A/N: Boy, this fic got longer than I thought. Well, either way, I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for reading! Double thanks for reviewing!
The Crazy One
At 4:30 in the morning, the phone rang.
Kendall yawned and rolled over in bed. From the other room, the ringing stopped and he heard a muffled voice. He wondered who was calling this early in the morning, but then decided he was too tired to care. He sighed and snuggled back under his covers. It was still dark outside; no sunlight yet shined through his bedroom window. It was only fifteen minutes later when he started to doze off again.
There were foot steps in the hallway. Kendall nearly toppled out of bed, startled by the noise. He was just starting to have a dream where he was falling.
He finally got his bearings and sat up in bed, straining his ears for any creak or crack coming from the hall.
He heard someone clear their throat.
Now curious and a bit annoyed, Kendall tossed his legs over the side of his bed and rose, yawning. He figured he might as well investigate, or else he would not be able to fall back to sleep, anyway.
He saw no one in the hallway, so he ventured into the living room. The lights were all off.
Maybe he was imagining things. Or maybe he dreamed it. Kendall rolled his eyes, annoyed with himself.
He was about to turn around, when he saw a figure sitting on the couch. Kendall squinted in the darkness. "Carlos?"
The figure spun around. "Kendall? What are you doing?" His voice sounded a bit hoarse.
"What am I doing? More like what are you doing?" Kendall asked. "It's almost five in the morning."
Carlos yawned and stood from the couch. "I know, I couldn't sleep." He yawned again. It seemed forced. "Well, I'm gonna try to get back to bed. Night!" He tried to slip past Kendall, but the blonde-haired boy stopped him.
"Wait a second. What are you doing? Who was on the phone?"
Carlos hesitated before answering. "It was a wrong number. Some lady asking for… Shaniqua. Yeah. So… now I can't sleep."
Kendall narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
Carlos sniffled and ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah… well, I'm pretty tired, so… I'm just gonna go back to bed now." He patted Kendall's shoulder. "You should, too." And with that, he took off down the hall and to his bedroom, where he shut the door.
Kendall stood in the living room for a few seconds, then shrugged and headed back to bed.
All four boys were awake by ten o'clock that morning. Mrs. Knight and Katie were up a little earlier, and Mrs. Knight had already started making pancakes for the boys. Kendall, James, Logan and Carlos sat at the table. Katie, who had already eaten, was watching TV on the couch in the living room.
"Thanks, Mrs. Knight," said Logan as Kendall's mother placed a pancake on his plate.
"Sure. Eat up, you guys. I made plenty." She strode back into the kitchen to flip some more pancakes.
James sat next to Carlos, across from Logan and Kendall. He had a mirror in his hand, and was examining his reflection as he waited for his pancake. "Do you guys think the hair needs a trim?"
"The hair?" Logan said with a laugh.
"I think I'm getting some spilt ends…" He pulled a comb out of his pocket and ran it through his brown hair.
Kendall took a syrupy bite of his pancake. "So," he mumbled with his mouth full, "what do you guys wanna do today?"
Logan shrugged. "We haven't had a day off in a while. I say we just sit back and relax."
"We could go to the pool," James suggested, finally putting away his comb and mirror.
Kendall shrugged. "What do you think, Carlos?"
All eyes turned to Carlos, who was staring at his plate. He was about to open his mouth to say something, when Mrs. Knight reappeared with another plate of pancakes. She set one on Carlos's plate. He smiled politely and dug in.
"Carlos," Kendall said.
He looked up. "Huh?"
"I said, what do you think we should do today?"
He shrugged. "Pool's fine."
James, Logan and Kendall all exchanged glances.
"Hey, are you feeling okay?" Logan asked Carlos.
"I'm fine," he replied, stretching his arms up and yawning. "Just a little tired. I didn't sleep too good last night."
The boys shrugged and went back to their breakfast. When they were finished, they thanked Mrs. Knight, and decided to head down to the Palm Woods pool. They went to their rooms and changed into swimming shorts and sleeveless t-shirts.
