Disclaimer: I don't own Big Time Rush.
Twenty-eight – Pitch Black
Both boys were inside the raven's dim-lighted bathroom, the dead of night accompanying them with its eerie tranquility. Kendall was leaning against the closed door while Carlos sat in the bathtub, body tucked into the furthest part of the acrylic crevice. The curtain was drawn halfway, and so Kendall could only follow the vague outline of Carlos' body as it shifted. He'd found him like this, about an hour ago, and he still didn't have the courage to step to the side and look at the boy, just to merely check if he was okay. As if staring into that face for just a second would destroy something within him; that bit of cracked courage that kept him from going insane. Tired from putting all his weight on one foot, he swung his other leg down, accidentally slipping to the left in the process. At that instant, he regretted moving that one inch. Carlos' giggle was dry as he placed a hand against the tiled wall. He stretched out his index finger, and pointed straight at the showerhead.
"Maybe I did love him at one point," he mumbled to himself, forgetting that the blonde was just a few feet away, ears open, yet afraid to listen. "I…I liked him, though. He was nice, and…normal? But–" Carlos blinked, tears of anger visibly spilling. "He gave me his heart. But he stole mine, and never returned it. I'm being stupid; no one returns stolen things. That's why it's called stealing." He bit his lip sheepishly, and then sighed. "Kendall, have you ever loved someone?" Carlos' question came as a shock to the blonde. Carlos dropped his hand and awkwardly slid to the opposite side, turning to face Kendall. "Did you ever forget you loved that person? Did you ever question yourself if it was real, or if it was just a big fat lie? You wanted an answer, right? An answer to the question. But you can't get any without questions that hurt. Hurt your soul, your mind; everything, until you don't know anymore. And you keep trying, but you've hit the point of—of oblivion. Like rock bottom, but not really because everything has disappeared altogether, and you can never find the pieces…ever again."
Carlos' vocabulary was so disturbingly dark that it made Kendall's stomach flip too many times to count. Every little thing about him was just too real; the way his face contorted into a mass of hurt and betrayal, matching his inconsistent tone of voice; plus, any hint that gave away he was lying was absent. The combination of those three alone puzzled and irritated Kendall's mind. His knees wavered beneath him, and he had to collect what little physical strength he had left to keep himself upright, absolutely refusing to crumple down onto the floor like he'd wanted to two days ago, after the…occurrence.
"Letters make everything more interesting," said Carlos, his voice taking on another tone; a sarcastic one. "Especially if they come in tiny black boxes that you can't resist. I know I couldn't. I shouldn't have read it. It made everything worse. For me…and…him." There was a thump following the abrupt silence, making Carlos gasp. "James?" He jumped out, a broken smile grazing his lips. "James, is that you?" He pushed Kendall out of the way and tripped out of the bathroom, mumbling the tall brunette's name over and over again. "Where are you? James?"
Kendall followed behind, keeping his distance. Carlos' mid sentence about a mysterious letter had suddenly captured his interested, stamping every thought with the word letter and repeating until there was no room left. "Carlos…? What were you talking about? What letter?" He took a step forward, about to touch the boy's shoulder. "Why are you telling me this? You–"
"What?" The raven turned around, the word fused with desperation and confusion. "Where's James? Do you know where he is? I thought I heard him…" He narrowed his eyes. "Please tell me. Where's James!" he shrieked.
"S-stop it. You're going to wake up–"
"James!" cried Carlos. "Ja–"
Before he could throw another outburst, Kendall slapped his hand over his friend's mouth, holding him tightly from behind, arm wrapped around the trembling waist. They stayed like that for a while, Carlos mouthing the tall brunette's name on Kendall's hand, each uttering gradually being pronounced slower. Kendall's hold only got tighter on him. The small boy craned his neck and raised his eyes, looking straight into worried emeralds. Carlos' eyes were a deep brown, and entirely filled with a chilling craziness that it made the blonde shudder and let go. As Carlos collapsed on his knees to the floor, Kendall shook his head slowly as if in disbelief, and without another glance back, exited the room and ran into his, closing it shut.
