a finger on. He can usually read James like a book so he decides he must have imagined it.
The rest of lunch goes by quickly, without any trouble. Well, except when Carlos accidentally drops Logan's super-complicated-smart-person math homework in James' spilled soup. Logan looks like he's capable of inflicting some serious harm, but the bell rings and Carlos bolts out of there before he gets a chance to move.
Kendall listens to James rehearse every single day leading up to the competition. He tries to offer advice, but he doesn't know much about singing and James doesn't really need help anyways. He's nervous, though. Most people wouldn't be able to tell, but Kendall's not most people. He knows James better than he knows himself sometimes.
"It's going to be fine," Kendall says the day before the competition. "You sound great."
And it's true. He sounds really freaking great. He should have no problem taking the crown.
Everyone says that James is a star, but Kendall's not so sure. He's seen a million stars, a billion grains of sand, but he only sees one sun. But even the sun is too ordinary. James is more of a supernova, beautiful, sparkling, ready to explode, ready to shower the universe with his talent.
Kendall takes a seat in the middle of the first row on the night of the competition. Carlos and Logan join him, excited to see their best friend show everyone just how talented he is.
The show starts with some blonde girl attempting to belt out a diva power ballad. Kendall thinks that James would perform it better. The next contestant couldn't carry a note if it was strapped to his back and the third forgets the lyrics and just stands there, shocked, for a whole minute before walking off. James is slated to perform somewhere towards the middle and Kendall's getting impatient. Clearly none of these people have any talent, so letting James sing, immediately crowning him the winner, and then letting everyone leave sounds like a really awesome idea.
Kendall yawns, then zones out, thinking of hockey, ice cream, superheroes and James. Then Logan's nudging him, whispering that it's James' turn next, and Kendall jolts out of his reverie, instantly alert.
James walks to the microphone and Kendall smirks, noticing the "lucky" comb sticking out of his pocket. The music starts and James closes his eyes, transporting himself somewhere else, a place where the emotion in the song is real and tangible and he can feel it coursing through his veins.
And then he starts to sing and he's living the song, embodying it completely and Kendall's world kind of stops. All he can see is James; everything else is blurry, insubstantial, nothingness. James is this burning, spectacular fire and Kendall couldn't bring himself to look away even if he wanted to.
Time speeds up, slows down, seems like eternity, lasts for a nanosecond and then the song is over. As far as Kendall's concerned, they should just call off the whole thing because there's no way in hell that anyone could beat James ever.
Except someone does. James Diamond comes in second place and it's utter bullshit. Those stupid idiot judges and their stupid idiot votes and they must be deaf because how the hell could they not have picked James as the winner when he clearly dominated everyone there. Kendall's furious.
He's even more furious when he sees James afterwards, completely crushed. His radiant smile is replaced with a frown and his eyes no longer have their typical cheery glow. Kendall just wants to hug him tight and never ever let him go, but James walks right towards his car without greeting the boys.
Kendall vows to never again let anyone make James feel that way, no matter what it takes.
When Gustavo Rocque comes to town near the end of their sophomore year, Kendall knows that this is James' big opportunity. He's determined to do everything in his power to make that pop star dream come true.
In hindsight, singing the "Giant Turd" song and getting taken away by security probably didn't help James' cause any. But, damn it, no one should be allowed to tell James he has no talent and get away with it. It's not even true at all. Kendall thinks it's one of the least true things he's ever heard in his life and that's saying something, considering the stories Carlos used to tell.
So, when he's given the chance to take all the boys to Hollywood, Kendall doesn't hesitate to grab onto it. The fact that he probably just sacrificed his own hockey career doesn't matter. James' dream is more important.
Because when James is happy, so is Kendall.
Most of the time. When James stole his super-cool light-up green lightsaber in third grade, Kendall was pretty mad. James just smiled, proclaiming that the super-cool lightsaber made him look even cooler.
Hollywood is crazy. They manage to get into some sort of trouble at least five days a week and they break things with even more frequency, but it's a blast. It's really, really awesome. So when they get sent back to Minnesota, Kendall is crushed.
When James leaves the band, Kendall's heartbroken. He feels empty, hollow, but he tries not to show it, insisting that they hire a new member instead.
And then James comes back and Kendall's complete again. His heart sews itself back together.
Their first concert brings the biggest adrenaline rush Kendall's ever felt. He has his best friends by his side, the audience is cheering for him, and James is back. James. Kendall's never letting him leave again unless he's sure that he won't be gone for good.
Sometimes Kendall thinks that he's water, that his singing is satisfactory, can quench an audience's thirst, but it can't be compared to James' fire. He's spectacular, glowing, completely captivating, leaving the audience speechless.
Well, sort of. The girls still scream a lot.
Fourteen months, one tour, and two albums later, the boys make their way to their biggest concert yet: London. It's a sold out arena that seats about 50,000 people and it's impossible that that many people could want to see them live, right? Wrong.
Everyone's nervous. Carlos is running all over the place, Logan is attempting to meditate while shooting Carlos glares every once in a while, and James is doing those weird stretches that he did back in fifth grade for the talent show. Kendall's just kind of watching him, lost in his own little world.
Then it's time to go on. They hear the roar of the crowd and James looks over a Kendall, meeting his gaze, and smiling the brightest smile he's ever seen. It's brighter than any smile he's worn post-performance and it's brighter than any smile he's ever given a girl.
And it's all for Kendall. He smiles back.
The performance is amazing. They're spot on in the songs and dances. James is vibrant, alive, beautiful, and the audience loves him. The thing is, Kendall kind of, sort of, completely does too.
So, with adrenaline pumping through his veins, he grabs James and kisses him, fiercely, passionately, lovingly. James is shocked for a second, but then he moves his mouth, melting into Kendall's kiss, and threading his hands through Kendall's sweaty mop of hair. And as James runs his tongue across Kendall's bottom lip, he can't help but wonder why the hell he hadn't done this sooner.
They break apart when air becomes a necessity, still holding onto each other, and James smiles that brilliant, dazzling smile of his, and Kendall thinks, yeah, he could definitely get used to this.