Kendall, James and Logan stood in the living room, waiting for Carlos. James and Logan had their pool noodles in hand, ready to go.
"Carlos, hurry up!" James called. "I have tanning to do."
"You shouldn't tan too much, James," Logan said. "You'll get melanoma."
James rolled his eyes. "I don't even know what that means."
"It means skin cancer." Logan bopped his pool noodle on James's arm. "Did you at least put sunscreen on?"
"Pssht… You can't tan with sunscreen on."
Logan hit James on the head with his pool noodle. "Yes you can! Sunscreen prevents your skin from burning. You can still tan."
James hit him back. "Don't hit me with your pool noodle!"
Then the boys started fighting, whacking each other in the heads with their pool toys, James warning Logan about messing up his hair. Soon they were rolling around on the floor, wrestling.
Kendall looked down, but made no attempt to break them up. "Carlos!" he called again. "Let's go before James and Logan kill each other."
"Or before James gets skin cancer -" Logan cried, being cut off by James, who tackled him to the floor again.
Carlos finally emerged from the hall, clad in his swimming attire. "Actually, I think I'm going to stay here," he said.
Logan and James immediately picked themselves off the floor. "Huh?"
"You don't wanna go swimming?" Kendall asked.
Carlos shook his head. "Nah, I'm pretty tired. And if I go swimming I might fall asleep in the pool and drown, or something." They couldn't tell if he was joking.
"Well, that's what you have us for," Kendall said, chuckling. "We'll pull you out."
"Anyway," said Logan, "if you're tired, swimming will wake you up."
James nodded. "And you're already dressed. So let's go!" He started for the door.
"Might as well come with us, Carlos," said Kendall.
He seemed to think it over. "Yeah, okay, you're probably right," he said. "But, uh… I'll meet you guys down there, okay? I need to… use the bathroom." He crossed the kitchen, and the boys heard a door close.
They exchanged glances. "That was kinda weird," James said quietly. "Carlos is never tired."
"Yeah," Logan agreed, also keeping his voice low. "Carlos is like a big ball of energy. He's always bouncing off the walls!"
"Maybe he's getting sick or something," James suggested.
Kendall was puzzled also. "I dunno, guys. He was up at like four thirty this morning and was talking on the phone. Then I saw him sitting alone in the living room."
"Well, did you ask him about it?" wondered Logan.
"Yeah. He said it was a wrong number, and that he couldn't get back to sleep."
The boys stood in silence, mulling over the situation. "Still," Logan said finally, "it's not like Carlos."
All Kendall could do was shrug.
"Fish out of water!" Kendall opened his eyes and spotted James getting out of the pool. "Hah! Gotcha!" he cried.
James ignored him. "This game is boring with three people." Logan and Kendall agreed. It was pretty boring. "I'm going to work on my tan," James decided with a little pose. He turned on his heel and grabbed a towel from one of the beach chairs.
Logan and Kendall rolled their eyes, but decided to join him anyway. They got out of the pool and dried themselves off, then laid back in the beach chairs, feeling relaxed as the warm, California sun washed over their bodies.
"You know," Logan said, putting on his sunglasses. "Today feels kind of… off."
"Yeah, I agree," Kendall said. "Everything seems so… still. And, I don't know… quiet."
Just then, Carlos appeared and took a seat next to James without so much as a 'hey'. For a moment, no one said anything. Kendall looked to Logan, who shrugged. "Hey, uh… Carlos," Kendall started. He cleared his throat. "Is everything okay with you? I mean, you've been acting a little different today."
"Well," said James, "for one, you've barely said a word all morning."
"Two, your helmet isn't on your head," Logan pointed out.
"And three," Kendall said, "you didn't want to come to the pool with us."
Carlos shifted uneasily in his seat. Kendall thought he seemed a little edgy. Maybe even nervous. "Look, guys, I don't have to be the crazy one all the time, you know? I'm tired. I don't feel like running around and… and being all hyper."
The three boys raised their eyebrows. No one had ever heard Carlos say something so sternly.
