Author's Note: So this is really different for me. Extremely, extremely AU. I generally kind of like to work in a more canon-verse type setting, but this veers way off course. Oh, and Hortense doesn't exist. Since this is so AU, Logan doesn't meet Mrs. Diamond, and I can't just leave him as Hortense forever, okay? Okay. This is also an experiment (of sorts) for me, as in I don't really have much of a plan. It's a write and post type thing and I don't even have an outline done. So, essentially, updates depend on you, the reader, and your responses as I go. Any questions or concerns along the way, feel free to review or message me. I'm totally accessible. Also, I feel that I should note the views and opinions (as with all of my fic) expressed in this don't necessarily reflect my own.
And this, as with EVERYTHING I write, is slash. So if you don't like to read about beautiful boys falling in love, go away now.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything you might recognize.
"Come on, Logan," the ten-year-old urges. "You're moving in a week, and I bet they don't even have swimming pools in Minnesota."
Logan looks at his cousin like he's crazy. That can't be right. Logan might only be eight - nine in four months - but he's done his research. Minnesota has warm summers.
"They have pools," Logan tells his cousin, Bobby, while rolling his eyes.
"Well, this is the last time you'll get to go swimming with me, at least for awhile. We have to make it memorable." He tugs Logan toward the highest diving board, the look on his face nearing desperation.
Logan thinks it over, watching the big kids do flips off the board. The heat rolls through the Texas air, and Logan's nose burns when he takes a deep breath. It's a scorching day, and the teens plunking their way into the cool water laugh and flirt as they enjoy the pool. They make the acrobatics look easy.
"Okay," Logan concedes, thinking it can't be much harder than the flips he does on solid ground, "but you have to go first."
"Sure, sure, yeah!" Bobby does a little hop to the ladder, scaling it with no fear. He walks to the end of the board and flashes Logan a little smirk before jumping, completing a smooth flip before sliding into the water. Easy.
Logan gets in position for his own jump, beginning to feel a little cocky. He knows he's a better gymnast than Bobby, and Logan's backflip on the trampoline is practically flawless. So he turns around, puts his back to the water.
The last voice he hears is his mother shouting, "Don't you dare, Logan Mitchell!"
The last sound he hears is his head hitting the board with a sickening thud.
Logan Mitchell loved reading medical books, books on rare conditions, books on bizarre surgical procedures. He needed help sounding out all the words, but his father never minded. Logan sat in his dad's lap for hours at a time, eyes glued to the page as the words he pointed to were whispered in his ear. Logan's mom would fondly chide his dad, insisting Logan was too young to read such things.
"But it's medical," he would excuse. "The human body should be learned along with your multiplication tables. Right, Logan?"
Logan would only nod before continuing, "What's a 'diaphragmatic hernia', Daddy?"
That is over now.
Logan wakes, groggy, his head thumping with pain he was unaware existed outside the pages of books. He slits his eyes open in the low light, the drip of an IV cool in his arm.
"Mom?" he says. His voice must be scratchy because he can't hear the spoken appellation. Logan tries to clear his throat, but everything aches.
"Mom?" he repeats, still hearing nothing, but his mother appears, hovering over him. There's clear worry stitching furrows into her forehead, her dark eyes swimming in unshed tears.
The room is eerily silent, not even the rush of breath through his lungs can Logan hear. Even the beepbeep he always notices in hospital TV shows isn't present.
Again, he says, "Mommy?" as he tries to recall what happened, what is happening. His mother's mouth moves, but nothing is heard.
"I can't hear anything, Mom. Why can't I hear anything?" It comes crashing down, the fear and confusion, because Logan has never been alone like this, not even the sound of his own voice in his ears to keep him company.
Her mouth moves again, and Logan reads her lips, It's okay, baby, or so he thinks she says.
"But it's really, really not," he says, beginning to cry in loud, choking sobs, unable to control his volume because he hears nothing. He's scared and disoriented and when he tries to sit up, a wave of nausea sweeps over him. His mother barely has time to grab a bucket, and he's retching.
