A/N. I haven't written anything for about two weeks now and that's because I haven't been feeling well physically or emotionally. Physically because I've been sick for close to five weeks now, and emotionally because well. . . read on. Also, please read the author's note at the end. Thank you! I don't own anything.
Tears stream down your face,
when you lose something you cannot replace.
-"Fix You" by Coldplay
It's the sound of the alarm clock beeping that wakes Kendall that Saturday morning. He groans and rolls over to the source of the noise, slapping blindly in its general direction. Somehow his fingers come into contact with the offending object but only so that he accidentally knocks it from its place on his nightstand and onto the floor with an even louder crash.
Giving up on getting any more rest, Kendall sits up slowly, careful not to aggravate his still healing injuries. As careful as he is, he still can't help but wince when the daily throbbing in his rib area begins and his left knee starts to throb at the same time. He stops moving to gather more strength, rubbing his aching knee with one hand. Then, taking a deep breath that his ribs protest, Kendall stands up.
He isn't surprised that his head spins at first, but Kendall is frustrated. How much longer will the effects of his "minor" concussion last? It has been nearly four weeks. Although, by now Kendall finds himself wondering if it's still just his concussion or if he's actually losing bits and pieces of himself day after day. Is that why it's so hard to function?
A soft knock at his door, breaks Kendall's cloudy train of thought and he shakes his head to clear away the rest of the mental cobwebs. "Come in," he says, trying to inject at least some life into his voice. But even he can tell that his attempt has failed quite miserably.
It's his mother. Of course it's his mother. It's either his mother or Katie these days. Kendall tries not to think about why that is and instead tries to focus on her face because she seems concerned. "Hi, Mom. Sorry, did my alarm wake you?" Why was his alarm set for so early in the morning anyway? Kendall can't remember even touching it. But then, he forgets a lot lately. The doctors said something about short-term memory loss so that might have something to do with it.
"Kendall, you look pale. Are you feeling okay?" His mother walks over to him, approaching him slowly. She lays a hand on his arm and looks closely in his eyes. "Maybe you should try and get some more sleep."
Kendall feels like all he's done lately is sleep. Either because he's so tired from the medications he has been taking or simply because he's so unable to make it through the waking hours of his day that all he can do is lay down and drift off into a blissful state on unconsciousness where nothing hurts. It's easier then, to live in a dream world where everything is still perfect. "I'm not tired," he tells her, even though he feels as though he could sleep forever if they let him. "I was thinking I'd go for a walk."
Confusion crosses her face. "A walk?" she repeats. "Where?"
Kendall points vaguely off to the left of his house, knowing she will soon realize what he means. He glances away from the pain that comes into her eyes. "It's been a while," he mutters. A while. It had been two and a half weeks. He's long overdue for a visit.
"Kendall," she take a deep breath. "Why don't I drive you-"
"No!" he says louder than he means to. He feels a surge of panic well up inside of him that he tries to subdue. "I don't want to," he whispers, his voice shaking. "I don't want to drive. I'll walk. I want to be alone."
She's still uncertain and that's understandable. But he's still fragile and broken, both on the inside and the outside. She isn't sure that he's ready and frankly, neither is he. But somehow, both of them know that he needs to at least try. "Will you at least take your phone?" she asks, pleading with him to give her that one small comfort. That if he truly can't handle it, then she'll only be a phone call and a ten minute drive away.
"Okay," he agrees readily because it will get him out of the house and it does help to know that she'll be so close by. He hates being alone, He's always hated being alone but now that fear is a thousand times more painful. Lots of times lately, he's been surrounded by his loved ones and yet he feels totally alone. "I might call you for a ride home," he tells her as he moves to the door. Already, he's not sure how he'll actually reach his destination and if he does, he knows he won't be able to make it back home by himself.
She sounds so sad and Kendall feels like he should do or say something to her that will ease her pain. But he's in so much pain himself that breathing is a challenge for him. The Old Kendall would have known what to say. This is the New Kendall though. He is a stranger even to himself. "I love you," he whispers because now he knows from first hand experience that he might not get another chance to say it. He's already been given a second chance that he didn't want.
Kendall walks outside in his t-shirt and sweatpants, oblivious to the October chill in Minnesota. He doesn't think but just walks, letting his feet take him on autopilot down the street. His bare feet don't feel the rough cement or the wet grass or the sharp gravel or any of the different surfaces he walks across. He feels nothing. The ache in his knee and his rib area is completely gone. He's just numb.
His knee is still injured though so Kendall can't walk fast. Halfway into his ten minute walk that is actually going to take twenty minutes due to his slow pace, Kendall begins to limp. His toes start to drag on the ground, making a harsh scraping noise. Each step is harder than the last as the numbness leaves his leg and is replaced by a searing pain. Tears burn his eyes but he doesn't stop or even pause. He keeps going.