Carlos screamed himself awake. He sat up, panting and shivering on the bed, not wanting to be taken by sleep again. He was mentally petrified by the fact that if it did, the inevitable darkness would gladly welcome him back into that dreamy hell. He let his head drop in exhaustion, listening. No one had woken up. Carlos sighed, relieved that only the scream of terror had only affected him. Ever since that day—a lingering bitterness that vividly lived with him every waking moment—those bloody, bone-chilling images had been able to morph into mocking, gruesome animations in his sleep, terrorizing and driving away every sweet dream (not that sweet dreams regularly visited him anymore) until all that was left was just that one nightmare. He coughed quietly, and then blindly swept his hands across the top of the bedside table until he found his object of desire.
Mrs. Knight had introduced these to him a week ago; she said the doctor had prescribed them to him. And, supposedly, doctors were always right. They were for his 'blackouts', and he was to take one every day. But Carlos, since finding out the side effects of these little tranquilizers, had disobeyed the original orders. In other words, ironically, one pill would instantaneously make him drowsy, and so he'd been taking one (the second one of the day) for the past three days at exactly eleven in the night to help him go back to sleep after he woke up from his nightmare. He finished doing that just now, relishing in the slothful effect of the drug that was slowing all activity in his brain. Carlos shut his eyes and buried his face in the warmth of his pillow.
But an hour later, the nightmare returned. He whimpered in his sleep, and subconsciously curled up into a protective ball under the comforter.
Carlos was staring down at a grey stone, the silhouette of his motionless self blanketing it. His glare was intense, wanting to understand the script that was engraved on it. Twilight was rapidly fading, peeling off his shadow from the stone, revealing the complicated riddle: 'I love you'. It was gibberish, an outrage. Those words—they were taunting him. The corners of Carlos' lips twitched, and as he was about to flee, a grip on his wrist jerked him to a stop. His eyes went wide as white, slender fingers pressed fervently into his skin, bruising it a deep purple. All at once, a face with a toothy smile appeared in front of him—the gruesome happiness in it making him cringe—and high-pitched whispers began rising above the looming darkness, all with the same message: do you love– Do you love me?
Everything about that thing—the person that Carlos, no matter whether he was awake or sleeping, couldn't avoid, never, because he had said one day that nothing would ever come between them, ever again—started to decay. First the hands that had him trapped, then the face that repulsed him so much, and then rest of the body. A skeleton was left, grinning like a clown. Carlos screeched and pulled away. He was far away from the grinning corpse, sprinting like there was no tomorrow, when he bumped into a shadowed figure. Carlos froze, squinted, froze again, then choked out a sob. He threw himself on the taller boy, taking in the comforting scent of his skin; he never wanted to let go. Suddenly, a hot liquid stung Carlos' arms. He looked away from James' face and noticed that the boy's skin was melting. Carlos stood horrified, unable to physically react. As if the picture couldn't get anymore sickening, the melting skin transformed into a black ooze that spiraled down onto the pitch black ground in thick, graceful curls.
At this point he would wake up, but the nightmare took him further into its visual monstrosity.
Carlos' breathing was getting shallower by the second, lungs screaming and burning inside him. James was completely gone, and now he was standing in a pool of ooze that seemed to get bigger, swallowing him up. It was up to his knees when thousands of skeletal fingers shot out of the non-existent ground and grabbed his arms and legs; they stretched him every which way, but the act was unnervingly painless. James flickered back into view, smiling at him—without lips. Carlos' scream was silent this time when he woke up. His eyes snapped open all too quickly, the early sunlight blinding him instantly. He moaned, and shielded his eyes. All the while, he gradually registered the aches all over his body, and the fierce pounding in his head. He considered taking another pill, and another, and another, until the numbness permanently took over, and he could be in peace forever, but he knew no pill or any kind of medicine could cure this. He clutched at his chest, right where his heart was. Was it still beating? The steady ba-dump, ba-dump made him relax a little.
He threw the covers off himself, a gush of cool wind roughly hitting him. He fought the urge to go back to bed, and quietly exited the room, followed by the apartment. The hallway was vacant; everyone was resting in their room, and noises were hidden, waiting for daylight; however, he could feel that same coldness follow him with every cautious step. Carlos blinked once he was outside of the hotel, and paused. He looked around and rubbed his arms, picking up the feeling that he was being watched. He was frightened, knowing perfectly that he was under a spotlight, targeting him with silent, ominous threats. He continued with his walk, feet dragging across the gravel. Though his brain was oblivious as to where they were taking him, his heart was conscious of the route. He felt like a living puppet, trying to find the lost essence of his master, the one who created him, his emotions, personality, memories and speech. His pace didn't change, and so when a loud screech accompanied by bright white lights startled him did Carlos realize he had been walking in the middle of the road.
