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Title: Beautiful, Unusual (The Prettiest Thing) - Part 6/6
Disclaimer: Not my boys, although I kind of love them like they were.
Pairings/Characters: James/Logan
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: ~4,800 this part (in total over 25,000)
Warnings (overall): language, crossdressing, slight angst

Summary: Logan likes doctors and scientists and smart people, but what he really likes is girls—so that's what James is going to give him.

Previous chapters: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Author's Notes: Written for the [livejournal.com profile] palmwoods Harvestfest. This...kind of got away from me.

Also after I wrote this and re-read the prompt I realized I may have taken it in a different direction than desired? But I'm still really happy with how it's turned out. Oh, and I'll also be writing a side-story to show what Kendall & Carlos were up to the whole time. :)

The title, of course, comes from "Time of Our Life," which became the official theme for this story after the first time I paid attention to the lyrics. So thanks for that, Logan ;)

And forever thanks to [livejournal.com profile] shisou_eimin for her help with this ♥♥♥

Prompt: (#25) "James/Logan: Halloween. James sets out to seduce Logan. He dresses up as a girl with some sort of costume that includes a mask and a way to hide his masculinity (i.e. gorgeous muscles). He plays the part perfectly and wins Logan over, discovering in the process that it's not just his looks that make him amazing--he has a lot to offer personality-wise, too, when he lets down his diva wall. What happens when Logan realizes it's James is up to you, it doesn't even have to be a happy ending (though that would be nice). Bonus points for James trying to sound smart and dancing with Logan (and not awkwardly like in BTProm), and Logan feeling bad for James for being such a "tall" girl."


Last chapter!! Also I kind of...made something to go along with this, so there are a couple pictures in this chapter. And I have started the side-story; hopefully it'll only take me a day or two to finish and post that~ Thanks so much to everyone who's been reading this!! ♥



----

Part 6

Neither one of them said a word on the way home. They walked though the hotel in silence too, James glad that the hallways and public areas were deserted. When they got to the apartment, though, he started to fidget. "Okay, I'm gonna…go change, um, you'll still be here when I get back, right?"

"I'll be in my room," Logan said, almost no emotion in the words at all. "Find me when you're done."

"Logan…"

"Go, James. Do what you need to do."

Logan headed into his and Kendall's bedroom while James went up to his own room. He quickly stripped his costume and pulled on some sweats and a tank top, feeling unbelievably better just from that change—but this wasn't close to over yet. He fished the notepad out from under his mattress, checking to make sure it was the right one before he went back downstairs to the bathroom to wash his face. James wanted to take a shower but he didn't have time, and there was nothing he could do about his nails tonight, so…

…His fucking nails. They were a deep, pretty color to match the vest and bandana he'd worn; Camille had done that for him, so patiently. She had done everything for him, and now she hated him as much as Logan did. Probably more. Despite her parting words, James was much more sure of his chances of at least reconciling with Logan than with Camille. How the hell could he ever make this up to her?

But that would have to wait till tomorrow, because tonight James needed to focus on fixing things with Logan. He ran his lucky comb through his hair several times and decided that would have to do. Then he took a deep breath and tried to get mirror-James to give him a pep talk but even his own reflection seemed unhappy with him tonight. James was on his own for this one.

The door to Logan's room wasn't closed when James got to it, so he pushed on it slightly. "…Logan?" There was no answer, but when James looked in the room he saw Logan sitting on his bed, in his own nightclothes now, so James slipped inside and closed the door. Then James saw what Logan was doing on his bed and he felt his heart sink.

Logan was staring down at a globe in front of him, slowly spinning it. James would have had absolutely no idea what the globe even was—he probably would have assumed it was a funky-looking Earth, and thought Logan had just been trying to occupy himself for a minute—except this was all too familiar.

So James knew it was Venus. Earth's brother planet. Galactic fucking best buds who never let each other down.

And of course, also the planet of love.