At some point, he doesn't really know when, Kendall reaches his destination. He staggers up the slight slope that leads to the cemetery. He stumbles once or twice, his bad knee nearly crumbling from beneath him both times. The pain nearly makes him black out and Kendall is forced to stop so he can lean against a tree and fight against the waves of dizziness that try to bring him down. He steadies himself, taking in deep gasps of air or at least tries to.
Eventually, the dizziness fades enough for him to continue on again. Fortunately, he doesn't have much farther to go. He can see the three gravestones lined up several yards away. Kendall swallows hard. The last time he was here was the funeral. The headstones weren't even there and now they are. Even though his world is stopped, things continue to change. Kendall hates it.
He walks and walks and then Kendall stops and then sinks to his knees on the grass that's damp from last night's rain. The headstones are brand new, the inscriptions easy to read. But Kendall can hardly see anything through the tears in his eyes. He reaches out and like a blind man, traces the words. The dates. The names.
Seeing it, or rather feeling the words with his fingertips, is far too much for Kendall to handle. He folds into himself, wrapping both arms around his thin frame and lays down. The ground is soft and cool, somehow comforting. He breathes in the smell of the clean earth and closes his eyes. If he can concentrate just a little harder, he can almost feel them with him. "Hi," he whispers as tears begin to leak out of the corner of his eyes and fall down the sides of his face.
"Do you think it'll ever stop raining?" Carlos asks as he stares out the window at the pouring sheets of rain. "Or will we just have to build an ark and float around for the rest of our lives?" He grins and sits back against his seat. "That might not be too bad. We'd get to fish and swim every day."
"I think it would get really old, really fast." Logan rolls his eyes and then turns to Kendall who is leaning against the steering wheel, peering hard out the windshield. "Pull over when you get the chance, Kendall. It's not even safe right now."
Kendall nods but didn't speak or remove his eyes from the road. His hands grip the steering wheel so hard that his knuckles are white. Logan's right. There is nothing safe about driving right now. He's only had his license for a year but the weather they're driving in is enough to worry the most experienced of drivers.
The others sense Kendall's nerves and fall completely still and silent, each of them looking out his own window and desperately hoping that the rain will stop or at least slow. Carlos looks more serious than any of them have ever seen, James is leaning forward in his seat in the back, trying to see the highway signs that flash by so he can guess how far they are from home or a safe turn off point. Logan looks afraid.
Kendall is one of those rare teenage drivers. He's extremely careful and responsible. Because he knows that it's not just his life that he's responsible for when he drives. He knows that there are other people on the road and more importantly, people in the car with him. Tonight it's his three best friends and who knows who else. James, Carlos, and Logan are all that really matter to him though. He's determined to get them all home safely. But one thing Kendall can't be responsible for is the actions of the other drivers on the road.
"Kendall!" Logan suddenly shouts as they round a corner and are immediately blinded by the headlights of a car that has drifted into their lane. It's coming straight at them. Kendall wrenches the steering wheel to the left and with a violent jerk that slams them all into each other, they leave the road.
Kendall barely registers the strange feeling of flying as the car tips over and begins to roll. Even as they start to roll and his body is jostled around as much as his seat belt allows, Kendall is remarkably clear minded. Logan. James. Carlos. They're all he can think about as continue to be tossed and turned around. Once they come to a stop at the bottom of the hill, he notices how much pain he's in, but he doesn't care.
"Guys?" he whispers, terrified. "Logie? James? Carlos?" He takes the silence that is his answer and uses the time to assess his injuries. His left leg is hurting so badly that it's all he can do to remain conscious. His head hurts too and somehow he knows that the wet stuff that dampens his hair isn't just rain. It hurts to breathe.
Carlos' voice feels Kendall with the strangest sense of peace ever. "Carlos," he sighs, wincing in pain. "Buddy, are you okay?"
So much for the peace. Kendall's heartbeat quickens in fear and he turns as quickly as he can to look in the back seat where Carlos is. He doesn't know how bad he looks, but he can't imagine that he can look worse than Carlos. He feels the remaining color drain from his face and instantly every ache disappears. "Carlos," he whispers.
He can hardly make out his friend in the darkness but he can see the glistening red liquid coating the younger boy's upper body. There's also a lot of blood on his head and all over his face. Kendall can hardly see Carlos past the blood that's literally all over him. He can't even tell where the blood is coming from. There's too much. But then he notices something else. Carlos isn't looking at him. He's looking to his left and tears are pouring down his face, making the blood run even faster somehow. Kendall turns to see what he's staring at.
James. James is slumped over in his seat, blood pouring from a gash on his forehead. His eyes. They're wide open, staring unseeingly at the back of Kendall's seat. They aren't blinking. And he's not breathing. At all.
