A/N: FINALLY, I KNOW! ;) I'm far from satisfied with how this has ended, but it really really needed to be finished. Thanks for reading as always, my loves! A few quick items of business before we get to the story, please read them:
I realized there are like a billion typos in the last chapter. *weep weep* I am ashamed. No one look at it!
And oh my gosh, you guys. The biggest typo of all time. I'm sure you were all extremely confused by the 'WASL panic of '08' thingy? Yeah. Well apparently the WASL is a standardized test in MY state which they obviously wouldn't have in Minnesota. Not to mention, probably none of you know what it is. I put it in because I can see Logan freaking out over testing since he's so worried about grades, you know. 0_o My bad. Sorry about that. I think a lot of you were confused, I just didn't pick up on it until now. I adjusted so it fit with the story, but... it's pretty dumb now. lol. Be prepared. ;)
GUYS! I HAVE A JOB FOR YOU! Since this is BTR'slovesong's (now late :[) birthday present, please go leave a review on at least ONE of her stories. And not just "Aw so cute, update soon". That's not a review. Not a good one, anyway. I would love it if you guys would actually comment on certain parts that you liked. Make it longer than a sentence! :) Can ya do that for me? And for her? If you like this story, give your reviewing time to her; it's not my birthday. :) I personally recommend "Silence," "Deteriorate," or "Brotherhood of the Lost," but all her stories are amazing. Thanks a heap, darlings! ONWARD!
My head hurts when I wake up. Something's pounding in my ears, and I think it's the aftereffects of my little meltdown. I squint at the clock, and groan when I realize I've been asleep for five hours. My face falls into my pillow. I must have actually cried myself to sleep. Wow.
I sit up and grip the pillow to my chest, snuggling my chin into it. I look out the window across from my bed and imagine the distance between me and my friends. The space from here to there, each inch of space, separates me from- if I'm honest, from what I want. Okay, if I'm really honest, what I need.
It's so frustrating. The distance keeping us apart is literal. But it also causes an emotional rift. I feel so far from them, like every moment that made us so close, suddenly turns against me, and I'm not sure I can trust even my memories.
It's scary, being alone.
I try to force my breathing to slow, because I feel my panic coming back; a reoccurrence of earlier. Lovely. My head starts pounding again, and I close my eyes, willing the loud thumping to go away. Willing the tightness in my chest to loosen.
Willing that... pounding to stop!
Okay, it's definitely not just in my head anymore. I bring my face up from the pillow where it rested and glance at the door. I can tell now that there's knocking coming from it. I rise from the bed and feverishly wipe at my eyes, trying to remove the embarrassing evidence. I check the clock; it's almost nine at night. I have no idea who could be at the door.
I've just put my hand on the knob to check when a voice freezes me, stops my breath and pulse and heart and movement.
"Maybe he's not home."
"No, he has to be here! Logan, open up!"
"Don't you DARE shut us out!"
"Guys, just calm down, alright? Are you sure this is the right address?"
"Let's go climb through the window."
"Carlos, we're two stories up, how-"
I yank open the door. "Guys?"
My eyes find the three bickering figures in front of me, and the hope that was kindling nervously in my chest erupts in a gasp of surprise. They stare at me for a second, then all three grin broadly, the smiles I've known since I was eight.
Carlos jumps on me. I hug him back uncertainly, still shell-shocked at seeing him here.
"Guys," I say helplessly. "I- What are you...?"
"We're here to rescue you!" Carlos says in my ear.
I give a bewildered look to James and Kendall over his shoulder, and they grin.
"You do need rescuing, don't you Logan?" Kendall says cheekily, arching his trademark eyebrows impressively.
"Sorry we're late," James says ruffling my hair as he moves by me and welcomes himself into my dorm. "We had to get some WASL supplies."
I roll my eyes and my heart sinks at the same time. "Guys, I'm not WASL-ing."
"Really?" Kendall asks as he hugs me when Carlos finally lets me go. I can tell he doesn't believe me for a second. "'Cause it sure sounded like it in the message on Carlos' phone."
"You're imagining things," I tell them.
