Disclaimer: I do not own Disney's Descendants. They're own by... their parents, I guess.
It was a quiet early morning at Auradon Prep. As usual, Mal and her three friends (Jay, Carlos and Evie) were having breakfast together at the girl's room. That morning, however, the ambient was a bit gloomy.
-It's just… different now – Mal said, while Evie nodded.
-I don't get it – admitted Jay – I mean, Ben has loved you all this time, right? Why would he stop now?
-That was because of the love potion, silly! – explained Evie while taking sips of tea – but now the effect is gone.
-He says he loves me, but he does not look so sure about it. He promised he'd give it some thought, and try putting an order to his feelings. Oh, Evie! – she sadly complained – what am I going to do?
-Well, if that makes you feel better, you're not the only one feeling down today.
-That's right! – Jay added, looking at Carlos, who was constantly being pestered by Dude, crazily trying to get his attention – what's wrong, bud?
Carlos looked up, toast between his teeth. He let it fall back to the dish.
-Nothing – he said, picking Dude up and scratching his ears.
-Aw, come on! – insisted Mal – Has our "dog lover" dog problems? Or maybe are we talking about love problems?
Mal regretted asking right after she did. She didn't like the heartbroken face he suddenly made, not at all.
-Carlos? – she asked with concern.
-About Ben – he said, obviously changing the subject – just be patient. He promised to answer you today, right? So no need for you to go in despair. Besides, I think he still loves you back, for sure.
Mal's face lit up.
-You really mean it? – she got up and hugged Carlos – That's so nice from you! I'd better start doing my hair, then.
She went to the bathroom as happy as a spindle.
-That was a very good advice – Evie smiled, teacup in her hands.
-You really are a good friend!
-You wish for her to have a happy ending…
-Even when her prince turned out to be the guy you have a crush on.
Carlos almost choked with his toast. Jay had to slap his back so he'd stop coughing.
-W-what did you say?
-Carlos, it's obvious that you like Ben – Evie quietly said, taking her friend's hand – you're always hiding your face whenever he comes near you, you even blush sometimes! And honestly, the moment we knew him, you spent two hours shaking right after you two shook hands.
Cold sweat covering his face, Carlos closed his eyes tight, trying hard not to cry. Besides, waiting for Jay to say something. It was his friend's reaction what he feared the most. Jay noticed, and put an arm around his neck.
-It's OK, buddy – he whispered, ruffling his hair – I've known some time ago. So… don't you dare feeling ashamed, got it?
-You… you knew?
-You talk in your sleep, man.
During a couple of minutes, an awkward silence filled the air. Then Carlos asked the question he'd been wanting to ask, whose answer may take a good friend away from him.
-No, I think she didn't notice – Evie said, much to his relief – since you've also tried hard to hide it from her.
-She'd hate me…
-Listen, Carlos. About that… look, Jay and I have been talking…
-Go and tell him how you feel – Jay commanded.
-W-what? Y-you guys can't be serious!
-Listen – Evie said – he's been thinking a lot about how he feels about Mal, just like he promised. Since he's exploring his own feelings, it's a perfect chance for you. If you open your heart to him, he may discover some new ones.
-In other words, it's now or never – sentenced Jay.
At lunchtime, Carlos slowly walked through the woods, mentally rehearsing his confrontation with Ben. He let a couple of tears fall silently to the ground. For the first time in his life, he felt himself determined. His friends were OK with him liking Ben, and they were watching his back, cheering for him! And thanks to that, he finally had the courage to face his real feelings. He drew an image of Ben in his head. His sweet chocolate hair, gleaming against the sunlight as if it'd start melting any moment. His smile, as white as the purest of swan's feathers. And those soft lips, which would surely smell like fresh roses.
He took the deepest of breaths, and walked faster with a smile of hope in his face. When he spotted Ben talking to someone, his smile grew even wider. His hair was as shiny as always. And his smile as white as fallen snow. And his lips, he couldn't remember the last time they were that beautiful. But everything stopped being beautiful the moment those lips bent down and kissed Mal's.
If he was asked to describe what he felt in that moment, he's probably said it was like his heart turning into glass and shattering, shards ripping his chest skin from the inside. Before he could run away, Mal spotted him, and told Ben to wait.
-You were right all along! – she happily said, hugging him tight – He loves me! He really does!
-I'm so happy for you – Carlos slowly said.
-Are you OK? – Mal suddenly asked – You looked awful this morning, and you don't look better now. There's… something we should talk about?
Carlos looked at Ben for a second, then at the ground, then at Mal again.
-I'm just so happy you got your prince back, Mal. You finally have the happy ending you want and deserve… I've never felt happier….
-Then why are you crying?
-I thing I caught something from Dude – he smiled, more tears falling.
Then he turned and walked away.
That night, Carlos was lying on his bed, hugging Dude and trying hard to think about nothing. He hadn't moved since two hours, even with and Evie and Jay knocking. They finally got the message. It had all gone wrong, and their friend needed some time alone. When he had finally fallen asleep, another knocking woke him up.
-Stop it, guys! Don't you get tired? – he moaned half asleep.
-Carlos? – Mal's voice – Carlos, can I come in?
-I can't… eat anymore… - Carlos said, wanting Mal to think he had just talked in his sleep.
The idea was so silly it made Mal laugh.
-Come on, Carlos. Open the door.
-I have a gift for you.
A few minutes later, they were both sitting on his bed. Carlos held his new Dalmatian plushie, while Mal smiled looking at him. He was like a child, somehow.
-I know everything.
-Did Evie tell you?
-Yes, but just because I threw my magical evil glare at her. I couldn't stand watching you that depressed, and being the only one not knowing why. Please, don't blame her.
-Do you… hate me?
Mal's mouth opened wide.
-O-of course not, Carlos! Who told you that?
-I just figured it.
-Carlos, I… I'm sorry. If I had known you were feeling like that…
-I didn't want to worry you.
Mal hugged him.
-I swear I don't deserve a friend like you – she whispered into his ear – I'll help you get through this, Carlos. I promise.
-Thanks, Mal. I'm so glad you still want us to be friends.
-You're welcome – she smiled.
-And also for the plushie.
-You know? It's a tradition here at Auradon to name it after someone you love, so I… won't care if you name him Ben.
Right after she left, he stared at the plushie.
"Someone you love, huh?"
That night, he slept along with Dude and the plushie in his bed.
-Good night, Dude. And good night to you too… Mal.
He closed his eyes and drifted to sleep.