Logan looked at Julian with a bewildered expression, his mind still reeling, thoughts about Clavell and him being a stalker—him being Julian’s stalker—exploding in his head.
“Lo, where is Derek?”
Julian was panicking now and he was looking around the room feverishly, almost as if he was expecting Derek to be hiding somewhere and that it was all just some big joke. That every minute Derek could jump up and scare the living shit out of them, and they’d all be yelling and bickering, but it wouldn’t matter, because it would all be a joke and they’d all be alive and okay…
Any minute now.
“Where is Derek, Logan?” Julian asked frantically, tugging on Logan’s sleeve, his fingers tearing the fabric.
But Logan was still stunned and anger was filling him now, a white-hot, searing anger that weighed on his heart and twisted his stomach, and he was going to be sick… because where was Derek… and where was Clavell…?
“He was your stalker?”
Julian’s hands flew up and his fingers disappeared in strands of dirty brown hair. He nodded his head in panic, his eyes wide and scared and desperate. “Yes!”
Logan took a shaky breath. “We have to find Derek,” he murmured. “We have to find Derek. Shit. Where did you see him last, Julian?”
“He was running this way,” Julian whispered hoarsely. He was on the verge of a break down and it was showing—his eyes were as wide as saucers, his face pale, his cheeks flushed in distress. “He has to be here somewhere. He can’t be upstairs, he didn’t go to any stairs… He’s not in the hallways—he has to be here somewhere.” He ran to various doors, opening and closing them as they turned up empty. “How is he not here? He’s got to be here somewhere…”
“We’ll find him, Julian,” Logan reassured him with a firm voice. “We’ll find him.” He yanked open another door—
—and then so many things happening at once that it seemed like the world exploded.
There was a hoarse scream that could only be Derek—Derek who was still alive, Derek who was here—and it was soon followed by a horrified yell—
A furious scream—
“Logan fucking Wright!”
And immediately after that, gunshots were ripping through the room along with more screams and yells and curses. Trained and experienced, Logan managed to wheel around and push Julian behind an old wardrobe in a quick action, squashing next to his friend as they searched for cover. He swore loudly and slid the bag from his shoulders, digging through it impatiently. He snatched the gun from Julian’s hand and swapped the magazines, throwing the old one on the floor and handing the actor back his gun.
“Here, take another one—”
“Logan! Logan, that was Derek!”
“Yes. Yes, I know—”
“But how are we going to get out of here? How are we going to survive this? Logan—”
“Take the gun, Julian. You’ll need it,” Logan pressed as he tried to not lose his patience, pushing the gun in Julian’s hands when the actor didn’t take it himself.
“I know, Julian! Stop whining, I’ll think of something!”
After he’d renewed his own magazines, Logan slung the bag around his shoulder and he peaked around the closet cautiously. Immediately, the sounds of gunshots swelled again and Julian hissed in fear.
“Fuck you! I’m not whining, Logan! That is Derek out there! That is my best friend out there! We have to help him! We have to get out of here!”
Logan threw the actor an aggravated look. “Sure, Julian. If I just jump out there and distract them with something, you’re going to grab Derek and make a run for it, okay? Does that sound like a good fucking plan?”
Julian narrowed his eyes, his lips curling up in a ferocious snarl. “Fuck. You.”
“And fuck you, too.” Logan spat back. His eyes fluttered shut for a moment and he took a deep, slow breath as he tried to calm his mind. When he opened them again, the green of his irises were blazing with determination and without a second thought, the blond lunged from behind the wardrobe, two guns in his hands, at everything that moved.
Without looking around and without stopping as he tried to defend himself, Logan yelled, “Fucking go then, Julian!”
Julian was looking at him with wide eyes, groaning as he grabbed the closet to prevent himself from collapsing. This was not happening. “I thought you were being sarcastic!” he yelled back, absolutely desperate.
“Get Derek, you fucking princess!”
Julian bit his lip, but he didn’t hesitate. All he wanted was to grab Derek and get out of here alive. So he pushed himself from the wall and left the cover of the closet from the other side. His fingers were clenching two guns and he held them in front of his body, expression grim as he shot at the men that immediately started attacking him.
Bullets flew over his head and he heard them zoom by as they narrowly missed him. Julian was ducking and swirling, never standing still, his heart beating so loudly it rammed violently against his ribcage. Dust and dirt flared up from the floor and it formed a vague fog, making sight difficult, making aiming impossible. Blood and fallen men were littered over the floor and the actor was slipping over the red liquid, tripping over the bodies, and the scene was more gruesome and more terrifying than any movie set could ever recreate.