"But you've always been the crazy one," James said. Logan punched his shoulder.
"You want me to be crazy?" asked Carlos, standing. "Fine. Cannonball!" He suddenly jumped as high as he could, tucked in his legs, and flung himself into the pool, landing with a big splash.
The rest of the morning was spent unwinding on the beach chairs. The boys relaxed by paging through magazines and watching pretty girls wander around the pool area. Carlos was unusually quiet. At one point, he said, "Be right back," and disappeared for fifteen minutes.
"Where'd you go?" Logan had asked when he returned.
"No where," Carlos replied. He didn't speak at all after that.
Kendall, though, kept his eye on him. While the boys sat around the pool, Kendall kept glancing over at his friend. Carlos seemed anxious. He kept wiping his palms on his shorts, and occasionally glanced at his cell phone. Kendall wondered if that had anything to do with 'Shaniqua' calling the night before.
Eventually, the boys went back to the apartment for lunch. Mrs. Knight made hamburgers and French fries. They quickly devoured their meal. All except for Carlos, anyway. Carlos had only taken a couple bites from his hamburger and munched on a few fries. The lack of appetite was very strange for Carlos, who normally stuffed his mouth with as much food as he could when it was time to eat.
James noticed first. "Aren't you hungry?"
Carlos looked up from staring at his plate. He shrugged. "I'm not done eating yet." He picked up his hamburger and took a bite.
"Dude, are you sure you're feeling okay?" Logan asked.
The three boys looked to him expectantly. Carlos made sure to look each of them in the eyes before speaking. "Yes. I'm fine. Why do you guys keep asking me that?" He rose from the table and marched off down the hall.
Kendall, James and Logan pushed their chairs closer together.
"Okay, so, he's definitely not fine," Kendall decided, keeping his voice low so Carlos couldn't hear.
"I know. But how are we going to figure out what's wrong?" wondered Logan.
"I still say he's getting sick," James said.
"Okay," Kendall said. "Maybe he is sick. I don't like to eat when I'm sick. So if he is, we'll have to find a way to… uh, I don't know, take his temperature."
Logan let out a humorless laugh. "And how are we going to do that? He's not gonna let us put a thermometer in his mouth."
"Well, when I feel sick, my mom always puts her hand on my forehead to see if I feel hot," Kendall offered.
"So we just go up to Carlos and put our hand on his forehead?" asked James. "That's… kinda weird."
"We'll have to be subtle. Inconspicuous," said Logan.
Kendall smirked. "I have a plan."
The boys waited nearly twenty minutes before Carlos emerged from his room. Logan saw him coming and gave the signal.
"Oh," James said, loudly. "I guess I'll just put some more ketchup on my hamburger…" He waited until Carlos was close, then grabbed the ketchup bottle.
"Woah! Oops!" James pretended the ketchup bottle was out of control. He aimed the bottle at Carlos's face and squirted the ketchup all over. Carlos shouted and turned his head, so most of the ketchup got in his hair.
"Whoops, sorry about that," James said. "Ketchup bottles are so uncontrollable these days."
Kendall approached Carlos. "Here, let me help you." He put his hand to Carlos's forehead like he was about to wipe off some ketchup.
Carlos swatted his hand away and glared darkly at James. "Stop. It's fine." He ran his hand over his face. It came back covered in thick, red goop. "I'm gonna take a shower," he muttered.
When the bathroom door closed, the three boys met up in the living room.
"Did you touch his forehead? Did he feel sick?" Logan asked.
"I don't know," said Kendall. "I couldn't really tell."
James groaned. "Now what are we gonna do?"
"Maybe he is just tired," Logan said to Kendall. "You did say he was up at four thirty."
"Yeah, but why was he up at four thirty?" Kendall said.
"You told us someone called and woke him up."
"That's what Carlos told me."
James sighed. "Let's just forget it for now," he said. "Maybe Carlos will be more like himself in the morning."
The boys did their best to stick to James's idea, but it killed them to know something was bothering Carlos and they were doing nothing to help him.
