It was easy to kill people.
Blood loss from a knife plunged somewhere in the abdomen or the chest. Suffocation through strangulation, crushing the ribs, breaking the nose and jaw. Or—easier, so much easier—a bullet through the heart, lungs, brain, neck. Lacking a knife or a gun—a simple snap of the neck would suffice.
Logan tried not to think of it as he glanced down at the broken body at his feet—the last of the two men Clavell had brought with him—but the dark thoughts wouldn’t leave his mind, would probably never leave his mind for the rest of his life. Death was natural for him, belonged to him, forever following the beat of his heart and the whoosh of his lungs. He nudged the man with his foot, and the man’s neck—twisted at an unnatural angle—made a nauseating sound when it moved sideways. Logan sighed, massaging his sprained wrist in an attempt to dull the pain caused by a well-aimed kick.
Death was ridiculously easy, and it had been easy for years.
There was only one thing that made Logan feel uneasy about it, only one person who would have that kind of influence on his being. The sepia eyes widening in shock when he’d told about the death of the first man, the look of shock and reluctant judgment in them—it made an uncomfortably warm shame rise up. It was a feeling he hadn’t experienced in years, and especially not for the one thing he was actually good at.
Logan snorted derisively, hating himself for having forgotten his medication.
He tried to ignore the mess in his mind—this utter chaos he wasn’t familiar with because the meds had always created a strict order and tranquility—and scooped down to pick up the dead man’s gun. The icy metal felt solid and familiar in his hands, confirming the confidence he had in his skills and experience. A fleeting thought ran through his head—launched off by bittersweet memories of bottomless brown eyes, a catty smirk, rich laughter—and the tighter his hands clutched the weapon, the more Logan wondered how his life had turned out like this… and more than ever he wished he could simply stop it all.
The detached calculating.
The cold-blooded murdering.
His hands trembled when the memories came, but when Logan noticed his own distress, he desperately tried to chase away those traitorous thoughts that caught him so off guard. He’d save them for later and if there wouldn’t be a later, he wasn’t about to worry over these useless thoughts now.
“Two down, one to go,” he breathed, the gun in his hands raised and ready to fire as he stalked forward.
The urge to see Julian struck him like lightening—sudden, vicious, blinding him. He needed to hold the brunet in his arms, bury his nose in brown hair, soak up Julian’s comforting fragrance. Not a want, but a need. As quietly as possible, Logan started running, his entire body yearning to be with Julian—to protect the ludicrously defenseless actor. When he reached the hideout, Logan skidded to a halt, body frozen as his wide eyes took in the scene.
Confusion, realization, dread, rage—they followed each other so rapidly, it took a few seconds for Logan to react accordingly. When it had finally sunk in that the hideout was empty and that Julian was gone—his Julian, someone he should’ve protected—the emotions blasted through him anew. He choked on his breath, his heart plummeting until it landed somewhere far below the hay and the cement under his feet—forever lost from sight. A crushing terror crashed through him.
“No—” he hissed, wheeling around on his heels and desperately taking in the scene. His practiced eyes penetrated the darkness and instantly made out the telltale signs of a struggle—the messed up hay, the prints of filthy footsteps, and, most importantly, Julian’s gun on the floor.
The familiar anger—that horrible, awful emotion that demolished his concentration and could only be driven out by destructive medicine—flared up viciously and created a sheen of red in front of his eyes. He could feel the fury pump through his body, and stolen memories from another lifetime flashed through his mind—school uniforms, bickering, snapping, and so much anger. He scrunched his eyes shut, furiously kicking up the hay in the air, all caution to be as silent as possible forgotten.
When he opened his eyes they were glinting with a thousand death threats, and a feral snarl escaped his lips.
A faint chuckle crept through the abandoned building, sending cold shivers down Logan’s spine when he recognized it. He spun around, trying to track down the source of the laughter, livid when he couldn’t find it.
