The bullet cut silently through the air, slicing easily through the raindrops that had suddenly started to fall. The sky had been gray and dreary all day, but when the bullet found the window, crashed through it and did its damage—the clouds really broke open, releasing so much water it was almost like angels did exist and every one of them was crying heartbrokenly.
But maybe it were the angels crying.
They had every reason to.
But what if I did know him? It was just a brief thought—barely in words, just in colors, like so many of our thoughts that are as invisible and insubstantial as sunbeams—but it was carving its way through Logan’s heart and mind frantically.
What if I did know him?
What if I did actually know him?
What if he’d been one of my best friends?
A friend killing a friend…
The angels had every reason to cry.
And the drenching, soaking rain seemed fitting—like it was planned, like in a bad drama movie.
Rain positively poured from above, obscuring every sight and muffling every sound. Drops viciously rattled against the window and the frail walls of the old building where the sniper was hiding in—creating a loud racket that drilled through the silent air.
The drops that trailed over the window left clear tracks between the filth, and right through those tracks, wide green eyes were staring at the outside world—focused on one thing only.
The sniper rifle clattered to the floor when Logan’s fingers grasped the window-ledge. He sat up and pressed his face against the glass, catching small drops from where the rain managed to seep through the cracks.
His pale lips were slightly parted, his chest heaving rapidly as his heart pounded uncomfortably loud against his ribs. Utter surprise and absolute shock colored his expression, and his eyes widened even more as he tried to peer through the heavy curtains of rain.
There was obvious chaos in the other room, even through the rain he could see the people running on and off, he could hear yells—angry, worried, frightened… pained.
Blinking, he leaned back on his heels. Raking his hands through his hair, Logan closed his eyes for one small moment.
Of course there were pained yells. For a moment—just one small, tiny moment—he’d thought that he’d… but no… no, that was impossible. Logan Wright never missed. Never.
But he was certain…
He knew yells—he’d hear them all too often—and this, this weren’t the yells that sounded when somebody had been shot… But yet… It was impossible.
But when Logan wanted to pick up his weapon to leave this place, his eyes glided once more over the chaotic room full of running people—and his heart stopped. The sniper rifle clattered to the floor yet again and Logan rushed back to the window, his eyes as wide as saucers, a constant stream of profanities flooding from his mouth.
But there, standing in the middle of the room, Derek standing right next to him—was Julian Larson. His face was unreadable due to the ridiculously heavy rain, his expression invisible and his dark eyes merely beads from this distance—but it was definitely the young actor.
Looking horribly, awfully, terribly alive.
“No…” Logan whispered furiously.
No, no, no, no, NO!
“You’re alive? How the fuck are you alive?” he muttered, anger and self-hatred bubbling to the surface. How could he have missed? How the hell could he have missed?
But people were running out of the building, dashing over the streets, sharp eyes obviously looking for the culprit, even though they had little chance to find him in this heavy rain—and it was definitely time for Logan to leave.
How in the world was he going to tell Clavell about this?
The small apartment of Adam Clavell was dark, stuffy and stale. There was a horrible, decayed smell impregnating the air, whirling around sluggishly and disgustingly. The young man himself sat on an old chair, completely and utterly motionless. His posture was uptight and he was noticeably waiting for something… anything. Muted voices spoke from the television—the only object giving some light, the only object creating some sound, the only object seeming to be alive.
He was a volcano about to erupt.
Outside he wore a mask of stillness—inside though, there was a boiling stream of feelings and thoughts that charged through his entire body, wild and ablaze and devastating as it was busy ruining his last shreds of concentration and patience.
It was almost pathetic how little control Clavell had over his own mind—but despite his efforts to try and hold them together, the thoughts and memories spilled irretrievably free from his iron claws, giving a full performance of the happiest and darkest months of his life.
And it had started out so hopeful. So damn happy.
But everyone knew that happy things never stayed happy. Life was always in motion, always moving… like a creek forcing its way through the forest… just going through and through, never looking backwards, never caring if it ruined something.
