I know I said I wasn't going to be posting anything for this fandom anymore, but this is the last thing I ever planned to write and it took me over a year, and it didn't feel right not to share it will you all. Take this as my parting gift.
Please be aware that this story contains graphic depictions of violence and rape.
Logan's favorite thing in the world is to just sit in the vast forest of trees, closing his eyes and opening his other senses to the wind whipping through the trees, the scent of the azaleas and the wild daisies and roses carried along the currents of air like a song. It's those times that he can lose himself, falling back into the soft grass like he's the only person left in the world, or the only person on this manor that matters.
Sixteen years and he hasn't made one single friend, the only friends he has being the chirping swallows and the fidgety chipmunks that run over Logan's toes as he sits motionlessly in the dirt. He's never questioned when he walks back into the mansion with dirt smeared on his pants or on his fingers or face because his parents just know, know that it's just what he does, and what he does is the only thing that keeps him sane with all the time he spends just by himself. He knows his father disapproves, but he'd take disapproval over giving up his one place of peace any day, a million times over.
There's vast miles of the manor that Logan's never been able to visit, and he's pretty sure that if he were to try to go there now, he'd get lost for days. Not lost like he used to get when he was a boy and would explore the seemingly never ending corridors of the mansion for full days, but lost in the sense where you're starving for food and scared and feeling like a random rabid animal is going to come and chew your throat out.
Getting lost wasn't Logan's most favorite thing in the world, but getting lost when he knew he could get lost safely definitely was.
It started when he was only seven - his nanny had left him for a split second, but being the graciously curious little boy he was, it only took that split second for Logan to decide to wander off, and he ended up getting lost in the left wing of the mansion for six hours - the complete opposite of where his nanny had left him.
He'd discovered his secret room that day, a room with a dust fallen door handle and white sheets covering the furniture inside. There was one window, a huge bay with foggy glass, obvious that nobody had looked out that window in years. He'd only uncovered one couch, a plush loveseat with traditional golden embroidering splashed along the blood red velvet that the couch cushions were made of.
There's one smudge where Logan's hand has repeatedly wiped the dust off the window, the smudge growing increasingly higher as Logan grew taller over the years. He can stand staring out the window for hours, looking passed the mile-long gardens and forests to the right wing of the manor where the huge man made lake sits, bordered all around by the small, beaten down stone cottages that house the hundreds of slaves that are needed to work the immense cotton fields and the manor in general.
Logan's never seen the slaves up close, only seeing their backs or their profiles as he watches them while they work, sweat dripping off their brows as they labor intensely in the cotton fields. There's an equal amount of men as there are women, and Logan figures that's his father's sick way of bringing equality about his manor. If as many women died from overwork as men did then nobody could accuse him of being unfair now, could they?
Logan feels for them, the ones that go out to work before the sun rises at dawn but never get to see the sun set again at dusk. He's seen them before, the emaciated ones, the sick ones, the old ones, forced to work even though they know if they do they won't survive the whole day. There's only a few that look like they eat well at all, the ones who aren't scared to steal vegetables and fruits from the garden even though they know that getting caught would mean a whipping, most likely to death.
He'd seen his father do it once, to a blond girl who couldn't have been any older than six, whipped to death because she'd been caught eating a rotten apple that she'd found withering away at the base of an old apple tree.
Logan had only been four at the time, but the memory of the blood on his father's hands and the screaming sobs of the little girl's mother as she picked her daughter's dead body out of the dirt were burned like a brand into the tissues of Logan's brain forever.
There were still blood stains on the tree where the girl had been killed, twelve years later. The girls mother had died last year, but Logan remembers watching every day as she walked passed the tree, pressing her hand into the stains and letting solemn tears roll down her reddened cheeks as she relived and revived the memory of her daughter. Logan had never known either of their names.
As he grew up he came to realize that his father was a ruthless man, simply waving a hand when a slave told him the number of those who had died that day, barking at Logan's mother that they were going to need to get more soon. Logan's mother was a fragile woman, a meek female in appearance, but a woman who took as much pleasure in the death of her slaves as her husband did. Logan thought that's what made his mother even worse than his father - she looked so fragile, so small, so feminine, yet she looked at death the way a woman should look at her newborn child - with eyes full of glowing reverence.
Logan thanks whatever stars he has that he's grown to be nothing like the soulless, spurious people his parents are.
Logan wanders the corridors of the mansion that have come to be so familiar to him, as he walks them nearly every day to get to his secret room. He knows the room is more forgotten than it is secret, and he's just thankful that his father or his mother has never had the idea to follow him when he goes off for hours on end. He's thankful that his parents just didn't care enough to follow him, anyways. As long as Logan stayed inside the mansion, his parents remained blissfully unaware and uncaring of what he did with his time.
Logan's walk builds into a run as he gets closer to the brass handled door that opens to his room, bare feet pounding soundlessly on the plush velvet of the carpet that one the wooden floors of the corridors. His body fills with an airy feeling as his hand finally closes around that brass handle, the feeling unchanging since he was seven years old and had laid his hand on that same handle, dust fallen with years of disuse.
The door creaks only once as it's opened, Logan breathing deep as he steps inside the room. The floor is cold as it always is, the marble of it never heating, no matter how much sun leaked intensely through the large bay window. Logan's toes wiggle against it, the smooth texture being as familiar to him as his own pale-faced reflection.
He hums quietly to himself, a nameless tune as he saunters over to his smudged window, swiping his hand over it to clear the glass. His eyes wander over the garden, the grasses and flowers stretching and winding in intricate swirls as they flow around the huge fountain. The fountain itself was some sort of marble carving of an angel that Logan thought was cupid, but had never gotten a good enough look at to be completely sure. His father had modeled the garden after the glorious one at the Castle Versailles, the garden nearly an exact copy of it, only scaled down to fit the manor. Not that it had to be scaled down by much, of course.
Passed the garden, to the northwest of the mansion Logan could see the cotton fields where a countless number of slaves were already working the fields. Logan's eyes didn't rest on the workers for long, always afraid he was going to witness something like he had with that little girl twelve years ago. His eyes swept to the east, where the horse stables stood. Logan could just barely make out a boy walking one of the horses back into the stable, the dark skin and black hair of the boy looking oddly unfamiliar.
Logan's watched the slaves enough to know who was who, not by names, but by appearance. The tall, willowy blond boy with the thick eyebrows Logan could make out from his window in the mansion, or the equally as tall, broadly built brunette boy he'd seen inside the mansion more times than he had in the cotton fields.
But this boy, the one with the tough looking shoulders and the stocky thighs walking the thoroughbred horse back into the stable was a slave Logan was sure he'd never seen before.
The opportunity for a break in the monotony of Logan's life on the manor was rare and Logan wasn't going to miss the chance. With one last glance at the boy as he disappeared into the stables Logan turned and skipped out of the room, making sure to close the door of his room tight before sprinting back down the corridors. His pace slows to a steady job, knowing it will take him a good ten minutes to get to the foyer of the mansion if he walks, and a steady jog is the best way for him to get there without ending up completely winded. Running through the corridors kept Logan as fit as the hard labor did the slaves.
He keeps jogging, not paying much attention to where he's going, just letting the knowledge he has of this part of the mansion guide his body through the deep hallways. He breathes evenly, his legs moving at a monotonous left right left right left right as he travels through the mansion.
Logan's pace is suddenly stopped as he slams into something - more aptly someone - and he comes to a rough halt. He panics, thinking he's run straight into his father, something he dreaded, though it rarely happened, but a look up through his eyelashes reveals that it's not his father he's run into, but that tall, broadly built brunette he'd seen inside the mansion more times than any other slave. The boy looks absolutely mortified.
"M-Master Logan, I-I'm so sorry, I wasn't w-watching where I was going, I'm so s-sorry-"
The slave sputters and Logan crooks an eyebrow because he's sure he ran into the boy, not the other way around. "Hey, it's alright, I ran into you."
"You did?" The boy's eyes widen ridiculously.
Logan nods. "I did. I wasn't looking where I was going. It's really no problem."
The boy still looks shocked, like he expects Logan to turn around and say "Ha ha, just kidding, fifty lashings for you!" and Logan hates that this is what his father has created - hundreds of people who are afraid to even look him in the eye because they think if they do, they'll be sent to hang in the gallows. "What's your name?" Logan asks and the boy physically recoils.
"J-James," he states. He looks so shrunken, so small. Logan has seen him in the fields and in the corridors occasionally and he knows the boy is much taller than him and built like a brick wall, and it sickens him to know that he has James stuttering and shriveling away just by asking a simple question like what his name is.
"It's nice to meet you, James," Logan smiles as he steps around James and begins his steady jog again, throwing a look over his shoulder to see that James hasn't moved, still looking obscenely shell shocked that Logan had even talked to him, let alone talked to him like a human being.
Logan meets no other people as he jogs his way into the foyer, the area feeling too bright and too off to him. He never uses the front doors, always slipping out the back to go right into the forests. The foyer in general just gives him a bad feeling, the gold of the designs in the tiles and the painting hung on the walls and the diamond chandeliers that hang from the ceiling being just too much for Logan's simple and subtle outlook on things.
He spends little time in the foyer, pushing open the huge wooden doors and stepping out onto the stone porch, the dry heat of the summer air warming him immediately to the bone. Logan loves how summer feels, loves those random breezes on a seemingly still day or the way it rains when the sun is still shining like a blessing. He loves the way how at any moment there's a flock of birds hopping around in the garden or the way the air always smells like apple blossoms.
Even though he spends most of his time inside, the charms of outside will always hold the superior place inside Logan's heart.
There's a horse drawn carriage waiting at the bottom of the grand staircase that leads down the porch to the elaborate walkway that twists and winds through the garden and all over the manor. The carriage is there mainly for his parents as he's never allowed to travel far enough across the manor that he'd need it but the stables are a good half mile away, and he figures that's excuse to take the carriage enough.
He greets the carriage's driver with a courteous nod, slipping into the plush leather of the bench seat, simply directing the driver to where he wants to go with a murmur of "Stables."
The driver cracks his whip and the Clydesdale horses pull forward, the carriage's wheels moving noisily and slow over the cobblestones of the pathway. Logan leans back in the seat, his head lolling to the side as he looks out the makeshift window of the carriage. He watches fondly as the scenery slides by slowly, creating a small game of naming every flower he passes as the carriage trudges along - roses, lilacs, chrysanthemums, daisies, and primroses, Logan's personal favorite. The delicate white of the petals reminds Logan somewhat of himself - the fact that he looks plain and white and normal on the outside, but he can bloom into the brightest of colors if given the chance.
The Clydesdales' hooves beat heavily and rhythmically against the cobblestones as the carriage continues to trudge forward, the heavy wooden wheels falling into the cracks between stones, jerking the carriage roughly left and right. Logan's fingers dig into the leather of the seat, trying to keep himself from sliding across the bench.
The carriage comes to a slow and heavy halt, the driver turning to Logan, telling him that they've reached the stables. Logan murmurs a thank you as he steps down from the carriage, planting his feet on the solid rock of the cobblestone pathway. He nods his head, signaling the driver that it's alright for him to leave, and the whip cracks again, the Clydesdales neighing lightly as they rock forward into their slow, steady walk.
Logan watches as the carriage drifts away, his brow furrows as he turns to the stables. He's only been here once, when he was nine, for riding lessons. The horse had bucked him off, resulting in a broken arm for Logan and death for the horse. Logan had plead for the horse's life with his father, as the horse had been a wild stallion, broken then for only a month or so, and Logan knew it wasn't the horse's fault that it bucked. The trainer had pushed it too hard, and it had done the only thing it knew to do in a situation of stress. And it's instincts had led to it's death.
That was one reason Logan was such a cautious person, always thinking his actions through, never simply going with the feeling he had in his gut.
With a sigh Logan walked closer to the stables, the whinnying of the horses inside bring a small smile to his face. Most of them were wild, the vast amount of them not yet broken, mostly used for raw strength around the manor.
He was forced to take a step back when one of the stable doors flew open with a loud noise, nearly falling onto the grass at the sudden movement in front of him as a beautiful brown horse all but flew out of the stables. It was gorgeous, wild and free and Logan's mouth fell open, but not at the horse's obvious beauty. His eyes stuck to the tan boy controlling the horse. Or, trying to.
The boy was speaking softly to the animal, his hands clutched tight to the ropes around the horse's neck and tugging to make the horse slow down. Logan couldn't hear what he was saying, but the boy seemed so intent on his work that he was gone unnoticed, and for that he was thankful. He quickly moved so he could be near the stables once more, almost ducking behind the wooden wall.
Logan had no honest reason to hide, except for his curiosity. He hadn't been this far from the castle in years, and he was mesmerized by the strong boy and his thick fingers, the way the sweat seemed to dampen his forehead even from afar and Logan's mouth seemed to fall open on its own account when the young man looked his way for a quick second, spinning the horse and speaking to it in a firm, but soft voice.
The boy was breathtaking, with his dark hair and even darker eyes, plump lips stuck in a small pout as he continued to murmur to the horse under him and Logan was so shaken by the way the horse just seemed to listen. He caught a glimpse of the boy's grin, and Logan squeezed at the wall of the barn like he had no other choice, his breath taken right out of him at the view as the boy caressed the horse, still mumbling softly.
And that was when the horse let out a coughing neigh, loud enough to seem like a bark and Logan caught the sudden surprise in the boy's eyes before the horse was bucking wildly, like its legs were suddenly on fire without reasoning and Logan heard the young man's loud yell for the horse to remain still as his hand raced back to the rope, but it was too late.
Logan watches as if the scene is happening in slow motion, watching as the horse kicks out for that one fatal buck that sends the boy off it's back, flying overhead and landing with a loud thud into the dirt. An odd feeling of deja vu settles of Logan as he remembers the same thing happening to him when we was nine, and before he realizes what he's doing, his conern for the boy is driving him out from the wall of the stables and to the boy laying motionlessly in the grass as the untamed stallion keeps bucking.
As he gets closer Logan gets a better look at the boy, his breath catching as he takes in the small trail of blood leaking out from the cut on the boy's forehead. His brow is furrowed in pain and he's giving these groans like he's definitely hurt, and a sense of panic wells up inside Logan's chest.
Logan drops to his knees beside the boy, the boy's eyes closed as Logan hovers over him. The boy is definitely a slave - if the grime on his face and all over his teal shirt didn't give it away then his hefty shoulders and broad chest did. He was definitely a laborer, and Logan was wracked with confusion as to why he'd never seen this boy around the manor or working in the cotton fields before.
The boy lets out another groan and cracks one eye open, looking around wildly before settling his gaze on Logan. He doesn't say a word, just stares, as Logan reaches up to finger the gash on his forehead. The boy winces when Logan's fingertips brush over the wound.
"You took a pretty nasty fall there," Logan says, his voice low. "Horse bucked you right off."
To his surprise, the boy answers, "I was trying to break 'im," he explains. His voice is deep and gravelly and rough and Logan has to swallow the sudden lump that builds in his throat.
"You should really get this patched up," Logan says, referring to the cut on the boy's forehead. "I'm sort of handy with first aid and I've got some supplies back in my room in the mansion, if you're okay for me to go get it-"
"Wait, what?" The boy cuts him off, pushing himself up into a sitting position. The boy swoons from dizziness before he collects himself, both eyes open now as he glares coldly at Logan. "Did you say your room in the mansion? Meaning you live there?"
Logan swallows hard, not completely sure where the boy is going. "Um yeah, my father is the Lord of the manor-"
"Fuck!" The boy curses and Logan recoils, not used to hearing such language up close. His parents never swore in front of him, as swearing was for savages and the Mitchell family were in no way savages.
The boy scrambles to his feet unsteadily, holding his hand over the gash on his forehead. "Where are you going?" Logan asks, getting up himself.
"I don't need the bastard son of the bastard Lord treating me like some charity case and then just going back to the Lord and telling him I've been brain-damaged or some shit," the boy spits, eyes cold. "That'd get me killed, wouldn't it? Can't have incompetent slaves working on your manor now, can you?"
"I would never-"
"Cut the shit, master," the boy hisses, turning his back to Logan. "I'll just get Kendall to patch me up, no need for you."
Logan just stares as the boy stomps angrily away, his mind reeling at the negative reaction he'd just gotten. Logan was in shock because of the way the slave has treated him, not because he felt the slave had no right to treat him and talk to him like an equal, but simply because the slave had.
Normally, the slaves were either too smart or too scared to talk to Logan in the way that the boy just had. They thought that one slip of the tongue would have them tied to the tree with a whip lashing across their backs, dying from either the shock or the blood loss or the infection what would set into the welts in the weeks after. Logan wished the slaves knew he was a safe haven, that they were free to speak as they wished around him without having to worry that he was going to go back to his father and tell him everything the slaves has said. Logan wasn't that sort of person. Logan was good.
The stallion had stopped bucking now, grazing along nonchalantly, munching happily on the wheat grass billowing in the small breezes spinning through the meadows of the manor. It looks calm enough, a complete one-eighty from the way it had been when it'd bucked the boy straight off it's back.
The area around the stables in fenced in, a strong, wired mesh fence around the wheat grass fields where the horses are left out to graze, and Logan finds it safe to assume that the horse will be alright if he's left fenced in the meadow. A slave should be coming by to let the other horses out soon enough, seeing as it's nearly three in the afternoon, and the horses have been in their stables since seven the night before.
Logan sighs, deciding it's time he heads back to the mansion. It's going to be at least a fifteen minute walk if he takes the cobblestone path straight through, something he knows won't happen. He'd most likely get pulled off track, slinking into the forest and losing track of the ours as he sits among the daisies and the roses and those oh so lovely primroses.
With a grin Logan heads off the cobblestones and in the direction of the thick trees, deciding that spending hours by himself in the forest would be the better alternative than spending hours cooped up inside the mansion.
The sound of forks scraping against plates and teeth and other cutlery was something that always put Logan on edge, making him feel like he was being scrutinized by every angle every time his fork scratched against a surface that wasn't food. Every time his fork scraped his teeth his mother would look up from her own plate and her seat across the table to give him a look that clearly screamed Where are your manners, boy? and Logan would shrink back every time, setting his fork down and shamefully folding his hands in his lap under the table. It's only one of the many reasons Logan hates sitting down for dinner with his parents.
