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The Responsible One

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Buddha Bob was standing behind the Palm Woods' main counter. Logan glanced over at Kendall, who was nodding to himself, and then over at James and Carlos, who shrugged in unison.

"Heyyyy, Bob," Kendall said, walking up. "Where's Mr. Bitters?"

"Uh, on vacation," Bob mumbled. "Three days. Left me in charge."

"Reaaaaaaally." Kendall tapped his finger against his chin speculatively. "That's interesting. Okay."

--

"Okay! Party kings!"

"Uh, that's Hollywood super party kings," James said defensively.

"Of Hollywood," Carlos added.

"Right. You guys. James, food and drinks. Carlos, guests. Can't have a party without guests. I'll take care of music -- and getting Bob and my mom out of the way."

"You guys know how much trouble we're going to get in, right?" Logan asked.

"Please. Have I ever gotten us in trouble?"

Logan, James, and Carlos all just stared at him.

Kendall waved them off. "Have I ever gotten us in serious trouble?"

Stare.

"Okay, well this time I won't."

"Sure." Logan rolled his eyes, but already knew he was going to go along with whatever Kendall's insane plan was, because he had never in his life successfully said no to Kendall. "So what am I supposed to do?"

"Uh." Kendall shrugged. "You're the responsible one. Keep us from getting in trouble?"

--

If Logan was the kind of guy who resented his best friends, he'd have been doing some heavy-duty resenting. But he wasn't.

Really.

There was nothing any human being could do to keep them from getting in trouble, so Logan did the same thing he did whenever Kendall had a brilliant plan that was going to get them all arrested or hospitalized (and that covered about 85% of Kendall's plans). Logan locked up the valuables, moved aside the breakables, and hid everything that could produce an open flame.

He had to hand it to the Hollywood Super Party Kings of Hollywood, though. They really could put on a party. And thanks to Guitar Dude and one of his friends, who apparently had no qualms about buying booze for minors, they had actual alcohol. Which was totally cool, but it meant Logan had to be more responsible than usual.

"Hey, careful, don't spill that, it'll stain!" He grabbed a dripping cup from some girl's hand, turned around, and -- "Okay, you've had way too much, time for some water." He thrust a water bottle at some guy he'd barely ever seen before. Then, to the crowd in general, "We are going to get in so. Much. Trouble. Kendall!"

Kendall appeared next to him, Jo on his arm. They were each holding cups of Guitar Dude's Highly Alcoholic Punch. "You," Kendall said, pulling his arm away from Jo and pressing his palm to Logan's chest, "need to relax."

Kendall groping him didn't exactly help Logan relax. "Our apartment is going to get totally trashed!"

"And so will most of the guests. L'chaim!" Kendall raised his cup. "Seriously, though, Carlos knows everyone here, ask him to hook you up with some girl. Even the Jennifers are talking to us tonight."

Jo smiled. "Camille was looking for you, too."

"Oh, great," Logan groaned. "Kendall!" But it was too late, because Kendall and Jo had somehow melted back into the crowd. Logan stood on his tiptoes and just made out the two of them heading into Kendall's bedroom, and the door slamming shut. Freaking perfect. Now what was he supposed to do?

Sighing hugely, he wandered towards the kitchen table, which was serving as an impromptu bar, where James had set up camp. James shot him a clearly drunken-smile and announced, "How hot am I right now?"

Logan blinked. "Um..."

"Because, see, bartenders are always hot." He grabbed a plastic cup and filled it with Highly Alcoholic Punch. "So if I'm a bartender, I'm scorching."

"Yeah, I definitely need a drink," Logan decided, and accepted the cup. He took a swallow and the drink lived up to his name, so he figured he'd just drink it slowly. After all, he was the responsible one, and someone needed to stay sober to try and talk the cops out of arresting them when the party inevitably got busted.

