Pairing: James/Carlos, side Kendall/Logan (because it's not like I could write anything else...)
Summary: James learns that even though many things have changed about Carlos since they moved to LA, some things still mean just as much to him as ever.
"Oh come on guys, please?" Carlos pleaded with his best friends/bandmates.
"It's not really my thing, Carlos" Logan said apologetically "Besides, Kendall and I were gonna spend the night in together since Mrs. Knight and Katie are at Katie's friend's party and James is going out to The Jennifers' holiday thing"
"Woah, woah, woah, it is not just some 'holiday thing'!" James indignantly cried "It's the fourth annual 'Classy Trashy Christmas Bashy' and only the hottest of the hot are invited"
"'Classy Trashy'?" Logan asked with a look of disgust on his face "What is that supposed to mean?"
James stood up and put on his favorite spokesman voice "The annual Jennifers' 'Classy Trashy Christmas Bashy', where the hottest young celebrities gather to dress Classy" he gestured grandly to his over-the-top attire "and get Trashy as the Bashy goes on into the wee hours of the morning. Dress code heavily enforced and those caught trying to crash the party will be mocked and humiliated before being tossed out by the bouncers" he finished with a toothy smile.
"Wow, sounds like a wonderful evening full of Christmas cheer!" Logan added with a sarcastic smile as wide as James'
"You don't need to use sarcasm to hide your jealousy, Mr. Uptight" James added, without dropping his semi-smug cheer "Maybe if you didn't wear Kendall's drab clothes all the time you could have been invited too"
Logan's cheeks flushed a bright pink but he kept his mouth shut and sank back down into the couch cushions.
"Come on Jamie, won't you come with me?" Carlos begged with his saddest of sad puppy faces "This is what Christmas is supposed to be about"
"Hmm" James said, stroking his chin "Go to the hottest Christmas party in LA" He held up a hand "spend over an hour in a stuffy old church singing songs more than a century old" He held up the other hand to weigh the options. "Yeah, I'm gonna go with the party" he said with a laugh.
When he looked at Carlos he saw that the other boy didn't find it funny at all.
"You don't have to make fun of it just because you don't like it" he said quickly before hurrying off into their room and shutting the door quickly.
James followed Carlos to apologize. Upon opening the door he found Carlos in bed, lying on his side with his arms folded up under his head.
"Carlos, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you" James said, but Carlos didn't answer, or make any indication that he recognized James' presence. James sat down on the bed and leaned over Carlos "Hey," he said softly as he wiped a tear from Carlos' cheek, finally getting the boy to look at him. "I'm sorry. I didn't think it was that important to you"
Carlos sat up and wiped his face with the palms of his hands. "You know my family and I go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve every year. It's why we're always the first to leave Mrs. Knight's Christmas Eve party and I know I've told you about it." Carlos said without looking James in the eye "It's bad enough that I can't be home again this year; I thought I could at least go to the mass with my friends"
James kicked himself mentally for not being more mindful of Carlos' needs. He knew that of all the boys Carlos was the one who put the most stock in tradition and family bonds, even more so than Kendall, but hadn't thought of how much it must have been hurting him to have his traditions broken by the demands of their schedule.
"I'm sorry Carlos, can I go with you?"
"I don't want to go anymore" Carlos said, avoiding James' eye contact as he sniffled again.
"What about your party?" Carlos asked, finally turning to stare daggers at James "Don't you wanna go get trashed with all the hottest people in LA, which apparently doesn't include me?"
Seeing the look on Carlos' face, James regretted his words from earlier more than he thought possible. "I'm sorry Carlos; I didn't mean anything by that. I was just trying to bug Logan. You know how we get"
Apparently this was the wrong thing to say because Carlos' expression only got more upset. "Yeah, I know 'how you two get'. You've been getting that way a whole lot more often now too!" he said as angry tears began to roll down his cheeks.
James felt his heart ache as he saw the anguish in Carlos which he had clearly been ignoring.
