08 7 / 2011
This is what I get for using the Next to Normal soundtrack as my writing playlist.
This is depressing. And sad. And not fun.
I’m just gonna curl up in the corner.
It first happens exactly one month after the funeral. Most everyone else has fully recovered. Injuries have healed, scars lightened. Students begin laughing again, running out of classes to soak up the rays of sunning that stream merrily on to the lawn. Up ahead, the Brightman twins turn cartwheels in the grass. Shane twirls a blushing Reed in a circle, grinning brightly when the shorter boy almost falls over. Kurt and Blaine make the walk across campus to Windsor hand-in-hand, smiling sweetly at each other as they brush shoulders. Wes and David stop in the middle of the courtyard, heads bent over a shared cell phone. Everyone has returned to normal.
Except for Logan Wright.
He leaves the building alone, grimacing as the bright sunlight temporarily blinds him. He brings a hand up to shield his face, and that’s when he sees him.
Leaning up against a tree, trademark sunglasses perched low on his nose, typical cheshire-cat grin. Julian Larson in all his glory, bathed in golden light and looking very much alive.
Logan blinks, and Julian’s gone. The tree stands alone, a single beam of light shining in Julian’s wake. Logan’s frozen, eyes locked on the tree, not sure whether he wants to fly into a rage or burst into tears.
A hand grips his arm, and Logan jerks out of his trance as Derek frowns in concern. “Logan, you’re shaking.”
He looks down, into the eyes of the one person who might possibly come close to understanding how he feels. He wants to say something, wants Derek to tell him everything will be okay.
But it won’t be okay, and he can’t form the words his brain so desperately seeks. So he turns, walks away from his only friend without a word.
He dreams of it every night. Of that day. Of the fire. Of students running, screaming, terrified. Of Julian, landing in a crumpled heap after his leap through the third-floor window of the art hall. Of the burns and scars covering his skin, marring the perfect image splayed across magazine covers and movie posters. Of the lifeless body, limp and cold and not at all how he wants to remember his friend.
He wakes up in a cold sweat, every morning, face wet with tears. After weeks of this, of heartbreaking pain and memories, he gives up on sleep. Each night he paces his room, listens to music, does anything to distract himself. Sleep only comes when he finally passes out from exhaustion, and even then he doesn’t rest deeply enough to dream. There are shadows on his face and his eyes are constantly red, but at least he’s no longer re-living the worst day of his life.
It’s tearing them apart. Logan won’t talk to Derek anymore. He refuses to talk to anyone anymore. He stops showing up to Warbler rehearsal. He sits ghostlike through classes. He eats lunch alone. The rest of his days are spent locked in his room as he tries to ignore the world.
“He was my friend too!”
Derek doesn’t understand. Can’t understand. He didn’t see the look in Julian’s eyes as they were forced apart. Didn’t hear his voice crack as he yelled at Logan to go, to get to safety and leave him behind. Didn’t feel his skin grow cold as the paramedics shook their heads over his body.
“He wouldn’t want you to do this to yourself.”
They all say the same thing. But Logan can’t help but think that Julian would love this. Love watching Logan tear himself apart because of him, laugh that absolutely ridiculous chortle of his when he realized that he was the cause of Logan’s downward spiral.
“…he loved you.”
That’s the worst part of it. Because he didn’t know—didn’t have a clue—until it was too late. That it wasn’t until the very end, when it was too late to fix, too late to change, that Logan finally found out.
Julian had loved him.
He reaches a new level of desperate when he sneaks over to Windsor one night, knocks persistently on a door until Dwight Houston answers, blinking up at him in a mixture of sleep and confusion.
No matter how much Logan asks, Dwight shakes his head. He says there’s nothing that can be done. That he tried before, with his brother, and it didn’t work. Logan begs until tears begin to fall, grows even more upset at the pity in Houston’s eyes.
He must cry himself to sleep at some point, because he wakes up on the floor hours later, alone, with a cup of coffee left waiting for him.
