Author's note: The beginning is the end and the ending is the beginning. Just saying. ;)
This is the last chapter, everyone. Thanks to those who have read, reviewed and alerted. Now that it's done, I'd really like to know what you think. I usually feel people review when they are moved to, so I hate to ask, but talk to me! Tell me you loved it, hated it, think I should die in a fire, give me a smile, whatever, because I'm super curious. It would mean the world to me. Special thanks to itrymybest for the encouragement all along the way.
As always, I don't own these guys, guys.
Oh, and there's a WARNING here for a brief mention of hate speech.
"Is it true you and Gramps used to be in a band, Grandpa?" the little girl asks, wriggling in Logan's lap.
Logan laughs, the sound resonating and warm, echoing off the corners of the front porch. The sun filters through the trees, sneaks through the railings and makes these buttery orbs of sunshine, casting Logan's face in shadow and light, shadow and light.
Kendall's heart still speeds when Logan smiles. He loves the lines the laughter has made on his cheeks, surrounding his dimples, the silver at his temples like Logan's hair in the moonlight when they were young.
"It's true," Logan answers. The little girl gasps, grabs Kendall's hand from where she sits on Logan's knee.
"But you're so old. You mean you used to not be old?" Now, Kendall chuckles, squeezing the little girl's hand.
"I was actually about your age when Grandpa moved here, just right across the street, to the left," Kendall answers, nodding towards the house that now has strangers living in it.
"Wow!" she exclaims, leaping up and covering her mouth with her hands. "But that must've been a hundred years ago!"
"Hey, hey," Logan interrupts. "More like forty." Kendall clears his throat, gives Logan a look. "Okay, fifty." A burst of raucous laughter erupts for Kendall and he kicks Logan's shoe. "All right, fifty-five, all right!"
Her eyes go saucer-wide, years beyond what her youthful mind can comprehend. "You've known each other that long?"
"Yep, we have," Kendall answers, pulling the little girl to his chest, giving her a squeeze. "Grandpa and I have something really special."
"A best friend who never has to go home," Logan answers.
Kendall adds, "Someone who knows all your secrets and loves you despite them."
"Because of them," Logan interjects, passing a look to Kendall loaded down with fondness, a forever longing, full of hope, ghosts of the past that are more like old friends.
The little girl rolls her eyes, starts to head indoors. "You guys are so gross."
As the door slams, Kendall reaches for Logan's hand, kisses each tip of the other man's fingers, clutches it to his chest. They share a private smile. "She's just like her mom."
"Your heart is beating so fast," Logan murmurs, eyes shiny in the approaching twilight.
"It's because I love you." Kendall moves his chair closer to Logan, puts an arm over his shoulders.
And they watch the sun as it sinks below the horizon, between their clutched fingers, a lifetime.
"Just give me a little kiss," Kendall says, holding his index finger and thumb an inch apart.
"You know that's not all it would be, Kendall. I know that look, and the wedding starts in a few minutes. We can't be late." Logan reaches out for the knob, Kendall keeping him pressed firmly against the door.
"Come on," Kendall says, leaning in and stealing a press of lips.
Logan tenses, trying to remain unaffected, but he can't. This is how it's been, everyday, all the time. This spell he is under, powerless to the hypnotic feel of Kendall matched against him, chest to chest, hip to hip. And then Logan finds himself the aggressor, pushing Kendall to the bed, groaning at Kendall's submission.
So lost in each other, they don't hear the knock on the door, the click of the knob.
"Oh, Dads, gross! You guys are so gross. You're, like, almost fifty, gross!" the girl, woman now, says, covering her face with her perfectly manicured nails.
Logan hides his face on Kendall's chest, the warmth of the other man's laugh tickling his cheek. He peeks at the woman under his arm and feels this squeeze around his heart. She looks beautiful, dressed all in white, a single strand of pearls around her throat.
"We'll be right out, Jenn." Kendall stops to laugh again amidst the sounds of their daughter gagging. "We wouldn't miss this for anything, would we, Logan?"
"Nope, nothing," Logan answers, voice muffled.
"Be in the backyard and ready to walk me down the aisle in five minutes," she orders, making a final disgusted sound before slamming the door.
Logan rolls off Kendall, face beet red. They stand and silently begin tucking their shirts back in, straightening their hair, Kendall smirking all the while. He reaches over to redo Logan's bow tie, eyes sparkling with hampered laughter, contentedness and love.
"She looks beautiful, doesn't she? Grown up," Kendall observes, now smoothing down Logan's lapels.
"Yeah," Logan replies, smiling despite his flushed cheeks. "When did that happen?"
"I guess around the same time we got old and gross."
"We're distinguished, damn it."
Kendall presses his smile against Logan's, the flavor of a laugh enlivening them both, sharing that happyperfectjoy feeling.
"You're going to cry," Kendall murmurs against Logan's lips.
"So are you," Logan replies.
Later, when they've given her away, watched her pledge her life and love and the sun is shining its brightest just before it succumbs to night, they both shed quiet tears for what is lost and what is gained. Sometimes emotions are just too big to keep inside.