James and Kendall look at each other, practically laughing, but also looking worried. I know they can tell I'm lying. They know me too well.
"Sure," James says, gives me a look that clearly says, 'you're getting away with nothing,' and dumps the contents of a grocery bag on my bed. "Well, either way, we brought Pop-Tarts, lucky charms, llama animal crackers, Fruit Smackers, toast, Candyland, Red Hots, all the good stuff."
"Yeah, all the good WASL stuff," Carlos prompts bluntly, watching me.
I swallow. They know me way too well.
"I forgot what that even stands for," I say to distract them, even though I know perfectly well.
"'Worked-up And Sad Logan,'" James says instantly.
Kendall frowns. "I thought the 'A' was for 'Anxious.'"
"Maybe it was Angsty."
"I thought it was 'Weepy Antsy Sweaty,'" Carlos pipes up.
"You guys are all wrong. It's 'Worried, Agitated, Stressed, Logan,'" I say quietly. They look at me. Then I sit on the side of my bed and cram my face in my hands.
What the heck is wrong with me? Why am I crying? I have absolutely no reason to be unhappy right now. Logan, stop, stop, what is wrong with you?
Even as I yell at myself in my head, I can feel the waterworks starting again. It's ridiculous and I feel so stupid- but the tears apparently don't care, and ones of embarrassment join those of homesickness.
I feel the bed sink beside me and Carlos wrap his arms around my waist tightly. "Logie, what's wrong?" he asks in a tiny voice, making me feel horrible for being upset when they came so far to see me.
"It's okay, Logie, it's alright," Kendall says softly.
James crawls behind me and I feel his strong arms pull me against him. He rocks back and forth a little, and although the motion is comforting, I cry harder, causing both James and Carlos to tighten their holds.
Two gentle hands rub my shoulders, and then move to my wrists. Kendall firmly pries my hands away from my face, and I wince as I meet his emerald eyes.
"S-sorry," I stutter out.
Kendall shakes his head with a small smile. "Don't. It's okay, Loges, that's why we're here."
I let out a hollow laugh. Yep. WASL.
"You gonna talk to us, Logan?" Kendall asks softly.
I nod slowly. I don't say anything yet, though. The world is good right now. I'm definitely okay with not moving for the next ten years.
I sigh loudly and rub my eyes in my palms. Carlos sits up next to me his arms shifting from my middle to wrap themselves around my left arm. I almost want to ask him to put them back.
I glance up at Kendall. His stare is so hard that I can practically feel him pressing me to talk. He's been patient so far, but... Kendall's Kendall, and he has close to zero tolerance when he's worried about us.
"I'm really sorry guys."
"Logan, quit apologizing will you?" James (who on general principle is even less patient than Kendall) says loudly. He removes me from his lap and clambers next to me, opposite Carlos. "You're being ridiculous."
"Yeah," Carlos agrees.
"Logan." I look at Kendall. "Please just tell us what's going on."
I suck in my lower lip. I don't even know what to say.
"Are you sick?" Carlos asks.
I shake my head.
"Are you tired?" James demands, and I nod 'no' again.
"Are you queasy?"
"Are you nervous?"
"Are you mad?"
"Are you annoyed?"
"Are you constipated?"
"What? You never know!"
"Guys, shut up," says Kendall, rolling his eyes. He looks back at me. "Logie, are you homesick?"
I bite my lip and nod.
Kendall looks at me with total understanding and pity and I can't help blushing and looking away.
I glance up again when he stands.
"Ooh, Kendall has a plan!" Carlos says excitedly.
Indeed, Kendall's face has that signature, determined expression that we recognize immediately from hundreds of past schemes. "James," he says commandingly. "Let's go. We have to get something."
James mock-salutes and rolls his eyes at me and Carlos (giving an extra-concerned glance to me) as Kendall leads him to the door.
Kendall turns. "We'll be right back." He smiles at me, and they're gone.