James would have been terribly proud of himself for remembering all of this if he wasn't feeling so terribly sick to his stomach at the implications.

He kept watching Logan as he tried to figure out where he was supposed to sit. Desk chair? Kendall's bed? Should he just stand there awkwardly? He wanted to grab that stupid globe and throw—gently move it somewhere and then sit on the bed with Logan, but he also didn't want to piss Logan off any more.

In that respect, making a joke was probably not James's smartest move that evening, but it was also so very, very far from his dumbest.

"Where's asteroid James?" he asked as he took a few tentative steps towards Logan's bed.

Logan didn't look up. "Gone. Burned a hole through the heart of the planet and just kept going on its orbit."

"A hit-and-run," James barely managed to respond. His chest hurt and his throat was tight and he was the biggest idiot in the world. No, solar system. Galaxy?

Whole fucking universe.

"And no one saw it coming," Logan continued, his voice soft and still directed at the spinning planet, "because this time the asteroid was hiding behind stardust, and no one could see it for what it was."

James didn't know what heartbreak felt like, not really, but he figured this crushing, tearing feeling in his chest had to be close.

"I'm no astronomy expert," James said, hoping he got the right word, "but aren't asteroids just big, dumb, pretty rocks? Not a lot of intelligence to begin with, and wanting something—like, really, really wanting it—can cloud anyone's judgment."

"Asteroids want things all the time. Why should this be any different?"

"Logan," James said seriously, wanting to be done with this metaphor before he got himself really confused. "Do you remember when we tried to get Carlos a date and you dressed up like an old woman?"

There was no answer but James saw Logan stiffen up a little, his hand on the globe pausing for a second before continuing its spinning.

"Was that okay?" James asked. "Was that right?"

"That was different."

"How?"

"Because that girl didn't know Carlos!" Logan shot back, looking up at James at last, more anger in his eyes than the last time James had seen them. It made fear flare up in him again. "We were just trying to show her how good of a guy he is! And Carlos wasn't the one dressed up, he was completely himself!"

"He was," James said a little distantly, remembering how very Carlos he had been and the disaster that had resulted in. Then he snapped back to reality. "What about when you met that new girl when you were dressed up and pretended to be your own grandma?"

James had never heard about that from Logan directly so he was probably embarrassed by the whole thing, which would hopefully work to James's advantage now. Logan was silent again for a moment, emotions James couldn't name flashing over his face.

"I wasn't trying to seduce her in costume," Logan finally said.

That hit James hard, but he pressed on. "But both of those things were still deceitful, right? I mean we were still lying. All of us."

"But we weren't lying to each other." Logan's jaw was clenched, teeth barely moving apart as he said it.

"I'm sorry, Logan," James said, realizing as he did it was the first time he had. Some best friend you are, James, he thought to himself. No wonder he can't see you as boyfriend material.

James stepped forward, wondering how close he could get before Logan threw a fit or ran away or really did punch him in the jaw. When he reached the bed safely James lightly brushed aside the globe and its stand, then sat with his feet on the floor, sideways, right in front of Logan.

Logan was still staring at him with hard eyes and James reached up to cup his cheek, like he had done earlier in the night with his gloved hand. He wanted Logan to understand that it had been James all along.

"I'm so sorry," he said again, stroking the side of Logan's face with his thumb before he leaned in for a kiss. Logan didn't respond to it and James pulled back, feeling so much constriction in his chest he thought he might have trouble breathing. He pressed the small notebook into Logan's hand. "Here."

Then James stood up and walked towards the door, intending to leave and go back to his own room, to let Logan come find him later if he wanted to, but something stopped him on the way. As nervous as the idea of Logan reading the list made James he had to see Logan's face when he did, had to watch him for any chance that James would ever be forgiven; for any chance that James hadn't thoroughly destroyed the crush Logan had said he had.

So James settled himself on Kendall's bed instead, feet on the floor, leaning forward slightly with his arms across his thighs and hands loosely clasped together, watching and waiting in apprehension.