After dinner, Mrs. Knight took Katie to the mall, and the boys were left by themselves in the apartment. Kendall, James and Logan had started playing a videogame to pass the time. Carlos was in his room. The door was closed.
The three boys had made a big bowl of popcorn, and would occasionally allow one hand to leave their controller in order to toss a handful into their mouths. They played a simple first-person shooter game. James and Kendall were on a team, playing against Logan.
The boys heard Carlos's door open. "Carlos, come play with us," Kendall called, not taking his eyes off the TV screen. "Logan really needs you on his team."
Logan nudged Kendall with his elbow. "I'm playing just fine, thank you."
To their surprise, Carlos grabbed a controller. "Okay, I'll play." He plopped down on the couch next to Logan and took a handful of popcorn.
"Alright, you're on Logan's team," James said. "Or as I like to call it, the losing team." He hit the 'start' button on his controller, which brought him to the menu screen. He restarted the game.
"Oh, well see about that," Logan said. "Me and Carlos are gonna kick your team's butt!"
"Yeah!" Carlos agreed.
Kendall inwardly smiled. Carlos seemed a little bit more like himself.
The boys played their game for about an hour and a half. Out of eleven so-called matches, Kendall and James won five, and Logan and Carlos won six.
Kendall did not mention to anyone that he purposefully did not play to his full potential on the last match. He thought it would be better if Carlos was on the winning team. His plan seemed to work. Upon winning the last match, Logan and Carlos laughed and high-fived victoriously. Kendall was relieved.
"I want a rematch!" James demanded. He flicked a piece of popcorn at Logan's chest.
"You're on!" Logan cried.
"Actually," Carlos said, "I'm gonna be done playing for a while." He set down his controller and stretched his arms.
"Why?" Kendall wondered.
"I… need to use the bathroom." He crossed the kitchen and entered the bathroom without another word.
The boys exchanged glances. "Maybe he'll want to play some more when he's done," James said. He changed the match settings on the game. James, Kendall and Logan played a three minute match, only this time James and Logan were on a team and Kendall was by himself.
Not surprisingly, James and Logan were the winners.
"Hah! Take that, Kendall!" James cried, grinning triumphantly.
"Yeah, yeah," Kendall muttered.
"Hey, guys." Logan grabbed the remote from beside the popcorn bowl and pressed the mute button. "Listen."
Kendall and James listened for anything unusual. Logan pointed to the bathroom. The boys could hear a muffled voice from beyond the door.
"Carlos talks to himself while he's in the bathroom?" James said, making a face.
Kendall smacked his arm before getting to his feet. James and Logan followed close behind. They pressed their ears to the bathroom door, Kendall motioning for them to be quiet.
"…know he's okay?"
There was a pause.
"What's he talking about?" Logan whispered.
"Shh," hissed Kendall.
Carlos said something else, but the boys couldn't understand what it was. The doorknob began to twist. They tried to get out of the way, but it was too late. Carlos opened the door, cell phone in hand, and the three cried out as they fell forward, landing hard on the bathroom floor.
"What are you guys doing?" Carlos asked, angrily. He watched as they helped each other to their feet.
"Look, Carlos," Kendall started. He looked at Logan and James, who nodded to him. "We're worried about you." He paused, waiting for Carlos to say something, but he didn't.
"You haven't been yourself today," Logan continued.
"Yeah," James said. "You were up at, like, four thirty, you didn't want to go in the pool, you've hardly spoken, you didn't eat very much for lunch -"
"Look, guys," Carlos interrupted. "I… don't -… I'm not…" He fumbled over his words.
"Carlos." Kendall put a hand on his shoulder. "We know something's bugging you. We're your friends. We want to help you."
"You can tell us anything," Logan added.
Carlos shrugged off Kendall's hand. He pushed his way through his friends and stormed away. "I'm going to bed."
"It's eight thirty," James said.
"I'm tired," Carlos called back. His bedroom door slammed shut.