“Clavell—I’m going to kill you! Where is Julian?” Logan roared, his sharp gaze flickering from shadow to shadow, from corner to corner. In a rush fueled by pure, unadulterated fear and fury, he snatched Julian’s gun from the floor and pointed it to the ceiling, shooting at the filthy windows without hesitation. The bullets destroyed the glass instantly, the sunlight reflecting in them as the glimmering pieces rained down onto the floor and into the hay. The bright light from outside—a world so sunny and light it seemed horribly unreal—poured into the building, chasing away the shadows and merrily bouncing off the golden hay.
Logan heard a curse when the darkness made place for light, and hay shuffled around as if it was shoved aside by rushed feet. The cunning sniper smirked darkly at this tiny victory. Julian’s gun—empty after all the windows had been shattered—slipped from his fingers and dropped on the ground, the hay covering it like it had never even been there. He took a few cautious steps forward, trying to decide where to go now.
You’re dead, Clavell. Dead.
Killing was easy after all.
All the while, ever since he’d discovered the empty hideout and the frightening absence of the actor, terrifying images had crossed his mind. Julian screaming, Julian hurting, Julian in the hands of Clavell… vicious, murderous, merciless Clavell…
God—it hurt to think about it.
Logan tried to clear his mind, tried to focus on what he had to do right now. He breathed in. Out. Very slow, trembling breaths that didn’t calm him in the slightest, only managed to dull his desperation. Like a flickering candle in the wind, struggling to maintain its flame, only to flare up again once the breeze finally dies down. The thing that did make him push away the painful images were almost inaudible noises, definitely created by Clavell. They seemed to come from above and Logan frowned, carefully moving from his spot to get a clearer view of his surroundings.
Now that the dirty windows were broken and there was finally light, Logan could see a decayed staircase leading up to an unstable-looking attic. His eyes followed the wooden steps—hollowed out by termites and time—until they focused on the shadows of the attic. Outside a cloud shifted away and a beam of sunlight streamed into the building, tirelessly filtering through the darkness of the attic and revealing the scene up there.
Logan’s heart leaped as fresh dread flooded him.
On the attic, right above the stairs and staring menacingly down at him, was Clavell, his arms encircled around Julian in a protective manner.
Logan exhaled sharply. “Julian.”
At the sound of his name, Julian looked up from where he he’d been struggling against Clavell’s hold. He opened his mouth to say something, but the man behind him shook his head and tugged him closer to his chest. A gun appeared from Clavell’s belt and he held it to Julian’s temple, making the actor cringe away.
It was a reflex. At the sight of the gun Logan raised his own weapon, his eyes narrowing as he automatically started to determine what the perfect spot would be to place his bullet. His finger was already curled around the trigger, his feet firmly planted on the floor.
He never missed.
And there it was. A clear shot. Right under Clavell’s arm and next to Julian’s neck, a tiny but wholly exposed place he could land his bullet in.
He never missed.
The finger around the trigger trembled and pulled it a miniscule bit, just a hair apart from actually firing the gun.
Logan could’ve shot right through Clavell’s heart and he would’ve killed him, he would not have missed… but a small flicker of his eyes—just a brief glance in Julian’s direction—made him hesitate. Julian’s neck—his bare, vulnerable neck—was less than an inch away from Clavell’s heart. The actor was staring at him with wide, brown eyes—and Logan’s finger wavered over the trigger, loosened its hold.
He couldn’t shoot.
Not with Julian so close and unprotected.
The realization made cold tendrils of fear sneak through his veins. He’d never held back with such an opportunity, and the fact that his concern for Julian’s safety prevented him from pulling the trigger scared him more than he’d like to admit. It made him vulnerable. And if there was anything he hated more than his broken memories, it was the feeling of being vulnerable.
Clavell smirked, a filthy grin that made his eyes flash madly. He probably knew that Logan wouldn’t try to shoot, but the madman still moved Julian in front of his chest, making sure all of his vital parts were covered.
Logan pressed his lips together in sour disappointment and he lowered his gun a few inches.
When Julian noticed Logan’s expression, he started struggling again, trying to break free from Clavell’s arms. The gun pressed harder against his temple, the metal feeling icy cold on his skin, and he bit his lip in fear, his nails digging in Clavell’s arms.
Logan was studying them carefully, his gaze indecipherable, his face taut and calculating. His gun was still raised, his arms unwavering as they held it up.