When Logan is done being sick and the ache in his little body has doubled, he notices a shadow looming over him. He looks up and sees his father, and Logan immediately reaches out to cling to him.
"Fix it, Daddy. Fix it, okay?" Logan sobs. "You're a doctor, Dad, you can make this all better. I know you can."
Logan's dad squeezes him tightly, but if he answers, Logan never hears it.
Some sounds come back. Logan can hear a car horn honking, a little, if he's standing right next to it. When he starts school in the autumn, he can hear a low hum in the cafeteria when all the students are speaking as loud as they can. There are vibrations in the air he swears he can sense, taste on his tongue, hum in his ears and he can almost pretend they are sounds he can hear.
Logan insisted on learning all the medical terms that went along with his condition. Sensorineural hearing loss, his father had written for him, on a notebook with Batman on the cover. Temporal bone fracture. Logan does what he does best and reads about it, deciding it doesn't matter if he can sound out the words because it's not like he could hear them. He learns he could've lost the function of his facial muscles; he could've been a vegetable. His parents keep communicating to him how lucky they are he survived, how lucky he is to be awake and functioning.
They don't move to Minnesota as planned. His dad keeps his job at the local hospital despite the huge opportunity he would've been taking by moving. Logan feels horrible about it, ruining all his parents' dreams, halting the progression of their twenty-five year plan. They urge him not to worry about it, mouth to him over and over how lucky they are, how they need to be close to family right now. Logan isn't too young or naïve to realize how one stupid, childish decision has turned his life on two wheels, pushed him off the course of normality and thrown him into a world without sound.
He refuses to learn sign language, despite his parents pleading and offer to learn with him.
It doesn't take long before he starts acting out, ignoring his parents, getting in trouble at school. No one is quite sure what to do with him. His last two years of elementary school see his grades barely passing, despite the concessions the school makes – there's an aid who takes notes for him - to help him understand. It's not that he doesn't understand. He just doesn't care anymore.
Once in middle school, Logan gets placed in special education classes, despite a fight against it by his parents.
"My son is a genius," his mother says.
"He's smarter than most high-school students, for Christ's sake," his dad says.
It doesn't help.
Logan gets ridiculously good at reading lips, although there are times he wishes he weren't. There are countless faces turned his direction all the time, words like retard and dummy and freak slipping past their lips. It doesn't help that his parents keep forcing him to wear these stupid, ugly hearing aids that barely help. They're bulky and wired and just plain embarrassing.
His parents beg and plead with him to care about anything again. Logan's dad buys him stack upon stack of medical journals and books and texts, and when he won't read those, he buys him stories about heroes overcoming adversity. Those, Logan loses himself in for hours. He reads out loud to no one, fingers against his throat so he can still sound normal; sometimes he pretends he is normal. Logan's dad realizes his folly all too late, and Logan separates himself even further from his parents.
"But you wanted to be a doctor," Dad says.
"You could still be the best," Mom says.
Logan only refutes them. He's had enough of hospitals and doctors and unsuccessful surgeries to last a lifetime.
One weekend, when Logan is in the sixth grade, his mother takes him to the mall for some mandatory clothes shopping. Logan protests and moans and groans, but Mom is insistent.
It's when they pass a music shop Logan pauses, because there's this steady pulse thrumming through the walls, and Logan releases his balled up fists as though he might feel it in the air. He leaves his mother without a word, walking slowly as he begins feeling the pounding in his feet, traveling up his body and becoming the rhythm of his heart.
Logan sees this guy playing a drum set while two other guys play guitars, and every time the drummer hits the hi-hat Logan smiles. The grin feels foreign on his face, and he reaches up to touch his lips, fingers moving to his cheek and finding that, yes, he still has dimples. He moves to a small amp on the floor the bass guitar is plugged into and puts his hand on top, feeling the sound in his bones while the pounding of the drums seep into the near constant quiet in his head.
There's a hand on his shoulder and Logan jumps, the feeling of the music having filtered out everything else. He looks up to see his mom standing over him.