But yet as he sat on the opposite side of the huge wooden dinner table of his parents, the scraping and scratching of silverware the least worry on his mind. No matter how hard he tries to focus on the meal in front of him, his thoughts drift to the slave from the stables, the one with the midnight hair and caramel skin and eyes like creamy melted cocoa, the eyes that had turned so hard with disgust at the realization of who Logan was. Logan wishes he would've asked the slave's name before he'd told anything else.
The boy was like a phantom to him, having remained unseen for Logan's whole life, until the stables. It was odd to him that the boy seemed to know very well who Logan was, but Logan had no idea who the boy was.
"Father?" Logan's voice floats up across the table, his father raising his head and setting his fork down. Logan had obviously gotten his looks from his father - the man had the same chocolate eyes, the same dark, feathered hair, graying due to age, the same deep-set dimples in his sunken cheeks. His father was a product of laborers turned lords, his body still holding the same small hunch and the same grayish complexion that had come from years working every day in mines. Logan's father had fallen into wealth when he'd married Logan's mother, meeting the woman by chance as he stopped her carriage as it strolled through the small town where he lived to tell her that one of the sprockets of the wheels had broken. The way his mother described it, his father had repaired the wheel valiantly, and she'd fallen in love with him the instant he's smiled up at her and told her the wheel was fixed. It was only a week later that Logan's father had gotten the letter of marriage request from Logan's grandfather, and Logan's poor laborer father had become Lord Mitchell practically over night.
"Yes, Logan?" Lord Mitchell responds. His voice is gravelly and thick, matching his appearance in sound.
Logan swallows hard, not knowing exactly how to lead into the question he wishes to ask. His father is easily angered, a volatile man with an even more volatile temper, and Logan knew that the fact that Logan was his son would not stop Lord Mitchell from getting up and slapping Logan swift across the face if he felt the need to. And Logan's mother would not object. She never did.
Logan clears his throat, his eyes slipping to his father's hands to make sure they're folded up in his lap, and not clenched around something that could evidently lead to causing damage to Logan. It's happened once before, Lord Mitchell slashing Logan across the chest when he was twelve because Logan had disobeyed his orders to leave the library and come down for dinner. Sometimes if he thought about it, Logan could still feel the way his father's fingers and curled around his neck, squeezing the life from his as he slashed his pocketknife down the left side of Logan's chest.
"I saw a - a boy today, a slave, I'd assume," Logan begins, watching his father warily from across the table. His mother's head snaps up as well, her blue eyes sparking with subtle interest. "I'd never seen him on the manor before, and I was simply wondering if by chance you knew who he was?"
Logan held his breath as his father leaned back in his chair, lips pursing as he seemed to mull Logan's question over in his mind. "What did he look like, this boy?"
Logan breathes a sigh of relief, safe from the fury of his father for the time being. "He had dark hair and dark skin and brown eyes," Logan describes. "He looked to be about my age, perhaps a year older. He was trying to break one of the stallions-"
Logan jumps when his father's fist slams down onto the table, wracking the piece of furniture, the wood trembling under the sudden onslaught. "You must never speak to him, you understand me, boy?" Venom runs this through Lord Mitchell's voice, and Logan knows that if he wishes to stay unharmed, he best not question his father's reasons as to why.
"Yes, father," he says meekly, turning back to the now-cold food on his plate.
Logan hates sitting down for dinner.
There's only a few places Logan feels like he can breathe freely, move freely, and talk freely with no fear that he will be reprimanded for doing so. Two of those places are his secret room and his spot in the forest.
The third is the secret garden he has tucked away in a room on the third floor.
Another room Logan had discovered during the many hours he spent roaming the mansion, one that stood at the very east corner of the mansion, as it was covered on two of it's four sides with huge, thick, shimmering glass windows. The glass walls created something like a greenhouse effect, the air temperature of the room always sweltering compared to the temperature of the others.
There's no difference in the flowers in Logan's tiny secret garden than there are in his places in the forests - the pink and purple azaleas, the clean, white daisies, the blood red roses, the innocent blues and yellows and pinks and purples of the sweet little primroses. And the one flower he's most proud of, his single, baby pink Middlemist Red. The Middlemist had been the hardest for Logan to get to bloom, the flower staying budded for season after season until one day the bud opened up, revealing the soft yet strong petals of the Red.
It's one of the rarest flowers in the world, Logan having gotten it when his father had made a trade with a merchant from China, the flower buried, roots and all, in the bottom of the wooden box. The legend was that the Middlemist was bad luck, the Chinese merchant having put it in the cargo with the hope that the goods would spoil before they could make it back to Europe. Logan had found it before his father had burned the box, taking the flower out gingerly, carrying it outside with a pot, filling the pot with soil from the forest and planting the Middlemist inside. Logan moved the Middlemist to his garden that night, when his mother and father had tucked themselves away for bed, Logan safe from the prying eyes and disapproving glances of his parent. The flower had been in bloom when Logan planted it, but over night it'd closed up and refused to open until that one summer day in July when it decided it was time to reveal it's colors to the world.
Logan loved his single Middlemist Red, the flower definitely one of the highlights of his secret garden, but still nothing could compare to the love he had for his simple little primroses. They bloomed every day, every season without fail, being the only things Logan could count on to be there every time when he woke up, completely non judgmental of who he was, of what he was doing with his life.
His life of which, over the passed few hours, had grown to revolve around figuring out who the mysterious slave from the stables was.
Logan knew he'd seen every slave on the manor at least once, from the pretty blond girl who liked to hum to herself while she pulled cotton to the tall blond boy who was always hanging around with the brunette Logan constantly saw in the mansion. James, his name was?
Sitting in his garden Logan has a lot of time to think, to think of the manor and the slaves and their lives, and he hopes that when his father finally leaves the manor to him, he can find a way to thank the slaves for the job they've done, as he's sure his father has never uttered a word of thanks to one of them in his life. It's only ever venom on his tongue, spitting insults and death threats that have kept the slaves working their fingers to the raw just so they can ensure another day alive on the manor. It's a dangerous dance - one misstep and you're kicked out of the ball. Permanently.
Logan sighs, brushing his fingers over the petals of his primroses. He breathes deep, the twisting scents of his garden calming him in a way he hasn't found anything else to be able to yet. It's the scent of safe and the scent of happy that has Logan closing his eyes and laying down under the mass of pots, paying no mind as he lets himself drift off.
Logan starts awake, nearly knocking his head on one of the stone pots that hold his flowers. The thudding that had startled Logan from his nap sounds again, Logan scrambling over to the glass wall of his garden room to peer outside just as the thudding sounds again.
He presses his face to the glass, eyes darting around as he searches for the source of the sound. Darkness has fallen and the moon lights the manor just enough for Logan to make out the shape of a boy swinging what looks like an ax at the base of one of the sapling oak trees, his heart falling as he realizes that the boy is trying to cut down one of his trees, one of the ones he'd planted himself last year from the seeds he'd gathered from the elder oaks deep in the back of the forest.
Logan's heart falls into his stomach. It took him a solid year to get those saplings to sprout, and now some crazed boy with an ax in his hand and obviously a bone to pick is going at his saplings.
Turning from the window with a huff, Logan darts to the door, yanking it open and shooting out into the corridor. There's a spiral staircase down at the end of the other corridor three doors down, the one that Logan always takes to get outside when he's got a wish to get outside without any of the slaves who work inside the mansion or his parents catching wind of him. He takes that staircase now, flying down the cylindrical steps as he races to get outside before the monster with the ax takes down any more of his saplings.
Logan bursts out the huge wooden doors when he hits the ground floor of the east wing, shivering as the cool night air seeps through his light robes. He stops in his tracks, head whipping side to side as he waits for the thump of the ax to tell him where to run to next. His heart is thundering in his ears, his nerves fraying as he waits for the sound of the ax.
His ears catch the sound not a second later, his heart jumping as he sprints to the source. The cold stings his arms through the thin of his clothes, and he finds himself selfishly looking forward to the fire crackling back in the fireplace in his bedroom inside the mansion. It always gets so cold on the manor at night.
Logan breaks into the tiny clearing where he planted his saplings, watching with horror as the ax is swung again, the victim sapling finally toppling over under the onslaught. Logan's eyes widen as he finally sees the face of the boy with the ax - the same slave boy from the stables.
"What the hell are you doing?" Logan screams breathlessly, charging the boy and grabbing the ax, which he realizes now is nothing more than a small hatchet. The slave attempts to rip the hatchet from Logan's grasp but Logan's grip is firm, jerking back as the slave tugs. He's got some strength in him.
'What the fuck does it look like I'm doing?" The slave hisses, trying to pull the hatchet away from Logan again. "I'm taking this stupid tree."
"It's not stupid!" Logan bellows, "It's my sapling! I refuse to let you take it!"
"Are you kidding me?" The boy snarls, his cocoa eyes burning holes into Logan's face. The boy stomps a foot down onto the fallen sapling, Logan cringing as the last bit of it splinters off from the stump. "There's hundreds of trees out here, and you're shitting yourself over one?"
Logan recoils from the venomous edge in the slave's voice. His hands drop their grip on the hatchet. "I planted these. These saplings. And you're cutting them down!"
"Because I'm fucking freezing my ass off!" The slave boy tucks the hatchet under his arm. "You get to live in that fancy fucking mansion with a fire in every room while me and the other slaves are stuck in those fucking cottages, with no heat and one blanket that barely keeps our toes from falling off our feet. We're freezing to death, and here you are blowing your top over a fucking tree!"
Logan swallows hard, his heart warring with his brain. He knows he should let the slave take the sapling - he's seen the slaves' quarters, and the word 'cottage' was quite the stretch. They were at most just huts, with lumpy straw mattresses strewn about the cold stone floor, a fire pit that was never filled with wood being the only source of heat for the slaves to live with. It couldn't be much above freezing tonight, and Logan knew he should give the sapling to the slaves.
But then again, if Logan's father found out he'd allowed the boy to take the sapling, it would surely end up in a severe punishment for Logan, and most likely a whipping to death for the slave boy.
"What's your name?" Logan asks quietly. The slave boy's eyes widen, his brow arching incredulously.
"Why does it matter?"
Logan shrugs. "I'm trying to justify letting you have the sapling, and I figured if I'm giving it to an actual person and not just an angry slave boy, then it makes it a little better on my part."
The slave purses his lips, seeming to contemplate Logan's answer. "Carlos," he says after a minute or so.
"Carlos," Logan repeats the name, ignoring the flush on his cheeks and glad it's hidden from Carlos's eyes from the dark of the night. "I'm Logan."
The bluntness of Carlos's answer has Logan's face falling. It was obvious that, to Carlos, Logan was just an unfortunate part he had to deal with to get what he needed for himself and the other slaves. It didn't matter to Carlos who Logan was - he could stay as the nameless son of the Lord of the manor for as long as Carlos was a slave on it, and Carlos would be perfectly content with that. There was no part of Carlos that desired Logan to be anything more.
"Take the sapling," Logan whispers, his eyes downcast.
Carlos doesn't thank him, just swings the hatchet into another tree before he hefts the sapling up, surprising Logan with the strength he has.
Logan lifts his eyes from the ground just in time to catch Carlos's gaze before the slave boy disappears from the light of the moon.
It's been two weeks since Logan last saw Carlos, the slave boy going back to how he had been before that day at the stables - completely invisible. Logan hadn't seen him once since the sapling incident, and he was beginning to think, with a horror that brewed low in the pit of his stomach, that Lord Mitchell had found out what Carlos had done, and evidently issued a punishment to Carlos that he deemed fit for the crime.
That of which would constitute death, Logan was sure of.
The first signs of summer have begun to weasel their way onto the manor, whether it was the wind whistling through the now full branches of the trees, or the birds that have come to perch on those branches, singing melodies to each other from tree to tree. It's Logan's favorite song - he'd take the songs of the birds over the songs of the musicians who came to the manor on random summer days to sing for a single copper piece. The birds make Logan's spots in the forests so much better, singing him happy tunes as he lay quietly among the flowers, or lullabies as he drifted off in the shade of the trees, breathing the scent of oaks and of the flowers that linger in the still of the air.
Logan breathes in deep, enjoying the birdsongs as he lays in the plush grass of the forest floor, brushing his fingers absentmindedly through the thick green. It's times like these when he can let his thoughts drift, and his thoughts drift to where they seemed to have been drawn to for the last fourteen days - Carlos, the slave boy that has been the only thing to truly stump Logan in all of his sixteen years.
Carlos is like no slave Logan has ever met, completely unafraid to put up a fight to Logan. He was strong headed and sure, willing to risk himself if it meant that he was helping the others. And as much as Carlos frustrated Logan, he couldn't deny that the way Carlos put himself on the line for others was completely admirable.
Logan sighs, opening his eyes to the shade of the forest, gazing up into the canopy of leaves above. The bird songs have cut off, Logan's brow furrowing as he tries to think of the reason the birds have cut off their songs. It's like something has shifted in the atmosphere just enough for the birds to feel the tensity, and it has Logan leaning on the edge too.
Sitting up Logan looks around, squinting through the trees where he can see the light leaking through the trees. It's silent, eerily so, pregnant with an essence that just seems off, and it makes the hairs on the back of Logan's neck prick. Something's off, he can feel it.
Suddenly, the tiny shift in the air turns into an explosion, the birds screaming as they fly out of the trees in a hoard of hundreds. The sound of the crack of a whip echoes through the forest, the sound sharp and menacing and it makes Logan cringe with all the implications the sound brings. Something is going down, and Logan's leaping to his feet to see what it is before his common sense has the chance to stop him.
Sprinting as fast as he can Logan bursts out of the forest in a matter of only seconds, his eyes squinting to slits as they adjust to the harsh light outside of the protection of the trees. The whip cracks again and Logan's head snaps to the side, his breath catching at what he sees.
Lord Mitchell, standing in front of the whipping post, gripping the whip tightly in his fist, eyes hard even from where Logan is standing. He has the slaves lined up in a crooked row in front of him on their feet, except for one black and red haired girl on her knees and crying in pain, obviously the victim of the two cracks of the whip that had already split the calm of the manor's atmosphere.
Logan gasps, knowing immediately Lord Mitchell's reason for gathering the slaves today - the sapling. It was only a matter of time before one of the slaves in charge of upkeep on the manor reported the stump, and it was no surprise that this was Lord Mitchell's way of getting the slaves to talk.
Holding his breath Logan's eyes scanning down the line of slaves, praying he doesn't see that one specific boy standing in line with the others.
His heart plummets into his stomach when his eyes land on Carlos, standing on the opposite end of the line from the girl on her knees.
Lord Mitchell must sense Logan's presence, as his gaze snaps to Logan, their eyes meeting. A cold feeling of dread floods Logan's body like he's been submerged in it, and he has to physically make himself move when his father raises the hand not holding the whip and crooks his index finger twice, beckoning Logan over to him.
Logan's feet move like cinderblocks as he walks the distance over to his father, Lord Mitchell grabbing him by the arm and forcing him to look at the faces of the slaves lined up before him. He hates having to look at them, knowing the punishment they're about to be given. Their dirty, sunken faces and cold, fearful eyes force Logan to keep his own eyes downcast, refusing to look at them.
"Logan, son," Lord Mitchell's voice is low, and Logan can hear the threatening undertone that's almost always twined with his tone.
Slowly Logan brings his eyes up, looking only at his father. He refuses to look at the slaves, refuses to see their faces, pleading with him to save them. "Y-yes, father?" Logan responds meekly.
Lord Mitchell doesn't respond, simply turning his gaze from Logan and back to the slaves, namely the black and red haired girl still cowering on her knees. She lets out a whimper of fear when she catches Lord Mitchell's gaze, her watery eyes falling down to the grass. "Are you going to tell me what you know now, child?" Lord Mitchell hisses, and cold seeps into Logan's bones.
This is about the sapling, he just knows it.
"I s-swear master, I don't know anything!" The girl cries, her face falling into the dirt.
"Stop lying, you little bitch!" Lord Mitchell roars, and Logan cringes back. He's waiting or it, waiting for the crack of the whip, the cry of pain that follows the strike. He waits for it, but it doesn't stop him from flinching as the whip comes down.
The slave girl cries out, the scream laced with agony.
Logan hears the blood hit the dirt instead of seeing it, clenching his eyes shut as the first pitter patter of the blood thuds onto the ground. It's a sound that's all to familiar, as common to Logan's ears as the rhythmic spatter of rain drops on the roof of the mansion. The crack of the whip, the cry of the wounded, the taptaptap of the blood into the dirt.
The girl has stopped crying out and Logan dares to open his eyes and look, regretting the decision in a flash as he sees the slave girl, crumpled, broken, and bloody in the dirt. Her shoulders are still rising, still taking breaths, and Logan has to physically push out of his mind the question of how much longer that's going to be the case.
Deeming the girl now unable to talk, Lord Mitchell turns his attention to the other slaves. "Are you all going to remain quiet, or are you going to tell me who took the tree?" He asks, his eyes narrowing as they scan over the down turned faces of the slaves in front of him. Logan's jaw clenches in fearful anticipation.
The slaves say nothing, keeping their eyes on their toes in the dirt and, from the corner of his eye, Logan can see his father's fist tighten around the whip. "You all don't seem to understand how quickly I can replace you all. It would be of no inconvenience to me to kill every single one of you because you refuse to talk. There are enough of your children on this manor already to take over your jobs. Is that what you all want? To be executed so your children can take over your work and you can all escape these horrible lives you've brought on yourselves?"
Logan can see the effect Lord Mitchell's words have on the slaves - mothers' jaws clench, fathers' nostrils flare in concealed rage, and there's a murmur of silent communication that flows through the line of slaves, and Logan knows that they've made their decision - sacrifice one to save all. Logan realizes with obtuse horror at what their decision means.
They're going to give Carlos up, bring him forward as the one who'd taken the tree, even though he'd done it for the benefit of every other. It was a sick revelation - somebody having to die for saving others' lives.
He sees it out of his peripheral vision, the tiny movement that must be Carlos stepping forward from the line, and without even a millisecond to consider what he's doing, Logan surges forward in front of his father's view of Carlos stepping out of line, "I did it!" spilling from his lips with not even a hint of hesitation.
"What?" Lord Mitchell hisses, his dull eyes sparking with what Logan knows is the threat of violence.
