Disclaimer: Still not my boys, although I kind of love them like they were.
Word Count: ~8500 for this part
Warnings: References to BT Rocker, language, the return with a vengeance of run-on sentences, and more text conversations :D
Summary: James has a problem, Camille has an answer. Logan has a problem, but he'd really prefer to just ignore it altogether.
Previous chapters: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Author's Notes: I have no idea where most of this chapter came from. There is like one single thing in this that was planned, the rest just sort of appeared on my screen.
Part 4: The Problem
Picking up guys turned out to be slightly trickier than James had anticipated. Carlos tried to help, but after a week of utterly failed attempts James was ready to say screw it and go back to girls full-time.
"It doesn't make any sense," he told Logan over smoothies one afternoon by the pool. They were sitting across a table from each other, which made having this sort of conversation difficult but Logan was still insisting on that silly 5-feet-apart thing. "Guys should be easier than girls. Everyone knows we only have one thing on our minds!"
Logan snorted while sipping his drink, then winced and brought a hand up to his nose. "Ow."
"Maybe I should walk around shirtless more often," James mused. "That's easier than talking to people anyway."
"Or you could just stop assuming that every guy who smiles at you actually wants to date you." Logan was raising his eyebrows at James while he took another drink of his smoothie.
Normally James would scoff at that, but it had been a week and he was getting desperate. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," Logan said, setting down his cup, "that the percentage of guys you meet who would ever consider going out with you is way smaller than the percentage of girls. So you can't just try hitting on everyone, you have to be a little more discerning."
That sounded like a lot of work. "Oh what do you know," James said, picking up his own smoothie and talking around the straw. "You won't even try hitting on guys."
"James!" Logan hissed, leaning forward. "We're at the freakin' pool, dude! Watch it!"
James rolled his eyes, but he was sorry. A little. He jumped up from his seat and pulled out the chair closest to Logan, sitting and talking immediately to cover up the protests.
"You sure you don't want to change your mind? We could double-date again, like we used to." James was leaning forward over the corner of the table now, making Logan sit all the way back in his seat.
"I'm sure," Logan said, looking James in the eye just long enough so James knew he meant it.
"Fine," James said with a sigh, slumping in his chair.
"Besides," Logan went on, and his tone made James glare at him immediately, "how would you ever find me a date when you can't even get one yourself?"
James raised his straw and shot a line of pink smoothie across Logan's shirt.
Things devolved quickly after that: James ended up with smoothie in his hair and Logan ended up in the pool. James jumped in after him, because…well, why not?
He grabbed Logan and dunked him for good measure. Logan came back up, flailing and sputtering "Five feet, James!"
"You got pink smoothie in my hair, dude!" James countered. "Screw your five feet!"
Then Logan's hands were on his shoulders. "Yeah, well, screw you too!" Logan shouted as he gave his all trying to push his taller and stronger friend underwater.
In an instant James had Logan around the waist, leaning in close to his ear before he really knew what he was doing. "See, only one thing on our minds," he said, low and quiet and trying hard not to grin.
Logan's reaction was sort of fascinating. He stilled immediately, hands loose on James's shoulders while James held him close in the water. It didn't even sound like he was breathing.
And Logan's ear was right there, so close to James's mouth, it would be so easy to close that tiny gap. James was seriously considering risking it when the grip on his shoulders tightened and there was a knee connecting hard with his stomach.
"Oof." James clutched at his stomach and glared at Logan, who was moving his precious five-feet away. "What was that for?"
"For you being an ass," Logan shot back with his own glare.
"Me?" James asked, incredulous. "You're the one being all high and mighty and 'oh, James can't find a date, let's all laugh at him' and you started it!"
"And you can't take a joke!"
"No you can't! I have a wonderful sense of humor!"
Logan splashed him. "I can take a joke just fine when it's given from a five-foot-distance!"
James splashed back. "Yeah well you were the one trying to dunk me underwater!"
"You did it first!"
They both turned at the sound of the voice. James squinted against the glare of the sun to be sure of who it was. "Camille!" he said, brightening at once.
"What is going on here?" she asked, looking from one to the other with an amused expression.
"Logan got smoothie in my hair," James explained, shooting another hard glare over at his friend.
"Yeah well James started it," Logan said, crossing his arms.
"I did not—"
"Guys!" Camille said again, but James wasn't about to let this go. He was going to tell Camille about how Logan was a jerk and thought it was funny that James couldn't get a guy to date him, but then he had an idea.
"Hey Camille," he said, making his way to the side of the pool and hopping out quickly. "Can I talk to you about something?"
"Uh, sure," she said, blinking up at him. "You want a towel first?"
"Oh right, I don't mean now," he explained. "I have to go change clothes and redo my hair." He tried glowering at Logan again but Logan was already headed in the opposite direction to climb up the ladder. So he turned back to Camille. "But maybe later?"
"Sure," she said again, smiling at him. "Just come find me, I should be around."
"Awesome," he said, returning the smile. He grabbed his now mostly-empty smoothie cup and tossed it on the way up to the apartment, ignoring Logan behind him the whole way.