Midnight came quickly, but Kendall couldn't sleep. The boys decided they would confront Carlos in the morning, if he was still 'tired.' Kendall didn't want to wait that long. He had a feeling Carlos wasn't tired, or sick. Something else was bothering him. He saw it in everything Carlos did that day. The way he stared off into space. His lack of appetite. The way he seemed nervous and fidgety. Something was definitely wrong.
Kendall rolled over in bed. His eyes were wide open. He wasn't tired at all. Gustavo would have them recording tomorrow, so he needed his sleep. Knowing that he needed rest for the next day made him angry at himself, which also contributed to the fact that he could not get to bed.
He flopped over on his stomach and groaned into his pillow.
He was about to roll over yet again, when he heard a noise.
Kendall sat up in bed, listening. It was a voice, just barely audible, coming from across the hall. There was no doubt in his mind to who was speaking.
Kendall got out of bed and opened his door. From the crack under Carlos's door, he could see that the light was on. Kendall quietly exited his bedroom, closing the door behind him. He went next door, to James's room, and entered.
"James," Kendall whispered, shaking his shoulder.
James mumbled something and rolled over.
"James!" Kendall whispered loudly. He slapped his shoulder. "Get up."
James shot up in bed. "What?"
He rubbed his eyes. "What?" he repeated, quietly.
"I think Carlos is talking on the phone," Kendall said.
"Wrong number?" James guessed, yawning.
Kendall shook his head. "No, James, I don't think so. I think now is the time to ask Carlos, again, what's the matter."
"Come on, let's get Logan up."
James quickly got out of bed and to his feet. The boys headed for the door, but stopped. They heard Carlos's door open. Footsteps in the hall.
"He must be going to the living room," Kendall whispered. He silently counted to ten, then proceeded with James, very quietly, to Logan's bedroom.
Logan slept soundly, his mouth hanging slightly open, one arm dangling off the side of the bed. Kendall tapped on his head. "Logan. Wake up."
Logan's eyes slowly fluttered open. "Hmm…?" He took a deep breath and propped himself up on one elbow. Kendall and James explained the situation to him, and he was up and out of bed in a matter of seconds.
The three boys sneaked into the dark hallway, making sure not to wake Mrs. Knight and Katie, who had returned from their shopping trip hours ago. When they approached the end of the hall, they peered into the living room. Carlos was there.
"Let's go." Kendall and James started forward.
"Wait, hang on a second," whispered Logan, holding out his arm to stop his friends. "Is Carlos… crying?" Then, Kendall saw it too. Carlos paced the living room floor, running his hands through his hair, wiping his eyes and nose, strange whimpering noises emitting from his throat.
It nearly made them gasp. Carlos Garcia did not cry. The only time anyone had seen him cry was when they were very young. Carlos was always the one doing the cheering up if someone was upset. It just didn't seem right.
"Come on," Kendall whispered, leading the way into the living room. He was right. Carlos wasn't sick. He wasn't tired. Something was seriously wrong. Kendall was determined to find out what. "We don't go back to bed until we know what's wrong," Kendall whispered to his friends. He tried to make his voice sound firm and confident, but he was too concerned for Carlos. Instead, his voice came out uneven and a little shaky.
Logan and James nodded. Kendall was surprised at how serious they looked.
He called out his name. "Carlos."
Carlos whipped around. He took a step backwards, looking embarrassed.
"Why are you crying, dude?" James asked, his voice soft.
"W-What? No! Who's crying? Not me!" Carlos tried to laugh, but it came out sounding like a sob.
The three boys exchanged nervous glances. "Carlos," said Logan, speaking slowly. "Please, just tell us what's wrong."
"We want to help," Kendall assured.
"Yeah," said James, "we're your friends."
Carlos sighed shakily and wiped at his eyes. "I know…"
"Then please, just tell us," Kendall pleaded.
Carlos coughed. It, like his laugh, sounded like a sob. "It's nothing…" The faint moonlight that cast through the apartment allowed the boys to see his tear-filled eyes.
Kendall refrained from stomping his foot in frustration. "It's not nothing, Carlos! Something is wrong. And we're not leaving you alone until you tell us why."