Kendall doesn't know how long he stares at James but then he hears hoarse, painful sobs and he manages to focus back on Carlos. "Carlos," he says, his voice small, broken, and scared. "Carlos buddy, listen to me. You. . . you have to calm down, okay?" Ironic that he's telling Carlos to calm down when he feels inches from a breakdown himself. James. James is dead. He's really dead. He's not with them anymore. They'll never see him again.
The realization is hitting them too hard and too fast. Carlos is oblivious to Kendall's hypocritical words and is bent over, sobbing hysterically. Each time his body jerks with a sob, it's like the flow of blood quickens. "J-James," he says over and over again.
"Carlos-" Kendall starts to say when another voice interrupts him.
"Kendall?" Logan is sitting up in his seat, very slowly. His eyes are dazed and confused, full of fear. "Carlos? What. . . what happened?"
Kendall turns away from Carlos, wanting to shield Logan from the horrible sight of James. But he knows as soon as he turns that he's too late. Logan looks for the most part, unharmed. There's a deep cut on his forehead that's dripping blood down one side of his face and he moves slowly and painfully. His brown eyes fly wide open in horror when he sees what Kendall was trying to hide from him. "Logie," Kendall says, not knowing what else to say.
Logan's breathing is suddenly harsh and he's mumbling incoherent words that are either prayers or curses. Tears fill his eyes and overflow and suddenly he bends and more or less falls into the backseat with James and Carlos. "No, no, no, no." he babbles on, clinging to the front of James' shirt. "James, please, no, no, no."
"Logan," at last it's dawning on Kendall that they should call for help. James is. . . gone, but Carlos is still here and he obviously needs help fast. Kendall is pretty sure that his injuries, although incredibly painful, aren't life threatening. Logan looks the best out of all of them but Kendall doesn't want to take any chances. "Logan. . . we need to. . . to call."
Logan drags in a shuddering breath and then nods hard. "Call," he stammers shakily. "James and Carlos are really hurt. Are you hurt, Kendall?"
James. "Logan," Kendall starts to say. His brain is on autopilot and he's finding it extremely difficult to think straight. It would be cruel to drag Logan away from James but maybe he can help Carlos. "Logie, I think Carlos needs your help."
Carlos is still sobbing inconsolably, both from pain and from grief. Logan moves away from James slowly, his eyes lingering on James' lifeless body. Then he turns to Carlos and a part of him seems to return. "Carlos," he whispers. "What hurts, buddy?"
"E-Everything!" Carlos chokes out. "L-Logan, James!"
"Shhhh," Logan soothes, touching an unbloodied part of Carlos' arm. "He's going to be okay. Let me help you. Kendall?"
Kendall is already on the phone with the 911 operator, spilling out a stream of words that hardly make sense to him. The man keeps telling him to slow down and relax a little but Kendall wonders how that could be possible. James is dead. Carlos is dying. Logan seems fine but he might not be. He doesn't even know if he's okay. "Please," he begs, sobbing so hard that he can barely breathe. "Hurry!" The phone slips from his grasp and Kendall ignores the unbelievable pain throughout all of his body and drags himself into the back seat with his friends.
"Kendall, sit with James so he isn't afraid," Logan says, confirming Kendall's fear that he's in a deep state of shock. As he speaks though, he removes his jacket and holds it firmly to a spot on Carlos' chest where the blood is the darkest. As he moves, his t-shirt lifts up and that's when Kendall's sees it.
The pale skin is colored black and purple and blue like someone has been beating on Logan for hours. Kendall doesn't even know how Logan has been able to move at all. "Logan," he whispers fearfully. "You're hurt too."
"It's not that bad," Logan tells him wearily, slumping up against the seat back. "What about you?"
"My leg might be broken. And my head hurts. And it hurts to breathe."
"Your leg and your ribs might be broken," Logan says. He takes a deep breath and winces slightly. "Just stay awake, okay? You probably have a concussion too. Focus on James if it's too hard to stay awake."
Kendall doesn't want to focus on James. James is dead. It hurts to focus on him and everything he will never be able to do. But Kendall listens to Logan a little and takes James' cold hand in his and gives it a squeeze, not sure who he's trying to reassure. "Carlos?" he asks, afraid of Logan's response.
Logan pats Carlos' cheek lightly with one hand while keeping his jacket in place. "Carlos, you have to stay awake, okay?" His control is slipping. "Stay awake for me. Please."
"I'm so tired, Logie," Carlos mumbles as he begins to struggle for breath.
"I know, but you have to stay awake. Help is coming, hear it?" In the distance, sirens are wailing, coming closer. "You can go to sleep in a little bit, but not yet."
"I'm tired of studying," Carlos blinks and lays his head down on Logan's shoulder. "Can't we take a break and sleep a little?"
