"I bet you can't catch me." Steffi started backing away.
"Oh yeah?" Logan grinned. He started taking steps towards her. "Are you willing to test that theory?"
Steffi snorted. "I don't have to test it, it's a given fact-yoww!" She started running down the slope as Logan lunged for her. "No fair!"
"You're the one running," Logan called as he gave chase. Steffi shrieked with laughter as she darted through the heather and the field of yellow with her best friend running after her.
It wasn't long till she started to slow down. I really have to start exercising,Steffi thought wearily. That hospital trip took a lot out of me.
What she didn't expect was Logan, unable to stop his momentum, crashed into her and both of them went tumbling down together.
"Oh..." Steffi gasped as her vision cleared of all the dots and swirls in front of her eyes. "Ow."
There was no reply on her other side and Steffi felt her heart rate speed up. "Logan?" she asked the sky, hoping that the silence didn't mean what she thought it meant. The field was pretty rocky, and if anybody hit their head-
No reply. Steffi propped herself up onto her elbows. "Logan?" she asked uneasily.
He was lying a few feet away from her, eyes closed. Steffi felt her heart start beating in her ears as she scrambled over for a better look. "Logan." She poked him, fear creeping into her voice.
Still no reply. His head lolled uselessly in the field. Steffi started to feel her blood turn cold with fright as she leaned down to listen to his breathing.
He wasn't breathing. Steffi felt hot tears start to well up in her eyes and she felt that familiar feeling of helplessness sweep over her. "Oh, God, no, no," she murmured, panicking.
It was then that she noticed that the body beneath her fingers was shaking. She started away in surprise and then noticed Logan's mouth curving up into a smile before he started laughing. The air whooshed out of his lungs in one breath as he started to laugh helplessly.
"Wha-" Steffi began, the realization that she had been had sweeping over her.
Logan's blue eyes opened and met hers, mischief written in his eyes. "I had you," he choked with laughter before resuming laughing loudly.
"That wasn't funny, Logan Jameson," Steffi snapped angrily, her face flushing pink. "I was really scared for you, you know." She stood up and started to march back towards the picnic site.
"Whoa, whoa, wait," Logan said, hastily catching up with her. "Come on, Steffi. It was a joke."
"Yeah, for you!" Steffi shouted, whirling on him. "Do you know that I thought you cracked your head open on those rocks in the field? I was really scared that you were badly injured or worse-dead!"
"Okay. Okay." Logan held up his hands in defeat. "Alright. It wasn't funny. I'm sorry." He paused before starting to chuckle again. "But you have to admit that it was really funny."
Steffi gave him a glare before spinning around to continue on her way. Logan sighed and caught her arm, spinning her around to face him. "Listen, Steffi. I told you that I'm sorry. What more do you want from me? I thought it would be funny. And I'm sorry that you were so worried."
"You could have died." Steffi repeated her fact in a quiet tone.
"Well, I didn't." Logan suddenly became aware of how close he was standing to Steffi, and he dropped his grip on her arm, but didn't step away. "I could hear the fright in your voice though when you were leaning over me."
"And yet you still went through with the joke?" Steffi fought to keep her fast-dissipating anger in her tone of voice. Suddenly she didn't seem so angry anymore, and she wondered why that was.
"Well. I don't know." Logan paused, aware that he was close enough to reach out and pull Steffi to him. "Were you really that worried about me?"
He saw the flash in his best friend's blue eyes and realized that yes, she really had been scared for him. "Okay. Okay. I'm sorry."
The wind suddenly blew around them, as if by doing that it could physically force them closer together. Steffi's hair escaped from her braid and blew into her eyes, but before she could reach out to brush it away, Logan's fingers did it for her. He tucked it behind her ear and gently followed the path down to her neck. Steffi looked into his eyes then and saw something spark in his eyes, something that thrilled her and scared her all at the same time. And she knew then if she looked into her soul that she'd find the exact same feeling buried deep...
"Apology?" Logan whispered, his forehead touching hers.
"I don't have to." Steffi murmured, feeling a sudden wave of helplessness again, but this time for different reasons.
"Hmm, you're right." Logan's lips curled up into a sly, teasing smile that caused Steffi's heart to race faster. She was very well aware that they were close enough to be mistaken for an intimate couple if anyone saw them from a distance away, but suddenly, her brain shorted out and she was incapable of any train of thought.
"So, what should I do to apologize to you, hmm?" Logan continued, his sly smile spreading even further. His fingers burned on Steffi's neck as they lingered there, her stray strand of hair just above his skin.
Steffi broke into a mischievous grin of her own. "Oh, Logan, I don't know. Drop to your knees and beg, maybe?" By now, they were really close, and anybody watching them could tell that they were having an intimate moment. "Or maybe you could just tell everyone you know that I'm the greatest girl in the whole entire world."