“Don’t move, honey, or I’ll shoot your lover,” Clavell whispered in Julian’s ear, his breath brushing over his cheek, the last word pronounced as if it was a contagious disease. Clavell pushed Julian away and with his free hand he pulled a second gun, raising it to aim at Logan. “I will shoot him,” he breathed hoarsely, one gun still carefully following the actor.
Julian stumbled back, his eyes wide as they stared from the guns to Logan. Clavell merely grinned wider, his crazed eyes flickering in a wildly elated madness as they met Logan’s ferocious green glare.
“Let him go, Clavell,” Logan warned with a low, dangerous voice. It was obvious he was having trouble controlling his anger, and Julian felt a sharp pang, memories of Logan’s temper in high school flashing through his thoughts. “Let him go, or I’ll swear to god I’ll shoot your pathetic little head off.”
Clavell shook his head and cocked the gun he’d been pointing to the stunned actor, smiling at Logan’s outraged shout. Julian’s breath hitched, his unblinking stare frozen on the weapon. His back bumped against the wooden wall behind him when he took another step back. At the soft thud, Clavell turned around a bit, looking at the actor apologetically.
“I’m sorry, Julian. I don’t want to hurt you—”
“You don’t—” Julian’s mouth was as dry as sandpaper and he swallowed, licking his lips as he forced his gaze away from the menacing weapon. “You don’t want to hurt me…?” he asked hoarsely, tone dripping with disbelief. “You—you hired an assassin to kill me—but you don’t want to hurt me? Do you think I’m fucking stupid, Adam?” he rasped. “Do you think I’m an idiot?”
Clavell stared at him and had just opened his mouth to reply when there was a harsh click from downstairs. Clavell immediately recognized the sound and he whirled around, aiming both his guns to Julian. His expression was livid when he glowered to the blond downstairs, who was standing there with a cocked gun and a determined expression.
“Don’t you even fucking dare, Wright!” he hissed. “You know how fucking quick a gun can fire, and you may be the best sniper the US have ever seen—but you know me, and you know how fastI can fire a gun! Idie, he dies! That’s what’s going to happen—that’s how it’s supposed to be—I die, he dies—” he was breathing heavily, his mind completely lost to the allure of the darkest kind of desire and lust. “I die, he dies—” he repeated.
Logan stayed absolutely silent, his eyes narrowed to angry slits as he glanced from Clavell to Julian. Despite his defiant attitude and the absolutely ferocious glint in his eyes, Logan looked desperate and so utterly forlorn, it broke Julian’s heart in a million pieces.
“Logan, please—” Julian started, but his voice betrayed him—cracking and breaking off—and he tried to convey the rest of his sentence with his eyes. Go away, turn around and go away. Be safe.
Clavell made an annoyed sound at the back of his throat and he moved one of his guns to aim at Logan again. “It’s always Logan, isn’t it?” he whispered darkly.
Julian looked from Logan to Clavell, his confusion obvious.
“It’s always been Logan, hasn’t it?” Clavell continued, his voice growing in strength and in danger. His gaze flickered to Julian and he narrowed his eyes, demanding a confirmation. “Hasn’t it?”
Julian almost jumped at the viciousness in his tone and he nodded shakily. “Yes,” he breathed. “Yes,” Julian looked down and met Logan’s startled stare—his green eyes full of questions, confusion and horror—and he closed his eyes for a moment. His voice was hoarse when he repeated, “It has.”
Clavell chuckled bitterly and his hands trembled, the guns wavering through the air insecurely. Julian saw Logan’s eyes flicker at the sign of weakness, his hands tightening around his own gun. Clavell controlled himself quickly though, his weapons stilled in the air, frozen like statues. “I knew it from the moment I saw the letters,” he bit. “I knew it.”
The little bit of color left in Julian’s face flooded away, his eyes glued to the deranged fanboy. He didn’t dare to look at Logan. “You—you saw the letters…?”
Logan frowned, his gaze shooting from Clavell to Julian. Julian noticed his finger tapping the trigger in aggravation and when he wondered why Logan wouldn’t just shoot already, he figured out the answer to that instantly. It was him. Logan wasn’t shooting because of him. Julian realized friend-Logan and sniper-Logan were two entirely different identities and at this moment, in this situation, Logan had chosen to adopt the first one. It made Julian feel even worse.