"You had me worried sick," she starts, before noticing the full blown grin on her son's face. "Logan?"
"I want some of those," Logan says, pointing to the drum set.
His mother is so shocked by Logan's smile, so happy to see her son looking like her son again, she immediately nods.
Music has a science, a formula. Logan figures it out, reads sheet music like a number sentence. Just because he's abandoned his dream of medicine, doesn't mean he can turn off the analytical side of his brain.
He has a new dream now.
Logan's mom actually cries when he says he wants to learn sign language; his dad hugs him close. It's harder than he thought it would be, but also more fun. Sure, he can read lips and speak almost as clearly as when he lost his hearing, but he has found he loves to make his hands fly, quick like helicopter blades, smooth like the wings of a bird. He helps his parents learn, urges them forward, if only for the fact it makes him feel superior.
With steady rhythm and bass, Logan realizes he doesn't just want to scrape by anymore; he's not been sentenced to a quiet death, but challenged at life. He learns to stand up for himself when he finally realizes no one else will do it for him. The first time he talks back to a bully at school, the boy is shocked Logan even has a voice.
But he does, and it's a strong one, too.
The punch to the face Logan delivers is fierce, because his hands are quick and smart and it sends a clear message to anyone who might get the idea to pick on him.
He's left alone after that.
He takes drum lessons for two years before he surpasses the teacher's abilities. It was a struggle at first, communicating, learning without spoken words, but once he found his rhythm, Logan only flew. He goes it alone after that, just like his days of school, months of summer vacations. Sitting on a speaker instead of a drummer's throne, Logan turns up the bass, pounding out any bitterness he had let fester in his heart in the years since the accident. He won't leave himself to rot, not anymore.
Logan wouldn't know if they did, but his parents never complain about the noise.
In high school, he refuses to be coddled by special education classes anymore; he doesn't need to be, never did, the only difference is he has a purpose again.
By the time he reaches his senior year, he's practically an island, and happier because of it, or so Logan believes. His speakers are his friends. He's wrapped his arms around them, pressed his cheeks, forehead and lips to their rough surface, until he has drumbeats in his veins instead of blood: the most intimate contact he's ever received. He repeats songs by Led Zeppelin, Rush, Nirvana, The Who, The Beatles and countless others until he can play the drum solos with his eyes closed, never missing a beat despite barely hearing any of it.
Logan has to be a musician, do something in music, something loud and trembling. He's known it since the first time he held a pair of sticks and hit a snare, since the first time he felt the bass drum rumble through the pedal. He wants to make it, breathe it, live in the strike of a tom, run his fingers through the groove of a bongo.
So when he announces his acceptance to UCLA, his parents aren't exactly shocked, but they're not so happy either.
"That's so far away," his mother says.
"What are you going to major in? Biology?" his dad asks, knowing the answer.
"Music," Logan replies, voice clear and strong. He signs the word as well because he loves the sway of his hands.
"But you'll be all alone," Mom says.
Dad makes a dismissive gesture. "He hasn't needed anyone for years."
Logan knows he should protest, but he doesn't, because it's true. He doesn't need anyone. All he needs are vibrations, rhythm, things that make him feel.
His dad has this look on his face, some mixture of pride and resignation and hurt. "You'll be fine, son." He says it for his own benefit.
Once Logan has graduated and accepted accolades for being in the top ten of his class, once his vehicle is packed full and he's ready to go, his mother cries, asks him for the millionth time if he needs them to come help him unpack. His father wraps his arms around Logan tightly, whispers something into the crook of Logan's neck.
Logan doesn't need to read lips to know the familiar words of love and pride, words that still echo in his head, his father's voice when he was small.
"I love you, too, Dad," he replies.
As he leaves, the tiny niggling sadness he feels evaporates. It's gone by the time he hits the state line.
He knows things won't be easy – they haven't been, but for the first time since he was a normal eight-year-old on a normal day at the swimming pool, he feels like he's on the right track.