Julian’s room is untouched. His furniture remains in place, marred by a thin layer of dust. His clothes still hang in the wardrobe. His homework is still strewn across his desk, never to be finished. Logan stands in the darkened doorway, eyes scanning the framed pictures on the walls, the blazer thrown carelessly over the back of a chair. The window is open, and the curtains sway slightly in the breeze as a shadowed figure moves forward.
“Did you miss me?”
He looks just as he did that day. The first few buttons of his shirt are undone, sleeves pushed up to his elbows, tie hanging loosely from his neck. Julian smirks, tilting his head as he observes Logan.
“You’re not real.” Logan’s voice cracks as he involuntarily steps closer. “I’m finally going crazy, aren’t I?”
Julian laughs, a hollow chuckle so unlike what Logan’s used to.
“You’ve always been crazy, Lo.”
It hurts to look at him, to see him standing and whole and alive. But it would hurt even more to turn away, and so he steps forward instead, reaching out to tentatively brush a hand over Julian’s arm. His skin is cold, but it’s tangible, and that’s enough to pretend that this is all real.
“I can’t sleep anymore.” Logan whispers, watching the way his pale fingers trace circles on Julian’s skin.
Julian reaches out, fingertips ghosting over Logan’s face. “You can sleep here.”
“Will you be here when I wake up?”
Julian’s silent grin shines in the moonlight.
Logan falls asleep with Julian by his side.
He wakes up alone.
Derek takes him to a new doctor against his will. He sits for hours as they try to talk to him. Eventually, he is given new pills. Tiny white capsules that they say will make Julian go away.
That night, he flushes them all down the toilet.
Julian grins as he picks up the bottle, thin fingers tapping at empty pastic.
“Don’t worry, Lo. They can’t get rid of me.”
The container falls to the carpet with a dull thud as Julian extends a hand. Logan takes it without hesitation, staring at the way their hands link together, fingers interlocking perfectly.
“Don’t leave me again.” Logan pleads desperately.
He’s pretty sure Julian’s grin is now forever imprinted in his mind.
“Are you happy?” Logan asks one night, as they lay side-by-side on the bed.
Julian tilts his head at the question.
“Wherever you are. Heaven, or whatever it is.”
Julian says nothing. Logan turns, staring as the moonlight illuminates Julian’s skin, glowing pale white in the darkness.
“Where are you, Jules?”
A tiny smile graces pink lips. “I’m with you, of course.”
It takes almost six months for Derek to give up on him. He asks to see Logan’s medication, shoves into the room when he receives no response. The first bottle is still on his dresser, joined over the months with five re-fills that Derek has so thoughtfully picked up for him. Only the first is empty; the rest sit unopened, still full of chalky white pills.
The resulting confrontation grows loud enough to draw a crowd at the doorway. Logan doesn’t bother fighting back, not even when Derek’s fist connects with his jaw. Bailey’s the one to pull them apart, and Derek storms out without another word.
In that moment, Logan knows he’s lost his only friend.
Julian’s fingers are cool on his bruised skin that night.
“I’ll never leave you,” he says as tears stream down Logan’s face. “I promise.”
A year passes.
He drives to the cemetery alone. Brown grass crunches under his shoes as he makes his way past the line of headstones. He drops to his knees at Julian’s, reaching out to trace the carved letters with his finger.
“What, no flowers?”
Julian leans against his own grave, staring down at Logan with a raised eyebrow.
“You hated flowers.”
Julian slides against the stone, resting his back against the carved words. Somewhere underneath, his bones lie in a coffin. Logan almost cracks a smile at the thought.
The low rumble of a car engine cracks through the silence, and Logan’s head snaps around, watching as a sleek black sports car passes. When he turns back, Julian’s gone.
He stays until the sun sets, watching as Julian’s name glows with oranges and pinks and reds. When it’s too dark to make out the words, he stands, brushes the grass off his pants, and drives back to campus.
He doesn’t cry.
He doesn’t have any tears left.
Somehow he makes it to graduation. He watches his classmates cross the stage. Blaine, with a wide grin; the twins, who march arm-in-arm and wrap the Dean in a hug as they take their diplomas; Kurt, who waves at his family in the audience; Derek, who shoots a smile at his litle sister.