“What letters?” Logan inquired, his voice hoarse and impatient.
Julian looked away from him, fixing his intense and scared stare on Clavell instead.
“What letters?” Logan pressed. “What the hell are you talking about, Clavell?”
Clavell barked out a grim, humorless laugh and stalked towards Julian. The actor tried to back away, but the wall behind him left him no way to go. He groaned when Clavell put his arms around him again, the cold metal of the gun back to his temple. A sharp click filled the air when Clavell cocked the weapon. Julian whimpered, closed his eyes, and prayed to whatever god was listening that this was all just one huge, terrifying nightmare.
This couldn’t possibly be real, right?
Logan yelled in protest when Clavell touched Julian—throwing scathing insults his way instead of the deadly bullets he was itching to fire. “Get your fucking filthy claws off of—” His finger curled around the trigger—too hard in his absolute fury—and a violent, explosive noise ripped the air in a thousand ugly pieces. His bullet missed Clavell and Julian by several inches and drilled harmlessly into the wooden wall behind them, leaving irregular cracks and a black hole behind.
“Fucking jesus—” Clavell staggered back in surprise—nearly choking a shell-shocked Julian—and shot back in a reflex. His bullet wasn’t aimed either, shot in pure defense—but it made a horrifying, muted sound when it sank in Logan’s leg. Julian shouted out in fear when Logan yelled and gritted his teeth in pain, green eyes blazing in a white-hot loathing and rage when they glared up to Clavell.
“Logan!” Julian was hysterical, staring at Logan’s bleeding leg with huge, incredulous eyes.
“They were letters for you!” Clavell shouted above the noise, the smoke from his gun slowly dissolving in the air, his laughter mental and carefree like nothing had just happened. “They were all letters for you! Because—because—” his laughter died down and he tilted his head, resting his cheek on Julian’s hair, “he’s loved you since high school,” he finished in a whisper.
Logan’s wounded leg hurt like hell and he was having trouble standing on it, making him stumble a bit. The pain was not important right now, though. All he could feel was a complete astonishment when he stared at Julian, his entire concentration fixed on the actor. Julian stared back at him in fear and worry, his eyes flickering from Logan’s face to his bleeding wound.
Julian’s concerned expression turned into one of horror, his face a sickly sheen of white. “I—” Logan’s inquisitive gaze was too penetrating, too vivid—and Julian squeezed his eyes shut to escape the green eyes he’d been dreaming of since he was 14. He didn’t dare to answer Logan’s question, pleading for his safety instead.
“Let him leave, Adam, he’s hurt. This is between you and m—”
“No, no, no—” Clavell cried out, crushing Julian against his chest and ignoring the actor’s gasp for breath. “The story gets even better! The letters were all unsent of course, but maybe that was for the best—” his gaze wandered to Logan, and all traces of his fake humor disappeared. There was a vile smirk on his face when he eyed the bleeding wound in the sniper’s leg. “I was able to find out what miserable being had gained Julian’s love, and I was able to track him down—to track you down. The best part of it all—the part I’d never ever expected—was when I discovered what you did for a living, ” Clavell’s eyes took on a dreamy look and the smile on his face was creepy, fake. “Wouldn’t that have been ironic? The boy Julian Larson has been pining after foryears… the boy Julian Larson loves—even after years apart… wouldn’t it be ironic if that boy had killed him? Wouldn’t that… that would’ve been something…”
From downstairs, separated by a broken staircase and the menacing presence of three guns, Logan was staring at Clavell in pure disgust. His heart was racing, the pain in his leg was excruciating, and a burning shock rushed through his body. He looked at Julian with huge eyes—so many regrets and apologies glistening in them they seemed to hold a thousand suns. All the moments he’d ever thought about shooting Julian—about killing Julian—wrecked through his mind, striking him like the waves of the ocean crashing against the rocks of the shore.
Julian loved him.
Julian had loved him…
And for a moment… for a short moment Logan wondered if he’d known back then… if he’d seen the passionate glint in Julian’s expressive eyes whenever he talked about acting, if he’d noticed the way his hands gestured wildly in the air whenever he was excited, or how his full lips curved in a sarcastic sneer whenever he was annoyed. He wondered if he’d loved Julian back.