* * * *


Part of Logan had wanted to kiss James back. But he knew doing so would have basically been an admission of forgiveness and he couldn't have that. It was bad enough he had returned the kiss on the sidewalk, but he had been caught off-guard and had been thinking about doing that for so long…

If he kept thinking about it, though, he wouldn't be able to stay angry at James and he needed to stay angry at him for this, this…betrayal. The anger had already mostly receded by the time they got in the car after leaving the stupid party, but James had managed to bring it back again with that whole 'I'm no worse than you' line of questioning, and Logan intended to keep it.

To be completely honest, Logan's anger had mostly left as soon as James explained his whole 'plan' to him. In doing so James had basically said he liked Logan which at least took away the worst of the possibilities for James's actions that evening and left 'James had a really stupid idea and no one stopped him from enacting it.'

But at the same time, Logan had been pretty sure James was just making that plan up right then just so Logan would think he had one all along. It was actually really impressive for a spur-of-the-moment thing—and as much as Logan would not have admitted it if that actually had been James's plan it probably would have worked more or less as he described, minus the kissing part because Logan still would've been really pissed as soon as he found out the truth—but there was something about it that rang false.

It was when James finally told him the real reason he'd dressed up like a girl that it all clicked. James was scared. He wouldn't risk just telling Logan how he felt so he had to hide himself and…it was obvious he had no idea Logan was into him at all, which meant his 'plan' wasn't really his plan because you can't plan to coerce someone into admitting something you don't even think is true.

It sucked that Logan couldn't even enjoy finding out that James did in fact want him because it was wrapped up in this whole mess of a situation. If James had just gone about it in some other, less completely ridiculous way…

And okay, yeah, so maybe Logan didn't have room to talk, about dressing up or any of the rest of it; maybe this whole thing was partly his own fault to begin with. If he had ever been honest with James himself…hell, even if he had ever just tried to subtly impress upon his friend that he was attracted to guys at all, maybe things would have been different. Maybe they would have been at that party together.

Logan didn't really know if that would have been a good idea, but for James? He'd be willing to figure out how to make it work.

Or he would have been, at least. Logan wasn't sure what would happen now. What even could happen after all of this. The fact still remained that James had lied, and Logan had gotten hurt.

Logan's hand tightened around the notebook, but still he didn't look at it. He knew James was sitting across the room, watching him, and Logan tried to ignore him but it was hard. He didn't want to look at James, back to himself now, wearing sweatpants and a tank top; dressed for bed, just like Logan was. He didn't want to think about how he had been stupid enough to not recognize James in that costume; how he had been drawn to what he thought was a girl who was at once confident and insecure, who seemed to silently revel in the attention she was getting while keeping her own focused on Logan, who Logan knew had to be pretty even though most of her face was covered.

Maybe somewhere deep in Logan's unconscious mind he had known, or suspected, the truth. Maybe something at the core of him had simply reacted to what made up the core of James, because now that he looked back he really had been with James the entire night. James was being honest when he said he'd been honest the whole time. Everything, all of it…none of it was not James. Thinking about it, the signs were there from the very beginning, Logan had just been too…enamored with Jade, and too pissed at James, to see them.

But that still didn't make it right. Right?

Logan finally glanced down at the notebook. He was vaguely surprised it even existed; there had been a chance James was making it up just to keep Logan from yelling at him anymore and to get them both home where…he could try to re-seduce him? Or something. Logan usually thought he was pretty good at figuring out James's brain, but tonight all bets were off.

And now let's see what he really thinks of me. Well, theoretically anyway.

The first thing that struck Logan was the title on the front of the notebook:


'JAMES' PEOPLE WORTH GOING X-CLUSIVE 4 ? LIST'


Logan really hoped this was an older notebook because 'x-clusive'? Really? Not that his texts were much better… And James had neglected to mention the question mark at the end of the title. But it made sense; James wasn't exactly the 'relationship type.' All of the reasons in the world might not be enough to make him actually want to be with someone.