Which it would. He kind of hated Kendall for this whole idea, but mostly for heading off with a girl he had nothing in common with, leaving Logan to deal with it on his own. But, okay, he could deal. He was responsible, but he wasn't a nerd. Wasn't a huge nerd, anyway. It was a party. He had a really boring job to do, but he could still enjoy himself. Just because Kendall had ditched him didn't mean Carlos and James would. Carlos was nowhere to be seen at the moment, but James didn't seem to mind hanging out with him.

"Cool party!" Logan called over the music.

"Right? Check out all the girls," James said, grinning like an idiot.

Logan rolled his eyes. As far as all of his friends were concerned, partying and chasing girls were one and the same. He felt a weird little twist in his gut somewhere, because he knew he didn't really think that way, but in the past couple of years he'd perfected the art of not thinking about that. Instead, he drank more punch while James continued, "If I wasn't so hot making drinks, I would be getting... hey."

A girl strutted up to the table, and her shirt was cut low enough that Logan's sense of decency required him to look away. "Hey," she said back to James.

"Want a drink?"

She considered it for a second, then shook her head. "You're pretty."

"Yes!" James agreed.

And then the girl, who Logan could swear he had never actually seen before, hooked two fingers through one of James' beltloops and pulled him away from the bar. James only paused to give Logan a gleeful thumbs up before hurrying off with her.

Logan groaned and finished his drink. Okay, so Kendall was off with Jo, and James was getting debauched by a stranger with cleavage. Logan poured himself a cup of punch and looked around for Carlos -- and finally spotted him in the middle of the dance floor, surrounded by a throng of writhing girls.

"Should I bother?" Logan asked himself wryly. It wasn't that he didn't want Carlos to have fun with as many attractive girls as he could, just... Logan didn't know most of these people, wasn't as good at talking with strangers as the others, and he didn't want to be a wallflower at the party in his own freaking apartment.

Logan gave a very brief moment of consideration to just joining Carlos on the dance floor, with the girls. It wasn't like he didn't like girls! He did, it was just that his three best friends were better looking and way better at flirting than he was, so only crazy girls liked him. And he wasn't as interested in a throng of drunk girls as he would be in one sober, sane, nice girl.

But there were none of those to be found, so he took a few swallows of punch -- wow, Guitar Dude hadn't been kidding about it being highly alcoholic -- and tried to make his way through the crowd. "Carlos?" he called. "Carlos!"

"Dude!" Carlos grabbed him and pulled him into the center of the group. "This party is awesome!"

"Yeah, fun!" Logan called back.

"Come on -- dance with us!" Carlos started doing something that... well, Logan wasn't sure what it was, but it was probably better described as drunken flailing than as dancing. But the girls around them seemed to like it, and it only took moments before they'd sort of carried him off. "I love this party!" echoed back from him, as Logan was left alone.

Again.

He finished his drink, turned back towards the table -- the world spun a little bit further than he'd expected it to when he did that, whoa -- and made his way back out of the dancing group. Kendall was with a girl. James was with a girl. Carlos was with several girls.

Logan was so freaking sick of being responsible. No one else had to be. So what if they got busted? So what if something bad happened while he was too busy to deal with it? Why the hell wasn't it his turn for a random hook up? He poured himself another cup of punch, grumbled a little, and was halfway through it (and feeling miserable and ditched and awkwardly lonely in the middle of a freaking party, what the hell?) when --

"Hey, Logan!"

Logan almost jumped out of his skin, and was grateful he'd somehow already emptied his cup because that meant it didn't spill when he dropped it. He turned -- the world went all blurry and spun too way too far again -- and a really hot girl was standing in front of him.

Wait.

That was Camille. She was looking surprisingly normal, not dressed as a fairy princess or a pirate or anything -- and she looked good, in a shiny, strapless dress, with her hair all curled. He waited for the panic she always gave him to set in, but to his surprise it didn't, or maybe he'd had enough to drink that he just couldn't feel it. And really, wow, had he had that much to drink?

"Hey, Camille," he heard himself say, instead of trying to run away, which meant that probably yes, he had. She blinked at him, like she was surprised he had answered, so he continued boldly, "What's the character tonight?"