If he hadn’t lost his memories… would they’ve been together now…?
He wished he could remember.
Julian had loved him.
…would Julian still love him?
Logan’s eyes flickered when he thought of the darker memories, of him trying to kill the actor several times. The actor who’d loved him. Probably the only person in the world who’d ever truly loved him… and Logan had tried to murder him.
He glanced up and stared right into Julian’s worried eyes. Julian was leaning away from Clavell and towards the blond, looking like he would’ve jumped from the attic if it wouldn’t be for Clavell’s arms holding him back. Logan stayed scarily silent, his expression absolutely devastated as his green gaze searched sepia. Julian’s eyes were brimming with tears and it seemed like he knew exactly what went on in Logan’s head. The actor shook his head, his expression apologizing and forgiving at the same time, as if to say “it’s okay, don’t think about it—please, please, please don’t think about it.”
Logan’s gun pointed towards the floor, completely forgotten in the onslaught of emotions. “You’re sick—” he croaked, his burning gaze shifting to the madman responsible for all of this. “You’re completely mental—”
Clavell smirked. “You nearly succeeded, though. You nearly killed him,” he whispered. “It’s such a shame you failed to carry out your job. Now I have to do it all by myself… but maybe it’s better this way,” he breathed, gently tracing a pinkie over Julian’s cheek. Julian winced and he turned his head away from Clavell’s hand, his eyes holding a torturous fear in them as they locked with Logan’s. Logan froze, the shattering self-loathing like fire in his veins.
What had he done?
What had he done?
What had he done?
“Logan, don’t think—” Julian rasped, but Clavell pressed his arm against his mouth and brought the gun closer to his head, effectively silencing him.
“Not now, sweet thing,” Clavell murmured. “I wasn’t finished yet, there’s just one more thing you need to know—” His mad gaze flashed back to Logan and he smiled sweetly. “There were a few obstacles, of course. Obstacles that had to be removed if I wanted to come closer to Julian.”
Logan frowned and he saw the same confusion reflected in Julian’s eyes.
Now what? What obstacles?
Clavell smile widened and he looked at Julian lovingly. “The magazines were talking about you dating Marcie Lillian,” he whispered roughly. “That brat Marcie, who doesn’t deserve your beauty and your stunning, priceless personality. She doesn’t understand you the way I do, Julian. So… we had to get rid of her,” he glanced at Logan, who paled when realization hit him mercilessly. “Or rather… I arranged someone to get rid of her.”
Logan’s heart dropped when he saw Julian’s entire demeanor change. The actor’s eyes widened—dark, huge, and drowning in hurt—and flickered to Logan, staring at him in utter astonishment. Logan stared back silently, his expression betraying innumerable regrets.
What was he supposed to do? There was nothing to say. Marcie had been Julian’s friend and he’d murdered her. One simple shot. Assassinated her without batting an eye.
Julian struggled to escape the arms around him and when Clavell’s hand slipped from his mouth, his voice was impossibly sad when he asked, “You killed Marcie?”
A suffocating feeling of fear and incredulity surged up in the sniper, and he wanted to scream “no”, to yell and plea—he wanted to deny it all. But something in the shocked and sad gaze of Julian told him it wouldn’t work, told him it was all out in the open now, told him he would lose the actor regardless how this day would end.
Clavell let Julian go and the actor stumbled over the wooden floor, not paying attention to the fact that Clavell had one of his guns aimed at him. Julian’s eyes flickered to Logan’s hurt leg—where the blood was oozing from the wound and trickling down languidly—and pressed his lips together, obviously trying to hold back his accusations.
“I didn’t know, Jules,” Logan mumbled softly. “I didn’t know, I promise.”
Julian shook his head, his incredulous stare still glued to Logan’s wounded leg—the only thing in the world that prevented him from screaming his lungs out and upsetting the sniper further. The kiss—that beautiful, gorgeous kiss he’d been dreaming about for years—felt filthy now, a betrayal to his cast-mate and friend, and Julian felt sick when he thought about it.