Camille's reaction to James's problem was not the utter surprise and disbelief he was expecting. She didn't laugh at him, he had known she wouldn't, but she just…didn't seem surprised. About any of it. About the fact that he was interested in dating guys, or about the fact that he couldn't seem to find any guys who were interested in dating him.
It made James pout a little, because now not only one but two people he had kissed seemed to find nothing weird about other people not jumping at the chance to do the same.
"You're probably trying too hard," Camille said, looking thoughtful.
James stared at her for a long moment.
"Hey, I say this from experience, alright?" she added, smiling a little self-consciously. "And with some guys it works, and with…well, most it kind of doesn't."
"Well, I don't know what I'm doing wrong," James admitted. "Logan…" He snuffed a little to show his disdain for even repeating this. "Logan says I need to be more 'discerning,' or whatever."
Camille tilted her head to look at him. "Wait, discerning? He said 'discerning'? So what, are you going around hitting on every guy that smiles at you or something?"
James felt warmth in his cheeks that might have been a blush if James Diamond was the type of guy who blushed.
"No, not every guy. Just…you know…the hot ones."
"Oh James," Camille said. Fondly. That's what James was going with.
"Well do you have any better ideas?" he asked, crossing his arms.
They were sitting on a bench in the Palm Woods park, and Camille looked out across the park for a minute. Then she turned her attention back to the magazine she'd been reading. "Nope, not really," she said, flipping a page.
James gasped. "Camille, you're supposed to be helping me!"
"Honestly I don't know why you're asking me, of all people," she said, and there was something in her tone that James didn't like. "I'm not exactly great at getting dates with guys either."
"That's not true," James said. Why had he asked her? Well, because his three best friends were no help, and...she was Camille. She was always willing to help him, and she was awesome. And right now James wanted her to look happy again. "I mean, you definitely have more experience than I do, with dating guys and kissing them and stuff."
She whipped her head up to look at him, and now there was a gleam in her eyes that James didn't like for entirely different reasons. "So have you yet?"
"…Have I what?"
"Kissed a guy!"
That warm feeling was back, and James didn't know what to say because the only guy James had kissed was Logan, who Camille had also kissed (a lot) and might still kinda like and Logan wanted to keep the kiss a secret so maybe this had been a bad idea and what was James supposed to say?
"Um, I, uh…well, um…"
It wasn't exactly the most inconspicuous stuttering James had ever done.
"You totally have!" Camille said, and okay that gleam in her eyes was getting a little scary. "Spill it! Just once? Who was it? Someone I know?"
James could run. He was faster than Camille, he could run back to the apartment and just hide there until she forgot about the whole thing. Except Logan was probably there, and he might still be mad about James invading his personal bubble.
Think, James, he told himself. What should I tell her? Should I make something up? Change the subject? Pretend I didn't hear the question?
He was thinking about grabbing Camille's magazine and throwing it, forcing her to go after it and giving himself the chance to escape when there was a hand waving in front of his face.
"James? Jaaaaames…..? Still there?"
He blinked and shook his head slightly. Camille was smiling again, but she looked normal now. He relaxed a bit.
"If you don't want to talk about it that's okay," she said, patting him on the shoulder. "But I am a little confused. If you've already kissed a boy, why didn't you just ask him out?"
The question made James laugh, but then he didn't know how to answer that one, either. "Because…" he said, thinking. He couldn't say 'Because we're friends,' that would make it too obvious, right? But maybe a different part of the truth would work? "Because he doesn't want anyone to know we kissed." He shrugged.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Camille said, genuine sympathy in her voice. "That's his loss."
"Yeah, but it's his choice, too," James said, surprising himself with the words and how much he meant them. "So anyway, you don't have any advice for me at all?"
Camille looked down at her magazine again. "The last time I gave you relationship advice you almost lost your chance with a girl because I told you she was a mermaid."
"Hey, all the signs were there!" James pointed out. "Come on, Camille, I could really use your help." He gave her his best puppy-dog eyes, and eventually had to poke her so she'd actually look at him.
When her smile broke through James knew he had won. "Okay, fine. Logan's right, you need to be more discerning. And don't look at me like that," she said, raising an eyebrow. "He is right. You have to pick your targets more carefully. Find someone who's hot, and gay, and available, and then go in for the kill."
"That's it?" James asked, unconvinced. "That's all I need to do?" Camille made it sound simple, but a week of not getting a date proved it was anything but.
"Well, and someone who's into you too. Someone who thinks you're hot, and knows you're gay and available."
"Bi," James corrected her. He had to make sure that point was clear or he might start missing out on dates with hot girls.
"Right, of course," Camille said with a smile. "So yeah. Just look for the signs. And…you know, someone who's nice, and funny, and smart, but you can figure all that out once you're on the date."
James sat for a moment, absorbing all of this. He must have looked as unsure as he felt because Camille sighed and said, "Or you could ask the coolest girl in the world to try and set you up with someone."
A grin broke out over James's face. "Would you? Just once, you know, I think I can take it from there."
"I'll see what I can do," she said, grinning back at him.
"Oh, I know I am, but thanks," Camille said with a wink.
James laughed. "You really are. So how's the job hunt going lately?"