He sucked in a breath to keep from screaming, and took immediate flight. Seconds, minutes passed by, and it felt as if he'd been running forever. Unaware of the busy picture he was entering, he tripped and landed face flat on the ground. Grunting, he stood up, grimacing at the scrapes on his hands; droplets of warm blood trickled down his hands, highlight the pulsing veins beneath the peeled skin. Carlos shuddered and squeezed his eyes shut, then counted to three as slowly as possible. He opened his eyes, and looked around swiftly. Nothing. The space he'd entered was pure open ground, except for the little amounts of rocks and roots jutting out of it. Carlos whimpered, looking for something to lean against; he was fatigued, mentally and physically.
He couldn't stand it anymore; the never-ending fight between day and night. Every little thing was a memory that he could or could not remember, rattling his every being. Carlos gasped; but it wasn't because of something he'd seen. A sharp pain seared through the back of his head, and next thing he knew he was being lifted off the ground. He tried to move, but it was as if he'd been paralyzed; he could neither see nor speak. His hearing was one of the two senses that didn't fail him at that hour; and the only sounds he could hear were chuckles, dark and satisfied. The other sense reacted with such nauseating intensity, like someone had dropped acid down his throat. The smell of nicotine hit his nose, which made Carlos consciously think of a name; a name he couldn't remember all the letters of, but was vaguely cognizant that it started with an A.
Mrs. Garcia's voice was raspy as she spoke, "My husband will be there in about ten minutes. I'm so sorry I couldn't be there. I really hope Kendall and James are fine. You don't think this will affect–"
"It's okay. He–they, were like sons to me, and brothers to them. If anything…this session will help all of us. "
"Thank you, Jennifer, for everything." Mrs. Knight choked out a sob. "Don't beat yourself up over it. Just don't lose hope. We will find Carlos, and justice will be made for Logan. His dad is trying hard. And so are you. " Silence. "Um… I also called for something important. Have you…had any contact with Joanna and Brooke? I mean, I know you talked with Joanna…but…that was a month ago…"
Mrs. Knight sighed. Clues had been put together, and now they had been at it for three years trying to find out what happened in between; what happened that caused this mess. Logan had met his tragic fate three years ago, along with Carlos and James. And now her son was declining mentally, slowly meeting the same fate that had taken down his friends, every day an anticipation she dreaded. No matter how much she tried, Kendall was almost gone also.
Mrs. Knight dropped the phone, the end dial echoing throughout the white hallway. She turned and tugged her daughter into a hug, who was nearly her height now. She then pulled away, looking at her with shaking eyes. Her brown hair had grown longer, pulled tight in a low ponytail that draped itself gently over her right shoulder. The exhaustion was clear in her droopy eyes.
"Katie, I thought you weren't going to come."
The girl bit her lip, looked away with sorrow in her eyes. "I just wanna–"
"I don't think you'll be able to handle it, sweetie. Remember last time you saw him? You couldn't stop crying."
"Mom, that was a year ago. I'm older. I can control myself."
Mrs. Knight sighed again. She turned from Katie to the window, where Kendall was sleeping peacefully. And though that single expression gave her hope, she knew deep inside that peacefulness wouldn't last.
Almost ten minutes later, inside the small room, Kendall was woken up. Not by someone, nor by his brain, but by a squeak. Normally it would be caused by wheels, but this squeak had been produced by a voice. A voice he was so scared to find out who it belonged to. He opened his eyes, and the first thing that came out of his mouth was a nonchalant 'Hi', greatly surprising himself and the person in front of him. They were in a room, cushy with warm-white walls, blue carpet, and two single sofas that were decorated with one blue pillow each. It subtly reminded Kendall of those short therapy days. The door was left ajar as the other person hesitated, then sat down in front of him.
"Uh," was the response.
"I guess…we should talk," said Kendall uncomfortably.
No answer. No answers. He squirmed in his seat. He hated that. He took in three deep breaths, suppressing his rising hysteria. If he wanted an answer he'd have to dig a hole for one, like he's been doing the past years already. But each hole, so far, had come up empty.