"I took cut down the tree," Logan says, puffing out his chest to try to appear like he's much less afraid of his father right now than he actually is.
Lord Mitchell gazes at Logan with what Logan knows all too well is hate. It's no secret that Lord Mitchell would have no qualms with bringing the whip down on Logan's back, the only thing stopping him being that Logan is the only heir to the manor he and his wife have produced. Still, that doesn't stop him from raising the whip the slightest bit.
"You cut down a tree on my manor without asking my permission first?" Lord Mitchell asks and Logan knows he's treading dangerous water. Lord Mitchell's voice is even and perfectly uninterested, but Logan knows better than to be fooled. His father is trying to lead him into a trap, into saying something that would push even a docile father to bring violent punishment down on his child.
"Yes sir," Logan nods, voice shaking only the slightest bit. "It had a knothole. It was going to die anyways, and the stock in my room was running low. S-so I just cut it down."
Lord Mitchell's gaze is cold, calculating, staring deep into Logan, searching, digging, for something to find the falsity in Logan's statement. It reminds Logan of the Inquisition, and he can't help but wryly think whether or not his father would legitimately revert to using torture methods on his own son to get answers he so immensely desired.
Logan couldn't doubt that he would.
"Do you really dare lie to me, boy?" Lord Mitchell seethes and Logan sees it, sees the way his father is cracking and changing and morphing into the disgusting monster of a man Logan knows he is, one who would take a knife to his twelve year old son simply because he'd thought his son had been disobeying him.
"I'm not lying, Father," Logan says and his voice doesn't waver, Logan thanking whatever lucky stars he has that his father can't seem to see through his facade.
"A fool's game you play, my son," Lord Mitchell says, haunting and void of emotion as his eyes scan once more over the line of slaves standing defiantly in front of him before he turns his shoulder and strides back to the carriage he must've come in, and Logan doesn't let go of the breaths he had been holding until the carriage disappears down the cobblestone path and the clattering of the wheels fades from his ears.
Logan's stiff body finally relaxes as he breathes in again, his eyes falling closed in relief. It's silent all around him, Logan nearly forgetting the presence of the slaves around him until there's the sound of shuffling in the dirt and Logan suddenly becomes hyper aware of the sets of eyes trained on him.
His eyes open slowly, his mouth set in a firm line as he stands under the speculation of the slaves. He doesn't know what he expects them to do - scream, riot, take the chance to kill him now while he's got nothing to protect himself with but none of those things happen. The slaves simply stare at him with blank expressions, eyes soft when they settle on Logan's face.
Slowly, starting from the slave next to the girl crumpled in the dirt, they slaves raise their hands, still staring at Logan as they raise their index and middle fingers of their right hands to their lips, bringing the hand down and pressing it firmly to their hearts.
Logan watches in awe as, one by one, each slave repeats the gesture, kissing their fingers and pressing their hands firmly to their hearts.
Logan's seen the gesture only once before, every day when the mother of the little girl Logan had seen his father whip to death when he was four years old passed the post where her daughter had died.
A solemn gesture of thanks. A solemn gesture of love.
Logan's heart swells and breaks all at once because here he is, the son of the most ruthless man on the manor, being shown the sign of love and gratefulness that he's only seen the slaves give to the most beloved members of their families. He can see it in each and every one of their faces, the flooding of emotion that pools in their eyes everlasting, and Logan knows that there's a dynamic here and it's changed. Dramatically.
The slaves stand stock still, hands pressed to their chests, eyes locked on Logan's face and Logan does the only thing he feels is right to do in the moment - he repeats the gesture back to them.
There's a physical shift in the air as, one by one, the slaves drop their hands and turn away from him, going back to whatever duty they had been doing before Logan's father had called them to assembly and Logan can see the minuscule difference in their posture - the way their shoulders relax the tiniest bit as they realize that they've got somebody on the inside working for them now, and that person is Logan.
One by one the slaves leave, that one tall, blond haired boy scooping the black and red haired girl up into his arms and carrying her away as well, until Logan is left standing alone, spare the one slave that hadn't moved an inch since Logan's father had walked away.
The silence is thick and Logan can almost taste the indecision radiating out of Carlos' body, the slave boy not knowing what move to make now.
"You didn't have to do that." He says and Logan's eyes drop to the dirt. "But thank you."
Logan's eyes shoot up, settling onto Carlos' face and Logan looses his breath faster than he can gain it back because Carlos is actually smiling at him, a tiny, barely there smile that only just reaches his eyes, but it's a smile nonetheless.
"For what?" Logan breathes and he feels idiotic because he obviously knows why Carlos is thanking him, but he really just wants to hear Carlos talk to him some more, voice free of the bite that it had held the first two times that he and Logan had spoken.
Carlos shakes his head. "They feel safe now, you know," he drawls. "You sacrificed yourself for them, and that's huge. The son of Lord Mitchell, stepping up and putting his own ass on the line to keep one of the slaves from being killed. That just doesn't happen, ever."
"I'm not my father," Logan says and his voice is more fervent than he'd originally wanted it to be. "I never will be. I never want to lose my humanity."
"Good," Carlos nods. He raises his hand up like he wants to touch Logan before stiffly dropping it and tucking it into the pocket of his threadbare trousers. "Because you're all they've got now. You're all we've got."
Logan finds himself in the forests less these days, opting now to spend his time in the open spring breezes, taking walks around the manor that last for hours and yet Logan can never walk from end to end in one day alone.
There's subtleties in the way Logan's life has changed since he took the fall for the sapling, whether its from the little woven squares of cloth that display things from sunsets to hummingbirds to foxes and hares that Logan knows the slave girls weave as a hobby slipped onto the silver trays his dinners are delivered on or the little figures carved out of twigs and bark and such that Logan finds tucked into his clothes when they come back from a washing. They're little reminders, keepsakes from the slaves that let Logan know they still thank him every day for what he did for them, and Logan's grateful for every single one that he receives.
These are the subtleties in Logan's life that had changed, and yet there's one change in Logan's life over the weeks that has been absolutely massive.
His relationship with Carlos.
Logan never expected - he'd hoped, so fervently hoped but never actually expected - that he and Carlos would actually become somewhat of what Logan would call friends. It'd started the day after he'd sacrificed himself for the slaves, Logan having wandered out from the mansion to spend time in the forests like he usually did that time of day. Carlos must've seen him come outside and he'd abandoned the work he was doing to run up to Logan and ask him if he'd like to go for a walk.
"I have somebody that'd like to meet you," he said. "Back at the Colonies."
Logan looked at him with wide eyes, like he couldn't believe that Carlos was actually standing in front of him, all caramel skin and hard muscles and deep dark eyes and it took Logan a while to actually choke out a response. "W-what?" He sputtered.
Carlos gave a tiny smile. "The Colonies. There's somebody who wants to meet you - well, thank you is more like it. For what you did for us."
"You're...you're speaking to me," Logan breathed and Carlos gave a snorting noise.
"Am I not allowed to?" Carlos said wryly. "You said you would never be like your father, so I just figured you wouldn't mind me talking to you."
Logan blinked. "No, that's not what I mean. You, uh, you just didn't seem to be the most fond of me. It doesn't make sense that you're actually talking to me like we're friends."
Carlos crooked an eyebrow, expression one of mocking. "Who would've thought," he said, "that the son of the lord of the manor is concerned about how a slave thinks about him. Never thought I'd see the day."
"I'm not exactly the prime example of what a Lord's son should be though, am I?"
Carlos smiled. "Exactly. So are you going to come, or not?"
Logan had simply nodded, allowing Carlos to take him on the long walk back to the Colonies. Logan had never noticed before how the manor seemed to become less and less of the beauty Logan knew it to be, and more and more of a rundown slum, the grass browning and flowers wilting and giving off a vibe of heavy sadness, like there was a fog of misfortune that hadn't been able to be lifted for years and was slowly sucking the life out of everything, creeping further and further up the manor and taking the life away as it went.
Logan himself had never been to the Colonies, the rundown shacks only shadows on the horizon from Logan's bedroom window. He'd spent hours of his childhood just looking, thinking about the lives of the slaves and wondering if they were happy with the lot they were given in life, or if they were just as miserable as he was. He liked to think they were miserable too, as cruel as it was. Logan simply liked the thought that he wasn't the only one on the manor suffering.
After walking for what seemed like hours of short, clipped conversations and thick, awkward silences Carlos led Logan into the Colonies, the quick bustling of the slaves seeming to stop in an instant once Logan stepped in. The Colonies were called the Colonies because the tight-knit community inside the manor was just like a small nation colonized by a large country. The Colonies were under the control of Lord Mitchell and the manor, yet they still worked as if they were living on their own, not taking very kindly to those not born into the Colonies, no matter who the intruder was.
Though Logan had saved the life of several slaves, seeing him on their own turf had brought forth the slaves' primal instinct of self preservation, behaving like startled animals as Carlos brought him forward. They kept their distance, scuttling away whenever Logan came too close.
Carlos had weaved through the Colonies, around the shacks until he found the one he wanted, which Logan figured belonged to him and whoever he was living with. Carlos had led him inside and, when he finally got up the strength to look up and around the shack he came face to face with a woman of about thirty, with shiny red hair and a face creased with lines that shouldn't have even been there yet from years of strenuous labor.
She had introduced herself as Jennifer, Carlos telling him that she was his adoptive mother, being there for him after the death of his parents. Logan tried to ask Carlos what had happened to his parents but Carlos had cut him off with a stern look and a harsh growl telling him not to get into it. Jennifer had her own son named Kendall - the tall, willowy blond slave Logan knew from the manor - who was the closest thing to a brother that Carlos had.
Jennifer had grabbed Logan's hand and looked him in the eyes as she'd said thank you. Thank you for saving Lucy's life - the slave girl Lord Mitchell had whipped multiple times before Logan had stepped in - thank you for giving the slaves hope that someday, the manor would fall into the hands of somebody who would do it well and do good for the slaves.
Logan had been awestruck, not expecting what had come out of Jennifer's mouth. He wasn't used to being praised, having been raised by constant insults and angry remarks about how he wasn't good enough to be born into the family he was and being made into some sort of hero by Jennifer felt foreign and scary and Logan wasn't quite sure how to react to it, so he'd settled with the infallible you're welcome.
After that, Logan found himself spending a lot more of his time at the Colonies.
His parents were completely belligerent as usual, not giving a damn where Logan went as long as he gave them the pretense that he was going out into the woods and would be back in time for supper. He carried his grandfather's pocket watch along with him to keep track of the time. Logan hated using the thing, always being reminded of how Lord Mitchell had given it to him when he was six years old and had not yet become the greatest disappointment the Mitchell family had ever seen.
Whenever he was there, Logan liked to busy himself with work to be done around the Colonies, whether it was watching over the little children that scampered around and played in the mud without a care to throw out to the world or patching up the tiny little holes in the walls of the shacks where the water from the rains rolling into the manor leak through. It seemed that Carlos was always just around the corner, offering Logan assistance or a tidbit about life in the Colonies when Logan needed it.
Carlos turned out to be quite the young man when Logan finally got to know him, the slave carrying himself in a way that was almost regal and Logan liked to think to himself that perhaps Carlos had been royalty in another life. Logan had nonchalantly mentioned this to Jennifer when he'd been helping her patch up the thatch roofing on the shack and she'd just looked at him with an expression in her blue-gray eyes that harbored sadness and regret and made Logan wonder what about his statement had made her feel as such.
"Carlos is a complicated case," was all she'd said in reply, letting the air around them turn thick with silence for the rest of the time they worked, as Logan couldn't bring himself to ask further about what she could've possibly meant.
He figured he could ask Carlos about it, but even though they had grown to be somewhat friends, Carlos was still volatile and angry and wild and Logan was apt to think that he wouldn't react very well to Logan trying to delve into his past.
That didn't mean Logan and Carlos didn't converse at all, however.
"We're planning a Midsummer's festival," Carlos says nonchalantly as he plucks up one of the cotton plants in the field. Logan's walking beside him, helping the Latino collect what he harvests into a small wicker basket. "It's like a festival to celebrate the coming Autumn and such. It's going to be tomorrow night."
"Do you celebrate the coming of every season?" Logan asks and winces, thinking it sounded much too judgmental. "I didn't mean that, I-"
Carlos smiles. "It's alright," he assures. "But yeah, we do. It's this old thing that our ancestors used to do. They'd celebrate the Gods of each season and make offerings in hope that each season would be a great one. We don't do the offerings any more but we still have the festivals. It's a Colony thing, I guess."
"Oh," is what Logan settles for because he suddenly feels like he's intruding on some sort of sacred cultural tradition of the Colonies and no matter how much time Logan spends there, he knows that he's not a part of the Colonies at all.
"You're going to come to the festival, right?"
Logan blanches, blinking rapidly and Carlos chuckles lowly at what Logan assumes to be his expression. "I couldn't possibly intrude-"
"Nonsense," Carlos waves his hand, short fingernails crusted over with soil, palms equally as dirty as he flaps his fingers in Logan's direction. "The kids love you, you help out around the Colonies, hell, you're practically one of us already. I bet a lot of people would be disappointed if you don't show."
Logan swallows, nodding slowly, hesitantly. He knows he's good with the children and he helps out a but when he can, but still, that can't be nearly enough to get passed the iron curtain the slaves cast around their small little community, not at all. From what Logan's seen he knows it's not easy for outsiders to be accepted into the folds of the Colonies. "Are you sure? I know there's still a lot of the slaves that don't trust me."
Carlos' eyes narrow and Logan backtracks, trying to think of what he said that tweaked the boy the wrong way. He nearly smacks his palm against his forehead when he realizes he'd used the word 'slave' out loud. Carlos had told him flat out the first day he'd taken him to the Colonies to refer the them as a whole as 'workers,' as the word 'slave' was considered a shameful and distasteful brand to the workers. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say that, it just slipped-"
"Stop." Carlos says sternly and Logan cuts off with a flush. "That's not a problem. What the problem is is that you don't think that the other workers will want you at the festival."
"They won't. I'm not a part of the whole, Carlos, I'm an outsider. I'd be intruding."
"You're not fucking intruding!" Carlos quips and Logan flinches. "Just trust me, okay? It'll be fine. The workers would be more offended if you didn't go than if you did."
Logan is silent, letting Carlos' words sink into him, down into his flesh and his muscles and his bones because that's how Logan thinks things fully through. He lets the words saturate his whole body, let them flow into his blood and be spread and digested and he looks every single one through properly for a flaw, for a clause in between the letters that was implied but not directly said.
"I don't know," Logan murmurs and Carlos just rolls his eyes.
"So you'll be there?"
"I'll be there."
Logan was absolutely sure he was going to go to the Midsummer's festival, completely sure that he would go and celebrate as a part of the Colonies like he'd been a part of the family for his whole life, but on the night of the festival, Logan was seriously doubting whether or not he actually should.
Life in the Colonies was a sacred tradition, every person having grown up surrounded by every other, every child raised by every adult and every child growing into an adult to have children of their own to repeat the pattern. Logan wasn't sure about how many generations had been raised on the manor, how many generations had been born into the wicked life of a slave under the cruelty of the Mitchell family but still had enough life and glee inside of them to celebrate the coming of seasons like they would celebrate tonight.
He was intruding, Logan knew it. It was like the story of the fox in the chicken coup that his nanny had told him when he was very young, about how a young, naive fox crept into a farmer's chicken coup one day simply hoping to befriend the birds inside, only to be shot to death by the farmer because the stereotypes of his kind made the farmer believe that the fox had entered the coup to harm his chickens, not befriend them. Logan would be the fox, shot to death simply because the actions of his family before him had given him a horrid stigma.
Logan knew Carlos would be disappointed in him, angry that he'd broken his promise, but Logan just couldn't go. He didn't belong there, no matter what Carlos said about the slaves wanting him to be there. He didn't belong.
Logan sighs, looking out the window of his bedchambers to check the sun on the horizon. The Midsummer's festival started at dusk, at the way the sun was hovering just over the line of where the Earth seemed to drop off told Logan that the festival should be starting right then. He'll apologize to Carlos tomorrow, say he fell asleep and by the time he woke up it was dawn, he'd simply dropped the ball-
The door to Logan's bedchambers creaks open slowly and Logan stiffens, expecting his mother or father to be the one sticking their head inside. He doesn't expect, however, to see one of the blond slave girls from the manor who Logan had learned was named Josephine, to be the one peeking around the door.
"My Lord?" She calls softly and Logan looks up from his bedsheets to meet her eyes. "Are you coming to the festival?"
"Jo," Logan sighs, "I can't."
Jo echoes his sigh, stepping slowly into his bedchambers. "Why not? Carlos told everybody that you were coming. They're all excited, you know. It's not every day that a Lord's son wants to come to a slaves' celebration."
"Jo, I-" Logan tries but Jo cuts him off, and Logan has to admit her persistence is admirable.
"No buts." She states simply. "I know you want to go. You have no fun in your life, none at all. Don't throw away a chance to break the monotony simply because you're frightened that a few measly slaves won't approve of you." Jo gives a small, knowing smile when Logan sighs in defeat and she murmurs, "I'll see you there," as she slips back out the bedchamber door.
Logan stands on the edge of where the manor merges into the Colonies, hands tucked into his trouser pockets and his eyes on his feet, ears perking at the sounds of music strummed on home-made guitars drifts his way. The festival has already begun and he's missing out, not able to build up the courage to breach the line. He's still a leper, no matter how many times Jo urged him to come and celebrate; she'd still give up and joined the festival alone.
Logan's eyes shoot up from their focus on his shoes when he hears somebody approaching. He purses his lips at the frown on Carlos' face, they boy's brow furrowed and expression set in something that's a mix of frustrated and angry.
Carlos stops short, maybe ten feet in front of Logan, and his eyes are hard. "What are you doing out here?"
Logan's face falls. "You said-"
"Why aren't you joining the festival?" Carlos continues like Logan hadn't spoken and Logan stops short. "Why are you just standing here like you've lost yourself?"
Logan opens his mouth to speak but it's like his throat has been stuffed with the very cotton that grows on the manor, and all that Logan gets out is a gust of a breath.
"Jo told me," Carlos says, "About how you still think you're not welcome here."
"I'm not," Logan manages, voice light and brittle as glass. He's still got that cottony feeling in his throat.