But they take comfort in each other.
"I hate you both," Camille hisses between clenched teeth. "I don't know how the fuck I let you talk me into this. I'm dying. I'm fucking dying!"
Kendall tries not to laugh as Logan fusses over her, putting a pillow behind her back, taking it away, feeding her ice chips, rubbing her shoulders, mopping her sweaty forehead. Logan has taken so many slaps to the face, Kendall thinks he should be offended on his behalf.
It's a small price to pay.
"You offered, Camille," Kendall says.
"Really? I don't remember that. I'm sure I would," she pants, throwing an arm across her face. "And wipe that stupid smirk off your face, Knight, or I'll keep this kid inside."
Kendall tries to stop smiling, but it's hard. He's excited. Thrilled. Feeling buoyant in a way he never has before.
He's going to be a father.
Looking at the monitor, he sees another contraction building and warns Camille. She screams and squeezes Logan's hand until his eyes cross. "I need to push. I need to push right the fuck now."
"Camille," Logan says, waiting until she looks at him to continue. "Language. The baby can hear as early as the sixteenth week of- OW!"
"Go. Get. The doctor. Now," she orders. Logan bolts for the door, bumping into the fetal monitor, getting caught in the curtain along the way. Kendall takes his place holding Camille's hand. He smoothes her hair from her face.
"Thank you," he says, trying to convey the weighty mass of his gratitude. Her expression softens, and she smiles at him.
"You guys will be great dads," she replies. There's this quiet moment where Kendall thinks Camille really understands how much this all means, how being able to have a child with Logan is part of a future so lovely and complete he never could have imagined it.
The room becomes crowded as the nurses come in, check on Camille and decide it is time to push.
Kendall locks eyes with Logan over Camille's head as they hear the first tentative cries of the baby, each wail growing in intensity. Camille sobs in relief and Logan's face is wet, Kendall tastes salt.
"It's a girl," the doctor says, and Kendall gives Logan a double thumbs up.
Logan insists Kendall hold her first, and she's so tiny and rosy and light and the prettiest thing Kendall has ever seen. He had thought Logan filled his heart to bursting, that the love for Logan trumped everything, that love had a limit and Logan had it all. But as he holds the baby girl, feels her heart flutter against his palm, he feels his heart stretch and grow. Some new kind of love he hadn't known how to feel yet. And it's so much that Kendall is laughing and crying, and her little face is blurred by tears. He blinks and his vision clears as the baby purses her lips, miniature dimples appearing on each cheek.
Kendall finally tears his eyes away from her to look at Logan. "She has your dimples."
"No," Logan says, shaking his head. "Yours."
Not that it matters.
It's raining outside, but no one notices, water droplets pattering on the window, a gray day turned bright, a couple made into a family.
Logan wraps his arms around them both.
"Fucking faggots," some guy says, turning up his nose at Kendall and Logan's interlocked fingers.
Things aren't always easy.
There are people who hate, as is common with people.
It doesn't lessen the sting.
Logan only squeezes Kendall's hand tighter. "We're just trying to eat dinner, dude. Do you mind?"
"Yeah," he smirks.
"Just move along," Logan requests. After several more colorful, four-letter words are let loose, the man does.
Kendall pushes his food around for the rest of the meal. When they get home, Kendall locks himself in the bathroom.
"Kendall, Kendall, please, Kendall," Logan begs, pounding on the door, wondering why he hadn't removed the locks ages ago. He hears running water and that's all. After long moments, Kendall opens the door.
"What?" Kendall snaps.
"Why are you doing this?"
"I didn't do it," Kendall replies, an angry edge to his voice.
"I don't believe you. Why do you let stupid people get to you, Kendall?"
"Sometimes it's hard, okay? I can't be like you. I can pretend, but it still hurts."
"You think it doesn't bother me? But I don't go puking up my food because of it," Logan growls, immediately regretting the words once they are past his lips, but he doesn't back down.
"What the fuck? I said I didn't. I haven't. You calling me a liar now?"
"I said I didn't believe you, didn't I?" It's like the part of himself Logan hates has wanted to say these things for years, shout at Kendall for hurting himself, for hurting Logan.
Kendall nods his head, rubs his hands over his face, puts his palm over his chest. "I guess I deserve that." He calmly gets his keys, goes to the door and leaves.
It takes about five more seconds for Logan to realize what just happened and pick up his own keys to follow Kendall, to apologize. He opens the door and Kendall is standing there. He rushes inside, slams the door behind him and the two men collide, arms wrapping around each other.
"I'm sorry," they both say, over and over. Logan takes Kendall's face in his hands, kisses his lips once, twice, maybe a hundred times.
"I didn't," Kendall says.
"I know. I know you didn't, Kendall." Logan traces a hand down Kendall's chest, presses on his stomach. "I just need you whole. I need you well, because I need you. I get so scared sometimes when you get upset - "
"I know you do, and I shouldn't let you think... I shouldn't react like that. I'm trying. I swear I am. It's you, though, Logan. It's you that keeps me from... that kept me from..."