They sat for a while longer, talking about Camille's career. Apparently she was waiting to hear back about a really good role, but she wouldn't tell James much about it because she didn't want to jinx it. She was really excited to talk about a few of the articles in the acting magazine she was reading, though, and her excitement was so contagious that by the end of it James was making plans to borrow some of the back issues and, with Camille's encouragement, maybe give acting another go.
James was soon distracted from waiting (mostly impatiently) for Camille to set him up on a date by the arrival of a new girl at the Palm Woods. She was cool, she was hot, but in the end she was ultimately unattainable and James was pretty sure he and Carlos had put out way more effort than they should have in trying to attain her.
Camille had her own share of distractions. She got the part she'd been wanting, which ended up in her wandering around the Palm Woods in character and apparently re-awakening Logan's interest in her (James had no idea what that was all about, but he was a little preoccupied with New Girl at the time). And then she was off at rehearsals and whatnot, and James barely saw her for long enough at a time to ask how things were going in the find-James-a-date department.
So James had to find a new distraction, and continuously violating Logan's five-foot rule seemed as good an idea as any. The incident in the pool had been a spur-of-the-moment decision, but it gave James the idea for a new game. Which, as he saw it, was to see how close and sexy he could get before he won his prize: Logan's eventual reaction.
James was careful not to touch Logan while playing this game, because a knee to the gut would hurt a lot more on land than it had in the pool. But he soon discovered he could get all kinds of fun reactions out of Logan without touching him at all. When Logan was paying attention, he would usually just move away as James got close, or give him a warning look or a 'five-foot' reminder.
But when Logan wasn't paying attention? Like when he was doing homework, or reading song lyrics, or watching some silly smart-person documentary? That's when James could get in close, and by the time Logan realized it was too late, he was blushing and fidgeting and scrambling to get away. And he would fuss or yell and James would do his best to look completely innocent like he had no idea what Logan was talking about. Standing too close to Logan in the studio made his voice go all funny when they were singing, but that usually ended in a minor commotion, death glares from Kendall and death threats from Gustavo, so he didn't try it too much.
But overall? Invading Logan's personal space was one of the most fun games James had ever thought up on his own.
The absolute best parts were when Logan was at his desk or a table, or had a momentary lapse in judgment and sat on the side of the couch not against the wall. Because then James could sneak up behind him, lean down, and nonchalantly whisper in Logan's ear. It was like lighting the fuse on an old firework that you can't read the label on—James never knew what exactly would happen, but the anticipation was worth it, and sometimes there was an explosion.
Logan might jump up like he'd been burned. Or, James might have to dodge a book or remote or hand that was threatening to maim his lovely face. But sometimes…sometimes Logan just sat there, closed his eyes, and said "James" low and quiet, tone full of warning. It was familiar, and when James realized why—that was the part he couldn't figure out during their kiss, when Logan had whispered his name, it had been a warning—it made him shiver a little and want to break his one rule in this game by leaning in and brushing lips against Logan's ear.
But that might have ended the game, and James definitely didn't want that. He already knew this was probably going to blow up in his face once he pushed his luck too far and Logan got really, seriously pissed at him. And then James would feel guilty and be apologetic and probably not even be allowed in the same room as Logan for a few days unless he absolutely had to be. Which would suck.
That didn't make him stop playing, though. As long as Logan would allow it James was going to keep going, because…well, he didn't really know. It was just fun. And…sort of addictive. James wasn't going to question it. Or the fact that Logan actually was allowing it; he had complained to Kendall one day that James was 'sexually harassing' him but the way he said it just made Kendall laugh. Kendall had already been going around humming the chorus to "Nothing Even Matters" anytime he saw Logan and James together, just like he'd done for a couple weeks after prom—James totally approved of this teasing (this time) because it also got Logan all riled up—which made James wonder what Logan hoped to accomplish by complaining to their friend in the first place. Kendall didn't seem to care what James did to Logan as long as he kept it out of the studio.
Not that it mattered, because even if Kendall had told James to cut it out he wouldn't have. He was good at this game, he kept winning over and over, and Logan was the only one who could end it. Hopefully without causing James any bodily harm, but it was a risk he was oh so willing to take.
It never really occurred to James that he could still be trying to find a date on his own, and with Logan to keep him busy the two and a half weeks before Camille got back to him about her own progress flew by. She apologized for taking so long, but to make it up to him she had two great pieces of news: Not only had she found him a date with an awesome guy, she also had a lead on a small role still needing to be cast in the movie she was working on that would, in her own words, be perfect for James.
* * * * * *
James Diamond had a date with a boy.
An actor boy.
A hot actor boy, apparently.
Logan was about sick of hearing about it.
Not that he wasn't happy for James, because he was. And he was especially happy that this meant James might stop torturing him constantly. What happened in the pool had been Logan's own fault, for grabbing onto James and giving him that opening. But it seemed James had thought completely ignoring Logan's five-foot rule was a grand old time, because since then he'd been trying over and over again to annoy Logan into punching him in the face.