And everyone knew that life always ruined things…
But at that time, Clavell didn’t think it would. Not for him. He was invincible. The world was glorious—the man he loved, his very heart was glorious—and nothing could ever stop him.
Julian’s face appeared in his mind, and despite Clavell’s reluctance to watch the memories play out again, he allowed himself to relish in the perfect image. The actor’s perfect face, with his perfect brown eyes—those beautiful eyes that always sparkled when they glanced his way—his perfect pink lips that pulled into that wicked smile that was meant for him and him alone…
“Hi…” he breathed, beyond stunned as he gazed at the famous young actor. He handed Julian the poster, asking him silently for an autograph.
Julian Larson looked up at him and smiled, brown eyes sparkling as they curiously took the boy in. “Hi there. What’s your name?”
“Adam… Adam Clavell.”
“Well, Adam…” Julian’s tongue poked out from between his lips as he sighed the poster and it tore all kinds of feelings loose that Adam had tried to hide for way too long.
“I love you,” he blurted out and his eyes grew wide, his hands coming up to clutch the fabric over his chest in a vain attempt to calm his pounding heart. “I’m… I’m sorry—I…”
“No, that’s okay,” the actor smiled kindly—obviously used to declarations like this—and handed the stuttering fan the poster back. “To be honest—I’m kinda in love with all of my fans, too.” And then he winked and Adam knew right then and there that they were meant to be together forever and ever and ever.
But then… naturally… life had interfered. The creek had gurgled on and on, not looking back when Adam’s heart stumbled off its path, drowning hopelessly in the wildly swirling waves.
Waking up from the nightmarish memories, Adam’s eyes suddenly blazed with fire and the volcano erupted explosively as he clenched his phone tightly, waiting impatiently for that godforsaken call from that godforsaken stuck-up ass Wright.
It better be done.
It better be all done.
Julian couldn’t breathe.
He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t breathe.
The sound—that awful, horrible sound that he knew so well—of the gunshot burned in his ears, echoed through his head and danced around teasingly, making his head pound as rapidly as his heart.
He clutched his chest with his hand, tugging the clothes a bit further from his skin, as if that made breathing easier.
Julian closed his eyes in a vain attempt to get control over his body—but instead of the so much needed breath, horrible imagines dove in front of his closed eyelids, images that were memories he’d never wanted to see again, memories that had haunted him for years now.
Memories that were triggered by that cursed gunshot.
Adam’s eyes glinted harshly in the afternoon-sun as he tugged his gun from his jacket. He stroked over the barrel lovingly, a sugar-sweet smile across his pale lips. Julian looked around feverishly, searching for an escape, waiting for those godforsaken bodyguards to finally show up and save his ass.
But there was nobody and they were all alone. Just like Adam had always wanted it.
And Julian was a fool for only noticing now.
Derek was quick to kneel next to his best friend, his hands fluttering idly over his body, looking for wounds, looking for blood… but there wasn’t any. It was just shock that had made the actor fall against the bookcase. Shock… and one of those idiot bodyguards that had pushed him over, while the bullet wasn’t even nowhere near the brunet.
Julian blinked a couple of times, trying to control his breathing, trying to ignore everyone staring at him, trying to push away the dark threads of those horrid nightmares.
Adam’s voice was warm and sincere as he spoke, eyes widening to display his honesty. “I’ll protect you, Julian. Forever.”
“You’re—you’re sick, Adam—please, please stay away from me…”
Although the smile stayed, his entire posture changed in a heartbeat. Brown eyes sparkled menacingly, fingers clenched around his gun protectively. But the smile stayed—it always, always… stayed. “What? How can you say that—I’ll never walk away from you…”
It was the smile that haunted his dreams. Not the obsessive eyes, not the blood-curling words, not the gunshot… It was the smile—that god-awful, creepy, fake smile.