"No character," she said, pouring herself a drink. He grabbed a new cup and poured himself one, too, as she continued, "I'm between auditions so I figured for one evening, I would just be...myself." She gestured to her dress. "You like?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said. And he meant it, which was the weird thing. He'd spent so much time with guys he'd pretty much forgotten what girls in cute dresses looked like. Not that there weren't always some walking around the Palm Woods, but none of them were really interested in him, and he maybe didn't care about them as much as the other guys did and only bothered looking because, well, it would have been weird not to. Wouldn't it?

"Enthusiastic," she said, and rolled her eyes.

"Your hair is cute," he added quickly.

Her eyes lit up. "Thanks! You, um. I like your shirt."

Logan looked down at his shirt, the world swum in front of him a little, and when it cleared he saw it was just a t-shirt. A little too large for him, actually, which meant it was probably Kendall's. "Thanks?" he said.

Camille looked at him expectantly, and he thought about the time they'd danced together, and the time she'd kissed him to practice for an audition, and how neither of those had been bad, exactly. It was just -- it was weird. Because Camille was pretty, and she liked him, and he couldn't think of any reason why he shouldn't like her back. True, she was a little crazy, but then again, she was hot. At least, that was what the guys would tell him.

"You want to go for a walk?" she asked.

"Sure." He stumbled on the first couple of steps.

She put a hand on his shoulder and laughed. "Ooooh, I get it you. You're wasted."

"Am not." But he was, a little. Maybe not wasted, really. Just...kind of buzzed. Kind of really buzzed.

"Aren't you the responsible one?" she said, obviously teasing, then, "Come on, you need some air."

"I'm always the responsible one," Logan slurred. "It's like a job. I look out for the others and I go along with anything Kendall says 'cause he's Kendall... And James gets all the girls and everyone likes Carlos 'cause he's funny."

He wasn't sure he was making sense, but Camille didn't seem to notice. She led him through the hall and very, very carefully down the small, back staircase. He wobbled as he walked, his depth perception totally thrown off and the world blurry around him, but Camille went slowly and held onto him firmly. Which felt pretty nice.

They reached the exit and Camille pushed the door open. And the fresh air was a really good idea. He inhaled deeply and realized they were out back, just overlooking the parking lot, standing in the building's shadow.

"It's good that one of you guys is responsible," Camille told him, as she walked him towards the row of cars. They settled on a car's hood. He had to brace his feet against the bumper to make sure he didn't topple back off. "I mean, look how much trouble you all get into all the time anyway."

He laughed and it sent the world spinning again, so he leaned back against the car so that at least he wouldn't fall. "I don't mind." He wasn't sure his words were coming out as clearly as he'd hoped. "But all they care about is girls. They always get the girls..."

"Not all the girls," she pointed out, rolling over, pressing against his side.

And oh, wow. She smelled good. And not like cologne, the way Carlos smelled good, or hair product, the way James smelled good, or like boy, the way Kendall smelled good. And yeah, Logan needed to spend more time with people who weren't his best friends, especially since they had all ditched him for girls, leaving him with...

A girl.

Right. Camille. Camille, who liked him, and was right there with him, soft and warm, and wasn't this exactly the position Kendall wanted to be in with Jo? Logan knew that if he ended the night without something to show for it -- a night all of his friends were hooking up -- well, they'd never let him hear the end of it.

So Logan kissed her.

Camille grinned against his mouth, her hand coming to rest on his side. And it was awkward, lying across the hood of the car, feet braced against the bumper. Which was why he pulled away and sat up. Or tried to. But instead he swayed, slid, and it was only Camille grabbing the back of his t-shirt that kept him from sliding right off the hood.

"Okay," Camile said. "Maybe not on the car. In it?"

"Huh?"

"It's my car," she said, and jumped off the hood. She held her hands out to help Logan down, and he half-fell right into her arms, and wow. Hey. Boobs, right there, pressed against his chest. Or rather, his chest was pressed against them. That was... different.