And suddenly Derek was there, running towards him, gun in his hand and blood on his face and clothes. He almost collided with Julian and Julian felt his heart soar in relief as he caught sight of his best friend.
“Go, go, go!” the athlete yelled, turning Julian around and pushing him away from the fight, not looking backwards, just looking at that door he wanted to reach—and he wanted to get out of here, but—
“Logan! What about Lo—”
“He’ll be okay, Jules! Just run, okay?”
But Julian was shaking his head stubbornly and he whirled around. He was still firing his guns and he wondered how many bullets he had left. Even though Clavell’s men were starting to fall—their numbers dwindling down slowly due to Logan’s unfathomable expertise—Julian was thanking the gods that they weren’t dead yet.
“I’m not leaving without Logan, Derek, you know that!”
Derek yelled suddenly and he pushed Julian out of the way, a bullet grazing his arm as they fell to the ground. Derek scrambled up and wheeled around, shooting one of the offenders in his leg; the man cried out and collapsed onto the floor.
Then Logan appeared out of nowhere—panting, bleeding, sweating, and dirty—and he grabbed Julian’s hand, pulled him up and towed them along, shoving Derek to the door impatiently.
“Get out of here, we have to get out of here,” he snapped, cursing when a bullet ripped his shoulder open, fresh blood oozing out of the shallow wound. “Go, go, go!” He whirled around, defending Julian and Derek’s back as they sprinted towards the one door.
They were almost there.
The sunlight provided little light and Logan’s eyes were the brightest things in the room as dust continued to whirl up from the floor, filth and dirt drifting in the air and obscuring everyone’s view.
Julian yanked the door open and Logan fired both his guns for the last time, throwing them away when he realized the magazines were empty. He turned around, fully intending to leap through the door and throw it shut behind them.
“No!” Julian screamed suddenly and instead of opening the door further, he was pushing it shut again.
“What the hell are you doing? What the hell are you doing?” Logan snarled, absolutely furious, and he snatched the gun from the actor’s hand to keep defending them. There were not many men standing anymore, though. “I swear to God, if you don’t open that fucking door right now—!”
But Julian was throwing his weight against it and he was screaming and yelling and Derek was looking at him in utter confusion.
Whoever was trying to open the door on the other side was stronger though, and the door swung open violently, making Julian fall back against Derek.
The gunshots stopped instantly.
A heavy silence fell in the room—a terrifying, horrible silence that was so sudden it was almost louder than the gunshots.
Julian drew a shaky breath, his hand grabbing Derek’s wrist as they both stared in absolute horror and disbelief.
Adam Clavell was standing on the other side of the door, dark eyes narrowed to slits, his sharp gaze traveling over the trio and lingering on each boy individually.
The one that had disobeyed him.
The one that had rejected his love.
The one that had tried to kill him.
Logan was the first one to move. He tightened the grip on his gun, raised his arm and cocked it. His finger was curling around the trigger and he was close—so close—to shooting, but Clavell gave him a murderous glance, a single gunshot echoed through the air, and Logan cried out, blood spilling rapidly from the wound in his arm. His gun fell to the ground with a loud clattering sound and Logan bit his lip, his eyes fluttering close in pain.
“You didn’t honestly think you could kill me, did you, Wright?” Adam snapped, lowering his arm, his gun still smoking. “You honestly think you have a chance against me? Now? In this mess you created?”
“Adam. Don’t do this,” Julian whispered, his wide eyes focusing on the man who he’d once been friends with such a long time ago.
Adam’s eyes softened as they looked at the actor and his voice was gentle as he replied. “But I have to, Julian… You don’t understand. Not yet. You’ll see. You will see… everything’s going to be so much better… We just have to… eliminate the last things that stand in the way. It’ll be alright, I promise.”
“No,” Julian shook his head, eyes glistening with fear. “No, everything’s not alright. Let us go, Adam…” From his peripheral vision he could see Derek hand his gun to Logan and he focused back on Adam, on the person he thought to be dead. “How… how did you…”
“Survive?” Adam snickered darkly. “I wasn’t dead after I was shot. The ambulance took me, I had to go through surgery and I had to stay in the hospital for weeks—” he took a deep breath. “And then I was out again. Just like that. Because no one had reported me, because everyone thought I was dead, and the nurses and doctors couldn’t say a thing,” he laughed cruelly. “Patient confidentiality.”