"Bullshit," Carlos snorts and his chocolate eyes roll. "Everybody - well, practically everybody - has accepted you, Logan. You're part of the Colonies now. An honorary slave, if you will." Carlos's voice lightens at the end and Logan can't help but give a tiny smile at Carlos' attempt to joke with him. Logan appreciates it. "Come on, then."
Carlos gestures to the cluster of rundown cottages just out of Logan's reach and Logan nods. Carlos waves his hand in the universal gesture of get on with it then, yeah? and Logan rolls his eyes, finally moving from his little hiding spot on the border of the Colonies and into the mass of cottages, Carlos following close behind.
The music gets louder and Logan and Carlos venture into the Colonies and Logan's breath hitches because the Colonies look amazing.
Every inch of the Colonies is covered in Logan's favorite flowers, all no doubt plucked fresh from the depths of the forests of the manor. Roses, lilacs, chrysanthemums, daisies, and those ever-beautiful primroses, soft and baby pink and their petals sway in the tiny breeze. The flowers are everywhere, scattered across the ground, over the thatch roofs of the cottages, wound into intricate garlands that hang over trees and the withered, wooden doors of the cottages, and from Logan's vantage point he can see that there's flowers scattered over the clean, glassy surface of the pond that lays smack in the middle of the Colonies. All of the slaves are collected on the water's edge, tossing even more handfuls of the flowers into the water and Logan can hear the gentle song that they're humming and he feels like he's heard it somewhere before.
It's utterly breathtaking, and Logan can't really think of anything else to say besides "Wow."
"'S gorgeous, isn't it?" Carlos breathes, voice ablaze with adoration. "Only took a day, can you believe it? The things we can do when we set our minds to it."
"It's - wow," Logan says and Carlos chuckles.
"You said that already," he jokes. Carlos raises his arm and flicks his fingers at the people gathered around the pond, singing and laughing and tossing flowers into the water like they haven't a care in the world. Logan can't help but wish that these people could have this every day of their life. "Let's go over there, yeah?"
Logan simply nods, bending over to pluck one of the primroses up from the ground and tucking it behind his ear. Carlos raises an eyebrow at him, questioning. "They're my favorite," is the only explanation Logan gives and that seems to be enough for the other boy because he too picks one of the primroses up from under his feet and tucks it behind his ear.
Both Logan's and Carlos' heads whip to the side to see the source of the voice that'd called Carlos' name, Logan's expression turning into a frown and Carlos' into a bright grin as Kendall Knight comes bounding over, all blond hair and long limbs and green eyes, smiling brightly as he jogs up to where Logan and Carlos are standing.
Logan doesn't know what to think of Kendall exactly, as the blond had been one of the slaves that hadn't exactly taken to Logan during the time he spent in the Colonies, choosing rather to work and watch Logan from afar than come close and talk to him like most of the other slaves liked to do. Kendall was ace at the poker face and thus whenever Logan did meet the blonde's gaze his expression was smooth, unreadable, and it made Logan queasy in a way he couldn't explain to think that the person who was the closest thing Carlos had to a brother didn't like him.
"Kendall, hey!" Carlos greets the blond, pulling him into a quick one-armed hug. Carlos gives Kendall a once-over and laughs and Logan doesn't catch on to what's funny. "Did Guitar Dude take your guitar from you again?"
Kendall chuckles. "Nah, I gave it to him. Wanted to sing instead."
"You can sing and play though."
"Sharing is caring, Carlos."
"Yeah, yeah," Carlos waves Kendall off with a flick of the wrist and a roll of his eyes.
"I'm confused," Logan murmurs and he doesn't mean for Kendall to hear it but he does, his gaze flicking over to Logan who's suddenly ten inches tall.
"I'm sorry, what?" Kendall's tone isn't harsh but it still makes Logan cringe underneath it.
"I - I don't - know what you two are, uh, talking about?" It comes out sounding like a question and Logan berates himself mentally.
Kendall's lips twitch at the corners but other than that his face stays frustratingly smooth and Logan swears he couldn't read Kendall even if his thoughts were written clear as day across his forehead. Kendall would still find a way to hide them, no doubt. "Oh, 'Los and I were just talking, y'know how it is."
"Kendall, don't be a dick," Carlos interrupts and Logan's eyes snap to his face, suddenly hard.
"I'm not being a dick." Kendall growls.
"You are," Carlos interjects. "I've known you for fourteen years. I know when you're being sarcastic and when you're just being a dick. And you're being a dick."
"Fine, maybe I'm being a dick," Kendall huffs. "But for good reason. And you know it."
Something snaps in Carlos' eyes and he shoves Kendall, the blond stumbling back a few good feet. "Logan is nothing like his parents, Kendall."
"He's still a Mitchell."
"Only by blood."
"Just shut up, okay?" Carlos hisses and Kendall's jaw clenches. "I know you're bitter but that doesn't give you the right to make judgments about Logan based on what his family has done in the past."
"You're being an imbecile," Kendall grumbles. He shoves his hands in the pockets of his ratty brown trousers and turns his back to Carlos, strutting back the way he came.
"He doesn't like me," Logan says quietly when Kendall is out of earshot and Carlos sighs beside him.
"'S'not that he doesn't like you, he's just looking out for me." Carlos sighs again. "He's just - weary of Mitchells, I guess. All things considered."
"What do you mean?" Logan's brow furrows.
"It's nothing, okay?" Carlos says and Logan knows that look - Carlos is shutting down, putting his wall up and tucking his emotions away because no matter how close of friends he and Logan grow to be, Logan is still the son of the Lord of the manor and Carlos is still the slave and they'll always be like water and oil - they just don't properly mix.
And if Logan thought he was okay with that, he thinks that he's suddenly not.
When Logan was young, he used to sing. He used to sing to himself and to the birds and to his nanny, trilling lullabies or melodies he'd make up on the spot, and it made him happy. It was a simple happy, made him feel like honey and sugar and he was content with what he had in it. The only person he ever sang to had been his nanny, the beautiful blond girl with the glasses and perfect smile who would hum along when Logan sang to her as they walked along the cobblestone paths that spanned the whole expanse of the Mitchell's manor.
Logan never sang around his parents, fearing that his father wouldn't approve and thus he'd be punished again, whether with words that stung like needles in his palms or with violent physicality that left Logan with real bruises that his nanny was forced to ignore when they appeared the one day.
Logan never slipped up, never let sweet melodies spill from his lips in the presence of the Lord or the Lady while they sat in silence at the dinner table. He'd always been careful, careful to never let the songs playing in his head leave his head, and he was very, very good at it.
Until one day, when he heard a song sung so beautifully that he couldn't control himself and sang it out loud, unthinkingly, at the dinner table.
Logan and his nanny had been out for another walk, shielded from the blistering sun by an umbrella as they strutted by the cotton fields where the slaves were working diligently in the heat. The slaves always sung while they worked, humming old folk songs that Logan would come to learn had been passed down orally by ancestors for as long as the people could remember, thus the medley of songs flooding into Logan's ears was nothing new.
Logan remembers it as clearly as if it had happened only yesterday, remembered so clearly the way the brown, curly-haired slave girl sang a song Logan had never heard before, her voice strong and sharp and beautiful and it captivated Logan in a way where he didn't even think twice about tugging his nanny to a stop and listening for what possibly could have been hours as the slave girl sang song after beautiful song.
He'd sang the lyrics to quietly to himself the whole way home, his nanny doing nothing but give him worried glances as he skipped into the mansion just in time for dinner.
They'd been eating a roast, the only sound in the dining room being that of breathing and the clatter of forks and knives as they scraped against plates and against teeth when Logan opened his mouth and thoughtlessly began to sing, to sing the song of the slave girl and it was like he was in a trance.
A trance that he was sharply pulled out of when his father's knife clattered to the floor and his mother's to the porcelain of her plate. Logan stopped in the middle of a word, eyes wide with horror as he realized what he'd done. He had sung, sung in front of his father and mother, sung a song that he'd gotten from a slave.
Logan was yanked up and out of his seat barely seconds after realizing what he'd done, pinned to the wall of the dining room with the Lord's hand around his throat and Logan just stopped breathing on his own, to terrified to even move.
His father offered no explanation. It wasn't needed.
He only gave a painful slap across the face that left Logan crumpled in a heap on the floor, silent tears streaming down his cheeks as his mother looked on with a blank face, going back to eating her roast without a word.
Logan didn't go on another walk passed the cotton fields until the bruise on his cheek had gone away and when he'd finally walked by again with ears open, every slave in the field had stopped singing. Logan had been crushed.
It'd happened that way for eight years - every slave going silent whenever Logan would pass by the cotton fields, stopping right in the middle of a song if they had to, waiting until Logan was out of earshot before they began singing again, the only thing giving them away being the movement of their previously-still lips.
The slaves didn't sing in front of him for eight whole years, but now, as he stood hand-in-hand with Carlos and Jennifer at the edge of the Colonies' pond the slaves sang loud and they sang clear, Logan standing, mesmerized by the harmonies and the melodies and the voices and he's never heard anything so beautiful in his life and he's grateful, so grateful and for the first time since he stepped into the festival, he feels like he belongs.
When the Midsummer's festival begins to come to an end Logan finds himself back at the pond's edge, staring at his glassy reflection as he tosses the petals he plucks off a daisy into the water, so light they don't even cause a ripple. He hums quietly to himself, alone for the first time since he'd entered the festival, Carlos having gone off to fetch some of the spirits that one of the slaves who worked in the mansion had stolen from the wine cellar. Logan grins to himself, thinking of what his father would do if he'd found out the alcohol had been stolen, yet his father would never venture down into the cellar to find out. Lord Mitchell was a hypocrite in every sense of the word, the type of person who would be furious about something being stolen that he never would have known was stolen in the first place unless somebody told him straight that it had been.
"This is really good stuff," Logan turns to see Carlos walking towards him, a grin on his face and two cups in his hands. Carlos sips from the one in his left, holding the one in his right out to Logan who takes it from him with a small smile of his own.
"It's probably been down in that cellar for decades," Logan hums appreciatively as he takes a sip of his own. He's never been a wine person, but the alcohol in his cup is such a perfect mixture of sweet and bitter on Logan's tongue and Logan takes another long draw, closing his eyes as he swallows.
"Don't take too much now," Carlos chastises but his voice is light, playful. "Don't want you going home wasted."
"I don't even want to go home," Logan sighs and grimaces because it's true, so true. He hates that he has to leave when the night is over, has to sneak back into his bed and wake up in the morning and face his parents and pretend that he hadn't been here, hadn't sang and laughed and had the best night of his whole life with the slaves. "I wish I could stay here forever."
"But you can't." Carlos says and Logan has to look up, has to look at his face because his voice just sounds off, and when their eyes meet Carlos' have turned hard and a bit angry and Logan doesn't know why. Logan needs to know why.
"Carlos," Logan says and it's so quiet Logan doesn't know if Carlos heard it. He continues anyway. "Carlos, what did my family do to you? Did they - did they do something to your parents?"
Carlos' mouth gnashes into a hard line and his shoulders square and Logan know's he's shutting down. Logan reaches out and places a hand on Carlos' shoulder and when the boy jerking away from his touch Logan just grips harder. "Don't." Carlos hisses.
"No, you don't," Logan snaps and he surprises both himself and Carlos with the burst of confidence and Logan figures his best bet is to just run with it. "Don't shut me out. If we're ever really going to be friends, you have got to trust me."
"Friends?" Carlos spits, suddenly very angry and Logan knows it's because he's pushing him, pushing him further than Logan's ever dared to before, and Carlos doesn't like it. "We can't ever be friends, seeing as if your parents find out, I'm fucking dead. Literally dead."
"I'd be fucking dead, too, Carlos!" Logan curses and it sounds so odd in his voice. "Do you know what my father would do to me? He'd beat me and he'd beat me until I was dead and he wouldn't even think twice about it. You're not the only one in danger, here!"
"God Logan, just fuck off of it!" Carlos shouts and he throws his cup of wine into the pond, the red of the alcohol coloring the water like blood until it dissipates.
"I'm not going to leave this alone, Carlos!" Logan throws his own cup in exasperation. This feels so foreign to him - shouting out his anger instead of keeping it bottled inside for fear of what would happen if he were to let it out. It feels so foreign and it feels so good, so good to finally have that release.
"Why the fuck not?!"
"Because it's the one thing that's keeping us from actually being friends! You shut down every time I try to talk to you about your parents!"
"Because it's not your place, Logan! I don't have to tell you anything!"
"If you're trying to protect me or something you can stop, because I don't need it! I don't need you to protect me!"
"I'm not trying to protect you! Fuck!"
Logan screams, wordlessly, trying to release the frustration building in his chest. He has the sudden urge to hit something and it scares him because he's never felt that way before - then again, he's never been so worked up, so angry before. "Then just fucking tell me, Carlos!"
"They killed my parents, okay?!" Carlos screams and Logan watches him snap, watches as the dam breaks and the tears flood down Carlos cheeks, watches as Carlos crumples to the ground and sobs into the dirt. "They killed them right in front of me."
Logan freezes, all of the anger instantly draining out of him into a pool at his feet only to be replaced with another fit of anger, only this time it's not directed at Carlos at all.
It's directed at himself, at his family, at the sadists he has to call his parents.
Logan drops to his knees next to Carlos and places a hand on Carlos's back, yanking it away when Carlos flinches. "Carlos, I-"
"Don't," Carlos stops him. His voice isn't angry anymore, isn't threaded with hate and venom and fury. It's simply hollow, like Carlos can't even put in the effort to feel anymore. "Don't say you're sorry."
"I am sorry, though," Logan murmurs. "I'm sorry that my parents are monsters. I'm sorry that I couldn't do anything to stop it."
"That's ridiculous, Logan," Carlos lifts his face from the dirt and there are tear tracks cutting through the mud caked to his cheeks. "You were only four years old then. You couldn't have done anything."
"Why did they do it?" Logan asks and he feels horrible for pushing but he just wants to understand. "Were your parents slaves?"
Carlos laughs once, humorlessly. "You've really been told nothing about the history of this manor, have you?"
Logan shakes his head. "Only that it was left to my mother when my grandparents died."
Carlos shakes his head. "That's not even true, Logan." He says. "Your parents have been lying to you for your whole life."
Logan's brow furrows. "What are you talking about?"
"This manor," Carlos sits up, curling in on himself as he rests his chin on his knees. He looks so small, so helpless and it makes Logan's heart clench because Carlos isn't supposed to look this way, ever. He's supposed to be strong, supposed to be the one who can never be broken down. But of course, Carlos isn't superhuman. Carlos has weaknesses and Logan's obviously found his biggest one. "This whole manor belonged to my family before it belonged to yours."
"What?!" Logan blanches. "No, that's-"
"It's true." Carlos says bluntly and there's no trace of a lie in his voice at all. "The Garcias had control over this land for centuries. They had more money than the wealthiest aristocrat in London, but they weren't gallant about it. They were kind.
"Your grandparents had begun to raise a manor right on the border of my family's. They were angry that they couldn't expand their manor because of my family. There was always tension, but it never boiled over until your parents took possession of the Mitchells' manor. Your father was greedy, sick with the wealth and he'd decided he'd stop at nothing to take the manor from my parents.
"They gathered up their slaves and raided the manor one night. The slaves broke into the mansion and kidnapped my parents. I remember waking up and sitting up in my bed when I heard the window shatter. I didn't even realize what I was hearing until one of the slaves came into my room and took me, too.
"The slaves dragged us out by the pond - this pond - and tied out hands behind our backs. Your father was there, and he had a knife. I remember - I remember him saying that if my parents had just given up the manor, he wouldn't have to do this. And then -" Carlos' voice chokes off and he goes silent. Logan doesn't push him, just waits for Carlos to get himself back together. Logan's basically in shock himself, finding out that the only history of this manor that he had known had been nothing but a lie to cover up the real, gruesome way that the Mitchells had come in possession of such a grand manor. Carlos takes in a shaky breath and runs his dirty hand through his hair. "And then he raised the knife and - and he slit my mother's throat. The blood - splattered on my face and I just remember screaming when my mother fell forward. Lord Mitchell, he...he laughed. He laughed at the fact that he'd just killed my mother right in front of me." Tears began to run down Carlos' cheeks again. "And then he killed my father. Stabbed him in the neck.
"I was so sure he was going to kill me, too." Carlos continues, "But he didn't. He looked me in the eye and he said I own you now, boy. You work for me, and God, I was terrified. Six years old, cold, and covered in the blood of my parents. I remember wishing he'd kill me, just so I wouldn't have to live and work for this - this monster." Carlos smiles wryly. "But no such luck. Twelve years later and I'm still here, on this fucking manor as a slave, working for the man who murdered my parents and didn't even think twice about it."
Logan's speechless, throat numb and mind blank and he simply just doesn't know what to say, doesn't know how to tell Carlos he's sorry. Sorry for everything his parents had done, sorry that he was to young to stop it, sorry that he never even knew the real truth. He can't comfort Carlos. He doesn't know how.
Logan falls to his knees, silent as he wraps his arms around Carlos's shaking shoulders. He says not a word, just squeezes tight and breathes into Carlos' hair and for some insane reason that seems to work, seems to calm Carlos that tiny little bit so he's not choking on his sobs, just crying silently into the shoulder of Logan's jacket, ruining the fabric with saltwater tears. He doesn't worry about what time he'll have to sneak back to mansion tonight, doesn't worry about what he'll have to tell his parents when he sits down for breakfast in the morning.
Right now, Logan just doesn't care.
Carlos is more important.
It's a rare day now that Logan finds himself alone in the forests, accompanied only by the winds whistling through the trees and the rustle of the leaves because of it. He rarely spends time in his secret room or in his garden with his primroses anymore, and he can't help but feel a little guilty about that. He loves his primroses - he'd hate to abandon them, but he simply just doesn't know how to manage his time nowadays.
He's constantly in the Colonies now, pitching in with work like he'd done before the Midsummer's festival nearly a month ago, but now he's more than just a helping hand around the Colonies - he's part of the Colonies.
It seemed that when he'd finally broken down that wall around Carlos that'd kept him from really burrowing under Carlos' skin he'd been accepted, slowly but surely, into the intimate folds of the Colonies. Even Kendall had warmed up to him, moreso from the urging of his little sister, Katie, and his mother, who had taken a liking to Logan the first time they met.