He pulled away, because he didn't want to be disrespectful and get slapped the way she was always slapping Kendall -- and it was probably wrong but he thought it was hilarious that she chose to kiss him and slap Kendall, because shouldn't that have been the other way around? Who wouldn't rather kiss Kendall? -- and she took his hands and pulled him towards the car's door. Back door. His eyes went wide as she opened it.

"It's somewhere to sit," she said matter-of-factly.

"Right," he agreed, and slid, collapsing against the far door. She followed him, not just to sit in the seat next to him, but all the way across. Her legs tangled with his in the footwell, and her body was right next to his. She pulled the door shut behind her. He swallowed, that familiar panic she always gave him finally hitting.

"Logan?" she said, and then giggled, and then, "Wow, you're pretty out of it. Maybe this is a bad idea."

"What is?" he asked, a little too distracted to keep up with her. It wasn't like he'd never been in close quarters in a car before. Just -- just usually it was with guys, and usually it was Kendall smooshed against him this tight, so they could all four sit together.

"You. Me. Back seat of a car." She grabbed his hand again, and guided it to her ribcage. And then up. Slowly up. Boobs again. Maybe his eyes bugged out a little, because she said, "So you've never done this before, huh?"

He wordlessly shook his head, sending the world all askew, but somehow he didn't move his hand. Her dress was smooth and cool to the touch, and beneath it her body was soft. He squeezed experimentally and she made a little squeaky sound. He stopped, and would have jerked his hand away if hers hadn't kept it pressed there. "Was that bad?" he asked.

"It was fine," she said, then, "You want to try it without the dress?"

"With -- huh?"

She raised her eyebrows and let his hand go, reached behind her dress, fiddled for a moment, and unzipped something somewhere. She pushed the fabric down, revealing a strapless pink bra -- and fiddled behind her some more, and then her bra -- her bra -- slid down, too.

"Whoa," Logan said, his voice cracking. "Um, Camille, I don't... I've never..."

"I noticed," she said, and she sounded amused, but not laughing-at-him amused. "I think it's cute." She took his hand again, and he let her guide it across her chest. He squeezed again experimentally, and she made that squeaky noise that was kind of cute, actually. He rubbed his palm over her nipples. Her eyelashes fluttered shut and then she leaned in and kissed him, trapping his hand between their bodies. He just sat there and let her, then let her kiss him and move his hands where she wanted to, let her press against him and run her own hands up under his shirt, her fingers across his abs.

"Logan?" she said after a minute -- or was it a few minutes, or an hour? He'd shut his eyes and lost track a little.

"Huh?" he asked, opening them again. He realized she wasn't touching him anymore, her arms were crossed over her chest, and his hands were just sort of resting at his sides.

"Are you so drunk you passed out, or are you just... not into this?"

He opened his mouth to answer, then shut it. Because yeah, okay. He was pretty drunk. But he was also... she was... he liked... he wanted, or didn't want, or...

He was practical, the responsible one, so he knew he should say that he was drunk, and apologize, and ask if she wanted to go out sometime. What came out instead was, "I think I'm gay."

It took about half a heartbeat for her to slide down the seat, cool air rushing into the space between them. "Oh," she said, and turned away. He thought maybe she was blushing, but he could only see her back as she groped for the clasp of her bra, and even as drunk as he was it was kind of instinct for him to reach forward and help her. He zipped her dress up, too, and when she turned back towards him her eyes were suspiciously wet.

"I'm sorry," he said, feeling kind of ill and bizarrely sure it wasn't from drinking too much. "Camille, I -- I wanted to -- I like you, just, I -- "

"Don't," she said, and wiped at her eyes with her hand. "It's not your fault. I just -- I always go for the wrong guy. And then I come on too strong and humiliate myself, oh, god..."

She started crying for real, and Logan's heart wrenched. Because he did like Camille, when she was being sane. She was nice, and he had liked dancing with her, and she was probably the only one who ever would choose him over Kendall or the others.