James looked directly at him. He looked…so different. Not in the definition of his facial features, but the emotion in them. It made James look five years younger; a scared, little kid that didn't know much, but associated himself with scary, grownup problems; dangerous problems, and deadly conclusions. "I can't do this, Kendall." The words ran right out of his mouth, and Kendall had to strain his hearing to understand his fast tongue. "I-I can't. I swear I'm not crazy. I don't belong here. But what happened that day—oh, God. Carlos saw. Carlos saw. I-I think that's why he disappeared; that's why he left. It's my fault–"
"No!" Kendall was startled. That word; he despised it with such passion, yet it made him recoil internally. "It's no one's fault, James." His green eyes grew three times their size. "No one's. H-he was kidnapped. You need—we need to talk, James." Kendall was hyperventilating, attempting to calm himself. Flashbacks came back to him. Two months after those horrific episodes, they'd quit Rocque Records and moved back to Minnesota. James' mom had put him in this mental center, acting as if she'd never had a son at all after that, and soon enough, Kendall had joined him. Though they had never talked; never been allowed to. Until now. "I don't want to do this either. But we need to if we want to find Carlos, and find out who hurt Logan and why–"
James slowly shook his head, manic-like characteristics shaping on his face. "No! I-I can't!" He stood up, threw the chair and tackled Kendall. "I don't wanna relieve that day! I swear I didn't kill Logan, Kendall. Please–"
"You didn't, James!" screamed Kendall, his own emotions going into manic-mode.
"Then if I didn't, why did Carlos disappear?" shrieked James. "Why are they doing this to us? We're never going to find Carlos—ever again!"
"You don't know that!"
"But he's gone, Kendall," breathed James as his eyes grew, big and round like the size of quarters. "He's gone, just like Logan." James punched the floor with every 'gone' he shouted until his knuckles were red and raw, thin lines of blood painting the floor.
Kendall's face paled. He couldn't speak anymore. What James was saying, it was all revoltingly true.
Gone. Gone. Gone.
Three nurses came in, immediately tranquilizing the taller man.
Outside the room, Mr. Garcia watched with a solemn face. Next to him, Mrs. Knight cradled Katie in her arms, the girl's head buried in her chest, body quivering as she cried silently.
The soil was wet with yesterday's rainfall. Footprints were visible on the ground; some light and secret, some heavy and sloppy. Beneath Minnesota's clearing sky and breaking rays of sunlight, a quiet house was seated upon the dew-covered grass. In the living room was a vase. No pattern, no intricate carvings, just a simple, white vase. As Joanna Mitchell entered the living room, she froze. The lid was missing. She rubbed her arm, and briskly walked towards the vase. She reached out her arm, about to grab it, but the shelf suddenly shook, making the vase tumble onto the floor. Pale marble shattered and dull-coloured ashes scattered everywhere, spreading the smell of death throughout the house. Behind her stood two shadows. They looked at each other, then at Mrs. Mitchell.
"Mom, have you seen Carlos?"
Mrs. Mitchell sank to her knees, placing her hands on the ash-covered floor.
"She's not going to listen to you."
"Shut up? Aw, you shouldn't be angry with me anymore. It's all over."
"Isn't it obvious?"
"What's…? What did you do!"
"Don't scream at me. You'd never hurt me, would you?" Brown eyes were round, the false innocence in them a stabbing knife to the back.
"You-you're not him. You never will be. Mom! Mom!" Logan shouted, but she kept sobbing into the ashes she had gathered in her hands. When she failed to answer, he ran into the hallway, kicking the door to his room open. He rushed inside, and stopped. Sitting on his bed was Carlos. No. Not Carlos. It was that thing he always kept mistaking for Carlos, sitting Indian style and smiling at him. He staggered back. "You…you did this?"
The corners of its lips turned up even higher. "I didn't do anything."
"But you said…you…haunt…"
"Oh, did I? I lied. I was just part of it. I already did what I wanted. I mean, we're the same puzzle, so I guess I learned those traits from you, right?"
"I-I don't know wh…" He backed up against a wall, head in his hands.
"You should know all this is none of my fault."
"It is your fault!" he screamed as he wildly ran towards It, clawing at the figure with all his might. Every time he missed, only managing to swipe the air.