It was easy to see how Kendall was Carlos' best friend - he was furiously protective of the other slaves, hated any influence from the outside, and, underneath it all, had a soft center that once you got into, you stayed in. Kendall and Carlos were practically the same person, like two halves of a whole. They were the brother the other never had, and instead of being jealous, Logan was grateful. Grateful that Carlos'd had somebody to care for him after the murder of his parents, that Carlos hadn't been alone after all. Logan was sure that Kendall would've been strong enough for Carlos when Carlos' whole world had just fallen apart from the seams. Yes, Logan's very grateful for Kendall.
The time Logan didn't spend working he spent in the tiny cottage that Carlos shared with Kendall and that brunette slave he'd run into inside the mansion the first day he met Carlos - James. It was easy to see that James didn't exactly fit into the dynamic that Kendall and Carlos shared, always opting to spend time outside of the cottage when Carlos and Kendall were inside, always saying he had some sort of work to do inside the mansion that would keep him occupied long into the night. Carlos and Kendall never questioned it, and Logan couldn't help but feel like they preferred to have James out of the cottage when they were in.
"He doesn't try to fit in with us. We don't try to make him," was all Carlos had said on the matter when Logan had nonchalantly brought it up one day while they lounged lazily on Carlos' lumpy, pitiful excuse of a mattress. Logan hadn't questioned Carlos further.
It's a Saturday afternoon and Logan is with Kendall and Carlos in the cottage again, sitting Indian-style on the dirty floor while Carlos and Kendall play a quick game of Rummy on Carlos' lump of a bed with a deck of cards stolen from the mansion. Carlos is losing and Logan finds the way his brow dents as he focuses endearing.
There's a lot of things Logan notices about Carlos nowadays that he hadn't noticed before - like the way his lips curls slightly when he's angry, how it quivers when he's upset, that lovely way his brow dents when he's concentrating on something extra hard, like a simple game of Rummy with his best mate. They're little ticks, things a person wouldn't notice of they didn't spend bounteous amounts of time staring at Carlos' face.
Logan spent way too much time staring at Carlos' face. He couldn't help himself.
Logan is pulled from his thoughts when Carlos shouts angrily in defeat, throwing the cards in his hands down onto the bed. Logan snickers and Carlos turns to him, glaring. Logan laughs harder.
"Don't laugh," Carlos hisses, but it's weightless. "Let's see you try to beat Kendall in Rummy. He's like, unbeatable."
Logan cocks an eyebrow, looking from Carlos to Kendall and back to Carlos. "Is that a challenge?"
Carlos narrows his eyes and Kendall grins like a Cheshire cat, green eyes sparking with interest. "Oh, it's definitely a challenge," Carlos goads and Logan hops up to his feet immediately, sauntering over to the bed. "Move, please," he says politely, gesturing to the place on the floor where he'd just been sitting and Carlos rolls his eyes, slipping off the bed and sitting down cross-legged on the floor.
Kendall gathers the cards in his hands, still grinning wickedly as he shuffles and deals out. "You ready to get your ass whipped, Rich Boy?" he sneers. Logan smirks.
"You ready to lose, Blondie?" Logan shoots back. Kendall lets out a low whistle, and the game starts.
By the time the last card falls into the deck, Logan is the one grinning like a Cheshire cat and Kendall's just blanching. They'd played to an even five hundred and Logan had sailed to victory, hitting five hundred before Kendall even had three. Carlos is sitting wide-eyed on the floor. Logan hadn't just beaten the supposedly 'unbeatable' Kendall at Rummy - he'd annihilated him.
"I really should've bet something on this," Logan snickers and he collects the cards up into one, neat deck. He thinks Kendall might be in shock. "Like, you and Carlos had to go streaking around the Colonies or something. Could've had a nice laugh, don't you think?"
Kendall breaks from his stalemated expression to snort, rolling his eyes. "Beginner's luck," he mumbles.
"Or maybe he's just better at Rummy than you are, Kendall," Carlos suggests and Kendall shoots him a glare that could burn down a building.
"Never," Kendall grumbles.
"Tell that to your two-eighty-six," Carlos chuckles and Logan can't help but laugh along. He loves this, loves this easy banter, loves that he has friends to joke with in the first place. He'd never thought that he'd actually want friends at all.
Logan passes the deck to Kendall who tucks it neatly back under his mattress. "Is it sunset, yet?" Logan asks and Carlos shrugs, getting up off the floor to peek out the single, tiny window of the cottage. There's a frown set on Carlos' lips when he turns around and Logan knows that it means it's time for him to go, time for dinner.
"Why do you always have to go back there?" Carlos asks and he sounds dejected, so dejected. "You hate it."
"It's the only way I can keep doing this, Carlos," Logan explains, standing up from the bed and stretching his muscles. "It's like, don't ask, don't tell, as long as you're back for dinner. As long as I'm at the dinner table when the meal is served, my parents don't question what I do."
Carlos sighs but nods - he gets it. Logan's just as trapped as he is. "You'll be back tomorrow though, yeah?"
Logan smiles and nods because yeah, he'll definitely be back tomorrow.
Logan doesn't know exactly how the requirement for him to always be back by dinner started, didn't know why his horrid excuse for parents were so adamant about keeping up that requirement when they couldn't give any less of a fuck about what he did with the rest of his day. Or the rest of his life, for that matter. But yet every day, there he was - sitting at the dinner table with his napkin folded neatly over his lap while he ate in uncomfortable silence with his monstrous excuses for parents.
He's got a routine now, finally managing to organize his time in a way that lets him get everything done in a day that he wants to. It's a weird feeling, having to plan his days. He's never, ever been so busy to have to develop time management skills, but what with dinner and Carlos and the Colonies, his secret garden and his sweet, sacred places in the forests, Logan has no time any more. But he manages.
Logan's supposed to be at the Colonies right about now, helping Carlos do whatever it is that he's doing today, but instead, he's preparing a carriage, one big enough to fit two people but inconspicuous enough not to draw attention as it makes its way down the cobblestone paths into the Colonies. Logan chooses the small, deep mahogany two-seater and a single, small mare to drive it. He hooks the mare into the carriage himself, petting her neck when she whinnies and shakes and settles into the equipment. He fetches one of the stable-hands to drive it, and the boy smiles at Logan and Logan figures he's seen him about the Colonies some day or another.
"Where to, Master Logan?" The boy says politely, climbing into the driver's seat and grabbing ahold of the reigns.
"Just Logan," Logan corrects. "And to the Colonies, please. We're picking up a friend."
"Are we picking up Carlos?" The boy asks and Logan can't help but be impressed by his insight.
"Yes, actually, we are," Logan nods, "I've got something different planned for today."
The boy just nods, gesturing for Logan to get into the carriage, and Logan does. He settles easily into the plush seat, watching out the small window as the boy starts the mare into a slow trot, her hooves clicking methodically against the cobblestones as she travels.
It's a much faster trip by carriage than it is by foot to the Colonies, Logan waving out the window to the slaves he sees working the cotton fields, pleased when they offer a smile and a wave back. He calls to the boy driving to stop when he sees Kendall working beside his mother, right where Carlos normally would be, but yet there's no Carlos to be found.
Logan hops out of the carriage, jogging over to where Kendall is working in the field, dripping with sweat because yeah, it's sweltering out today. "Hey, is Carlos around?"
Kendall looks up at him and smiles. "Nah, he's doing maintenance today. I think he's somewhere in the south end of the gardens."
"The gardens?" Logan pouts. "The south end itself is three miles long! I'm not gonna find him while he's in there."
"What do you need him for, anyways?"
Logan bites his lip. "I have something to show him. Something I haven't shown anybody else and today's the only day I can show him because Father is out on Mission and so I don't have to worry about him finding Carlos in the mansion-"
Logan cuts himself off as a sly look creeps onto Kendall's face. Kendall's not smiling at him any more - he's smirking and has an eyebrow raised and a glint in his eye and oh. "I don't mean that, Kendall!" Logan snips. "Jeez, your mind is in the gutter! Me and Carlos aren't - we're not - together."
Kendall purses his lips. "You want to be though, yeah?"
Logan freezes. Kendall's just staring at him now, his work forgotten at his feet. "I don't...I don't feel that way about him."
It started out small, a tiny tingle in his chest whenever Carlos smiled at him or touched him or really payed him attention at all. It grew from a tingle to a quiver to a tremble to a shock when Logan realized that maybe, just maybe, he liked Carlos a little passed the point of being platonic. And Logan'd dealt with that, for the sake of keeping Carlos as the friend he had. His feelings weren't worth it, weren't worth losing Carlos completely over. After sixteen years of not having Carlos in his life at all and then having him become such a huge part in what seemed like no time at all, Logan wasn't sure he could go back to how it had been before.
"He doesn't like me like that," Logan says and his voice is quiet, brittle like glass.
Kendall drops his eyes to the ground, picking up where he'd left off in the field. Logan sighs because Kendall's confirmed it, confirmed what Logan knew all along, really. There's nobody that would know what's going on inside Carlos' head better than Kendall - he practically lives in there; if Kendall says Carlos doesn't feel something, then Carlos doesn't feel it. Simple.
"Don't think you know what Carlos is thinking," Kendall says and Logan's eyes lift up from where they'd fallen to his feet.
"Huh?" Logan questions. Kendall shakes his head.
"Carlos isn't an open book. Nobody can read him. Not even me," Kendall says and now, now Logan gets it.
"In the gardens, then?" Logan asks even though he's already completely sure - he's always completely sure, always on his game when it comes to Carlos. Kendall nods.
"He should be close to done by now," Kendall murmurs and Logan mutters his thanks, climbing back into the carriage, the boy in the driver's seat snapping the reigns and the mare heads on with a sharp whinny.
Logan finds Carlos in the southwest end of the garden, shirtless and covered up to his elbows in dirt from the landscaping. He's got a wheelbarrow full to the brim with weeds and leaves and dead plants and Logan doesn't hesitate to watch the way his shoulders flex when he has to haul the barrow up to move it to the next place.
The clack of the mare's hooves catches Carlos' attention and he looks up with the slightest bit of fear marring his expression before he realizes the person in the carriage is Logan. His handsome face splits in a wide grin and Logan giggles - actually giggles - because Carlos has got dirt in his teeth, too.
Logan hops out of the carriage when it rattles to a stop, jogging happily up to Carlos. Carlos abandons the gardening tools and attempts to wipe his hands off on a rag - no, his shirt - before he greets Logan with a quick hug.
"So, uh, what brings you around?" Carlos asks and Logan flushes.
"I, um, I wanted to know if you could come with me for a little bit?" Logan curses himself for sounding nervous, sounding like this is the first time he's ever spoken to Carlos in his life. Carlos just grins, wiping his arms off a bit more with his shirt before straightening it out and throwing it on over his head and Logan snorts because Carlos looks ridiculous in a wonderful way, wearing a white shirt that's definitely brown now from the amount of dirt that's been wiped off on it.
"I'm not dressed to casually now, am I?" Carlos snickers and Logan rolls his eyes.
"You'll do," Logan cajoles, gesturing over to where the carriage is parked on the cobbles at the edge of the garden. "Shall we go now? Or do you want to keep standing here in this heat?"
Carlos rolls his eyes, throwing his arm around Logan's shoulders and Logan's heart flutters in his chest because Carlos is never ever this touchy with him. Kendall's earlier words ring in his head and Logan can't help but have that tiny bit of hope budding in his stomach and a skip in his step has he and Carlos saunter back over to the carriage.
"I've never ridden in one of these before," Carlos confesses when they're finally in the carriage, sitting across from each other in the small space. The steady clack clack clack of the mare's hooves and the occasional smack of the reins is a steady melody for Logan and Carlos to conversate to.
"Really?" Logan says and Carlos nods, once.
"I've always wanted to, honestly," Carlos continues. "Always thought it'd be fun, you know? I just - never got the chance."
Carlos chokes up a bit and Logan knows exactly why, knows he's being reminded of the reason why he'd never been able to ride in a carriage before now and Logan is hit with a tsunami of guilt and hatred because of his parents, because of the sagacious people he'd had the misfortune of being birthed to. The only thing that keeps the guilt of his parents' past discrepancies is knowing that he is nothing like them, that he'll never be anything like them, and that when they die, Logan will inherit the manor and finally, finally be able to rebuild the damage his parents had done.
"I'm so sorry," Logan says and his voice is barely above a whisper. "I wish I could take back what my parents did."
"But you can't," Carlos says wryly. "The past is the past, and you can't change it. No matter how much you want to. You've just got to move on, make new strides. You've got to do right by the future, you know?"
"Yeah," Logan murmurs and that's the extent of that conversation. Carlos and Logan fall into a thick silence, staring out the small windows on each side of the carriage and not bothering to catch the other's eyes. There's a heavy weight along with the quiet between them, something almost tangible, and Logan's getting more and more anxious as he thinks over the implications of what that weight could be.
The carriage clacks along the cobblestone paths for maybe only five more minutes before it's rolling to a halt and Logan knows that they've reached the mansion. Carlos looks up at him for the first time since their conversation cuts off, a small smile playing on his lips. "Are you going to give me the grand tour?"
Logan snorts. "No, not today," Logan says as he stands and hops out of the carriage, squinting against the harsh light of day. Carlos jumps out beside him, stretching out with his arms above his head and Logan has to look away.
"What are we going to do, then?" Carlos asks, drawing Logan's attention back.
"I wanted to show you something," Logan says. "Nobody knows about it but me."
"Oh, a secret?" Carlos raises an eyebrow. "Aren't I special?"
"Well," Logan snuffs, "I figured since you've let me in on all of your secrets that I should let you in on mine."
Carlos takes a second to ponder this. "Seems fair," he grins.
"Come on, then," Logan signals the slave boy to drive the carriage back to the stables and when the carriage is gone he walks up to the grand staircase at the front doors of the mansion, Carlos following closely behind him.
"I've only been in here once," Carlos says nonchalantly when Logan opens the huge double doors and they step inside. "When I first became a slave here."
"Don't think about that," Logan chides gently. "This is supposed to be a good thing now, not a chance to reminisce over painful memories. I - I don't want you to be in pain." Logan's voice drops to a low whisper.
Carlos purses his lips. "It's just hard," he says quietly, "being here for the first time since my parents were killed. Just - brings some things up to the surface."
"I apologize," Logan says. "We don't have to go in if you don't want to. What I wanted to show you it's - it's not that important."
Carlos brushes Logan off with a wave of his hand. "Nonsense," he says, "I'm a big boy, I can handle it. Lead the way?"
Logan gives a tiny smile and holds out his arm. Carlos snorts but nonetheless loops his arm in Logan's and let's Logan lead him into the mansion.
Carlos follows diligently behind Logan as Logan walks them quietly through the mansion, only slowing once or twice to drag his hand over a painting on the wall or the door handle of a room so long abandoned that Logan can't even remember what once was or is inside.
Logan doesn't even have to pay attention to the directions he walks, knowing the way to where he's going better than he knows the back of his hand. He just leads Carlos through winding hallways and up spiral staircases passed enormous bay windows until they reach the door of the room that he wants. He stops and Carlos stops too, looking to him expectantly as he lays his hand on the doorknob.
"I've kept this place secret for a long time," Logan confesses, tightening his grip on the handle. "Nobody else knows about it but me." Logan smiles sheepishly, pushing on the doorknob and he hears the mechanism open with a click and he slowly opens the heavy door and the light of his secret greenhouse garden floods into the corridor.
"Wow," Carlos breathes as he steps around Logan and inside, shielding his eyes from the too-bright light. "This is - wow."
Logan nods, a proud grin stretching his face. "I take care of it all on my own," he says, smiling in fond remembrance of the long hours he spent hauling water for the plants and picking out weeds and trimming buds and just preening the flowers themselves.
Carlos just nods, not saying a word as he starts to move, starting at the west end of the greenhouse garden and making his way to the east, letting his hands drag over pots and soil and stems and leaves and petals, stopping to closer investigate one or two of the prettiest plants that catch his eye.
Carlos stops the longest on the last bundle of flowers he reaches and Logan feels a swell of pride for his primroses, his pretty little blue, white, and pale yellow darlings. "Primroses," Carlos breathes.
Logan sidles up to Carlos, running a gently finger of the delicate petals of his prims. "They're my absolute favorite."
"Why?" Carlos asks in a whisper, seemingly mesmerized by the room around him and Logan understands, having gotten lost in wonderland among the flowers many a time before.
"They never leave," Logan explains. "They're here, every single day. They're the only constant in my life I've ever had. I've never had any friends and call me pathetic if you may, I guess I just made friends with my prims. Do you know what it's like to just spend hours talking to a flower? You can just vent about anything, and they don't talk back. They just sit there, looking pretty, and listen. I needed that in my life. Still do," Logan amended on quick thought.
"Wow," Carlos says again and Logan's beginning to think that's the only word his brain is able to process at the moment. "You really talked to flowers?"
Logan groans and rolls his eyes and Carlos cackles. "Judge me, go on ahead."
"I'm not judging you," Carlos promises. "I've just never heard of that, s'all."
"I was a very lonely child," Logan says blandly.
"Are you still lonely now?" Carlos asks and he's suddenly very close, so close that Logan can feel his breath ghosting over his lips. Logan blinks.
"No," Logan breathes and his voice is a feather, floating weightlessly from between his lips. "I'm happier now than I've ever been. I've got a family at the Colonies and I've got -" Logan cuts off suddenly, having to pause and pick up the courage that's just barricaded itself on the floor at Logan's feet. "I've got...you."
It's Carlos that blinks now, his features smoothing into something that looks a bit like surprise and determination. "Do you know what primroses symbolize?" He asks, completely out of the blue because Logan thought that they were over the primrose conversation already.
"Huh?" Logan blanches. Carlos presses his lips into a hard line.
"Do you know what primroses symbolize?" Carlos asks again, his voice measured and waiting and it hits Logan like a crack of the whip because he does know and Carlos is asking him and Kendall's earlier words ring in his head and oh fuck because everything, everything makes sense now.
"I can't live without you," Logan answers in a single breath and he watches as a fire lights in Carlos' eyes and grows and burns so bright, so bright, and Logan wonders if it's going to consume him.