Except he had said he wanted to be with Logan. Hadn't he?

Logan flipped open the notebook, expecting to see his name on the first page. But apparently James hadn't been telling the whole truth about that, because it wasn't. He couldn't read the name that was there, scratched out, but it definitely wasn't his own.

"I thought," Logan heard himself saying, and he didn't know if that was bitterness or disappointment in his tone, "you said my name was the first?"

"It was," James said, his voice quiet, subdued. "But I wrote it on the last page."

Logan couldn't help it; he had to look over at James. "Why?"

James shrugged. "I don't really know. It made sense at the time."

"When was that?"

"Just read it, Logan."

Logan turned back to the notebook, and he felt himself getting nervous as he glanced through page after page of marked-out names and lists of reasons with a big 'X' over them. Then there were a lot of blank pages, before he reached the end.

And Logan wasn't sure what he was expecting, but a page full of so much writing that he couldn't at first focus on anything was definitely not it. His eyes found his name, at the top, written in heavy capital letters, and the first thing under it—marked off by a little drawn diamond—made him gasp.

'doesn't break a date even when he feels like shit'

"James…" he said, staring at the page in disbelief. That couldn't be—could it?

"Read all of it. Please."

But Logan couldn't. He had to know. "James, this, this is…you wrote this…" he trailed off, looking up at James for help in finishing that sentence.

"After homecoming," James said, and if he was embarrassed it wasn't showing.

"Our freshman year!" Logan managed, completely incapable of processing this.

"We were doubling," James went on. He had been the one to find them dates, of course; it was their first high school dance, and Logan didn't even really know if he wanted to go because he didn't know how to ask anyone to go with him and he would feel stupid going alone, but James had worked everything out. Except…

"I was sick," Logan said.

"You went anyway."

"Your date didn't." So James had ended up dancing with practically every girl there.

"I was not stood up!" James said immediately, and Logan felt his face try to smile in response but he wouldn't let it. "She called me beforehand, she was sick and couldn't go. There was a bug going around!"

"I know. I caught it."

"But you went anyway."

And continuing with the night's theme of irony, Logan was now blushing. "It was our first dance, I couldn't not go. Especially after—" Everything you did, Logan thought, but wasn't about to say it out loud. "It wouldn't have been fair to my date," he said instead.

"I know," James replied. "I started the list that night."

"You…James, you're telling me you've had a crush on me since 9th grade?"

James shook his head slightly. "It wasn't a crush, it was…an appreciation?" He met Logan's gaze as he said it and Logan stared back, trying to figure out how he felt about that, as James continued. "I—oh, I remember now. Why I put your name at the end."

"Why?"

"Because you—" James broke the eye contact, looking away. "Because you were going to be the standard."

And now Logan had to figure out how he felt about that. "The standard for what?" he asked, although he already knew the answer.

"What to look for in a potential—whatever. Girlfriend, boyfriend. I knew that what I saw in you that night was something I wanted, and so I wrote it down to make sure I remembered." James paused and took a deep, barely audible breath. "And I've been writing down other things ever since, and sometimes I write down new names and reasons for them but then when I compare them to what's under your name I mark them out. Because no one else compares to you, Logan."

Logan looked back down at the list but he was having even more trouble focusing now. This night had been too much, too full of strong and conflicting emotions, and hearing this and trying to read the other things that made Logan James's fucking standard for relationship material was seriously threatening to make him tear up and crying in front of James was not how Logan wanted this night to go.

There were so many things on the list, though.

'lets me help him with things'

'helps me with things too'

'makes really good french toast'

After that there were some things scratched out, but Logan ignored them in favor of the next item he could read. He made a face at it before directing the expression at James. "'Is going to be rich someday'?"

"What, I'm not allowed to think of the future?" James asked with a slight eyebrow-raise. "Besides it's not like I wasn't planning on being rich too. It was more like…you wouldn't use me for my money 'cause you'd have your own."