Julian pressed his lips together, expression horrified as he shook his head. “Adam, why are you doing this?” his voice broke, his hands trembled and he had to force himself not to break down right then and there.
It was all too much.
Way, way too much.
“Because I love you!” Adam whispered desperately and suddenly he was the young Adam again and not the cruel man that hired people to kill the actor, that terrible man that believed they should both die. “I love you so much, why don’t you see that, Julian?”
“Because you hurt everyone!” Julian cried desperately. “You hurt people, you hurt people I care about, Adam! You killed Carmen! Why did you do that? What did she ever do to you?”
“She was standing in the way—”
“You can’t just kill people because they stand in the way!” Julian shouted, throwing his hands up in frustration. “Adam—I don’t love you.”
Adam jerked back as if he was slapped and the menacing glint in his dark eyes returned, his mouth curling up in a furious snarl. “Yes, you do! I just… have to take care of the people standing in our way.” His eyes were wild as they raked over the trio standing in front of him.
His arm snapped up so quickly, it was all Logan could do to push Derek over in time, the bullet flying over both their heads as they fell on the floor together. Adam snarled furiously and aimed his gun again, but this time it was Julian who yelled and leaped forward, shoving Adam against a wall with surprising force.
Logan and Derek stood up from the floor and the blond sniper grabbed his friend’s wrist, pushing him behind him and into relative safety. The surrounding men were moving again; running towards the trio and their boss, who was still slightly dazed from where he sat against the wall. Logan cursed as he walked backwards, Derek behind him, gun ready to fire.
As the first gunshots cut the air, Adam leaped on his feet and he was reaching out towards the actor, his hands almost grabbing Julian’s sleeve. Logan was faster, fingers curling around Julian’s wrist and yanking him back to him.
The trio backed away and Logan opened a door on good luck, pushing his friends in and leaping behind them, smashing the door shut.
“It’s a closet—” Julian whispered horrified, turning in a little circle as he took in the rather big closet. There was absolutely no other way out than the way they went in. “No…”
Logan cursed loudly, and when Derek sank to the floor without a word, his two friends followed with long sighs. They were weary, wounded, exhausted beyond recognition. It was silent for a long time—the three friends relishing in the short moment of peace, all three of them trying to think of a plan to get them out safely. Logan was the first one to murmur a suggestion.
“You two have to go,” he whispered, his heart clenching and breaking as he turned his gaze to Julian first. “I’ll distract them and you can run.” Julian started shaking his head, his eyes wide in horror as he stared at his friend. He opened his mouth to protest, but Logan reached out and delicately pressed two fingers against Julian’s lips. “Don’t talk, just listen to me for a moment. Let me do this for you. It’s my fault that you’re in this mess, it’s my fault Clavell has gotten this far… Let me do this one thing for you—please—”
Cheeks bright red, Julian swatted Logan’s hand away. “No—they’ll—”
“—kill me?” Logan smiled gently at the brunet, his heart strangely swelling as he stared into the brown eyes. “I never expected to survive this job to begin with, Julian. I don’t really care about that.”
“Logan—” Derek started, his eyes flickering between Julian and Logan, his expression desperate. “Don’t do this.”
“If I don’t do this, you’re not going to get out of here alive,” Logan retorted harshly. “I’m not prepared to let you die over something I did wrong.”
“No, no, no—” Julian muttered, his cold fingers grasping onto Logan’s hands desperately. He looked up, staring in the bright green gaze with wide eyes, and shook his head. “Logan, there’s another way—we’ll find another way. You’re not going to—to stupidly sacrifice yourself when there’s absolutely no need to—!”
“No need?” Logan snapped incredulously, gesturing to the door and the waiting men behind it. “They’re waiting for us to get out of here and then they’re going to slaughter us like trappedanimals! I’d say there is definitely a fuc—”
“I don’t care! Logan, I don’t care!” Even though his expression was stubborn and his eyes glinted ferociously, Julian’s bottom lip trembled, betraying his fear and vulnerability. He raised one hand, but he hesitated too long and the moment to touch Logan—to maybe cup his cheek shortly—passed by, and he dropped his hand listlessly.
Logan raised his voice, bringing his face even closer to Julian’s. Their noses almost touched as they stared each other down. “You should care, damn it! Do you want to die?”