There’s an empty seat in the L’s, a black sash draped over the chair meant to be occupied by Julian Larson-Armstrong. Logan can see it in his mind, what Jules would look like as he strolled across the stage, robe hanging open carelessly, dark glasses hiding bored eyes as he smirked pompously at his audience. He’d lounge lazily in his seat as the rest of the class accepted their diplomas, not even bothering to stand in celebration at the end.
Logan crosses the stage silently. Neither of his parents bothered to show up. Some of the students clap politely, nothing like the cheering everyone else gets. He thinks he catches a glimpse of oak-brown hair as he takes his diploma. But when he looks up, there’s nothing there.
Julian’s chair is still empty.
He doesn’t apply to any colleges. He tells his father he wants to take a year off, figure out what to do with his life. Michelle offers him the house in the Hamptons, says he can have it to himself for as long as he needs. He moves in immediately.
The first few days he spends alone in the house, aimlessly walking up and down the halls, lying on the floor of the living room, staring blankly at the ceiling. He has no motivation to leave, to move, to live.
A week later, he wakes up to rain. The sky is dark, raindrops pounding on the pavement outside. He plans on staying inside as usual, until he happens to glance out the window. In the middle of the backyard, standing atop the rocks that circle the pool, a figure stands in the downpour, head turned upwards.
Logan doesn’t even bother changing clothes.
Julian’s still standing there when he runs outside, face turned to the rain, eyes closed. Logan approaches him slowly, standing just behind him, watching the water fall onto his skin.
“I love the rain,” Julian breathes, stretching his arms.
They stand in silence. Julian keeps his face to the rain, letting the water drip down his neck. Logan keeps his eyes on Julian.
“Are you real?” he asks, finally.
Julian’s eyes blink open, and he turns. “What do you mean?”
“I mean,” Logan takes a breath, “am I imagining you, or are you somehow…=still here?”
Julian smiles, almost sadly, and shrugs. “I’m whatever you want me to be, I guess.”
It still doesn’t answer his question, but Logan nods anyway.
“What do you want, Logan?”
There’s a long silence. Just the steady hum of the rain, the low rumble of thunder in the distance. And then Logan’s voice, quiet but decisive.
That night, they fall asleep by the fire together.
This time, when Logan wakes up, he’s not alone.
“You need help, Logan!”
It’s the first time Michelle’s ever yelled at him. There are tears in her eyes and her lip trembles. Logan sits cooly, watching her pace across the room in frustration.
“Please, dear, just talk to someone.”
He refuses everything. Doctors, medicine, therapy. Michelle finally gives up, begs his father to do something.
He ends up in a white room, doctors holding him down as he struggles, a nurse pushing a syringe into his arm. Right before he blacks out, he sees Julian’s face, lined with worry, right above him.
When he regains consciousness, Julian’s gone, and Logan can’t feel anything.
They re-diagnose him, put him on new medication. He’s not allowed to leave, not until they decide he’s “cured”.
Michelle visits him a few times. Even Derek comes by once, standing with crossed arms in the doorway, eyes fixed on his old best friend, who’s finally gone insane.
He never sees Julian again.
When they finally release him, he doesn’t even remember who Julian is.
Logan Wright leads a relatively normal life after that. He eventually goes to college, gets a degree in business, and settles into a boring job at a generic company. He lives a comfortable life, still living off family money and, eventually, inheritance from his parents.
There’s a few men that trickle in and out of his life. There’s Jason, in his late twenties, but that relationship fizzles out within a few months. He stays with Aaron for almost six years, until he proposes. Aaron’s on his knee, looking hopeful, and Logan just can’t say yes. Nobody stays for longer than that.
He always feels as if something’s missing. He can’t pinpoint what it is, exactly. There’s one moment that he almost feels it—they had put in an old movie, and there had been a split second as the main character’s eyes bore into the camera—but then Aaron had pulled him into a kiss, and the fleeting feeling had been lost.
Sometimes he hears a voice in the back of his mind, or sees a familiar figure in his dreams. But it’s not until years later, when he’s old and tired and ready to move on, that he sees him again.
Julian Larson, still young and smiling and beautiful, stands in front of him, holding out a hand.
“I’ve been waiting for you, Logan.”
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