"Sure it was," Logan said, then continued his reading. His attention was caught by 'looks good shirtless' because it was the first time Logan's physical appearance was mentioned. Not the last, though, as it was followed by:

'arm muscles'

'works out - with me - and looks hot doing it'

That clued Logan in on the timeline a bit; he was up to somewhere before or after the start of 10th grade. Logan had been worried he wasn't pulling his weight in hockey and James had oh-so-kindly offered to 'assist.' It had been sort of fun and mostly painful, but while Logan never took to working out with the same fervor James did he liked the way it made him feel and had kept up with it in his own way; James still dragged him to the gym on occasion but mostly Logan exercised in the comfort and privacy of his own room.

A few more items down the list Logan had to speak up again. "…My teeth?" he asked, eyebrow raised.

"Oh, shit," James said, and Logan looked up to see him full-out blushing, and—what the hell was wrong with this night, that James was blushing over something like having…an appreciation of Logan's teeth? "I, um, thought I'd marked that one out. Not that it stopped being true, or anything, because, um, well, you have nice teeth, Logan, and you know, when you smile, and…sometimes you bite your lip, and…okay you've read enough of them now, right?"

Logan was staring at James in utter disbelief, watching him sort of squirm and fidget and seriously wondering when he had entered upside-down world.

Possibly the weirdest thing about this entire night—and that was fucking saying something—was that James seemed so much less like himself now that he was back in his own normal clothing.

"I'm reading them all, James," Logan told him, and saw a flash of something like fear in those hazel eyes before he went back to the list, and that was what made him realize.

This notebook that Logan was holding in his hands was something deeply personal to James, and he was sharing it with Logan. Probably without thinking much beforehand he had offered it willingly, as penance, as explanation, as the only way he could see to fix what he had done.

And it was real and it was James and it was full of all of the things that made up Logan Mitchell that James Diamond knew he wanted, and all of the things that made up other people who fell short of the mark—the mark set by Logan. This was James at his most raw, most unprotected; things he would never have said out loud, things he never intended anyone else to see.

And he had shared it with Logan without having any idea how he would respond to it. Hoping it would be enough to make him understand.

Logan wanted badly to read the rest of the list; the curiosity was burning away in him. But James was right. He had seen enough. So he flipped the notebook closed.

"There's more on the back of the page," James said, voice back to that same subdued tone.

That was enough to make Logan choke up, but he fought back the lump in his throat along with the desire to open the notebook again.

"It was because you let me help you," Logan said, his own tone nearly matching James's.

"What?" James sounded confused.

"Prom," Logan sighed. "You let me help you. You…never needed my help with a date before that. I mean, why would you? But I offered to help you and you let me. And then when things…took a turn for the worse, you wanted my help again. And actually went along with my ridiculous plan."

"…It really wasn't the dress?"

Logan let out a soft chuckle. "No, James. As pretty as you are, that dress was hideous on you." When James made a sort of sad little whimper Logan looked over and saw him pouting. He rolled his eyes. "But not tonight. Tonight you were…beautiful."

"…Really?"

"Yeah," Logan answered, giving a short nod. "I can't explain it, because I couldn't even really see your face, but…" He shrugged.

James gave Logan a ghost of a smile before looking down. "Logan, can I…ask you something?"

"…I guess." It was a little weird that James was requesting permission to ask a question, but whatever.

"Why…I mean, you know I like guys, right? So…why didn't you ever tell me you had a crush on me?" He glanced up tentatively as he finished asking.

Logan sighed. Yeah, that was legitimate…but so was his reason. "I didn't see the point, James. I didn't think you were capable of hiding your feelings for someone. I thought if you wanted me you'd be all over me, and since you weren't I figured you didn't."

James's eyebrows went up a little, and he seemed to be phrasing his response before he spoke. "I don't…go after someone with the intention of losing, Logan, and with you I didn't think there was any way I could win. It was easier not to try."