Why Logan hadn't punched him in the face was a good question, and one he hadn't yet come up with an answer to. Kendall even asked him outright why he was putting up with it, one night after they'd gone to bed. That was the day Logan had finally complained about James's behavior, but since Kendall had just laughed it off Logan was surprised when it was brought up again. But he didn't have an answer. "He'd stop if you really got mad at him," Kendall had said.
"I know," Logan replied. That had been the end of the discussion.
Logan knew Kendall was right. Because James was teasing, he was just messing around, he wasn't doing any of it maliciously. So Logan allowed it. Maybe he took it as a sort of punishment for making James take this step alone. Maybe he thought if he let James flaunt his ability to make Logan squirm it would make up for not going on those double dates. That hadn't just been an off-hand comment, Logan was pretty sure of it, and it had made him feel guilty all over again.
The problem with James's constant teasing, though, was that it made Logan's five-foot rule completely useless. The whole point of that rule was so Logan could have time to separate his friendship-feelings for James from his make-out-feelings, but with James hovering around him or sitting so close they were nearly touching or whispering in his damn ear all the time that task proved impossible. And the more James did it the worse it got; by the time James announced he had a date Logan was so on edge he was having trouble thinking clearly anytime James was in the same room, let alone within five feet.
So as much as Logan was tired of hearing about this date, he was also looking forward to James's sex appeal being directed at someone else for a change. And judging by how long it was taking James to get ready, that was exactly his intention.
It was Friday night and Logan, Kendall and Carlos were all sitting around playing a video game, while Carlos complained that James was the only one of them with a date.
"Yeah, but he's been trying for what, like three weeks now?" Kendall said with a smirk.
"He says boys are hard," Carlos explained, then giggled as he realized what he'd said.
"They are," James said. His voice was coming from the direction of the hallway, but Logan didn't dare look over. "At least, harder than I expected." Carlos was giggling even more now, but James seemed to ignore it as he continued. "So what do you think of this outfit, guys?"
"You look like you're going on a date," Kendall said.
"You look cool, James," Carlos added, admiration in his voice.
"Thank you, Carlos," James said, then paused. "…Logan?"
"Playing a game here," Logan said, keeping his eyes straight forward. Sitting on this side of the couch had proved a risky venture these past two weeks, but it was also his only hope of avoiding seeing James before he went out on his date. The last thing Logan needed after being the casual target of James's sexual frustration for so long was the image of James all dressed up and looking even better than usual.
"You're already losing, I don't think looking at me for a second is going to make it any worse," James pointed out in a less-than-helpful manner.
"Don't you still have to do your hair or something?" Logan asked as a last resort.
"Then you'll tell me how I look?"
"Sure, whatever," Logan said dismissively.
After the bathroom door had been closed for a solid five minutes Logan set down his controller and started to stand up.
"Hiding in our room?" Kendall asked, sparing a glance at Logan.
"No, I'm just…going to look something up on the computer, I'll…be right back," Logan said slowly, backing away towards the hallway. When he was out of sight he turned and darted into his room, closing the door quietly. With any luck, James would spend so long messing with his hair that he wouldn't have time to go looking for Logan before he had to leave.
In the meantime, Logan sat on his bed reading. He lost track of the time, and when he heard the bedroom door open he looked up, expecting to see Kendall telling him the coast was clear.
Instead James was standing there, tall and beautiful, looking sharp as fuck and Logan had totally been right in trying to avoid him. He was really dressed up, even wearing slacks instead of jeans, something basically unheard of for James on a date. He had on a skinny tie, too, and James in a tie had never done anything for Logan before but hell if it wasn't making his brain fuzzy now.
Logan heard someone say "Damn," and when he realized that had been his own voice he could only hope it was too quiet for James to hear.
"You're avoiding me again," James said, his smile a little tentative.
"I'm not avoiding you, I just—no, you stop right there!" Logan said, scrambling back on his bed and holding both hands out in front of him. James paused on his way into the room, eyes wide. "Don't you come any closer to me, James!" Logan knew he sounded ridiculous, but he was not going to be held responsible for his own actions if James decided to ignore personal boundaries looking like that.
Slowly James grinned in a smug-but-pleased sort of way. "Seriously? I look that good? I thought I'd at least get within 10 feet before you started freaking out. That's awesome."
Logan rolled his eyes, but he kept his hands up as a warning. "Yeah, yeah. So you got what you came for, right? Don't you have a date with some hot actor to get to now?"
James's expression changed, and he looked away. "Actually, I…" He took a step sideways.
"Stop that," Logan said immediately. "Stop moving. Now."
"I'm just closing the door, relax." He did, then moved back to stand in front of it.
Logan's eyes went wide. "You're not exactly making that easy! The last time, the last time you blocked the door like that—"
"Logan," James said, and his voice was quiet but there was something in the tone of it that shut Logan up and made him look more closely at his friend. James was staring at the floor, hands behind his back, but he looked like he might start fidgeting at any moment.
"What's up, James?" Logan asked, trying to tone down his panic and sound helpful.
"I just, um…it's nothing, but…could you come here for a second?"
Logan's heart sped up and he could feel heat rising in his cheeks. He shook his head rapidly, even though James still wasn't looking at him. "Um, no. No, I think I'm going to just stay right here."