Carlos shook his head and faced away. The boys could see his back quivering. They heard more small whimpers and sniffles. It was at least a minute before Carlos spoke. "It's…" he began, his voice catching in his throat. "It's… my dad."
Another long pause. Kendall could feel nervous butterflies form in his stomach.
"I got the call this morning," Carlos explained. "H-He was chasing a guy who w-was speeding." The boys remembered that Carlos's father was a cop. "He… the guy… he wouldn't stop. They were going pretty fast. And this truck… just came out of nowhere… a-and my dad hit it." Carlos paused, forcing himself not to start sobbing in front of his friends. "I've been calling my mom for updates on his condition all day. He's… in a-… in a coma." The last word came out in a sob. Carlos furiously wiped at his eyes, sniffling and sometimes hiccupping. His head was slumped down.
Logan and James had no idea what to say.
"Carlos, why didn't you tell us?" Kendall finally asked, starting to feel a lump in his throat.
"Yeah," said Logan. "You could fly back to Minnesota to see your dad."
Carlos shook his head, his eyes on the floor. "I don't have the money to fly over there," he murmured.
"We could find a way," James said.
"Yeah, man, he's your dad," said Kendall.
Carlos took a moment to calm down. He sighed. "I…" He swallowed. "I can't let you guys down. I can't have you drop everything to fly me back home to see my dad. Gustavo would… would probably fire us or something and I know it's your dream -"
James cut him off. "Carlos, how could you even think that?"
"Yeah, don't put this in front of your family," said Logan.
"But you guys are my family, too," Carlos whimpered. "And my mom said she's optimistic…"
For the hundredth time that day, Kendall, James and Logan looked at one another. They were at a loss of words.
Carlos mumbled something.
"What'd you say?" Kendall asked.
Carlos finally looked up. He looked each of his friends in the eye as tears rolled down his cheeks. "Guys -… I-I… I'm scared." He couldn't hold it in anymore. His shoulders shook and sobs racked through his body.
Kendall automatically leaned forward and wrapped his arms around his friend's body, pulling him in for a tight hug. Carlos buried his head in Kendall's shoulder and continued to cry. James and Logan stepped up and put their arms around the two, joining the group hug.
"We're here for you, man," Kendall whispered softly.
"Always," Logan and James said together.
The friends held on to each other for several minutes. Carlos had calmed down and stopped crying long before the hug ended. When the boys pulled away, Carlos finally looked at them.
"Well stay up with you," Kendall told him. "We'll stay up until you get another update on your dad's condition."
Carlos looked at Logan and James, who both nodded.
Kendall crossed the room to flip on the light. "We'll play videogames," he said. "Or Monopoly. We'll go down the swirly slide. We'll watch a movie. We'll do anything to keep your mind off your dad until you get a phone call, okay?"
Carlos nodded. The smallest smile was visible on his face.
"We'll get through this - together." Kendall put his hand on Carlos's shoulder.
He nodded again. His voice was barely above a whisper: "Okay."
Logan suggested they play videogames to keep themselves occupied. However, the boys were surprised when Carlos said he wanted to talk. They complied, and the four friends took a seat on the couch. Carlos slowly explained everything that he knew about his dad. He started with the phone call he got at four thirty that morning. It wasn't a wrong number asking for 'Shaniqua', it was his mother, informing him of his dad's accident.
When Carlos told the guys he'd catch up with them at the pool, he didn't really need to use the bathroom. He called his mother to get an update on his father. She didn't know anything at the time.
Later, at the pool, Carlos's cell phone began to vibrate in his pocket. He knew it was probably his mom calling, so he left. It was. She said his dad opened his eyes for a little bit, but then slipped back into his coma. She told Carlos not to worry too much, and that this was a good sign. But Carlos was still scared. She said she would call when she heard anything.
Carlos waited patiently. When the boys were playing videogames, Carlos couldn't wait any longer. He used the same excuse as before, and headed to the bathroom where he called his mother. She didn't know anything.