"I'm sorry," he said again, at a loss for what to do. "I won't... tell anyone. If you want."

"Yeah," she said, gulping in breaths. "You must think I'm such an idiot."

"No way," he said quickly. That, at least, was easy. "I think you're great. You're a great actress. I just wish I could... that I was normal. Like everyone else."

"Normal?" she repeated, then, "Oh, honey." She wiped at her eyes again, smearing her mascara even more, but at least she looked at him. And then she just... shifted a little, leaning closer to him, but not in the weird way she had earlier. "It's not... it's okay, you know. About you being gay."

"It is?" He was sure that sounded even stupider out loud than it had in his head, which was already pretty stupid. If he remembered any of this later, he was never going to drink again.

She stared at him, then, "So, wait, you aren't... the guys don't know? You haven't told your band?"

He shook his head and leaned against the back of the seat so he didn't fall forward. "I wasn't sure. I'm not sure. I don't know, I just... I'm always responsible. And it would be weird. Kendall..." He trailed off, unsure.

Kendall was cool. He probably wouldn't care. It wasn't like he wouldn't want to play hockey with Logan anymore, or sing with him, or... It was just that something would change, how could it not? Logan had known that from the first time he'd wondered what he didn't get about girls that everyone else did -- ages before the word gay had ever occurred to him -- and Logan was pretty sure he couldn't handle that.

"Oh," Camille said, sounding more knowing than Logan was really comfortable with. She waited another few seconds, then, "Maybe more fresh air?"

"Sounds good," he agreed. She opened the door and slid out, and he crawled out after and barely needed her to steady him at all. And again, the fresh air was good. It made him feel a little bit more stable, and awake. Camille kept an arm around him, though, so he didn't stumble, and because he felt actually more comfortable with her now, he slid his arm around her shoulder.

They walked the perimeter of the Palm Woods slowly, and he felt himself start to sober up. Or at least walking got a lot easier, and his thought process got a lot clearer. Which meant he realized exactly what he'd said to Camille, and that he'd meant it, and years of denial went flying out the window.

He'd have panicked, but Camille was still there, and after her obviously crappy night -- which was basically his fault -- she deserved better than that. So, responsible as always, he held it in and just walked.

Finally, she said, "So you're not out to anyone?"

"Just you."

"But I've seen you ogle girls. You always drool over the Jennifers." She glanced at him. "So you've been playing straight all the time? That's some impressive acting."

"Yeah, I've been fooling myself for years."

"Oh, honey." But she laughed and said, "So naturally I'm the one who brings out the gay in you. Not sure what that says about me."

"That you're too good for me to lie to."

"Too cheesy," she told him, but she was smiling. "Cheesy drunk is better than sad drunk, though."

They walked some more. "You know, it's not a huge shock," she continued. "Every boy band has a gay member, right? And think of it like this. The other three guys have to split the girls. You can have all the guys. Which makes being the gay one way more fun than being the responsible one."

"But it would be weird." Which had sounded way more terrifying in his head than when he said to her. Out loud, it just sounded dumb.

Apparently she thought so, too. She rolled her eyes. "Logan, you're talking about guys you've known for years. And Kendall fought to get you here, right? You really think he'd just turn his back on you?"

"No," Logan agreed. "Kendall would never do that. But, like... when he -- when they talk about girls, it'll be weird, and -- "

"If it gets that weird, you can always come hang out with me and Jo and the Jennifers, and talk about boys instead."

"The Jennifers don't talk to boys unless they've got a top-ten single."

"No, the Jennifers don't talk to boys who are hitting on them unless they've got a top-ten single. Think of how jealous the guys will be."

It took him a few seconds to figure out what she meant -- he was really, really never going to drink again -- but then he got it and he laughed. It sounded a little bit manic, but it was also sort of a relief. "Maybe I'll tell them," he agreed.

"Cool." She leaned her head on his shoulder and said, "You know I'm still going to kiss you whenever I have to practice for a role, right?"

"I think I can handle that," he said.