The corners of James's mouth turned upwards, and Logan heard him say something that sounded like "Game over," but before Logan could ask James was looking at him, eyes pleading. "Please Logan, I'm not trying to mess with you, I just…need an opinion on something, and you're the only person I can ask."
Logan was dumbfounded as a realization struck him. "…You're nervous." James narrowed his eyes a little and Logan knew he was right. "James Diamond…is nervous…about a date."
"Are you going to help me or just make fun of me?"
"I'll help you man, sure," Logan said, scooting off the edge of his bed. "I just…I mean, I'm shocked. You never get nervous about dates. Is this guy really that special?"
"How would I know, I've never even met him," James answered, not moving from his spot by the door.
"What? Then how…?" Logan asked, confused, as he stepped slowly towards James.
And now James was blushing, and Logan was sure he was no longer in the Real World. "Oh, um…Camille set it up?"
The grin was spreading across Logan's face before he could think to stop it. "So even you need help getting a date sometimes, huh? That's a comforting thought."
"Whatever," James said, his huffiness not completely covering up his embarrassment. Or his nerves. "Just get over here, I'm not going to touch you."
"Fine, fine," Logan said, still smiling, and closed most of the distance between them. "So what do you need from me?" Standing this close to James was a little overwhelming, but Logan was determined to keep his wits about him.
"How do I smell?"
At first Logan was sure he had misheard, but then he remembered who he was talking to and so James probably actually did have a reason for asking something so odd. "What?" he asked anyway, looking up with his eyebrows furrowed.
"Well, it's just that I'm so used to using 'Cuda manspray when I go on dates and I sorta forgot that it's supposed to make girls like you and I don't know if it works on boys too so now I'm afraid I'm gonna smell weird and—do I smell weird to you?"
Logan had to bite his lip to keep from laughing, because James was completely serious which really just made it even funnier. Afraid to try speaking, Logan just shook his head.
"I don't?" When Logan shook his head again James looked a little relieved. "Wait, did you even smell me?"
Not intentionally, Logan thought. "James, you do not smell weird."
"But do I smell good? Come on Logan, this is important!"
"James…" Logan sighed. The things he did for his friends. "Let me put it to you this way. Part of the reason I even tried implementing that obviously futile five-foot rule is because just smelling you makes it hard for me to concentrate."
James was looking a little worried as he tried to process that information. "So that means…"
"You smell good, James. You always smell good."
"Oh." Now James was grinning, and Logan thought it might be time to retreat back to the other side of the room. "And…I look okay, right?"
"You…you look amazing. Again, as always. You have nothing to be nervous about. Now shouldn't you be going?"
James's grin got even wider, and Logan could tell what was about to happen as soon as he caught the beginnings of movement. "No, no," he said, hopping back. "No hugs. I'm the best friend ever, I get it, now just go."
"Thanks Logan. See you," James said, stepping away from Logan to open the door.
"Right, yes, go, see you later." James was halfway out the doorway when Logan had an unexpected and oddly unwelcome thought. Guys only have one thing on our minds. "Hey, James, wait," he heard himself saying.
"Yeah?" James ducked his head back into the room.
"Um…" You're not going to sleep with him, are you? Logan asked silently. But faced with those hazel eyes again, Logan realized he just really didn't have the nerve. Or maybe even the right. "It's nothing," he said with a quick smile. "Have fun tonight."
"Sure thing," James said, flashing another grin before disappearing down the hallway.
Just not too much fun. Logan hesitated for just a second before stepping quickly to the doorway and watching, then silently following James as he headed back to the living room.
"I'm out, guys!" Logan heard James tell the others.
"Have a great time, dude!" Carlos yelled back.
"Hey James," Kendall said, sounding distracted, "you have a condom with you, right?"
"What?" James and Carlos both said, while Logan himself whispered it in surprise.
"Condom," Kendall repeated. "Do you have one already, or do you need one?"
"Um, I have one," James said hesitantly. "But do I need one? You think he's going to want to have sex? On the first date?" Logan couldn't read James's tone, and that bothered him a lot more than he wanted it to.
"Dude, I don't know how it works with guys," Kendall said. "And I don't want to. Just be safe, whatever you do."
"Right. Okay, really leaving now," James said, now sounding almost as freaked out by the conversation as Logan was.
"James." That was Kendall's serious voice.
"I got it Kendall. Safe sex. Noted. Now I'm going to be late, so bye."
"Make 'im wait, James! You're worth at least two dates!" Carlos yelled, presumably as James was walking out the door.
Logan waited a few more seconds, silently cursing Kendall for giving James the idea in the first place while at the same time being grateful he'd had more nerve than Logan did. Then he rejoined his friends in the living room, trying to seem like he wasn't just eavesdropping from the hallway.
"What was all the yelling about?" he asked as he walked into the kitchen.
"We were talking about whether James is gonna get laid tonight," Carlos explained. "Hey, can you make some popcorn while you're in there? After this round we're gonna watch a movie."
"Um, sure," Logan said, rifling through a cabinet until he found the popcorn. He put it in the microwave and leaned back against the counter to wait.
"So did James get a kiss for luck?" Kendall asked, smirking as he kept watch on the TV screen.
"You're hilarious, Kendall," Logan said, rolling his eyes. "He just wanted my opinion on his outfit. I guess he figured I was the only one here qualified for a real assessment."
"You mean he wanted to see how uncomfortable he could make you."
"How far did he make it? Five feet? Ten? Not even past the doorway? Although you guys were back there for a while."
Logan didn't appreciate Kendall's tone. "You like your popcorn burnt, right Kendall?"
"Dude, shut up!" Carlos said, reaching over to smack at Kendall. "I don't want burnt popcorn!" Logan laughed. "He'll be good now, Logan," Carlos assured him with a smile and a quick glance. "So you don't have to burn it."
"Thank you, Carlos," Logan said as he turned his attention to the microwave, waiting for the pops to slow down. Their microwave was good for making popcorn, but you still had to time it right if you wanted that perfectly popped bag. Logan didn't like to brag, but he was totally the best at it.
He emptied the bag into a bowl—not a single kernel wasted, yes he really was that good—and was headed to the couch when his phone beeped.
"So um, you're okay with James being on a date, right Logan?" Carlos asked as Logan sat down.
"What? Why wouldn't I be?" he asked, putting the popcorn on the table and reaching into his pocket for his phone.
"I don't know, I mean…you guys have been all flirty with each other recently, so I thought—"
"What?" Logan interrupted, his text forgotten for the moment. "Flirty? Me and James? What are you talking about?"
"He means the way James has been screwing around with you lately and the way you haven't been telling him off for it," Kendall explained. "Aaaand that's the game. Sorry Carlos, better luck next time." The grin Kendall was flashing didn't exactly match his words.
"But that's not flirting, that's…" Logan paused, suddenly aware he had no idea what he was saying. "That's…just James."
"Yeah, it's just James flirting with you," Kendall said, standing up to stretch before heading to the DVD player.
"I'm sorry I said that stuff about James getting laid," Carlos cut in before Logan could argue with Kendall. "It's only a first date, nothing's probably gonna happen."
"What?" Logan said, head moving back and forth as he looked at Carlos and Kendall and back again. "What is wrong with you guys? James and I are not flirting, I do not care whether James is on a date, and I do not care whether he"—Logan paused for the briefest moment as he realized this part was, in fact, an outright lie—"gets laid."
Carlos was looking at him like he wanted to say something else, but Kendall spoke first. "Whatever you say, Logan."
"Let's just watch the damn movie," Logan said, irritated, as Kendall sat next to him. They were barely into the opening credits when Logan's phone beeped again, and he realized it was still in his hand. He looked at it, and saw that both texts were from James. He opened the first one.
'Hey 4got 2 ask u, u busy 2morrow?'
Logan thought for a second. He wasn't, unless he was forgetting something. He checked the second text before replying.
'If not i need ur help w smthng'
Logan typed out his reply. 'No busier than usual. Nothing special planned. What's up?' He settled back into watching the movie, figuring James wouldn't be able to respond quickly.
After a few minutes, though, his phone beeped again. 'Cool thanks. Here now gotta go'
Logan rolled his eyes. Way to completely not answer my question, James. He didn't bother replying, though. James was on a date, after all.
Except not 15 minutes later there was yet another beep from Logan's phone. He fished it out of his pocket again.
'Ok so camille wasnt kidding this guys like really hot'
Logan thought he had groaned quietly until Kendall asked "What is it?"
"Nothing," he said, shaking his head at his phone. "James is just ridiculous."
'If he's so hot why are you texting on a date?' Logan sent back.
"Did he get lost?" Carlos asked, sounding concerned.
"No, he just wanted to say his date's hot."
"Oooh, sounds like someone's trying to make someone jealous," Kendall said.
Logan very calmly picked up a throw pillow and whacked Kendall upside the head with it, smiling with satisfaction at the loud "Ow!" he earned. Carlos laughed.
It was another half hour into the movie before James replied. "You know, I'm really glad I've seen this movie before," Logan muttered under his breath.
"Ooh, did you get another text? Is it James? What's he say?" Carlos asked, looking at Logan like this was far more entertaining than his fourth time watching this movie was.
"I asked him what he was doing texting during a date," Logan said as he opened the new message. "And he says…'Had to tell someone. And he's trying to be funny but I'm afraid to laugh in this fancy restaurant.'" That explained the outfit, but as he was reading it Logan wondered if this was something James would have preferred to stay between the two of them.
"Fancy restaurant?" Carlos sounded excited. "Man, those places are intimidating, I know what he means. But he has to laugh, otherwise the guy'll think he's not into him! Tell him that, Logan!"
"I am, I am," Logan said, already typing. 'C says to laugh anyway. Sorry if you didn't want me to tell them, they know you're texting me and…you know how they are.'
"Okay, what's he saying now?"
"He's on a date, Carlos, he's not going to answer right away."
"He shouldn't be answering at all," Kendall said. "He's on a date."
"But this is fun," Carlos insisted.
"So is watching a movie in peace," Kendall argued.
"Nah, this is totally better," Carlos said with a grin.
It kind of was, but Logan wasn't about to admit that.
They had no choice but to continue watching the movie, though, until James got the chance to text back. The movie was nearly over when he did.
"That's James!" Carlos said as soon as he heard the phone beep. "What's he say, what's he say?"
Kendall actually paused the movie this time as Logan checked his phone. "He says…heh, he says 'It's cool, tell C good advice. He's totally into me. Of course. Dinner over, dunno what's next.'"
"Has he kissed him yet? Ask him!"
"Carlos you sound like a girl," Kendall said.
When Carlos hit him with a pillow it actually sounded painful. "OW!"
Carlos jumped up and pushed Kendall out of the way so he could sit next to Logan. "Go on, ask him!"
"Okay, okay," Logan said, laughing. 'Now C wants to know if you've kissed yet. He's more excited about this date now than you were.'
"Did you send it?"
"I sent it, Carlos, now we have to wait again."
"So much better than a movie," Carlos said, maybe a little dreamily. "Oh, oh, tell him to send a picture!"
"Are you serious?" Kendall asked, still rubbing the side of his head where the pillow had connected. His hair was a mess.
"Shut up, Kendall," Logan and Carlos said in perfect unison.
"Whatever, I give up. You two are just as ridiculous as he is." The movie started playing again.
'C says to send a pic. K says we're all ridiculous.' Logan smiled as he sent the message. The reply came back almost immediately, surprising him.
"What is it, did he send the picture already? Let me see!" Carlos grabbed at Logan's phone.
Logan hopped up before he could get a hand on it. "Hold on a sec, I don't think it's the picture already." He opened the message.
'What do u say l?'
A blush was creeping up Logan's cheeks, and he had no idea why.
"Logaaaan, what's it saaaay?" Carlos asked, whining.
"It's not the picture, just—have some patience, Carlos, okay?" Logan had to think for a second before he could come up with a decent response.
'I'm just the messenger.'
"Fine," Carlos said with a pout. "Did he answer the question yet?"
"Logan, you would be throwing a fit if we were bugging you like this when you were on a date," Kendall muttered not-that-quietly from his new spot further down the couch.
"Hey James started it!" Carlos reminded him, coming to Logan's defense. "And he doesn't have to answer us if he doesn't want to."
"Exactly," Logan said. He sat back on the couch and watched the last few minutes of the movie, then nearly jumped when his phone sounded again.
"Answer it, Logan, answer it!"
"Carlos I am right here, you don't have to yell." Logan tried to ignore the pounding of his heart as he checked the newest text. He scanned this one first instead of just reading it out loud.
'Dodging the question. Nice l. No kiss yet. Def will. Pic when i can. Were at this awesome store. Trying on clothes. So fun'
Logan laughed at his phone. He couldn't help it.
"What, what?" Carlos said, making a grab for the phone again.
"Quit that!" Logan scolded, holding the phone out of reach. "He says they're…trying on clothes. At some store. He's having fun."
Kendall snickered, but Carlos just nodded. "James would have fun doing that. But what about the rest? The kiss, and the picture?"
"He says they haven't kissed yet, but he's planning on it. And he'll send a picture when he can. If they're trying on clothes it probably shouldn't be too hard to get a picture."
Carlos nodded again. "Yeah, you're right. Oh, we're out of popcorn! Logan could you make some more?" He handed the empty bowl out to Logan.
"Sure Carlos," Logan said, smiling and sighing at the same time as he took the bowl. He made sure not to leave his phone behind.
As he waited for the popcorn to pop, he composed his next reply. 'Glad it's going well. C can't wait for the pic.'
This was fun, having this connection with James while he was out on his date. And Carlos being overly excited about everything made it even more fun. Logan had all but forgotten about his earlier worries and his friends' misconceptions about him and James.
The popcorn was almost done, but then his phone beeped again and Logan decided to check it really quick. It was a media file this time, and with a glance back at Carlos Logan opened it. The picture downloaded in no time, and then Logan was staring at…okay, a really attractive young man with light brown hair and maybe blue eyes, who was fixing the camera with some sort of model pose. Logan scrolled down past the picture to see the caption James had sent along with it.
'Told you. Hot. What should i do if he invites me to his place?'
Logan froze at the words. Suddenly he wasn't having so much fun anymore.
"Logan! Logan!" Kendall's voice snapped him out of it. "Dude, the popcorn!"
"Oh, dammit!" Logan grabbed at the handle on the microwave, the smell of burnt popcorn filling the air. "Dammit! I'm sorry, guys, I'll make another one!"
"Is everything okay? You never burn popcorn," Carlos said. When Logan looked over Carlos seemed worried, while Kendall was giving him an eyebrow raise that meant they'd be talking about this sooner or later so he might as well answer the question now.
"It's fine, I just got distracted. James sent the picture." Hopefully he could play that off as being the thing that had distracted him.
"Really?! I wanna see!" Carlos was next to Logan in the blink of an eye, waiting expectantly.
Logan blinked. "Sure, just let me make some more popcorn first."
"Forget the popcorn, lemme see your phone. C'mon, c'mon, c'mon," Carlos said impatiently, waving at Logan to hurry up.
"Alright alright, here." Logan turned his phone around so Carlos could see the picture, but Carlos just grabbed the phone and took off back towards the couch. "Carlos!" Logan yelled, racing after him. "Give me my phone!"
"After I look," Carlos said, jumping on the couch. "So this is him? He looks like a model or something. Oh, he's an actor, right? So is he hot, Logan?"
Logan rolled his eyes. "Like you need me to tell you that. Now give me my phone."
"Hold on," Carlos said, pushing a button. "Oh, he sent a message, too! …Oh." Carlos peered at Logan from around the phone. "Did you read this?"
"Did I read what?" Logan hoped his embarrassment wasn't too obvious.
"This message, where James asks what he should do if his date invites him home."
"What?" Kendall said, shooting a glance in Logan's direction. He scooted over so he could see the phone.
"See?" Carlos held the screen up for Kendall. "Well, we can just tell him to say no, right Logan?"
Carlos was pushing buttons again and Logan started to panic. "Stop it Carlos, give me my phone back! Don't you dare answer that!"
"I'm just telling him what you want to say," Carlos said, still typing away.
"You don't know what I want to say!" Logan argued. He lunged for the phone but suddenly Kendall was there, blocking him. "Kendall what are you doing?!"
"Just let him do it, Logan. If you don't he'll just use his own phone."
"Fine, let him use his own damn phone! Carlos put it down! Move, Kendall!" Logan reached around Kendall but it didn't do him any good.
"Okay, done!" Carlos announced, then handed the phone to Kendall who handed it back to Logan. Logan grabbed it and ran back into the kitchen to check the 'Sent Message' folder.
'U shoud say noo j, l would be sad :( -c'
"Dammit, Carlos!" Logan said, glaring daggers at both of his friends. He opened up a blank message to try and think of something, anything to say to James, but before he got the chance his phone beeped again.
"Ooh, what'd he say now?" Carlos asked from the couch.
"Oh, like I'm telling you," Logan shot back. Another beep. He opened the first message, feeling almost shaky with nerves.
'Really like srsly is that true c?'
The second message was just one letter: 'L?'
'They got my phone. Do whatever you want J. You're an adult. Well, almost.'
Logan closed his eyes and waited. He knew he shouldn't expect any response right away, but he was feeling jittery all the same.
"Logan, come onnnn, you can't hold out on me now!"
"Sure I can, Carlos, I'm mad at you," Logan said, opening his eyes to send another glare in the general direction of the couch.
"Oh. I'm sorry?"
"Was that a question or an apology?"
Logan made a frustrated noise. "I'm going to bed," he announced, but before he could take two steps his phone beeped.
"Read it out loud!"
"No!" Logan looked at the message, his eyes going wide as he read.
'So taking that as a yes. U gonna wait up for me?'
Logan had absolutely no idea what that was supposed to mean, and he wasn't exactly keen on finding out. 'Um, no. Going to bed now actually. See you tomorrow.'
"Okay, I'm done," Logan announced to the room. "You guys suck, I'm going to sleep, leave me alone."
"Will you leave your phone?" Carlos asked, sounding like he actually thought that was a possibility.
"…Well you don't have to yell."
Logan threw his hands up in frustration as Kendall snickered on the couch.
Logan went to bed, but he couldn't get to sleep. He kept his phone close to his head, waiting to see if James would text again while telling himself he totally wasn't waiting to see if James would text again. Every once in a while he checked the time, and so he knew it was sometime after 12:30 when the door to his room finally opened. He was careful to be quiet, hoping Kendall would assume he was already asleep and just leave him alone.
That was James's voice, not Kendall's, and Logan felt his heart go into instant overdrive. He held completely still.
The light from the hallway disappeared, and Logan thought he was safe until he heard quiet footsteps. "Logan?" James said again, closer this time. Logan closed his eyes, really really wishing that he was already asleep.
Then James was poking him in the shoulder. "Hey Logan," he said, softly. "Loooogaaann," he tried again, this time in a sing-song voice. And he was poking harder now.
Logan gave up. "Yeah?"
James was too close and he still smelled good and Logan was not going to turn around and look at him, because if he looked even half as good as he had earlier Logan just didn't trust himself. Not at this range.
He heard a slight gasp. "You totally weren't asleep."
"No. What do you want, James?"
"I didn't sleep with him."
Logan bit his lip, trying to ignore the way his heart seemed to have skipped a beat. "Okay."
"…He didn't even ask."
"Is that bad?"
"I don't know. It was a first date. But I don't know how it usually works with guys."
"Me either." Logan couldn't believe he was having this conversation.
"But um, even if he had asked I would have said no."
"Okay." He wasn't about to ask why.
"You're still going to help me tomorrow, right?"
Logan sighed. "I guess. What do you need help with?"
"I'll tell you tomorrow. 'Night Logan."
"Goodnight James." Get the hell out of my room now please, Logan added to himself.
Logan could feel it when James moved away from the bed, and he was just about to let himself start to relax when James spoke again.
"Oh, and Logan?"
"You're totally a better kisser than him."
The laugh that Logan let out was completely beyond his own control. He heard the door open and close, and maybe now he would finally be able to get some sleep.