A/N: Huzzah! Part two! Thank you all for reading. I hope you like it.
The following morning, Kendall was sitting at the kitchen table with his two year old sister. He brought a spoonful of cereal to his mouth and took a bite. Mrs. Knight was busy packing his lunch for the day.
"More!" Katie demanded.
Mrs. Knight chuckled as her son groaned. "Katie," said Kendall, "you've eaten more of my cereal than I have." Regardless, he scooped up some Lucky Charms and let his sister eat another spoonful.
"Katie, wait until Kendall goes to school. Then I'll get you your breakfast," said Mrs. Knight, dropping an apple into her son's lunch bag.
Katie shook her head, milk dribbling down her chin. "More."
Kendall ignored her this time, finishing what was left in the bowl by himself. He stood from his chair and put the empty bowl in the sink.
Outside, a horn honked.
"Oh, that's your bus," Mrs. Knight said, quickly folding back the top of the brown paper bag. Kendall grabbed his backpack off the floor and slung it over his shoulders.
"Here you go, sweetheart." Mrs. Knight handed her son his lunch, then kissed the side of his head. "Have a good day."
"Bye, Mom." He headed for the front door.
"Bye," Katie waved.
Kendall waved back, then stepped outside, closing the door tightly behind him. A yellow school bus was parked on the curb. He hopped up the stairs and saw two of his friends seated in the middle of the bus.
Kendall plopped down in the seat in front of Logan and James, who sat together. "Where's Carlos?" Kendall was the last of the four to be picked up in the mornings.
Logan shrugged. "Maybe his dad's giving him a ride." Sometimes Officer Garcia would give his son a lift to school if he needed to get to the station early.
Kendall turned and settled back in his seat, yawning. Logan still wore the 'super speller' sticker he earned yesterday on his shirt. Kendall himself had gotten several words wrong on his spelling test; James did about the same. Carlos had completely bombed it, putting the letter 'w' in the bonus word, 'invention'.
Well, Kendall thought, at least they didn't have any tests today.
He tiredly leaned his head against the window, watching buildings and cars blur by. Unlike last month, the boys were surprisingly quiet as the bus took them to school.
Kendall smirked at the memory.
Logan had found a peashooter and was going to bring it to school. He also brought a small bag of frozen peas that he had taken from his freezer that morning when his mother wasn't looking.
"I can't wait to try it out at recess!" he exclaimed, holding it up for the guys to see.
The eight year olds marveled at what was possibly the coolest thing ever.
"We should try it out right now!" Carlos said, bouncing in his seat.
Logan frowned. "But we can't. One of the bus rules is that you can't throw things."
"Rules are meant to be broken," James said, quoting something he saw on TV.
"The rule is no throwing things," said Kendall. "And shooting peas isn't throwing, it's shooting."
Logan's eyes lit up in delight, and he eagerly armed his peashooter. "Okay, where should I aim it?"
Carlos laughed. "Try to hit the bus driver!"
"What? No way! I'll get in trouble."
Kendall rolled his eyes. "It's not like it's gonna go that far, anyway."
"It might," Logan said.
"Then try it!" urged Carlos.
"I don't know…"
Then James called him a chicken and started making 'bwuk-ing' noises.
Finally giving into peer pressure, Logan took a deep breath and blew into the straw. The frozen pea cut through the air like a little green bullet, smacking into its target. The driver cried out, his hand racing to the back of his head. The bus suddenly jerked to the side, sending Carlos and Kendall flying out into the aisle. A few kids screamed.
The vehicle then lurched forward, the deafening crunch of metal-on-metal filling their ears.
When the bus finally stopped, the driver immediately turned around in his seat. "Is everyone okay?"
A few children were crying, but only because the crash had frightened them. Kendall and Carlos moaned as James helped pull them back into their seats. Logan just sat, face ashen, eyes as wide as saucers.
As Kendall craned his neck, he could see that the bus had crashed into a pole.
An ambulance had been called, though no kids were hurt. Police officers arrived on the scene as well, interrogating the bus driver, who claimed something had bit him right before he hit the pole.
Needless to say, Logan had disposed of the peashooter as soon as he could, and the incident was never spoken of again.
The bus finally pulled up the school, and Kendall, James and Logan hopped off. Kendall almost suggested having a race to their lockers, but the last time that happened he had gotten sent to the principal's office. Apparently running in the halls was frowned upon.
The boys walked into the main doors of the school. A rush of air blew James's hair back as he entered, and he used his fingers to carefully move it back in place.
"James, guess what?" Logan said as the three boys started down the corridor of the elementary school.
"My mom says that you're too little to get married, so I can't come to your wedding." Kendall then realized he had forgotten to inform his mother of the upcoming nuptial.
James's shoulders slumped, and he frowned. "Aw, but didn't you tell her you're one of the best men?"
"Yeah." He didn't elaborate.
The three reached their lockers. Kendall looked around, expecting to see Carlos. He figured his friend was in the classroom already.
Kendall unzipped his backpack and took out his things, then stuffed the backpack into his locker. He, James and Logan entered Mrs. Melby's room at the same time.
The students always arrived before the teacher. Class started at nine o'clock, and that was exactly when Mrs. Melby would get there. Unbeknownst to her, the students had devised a secret watch group. They took turns each day being the look out. Today was Cindy Smith's turn.
Cindy stood at the doorway, eyes fixed down the hall at the teachers' lounge. She smiled at James as he passed her.
Kendall immediately looked to Carlos's desk. It was empty.
Logan must have noticed it too. "Kendall!" he cried. "Carlos really isn't here today!"
Kendall's heart began to beat a little faster. "You don't think that bug was really…"
"POISON!" James shrieked. "Oh no! Carlos must have died from eating the cootie!"
"Died?" Logan shouted, beginning to panic. "I told you! I told you the bug was poisonous!"
"Teacher's coming!" Cindy suddenly cried, abandoning her post at the door.
A boy who was standing on top of his desk immediately hopped down and took a seat. The rest of the students began to find their chairs as well.
Logan and James were both breathing hard when Kendall put his hands on their shoulders. "Don't worry," he assured. "Maybe Carlos got hurt again and is gonna come in late." A couple weeks ago, Carlos had fell out of bed and received a mild concussion before school, and had to be taken to the doctor. He did end up going to school that day, but he arrived after lunch.
James and Logan nodded, the color drained from their faces.
"Right, okay," Logan murmured, trying to convince himself that Kendall was right. "He'll come later. Because he's alive. And not dead."
The boys took their seats right as Mrs. Melby waltzed into the room holding a cup of coffee.
The morning went by agonizingly slow. Logan couldn't concentrate at all when it was time to do math, and ended up saying the wrong answer when the teacher asked him what eighteen plus twenty-two was. James kept tapping his foot and chewing on his pencil. Kendall glanced at the door every minute, looking for Carlos.
When it was finally time for lunch, the boys met up in the hall.
Logan looked on the verge of tears. "How come Carlos hasn't come yet?"
"The cootie killed him," James moaned, sniffling.
"Nuh-uh," Kendall said. "We 'dun even know if the beetle had poison in him."
The boys could practically see a light bulb form over Logan's head. "Then let's go to the library during recess! They have bug books there. We can find out if cooties are poisonous."
Agreeing on the plan, the three friends hurried off to the lunchroom. Logan said he was too scared to eat, but did end up munching on his bologna sandwich anyway. Kendall and James ate their food so fast they barely tasted it.
Only minutes after arriving at the lunchroom, the boys had eaten and were ready to take off to the library.
"I was supposed to push Cindy on the swings today," James said as the boys walked as fast as was allowed down the hall. "I hope she's not mad at me."
Kendall and James had never gone to the library on their own. They only went when the whole class did. Logan, however, knew his way around and directed the two to the non-fiction section. Not many kids were in the library, as most were at lunch or playing outside. Two female librarians sat at the front desk, one talking quietly on the phone and the other typing away on a computer.
"Okay," said Logan, "look for bug books with pictures."
James grabbed the first book he saw: a book about lions. He decided to open it up to a page in the middle. "Woah!" The book fell from his hands and landed on the floor.
"What?" Kendall picked up the book and flipped it over. "Oh, sick! Logan, look at this picture of this lion eating this deer thing! Ew, you can see it's blood and everything."
Logan smacked the book out of Kendall's hands. "I said look for a bug book."
Kendall made a face at him. Logan stuck out his tongue before continuing to search the shelves.
Leaving the lion book on the floor, Kendall and James roamed the aisle of non-fiction books. The didn't have to search long.
"Here!" Logan said. He pulled a medium-sized book off of the shelf. A picture of a big, black beetle was on the cover.
"That doesn't look like the cootie Carlos ate," James commented as the boys made their way to a table. Logan sat in a chair, and Kendall and James hovered over his shoulders.
Logan flipped to the back of the book to the index. "Cootie starts with 'C', right?"
Kendall shrugged. "You're the super speller." He then laughed at his own joke.
"Cootie's never been a spelling word," Logan retorted. He used his finger to scan down the C column. "Hmm… I don't see it in here." He even tried the K column, just to be sure.
"Ask one of those ladies for help," James said, gesturing to the librarians.
"The bug just probably wasn't a cootie," Kendall told him. "Logan, just look at the pictures and we'll see what one looks like the bug Carlos ate."
So, Logan started at the beginning of the book. He overlooked all the beetles that had any color on them, because the one Carlos ate was all black.
"This one?" He held up the book for his friends to see.
"No," said Kendall, "Carlos didn't eat a bug with giant claw things like that."
Logan continued paging through the book. It was about five minutes later when he found a bug that looked almost exactly like the one Carlos snacked on.
"What's it called?" asked James, eyeing the picture carefully.
"A bark beetle." Logan tapped the picture with his finger. "Not a cootie."
"It could still be a cootie," James said. "Maybe cootie is it's… scientific name or something."
"Does it say if it's poisonous?" Kendall asked eagerly.
Logan's eyes scanned the small section of text on the bark beetle. He shook his head, then read it again, just to make sure. "No."
James and Kendall slumped their shoulders.
"This is bad." Logan shut the book and shoved it away. He pressed his forehead to the table.
"It's Kendall's fault!" James suddenly accused, pointing his finger at his blonde-haired friend. "You dared Carlos to eat it!"
Kendall held out his hands in defense. "Hey, you bet him some Chapstick and rubber bands!"
"But it was your idea!" He lowered his voice. "You pressured me."
"You didn't have to do it, though."
"I couldn't help it! It was pear pressure."
"You mean peer pressure?" Logan spoke up.
"Yeah." James snapped his fingers. "You peer pressured me."
Kendall groaned. "Guys, don't freak out. When you get home today ask your parents if you can come to my house. Then we can call Carlos's house. Maybe he just has a cold or something."
The two boys nodded solemnly.
After the longest day of school in his life, Kendall finally arrived home. His mother greeted him, though she was a bit preoccupied with Katie, who was fussing about something or other.
"You need a nap," Mrs. Knight muttered, scooping her daughter up into her arms. She then turned to her son. "How was school today?"
Kendall let his backpack slowly fall to the floor, then carefully removed his shoes. He looked up, standing like a statue in the doorway, his hands behind his back. "Fine."
Mrs. Knight eyed him suspiciously. "You didn't get in trouble, did you?"
Kendall shook his head. "No."
"Kendall, you better not being lying to me. You know I always find out, and when I do, you get into ten times more trouble than if you would have been straight with me," she warned over Katie's wails.
"I didn't get into trouble, Mom. I really didn't."
Mrs. Knight continued to gently rub the back of her screeching two-year-old. "Well, come away from the door. Why are you just standing there like that?"
Kendall took a few steps forward. "Mom, Logan and James are gonna come here soon, okay?"
"Alright, that's fine." She walked over to her son. "Here, you take your sister for a minute while I get some snacks ready."
Kendall frowned as he accepted Katie. "Why is she whining?"
"Oh, she's just grouchy because she's tired. I'll put her down for a nap in a few minutes."
Kendall plopped down on the couch with baby Katie in his lap as his mother strode into the kitchen. He grabbed the remote on the coffee table and flipped on the TV.
He couldn't shake Carlos from his mind. What if Logan was right? What if the bug was poisonous? What if Carlos really did die? He was so stupid! Logan was the smart one, after all. If he thought the bug was poisoned, then Kendall should have listened.
His thoughts were interrupted when Katie tugged on his shirt. He jumped, then emitted a small sigh of relief when he realized his sister just wanted some attention.
Kendall pointed at the TV. "Look, Katie, it's your favorite show." The brown-haired little girl turned her attention to the cartoon on the screen, her whining immediately ceasing. She just started to snuggle into her brother's lap when Mrs. Knight reentered the room.
"I set a plate of chocolate chip cookies and some glasses of milk on the table for you boys. You said just James and Logan were coming over, right? Where's Carlos?"
At the sound of Carlos's name, Kendall jumped again, his heart racing. He held onto Katie so she didn't fall to the floor.
Mrs. Knight raised her eyebrows.
"I-I dunno. He wasn't at s-school today," Kendall stammered.
Mrs. Knight sat down on the couch next to her son. She pressed the back of her hand to his forehead. "Sweetheart, are you feeling alright? You look a little pale."
"I'm fine, Mom," Kendall replied quickly. He put his arms under Katie's and handed her to his mother. The movement upset the cranky two-year-old, and she began to whimper again.
Kendall stood right as the doorbell rang. "That was fast," he murmured to himself, walking quickly across the room to the front door.
"Hi," Logan greeted weakly. James held up his hand in a small wave.
"Come on in, boys," Mrs. Knight called from the couch. Kendall stepped aside to let his friends enter. The two boys politely removed their shoes in the doorway.
"Hi, Mrs. Knight," Logan and James said in unison.
"Hi," she greeted the eight-year-olds, smiling. "How are you doing?"
"Good," the boys replied.
"That's good. Kendall, why don't you -"
"I know, Mom, snacks in the kitchen. Right." Kendall practically ran into the said room.
James and Logan looked at each other before trotting off after their friend, leaving Mrs. Knight and Katie alone in the living room.
"Can't we call Carlos's house first?" Logan whispered to Kendall as the boys entered the kitchen.
"No, we have to eat something first or my mom'll get 'spicious." He pulled out a chair and took a seat at the table, reaching for a cookie. "I'm hungry anyway."
James also grabbed a cookie. "Your mom's nice," he said.
"Yeah," agreed Logan, sitting across from Kendall. "My mom doesn't like it when I eat cookies. She says I get a sugar rush and then I get myself into trouble."
The three boys gobbled down two cookies each, then guzzled a glass of milk in record time. Chocolate still covered their faces as they bounded up the stairs to Kendall's bedroom. Kendal snatched the cordless phone from the hall on his way up after making sure his mother was no where in sight.
James and Logan plunked down on the bed as Kendall shut his bedroom door.
"This is scary," murmured Logan, nervously wringing his hands together.
"Dial! Dial!" James urged.
Kendall quickly punched in Carlos's phone number. It was absolute silence as Logan and James studied Kendall's face.
The phone rang once.
Kendall's heartbeat quickened with every passing ring. After six rings, the answering machine picked up. Kendall hung up the phone.
"No one's home…" he said quietly.
James and Logan sat frozen, their expressions unchanging.
"Uh… Guys?" Kendall waved his hand in front of their faces.
Logan suddenly burst into tears. "HE'S DEAD!" he cried.
"Shh!" Kendall hissed, nervously looking to the door. "My mom will hear us and come up here!"
"HE'S DEAD! HE'S DEAD! HE'S DEAD!" Logan chanted, tears steadily falling down his face.
"Logan!" James shouted. "Shut up!" He reached for Kendall's pillow, then smothered it in Logan's face. Logan thrashed his arms and legs, but James got on top of him, pinning the boy down.
Kendall groaned, stepping forward to break up the scuffle. He pried James off of Logan, still screaming and sniveling, and tossed the pillow aside. He firmly grabbed Logan's shoulders. "Logan, you have to shut up! Look, the phone call doesn't prove anything. Maybe the Garcias were outside and didn't hear it ring, or something." Kendall knew he was trying to convince himself more than his friend.
Logan wiped his eyes and nose, still breathing hard.
Kendall reached over to his bedside table and handed Logan a tissue. "You guys rode bike over here, right?"
"Yeah," answered James.
"Then let's go to Carlos's house."
The boys had to wait for Logan's tears to dry before they left the room, or else Mrs. Knight would have noticed and peppered them with questions. They barreled down the stairs and to the living room, where Mrs. Knight still remained, rocking Katie in her arms and humming softly.
"Mom, we're going to Carlos's house," Kendall whispered loudly. James and Logan were already out the door.
"Wait, hold on a second," she whispered back. Kendall stopped dead in his tracks. "I thought you said he wasn't in school today."
"I did. He wasn't." Kendall shifted his weight back and fourth on his heels. "We need to make sure he didn't die."
Mrs. Knight chuckled lightly. "Sweetie, if Carlos is out sick today, you need to leave him alone so he can get better."
"But Moooom," Kendall whined, "we have to! Please? We'll only be there for a few minutes, I promise."
Mrs. Knight gave him a look, then paused, mulling the situation over. Kendall was antsy, and started to gradually creep towards the door.
"Alright, fine," Mrs. Knight said. "But call me when you get there, so I know you didn't get hit by a car or get kidnapped. And make sure you cover your face and don't stand too close to Carlos. I don't need you getting sick."
"Okay, I will. Thanks, Mom," Kendall called, bolting for the door. He sprinted to the garage and grabbed his bicycle and helmet. James and Logan already had their bikes and were waiting in the driveway.
The bike ride to Carlos's house was short, as he lived in the neighborhood. The boys rode on the sidewalk in a single file line, Kendall leading and Logan in the back. They had only to cross one street, and they did it with ease, looking both ways for cars like their parents had taught them.
Their bikes screeched to a halt when they came to Carlos's house. It was dark; the blinds pulled, no cars in the driveway, and the front door closed.
Logan shivered and huddled a little closer to James, who looked pretty scared himself.
"Should we go ring the door bell?" Kendall asked his friends, also feeling uneasy.
"Uh… you can," said James, eyeing the house like it was haunted.
All three boys gasped when the front door opened and a stranger stepped out. He was a portly man, with a bushy grey beard and thick, hairy eyebrows. He tightly shut the door behind him, making sure it was locked.
Kendall, James and Logan stared at the man, mouths open and eyes wide.
"Hello," the stranger greeted when he noticed them.
Kendall took a cautious step backwards. His mother always warned him about talking to strangers.
"Are you a burglar?" James blurted out.
The man laughed. Logan ducked behind Kendall.
"No, no," he said. "I'm Stan Hickley. I live next door. I'm watching the Garcias' dog while they're away." He put the key in his pocket and descended the two front steps. "Are you friends with the little fella?"
"…We're Carlos's friends," replied James.
"Where is he?" demanded Kendall, forgetting about his mother's warnings.
Stan scratched his beard. "I believe they told me they were at a funeral," he said. "But they should be back tomorrow -"
"AHHHH!" screamed Kendall, James and Logan. The boys quickly mounted their bikes and peddled away as fast as they could, leaving the dumbstruck neighbor standing alone in the front of the house.
When they reached home, they threw their bikes onto the lawn and scrambled up the front steps. The boys burst through the front door, noting that Mrs. Knight was no where in sight, and raced up the stairs. Kendall slammed his bedroom door shut, and all three boys nervously paced the room.
Logan had started crying again. "W-We have to call nine-one-one!"
Tears welled up in James's eyes also. "No! We can't! We'll go to jail!"
"Then what are we supposed to do?" screamed Logan. "We dared Carlos to eat the beetle-cootie-thing that I told you was poisonous but you didn't listen and now he's dead!" His breathing was coming in short gasps and his teary eyes darted all across the room.
"But there's so many things in life I haven't gotten to do!" shrieked James. "I haven't become famous, or married Cindy, or bought a pet snake, or been to the north pole, or anything!" He snapped his fingers together. "We need to flee town."
"But I don't wanna run away!" sobbed Logan.
The two then looked at Kendall, who was strangely quiet. "Kendall, what should we do?" asked James, wiping at his eyes.
Kendall looked back and fourth between his two friends. Finally, he began to wail. "I don't know!"
All three boys were crying loudly when Mrs. Knight heard the noise and yanked open the door. She had just put Katie to sleep and didn't want to have to do it all over again. "What is going on up here?" she demanded. "Kendall, I told you to call -" She stopped when she saw the sobbing little boys in front of her. "Oh, sweethearts, what's wrong?" She bent down to their level and enveloped Kendall, James and Logan in a group hug. When she pulled away, she handed each boy a Kleenex.
"What's the matter?" she asked again, her voice soft and soothing.
"WE KILLED CARLOS!" Logan blurted, continuing to sob hysterically.
Mrs. Knight blinked. "You… what?"
Kendall sniffled. "Yesterday at school we m-made Carlos eat a cootie."
"And today he never showed up so we think it was poisonous," James continued.
"So we called his house and no one answered, so we went there and no one was home except for Stan."
Mrs. Knight wrinkled her brow in confusion.
"And," Kendall blubbered, "we weren't even invited to his funeral!"
The three boys cried some more, using their tissues to wipe their eyes and blow their noses.
Mrs. Knight turned away. Her shoulders quivered from repressed laughter. Kendall, however, misinterpreted her body language. He put a hand on her back. "Don't cry, Mom. It's okay. We'll turn ourselves in."
She turned back to the boys and hugged them all again, fighting away her smile. "Hang on, honey. I want you to explain this to me again." The boys seemed a bit more calm as she let go. "You made Carlos eat a cootie?"
"I told them it might be poisonous!" Logan cried.
James smacked his arm.
"Yeah," Kendall told his mother. "It was a possibly a bark beetle thing stuck to a tree, but me and James think it was a cootie because Carlos's dad says girls have them, and that bug was probably left there by one."
Mrs. Knight nodded slowly. "And why do you think it was poisonous?"
James and Kendall looked at Logan, who blushed. "Well, my mom says some bugs have poison in them…"
Kendall's mother nodded again. "And who is Stan?"
"The neighbor," murmured James. "He told us that Carlos's family was at his funeral."
"His funeral, or a funeral?"
Mrs. Knight chuckled, handing the boys three more tissues. "Boys, it sounds to me like the Garcias are just out of town."
The three friends exchanged glances. "Out of town?" echoed Kendall.
"Mmm-hmm. I guarantee Carlos is just fine. I highly doubt any bugs around here are poisonous. But you should never have dared him to eat one. So the next time you see him, I want you to apologize, okay?"
It took ten more minutes of convincing, two more group hugs, and six more tissues, but eventually the boys believed Kendall's mother. When all their tears were gone, she led the boys downstairs and let them have some more cookies and milk.
Supper time came quickly, and James and Logan rode their bikes back home, feeling a little better after Mrs. Knight's talk.
When Kendall got on the school bus the next morning, he was shocked to see only James and Logan. His mother did tell him Carlos might be out of town for a few days, but he still had high hopes for seeing his friend.
He sat in the seat across from Logan and James.
"I think your mom was just trying to make us feel better," muttered Logan.
Kendall didn't say anything. Worry crept back into him. His mother wouldn't lie to him, would she?
The bus ride to school was silent. Even the short walk to the main doors was quiet. Except, that is, when pig-tailed girl was spotted waiting by the door.
"There you are!" Cindy said to James, her hands on her hips.
"Hi," James murmured, still thinking about Carlos.
"You were supposed to push me on the swings yesterday," she said, angrily tapping her foot.
"I'm sorry, Cindy. I had something else I had to -"
"James Diamond, we're through!" interrupted Cindy. She turned sharply on her heel and stormed off down the hall.
James stared at her back as she stomped away. Kendall put a hand on his shoulder. "Cindy was weird anyway."
Shrugging, James followed Kendall and Logan into the school. The boys dragged their feet on their way to their lockers. Nothing would ever seem right again without Carlos. Especially if they were the ones that caused his demise. What would they do? Run away, like James wanted? Turn themselves in, like Logan suggested? Carlos's dad was a police officer. What if he found a way to -
The boys' heads snapped up as they were greeted by a familiar voice.
"CARLOS!" they shouted simultaneously.
Carlos started to say something else, but was tackled by his three friends. He landed hard on the floor, dropping his backpack.
"We thought you died!" James shrieked happily.
"We thought the cootie killed you!" exclaimed Logan.
"And we thought we missed your funeral!" Kendall added.
Carlos gasped. "Can't… breathe…"
"Oh, right," said Kendall. The boys picked themselves off their friend and helped him to his feet, ignoring the strange looks they got from other students passing by.
"Where were you yesterday?" Logan demanded to know.
Carlos straightened the collar of his shirt. "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you guys. I had to go to a funeral. My great uncle's step-mom died, or something." He narrowed his eyes at his grinning friends. "You thought I died?"
"Yeah," James said, "because you ate the cootie." He used his fingers to straighten his hair, which had become disheveled when he was on top of Carlos.
"Oh," said Carlos. "Well, I'm alive."
"Well, why weren't you on the bus just now?" asked Logan.
Carlos smirked. "My dad gave me a ride in his police car."
Logan's smile broadened. "Well, I'm glad you're alive!"
James and Kendall nodded vigorously. "Very glad!"
There was a small pause. Carlos still looked slightly confused.
Kendall looked around. "Should we go to class?"
The boys all nodded and started towards Mrs. Melby's room. Kendall, James and Logan were giddy with happiness and relief.
"Oooh!" Carlos suddenly said, approaching something pink stuck to the wall. "Gum!" He peeled it off and plopped it in his mouth.
"NOOOO!" shouted the three boys. Logan smacked Carlos's back as hard as he could before James dove through the air, tackling Carlos to the floor for the second time.
Carlos sputtered and coughed as Kendall started to scream. "SPIT IT OUT! CARLOS, SPIT IT OUT RIGHT NOW!"
He didn't even have a chance. Logan fearlessly shoved his hand into Carlos's mouth and retrieved the piece of pre-chewed gum. He whipped at as hard as he could across the hall.
Logan wiped his hands on his jeans, then helped James to his feet, leaving Carlos sprawled out and dazed on the floor.
"Alright," Kendall said. "Now let's go to class." The boys practically skipped into the classroom, thankful that their best friend was okay.