I know why they left Carlos behind. That kid doesn't know the meaning of "awkward situation". To him, every situation is just bursting with fun potential. While Kendall and James are off getting who knows what, Carlos entertains me. A completely tactless person in most all scenarios, Carlos somehow always gets when I don't want to talk- so he does the talking for me. About his girlfriend, his family, his dog, what he and Kendall did last weekend, how much he missed me. I know he'd be more than willing to be an ear for me, but he understands that I can't, not yet. I just listen and laugh until Kendall and James get back.
"Don't say a word, Logan," James says simply as he walks through the door, arms full. "We got this."
They proceed to completely decorate my room, with Christmas lights and Chinese lanterns and confetti and glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling- reminders of Minnesota and ten years of birthday parties and celebrations.
I watch as they stand in front of me and begin. I recognize the song the second Kendall sings the opening line:
"I bet you didn't notice,
First time your heart was broken."
Carlos came in, belting out the lyrics with a huge grin on his face. "Yoooouu called me uuuup and we taaaalked till the morning."
"And the time that you were stranded," sings James. "I was there before you landed."
They hesitate before the next line, but not for long. "SHE was a no show, I made sure you got home!"
They continue singing, stealing each other's parts playfully, trying to outdo the other two in the chorus, clearly not caring how horrible they actually sound- as long as my tears turn to ones of laughter. Which of course they have.
"Whatever happens you should know,
You're not alone-... BRO!
Look over your shoooooulder
You don't have to wooooonder
Cause you know, you know, YOU KNOW!
You're not alone, BRO
I'll be there to HOOOOLD ya
I'll stay till it's over,
And you know, you know, YOU KNOW
That you're not A-LOOOONNE
That you're not A-LOOOOOOOOONEE.
You're not alone.
All the days that you were stressed out
Feeling like pulling your hair out..."
They each flash me their unique, knowing grins at that, and then keep singing. I struggle with my emotions throughout the whole song. Every time I laugh at their goofy sweetness, I feel a new pang of realization: I know they mean every word.
They pull me up onto their makeshift stage and we sing and dance dreadfully and wonderfully, until the building manager all but bangs down the door to shut us up. And that, of course, triggers peals of smothered laugher on the floor, which turns into a pillow fight, which becomes a tickle fight, which ends immediately when we all realize we're men and not five years old.
How did I get these kinds of friends?
Kendall collapses onto his back on the floor contentedly, and as usual, we follow his lead.
"You guys are idiots," I say finally, smirking. I turn up onto my elbow so I can see them sprawled across the carpet.
James grins. "We know," he beams, practically taking it as a compliment, which is good. I didn't mean it any other way.
"Loveable idiots, right?" Carlos adds, bright smile and sparkling brown eyes in full force.
I nudge him, unsuccessfully smothering a smile and laying back down. "Livable, anyway."
I feel a bit guilty for acting so indifferent like this, like I really think they're idiotic, although none of them looks the slightest bit perturbed. Actually, I'm touched. Their little performance was extremely entertaining, and in all honesty, exactly what I needed. I've never quite understood how they do it- how they figure out exactly what my mood is, exactly how I'm feeling, and then give me all I need. How we can be apart for that period of time, and still feel so comfortable, like no time has passed, like we have always been in each other's presence.
James gets up and switches off the lights. The stars that are now taped to the ceiling cast a slight glow over us as we lay on the floor and look up at them. We start talking, and I can't explain what we talk about. It is simply the mindless conversation that comes out when there is no light to judge and no one but your best friends to hear. Impossible to put into words. Every moment makes me feel more and more like I'm home with them.
I feel the first fingers of sleepiness as the humming voices around me get gradually quieter and more sporatic.
"Guys?" I pipe up suddenly, without meaning to.
"Hmm?" they say as one voice.
I struggle with what to tell them. I don't know how to express my gratitude, how much I appreciate them.
Then I realize I don't have to. They understand. They always understand.
I smile. "Are we really gonna sleep on the floor?"
And as we settle into more comfortable positions, I whisper into the darkness, "Thanks."
I can almost feel their smiles, brightening the gentle blanket of night.
The guys are asleep. We all decided to crash on my bed in my tiny dorm: one, because I didn't want them to leave; two, because they didn't want to leave; three, because it would be preposterous for us to be in the same city and not be together; and four, because they didn't want to pay for a hotel.