It all happens very quickly then - Carlos is close, so close, pressed chest to chest with Logan and nearly lip to lip, eyes burning and hand twitching like he wants to touch but is not quite sure he can and Logan's screaming yes yes you can touch you can but his voice is trapped in his throat and refuses to come out and he doesn't think it ever will, not ever again because Carlos breaks his own resolve and reaches up and cups Logan's cheek and he says "I think - I think I'm in love with you."
And for what could have been minutes, hours, or days, Logan's whole world freezes because "I think I'm in love with you, too."
And then they're pressed lip to lip for real and Carlos is kissing Logan like he's trying to breathe the air from Logan's lungs and it's magnificent, Logan's first kiss.
Carlos moves them backbackback until Logan's pressed up against the only thing in the room that's not covered in plants and the doorknob is digging into his lower back but he doesn't care, not at all, because Carlos's tongue is pressing in between his lips and licking against his own and there's definitely, definitely something warm and half-hard pressing against Logan's upper thigh.
Logan rolls his hips up on instinct and Carlos lets out this strangled noise into his mouth and Logan thinks yes, that's it, and does it again.
And then, like before, everything moves very, very quickly.
They're pressed together hot and heavy against the door, lips sliding wetly together and it doesn't even phase Logan when their bodies start rocking slowly together and that warm half-hard press turns into a hot, hard, demanding presence against his thigh and he can't even complain because his own lower half is in the same state and he's desperate, rocking urgently against Carlos at the same pace that Carlos is grinding against him.
White flashes behind Logan's eyelids and he shudders bodily against Carlos and it's barely seconds before Carlos is breaking from his lips and biting his neck, hips quaking as he works through the pleasure and tries to get his composure back.
They slip bonelessly to the floor wrapped tightly around each other, panting into damp skin. "Hey," Carlos murmurs and Logan lets a lazy grin spread across his face.
"Hi," Logan drawls, dragging the tips of his fingers over Carlos' dirty, bare arms, watching in fascination as goosebumps raise over the mocha skin.
"So," Carlos says and his voice sounds a bit sleepy, "I've decided that I definitely love you."
Logan chuckles wryly. "Good," he murmurs and Carlos' sleepiness must be contagious because Logan's own eyes are starting to droop. "Because I definitely love you, too."
Carlos' eyes meet Logan's and inside of them Logan sees a challenge. "Don't come back for dinner tonight," he says and Logan knows that this is Carlos' way of confirming what he should already know.
Logan takes Carlos' hand, brings it to his lips, and kisses each knuckle. Carlos smiles.
It's been two weeks since Logan's been back to the mansion for dinner and frankly, he's never felt so satisfied in his life. He spends every waking moment he can with Carlos at the Colonies, only going back to the mansion to nurse his flowers in his greenhouse room and to sleep. Even then, he still asks Jo to water his plants sometimes and sleeps in Carlos' shared cottage in Carlos' bed most nights.
He hasn't seen his father's face in those two weeks either and he feels strangely liberated, like sin has been washed from his soul and he's finally pure, he's finally free. For the first time in his life, there's no Lord Mitchell in the back of his mind, no weight, no fear holding him down. It's like being with Carlos has made him strong, like every kiss Carlos places on his lips makes him that much more robust.
"You will have to go back eventually, you know," Carlos murmurs into Logan's collarbone as they lay wrapped around each other in Carlos' - their - bed.
"I know," Logan sighs, snuggling deeper into Carlos' warm body. "I'm trying to draw it out as long as I possibly can."
"I'm surprised your father hasn't hunted you down, yet," Carlos snickers. "He seems like the type to enjoy hunting humans for sport."
"I think he's actually done that before," Logan jokes. "It wouldn't surprise me if he had a human head on a plaque hanging up in one of those abandoned rooms in the mansion."
"He probably does," Carlos murmurs. "You should go back tonight."
"Because tonight marks two weeks," Carlos explains. "I wouldn't try to push it any further passed that."
Logan hums, pressing a kiss under Carlos' jaw. "You're right," he mutters. "I'll go tonight, yeah. Stay for dinner like the good old times."
"What good old times?" Carlos muses.
"I was being facetious, love," Logan says.
"I know that," Carlos hums. "I'm not an idiot."
"You sure about that?" Logan snorts. Carlos punches him in the shoulder.
"Just shut up and give me a kiss, yeah?" Carlos demands.
And Logan does.
When Logan finally enters back into the manor it's with an eerie silence that instantly twists his stomach with a queasy feeling; he doesn't like it. He can usually catch the sounds of the slaves that work inside bustling about but he can't even hear that, and it makes him nervous.
He'd come in the west end entrance closest to the dining hall and it only takes him five minutes to get there, walking quickly, and when he turns the corner into the extravagant room, what he sees is not at all what he expects.
His mother is sitting alone at the huge, empty wood table, head held in her hands, and Logan can tell by the shake of her shoulders that she's weeping. "Mother?" he calls gently and she her head snaps up, dull brown eyes boring into his.
"Logan," she says and her voice is as dead as her eyes. "You're here."
"Yes, Mother," Logan murmurs, crossing his arms awkwardly behind his back. "Is dinner going to be ready soon?"
"There's no dinner tonight," she hisses and Logan is taken aback by her sudden ferocity.
"W-why?" Logan asks, almost afraid to speak again.
"Ask your father," she growls and then she's throwing herself out of her seat and stomping out of the dining hall, leaving Logan gaping and alone in the vast room.
Logan's more confused than ever now, wondering aloud why his mother had acted so angrily, why his father was no where in sight, why, for the first time in all the years Logan could remember, there was no dinner sitting atop the huge dinner table, getting cold as he awaits his father's permission to start eating.
What confused Logan the most though was his mother's weeping - in all of his years he had never, not once, seen his mother weep. Not a single time.
Logan sighs, turning on his heel out of the dining room, planning on going straight back to the Colonies and to Carlos, rapt with the idea of cuddling on Carlos' lumpy mattress with Kendall sitting on the floor playing Solitaire and wolf whistling at them whenever he catches them kissing. Logan's mind is set until he remembers that nobody's been sent to water his plants in the greenhouse room today and he's horrified because he doesn't want his prims to wilt.
Logan makes a quick right down the hall and up the winding staircase to the second floor, walking fast so he can water his flowers and get back to the Colonies and his preferred life. He picks up into a jog, desperate to just be done and get out and he feels a bit guilty about it because he feels like he's abandoning his flowers and his greenhouse room that was the only thing that made Logan happy for the longest time and he feels bad, as ridiculous as it sounds.
His jog stays a steady pace as he travels down the corridors, his greenhouse only a few minutes away. The only sound is the muffled thumping of his feet on the carpet as he moves down the corridor and the occasional creak of the mansion or howl of the wind.
That is until Logan passes by what he thought was an abandoned room just as a raw, distinctly sexual moan cuts through the door and Logan stops dead in his tracks.
Logan strands deathly still, ears perking, waiting, and again there's a moan and Logan's peaking with morbid interest. Slowly, his body leans in toward the door until his ear is nearly pressed against it and he feels like a bit like a pervert. His hand rests on the doorknob but he has no intent of opening the door until he hears a voice along with the moaning and his blood runs cold and he's flooded with a sudden anger.
That voice. Lord's Mitchell's voice.
Without thinking, Logan pushes the handle down and fiercely rips the door open, the door slamming against the wall and three people freeze.
There, on the bed is Lord Mitchell, fully clothed save for his open fly, with a naked brunette boy on his lap, back to Logan, legs spread wide as he's being fucked. Lord Mitchell's eyes flick up to where Logan's standing in the doorway and his face twists into something of malicious fury and the boy on his lap finally seems to take notice that he and Lord Mitchell aren't the only ones in the room anymore, and when he turns to peek, Logan nearly chokes.
"What the fuck?!" Logan curses and James jumps, looking frantically to Lord Mitchell for guidance but the lord just shoves James off of him, the slave falling with a squawk and a thud to the floor, frantically trying to cover himself.
Calmly, Lord Mitchell tucks himself back into his trouser, straightening his clothing. He swings his legs over the side of the bed and James has to duck to avoid being kicked in the face. Logan's father turns to him with violence in his eyes and for the very first time in his whole life, Logan squares his shoulders, clenches his jaw, and stares right back.
"Get out." Lord Mitchell says and it's obviously an order that he fully expects Logan to obey.
"Does Mother know about this?" Logan spits and Lord Mitchell's face twists in shock before he smooths it back to deadly.
"Get out, Logan." Lord Mitchell hisses and this time he takes a threatening step forward. Logan doesn't step back. Lord Mitchell's nostrils flare. His expression darkens. "Have you forgotten who you're speaking to, boy?"
"I know exactly who I'm speaking to, Father," Logan spits and he surprises both himself and Lord Mitchell with his tenacity.
"You will not speak to me like you are my equal," Lord Mitchell says and Logan knows that every word he speaks is laced with a threat.
For the first time in his life, Logan isn't scared.
He isn't scared of the implications of what his father his going to do to him if he disobeys, isn't scared of the fury in evil eyes or the sneer on Satan's lips. He's not scared - he thinks of Carlos and Kendall and the Colonies and he's not scared. He refuses to be scared any more.
"You don't scare me," Logan says lowly and Lord Mitchell's eyes narrow. Keep pushing, they say, and I'll kill you with my own two hands. "You don't own me anymore."
Lord Mitchell screams in Logan's face and out of the corner of his eye, Logan sees James flinch in fear. He's obviously very aware of Lord Mitchell's temper, of his rage, of the death he's not afraid to deal with a whip or the palm of his hand. Logan feels sadistically satisfied.
"I'll own you for the rest of your fucking life," Lord Mitchell snarls.
"Will you?" Logan challenges. "Because right now I think I own you, Father. I know your dirty secret."
"You won't fucking tell a soul," the Lord steps forward again, hands clenched into fists, trembling in anger. "I'll -"
"You'll do what? Kill me?" Logan gives a sharp, sarcastic chuckle. "That threat is getting a bit old, don't you think? You've been using it since I was a child, after all. You're grasping at straws and it's my turn now. I've got the perfect threat now. All I have to do is confirm Mother's suspicions and she'll tell everyone how you're not only a filthy adulterer but that you've been fucking a slave -"
Logan's rant cuts off as Lord Mitchell's fist slams into the side of his face, his nose, sending his head whipping violently to the side. Logan cries out in pain. He can feel the blood begin to trickle down his lips and chin. He stumbles back against the wall.
Lord Mitchell is staring down at him, darker than the Devil. He's blank, expressionless, and he glares.
Logan spits blood in his face. Lord Mitchell jerks back in shock.
Logan cups a hand over his bleeding nose and mouth, standing straight. He meets Lord Mitchell's wide eyes, keeping his own blank, turns defiantly on his heel, and walks out the door.
Logan's nose and mouth have stopped bleeding by the time he makes it back to the Colonies. He barges into the cottage without preamble.
Kendall and Carlos are sitting on the floor again, playing Rummy like they usually do. Carlos looks up from the game and smiles brightly at the sight of Logan until he really takes it in. He's up onto his feet immediately and Kendall follows barely a second later.
"Fuck, Logan, what happened to you?" Carlos demands, concern creasing his features. He prods gingerly at Logan's bruising face and Logan winces - it's already quite tender.
"You're not going to believe what I walked in on," Logan says blandly, moving passed Carlos to sit down on the bed. Carlos and Kendall hover close, waiting. "I walked in on my father fucking one of the slaves."
Carlos snorts in disbelief and Kendall rolls his eyes. "The hypocritical son of a -"
"It was James."
Silence falls over the room, so heavy Logan can feel it.
"..What?" Carlos hisses. "Come on Logan, tell me you're joking -"
"I wish I was," Logan says. "But no. I walked in and my mother was in the dining hall alone and she was crying and when I asked her what was wrong she said to ask Father. I was going to leave when I forgot I hadn't watered my flowers and while I was going to the greenhouse room I heard noises coming from one of the abandoned rooms and when I opened the door all I see is James spread over my father's lap with his cock up his ass."
Logan glances up at both Carlos' and Kendall's faces and they're both equally dark, sparking with fury just under the surface. "The fucking whore," Carlos spits.
"That's why he's been getting such special treatment, then?" Kendall laughs humorlessly. "Because he's been fucking the Lord? God damn -"
Three heads snap around as the door to the cottage is thrown open a second time and James stands in the doorway, looking a mix of anger and disdain. His expression changes turns somewhat frantic when he sees Logan on the bed already, Carlos and Kendall staring at him with a dark burning in their eyes.
The room is so tense it's tangible, and for a few moments, horribly, horribly silent.
Nobody makes a move. They sit and they stare, three pairs of eyes boring into one, mouths pressed into tight, angry lines. Their breathing is tense, deep. Measured. James is the first to shift, coming forward into the cottage and it's the tiny step he takes that shatters the atmosphere.
Kendall lunges at James, swinging quick and landing a swift punch to the side of James' jaw. James cries out in pain, gripping his jaw and scrabbling with his own fist outwards.
James stumbles back until he hits the wall and his eyes are wild, furious. "What the fuck, Kendall?!"
"Really, James?" Kendall sneers, "You're really going to ask that?"
James' eyes narrow. "He told you, then?"
The question is directed at Carlos rather than Kendall, and Carlos sits up straighter. "Yes, he did."
"You gonna punch me, too?" James sniffs.
"Not right now," Carlos laughs once, hard and humorless. "What I am going to do though, is ask why?"
"Is it really that hard to figure out?" James scoffs, "I let Lord Mitchell fuck me because it made my life easier. I wasn't going to sit around and let my life be shit when I had a way to make it halfway decent."
"You're a fucking hypocrite, you know that?" Carlos says. "How many times did you sit here with Kendall and I and bitch about how much you hated the Lord? And yet you were off sucking his cock when we weren't looking? What are you James, a cheap slut?"
"You have no fucking right to judge me, Carlos!" James hisses. "You're doing the same fucking thing!"
Carlos jerks back, an incredulous expression on his young face. "Excuse me?"
"You're fucking the Lord's son!" James yells. "Don't tell me that your life hasn't gotten better since you started seeing Logan."
"Watch your fucking step, Diamond," Kendall hisses from his perch by the bed.
"Why should I?" Questions James, "He's doing the exact same fucking thing that -"
"No I'm not!" Carlos growls. "See, the difference with you and me is that you're a disgusting slut that lets himself get fucked for benefits where I actually love Logan. There's a difference there, James."
"Doesn't matter if you love him," James snaps. "You're still fucking trash. You've been trash since your parents -"
James doesn't get to finish, as Kendall is lurching forward and slamming his fist into his mouth. James sputters, spitting out blood from between his lips. "Leave," Kendall hisses. "Leave, and don't you fucking dare think about coming back."
James doesn't say a word, opting to simply straighten up with his hand still over his bleeding mouth. He rips the door open and, with a pointed glare at Kendall and Carlos, walks out of the cottage, slamming the door shut behind him.
The night is quiet, so are the Colonies, and Carlos doesn't remember a thing before he fell asleep, wanting to forget the madness of the past few days.
He's awoken abruptly by a sound in the room, too close to the bed for comfort and he tries to sit up to investigate but he is pushed back by his shoulders. Carlos gasps, his hands immediately forming fists and then he can't move, the body moving to sit on top of him on the bed and his arms are being held above his head and Carlos has never felt this sort of panic, the sort of fear that takes over your bones and paralyzes you.
He tries to scream and then a cloth is coming over his face, with a smell too sweet to be normal. He trashes around on the bed, screaming into the hand against his mouth and he can feel his eyes fill to the brim with tears, he's not sure if it's desperation or the fear or the reaction to the wet cloth but he can feel himself lose it, his body becoming lazy and heavy. Carlos half sobs, feeling himself become weak for good and he catches a glimpse of dark hair before his eyes close, losing consciousness.
Carlos' eyes open slowly, trying to take in his surroundings. The first thing he notices are the sounds, of animals and birds and crickets and they're so close that it frightens him. He can barely move, his body feeling so much heavier than before but he tries, putting his hands on the ground, which is dirt, definitely dirt, and notices that it's all over his chin and sweaty neck. It's awful and he tries to lift himself up, but then he hears it.
He freezes on the spot, his body not able to move an inch when he feels a hand grabbing onto his clothing, flipping him over just like that and Carlos gasps, his back hitting the hard ground with too much force. He looks up and he's pretty sure he can feel bile rise up in his throat.
The man takes one long, sweeping look over his body and Carlos writhes as if that will help him get up. He's so angry, he's furious, a deep heat rising inside him that he can't control and he wants nothing more than to kill this man, this monster of a person. The man stares down at him, studying him, and then his foot is colliding with the side of Carlos' ribs and Carlos yells, trying to cover his body by turning over when another kick comes, straight at his ribcage this time and he yells as loud as he can, his throat burning with it but it's not loud enough, he's too weak to even make a sound.
The pain is excruciating and he tries to keep his breathing steady but it hurts, it hurts too much to take in a full breath and he starts to shake, realizing how cold he is and he wraps his arms around his stomach, breathing hard and too fast against the dirt.
The Lord chuckles again. "Do you know why this is happening? Do you have any idea?"
Carlos glares at him, sending daggers with his eyes. He has to get up. He has to do something, there must be something he can do. He starts to look around frantically, trying to find some sort of weapon. A stick, anything.
The man starts to walk a circle around him and Carlos closes his eyes, his hands shaking from pure anger. It's liquid and oozing through his chest and he could scream because of it.
The next kick comes unexpectedly, the impact so brutal that Carlos' body nearly bounces off the surface and he grunts, loud and long into the ground until his throat aches, his jaw clenching. He will not cry. He will not cry.
Lord Mitchell grabs at the front of his shirt and lifts him half off the ground, their faces inches apart and Carlos snarls in pain, his toes curling with it. He's breathing hard, staring at the man in front of him with bared teeth, which does nothing to help his situation. Mitchell uses his free hand to pull back Carlos' head by his hair and Carlos' mouth falls open in pain, his chest shaking.
"It's because you're a little harlot."
And Carlos' breath hitches because suddenly, he gets it. Lord Mitchell knows, he knows about him and Logan and everything and who could have told him? How could he know? Then it hits him again, an actual gasp leaving his mouth.