Nobody said a word for a few seconds, and the only sound splintering the silence was Logan’s ragged breathing, his hurt leg screeching in pain.
“Just get this over with,” Julian finally whispered.
Clavell’s eyes widened in surprise. His smile was sincerely gleeful when he wheeled around to stare at Julian. “I agree,” he replied passionately. Julian stared back at him—all his anger gone, replaced by a strangely empty, melancholic feeling.
Logan cursed and protested through gritted teeth. “No! No, Julian, don’t you give up—”
Julian turned around. “What am I supposed to do, Logan?” The desperation radiated from his voice and expression, and it pierced through Logan’s heart. “What do you want to do? He’s going to kill me anyway, let’s just get this fucking over with.”
“And you have to go away,” Julian pleaded. “Logan, leave—please.”
“No!” Logan snapped. “I’m not going to lose you, Julian! I’m not going to fucking lose you like that!”
Julian raised his eyes to the ceiling in a silent prayer, pressing his lips together to choke back a sob. Logan wanted to say more, but Clavell cocked both his guns, effectively gaining back all the attention. His eyes were wide and sparkling, and he was staring at Julian like he was the last, most precious thing on the world. For him, he probably was.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, moving closer to the actor. “I never wanted to hurt you.”
Julian shook his head, shivering when he felt Clavell’s breath ghost over his face. “But you did,” he rasped quietly. “And you still are.”
“It will be over soon. You’ll be happy, I promise.” Clavell looked at Julian, his eyes betraying so much trust, so much faith, and so much love—it hurt to look at.
Julian sobbed and turned away, his eyes falling on Logan, who had raised his gun again and was looking back with a ferocious look in his devastating green gaze.
“Don’t do this, Clavell,” the sniper warned menacingly. His intentions were clear even though he didn’t voice them: as soon as Clavell pulled that trigger, he was going to pull his. They both knew it, but only one really cared about it. “Don’t you fucking dare—”
Clavell turned to him, irritated and furious all of a sudden. “What would you know about love?” he spat hatefully. “You’ve never been loved, you’ve never even loved! Not the way I love Julian, not the way we love each other—you don’t know anything!”
“Logan, just go away—”
“Julian, shut up!” Logan snapped. “Clavell—step away, don’t you fucking touch him,” he hissed, both his hands trembling as he gripped his gun tighter. His finger curled around the trigger, ready to shoot at any moment. “Please. Adam—” It was the first time in his life he called Clavell by his first name, but the madman didn’t seem to listen to him.
“No,” Clavell snarled. “No—you’re not going to ruin it! Not again—you’re not going to ruin this!”
Julian watched with wide eyes as Clavell’s hands tensed around both his guns—one aimed at Julian, the other at Logan—and the actor was moving even before he yelled—a horrible, terrifying scream that ripped from his lips, but didn’t register in his mind.
The three gunshots cracked through the air simultaneously— the noise as thunderous and terrifying as in the most devastating hurricane—rocking the building and making time stand still.
For a split second nothing seemed to happen, except for the last echoes of the gunshots slowly dying out until there was nothing but an eerie silence left.
Logan struggled for breath, his chest hurting as his heart dropped, his eyes widening as he stared at the attic. The scene playing out there seemed to be in slow-motion, giving Logan the false idea that he’d be able to change the script in time, when in reality there was nothing he could do. His gun clattered to the ground and as soon as he gained back the feeling in his numb limbs, he started running—an earsplitting, horrifying scream tearing from his throat.
A devastating fear surged through his body, overshadowing the tormenting pain in his leg, but making him almost trip and fall onto the floor.
Julian spluttered and stumbled on his feet, his hands feebly grasping the fabric of his shirt, searching for something to hold onto. He watched in horror as Adam sank on his knees, blood pouring from the wound in his throat, where Logan’s bullet had struck. Red liquid seeped from Adam’s mouth and nose and the he looked up slowly, his bloody smile tender and only meant for Julian. Then he fell backwards, his eyes closing and his breath freezing even before he hit the floor. Julian coughed when he gasped for air, doubling over in shock. He tried to breathe but he choked, and when he looked down at his hands and saw the bright red blood—his bright red blood—only then did he feel the scorching, white-hot pain sear through his body. He whimpered in panic, his eyes fluttering close as he stumbled backwards. He was vaguely aware of someone screaming his name, and somewhere in his mind he recognized the voice and the warm feelings it brought with it.
“Julian! Julian—no—! JULIAN!”
Julian groaned in pain, his fingers clutching his soaked shirt in a vain attempt to make breathing easier. But it was like he’d fallen in the ocean and he was trying to breathe in the violent waves, the salty water filling his throat and creating a burning pain within. He wavered, lost his balance, and then the floor underneath his feet disappeared.
The world stood still as Julian collapsed and crashed noisily from the stairs, his body surrendered to the gravity and the hard, sharp wood of the steps. Logan went absolutely frantic when he saw Julian fall, screaming and yelling as he forced his legs to move faster.
He was too late.
Way, way too late.
The horrifying sounds of cracking bones and shattering wood splintered the air, knocking the breath out of Logan’s lungs. It seemed to take ages, but in reality it was only a few seconds before Julian finally reached the end of the stairs and stopped falling. He lay splayed out like a broken doll, one leg still resting on the bottom step, his eyes dazed and half open, already catching glimpses of another world.
The sounds followed Julian’s example and when the actor remained unmoving, the noise died down, too. A deadly silence stretched out, the suffocating tension almost tangible in the air.
The one who broke the quiet was the only one able to.
Logan dropped to his knees, tears streaking his cheeks when he saw Julian’s bloodied face and worse—much, much worse—the wound in his chest that never stopped leaking blood. He leaned forward and carefully touched the actor’s face, trying to smile when Julian’s pained, unfocused eyes flickered to his own.
“Hey,” Logan soothed, his eyes a wild storm as he forced to keep his expression as calm as possible. He hastily pulled out his sweater and pressed it on the wound, but it barely stopped the blood from streaming out and forming a pool underneath Julian’s body. He nearly gagged when the red liquid poured through his fingers, but he tried to keep it together for Julian’s sake—even when everything inside of him broke into a thousand pieces.
Take my blood.
Please, take my blood.
Julian wheezed for breath and one of his hands came up weakly, his fingers hooking around Logan’s sleeve listlessly. The sniper closed his eyes for a moment and when he opened them he met Julian’s terrified ones. He was pressing so hard on the wound, Logan could feel the irregular beating of Julian’s heart vibrate through his ribs. The beats were slower than they were supposed to be.
Take my heart.
Logan shifted a little, impossibly gentle when he moved closer to hold Julian in his arms. One of his hands was still firmly pressing down on the wound, but both boys knew it was futile.
Julian tried to say something, but when his cracked lips moved, blood welled up from his throat and he choked on it. His entire body quivered when a painful coughing fit wrecked through him, his chest struggling for breath but clearly losing the fight.
Logan’s own breath hitched in fear.
Please, please, please… take my heart.
“Julian?” Logan breathed, his voice trembling. “Hey… hey—don’t talk okay? I’m—I’m going to—” he didn’t finish his sentence, instead frantically patting his pockets with one bloodied hand, desperately searching for his phone so he could call for help.
There was nothing in his pockets, though.
“What the fuck—” When he briefly met Julian’s gaze, he became aware of the horrifying realization he must’ve lost his phone somewhere in the fight. The actor was staring up at him silently, his eyes glassy and his breaths uneven and shallow.
“Jules, do you still have your phone—?” Logan whispered, and while he started searching through Julian’s pockets he realized the actor was wearing his clothes, and the actor’s phone was probably lying forgotten in his own jeans. All the way back at the sniper’s home.
“No,” Logan whispered. “No, no, no—”
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.
Logan’s eyes widened when that one word left his lips.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d called for help. He never needed help, never even wanted it, his pride too important to accept it. But now, with Julian lying as a broken porcelain doll in his arms—white and still, yet so utterly beautiful it hurt—he didn’t feel the slightest bit ashamed. All the dignity in the world wouldn’t help them now. A soft moan of distress left his lips, and he took a deep breath.
His voice was raw and soaked with agony, his scream cutting through the building and rising all the way up to the broken windows and into the outside world. His cry seemed to intermingle with the clouds and disappear instantly.
“Help! Please, help!” Logan yelled again, but when there was no answer and when the air around him kept as silent as ever, he squeezed his eyes shut and doubled over, letting his forehead rest against Julian’s. “Please…”
The actor’s breathing was ragged and uneven, his skin an unhealthy color of white. Logan was no doctor and no nurse, and he knew nothing about these kind of things—but even he knew Julian was in a bad shape. A very, very bad shape.
And there was absolutely nothing he could do.
Logan jumped when a wailing sound pierced the air—still far away, but just loud enough to reach his ears. His eyes widened and he was almost afraid to feel hopeful as he turned towards the door to listen more carefully. When the sound moved closer and grew in volume, the relief he felt was like an icy waterfall crashing down on him.
That sound was definitely from ambulances.
At that moment he didn’t wonder what the ambulances were doing here and he didn’t care either, but he was certain—without a second’s doubt—that they were coming for them, that they were coming for Julian.
The actor seemed to hear them too, and he turned his head the tiniest bit towards the doors. Logan’s arms trembled and Julian’s gaze wandered to the sniper’s, his lips slowly curling up in a gentle smile. Logan didn’t smile back, but he reached out to caress Julian’s cheek, whispering words of encouragement.
“Hang on there, Jules. They’re going to be here soon, you’re going to be fine—”
Julian nodded—his chin dropping a fraction of an inch—and he tried to keep his eyes on Logan, who was looking at him with all the hope of the world. He really tried to hold his focus—really, really tried, because he wanted to look into those green eyes forever—but after a few seconds of silent struggle, Julian lost his concentration. His eyes rolled back when they closed, his head lulled to the side, his breath shallow and barely audible.
Hope wasn’t supposed to just disappear like that. Hope was supposed to carry out its blessed job and make everything alright again.
Logan shook Julian, scared to hurt him, but absolutely terrified to lose him. He shook harder, his fear threatening to swallow him and pull him under.
“No, no—wait—what are you doing—no, don’t—Julian—”
With tears blurring his vision, Logan pressed Julian closer to his chest, murmuring desperate pleas in his hair. His tears trickled down from his chin and landed on Julian’s cheeks, making it seem like the actor was crying too. It looked strange and wrong, another imperfection on Julian’s bruised face.
“Don’t you fucking do this, Jules,” Logan growled. He wished fate was an actual human being, just so he could hurt it as much as it had hurt them. “Why do you always have to be so stubborn—Julian, don’t do this—” The sirens of the ambulances got louder and Logan repressed a sob, his arms around Julian and his head resting on dark hair.
And while the ambulances were racing towards them and Julian’s condition worsened rapidly, Logan started muttering encouragements, his eyes closed and his lips moving around the same words over and over again.
“Jules, you’re going to be alright, you’re going to be alright. Trust me. Trust me. You’re going to be alright, you have to be alright—”
Eventually, after a few minutes in which the sirens grew stronger—the exact opposite of Julian’s waning strength—Logan’s pleas cracked, hesitated, and he stumbled on the words until the sobs stole his voice entirely.
Julian’s eyes were closed and his face was a frightening hue of white, forming a stark contrast with the dark color of his hair—so soaked and drenched with blood and mud, it seemed almost black. His face rested against Logan’s chest, his lips slightly parted to let ragged, painful-sounding gasps pass. He seemed almost comfortable in Logan’s embrace, except that he was too still and too unmoving to be sleeping.
“Come on, Jules,” Logan whispered softly, his plea painful and drowned out by the sirens. There was no reaction. Julian stayed silent, his eyes were closed, and he was so heavy in his arms…
A/N: In a way… Adam’s plan really did work out well, didn’t it? Adam shot Julian and Logan shot Adam—and Logan’s left behind with a completely shattered heart. For all Adam knows, Julian and he are both dead and both will go to that happy place and they will have that incredibly happily ever after of which he’s always dreamed. I imagine Adam’s beyond elated that his plan worked out the way it did.
Anyway. Thank you for reading :)
See you next time—where you’ll find out who’s still breathing and who’ll stay silent forever.