"No, I think I'll just do...this." Logan lowered his mouth to hers, and the split second before their lips actually touched, Steffi felt her heart skip a beat and a tingle of electricity skitter up her skin and arms. If her best friend felt it, too, he didn't show it.
"Nice apology," Steffi murmured when they broke apart, tilting back to look at him-did he have to be so tall? "And you're evil, you know that?"
"I know, I'm delightfully evil, aren't I?" Logan smiled as he looked into her blue eyes. "I think I have a lot of apologizing to do actually..."
She smiled against his lips as he gently tilted her chin up and covered her mouth with his. "Maybe," she whispered. "There was that time at the movies when you abandoned me to watch another movie with Cam..."
"I did not!"
Her eyes reflected laughter and amusement as she leaned back again against his strong arms, which had snaked down to her waist. "No, you didn't. But hey. You wanted to apologize, so..."
"Ah. In that case, I think we have some past grudges to forgive?" Logan smirked.
"Do we ever." Steffi looked out at the sunset as the wind ruffled her clothes. "Oh, look, it's the sunset," she said innocently, disentangling herself from her confused best friend's grasp and stepping over a few rocks. "You want to go to the boulders and watch from there? It's a great view."
"You're worried about sunsets?" Logan asked incredulously, following her anyway.
"No, I'm worried about missing the sunset." Steffi laughed into the wind, a sound that set Logan's heart on fire. "Boys."
Just then, she stopped, and winced as her body creaked in protest. She doubled over as her ribs suddenly felt like they had been punched by a couple of gangsters. "Ow."
"Are you okay?" Logan's playful tone immediately changed to one of concern and he rushed over to support her. "Maybe we shouldn't even try to climb up to those boulders. You still haven't fully recovered from the chemotherapy."
"Logan. I'm fine." Steffi stated this in a cool tone, looking into her friend's eyes. "Look." She turned her head away. "I'm supposed to live life to the fullest, right?"
He watched her, not knowing where this was going.
"So, if living life to the fullest means that I have to climb up those boulders just to see one of the last sunsets I'll ever see, then..." Steffi's voice broke.
"Okay," Logan relented finally. He hated seeing girls cry, much less the girl that he had known for over a decade. And especially not the one that he had been locking lips with just a moment ago. "But I'm going first to help you up."
"What happened to chivalry?" Steffi called teasingly as he started up the rocky terrain. He rolled his eyes and turned back. "Come on, Einstein," he snorted, bringing up Steffi's old childhood nickname, aptly given for her superb scores in physics and chemistry and what not scientific stuff. Personally, Logan was more of the writer type.
It took them only a few moments to get up the slope and arrive on the flat boulder, aptly named the 'Plain Table'. Which uncreative person had come up with the mundane name, Logan didn't know, but had he been given a choice, he would have renamed it something else. But 'Plain Table' was how it had been known in their town for the last couple of decades, and nobody was going to change it anytime soon.
"The sunset is beautiful," Steffi murmured almost to herself, gazing out into the orange flecked red sky of the horizon.
"It looks like the same sunset every day for the last sixteen years of our life, Stef."
She glanced at him. "Well. Let's think about that. For about as long as I can remember, I've been working my butt off just to get good grades. And for the last year and a half, I've been in and out of the hospital so many times that I could sleepwalk through it."
Logan kept quiet. He got the feeling that she needed to talk. And if she needed to talk, well, he was going to listen, even if it killed him in the process.
"I had so many hopes and dreams." Steffi spoke again, but this time in a dreamy tone of voice.
"I worked hard. I got good grades. I became captain of the tennis team. And now? They're killed. All by one word."
"You're going to get better. Cancer doesn't kill. Not always." Logan tried to sound as cheery as he could.
Steffi looked down at her fingers just then, and Logan felt the bottom of his stomach drop out. "Steffi?"
Her face twisted. "I didn't want to tell you," she said softly, hammering each word into Logan's heart.
"What? Tell me what?" Logan's voice rose slightly, and his stomach twisted with fear. "You went to the doctors this morning, what did he say?"
Steffi started to shake and she covered her face, and the understanding hit Logan like a blow to the head. "H-how long?" he stammered finally, his voice shaking tremulously.
She turned her head away so that he wouldn't see the tears that spilled out of her eyes. "A month," she choked, her voice distorted beyond belief. "I have a month to live."
"And you weren't going to tell me?" Logan lashed out.
"I couldn't!" Steffi turned back, her eyes swollen with crying. "I didn't even want to admit it to myself, can't you see that? Telling you would be like confirming the fact that I'm dying. Dying, Logan. Everything that I've worked for, everything that I've dreamed of, everyone that I love...don't you get it? I'm going to be leaving it all behind. I couldn't accept it. I didn't want to!"
"And so when was I going to find out about this? When I come back from school wondering why you weren't there and finding a letter in my mailbox from your mother informing me of the funeral arrangements?" Logan, on his feet, had hurt and anger pouring from his voice.
Steffi covered her face with her hands and started to sob, sobs that wracked her already fragile body and sobs that came from deep within her. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry! But I couldn't..."