The gunshot that followed rocked his world, and it took the actor a moment to orientate, to notice where it came from—not from Adam’s weapon, not from the bodyguards that suddenly chose to appear…
When Adam fell, it was Derek that stood behind him—his breaths ragged and irregular, his shaking hands holding a smoking gun, his brown eyes wide with utter shock.
The same brown eyes that stared at him in worry now.
“Jules, Julian—are you alright? Please tell me you’re alright—”
Julian pushed Derek’s hands away. “I’m fine, D. I’m fine,” he sat up, looking slightly flustered as he examined the room with a disbelieving expression. He noticed the cracked window and his heart fluttered uncomfortably when he saw the black dent in the wall where the bullet had penetrated through. He noted the lack of bodyguards and remembered most of them had run out in hopes to catch the shooter. Some of them were staring out of the window, but all of them had pulled their weapons.
“What the fuck happened?”
“Somebody tried to shoot you,” a bodyguard spoke up, quite absently as he peered through the window, and Julian glared at him murderously.
“Thank you. Really. Your observations astound me,” he sneered, getting more frightened and more frustrated with the second. “This is awesome, by the way. Someone who tries to shoot me. That’s absolutely great, just what I nee—Derek, leave me alone, I’m fine,” he interrupted himself when Derek’s hands pressed on his body, examining him yet again.
Derek narrowed his eyes when he reluctantly pulled his hands away. “Somebody tried to shoot you, Jules—you’re not fine. Stop saying you’re fine when you’re not.”
Giving his friend a deadly glare, the actor stood up, still a little shakily. “Is everybody alright?” he asked, using all his acting skills to prevent his voice from trembling.
When everybody nodded, Julian sighed relieved. “Okay—you can all go then.”
“What?” Derek bristled and he jumped up, eyes shooting fire. “Somebody tried to kill you—and you want to send away your bodyguards? They’re supposed to protect you, you idiot!”
“Yes—and they were such a fucking protection just now!” Julian snarled and each of the bodyguards shifted uneasily and looked down, obviously embarrassed. Derek couldn’t exactly deny that and the actor waved all the people away. “Just go—all of you.”
The bodyguards shuffled away—moping, unhappy with the circumstances—and after they’d all walked out the door, Julian exhaled loudly, falling back against the wall and sliding down to the ground. He looked sick.
Derek—the only one left in the room with him—went to sit next to him, not touching him, not talking to him, doing absolutely nothing. He just watched—feeling helpless and powerless—as Julian buried his face between his knees and tangled his fingers in his hair, his breaths rough and shallow.
No, no, no, no.
Derek closed his eyes and bit his lip—his heart and everything inside of him not wanting to happen what was happening now.
He knew that neither of them would get any sleep tonight.
The next morning brought even more rain, starting as dreary as the last day had ended. Derek had stayed with his friend the entire night, acting like such a mother-hen, that Julian—scared and drained as he was—had kicked him out early, so that he could have a few hours alone before all the chaos started anew.
Julian tilted his head back—feeling tired, exhausted, empty—and let the steaming hot water fall over his face, sighing in relief as it managed to calm him down a bit.
He wouldn’t admit it to anyone, but he was scared—beyond frightened that he would end up like Marcie, beyond frightened that he’d be killed too.
And when he thought about the headlines that would decorate the papers and magazines today…
He groaned, sliding down the bathroom-wall, pulling up his knees and hiding his face in his hands.
He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want to die at all. He wasn’t in love with his life—but he didn’t want to lose it.
Pressing his brown eyes shut, a few tears leaked over his cheeks, immediately made invisible by the water of the shower.
He wished he could run. From all of it. Just walk away, all on his own, just go away from here, going somewhere safe and loving and warm and…
For the shortest moment a tall blond sprang into his thoughts, green eyes sparkling as pink lips pulled up into a warm smile…
That would never happen.
Not now. Not after seven years. Not when Logan had forgotten about him. Not when Julian appeared to be a fucking target—who the hell would want to be with him?