"No, it's not. Why would you blame me? Don't you love me?"
"I love Carlos, not you," he said in a low voice as he balled up his fists, shoulders trembling, overcome with an emotion that he couldn't tell if it was fear or anger.
"Not fair. You shouldn't say that!"
"And why shouldn't I?" spat Logan. "It's the truth."
It chewed the inside of its cheek as it tapped a finger against its chin thoughtfully. "Because. All this?" It waved its hands in random motions for emphasis. "It's actually stupid, little, fucking Carlitos' fault."
Logan froze. He leaned against the same wall for support as his mind began reeling with thousands of questions. He needn't to ask though, because the thing before him grinned, eyes sparkling as if getting ready to tell a fairytale.
"Don't be speechless; you know I'm right." It giggled. "Funny, because I thought falling in love was supposed to be the most wonderful thing in the world. You look dumbfounded. Let me refresh your mind with a chronological timeline. But as you've probably noticed by now, I like to play games, so you're going to fill in some blanks for me." Almost instantly, the whole room went black, as if someone had turned off the lights. Then their vision was focused on dozens of moving pictures, all of Logan and Carlos, as if someone had made a stupid love movie about them. But to Logan, it felt as if his memory had been sucked out of his mind and projected right in front of his very eyes. "Hey, look, there's you. So, ah… Here, we begin. When you first started—ha, ha—liking him. And who's that?" It questioned, Logan's stomach clenching at the dripping sweetness in the voice.
"Carlos," he answered absentmindedly.
"That's correct! One point for you! On to the next round! Hey, you remember him, don't you? Who is he, Logan?"
The brunette bit his lip, eyes lowering to the nothingness below his feet. "Nat."
"Two points! Now, what exactly did he do?"
"Tormented us," he growled suddenly, snapping his head back up to glare at the face of that jerk, eyes burning with familiar rage.
"Okay, you're doing well. But keep that temper down, Mr. Psycho, or else you'll slip up," It laughed. "Although you have slipped up too many times to count, so I guess it doesn't matter at this point, ha, ha! Anyway, let us continue. Oh, who's that?"
Logan was quiet this time. He stared at the person. Eyes that were dark enough to be labeled as pitch black. Short, brown hair. A smile that could deceive anyone. And his attire; the same damn attire: a black hoodie, jeans, and black tennis shoes.
It sighed dramatically, annoyed with the lack of words from the pale boy. "Fine. Let's skip this one. It'll be a repeat anyway, so you have a second chance of recovering this lost point. Onwards! Look at that building. Do you know the name of it, Logan?"
"It's a hospital," he said succinctly.
"Good job! Let's go in, shall we? Pick a room."
He gritted his teeth, and dug the nails of his fingers into the palm of his hands. "One. Zero. Two."
"Hm, you actually remembered which room it was. Okay, let's go in. But wait! We have to wait for someone to get out before we sneakily enter the room. Who do we have to wait for? If you answer this one correct, your score will be doubled!"
"Just ask me the next question!"
"Alright, chill. In we go. Hey, there's Nat on the bed! Can you guess what's going to happen next?"
"Carlos," gasped Logan under his breath when he saw the raven appear by the far window.
It scowled. "No. Guess again."
"That's Carlos," said Logan dryly, turning his head to look at It with a confused expression.
It huffed angrily. "That's not Carlos, you idiot!" It pointed at the supposed boy. "That's me! You know why I'm there? Because—look. You walk towards the stupid bed, and say that you're doing that for me! You pulled the cord. You killed Nat for me!"
"No." Logan shook his head slowly. "No." He blinked rapidly, preventing the tears from flowing. "That's not true! I did that for Carlos! Nat—he hurt Carlos the most. I had to!"
"That's where you're wrong, Logan. Carlos never got hurt. He hurt you. He made you do this. It's his entire fault that this happened to you. It's his entire fault you were driven off the cliff—but you did that for me! Do you see where I'm getting at? Now, enough. Let's end this little game. You pull the cord of the respiratory machine. You open the door, and walk quickly through the hallway, hoping to get by unnoticed. But along the way you bump into someone…"
"You have one last chance to get this one right."
The brunette hunched his shoulders as his face shone with realization; the vile truth. "Arthur."
"And who is Arthur?"