Logan's face screwed up as he turned away, trying to compose his thoughts. His best friend was dying. In a month. He had about thirty days to spend with her. And suddenly, it all made sense. Why her mother had suddenly called him up and asked him to move up their picnic arrangement. Why the house had seemed quieter than usual. Why Steffi's sister Anna had been on the couch silently reading instead of greeting him with her usual sunny smile.
But Steffi had shown no sign of being unhappy. She had been happy up until now. Yes, she had been weaker than usual. But Logan had put it down to the chemotherapy that she had been undergoing.
"Are you sure that the doctor said a month?" Logan's voice sounded tighter than usual.
"I couldn't be wrong about that, Logan. It's life and death here."
"He didn't say that there was a chance?"
"One in a million." Steffi hugged her knees to her chest, burying her head there.
A second later, she felt a pair of arms slide around her and she burrowed into Logan's arms, feeling the familiar comfort and warmth that came with it surround her. "Shh," he whispered as she cried against him, her body shaking his. "Shh. It'll be alright. I'm here. I'm always here."
"I'm scared, Logan," Steffi whispered finally, when her sobs finally subsided and she looked up into his face.
He looked down at her. "So am I."
She snorted with laughter before leaning back against him to face the sunset. "That doesn't help me much, you know."
"No? Okay." Logan smiled into her hair as he leaned his chin on her head.
"Big help." But Logan could tell that Steffi was cheering up slightly now.
"I had so many hopes and dreams." Steffi spoke again, shifting slightly in Logan's arms.
"You said that already."
A sigh slid from his friend's lips as they sat there, watching the fading glows of the sunset. "I wonder what it's like to die," Steffi ventured finally. She felt Logan's grip on her tighten, as if the thought of just letting her go was something that he could physically prevented.
"Don't think of that," Logan whispered in her ear, sending chills up and down her spine. "In fact, don't think of anything right now. Enjoy the moment."
"This moment, and this moment, and this moment, is gone now, Logan!" Steffi disentangled herself from his grasp. "Every moment that passes me now is gone. It's not coming back, and it brings me closer to dying." She wrapped her arms around herself, as if by making herself smaller she could shield herself from the awful slap of reality. "This is torture, trying to live while knowing that I'm going to die anyway."
"Everyone's going to die. You're just leaving sooner than most of us." Logan tried to put a cheery spin on things until he realized that that probably wasn't the most cheerful of things to say.
Another tear slid out of Steffi's eye and Logan felt his heart break. "Come on, Stef, cheer up," he said gently. "You still have a month to live. And you can beat this thing if you just try." He lifted her chin to meet his eyes. "Remember when we were both learning to swim?"
"Chyeah, I nearly drowned," Steffi reminisced, smiling fondly at the memory.
"That's right. And if I remember correctly, you told your mother that you were going to quit." Logan searched his friend's eyes for something to give him hope.
"But I didn't." Steffi furrowed her brow.
"Yeah. You didn't. Because you were strong. It took only two seconds for your mother to ask you if you weer sure and you suddenly changed your mind and went back to trying. You tried and tried and finally, you got it. You were able to swim." Logan smiled as he too remembered. "And that's what I love about you, Steffi. You're strong. You don't give up easily. No matter what the challenge was, you never gave up." He paused as his friend's eyes flickered. "Why should this time be any different?" His fingers spread out to cup Steffi's face in his hands. "It's just another challenge. Yeah, it's a big challenge. But you. You are capable of producing miracles."
Steffi's eyes filled with tears, and Logan felt his heart thump a bit when he saw how they caused her blue eyes to seem bluer than usual. "Oh, Logan," she whispered, closing her eyes.
Logan smiled, a smile that caused Steffi's heart to suffer cardiac arrest as she opened her eyes again. "What am I going to do without you?" she murmured, feeling the warmth of his fingers burn on her skin.
"Worry about that later. Right now, I'm here for you. I always will be here for you. As long as you need me and as long as you believe that I love you."
Steffi felt a jolt of electricity rush up her body. "Don't," she whispered as their lips were inches apart.
"Don't what?" Logan's voice was husky as he touched his nose against hers.
"Don't..don't fall in love with me," Steffi got out, her voice soft and scared.
Logan looked at her. "Why?"
She shook her head. "It's too hard."
"I think it's too late for that," Logan whispered before closing the gap. Steffi felt like pulling away for a second before throwing caution to the winds and pouring every remaining emotion she had into the long kiss. She needed this. And so did he.
The sun sank below the horizon, but the two friends didn't care. At this point, they were way more than friends, more than best friends, more than just a boy and a girl who were close.
They were soul mates, bonded together by love, by death, and by life.
Well, what did you guys think? I don't know, I couldn't start my other fic without writing this. It was supposed to be a one-shot but at the rate this is going, I don't know..could be more. Whaddya guys think? Read and let me know, k!