The anger that takes over his body is so intense that he wants to start screaming and crying but he doesn't. Instead, he bares his teeth and spits, his hands digging into the man's sides and stomach and he starts throwing out punches blindly, his shirt ripping in the process of trying to push away, but he can't. Lord Mitchell slurs something that sounds like, "You little shit, when I'm through with you," and pins him to the ground.
Carlos can feel the tears now, they're hot in his eyes and he can't move again and Lord Mitchell is pulling down his clothing, baring him to the cold night sky and Carlos is yelling, screaming, his body writhing on the ground as if he could move, his hands being pinned to the ground by one strong one. He's shaking, shaking all over and his legs try to kick but they're so weak, like dead weights.
"I fucking hate you, I hate you," Carlos keeps saying, over and over as if it will change anything and Lord Mitchell pins his legs down with his own weight and punches him, once, twice, over and over, until Carlos can taste blood and feel it run down his cheeks and neck and he's sure his lips are split open and his nose is broken.
He doesn't notice he's crying, moaning for help until he feels fingers inside him, dry and rough and so painful that he screams, his back arching even through his swollen, probably broken ribs.
"You deserve this," the man tells him and Carlos sobs when the fingers leave because he knows what's coming and everything hurts, he has never felt this broken, could he even feel this broken?
The man uses his spit to make it better for himself and as he pushes in, Carlos starts to grunt with his sobs, his eyes closed so tight that he feels his face shake, pleading to whatever can listen that it will he over soon, please, let it be over soon.
He thinks about the cottages, so far away from him now, thinks of it as his home. He thinks about Kendall and that makes him cry harder, his teeth bared and the blood tastes awful in the back of his throat and he wants nothing more than to hug his best friend and sleep against him in this cold night and curses Kendall for being such a heavy sleeper because none of this would be happening if Kendall had just woken up, it Kendall had heard. He thinks about all the friends he has made, sleeping peacefully while Carlos is being dragged, tooth and nail, through Hell. He thinks of James, even, probably sleeping naked in the Lord's bed, completely oblivious to what he's caused.
He thinks about Logan, and his throat nearly closes up. This was meant for him. This was meant for Logan to take.
This was meant to be taken with gentle fingers and loving hands, not with brutal fists and clawing fingernails and hands shoving Carlos' battered body into the dirt.
Carlos can do nothing but wait, the pain so excruciating he could barely breathe, and when it was over his inner thighs felt wet, and he knew what it had to be.
Lord Mitchell looks down at him, his face sated and almost happy and Carlos stares back at him, his cheeks wet from the tears but no longer crying. He no longer feels bad for himself.
"Clean yourself up," says the Lord, throwing Carlos' pants on top of him and he smirks. Carlos blinks, then murmurs, "You'll get what's coming to you."
Lord Mitchell takes him by his throat and Carlos shivers, his own hands coming to cover the fingers. "Will I? Did you forget that I own you? You're alive because of me, you ungrateful little shit."
"You killed them," Carlos answers, and his body shaking with pain and the man laughs at him.
He squeezes Carlos' throat until the boy can't breathe, then says, the most important words of all: "Stay away from my son."
A click sounds in the still air and Carlos has barely a second to consider what the click could have been before there's a blade being thrust inside him, right underneath his ribcage. He screams out and Lord Mitchell clamps a hand over his mouth as he rips the knife out of Carlos' flesh and Carlos has to fight down a gag at the sound of his blood pattering against the dirt. Lord Mitchell pulls his hand from Carlos' mouth and spits, right in Carlos' face.
Then he's standing and walking away and Carlos waits until he hears the door of the carriage slam and the horse thud away. He is alone, and has no idea how far he could be from the cottages, naked and bleeding out. He touches the wound in his side gingerly, wincing away from the pain of it.
He reaches into the pocket of his pants and pulls out the small, wrinkled flower and squeezes it in his bloodied palm, swallowing hard and letting the tears come again. The flower brings him hope, and his faith comes flowing back into his body. Carlos doesn't know how he's getting back home, but he knows he will get there. He is not alone. He is linked to Logan.
I'll get through this, Carlos thinks, still shaking and too weak to move. He thinks of Logan again and squeezes. We will get through this.
Carlos closes his eyes, the primrose clenched in his fist, and lets heavy blackness take him over.
The first thing Carlos feels again since he went numb is swaying. Smooth, even sways like the steps of somebody who's too tall, overly lanky, unsteady on his legs. The second thing he feels is pain, sharp and stabbing all over his body, and his lower half is burning. He's burning but he's cold, so cold and he feels wet and he doesn't understand why. The swaying is making his head spin and a waves of nausea flow through him and he has to bite his lips to keep from vomiting. It hurts.
Carlos groans and that seems to catch the attention of whoever's arms he's in, as their hold tightens and their breathing picks up and they gasp a relieved, "Carlos?!"
That's Kendall's voice, this is Kendall's body. "Kendall-"
"Don't," Kendall orders and he sounds like he's trying not to cry, his voice cracking in random places. Carlos' brow furrows - Kendall never cries. Why would Kendall be crying now? "You're going to be alright, I promise. We're going to get you back to the Colonies and Mom's going to fix you right up. The wound's not even deep, you're going to be okay."
Kendall's voice breaks and Carlos feels the wetness of his tears drip onto his cold skin. Carlos shudders. "Logan?" Carlos asks and Kendall tenses, starting to walk faster.
"He's there too," Kendall assures him. "But he - nobody knows what happened yet."
"Why?" Carlos croaks.
"I - I just found you, Carlos," Kendall explains. "You were taken in the middle of the night and we couldn't find you. Everybody had to stop looking. Everybody but me. Logan made himself sick worrying about you, you know."
"Am I going to die?" Carlos asks, clenching his eyes as Kendall steps over something and it jostles him in a way that sends a sharp pain up his ribs.
"No," Kendall growls and his speed picks up again. "I won't allow it."
Carlos nods and hums against Kendall's chest. He hurts so bad, his whole body is aching. There's a searing pain in his bottom and under his ribcage and his mind is hazy and he just wants to know why, why he hurts so much. "It hurts," he complains.
"We're almost there," Kendall assures him. "Mom's going to make it so it doesn't hurt any more, I promise. I just need you to keep talking to me, okay? Let me know you're still with me here."
"Mmkay," Carlos hums, nuzzling further into Kendall's warm chest.
Kendall still sways as he walks.
Logan's pacing back and forth in the cottage, Jennifer's weary eyes watching him as she twists a piece of her red hair behind her ear, laying out the first aid supplies she'd managed to scrape together on the bed. "Kendall's gonna find him, sweetie, I promise you."
"How?" Logan demands, stopping his pacing to glare coldly at the woman. "How is he going to find him? There's thousands of places he could be on this manor. He's not going to find him and Carlos is going to die - he's probably already dead - and it's all my fault -"
"Logan!" Jennifer cuts him off, raising from her perch on the bed to grasp his arm. "Kendall. Will. Find. Him. Do you understand me? Kendall will find him."
Logan lets out a small cry of pain, sinking to his knees on the floor. "It's my fault," he groans and puts his head in his hands, his eyes stinging with tears he wants to shed but doesn't dare because he has to be strong. For the Carlos' sake, he has to be strong -
There's a knock on the door of the cottage and Logan's head snaps up. Jennifer bolts to the door and rips it open, and her hand flies up to her mouth in horror at what she sees. Logan lets out a strangled cry of pain.
Kendall's found him.
And he's naked, bruised, bleeding and nearly purple with cold.
"He was in the forest, on the west end," Kendall explains. "He's been stabbed and beaten. I don't know if there's anything else. I tried to keep him awake, but I couldn't. He passed out on me five minutes before I got back here." Logan's heart drops into his stomach.
"Get him inside, now!" Jennifer orders, running to the bed to collect the med supplies. Kendall steps inside the door. "Lay him on the bed," Kendall goes to set Carlos on the bed, setting him gingerly atop the covers.
Logan's still in shock, cowering in horror on the floor. "Logan!" Kendall barks, turning his green eyes on him. "Get over here, Carlos needs you."
That seems to be the kick Logan needs, as, without a second thought he leaps to his feet, scrambling over to the bed where Carlos lays, unconscious. Logan takes Carlos' cold hand in his, eyes scanning over Carlos' bruised and beaten body for the first time.
His face is swollen, eye black and lips split in multiple places. There's bruises scattered over his chest and Logan bites back a sob as his eyes fall over the stab wound, bleeding stopped only by the amount of old blood that's dried and crusted over it. Logan's eyes drift lower, lower, and he gasps in shock.
There's blood between Carlos' thighs and it's mixed with a dried white substance and Logan gags because he knows exactly what it is. "Oh God," Logan stumbles backwards. "Oh God he's - he raped him. He raped him!"
"Lord," Jennifer murmurs. "How sick does a person have to be?"
"Sick as my father," Logan spits. He's angry all of the sudden, rage boiling underneath his skin, tinting his vision red.
"How do you know for sure?" Kendall asks, dabbing at Carlos' bloody lips with a pad of gauze.
"Who else would have done this?" Logan growls. "Who else would be so fucked up as to think it was alright to beat and rape and stab Carlos, and leave him to die like this?"
"But how did he find out, Logan?" Kendall demands. "How the fuck did he know about you and Carlos? Did he just guess, on a whim?"
Logan's jaw clenches - that's the one, burning question. His father had no possible way of finding out about him and Carlos - they'd been so safe, so careful. Nobody else knew about them but the other slaves, and none of them would ever tell Lord Mitchell-
The realization hits Logan like a ton of bricks. "James." He spits and watches as Kendall realizes, too. The blonde's face contorts in absolute rage and his fists clench at his sides.
"Son of a fucking bitch!" He screeches and Jen's head snaps up from where she's working over Carlos. She's already got him covered in bandages and she's cleaned up most of the blood and Carlos looks nearly half-human again. There's blood still caked on his thighs though, and thus Logan can't bear to look at him for long, not until that's been cleaned away.
"He was pissed because I found out about the affair, and you hit him," Logan mutters. "So he told my father about Carlos and I."
"That fucker caused this," Kendall hisses. "This is all on him. I swear to God, when I see him again-"
As if on cue, the door of the cottage swings open and there James stands, his eye still blackened from where Kendall had punched him only one day earlier. James' eyes scan the room. They land on Carlos laid out on the bed, then Logan, then Kendall. His face completely drains of color.
"You!" Kendall roars and launches himself at James, tackling the brunette to the ground. James barely has a second to react before Kendall's laying into him, punching him in the face over and over and over until James is a bloody mess and his nose is probably broken, and he's spitting blood from between his lips. "This is your fucking fault!"
Kendall grips James' shoulders, lifting him up before slamming him down against the floor of the cottage and James' head bounces off with a sickening thud. Kendall hits him again.
"Kendall, stop!" Jennifer orders from her spot over Carlos. "Stop, you'll kill him!"
"He deserves it!" Kendall shouts. "He fucking deserves it!"
"Kendall, just stop!" Logan's at Kendall's side now, placing a hand on his shoulder. "I know he deserves it, but for now, we need to focus on Carlos. We need to focus on keeping him alive."
Kendall mashes his lips into a hard line but nonetheless backs off of James, who immediately scurries back, pressing himself against the door. "Don't you fucking dare think about leaving," Kendall threatens, and James whimpers.
Logan drops back to his spot beside Carlos, bringing his cold hand up to his lips and kissing each knuckle. There's bruises there too, and Logan has to swallow hard against the lump in his throat. "He fought back," Logan murmurs.
"I see that," Jennifer nods, rubbing a sweet-smelling salve over Carlos' ribs and Carlos flinches unconsciously. "He's always been such a tenacious boy. Too pigheaded for his own good. But then that's how I know he's gonna pull through this. He's hard pressed to win everything."
Logan pressed his lips into a hard line, dropping his head down to rest on the edge of Carlos' bed. "You did this, you know," he says and it takes not a second for James' head to snap up.
"You told," Logan hisses, "You were pissed off because I found out you were fucking my father and because Kendall punched you. So you told my father about Carlos and I. And this is the result. It's your fault."
"I never meant for this to happen!" James insists, his voice cracking up a desperate octave.
"Bullshit you didn't!" Logan cries, whipping around so he can meet James' eyes. James looks pitiful, bleeding from the nose and mouth, absolutely terrified. "You knew exactly what would happen if you told. And you told anyways. Kendall's right. You fucking deserve to die," Logan snarls and James flinches back against the door. Kendall makes a huffing noise of agreement, sliding around to the opposite side of Carlos' bed where Jennifer had the medical supplies, grabbing a roll of gauze and wrapping his bruised knuckles, red with James' blood. "You deserve to be the one laying here right now, not Carlos."
"I didn't know he would do this," James croaks. "I didn't know. I didn't-"
"Did you really expect anything different, though?" It's Kendall who speaks now, securing the gauze around his hand. "Have you not lived on this manor long enough to know how Lord Mitchell works?"
"I didn't think -"
"That's the thing, James," Kendall laughs, humorlessly. "You didn't think. You never fucking think!"
"I never meant for this to happen," James says and he's pleading now, voice weak, broken.
"It doesn't matter what you meant," Logan says, glaring coldly and the brunette cowering at the door. "It matters what you did."
James whimpers, hangs his head, defeated. "I'm so sorry I - I don't want him to die. I don't - please don't die, God please - I'm sorry I didn't mean to - Carlos -"
"Shut up," hisses Kendall and James sobs quietly, like a broken child. "Just shut up."
The cottage goes silent, eerily so, as Jennifer works over Carlos' mangled body. He looks so frail and so defeated and Logan just wants him to open his eyes, to part his lips and say something defiant and let Logan know that he's going to be alright, that he's going to stand right up off the bed and sweep Logan into his arms and kiss him sweetly, lay him down and give love to every inch of Logan's starving body. He wants that. He needs that.
"I think he's going to be alright," Jennifer says quietly, fumbling around in her stash of medical supplies, searching. "I've just got to stop the bleeding from the stab wound and stitch him up. It's not hit any vital organs."
Logan breathes a sigh of relief and Kendall's body relaxes the tiniest bit. He's still got his eye on James, who's just staring blankly at Carlos' mangled body on the bed.
Jennifer gets up from her spot beside Carlos' bed to rummage through the single, tiny cabinet of the cottage, pulling out a slender silver knife. She beckons Kendall over to her and places it in his hand when he comes to her. "Heat this in the fire until the tip of the blade has turned red, then bring it to me."
Kendall nods, taking the blade to where the small fire is burning in the cottage's pit and holds the knife where the flames come up from the cinders. It takes only minutes before Kendall is taking the blade out of the fire and handing it back to his mother who's gone back to her place working over Carlos. Logan gathers Carlos' hand in his, taking comfort in the fact that the skin is slowly getting warmer.
Logan's eyes fall just as Jennifer takes the knife and presses the red-hot blade into Carlos' wound. There's a sizzling sound and the scent of flesh burning and it only lasts a few moments before Jennifer is handing the knife back to Kendall and dabbing at the wound until the gauze comes up clean. She reaches around and picks up a slender needle and a waxy-looking thread, threading the needle with ease. She works the needle in and out of Carlos' skin, stitching the wound shut and the only peace Logan has is knowing that being unconscious means Carlos can't feel a thing.
"I've done all I can do," Jennifer murmurs after she's placed the last stitch. "We simply have to let him recover now. Put some clothes on him, keep him warm."
Logan nods but doesn't move from his place. He can't move from his place.
It's Kendall instead who goes into the small wardrobe and pulls out trousers and a wool shirt and briefs, bringing them over and asking Logan to help him get them on. It's slow going but they manage, draping the blanket over him as well and Jennifer slips another log into the fire. James has fallen asleep against the door, expression riddled with guilt, even in his sleep. Logan feels no sympathy for him.
Fatigue settles heavy on Logan's shoulders and he barely has enough left in him to crawl into bed next to Carlos. He squeezes Carlos' hand in his own and doesn't let go, not even in his sleep.
The time it takes for Carlos to recover goes by very, very slowly. He sleeps for three days straight after the attack, fidgeting and groaning and whimpering in his sleep and Logan know's he's having nightmares and he feels absolutely horrible because he can't even wake Carlos up to make them go away.
Carlos wakes up on day four and even that is slow-going. It starts with a groan and a twitch of the lips and it takes five whole minutes for Carlos to open his eyes but he does it, searching wildly around the room as he tries to process and figure out where he is. He whimpers when his eyes focus and he opens his mouth and croaks and it takes Logan a few moments to realize that what Carlos is croaking is his name.
"I'm here," Logan murmurs, brushing a hand through Carlos' matted hair. "Been here the whole time."
"Hurts," Carlos groans and Logan coos apologetically at him.
"I know, I know," Logan sighs. "S'gonna hurt for a while, but it's gonna get better."
"Promise?" Carlos says and he sound lost, like a child. Logan figures it's the delirium still clouding Carlos' brain that's making him so vulnerable, making it impossible for Carlos to keep up those walls that he constantly does while his mind tries to put itself back together. His whole psyche has been shattered and Logan knows it's be probably going to take more time than they have for it to be fixed and again, he feels hatred flare in his chest, deep and dark and burning.
"I promise," Logan leans down and brushes his lips over Carlos' forehead, hating himself for the way Carlos flinches.
It takes a whole nother six days for Carlos to be able to get out of bed on his own, and even then, he only stays on his feet long enough to work out the cramps in his legs. His physically recovery is making strides while his mental recovery lags behind, marred with the nightmares and the memories that he can't fight off and Logan can't fix.
"I see him every time I close my eyes," Carlos confesses, clutching his blankets hard in his fists. "I can't sleep without reliving what he did to me and it's driving me insane."
"I wish I could help you," Logan murmurs into Carlos' shoulder. Logan's been allowed back in Carlos' bed again since three days ago, and he's barely left it since.
"You are helping me," Carlos breathes, "You're helping by staying with me."
"But you still have nightmares -"
"Which are inevitable," Carlos says. "I was attacked. I got beaten. Stabbed. Raped" - Carlos' voice breaks on the word - "Of course I'm going to come out of this a little bit more fucked in the head than I was when I went in."
"You shouldn't have to be," Logan states fiercely. "You shouldn't have had this done to you by my father -"
"Who we've both known to be a sick fuck for a very long time, Logan," Carlos sighs.
"That doesn't justify -"
"Nothing's going to ever justify this," Carlos snaps. "This is never going to be alright. All I can hope for is that I'll learn to deal with it."