And just a half hour ago, his mother finally called. She was visiting his dad in the hospital room. She squeezed his hand, and he squeezed back. She ran to tell the doctors, who said it was a good sign that he was coming out of the coma.
"I'm not gonna be able to sleep until she calls me again," Carlos said after he explained everything to the guys.
"Like we said, we're here for you," Kendall said.
"Yup. We'll stay up all night if we have to," James agreed.
And they did. The boys played videogames for only an hour before their eyes were sore. Kendall and James got a little competitive at some points and shouted things at each other, so Logan had to press pillows in their faces to muffle their voices so they did not wake Mrs. Knight or Katie.
At about one thirty, the boys decided to just watch TV. They had it on for only fifteen minutes when Carlos sniffled and said they needed to do something else.
Kendall quickly hurried to his bedroom and came back with Monopoly. It took nearly an hour and a half for the boys to finish playing. Logan won, even though James accused him of cheating the whole time.
At almost three o'clock, James was getting tired. The boys were putting away their Monopoly game when James's head suddenly smacked against the table.
"James!" Logan punched his arm.
James shot up. "I wasn't sleeping!" he cried. "There was a fly… I was… squishing it with my head." He yawned.
"It's okay. You can go to sleep, James," Carlos said quietly.
"No way." James scanned the room. His eyes landed on the fridge. "I just need a snack." He went to the kitchen and came back with four cups of pudding and four spoons. James, Kendall and Logan dug in, consuming their pudding in seconds. Carlos said he wasn't hungry, but soon gave into temptation and ate his pudding as well.
Then, the boys decided to put in a DVD. It was a comedy, so Kendall thought it would put Carlos in a better mood. It worked. There were many times where Carlos laughed out loud. James fell asleep twice, so Logan had to keep nudging him awake.
Needless to say, it was a long night. Finally, at about six in the morning, Carlos's phone rang.
"Guys, it's my mom," he said nervously. "I… I'm gonna take this in the bathroom." He quickly ran to said room and closed the door.
"What if something… bad happened to his dad?" asked Logan, his eyes full of worry.
"Don't say that," Kendall said. "I'm sure he'll be okay."
For the rest of the time, the boys waited on the couch in silence. James dozed off again. Kendall waited for the bathroom door to open before he gently shook James's shoulder and told him to wake up.
The three boys stood from the couch and held their breath as Carlos entered the living room.
Though tears streamed down his face, he was grinning. "My dad's gonna be okay," he breathed. Kendall, James and Logan nearly tackled Carlos in a group hug, jumping and cheering.
Carlos laughed and hugged them back.
"So what happened? What'd your mom say?" Logan asked.
Carlos wiped his eyes, still grinning. "My dad woke up a few hours ago. He's doing great! The doctors think he'll be okay." He laughed. "Then my mom handed the phone to my dad. I actually talked to him. He told me he'd be okay and not to worry."
"Dude, that's great!" Kendall exclaimed.
"I know!" Carlos cheerfully jumped in the air. "Whoo-hoo!" He darted past his friends and ran into his bedroom. He came back out with his helmet on his head, and immediately raced to the swirly slide. He threw himself down head first, shouting all the way.
James, Logan and Kendall chuckled.
With a relieved sigh, Carlos flopped onto the couch.
The boys sat down next to him. "I'm glad your dad's okay," Logan said.
"Very glad," James and Kendall said simultaneously,
Carlos smiled. "Thanks, guys." He paused. "For everything. I know… I know I can count on you. I don't know what I was thinking before."
"Let's watch some TV," Kendall said, grabbing the remote. And only a few minutes later, three boys were sound asleep on the couch.
James had his head resting on the arm of the couch, his knees tucked to his chest. Kendall slept in an upright position, his head slumped to the side. And Logan sat with his arms crossed and his feet propped up on the coffee table.
Carlos yawned, his eyes feeling heavy. "I love you guys," he whispered. He smiled to himself and quickly fell into a deep sleep, surrounded, and protected, by his best friends.