“I’m not leaving here without you!” Julian burst out, a blazing fire in his eyes, his fingers digging in the palms of Logan’s hands. “I’m not leaving this place without you! Fucking hell, Logan! We’ll find another way out! We’re not going to sacrifice ourselves! We’re in this together and we’ll get out of this together!” He turned his smoldering gaze to Derek, who was behind Logan, idly looking through the sniper’s bag of impressive weaponry. “Right, Derek?”
“Yeah, Derek—” Logan sneered as he turned around to look at the athlete. “You say something about it. Do you want to live or die? Fucking hell, I’m just going to—” but as he tried to stand up, Julian’s hands moved up and clasped around his arms like iron vises, and the actor yanked him back down again.
“Don’t you fucking dare, Wright,” he snarled menacingly. “Don’t you fucking dare.”
“What are you going to do, Larson?” Logan snapped back, his eyes darkening in his frustrated fury. “Are you going to kill me? You might as well let Clavell do it! That way you can at least live!”
“Don’t say that to me, you ass!” Julian yelled and in an action fueled by pure desperation, he raised his hand and slapped Logan hard across his face. Logan’s eyes widened and he fell completely silent as he stared at a heavily panting Julian, his cheek turning white-hot and bright red.
Julian stared back at him, his lips pressed in a tight line, his expression challenging and fearless for once. “What, you ass?”
Julian and Logan were bickering back and forth with such an intensity that they’d temporarily forgotten about Derek. The athlete was watching the two young men—his best friends—and as he thought about what was waiting for them on the other side of the door, his heart broke.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to end.
Not for any of them.
Derek saw the concern in Logan’s eyes now and he’d seen the worry and the care he’d given Julian in the past few days… he wasn’t blind. He was glad that Logan had finally, finally seemed to open his eyes, that he was finally noticing Julian. Because Derek knew that after all these years, after everything that had happened, after all that time spent apart, after all those flings Hollywood went crazy about… Derek knew that Julian’s heart was still with Logan, that it still belonged to his old high school friend.
It always had.
This horrible chaos wasn’t the time for love and it wasn’t the perfect time for a romance to start, but the way Logan and Julian were staring at each other was so intimate, Derek almost felt the need to look away.
Even when they were fighting their love shined through. That flash of utter concern in devastating green eyes… That glimpse of an undying love in a sepia stare… The way their hands were still touching and their bodies seemed to gravitate towards each other…
And Derek knew that it might not be fair for anyone of them to end like this—to step out of here and be murdered like a pig for slaughter—but the athlete realized that especially for his two friends, for Julian and Logan and their strong, blooming love… especially for them… it couldn’t end like this. That was so unfair and so tragically wrong it hurt to even think about.
They were like his brothers. Even Logan, who’d only recently stepped back into their lives, bringing along his horrendous moods and snarky comments—even Logan was his brother. And he loved them. Simple as that.
He loved them.
And that was why it only sparked a small bit of fear, that was why he hesitated for only a split second, before he grabbed in Logan’s bag and snatched up the weapon he’d seen a few minutes ago.
It didn’t take Logan long to realize what Derek was doing, but before he could stop his friend—before he could do anything—Derek had opened the door and stepped out. Julian immediately leaped to his feet and he would’ve run straight after his friend, if it weren’t for Logan who tackled him to the ground again.
“No, Julian, don’t—!”
Gunshots were being fired, but the only thing registering in Derek’s mind were the cries of his two friends and the fact that he was holding Logan’s machinegun as he ran across the room.
“Logan, let me go—let me go! Derek!”
“No, no, no, no!”
But Derek couldn’t turn around to look at his friends and he couldn’t answer their cries, because guns were being aimed at him and the machinegun in his own hands was still firing rapidly and tirelessly. He had to trust Logan to take control and according to his peripheral vision, Logan was taking control already.
“No! Let me go, let me go! Derek!”
Logan’s breath was coming in gasps, the air stuck in his throat as he forced Julian to move backwards out of the room. The actor was struggling, his nails raking over Logan’s skin as he tried to get his arms off of him.
“Let me go!”
Clavell and his men were too distracted by Derek, who never ceased his fire on them, and when Logan finally reached the door and pushed Julian through, they were too late to react.
Everything hurt as Logan slammed the door shut; very well knowing that it sealed the fate of Derek. The gunshots and cries never died, only slightly muted by the closed door, forever imprinted in both Julian and Logan’s minds.