Carlos is laying on my left side, breathing heavily through his mouth and flailing around every ten minutes. James is on my right, looking serene with his zebra-print sleep mask as he snores lightly, his arm flopped over my chest. Kendall's next to James, curled on his side, his arm tucked under his head. I've had these sleeping patterns memorized since our first sleepover at the end of third grade. Which may be a little creepy sounding, but I guess I just know them that well.
I hear a slight shift from Kendall- odd because he never moves when he sleeps.
"Kendall?" I whisper. "Are you awake?"
I carefully sit up, trying not to wake James (I'm not worried about Carlos, he sleeps through everything). I tiptoe to Kendall's area of the bed and climb next to him. I feel, for about the hundredth time today, like such a baby, like we're back in elementary and I'm the only one afraid of the dark. But Kendall doesn't say anything- he still just wraps one arm around me like he always did, and he pretends he doesn't know how much I'm blushing.
"I kinda wish I'd never come out here," I say after a minute.
I can tell Kendall's surprised by the way he pulls away a little. I surprise myself. They've done so much for me today already; I have no right to still be upset. Kendall reaches over to click on the light by my bed, because he hates not being able to see our faces.
He faces me again, green eyes intense. "Why would you say that?"
"I don't know," I say, shrugging awkwardly. "I don't think I was meant to live by myself. I'm a mess."
"Logan, calm down."
"No, look at me!" I wail, hating the way my voice cracks. "I'm a disaster! You know I've never made friends well, Kendall, and I'm just so bored and lonely without you guys!"
"And obviously you guys were only my f-friends because I was smart but everyone's smart here, and-"
"Wait, what?" Kendall's eyes are extremely concerned and even hurt at this point. "Logan, what?"
I look down. "Sorry," I whisper.
"Don't be sorry, but..." Kendall pushes his hand up through his hair. "Logan, do you really believe we've just been using you for ten years?"
"No," I say quietly, ashamed. I look up at him again, remembering. "But Kendall, in third grade-"
Kendall almost laughs. "Logan, we were eight! Of course we liked you at first because you could help us with homework. But do you think that really matters to us now? Is that what all this is about?"
"No. I mean partly. I mean I don't know!" I exclaim. "It's just really hard when you guys are so far away." I sigh. "I'm sorry."
"Being so pathetic." I say. "And making you guys come all the way out here for nothing. I just..."
"Logan, it's okay," Kendall says. I rub the back of my neck guiltily, but Kendall grabs my wrist and makes me look at him. "Logan, we're always happy to come help you, alright? It doesn't matter how far it is, I'll always be here. I'll travel whatever it takes."
"I feel so disconnected with you guys. There's so much between us."
"For you, Logan? That distance is nothing."
I smile. "Thanks," I say and wrap my arms around his waist.
He pats my head. "No problem, bro. Go to sleep. We'll be here when you wake up."
I snuggle happily between James and Kendall, listening to Carlos shuffle around contentedly, and close my eyes, smiling. I think about distance. I suppose Kendall's right. Maybe if things were different, distance would change us. Maybe normal friendships couldn't stand up to being apart. But things like distance, time apart- those are immaterial to us. This relationship, as I have learned many times before, and am re-learning now as I listen to my best friends sleeping, is not ordinary. I'm beginning to believe this friendship is something remarkable. And I've never felt so lucky to be such an undeniable part of it.
You gotta believe in me.
Even if you can't see me there,
I'll catch you when you fall...
A/N: Cheesy cheese cheese ending. :) :) And not very concluding. Hope you liked the wild Kogan that appeared there at the end. :)
Did you like how I did the WASL thing? LOL. That was entertaining. Also, Logan was super melodramatic, I was starting to get annoyed with him. haha. Gah, I'm sorry, I fail at writing lately. This took a ridiculous amount of time to write as you all know, and ended up being incredibly lame. But whatever. It's done. :)
Okay, question, what happens if you go back and fix things in previous chapters? Those typos are really bothering me, but I don't want everyone to get like three alerts when I'm only updating once... Anybody know?
K, I love you! Hope to see you in ReviewLand! :D