And why did that hurt? Logan already knew as much, but hearing it flat-out said that the potential return wasn't worth the investment… But of course James didn't mean it that way. He just meant he was a coward.

"I don't see how you thought what you did tonight was going to be anything but difficult."

There was a long, uneasy silence where neither of them looked at the other. James was the one to brake it. "I'm sorry I did it, Logan."

"I know." There was no doubt in Logan's mind that James was sorry. "You're going to be, for a long time."

James sighed, sounding defeated. "Yeah."

"Come here," Logan told him, motioning slightly.

James perked up visibly, looking at Logan with interest before he stood and crossed the distance between the beds. When he was within reach Logan held out the notebook.

"You didn't read them all," James said.

"They're not really my business, are they?" Logan replied, and his throat was trying to close up on him again.

"I want them to be." There was no hesitation when James said it, and Logan looked up at him in surprise. "Keep it, okay? Just…keep it. I don't need a list; I haven't for a long time. I know what I want, Logan, even if I'm too stupid to know how to get it. So keep that, and just…remember that no one else has ever compared. Remember that over and over again until you can forgive me. Okay?"

And fuck it all but Logan suddenly couldn't speak, not even a little, and he didn't really know what he was doing as he rose up on his knees and turned, clutching the notebook in one hand as he pulled James down with the other and kissed him hard.

Now James did hesitate, just for a split-second, before he made a little noise and returned the kiss eagerly, hands coming up to cup Logan's face. Logan wasn't thinking at all anymore, just giving in to what he wanted; what they both wanted, but if making himself happy made James happy too then whatever. Logan had had a shitty night and he fucking deserved to be happy.

Logan shoved his tongue forcefully in James's mouth as soon as there was an opening; James made a startled sound followed by a sort of moan, and 'self-control' was the next thing to follow 'ability to think' in the list of 'what James is currently robbing Logan of.'

When exploring James's mouth with his tongue was no longer enough Logan wrapped a hand around the back of James's neck and tugged, shifting back slightly on the bed as he did. A few seconds later and Logan was flat on his back, James a heavy, solid weight on top of him, kissing his lips, his chin, his neck—and not just kissing, sucking and licking and oh God Logan could only hope Kendall and Carlos got home before this got completely out of control.

Logan started to reach his hands up to run along James's back but realized he was still holding the notebook, which brought him back to his senses enough to pant out, "James, this doesn't mean you're forgiven, you know."

James moved back up to kiss him on the mouth, long and soft and before Logan could stop himself he had his free hand tangled in James's hair. "It sure feels like I am," James whispered against his lips. Logan tightened his grip and pulled James away from his mouth, the anger and hurt creeping back into the edges of this sudden lust.

"Hey, ow." James made a face at the force Logan was using, but dropped it when he saw the way Logan was looking at him. "Okay, Logan, okay," he sighed softly, apology showing in his eyes. "I'll be sorry for a long time. And I'll be making it up to you for a long time. But…you have to let me, okay? Please let me make it up to you."

'Ability to say no' would have been added to the list if James hadn't stolen that from Logan years ago. When he released his hold on James he got a smile in return and then James moved in to kiss him again. Logan reached out with the hand gripping the notebook until he found his bedside table and set it there, not wanting it to get messed up, before relaxing into the kiss. James was good at this; better even than Logan had imagined, and as he ran hands up James's sides, across his shoulders and down his back, fingers itching to pull up the hem of his shirt, Logan started to reconsider his position on whether their friends should even bother to come home that night at all.


* * * * *


Logan always understood things. James had been counting on that, actually.

Somewhere between sucking marks into Logan's neck and tugging Logan's shirt off James made a mental note to start a new list soon. He didn't need a list to know what he wanted, but it wouldn't hurt to make one to remember what he had.

Plus...it might come in handy if he ever screwed up this badly again.

Although really, what were the chances of that happening?

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