“Are you an idiot?” Julian yelled, struggling as Logan forced him to move. “Don’t fucking leave him behind, Logan! He’ll die! Logan!”
But Logan pressed his lips in a tight line and his arm was wrapped securely around the actor’s waist, his sharp eyes carefully scrutinizing the dark rooms and the hallways they passed by. Julian stumbled on his feet as Logan pulled him along, almost tripping, his vision blinded by stinging tears. Logan had trouble pushing his whirling emotions down and he’d never regretted forgetting his medication as much as he did now.
At last, they reached the living room and Logan heaved a sigh as he dragged Julian with him. He was starting to get tired; his legs numbing, the shot wound in his arm burning.
Julian was still fighting his hold with a power that astounded him. The actor was screaming—horrible, awful, broken yells that ripped through the house and pierced through Logan’s mind. The blond felt his knees buckle, his body growing weak. It was also his friend they’d left behind, also his best friend who’d thrown himself out there.
When they stumbled out of the house, Logan immediately headed toward the car. “In the car, Julian, get in the car—” But when they’d taken two steps, Logan saw that the tires were flat and useless, probably punctured by Clavell’s men. His heart sank and he hissed a stream of furious profanities as he turned Julian around again. “No, no, no—fuck—fuck—”
Logan grabbed Julian by his waist and all but dragged him back, deeper into the deserted farm. They ran until they couldn’t see the house anymore and they didn’t stop until Logan spotted a huge building that must’ve been used for storage in better times.
It was big on the inside—with old, dusty hay bales haphazardly thrown over the floor. The stone walls and floor forming a sharp contrast with the rest of the sheds on the farm, that were all made out of wood.
Logan opened the metal doors and all but threw Julian inside, following quickly and slamming the doors shut again. The resulting dark surrounded them like an old friend and instead of being frightened, Logan was grateful for the cover it offered them. Without letting go of the actor, Logan carefully made his way to the opposite wall of the building, as far away from the door as possible.
Behind a pile of hay bales, Logan finally gave in to his exhaustion, and he sagged down on the floor, taking Julian with him. He leaned against the soft hay, his arms still wrapped around the brunet. The suspiciously quiet brunet.
“Julian?” Logan’s whisper was sharp in the darkness, but the actor didn’t respond. He just sat on the floor, leaning heavily against Logan, his glistening eyes barely visible as they stared at nothing. “Julian…?”
Julian was deadly quiet now, his hands clutching Logan’s arms forcefully. Tears were streaming down his cheeks and his shoulders shocked as he tried to repress his sobs, but he said absolutely nothing. In the scarce light that filtered through the few dirty windows, he looked awful, almost sick. Along with the never-ending tears and the utterly broken expression in his shining eyes, this deafening silence was even more terrifying than his previous screaming, saying everything that couldn’t be brought into words.
“We’re going to be alright, Julian…” but then Logan thought of Derek and how he was alone against so many people… and he knew they weren’t going to be alright.
Green eyes closed for a moment and the desperate sniper ran a hand through his hair, trying to stifle his own sobs. He couldn’t cry… not here… not now… not when Julian was so broken and devastated and hurt…
He tightened his embrace around Julian, his concern doubling when the actor stayed numb, not reacting at all. Logan reached out in the dark, his fingers lacing through brown hair as he gently pushed Julian’s head down so it rested on his chest. Logan buried his nose in Julian’s soft hair and shut his eyes tightly, tears trickling down his cheeks.
The nickname seemed to finally break the spell and Logan could feel it when Julian heaved a trembling breath and curled up in himself. The brunet pressed his face in Logan’s chest and his fingers grabbed onto the blond’s shirt desperately, nearly tearing the fabric. Warm liquid seeped through Logan’s clothes as Julian started to sob—a sound so heartbreaking and so utterly painful, it hurt Logan far worse than his injuries.
They stayed like that for a long time—curled up in each other, Logan’s face buried in Julian’s hair, Julian almost drowning in Logan’s strong embrace. They never wanted to let go again, wishing to stay like this forever, wishing to be comforted by each other forever…
But the harsh reality lingered in the back of their minds, never shutting up and never stopping its arrogant nagging as it got clearer and clearer—
They were in an abandoned farm, miles and miles away from people and help, hiding in an old, dark building—hurt, injured and exhausted…
…they were trapped.