--

Logan woke up the next morning with his head pounding, despite the two enormous bottles of water Camille had made him drink. He groaned and half-fell out of bed, then pulled on the clothes he'd discarded last night (definitely Kendall's t-shirt, now that he looked at it while sober). He found Advil and another water bottle on the stand next to his bed.

Camille had left them for him when she'd finally decided he was sober enough that he wasn't going to puke in his sleep and die. Apparently, she'd taken over for him as the responsible one at some point. He really, really needed to thank her for that, and apologize for the whole stupid night.

He heard the sound of someone moving outside his room and hesitantly opened the door. The apartment was wrecked, way worse than he'd predicted -- probably because he hasn't stayed sober enough to keep people from doing major damage. They only had a few hours to clean it before Mrs. Knight got home. "Ught," he mumbled to himself, pushing open doors to see where his various bandmates were.

Carlos hadn't made it all the way to his bed. He was sprawled on the floor of his room, wearing only boxers and one sock, snoring so loudly the floor was shaking.

James, at least, was awake. That was the good news. The bad news was that James was naked, and handcuffed to his bed. At least he had a sheet pulled up to his waist. "Was it fun?" Logan asked.

"I don't remember." He groaned. "You don't, uh, see a key anywhere, do you?"

Logan backed out and shut the door.

Kendall was awake and functional, thank god. And he was already sweeping the floor, while whistling brightly.

"You're in a good mood," Logan said, as he knocked a bunch of plastic cups off the counter so he could get to the coffee maker. Coffee wouldn't help James -- Kendall was going to need to come up with a fantastic excuse for that -- but maybe coffee would get Carlos up and moving. And Logan could use some caffeine himself.

"Jo used to figure skate," Kendall said, pausing to grab the coffee out of the cabinet for Logan. "And figure skating is only one step away from regular skating, which is only one step away from ice hockey, which is only one step away from liking hockey!"

"Victory," Logan agreed, giving Kendall the fist bump he obviously wanted. "Or at least, three steps removed from victory."

"It's a start! So what about you? You were off with Camille for ages." Kendall waggled his impressive eyebrows.

Logan's stomach dropped like he was going down the first hill of a roller coaster, but he started with a simple truth: "We decided to just be friends."

"Maybe it's for the best," Kendall said. "You didn't seem that into her."

"I'm not," Logan admitted, measuring out the coffee grounds. He thought about what Camille had said, that they'd all support him, and how he'd known deep down that she was right. And if he wasn't going to kid himself about it anymore, then he probably should let everyone know. It was nerve wracking, but... "I'm actually. Um. So you know how every boy band has a funny guy, and a pretty guy, and a bad boy?"

"Don't remind me," Kendall said. "But yeah, so?"

"So... uh, you know, it' s just that most boy bands also have a gay member."

"Yeah," Kendall said, then did a double take. "Oh. Oh. Well, okay then." He paused. "I guess that means I should probably be the one to help James get his underwear on before Mom gets home, huh?"

Logan laughed. "Guess so," he said. "Can you help me tell the other guys later?"

"Of course. Hey. Hey, Logan." Kendall stepped a little closer and put a hand on Logan's shoulder. "You know that no matter what, we'll always be cool, right?"

Logan looked over at Kendall, caught Kendall's eyes for a second, and felt a spark of... well, of something, but he'd only just stopped denying that he was gay, and he was not ready to deal with anything else yet. Instead, he took a deep breath and said, "Yeah. We'll always be cool."

"Great! Now help me figure out what I'm going to tell Mom about James."

"He was posing for a headshot as an escape artist and couldn't escape?"

"Good call. I like the way you think," Kendall said.

And maybe Logan blushed as he made his coffee. And maybe it was going to be a tiny bit weird, at least for awhile. But they'd get through it, and they'd always be cool.

"Guys?! I need to pee! Someone help me already!"

And now, despite being the responsible one, at least Logan had legitimate reason not to deal with that. "All you, buddy," he said, and gestured towards James' room.

Fin.