Having enough of the shower, he stepped out, shivering when the sudden cold air hit his bare skin. He grabbed a towel and wrapped it low around his hips as he walked out of the bathroom—steam engulfing his body, his wet hair hanging in front of his face and drops of water dripping languidly down his back…
Brown eyes looked up—their long, wet lashes throwing dark shadows over the actor’s cheeks—and then Julian chocked in alarm, backed away as quickly as he could, and stifled a surprised scream as he spotted a very familiar figure on the couch.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” he hissed, brown eyes like smoldering coals as they burned into the green ones that looked right back at him, shining with obvious mirth.
“Hi there, Larson,” Logan stated with a sour smirk, his eyes raking over the half-naked brunet appreciatively.
“What the fuck are you doing here, Logan?”
Logan’s eyes darkened at the use of his first name, but he chose not to speak up—it was no use anyway. Instead, he sat up and leaned forward, planting his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.
“I heard what happened yesterday. Care to tell me how you got out alive?” he asked, expression jokingly, insides twisting in anger and frustration. He was still extremely riled up about the fact that he fucking missed—god-fucking-damn-it—and his fingers dug into his jeans ferociously, but it all went unnoticed to Julian.
“Lucky, I guess,” the actor mumbled and he looked away, completely missing the fierce gleam in Logan’s bright green stare.
“I guess,” Logan bit the inside of his cheek, his gaze wandering off to Julian’s slender, naked waist.
He obviously lied to me. How could I’ve forgotten about this? He looks freaking—
Green eyes widened as he caught himself exactly on time and his blond hair flopped in his face as Logan shook his head, trying to force away those thoughts. He closed his eyes, but not without reluctance. “Could you please go and change now? I don’t talk to people when they’re half-naked.”
Julian raised his eyebrows and his mouth formed a tiny ‘o’. His lips turned up into his signature Cheshire smirk and he tilted his head to the side playfully. “Do I distract you, Oh Tempestuous One?” he asked, eyes sparkling with amusement, his heart leaping with the old familiar desire.
Logan opened his eyes, trying his best to look tired and uninterested as he snorted derisively. “You think you distract me?” he asked icily and Julian’s smirk slowly faded. “Five-year-olds really don’t appeal to me,” he added, eyes and voice as sharp as razors, feeling intensely satisfied when genuine hurt showed in Julian’s expressive eyes. There you go, you asshole, for not dying when I wanted you to.
Pushing the hurt quickly to the side, deciding to deal with that later—which was okay, really, he used to do it all the time—Julian straightened his back and lifted his chin defiantly. He wanted to make a retort just as scathing and hurtful as Logan’s, but he couldn’t find the words and the willpower. Not now, not today, not after somebody had tried to kill him.
“I can’t help it that you’re tasteless, Majesty,” he merely said, voice only half as sharp and sarcastic as it should’ve been. Julian turned around and stalked away—hurt, humiliated and his hopes of getting Logan’s feelings returned yet again devastated.
The door slammed shut loudly behind him.
Logan felt a small pang of remorse as he watched Julian walk away, unconsciously shifting on the couch so he could watch his bare back until the very last moment—with all that sleek, tanned skin and all those smoothly rippling muscles and those water drops sliding from them all the way down and down and down—but the remorse was small and short-lived, and a second later he didn’t even think about it anymore.
Deciding that if he was going to spend even more time here, he could just as well go on a little scavenger-hunt. Logan stood up—his hand always on his gun in an undying habit—and looked around, completely at ease in this foreign room.
He started investigating the baskets near the couch, snickering when he noticed every magazine that had Julian Larson on the front-page was lying next to the baskets, in the garbage-can.Where they belong, he thought, smirking as he laid the magazines back.
The closets were next and he was having a freaking fieldtrip sorting through all the shoes and suits and coats that were hanging there. There were no casual clothes, so the blond figured that they must be in the actor’s bedroom. He wondered what that place looked like… but didn’t pay much attention to that fleeting—but strangely appealing—thought.
He strayed to the kitchen, opening closets and counters, finding not much food, lots of alcoholic beverages and—to his surprise—a lot of baking stuff. But it wasn’t until he opened the top-counter that he discovered the true treasure this room held.
Logan’s eyes widened and he grabbed the glass box very carefully, bringing it closer to his already perfect eyesight to make absolutely sure he wasn’t mistaken.
It were lollipops…?
Well. That was… strange…?
Chuckling softly, he raked his long fingers through the candy. All were red—most of them cherry, some of them strawberry, blueberry, raspberry… So the diva had a kink for lollipops, huh?
And then suddenly images of Julian Larson—the famous actor, the precious Hollywood-treasure, the insufferable diva—sucking on one of those lollipops surfaced in his mind and he raised his eyebrows at the scene they displayed.
Glancing down at the lollipops with an entirely refreshed opinion, he didn’t see it when Julian—clad in grey sweatpants and a simple black shirt that clung tightly to his body—walked into the kitchen, leaning against the counter casually.
“What the hell are you doing?” he suddenly asked, his hollow voice breaking Logan’s spell, making him look up in surprise. “Are you really expecting me to think you’re not the five-year-old with the way you’re eye-fucking the fucking candy?”
Logan narrowed his eyes and pulled his hand out of the mountain of lollipops. “You’re the one having this stuff in your kitchen, Larson. Why do you have lollipops in your kitchen?”
Julian crossed his arms and took the blond in with calculating eyes. “Obviously I eat them.”
Logan snorted. “Thank you, Captain Obvious, I hadn’t thought of that.”
“You’re such an ass, Logan. I just eat them when I don’t feel good.”
Raising his eyebrows, Logan offered him the box with lollipops mockingly. “Somebody just tried to kill you—” and hopelessly, miserably failed at that ”—I think you can use some lollipops, hm?”
Julian narrowed his eyes, his gaze traveling from his beloved candy to Logan’s amused expression. “Fuck you, Logan. I feel perfectly fine. I will be perfectly fine.”
“Sure you will,” Logan said, pulling the candy back. But the box hit his gun by accident and it created a profound cling that rang through the room.
Brown eyes focused on the weapon immediately and the actor huffed impatiently, brushing his dark hair out of his face before he pointed to the gun. “I know you’re a bodyguard and all, but if that thing fires off accidentally—”
Logan rolled his eyes, a surge of amusement rippling through his body. “Yeah, like I’d let it go off accidentally. Don’t worry, Princess—”
The actor raised his eyebrows hearing the god-awful nickname and he narrowed his eyes in anger and aggravation.
“—this thing won’t fire unless I want to.”
“Right. I’ve seen older and more experienced men accidentally pull the trigger of their stupid gun.”
Julian chuckled sarcastically. “Right. Sure you are.”
“Fine. Whatever. Just don’t let anybody get hurt. Especially not me,” he muttered as in an afterthought, eyeing the weapon suspiciously.
And that last statement harbored so much irony, that Logan—despite all the tension, the frustration and the feelings of being an absolute failure—burst out in peals of laughter and he laughed until his stomach hurt, until even Julian’s lips twitched upwards a little—and the sniper realized that this was the first time in years he’d laughed like this. And staring in Julian’s eyes—those haunting, sincere brown eyes that never seemed to let him go—he couldn’t imagine a single better feeling.
But then a thought entered his mind that left the sniper gasping for breath, a thought that made tiny, little, ice-cold fists squeeze his heart violently and they kept squeezing until he couldn’t feel anything anymore and he stopped laughing abruptly.
Because Logan had told Clavell he would call after the damn job and a whole night further he still hadn’t called and now Clavell was going to find out through the news and the screaming headlines of the newspapers.
Julian looked up in surprise when Logan suddenly stopped laughing and shut his eyes as if he was in pain.