"I know." Their mouths move together again, apologetic forgiveness kisses, grateful kisses, kisses, kisses, familiar but always so fair both men are lost in them, each other.
"You can take all the locks off the doors if you want," Kendall says.
"No, I trust you," Logan replies, not needing to lean in to claim Kendall's lips again because they never left.
They sing together under a banner proclaiming Welcome Back Kendall. Nothing huge, a small show at a nightclub, just the four of them and Kendall's guitar.
Kendall's voice is strong and so are his arms and legs. Logan sees the passion in Kendall's face again, the force behind the lyrics moving everyone in the room.
Logan knows Kendall sings for him, for them both.
It's almost like Logan can forget the years gone by, the heartache, the time lost they will never get back. But it doesn't matter now, the past is a story to tell. Now is what they have, and now is fucking fantastic. Nothing could compare to the euphoria of having his best friend, the other piece of himself back on stage with him, their voices intermingling and carrying, ringing true.
They're nearing the end of their set, and Kendall starts talking.
"I want to thank everyone for coming out and supporting us after all this time. Thanks everyone for the well-wishes and good thoughts. I know they helped while I was away." He stops talking to look at Logan. Kendall swallows and the deep breath he takes is amplified in the microphone. Slowly, with a shaking hand, he reaches over and grasps Logan's fingers. "This last song is for Logan, without whom I wouldn't be here today." He lets go of Logan's hand only to strum his guitar, and he starts to sing.
It's the most beautiful sound Logan has ever heard, the thrumming of his heart adding percussion.
When Kendall finishes, he stands, moves to Logan and leans down, delivering a kiss right to his lips.
And Kendall tastes like sweat and longing and love and forever and Logan wants to shout the joy of it.
The sound of his heart is only drowned out by the sound of James and Carlos expressing their support.
Logan is helping Kendall pack his bag. He's still in shock, but he shouldn't be. Kendall could talk a fish out of water.
"Is it always warm in L.A.? Should I pack a sweater?" Kendall asks, rifling through his closet.
"Bring a sweater," Logan answers, fiddling with the zipper of his own bag, packed and ready. They're supposed to be leaving for the airport in ten minutes. "Where are James and Carlos?"
"Their parents are bringing them separately to the airport. I guess they want to have some big, emotional goodbye or something," Kendall replies, smelling a few sweaters before shoving them in a duffle.
Logan sighs. "Let me help." He stands and walks over to Kendall's drawers, starts sorting through some clothing. Without warning, Kendall grabs his wrist.
"Are you nervous?" Kendall asks. "This could be a big thing. California. A band. We might get famous."
"I guess I am a little." Logan looks at Kendall's fingers around his wrist, and they loosen, fingers traveling across his palm and twining with Logan's. He blinks and looks Kendall in the eye, his pulse beating alongside Kendall's, his reflection in Kendall's eyes colored green.
Kendall's other hand covers Logan's heart. "It's beating so fast."
And Kendall kisses Logan as though it were the most normal thing in the world, a chaste press of lips, warm and soft and right and good.
"Don't ever change, Logan," Kendall says, the utterance tickling Logan's lips where they are still connected.
So Logan doesn't.
Boy Number One, from across the street and to the left, wishes someone would come talk to him. He keeps his face hidden in the book, hoping someone will notice him, hoping he won't have to try to make friends. Maybe things will be different here and he won't be so lonesome all the time. Maybe Minnesota is the place he finds out how to be happy.
The sun shines behind Boy Number Two when he approaches, and Boy One has to squint.
Kendall's hair is strewn about his head like a haphazard halo, glowing like white fire in the light coming from behind him. Logan's heart skips like a stone across the water.
When he goes to play with Kendall, Logan loses his place in the book, forgets it in the snow. He can't bring himself to mind.
They play and play, hide and seek, tag, fight with snowballs. When it starts to grow dark, Logan's mother calls him home.
"You wanna play tomorrow?" Kendall asks.
"Sure," Logan says, excitement threatening to bubble over.
"Okay, well, see you then?" Kendall starts to back away, wiggling his fingers as a way to say bye.
"Kendall, wait!" Logan shouts, clapping his hands over his mouth at the volume of his voice.
The other boy laughs and moves in close to Logan, so close Logan can count his eyelashes.
"Um, will you be my friend?" His voice is quiet now, abashed as he looks at his feet.
"We're already friends, goofy," Kendall laughs, shoving Logan's shoulder. Kendall pulls Logan into a hug.
"What are you doing?" Logan asks, awkwardly keeping his arms at his sides.
"I'm giving you a hug. Looked like you needed one."
Logan chuckles and wraps his arms around Kendall's waist, finally returning the embrace.
Boy Number One thinks, and so does Boy Number Two, although Logan doesn't know it, this is something that might last.
They both go home, something like hope - something like love - budded and only waiting to bloom.