"You shouldn't have to," Logan says quietly, tucking his face into Carlos' neck. "You shouldn't have to."
Carlos doesn't say anything, simply opting to lay his cheek against the top of Logan's head and just breathe.
He just needs time to breathe.
It's a deep, dark, chilly night when Kendall wakes Logan, a finger pressed for silence against his lips. Kendall says nothing, just pulls back the blanket from Logan's body, careful not to expose Carlos next to him. He stares until Logan swings his legs, slowly getting up and out of the bed, cautious not to jostle Carlos who's barely been able to get a decent night's sleep since his attack, tonight being the first time he's actually slept with some semblance of normality.
Kendall hands Logan a pair of trousers, Logan slipping them diligently on. He shoves his bare feet into his shoes, nodding his readiness when he's finished. Kendall nods back, face stern and mouth set in a taught line. He's giving nothing away with his emotions and it worries Logan, being dragged from his bed in the middle of the night and given no explanation or clue as to why. Logan's mind races to think the worst, and he has to bite his lip and force himself to stay quiet until he's following Kendall out the door and into the cold night.
"Kendall, what's going on?" Logan questions, voice much to loud in the still air. Kendall pauses, standing still. His eyes wander and for the first time, Logan notices how wild they are. There's something sparking behind the green that Logan's never seen before and, in the circumstances, it frightens him a bit. "Kendall -"
"Look around," Kendall says and his voice his like his eyes. He offers nothing more than those two words.
Logan rubs the back of his fist over his eyes, wiping away the last bit of sleep as he turns his head and takes in what's around him. Everything is still, much too still.
It takes Logan another moment to realize why.
The Colonies are empty, absolutely empty. Every cottage is dark - no signs of somebody shuffling around with insomnia, no red glow of the fading embers of a dying fire in the windows. It's dead, abandoned, lifeless and it sends a chill up his spine because for as long as he's been living within the Colonies, it has never been like this, not once.
"I don't understand," Logan breathes, afraid to speak to loud and break whatever has fallen.
"It's a revolt," Kendall says fiercely and Logan's blood runs cold and he understands.
"Kendall, they cant -!"
"It's happening," Kendall whips around and grips Logan's shoulders roughly in his hands. "We've done it, we've taken the mansion."
Kendall's breathing in short bursts, eyes wild and his face contorted into some sadistic expression of pleasure. Logan feels a bit sick, not knowing whether he should feel joy or horror at the fact that the slaves' taking of the mansion most likely means that his parents are dead. "My parents -"
"Come," Kendall urges, grabbing Logan's wrist and tugging him awayawayaway, to a carriage that's tucked quietly behind the trees. It's the same one Logan took to find Carlos in the gardens so many days ago. A sense of dread falls heavy on Logan's shoulders when Kendall urges him inside of it, opting himself to the driver's seat. He hears the snap of the reigns and the carriage jerks forward, dipping and bobbing as it's pulled through the uneven trail cut haphazardly between the trees.
Logan's head falls back against the seat and his eyes slip closed, thinking.
Kendall'd said a revolt - such a thing which meant that if it succeeded, the manor would more likely than not fall into Logan's hands. He couldn't seem to work out how he felt about such a thing happening, as the only way it could would be in the aftermath of the murder of his parents. Logan's heart held no qualms about the death of his father - the man deserved to burn in hell. It was his mother, however, that was making Logan think twice. Though she was just as sadistic as her husband, she'd still managed to hold on to some scrap of her humanity, and she was still indeed a woman. It seemed much to inhumane to murder her in the same way that her devil of a husband had been, yet she was just as much as fault for the horrid practices on the manor as the Lord was. Thus, shouldn't she be objected to the same torture? The same death? Logan knew the answer should be yes, but another part of him was screaming nonono.
Logan starts when the quiet pull of the carriage becomes a loud, obnoxious clacking on the cobblestones. He takes a deep breath, bracing himself for what he might see when he gets inside the manor. How bad would the death be?
It's the steady clack of the carriage wheels on the cobblestones that keep Logan from driving himself out of his mind, and he's grateful. He just wants to figure out how he feels about what he's inevitably going to walk in on, wants to settle on one feeling and embrace it, decide whether or not he's okay with this, but he can't. He can't wrap his head around it, too many flurries in his brain knocking into his conscience, to many devils on his shoulder telling him he should be ecstatic, absolutely thrilled that his parents are dead. Logan wants to be ecstatic - wants it so bad - but there's still that nagging part inside of him that keeps screaming parents and murder and telling him he's just as bad as his parents were for letting this happen.
Logan is jolted from his thoughts when the carriage jerks to a stop, and his heart plummets into his stomach. It's now or never - he's got no more time to think about how he feels. He's going to face it very soon, going to have it shoved into his face and he decides that he's just going to flow with it, going to feel how he feels when he sees it for himself.
Logan doesn't get out of the carriage until Kendall opens the door, urging him out with a look. Logan slides out at a slow, measured pace, tucking his arms into his center to ward off the chill that floods through him.
It's a short walk into the mansion, across the small bit of the cobblestones and up the front staircase, and when the grand doors swing open, Logan freezes.
Sitting right in the front foyer, tied with twine to chairs from the dining hall, slumped over on themselves, are his parents.
There's a spattering of slaves around them, keeping weary eyes on their captives. Logan expects that they feel a bit like they're on a high, the whole manor's power play having shifted in the short time of a night.
He can't see them breathing, can't see the lift of his parents' shoulders that would signal that they're still alive. It isn't until one of the slaves - a thin, black-haired boy - prods his father with what Logan recognizes as one of the whipping canes Lord Mitchell liked to use when he was in the mood to torture but not kill. The Lord jerks, eyes opening with a grunt. They're bloodshot, pupils dilated, and they focus with a sharp fury when they land on Logan.
The slave makes no movement to prod Logan's mother, however, and Logan realizes with a sharp twist to his insides that his mother is already dead. From where he's sitting he can see that there's a bloody gag tied around her mouth, and a vicious, gaping slit across her throat. There's no other signs of torture on her slender body, and Logan finds a sick relief in the fact that her death was a quick one.
The only thing left now is his father.
Logan feels a heavy hand fall onto his shoulder and looks to his left to see Kendall staring intensely down at him, mouth set in a firm line. Slowly, with calculated movements, Kendall reaches into his jacket and pulls out a sleek, sharp knife, silver blade glinting despite the dim lighting of the mansion foyer. "We've saved him for you," Kendall says, slipping the knife into the hand that Logan didn't even realize he'd offered.
It's right then that it clicks - right then that Logan's running on autopilot and he knows without question what the blade in his hands means he's about to do.
Logan's had many, many life-altering moments in the entirety of his existence - the first time he witness his father whipping a slave, the first time he saw a slave fall in the fields and die from overexertion, the first time he'd heard those tortured slaves sing, the first time he found out his father was truly a monster. The first time he'd spent the whole day sitting alone in the forest, the first time he saw his beloved, gorgeous little primroses. Then goes the first time he found his greenhouse room, the first time he saw Carlos.
But out of all of those moments, Logan knows that this - this moment that he looks into his father's eyes and for the first time in his life sees fear there - is the moment that's going to define who he is for all the years he has left.
Logan takes a step forward and it's like the parting of the Red Sea, the slaves stepping back without even an ounce of hesitation as Logan advances, eyes locked on the haggard, pathetic face of his father.
"Father," Logan says, stopping just a few feet short of where the Lord is tied to the chair. He's close enough that, if he pleased, he could reach out and touch, but far enough away to keep his mind from building connections.
Lord Mitchell just stares, grey eyes dark and furious and Logan knows if he wasn't tied down, the Lord would probably have his hands around Logan's neck while he strangled the air from his lungs and the life of his body, feeling nothing but sick pleasure as he did it. "Have you no words for me now?"
"No words for the pathetic little faggot that the world has given me for a son," Lord Mitchell spits and Logan flinches the slightest bit at the word, at his father's use of faggot.
"You disgust me," Logan growls, gripping the handle of the blade tighter in his hand.
"Me?" Lord Mitchell laughs and it's a horrible, ugly thing, his laugh. It sounds like legion, like the voices of many, like the voices of Satan clawing their way up and out his throat and it makes Logan shudder with violent disgust. "You have been nothing but pathetic for your entire life, Logan. Too pathetic to ever claim this manor."
"If pathetic is what you would call me for wanting to claim this manor without being a sadist, then I will be grateful for being pathetic." Logan says.
Lord Mitchell throws his head back and cackles that horrible, horrible laugh again. Logan can feel every set of eyes on him, watching his next move. "Do you really think I've left the manor to you?" The Lord screeches. "When I die, all of this land is set to be sold. Every worthless slave on this manor is set to be disposed of and there's nothing you can do, Logan. Killing me won't save these animals from slaughter."
It's a physical feeling, the shift of the atmosphere in the room. Lord Mitchell has just thrown them for a curve they hadn't been expecting, not at all. The slaves had been banking on Logan, banking on the fact that Lord Mitchell's death would mean that the manor would fall to his heir - would fall to Logan. The idea that Lord Mitchell would arrange to have his manor broken up and his slaves slaughtered after his death instead of leaving the manor to his failure of a son had never crossed a single mind, not one.
"You've lost," Lord Mitchell cackles. "You and your precious little slaves have lost."
"You lie," Logan spits. "You lie, you've signed yourself to lies -"
"Never!" The Lord screeches, thrashing against his restraints. He's coming loose at the seams, fraying at his threads and Logan has to admit he's frightened of what's going to happen when Lord Mitchell splits completely. Logan's seen his father go crazy but he's never seen him literally go insane. He's never seen the wild look on his father's eyes, never heard him shriek and laugh like he's got nothing else to lose, and Logan knows deep in his heart of hearts that Lord Mitchell has to die, even if only to save the world from the black evil he harbors in his soul.
Logan's eyes slip shut and his breath picks up, pushing harsh in and out of his nose. "Father, I -"
"You dare not speak to me as such," Lord Mitchell hisses and Logan's eyes flash open. "You are not my son. No son of mine would ever side with the slaves." Lord Mitchell grins wickedly, teeth caked with blood. "No son of mine would ever fall in love with a slave." Logan flinches and he can see Kendall tense in his peripherals. "Has he survived, then? That Garcia boy? That boy who moaned like a slut when I ravaged him, over and over and over again -"
"Shut up!" Logan snarls, knuckles turning white with how hard he's clutching the knife in his fist.
"What is it, boy?" Lord Mitchell sneers. "Do you not want to hear about how he wailed and begged for me to stop? About how he just gave up and took it?" The Lord's face contorts in the ugliest expression Logan has ever seen in all of the years he's known this man, and Logan's blood boils beneath his skin. "Does it drive you crazy, Logan? Does it drive you crazy knowing that I've gotten there first? Does it drive you crazy that you'll never have him like you could have had him? Because he won't be the same, Logan. He won't ever forget it. He'll never forget how I fucked him -"
Everything moves very fast.
There's the split second that Logan takes to consider his actions, the split second that he debates whether or not to actually do it. It takes yet another split second to decide that yes, he's going to do it, because he cannot, he cannot, not when he has got the power in his hands, let this demon of a man live.
And then the knife clutched in Logan's hand is driven through his father's throat before anybody else in the room had time to catch on to what he'd decided.
Lord Mitchel gurgles, blood spurting from between his lips and dripping down Logan's fingers and god, he's choking on it, choking on his own blood.
It's warm and wet where it drips down Logan's fingers and he watches with rapt attention as the life fades from Lord Mitchell's body as quickly as the blood surges from the gaping wound in his throat. Logan feels like he can't move, won't move, not until he knows for sure that his father is dead. He doesn't know exactly how long he stands still, watching as his father dies, twisting the knife and watching as more blood spills out, surging weakly over his fingertips.
Lord Mitchell dies with one more pathetic gurgle, still choking even as the life leaves his body. Every other living body n the room has frozen, watching with wide eyes like they can't believe it, can't believe that the man responsible for torturing them their whole lives is finally, finally dead.
Logan starts when he feels a hand wrap around his, twisting his neck to see Kendall, with his face a neutral mask of blank expression. Kendall forces Logan's hand off of the knife and, without Logan's fingers to support it, the blade falls from his father's flesh. Blood oozes from the wound lethargically, no longer pulsing frantically from a heart that's fighting with every desperate part of it to stay alive.
Logan falls back into Kendall's chest and it seems to make the whole room shift again, all of the other slaves present finally beginning to move again. A blonde girl moves to untie the bonds holding his mother's dead body bound to the chair, and it takes Logan a moment to realize that it's Jo.
The slaves being to bustle, untying restraints and trying to avoid slipping in the blood spilled all over the floor.
Logan doesn't realize that Kendall's murmuring in his ear until the fourth or fifth time Kendall says his name. "Logan? Logan come on, we should get back to the Colonies. We'll let these guys take care of the cleanup. You need to get back to Carlos."
Logan nods, lets Kendall take him by the arm and lead him from the mansion, lead him away from the carnage he's caused. "I really killed him?" Logan asks when Kendall gets him outside, gets him back into the carriage.
Kendall chuckles once, nodding. "Yeah, you did. The shock will wear off in a bit, don't worry."
Logan nods, closing his eyes and leaning his head against the back of the carriage's seat. "Take me to Carlos," he says and he doesn't know whether or not Kendall nods, but the sound of hooves on cobblestones is soon echoing in his ears and Logan relaxes, Carlos' name pulsing inside of his head like a mantra.
Logan figures he should take a moment to let it sink in, let it sink in that he's just murdered his father, but there's a fog in his head that's not allowing him to think passed how much he wants to see Carlos, wants to tell him that they're all safe now, that Lord Mitchell is never going to whip a slave to death again, never going to have the chance to torture a slave just because he wanted to be entertained. He wants to see the way Carlos lights up when he finds out that Logan's done it.
It's the ceasing of the clackclackclack of the carriage that lets Logan know they've made it back to the Colonies. Logan leaps from the carriage with an eagerness he didn't know he was quite capable of yet, still felling lethargic, like he was dreaming.
Logan opens the door to the cottage, eyes immediately drifting to the bed where Carlos is still sleeping, nothing but a lump under the blankets.
Logan strips down and crawls into bed with Carlos, curling around his back. He falls asleep to the lull of Carlos' steady breathing, dreaming of the future.
Three months later:
"Will you take me for a walk?"
Logan looks up from where he's filing through the enormous stack of papers to see Carlos staring at him from the bed, naked body wrapped up in the downy covers. Logan can still make out the faint scar on his abdomen where he'd been stabbed, and he has to drop his eyes back to the papers in order to keep himself from thinking about it.
Carlos' recovery had gone faster than anyone in the Colonies had thought it would, Logan especially. The state he'd woken up in after the night of Lord Mitchell's death had been frantic and psychotic and broken; Logan had been convinced that Carlos would never be the same again.
But now here he was, three months later, laying in Logan's bed after a night of slow, careful lovemaking. Logan still had to watch the way he touched Carlos, careful not to press to hard to hold too tight because Carlos was still recovering. The first time Carlos had told Logan that he was ready for Logan to touch him like that, it'd taken Logan a week to be convinced that Carlos was being truthful.
Logan was so scared, terrified that the moment he touched Carlos like that, Carlos would be reminded of the despicable things Lord Mitchell had done to him, and all the progress Carlos made over the last three months would be lost. Carlos was insistent though, told Logan over and over that he wanted it, wanted to know what it felt to be touched with fingers and hands and lips that loved, not that wanted to tear him to pieces.
"A walk to where?"
Since Lord Mitchell's death, Logan had made it his duty to take over the manor. Turns out that Lord Mitchell had been bluffing with his threat to disband the manor when he died; his will still left the manor to Logan, and everything that came with it.
All of the slaves still lived in the Colonies, but they were slaves no more. They were simply employees now, each paid a fair wage and free to live alongside Logan in the manor if they so wished it. The manor's exports were higher than ever, each person more willing to work now under Logan than they'd ever been under the tyranny of Lord Mitchell.
Logan knew very much about maintaining the manor after watching his father keep it up for his whole life, and it was easy for Logan to make the manor greater than it had ever been before.
For the first in Logan's whole life, the manor was a place he treasured to be.
"Will you take me through the gardens? Show me all of the places you'd hide out when you were young?"
Logan didn't have much time for hiding out nowadays, too busy with the life he'd thrown himself into. The manor and the people in it took up his whole life, and in all truth, he wouldn't have it any other way.
He'd given his greenhouse room to Jo with the promise that she'd love it just as much as he did, and to his pleasure, she did. He'd even enter his room sometimes at bed time to see a fresh bouquet of primroses sitting on his table and a handwritten note telling him and Carlos to sleep well.
"If you want me to, sure. Do you want to find Kendall and have him come along?"
Out of all the people on the manor, it was Kendall who had changed the most.
After Lord Mitchell's death and being released from his life as a slave, Kendall had taken it upon himself to become Logan's right hand man. He took care of all of the finances for the manor and organized a renovation of the Colonies to make it a place of luxury and relaxation for anybody who wanted to use it, since all of it's previous residents now lived inside the mansion.
Kendall's most surprising change, however, had involved James.
Kendall had been the first one to find James after Lord Mitchell's death and tell him that the man was passed, and he'd been shocked by the way James had broken down and sobbed to Kendall his thanks. Kendall had relayed the story to Logan and Kendall, telling them how James had told him that Lord Mitchell had been using him as a sex slave since he was fifteen, and he'd been so utterly terrified of the man to the point where he'd stopped trying to fight him because he knew if he ever did anything to disobey, Lord Mitchell would have him killed.
James had been brainwashed, in a way, and the news of Lord Mitchell's death had been the final pressure that snapped the tether that held James to the lord for so long. Kendall was understanding in a way that shocked everybody besides his mother.
James and Kendall were very good friends when they were children, she'd said. It's no surprise that he feels pity for him after what he's been through. They were like brothers.
Kendall and James had slowly rebuilt the bond they'd shared as children, and it was a surprise to absolutely no one when that bond had turned into a romance.
"No, just us."
Logan smiles, tucking the paperwork away. He walks over to Carlos, skin glowing in the soft light as day slowly begins to shift into night.
Logan traces a finger down along the line of Carlos' collarbone, basking in the delighted hum Carlos gives. Logan leans in and presses a light kiss to Carlos' mouth, humming two words against his lips.