It was that guy, the one who'd flirted with Carlos; the one who Logan had, at first glance, hated with such passion for reasons he could and couldn't distinguish at the time. "Nat's older brother…"
And that's when Logan flashbacked too many times it made his head hurt immensely. The airport. The plane. The crash. The money.
All revenge. Payback. And he'd accomplished it with great ease.
"Yeah, I guess that's the correct term. See how Carlos caused this? If he never made you fall for him, everything would be okay. But it all happened. It couldn't be avoided. But, like I said, one good thing came out of this. Since all of this is done," the memories disappeared, and they were back in Logan's room, "I'm done, too." It beamed. "Now we can be together, Logan."
"No. No, no, no."
"No? What does 'no' mean?"
"Stay. Away. J-just– Mom! Where's Carlos!" shrieked Logan, hoping his mother heard him.
"She can't hear you, and he's not coming. You have me, Logan," It said, almost sadly.
"I don't want you. You're– You're– I don't know what you are, but I want you out of my life, once and for all!"
"You keep saying that." It rolled its eyes in sarcastic amusement.
"Fine then!" he yelled. "I'll just wait until Carlos comes." Logan let out tiny giggles, each a higher pitch than the other, more unstable than the other. "Good things come with time. I'll wait. I've always waited for Carlos, always will, and I can wait right now. And then you'll be gone forever. A-as they say, patience is a virtue–"
"He. Won't. Come."
"Stop it, you're wrong! You're just a stupid figment of my imagination! How would you know? You're not. Real!"
It cocked its head to the side and looked at its creator right in the eye with those brown eyes that Logan missed so much and didn't know why—why it felt as if he hadn't seen them in such a long time. "You're not real, either, Logan." It smirked sympathetically. "At least, not anymore. So don't expect to see your beloved one and only soon. I am the one who stayed with you—through thick and thin. Carlitos?" It looked around the room. "'Patience is a virtue', bullshit. He never loved you. He only caused you pain." It took one step forward, pressing its lips to the brunette's neck, leaving a trail of cold, butterfly kisses down the milky-white skin. "You made me like this, Logan. You keep forgetting," It paused, breath close to Logan's lips, "that the only one who can love you," It kissed him, and then spoke the last words in an almost inaudible whisper, "is me. I'm the only Carlos in your life."
Before Logan could protest again, It pulled away, grinning big. It pointed a finger at the digital clock, then at the calendar. "So how about we forget all this, and watch Blue's Clues. Then, later, we can plan on whom to prank for Prank Day." It smiled angelically.
Logan's breath slowed down and his muscles relaxed; everything that was just said and done turned into a trivial speck of the past in a split second. "Prank…Day?"
"Yeah! It's tomorrow, silly," It said in that heart-melting husky voice he adored so much. "Since I love you so much, I'll let you pick this time."
"You…you love me?"
"Duh. That's what I've been trying to tell you all this time."
Logan blinked, shifting nervously from foot to foot. "You love me," he repeated indecisively. "Say it again," he breathed.
"I love you, Logan," It said, voice a perfect mix of happiness and sultriness.
He bit his lip, then cracked a smile. "Really?"
"Really. Forever and ever."
Licking his lips, he pounced and pinned those hips to the bed, yearning to do so much more. No longer did he see something—an it—but he saw what he'd been longing for all this time; what he had wanted, what he had waited for forever, to laugh and love and call him his own.
"Now you say it."
Logan's hand was taken, squeezed lovingly by that other hand, the one with the beautiful caramel colour that contrasted just perfectly with his pale skin.
He opened his mouth, and out came the soft-spoken sentence, "I…I love you, too…Carlos."
A/N: THE END!
Surprise… So, yes, many unanswered questions and loose ends. But I did that on purpose. I feel that if everything in between had been explained, then the story would've dragged on, so I decided to get straight to the point. And, also, I'm the type of person who likes to leave in a bit of mystery, haha. More candy for the imagination. [;
Hoped you all enjoyed this story. I know I did—well, the writing part (of course ;P). It took me almost three years to finish this thing. LOL. Procrastinating's not one of my best talents. Anyway, I'd like to thank everyone who reviewed, favourited, alerted, and all that stuffstuff. You. Are. All. Dipplylipplyawesome. Yeah, I just made that up… /facepalm
Let's just end this author's note right now.
Thank you, everyone. So, so much. [: