KT (rensahannou) wrote,
KT
rensahannou

[fic, BTR] Too Far From the Start (a.k.a. James & Logan are NOT Dating) - Part 10

Title: Too Far From the Start [Part 10/?] (a.k.a. James & Logan are NOT Dating)
Disclaimer: Still not my boys, although I kind of love them like they were.
Pairings/Characters: James/Logan
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: ~6500 for this part (another short chapter!)
Warnings: Language, probably inaccurate depiction of how auditions work, not nearly enough boykissing

Summary: James has his audition, and Logan finally gets a clue.

Previous chapters: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9

Author's Notes: I really didn't mean to take this long to update :( I've been having some plot-related issues that are making it difficult for me to write, but hopefully I'll be past that soon.

Oh, I meant to mention this earlier but I'm posting this fic on ff.net as well now, if you'd rather read it over there or whatever :) Here's the link~

And once again a huge thank you to shisou_eimin


----
Part 10: The Realization


To Logan's surprise, he didn't see much of James for the next couple of days. Sure they saw each other at school and the studio, but in their free time James never seemed to be around. Which would have been weird anyway, but it was especially weird because Logan had almost forgotten what it was like to not have James always around. After weeks of constant teasing and a weekend of…whatever they were calling that weekend, Logan was finally getting what he'd wanted since their first kiss—some time alone to figure things out.

And what he figured out was that he missed James.

Logan realized this on Wednesday morning, when he was getting dressed and there was a knock on his bedroom door. He went to answer it, zipping up his pants on the way, and opened the door to find James smiling a little nervously down at him.

"Hey," James said.

"Hey," Logan said back, returning the smile. They just stared at each other for a few seconds and that was when it hit Logan; he hadn't felt this nervous excitement since Sunday, that was what had felt so off about the last couple days. The realization was a little unnerving, and so was the silence. "What's up?" he finally asked.

"Oh, right," James said, blinking. "My audition's today."

"Oh, right!" Logan echoed. "I totally forgot about that! Do you need to run through the scene again or something?" He held his breath for the answer, honestly not sure what he wanted it to be.

"If you wanted to that would be awesome," James said with a smile. "But I wanted to know if you were coming with me?"

"To your audition?" James nodded. "Oh, well—do you want me to?" A pause, and then James nodded again.

Logan smiled. "Then sure I'll go. What time?"

"Right after lunch."

"Aren't we supposed to be at the studio then?"

"Kendall and Katie said they'd handle it," James said with a shrug.

"Ah, I see," Logan said, chuckling. "Okay, then you want to go over the scene again at lunch? Just to make sure you're ready?" He hadn't really meant to ask that.

"Sure," James replied with a grin. "And I won't even make you dress up this time."

"I appreciate that," Logan said dryly.

More silence, and Logan was afraid things were about to get really awkward before James reached up and touched Logan's upper right arm lightly. "How's your shoulder?"

"Um, it's okay. The bruise is starting to fade," Logan answered, suddenly very aware he hadn't actually put on a shirt yet.

"Can I see?"

Logan raised an eyebrow, fighting his nerves with sarcasm. "That depends, are you going to apologize again?"

"Um…no?" James said slowly, obviously unsure what the right answer was.

"Good," Logan said, and gave James a half-smile before turning around.

"Wow, that uh, still looks terrible," James observed. "Does it still hurt?"

"Not like it did, no. Mostly it just looks bad now."

"Yeah."

Logan was expecting it so he should have been braced for it, but the brush of fingertips against the edges of his bruise still made him shudder.

"Did that hurt?" James asked, voice barely above a whisper.

"No," Logan answered with a shake of his head. His own voice sounded strange.

Step away, Logan, he told himself. Step away step away step away step a— His thoughts were cut short by the feel of lips on his skin as James pressed a kiss where his fingers had been. Logan took a short, sharp breath at the contact.

"Hey," said a voice—Kendall's voice—and Logan jumped about a foot in the air. "Seriously, guys, get a room."

"We're in a room," James argued. Logan didn't even turn back around, just rushed over to his bed and scrambled to put his shirt on.

"No, you're in a doorway," Kendall countered. "And move, I need to get dressed."

"Fine. Hey Logan, my room's free," James called over to him.

Logan rubbed at his face, trying to decide how to answer that. Luckily Kendall saved him the trouble.

"Don't you have an audition to practice for or something?"

"We're doing that at lunch," James said.

"Right, so I'll see you then, okay James?" Logan said, and hoped that would be enough.

"Well, we're about to go to school so you'll actually see me before then, but uh, sure." James closed the door and Logan sat on the edge of his bed with a sigh.

"You don't make any sense," Kendall said. Logan looked up to see him stripping off his shirt, and Logan rolled his eyes before falling back on his bed.

"Okay Kendall, I'll bite. How do I not make sense?"

"You like kissing him, right?"

"Do I really have to answer that?"

"Yes."

"Fine. Yes." It wasn't like it was any sort of secret at this point, but Logan still felt himself blushing.

"And you did agree to go on a date with him, right?"

Logan sighed heavily. "Yeah. What's your point?"

"Why are you still acting like you're afraid of him?"

"Afraid?" Logan asked, trying to sound incredulous, sitting up again as Kendall was pulling on his jeans. "Of James?"

"You said the other day you were afraid. And you turned him down just now."

And Logan had sort of forgotten he'd told Kendall that, but still. Being afraid and being afraid of James were two different things. "Yeah, but that's because he was being…I don't know…"

"Inappropriate?"

"Maybe," Logan said with a shrug.

"Dude." Kendall tugged a shirt on and sat down on his own bed, facing Logan. "See, that's what I don't get. You guys can't kiss in public, I figured you would want to do it as much as you can while you're at home."

"It's…" Logan sighed, and ran a hand over his face. "It's not that simple."

Kendall studied him for a long moment before he finally spoke again. "No, it really is, unless…you still don't know how you feel."

That hit a little too close to home and Logan probably reacted not as well as he could have. "Look, it's not like he makes it easy, he's around me all the time—"

"No he's not," Kendall said with a laugh. "At least he hasn't been lately. Is that the problem? He finally let up some and now you've realized it was just hormones or whatever?"

Logan gaped at Kendall in disbelief. "I don't even—what?"

"Oooor is it the other way around? Now you're freaking out because you know there's more to it?"

Kendall looked steadily at Logan, one eyebrow raised. Logan looked back, but he didn't know what to say. "I…it doesn't matter, either way," he finally sighed.

"I think James would disagree."

"Well, that's because James can't see past what he wants right now. He doesn't see how there is no way this could possibly work out."

"Why's that?"

"Because!" Logan said, and realized he was a few short steps away from panic, anger and fear. So he took a deep breath and fell back on logic. "Because there's no way for us to actually have a relationship and keep it secret for any length of time. And like I've said from the very beginning, it would destroy the band if the fans even suspect that James and I have some sort of secret relationship."

"I think you're underestimating our fans, Logan."

Logan's eyes went wide and he jumped up from his bed. "You agreed with me! When I said I wanted to keep the whole liking guys thing just between us, because there might be a bad reaction if James and I both came out at the same time, you agreed! You can't just take it back now!"

"Things have changed since then."

"That was less than a month ago! What's changed?"

"Um, you and James are going on a date now?"

His breathing was getting heavy and erratic so Logan took a moment to try and calm down once more. Before he could fully compose himself Kendall was talking again.

"Look, Logan," he said, his voice a little more gentle now, "I only agreed to that because it was what you wanted. But you need to figure out what you want now, because it seems to me like you're just leading James on."

Logan sat back down in shock.

"What is it?" Kendall asked.

"Camille…said the same thing. About 'leading people on.' Is that what I'm doing?" Logan looked up at Kendall helplessly.

Kendall blinked at him, eyebrows raised, and then shrugged. "If you're not even gonna give him a chance, then yeah. If you've already decided this isn't going to work, but you're going out with him anyway? Yeah, Logan, that's leading him on. Give him a chance, man."

Logan thought about that for a second, then groaned. "Why does this have to be so complicated?"

"I think you're making it way more complicated than it needs to be," Kendall said as he stood up. "But apparently James likes that, so…whatever. But I'm serious, you need to figure out what you want. Stop worrying about the band, stop worrying about James. I told you to begin with, you need to do what's best for you, Logan." With one last look at Logan, Kendall walked out of the room.

"Yeah, like you're one to talk," Logan muttered at the closed door.

———

"Why are we rehearsing in the park?" James asked, looking around like he was confused by their surroundings.

"Because that's where the scene takes place," Logan answered.

"But uh, we're in public. Aren't you afraid people are gonna get the wrong idea?"

"People rehearse stuff here all the time. It'll be fine."

Okay, so that was sort of a lie. Logan was actually really worried about doing this scene in public, but he was even more worried about doing it in private, because he was pretty sure that would end up in another make-out session.

He'd been thinking about what Kendall said, and as fucking usual, Kendall was right. Logan wasn't being fair, to himself or to James. The problem was, when he was around James he just…couldn't think straight. All his reasons and logic just went away, and then when he wasn't around James everything seemed impossible again.

But he'd already agreed to go on a date with James. And…he was actually looking forward to it, in the sort of way where if he thought too much about it it made him feel sick. But in the meantime, Logan needed to keep his thoughts clear. He needed to sort out as much of his feelings as he could beforehand so he would know they were real and not just a by-product of the effect James had on him.

"If you say so," James said with a shrug.

"It's also good for you to do this in public," Logan added, "because you need to be comfortable in front of an audience."

"Is that why Katie's here?" James asked, pointing at her.

"No, I'm here to make sure you know what you're doing," Katie answered. "And to make sure you take me with you. I still can't believe you tried to go to this audition without even telling me. What if you had tried to back out at the last minute and there was no one to make you go through with it?"

"Oh there's no way I'd let him back out of it," Logan said. Not after everything.

"Why would I back out of it?" James asked. They both just looked at him. "What? I really want this part!"

"Exactly," Logan said, and didn't wait for a rebuttal before he continued. "So, let's do this. Katie, if you laugh—well, just don't laugh."

"Don't worry. I read the script, I know what to expect," she told him. "You guys gonna do the kiss?"

"It would be a bad idea," Logan said, shaking his head.

"Camille said I need to practice it," James reminded him, raising his eyebrows hopefully.

Logan glanced around, hesitated for a second and then walked up to Katie and covered her ears. "You've had plenty enough practice, James," he said quietly with a pointed look at his friend.

"Seriously?" Katie said. "You're really doing the 'cover the innocent child's ears so she doesn't hear the grown-up talk' thing?"

Logan let go of her while James laughed. "Fine, whatever, let's do this," James said. "I don't want to be late to the audition."

The scene went smoothly. Logan had them situated next to a bench, so like before he was able to push James into sitting down, which really did make a difference. In fact, Logan felt like he was finally getting the hang of the whole thing, and he ended up being so comfortable with it that there was…a lot more touching than absolutely necessary. Just like before, except this time Logan at least had the presence of mind not to kiss James on the mouth at the end.

He did kiss him on the forehead, though, and tried not to freak out when he realized what he'd done.

After getting Katie's approval on the scene they waited for James to change clothes (he didn't wear his rehearsal outfit, but he was dressed pretty casually) and get quick mini pep-talks from the other guys (well, Kendall gave a pep talk; Carlos just said "Make sure they know you're okay with kissing dudes!"), then Logan drove them to the audition. On the way James's phone beeped, and Logan could see him grin out of the corner of his eye.

"What is it?" Logan asked.

"Camille," James said. "She's telling me good luck, and she wishes she could be there."

"She working today?"

"Yeah," James said with a nod. "Logan, if I get this part I'm going to be in a movie."

"I know, James." Logan grinned. James was sounding excited, and it was contagious. Hopefully it wouldn't turn to nervousness too soon.

When Logan parked the car at their destination, James grabbed his wrist before he could even think about opening the door. "Katie, cover your eyes," James told her, looking over the back seat.

"Are you two going to make out or something?" she asked.

"No!" Logan said immediately. "No," he repeated, looking James in the eye.

"Look, I'll just wait outside the car, okay?" Katie offered, and opened the door.

"Stay where we can see you!" James called after her. When the door had closed he turned back to Logan.

"We're not making out in the car, James," Logan said, feeling his face heat up at the words.

"I know that, I just—thank you, for helping me with this. And for coming with me."

Now James was starting to look nervous. "I'm happy to help," Logan told him with a smile. "And you're gonna do great."

"Can I at least get a kiss for luck?"

Logan wanted to say no—okay, no he didn't, he wanted to just grab James and kiss him; he felt like he should say no—but James's expression was nervous and hopeful and still excited, and it wasn't like one little kiss was going to screw too much with Logan's judgment, right?

You're an idiot, a voice in the back of Logan's head said. But James made that ignoring that voice so very, very easy.

"Yeah, like you need it," Logan said with a teasing smirk. He reached a hand up to graze James's cheek and that seemed to be the only permission James needed, because a second later their lips were together. It was a short kiss, and a good kiss, but something about it felt a little off. When James pulled away Logan caught his expression before it changed, and noticing there was something off about that too it hit him.

"…You totally just used me for practice, didn't you?" Logan asked, slightly accusing.

James had an innocent look plastered on his face in a micro-second. "I don't know what you're talking about, Logan. Just because I haven't been able to properly rehearse that kiss before doesn't mean I would take advantage of you like that."

"You are so full of it!" Logan said, shoving James's shoulder lightly. "That's all you're getting, you know. I'm not allowing any more inappropriate touching until—well, until I say so."

"What? Why? And I want a redo then, that wasn't even a real kiss!" James said, eyes wide.

Logan was about to respond when there was a tap on his window. He turned to see Katie pointing at an imaginary watch on her wrist. "Looks like it's time to go," Logan said, glancing back at James, who was frowning now. It probably hadn't been a good idea to tell him that right then. "Come on, don't look like that. I have a reason for it, and I'll tell you after you go earn yourself a movie role, okay?"

"Oh, you bet you will," James agreed. Logan rolled his eyes as James got out of the car.

As Logan had expected, when they got to the waiting room he could feel James getting increasingly nervous. They all sat down, James between Logan and Katie so they could grab him if he tried to make a run for it.

"These guys don't stand a chance, James," Katie said, voice low.

"She's right," Logan agreed automatically. He looked around the room at the competition—guys around their age, some a little younger. Most were good-looking, but if they were just being judged on appearance then Katie was right; none of them stood a chance against James.

"Some of these guys are hot," James said, starting to sound a little pitiful as he rolled the audition script between his hands.

Logan managed to resist the urge to roll his eyes. "But not as hot as you," he whispered. The things he did for his friends.

James turned to him, eyes wide, and grinned. Logan tried but he couldn't help smiling back.

"You two aren't going to start kissing in here, are you?" Katie asked, her tone somewhere between exasperation and warning.

"It would help me relax," James said, one eyebrow raised in persuasion.

"And be incredibly unprofessional," Logan countered, fighting a blush.

"Hmm. Good point," James conceded. "But…even if I am hotter than them it doesn't mean I'm a better actor."

Logan sighed soundlessly. He wanted to touch James, to comfort him, and a few weeks ago that wouldn't have been a problem. It wouldn't have even been a conscious thought; he would have just done it. But now he had to worry about how everything looked, how every little touch could be interpreted.

He finally settled for squeezing James's shoulder. "You've been great every time we've done the scene, James. Don't worry about them, okay? You're not competing against them, not really. You're competing against an idea in the casting director's head, and getting all worked up about that is pointless since you're not a mind-reader. Just do what you did in rehearsal. Just do Oliver justice, and you'll be fine. You'll be perfect."

"…Really?"

The way James said it, Logan thought he might just be fishing for more compliments. "Yes, really," he said anyway, smiling again.

"I wouldn't be letting you do the audition if I didn't think you could get the part," Katie added.

"Exactly," Logan agreed. "Now, are you okay? Or do I need to call Kendall?"

James laughed, although it sounded a little strange. "No, don't call Kendall. They'll end up picking him instead."

Logan instantly felt kind of like an asshole, his heart hurting at the words. What could he even say to that? "I was just going to let him talk to you through the phone, not ask him to come here," he clarified, voice gentle. And that was only if it was necessary; Logan was pretty sure he could handle James's nerves on his own. At least he hoped so, because there was no way he would be calling Kendall now.

"But anyway," Logan continued, needing to make this better somehow, "you're wrong. You deserve this role, James. And I can't really imagine Kendall playing a character like Oliver. Can you?"

Logan watched James thinking about it before he chuckled, relieved when it sounded a little more normal this time. "Probably not. But I couldn't imagine you as Felix either, until we did the scene."

"Yeah, well," Logan said, feeling his face heat up again. He was trying to figure out what else to say, but then someone called out James's name. It was his turn.

There was fear in James's face immediately, and for some weird reason Logan suddenly felt nervous himself. But he grabbed James's arm and hauled him up, trying to channel Kendall even a little bit as he put both hands on those broad shoulders. "You can do this, James," he said, looking him in the eye.

James looked at him for a second and then his arms were around Logan, hugging him tight. After the initial surprise Logan hugged him back, realizing with a shock that this was the first time they'd done anything like this since before that first kiss. Logan tried not to get caught up in it, in the feel of James pressed against him, those strong arms wrapped around him, and how stupidly good James smelled; but that was basically a lost cause.

"I wish I was doing the scene with you," James mumbled somewhere close to Logan's ear.

"Pretend you are," Logan whispered back. "Ask for a chair if you need to," he added with a grin.

"Because I'm intimidating," James said, trying to sound cocky but kind of failing.

"Right," Logan said with a laugh. He pulled away, then had to pry James's arms off of him. "Go on, James. Don't keep them waiting."

"And make sure your phone's on silent," Katie added. "Now go!" She pointed towards the person who had called James.

James took a deep breath, drawing himself up to his full height before he strode away. Logan watched him go, his body tingling all over. He was feeling too many things now; hope and nerves and pride and a little arousal—the close contact had been…nice; plus James was just really attractive, and he was walking with confidence and purpose and Logan couldn't help staring—and something else that might have been longing.

That was what James did, though; he made Logan feel way too many different things.

———

"Dude, calm down. Sit down. He's not having a baby in there."

Logan paused in his pacing to give Katie a weird look. "I'm aware of that."

"Are you sure? 'Cause you're acting like an expectant father or something. Pacing and wringing your hands and all that."

Logan looked down at his hands. They were wrung together. He quickly dropped them and wiped his palms across his jeans. "I'm just nervous, okay? He wants this so bad, and he deserves it, and I wish I was in there with him, I hate that he has to do this alone, and—" He shook his head and started pacing again, walking back and forth in front of the short row of chairs.

This was ridiculous, Logan knew. Getting this worked up over someone else's audition, but he couldn't help it. His nerves were as frayed as if he were the one auditioning, and part of him felt like he was. Maybe it was just because he'd run through the scene so many times with James; he could imagine everything so clearly, and he wanted to be in there with his friend, wanted to be able to help him somehow. At first he was worried that James would get nervous again once he was in front of the casting director, but Logan consoled himself with thinking that the character was supposed to be nervous so maybe that was okay. But there were other things that could go wrong, so many other things, and Logan had no way of knowing. Like, what if the guy James was doing the scene with just wasn't compatible with him? Or maybe there was no one, maybe he was just doing a dramatic reading, all by himself, and they hadn't practiced that and dammit I need to be in there.

The thought kept repeating itself—I need to be in there, I should be with him right now—as the minutes ticked by agonizingly slow. Then finally, finally, Logan turned in his pacing and froze as he saw James. Their eyes met and Logan gave him a 'well?' look, unable to breathe as he waited for the response. James beamed at him, Logan felt himself relax and tense up in excitement all at the same time as he grinned back, and a few seconds later he was being lifted off the ground in an even tighter hug than before, this one threatening to knock all the air out of him.

James twirled him a bit before setting him down, but Logan couldn't find it in him to make a fuss over it. He pulled away and James set his hands on Logan's shoulders, fingers digging in slightly, and they stared at each other for a moment, grinning, because Logan had no idea what to say. James looked so freaking happy, and it made Logan stupidly happy, and luckily they had someone with them who could actually act like an adult.

"So how'd it go?!" Katie asked, impatiently.

"Great," James answered, still looking at Logan, before breaking away and grabbing Katie in a twirling hug as well.

"Dude, watch the suit," she said as he released her, smoothing down her jacket. "So is that everything? We can go now?"

"I guess," James said with a slight shrug, smile still all over his face. "They said they'd call when they reach a decision."

"Okay then. Move out, boys."

Another grin at James and Logan let himself be ushered out, noticing on the way the odd looks they were getting from other people in the room. Some were amused, some were confused, some were jealous or bordering on angry. Logan wanted to stick his tongue out at them all.

He refrained, though, and they made their way to the car with James bouncing along in excitement and Logan feeling like a fool who just couldn't stop grinning. At the car James hugged them both again, Katie first this time, who hugged back briefly before reasserting her professionalism, adjusting her sunglasses, and climbing in the backseat.

James grabbed Logan on his way to the driver's side door, pulling him back into a slightly less suffocating but no less excited hug. "I'm glad it went well," Logan managed, hugging back.

"All thanks to you," James said, gratitude mixed with the smile in his voice. "And," he added, dropping his voice in both volume and pitch and speaking into Logan's ear, "I would really like a chance to show my appreciation later."

Logan felt a shiver course through his body, the effects of James's voice and words and breath on Logan's ear too much to combat, especially pressed together like they were. Before he could find his own voice again James was gone, settling himself in the passenger seat and smirking at Logan through the windshield.

When Logan got in the car James and Katie were already arguing over who was buying lunch, since they hadn't actually had time to eat earlier and they both thought they deserved to celebrate. Logan ended the argument by saying he was treating them both, and then got to listen to them argue over where to go.

Over lunch James told them all about the audition, going in waves of excitement and confidence and self-doubt that Logan and Katie had to snap him out of while exchanging looks with each other that clearly said they wanted to smack him. It turned out that he had been alone, basically just doing a read-through of the scene, and then answering a few questions about himself. (Including, he felt it necessary to mention, whether or not he was comfortable with kissing a boy on-screen. Logan could only hope his answer hadn't been too enthusiastic.) It also turned out that he had practiced just doing a reading, with Camille. Which…explained where he had been the past couple days?

By the time they got back to the Palm Woods James's mood had mostly stabilized, though he was still giving off bursts of happy vibes that made Logan grin like an idiot all over again.

"Don't forget you guys have to get to the studio," Katie told them as she opened her door. "I'm letting Kendall know we're back, so he's gonna be expecting you."

"Okay, Katie, thanks," Logan told her.

"You did good today, James," she said as she slid out of the car.

"Thanks!" James yelled before she closed the door.

Then they were alone, and Logan tried to ignore how his nerves flared up. "So, are we walking or driving to the studio?"

"Neither."

Well that didn't help Logan's nerves any. "James, we are not making out in—"

"I know. You're supposed to tell me why, remember?"

Logan looked at James, quizzical, until he did remember. "Oh! Right. Well, that's…" He thought about playing it off, just saying they were in public, but that wasn't what James meant and Logan knew it. So instead he fiddled with his seatbelt, wasting time by undoing it. James had already undone his and was turned in his seat a little, watching Logan.

"…Did you change your mind?"

There was apprehension in the question, and maybe even a little edge of sadness and Logan looked up at James immediately. "About what?"

"The date. I know we haven't picked a day or anything, or even figured out what play, but…you can't change your mind."

"I haven't changed my mind," Logan said, smiling, and was glad to see James look instantly brighter. "In fact, that's…actually kind of the reason."

They stared at each other again for a few long seconds, as James was obviously trying to piece that together. "You won't kiss me anymore…because we're going on a date?"

Logan made a face as he realized that really didn't make any sense at all but it was still the truth. "Kind of?"

More staring, but this time James's expression was blank. "Okay you're going to have to explain that to me."

"I can't," Logan said, sighing and leaning his head back against the seat.

"Um. Try."

"Okay, okay. I need…time, James. Time and space to think, because I agreed to this date with you but I still don't know what it means. And I know you've been busy or whatever the last couple days, and we haven't been around each other much and I didn't even realize it till this morning but I think I actually missed you driving me crazy and what does that even mean? Am I just used to it now?"

"I drive you crazy?"

Logan allowed himself a small smile but he didn't look over, because looking at James would probably make him forget this line of reasoning entirely. Even if he was pretty much making it up as he went along.

"Yes, and don't even act like you didn't know that. Or like you haven't been doing it on purpose. And I thought I was okay with it, I thought I could handle being attracted to you, but then we kissed again and then you asked me out and then I missed you and today. Dammit James at that audition I thought I was going to, I don't know, pass out I was so worried and nervous for you, I wanted to be in there with you so badly, because what if you were doing the scene with some idiot, or what if the casting people didn't realize how amazing you are and oh my God I like you."

Logan sat straight up as he said it, feeling like he'd just been body checked hard—probably an illegal move, where was a referee when you needed one?—and it was making his head spin.

"…What?" James asked, sounding confused.

"I like you," Logan repeated, turning to James. Because now Logan wasn't confused, not anymore, despite the dizziness; he was just surprised and startled and a little bit scared out of his mind.

James blinked at him. "I thought…we already decided that?"

"Did we?" Logan asked, trying to remember although he was pretty damn sure he'd remember feeling like this before. "I think—I think this is different. Or…something."

"How?"

"I don't—I don't know, like…" Logan's brain was racing, trying to find its way past the fear and the shock and figure all this out. "I think maybe it's been happening in stages, little layers adding up and now it's like all the pieces have clicked and fuck James. I like you! How the hell did this happen?!"

"Well I think somewhere in there you did say I'm amazing."

Logan just gave a panicky little laugh and leaned against the headrest again, this time facing James but without really seeing him. "You are. Fuck, James, you really are, and that's just—I don't know how this happened, but apparently it did, and what now? What do we do now, James?"

James raised an eyebrow at him, and Logan tried to focus but at the moment he was entirely too overwhelmed. "Um…we go on a date, Logan."

"Right," Logan said, closing his eyes and letting himself feel a little relieved. "Right. One step at a time." He lifted his head up and took a deep breath, opening his eyes and then staring in disbelief at what he saw as he glanced down. "James…"

"Hmm?"

"…How long have you been holding my hand?"

"What? Oh. Um. I dunno? Awhile, I guess. I mean, no one can see us really…"

"Oh dammit," Logan groaned, clinging with his free hand to the side of his face.

"What?" James almost sounded worried—or maybe just slightly offended—but he didn't let go.

Logan's forehead hit the top of the steering wheel. "We're never going to be able to pull this off, James. We've been sitting here in the car holding hands for who knows how long and I didn't even realize it. We can't do this, we can't go on a secret date!"

"Then it won't be a secret."

Logan turned to look at James with wide eyes, and found James looking somewhat seriously down at him. It sent weird flutters all through Logan's chest, but before either of them could say anything else Logan's text alert sounded.

He let go of James's hand to pull his phone out of his pocket, then noticed James doing the same. "Kendall," Logan said when he saw who the text was from. He checked the message and felt stupidly embarrassed.

'Hey you 2 better not be making out somewhere. Get your butts to the studio.'

"I guess we should go," Logan said, not sure whether he was relieved or just resigned to his fate. They probably did need to talk some more about this, but…it could wait. He glanced over to see James responding to the message. "Oh God, what are you telling him?"

"Nothing," James said, voice innocent but the look in his eyes was anything but.

"We really do have to get to the studio, you know."

"I know." He finished typing, smiling in a way that made Logan not even want to know what he'd just sent, and put his phone away. "Okay let's go."

"Are we driving or walking? We should probably drive, I guess…"

"We're running," James told him, and Logan looked at him in disbelief. "I'll race you," he clarified, eyes challenging.

"What for?"

"Because I can. Because I feel like running. Because I'll win." James grinned, and Logan narrowed his eyes. "Oh, and Logan?"

"What?"

James's smile changed, and then he was running one long finger down the middle of Logan's face, making Logan go cross-eyed as he watched it travel down his nose. His heartbeat sped up as it went.

"I thought we'd decided all this already, but I guess I was wrong, so…" The finger moved across Logan's closed mouth, sticking a little on his bottom lip before being joined by others on his chin, angling his face ever-so-slightly until he was looking James in the eye. By this point Logan could hear his heart pounding in his ears.

"I like you too," James finally said, his expression serious and playful at the same time. "And…that's really weird, isn't it? Because we're friends and all. We have been forever."

Logan found himself nodding slowly. "It is weird," he breathed.

"But…it's kind of exciting, too, right?"

Eyes wide, heart still beating loud, and having some real difficulty remembering to breathe, it occurred to Logan that he had never wanted to kiss someone in his whole fucking life as much as he wanted to kiss James in that instant.

So of course James opened the car door and stepped out.

"Come on dude," James said, leaning back in the open door. "If you give me a head start you won't even have a chance of winning."

It took Logan a good five seconds to snap back to reality. "Oh fuck you, James," he grumbled, grabbing at the door handle with hands that were only slightly shaky. He slammed the door and took off, not even bothering to look back at his friend.

James caught up to him in no time. "I've made you say that like three times since we got here, that's awesome," he said, flashing Logan a self-satisfied grin before he pulled ahead.

Logan wanted to say something back but decided instead to invest his energy in this stupid and utterly pointless race. That he was totally not going to lose, because James might be tall and athletic and…look really good running ahead of Logan like that, but, you know, Logan's pride was on the line or…something.

At the very least, he didn't want to have to deal with James teasing him about checking out his ass the whole way to the studio. Which he would do whether it was the truth or not, but Logan had a better chance of defending himself to the others if it wasn't true. So Logan fixed his gaze straight ahead and put on an extra burst of speed, finding that the run was exhilarating in that adrenaline-and-endorphins sort of way.

Or maybe, Logan thought as he finally sped past his annoyingly long-legged friend, determined to keep the lead as long as he could, maybe that's just James.

----

Part 11


Tags: big time rush, fic, james/logan
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