"Carlos, that's nothing" He said urgently. When Carlos looked away again James grabbed his face and forced him to make eye contact "Look at me Carlos. I love you. I don't want you to ever think I don't" James pleaded with his boyfriend. Carlos' face softened and James took the opportunity to pull the boy into a hug. Carlos returned the embrace as tears began to fall from both boys' eyes.
"I feel like you don't care about me anymore Jamie" Carlos cried out, causing James to hold him even tighter.
"Carlos, I'm sorry. I care about you just as much as I ever did. I promise I'll be better at showing it from now on" James said as he nuzzled into the crook of Carlos' neck and shoulder, pressing kiss after kiss on the boy. The two continued holding on, talking love words until they managed to calm each other down.
When they finally pulled apart James wiped Carlos' eyes and asked again "Can I go to that mass with you?" This time Carlos smiled "I'd love that Jamie" He gave James a kiss, then let out a little laugh "But first you're gonna have to change out of those ridiculous clothes"
"What are you talking about?" James asked earnestly "I think I look good" he said, standing up and turning around to give Carlos a 360 degree view.
"Sorry babe, but a shiny blue and purple shirt, pleather pants, and whatever those things are on your feet are a bit too . . . um . . . loud for church" Carlos said smiling. "Just put on something simple and nice."
When Carlos and James were on their way to the church James was once again amazed by Carlos' ability to get over things. The boy was smiling and laughing like nothing had ever happened, and holding James' hand the whole way.
Once they made it into the church they were surprised to find it nearly full. An usher at the door handed them each a small white taper candle and the two found space in a pew somewhere near the back of the assembly. When the service began the lights dimmed in the building. James heard the priest say something about the "Light of Hope" coming into the world and how they were meant to pass it on to all they met, after which the people in the front row had their candles lit by the kids in robes and were asked to light their neighbors' candles.
James found the symbolism a little hokey, but when Carlos finally had his candle lit by the woman to his left and turned to pass the flame on to James, he could see the pure look of joy and excitement on Carlos' face and couldn't help but give in to the sweetness of the moment. He kept his eyes on Carlos' face, lit warmly by the candlelight, until Carlos nudged him to light the candle of the man in the pew behind him.
James couldn't help but watch Carlos throughout the service. He wasn't particularly interested in the stories, genealogies, and litanies that the people on the altar kept reading out, but watching Carlos listen to them made it worth being there. Surely Carlos had heard these readings dozens of times before, but he still listened and smiled as the stories went on.
Occasionally Carlos would look up and see James watching him and he would smile bashfully as he turned his attention back to the service.
It only made James want to watch him even more.
James listened to Carlos sing his heart out on the hymns and was truly impressed with how much his voice had improved. He could remember singing some of these songs in freshman choir with him and Carlos was usually quietly singing off-key. It made his heart swell with pride to see how far Carlos had come since moving to LA and knowing that he was at least partly responsible for the growth. Sure, Kendall was the one Gustavo wanted to turn into a star, and was the one who managed to get the rest of them invited, but it was because of James that they were at that audition in the first place, and so he was happy to know he had a hand in bringing this whole thing about for the four of them.
"The mass is ended, let us go forth in peace to love and serve the Lord" the priest said, smiling at the gathering.
"Thanks be to God" Carlos said with the rest of the people as the lights were brought back up and James snickered a bit.
"What's so funny?" Carlos asked.
"You guys really say 'Thanks be to God' when you get to leave?" James asked with a playful smile. Carlos rolled his eyes "Ugh, we don't mean it like that, you doof" and he gave him a light punch on the arm as they exited their pew.
James and Carlos left their extinguished candles in the collection boxes by the doors as they exited the church. Once they were out on the sidewalk Carlos asked James if he wanted to go to The Jennifers' Christmas party now, without even a hint of bitterness in his voice. James draped an arm around Carlos' shoulders and steered him back in the direction of the Palm Woods. "Nah, let's go home. Maybe we can still ruin Kendall and Logan's date"