Latching onto that source of Carlos' confused focus, Kendall leans closer to his younger friends, still holding onto James' hand. "Carlos, you have to keep studying for a little while longer, okay? Then we can all take a break and sleep and when we wake up we'll go play hockey."
It doesn't work though. Carlos starts to cry again. "James," he says softly. "I want James to be awake too! Logan, what's happening to me? I'm so cold and it hurts, everything does. Am I. . . am I dying?"
"No," Logan lies badly. "You're going to be fine. You just need some Band-Aids." Or maybe he isn't lying. Not intentionally at least. Maybe his shock is worse than Kendall thought. "Yes," Logan nods. "Band-Aids and chicken noodle soup to warm you up."
"K-Kendall?" Carlos turns to Kendall, in fear for Logan.
Kendall doesn't answer though because an ambulance is suddenly speeding up to them. He breaths a sigh of relief and crawls over to the smashed window to scream for help. "My friends!" he yells, his words getting lost in the wind and the rain. "They need help!"
"Logie?" Carlos sounds really scared now. "Where are you?"
"Right here, buddy." Logan assures him. "I'm right here. So is Kendall and James. We're all right here. Just keep talking to me. Never stop."
Another ambulance screeches to a stop just outside and then everything becomes rushes and blurry and Kendall can only try to make sense of it. He sees how carefully the EMTs handle Carlos when they take him out first. He hears the way they talk to Logan and look relatively unconcerned about him compared to Carlos. He also sees the way they aren't rushing to help James.
Then, to his horror, they're taking him away from Logan. From James too but Logan is still. . . He still is. James isn't. "N-no!" he pleads, trying uselessly to pull away. "Don't take me away from him! I need to be there for him! He's hurt too!"
"Easy, son." a voice tries to soothe him. "We're taking you and your buddy here," he nods to Carlos who is drifting in and out of consciousness. "We're taking you boys first."
Before Kendall can protest further, Logan is at his side. "Hey," he says quietly, looking strange and distant but somehow still like Logan. "It'll be okay, Kendall. I'm going to ride with James and make sure he's okay. You take care of Carlos, okay?" His brow is furrowed in concern for Kendall and Carlos and James. As the paramedics load Carlos' stretcher into the back of the ambulance, he takes Kendall's hand and gives it a light squeeze. "See you soon, bro."
Kendall calms down a little, enough so that he allows himself to be loaded in next to Carlos. He's worried though because he's leaving Logan behind and Logan doesn't have James to take care of. What if he finds that out and is sad and scared? Kendall can't be there for him.
"Yeah, buddy?" Kendall turns his pounding head to look at Carlos. The pale and dazed look his sees on his younger friend worries him.
The way Carlos' eyes are fluttering shut and then opening and then shutting for longer periods of time, makes Kendall forget about Logan for the time being. Logan and James. Because Logan is most likely fine and James. . . they can't help James anymore. Kendall has to be strong for Carlos right now. "Logan will be back with us soon, Carlos. Don't worry. You'll see him again."
"Okay," Carlos nods and his eyes drift shut, staying like that for several long seconds. "Kendall?"
"You're a really. . . good friend. I love you and Logan a lot. I know we'll miss James but we'll still have each other, right? You and Logan won't leave me, will you?"
Kendall is terrified. He's never seen Carlos so lifeless. No. Lifeless is the wrong word. James was lifeless but Carlos is still- That's when it all ends. Carlos goes sort of rigid and limp all at the same time. He stops looking like Carlos. Then his chest stops rising and falling completely. Then the EMTs go into a quick flurry of motions that confuse Kendall. He tries to sit up but the restraints keep him from doing so. "What's happening?" he asks, his voice rising in pitch.
"Come on, kid. Don't do this." one of the men mutters. "Hang in there."
"What's happening?" Kendall repeats in panic. "Why isn't he breathing?"
But they don't answer him. It's like Kendall disappears and all they can think about is Carlos, Carlos, Carlos. Which is just fine with Kendall except that it isn't working. They have these paddle things that Kendall has only seen on TV and that Logan would know the function of. Carlos' body is being jerked roughly up and down but nothing is changing.
Finally, one of the EMTs takes off his eyeglasses and throws them against the wall of the ambulance and drops his face into his hands, mumbling incoherent words. Kendall can make out fragmented bits and pieces but all he can really think of is one thing.
Carlos is gone. Dead. Just like James. Both of his friends are dead, Kendall realizes. In one night. Two sixteen year olds. Who had their wholes lives ahead of them. Gone. Dead. In an instant. One minute they were there and the next minute they weren't. Kendall never even got to say goodbye to them and neither did Logan.
It's worse though for Logan. He wasn't there for Carlos when he left. Kendall could only watch and plead for Carlos to come back but Logan is back there in his own ambulance with no idea what has just happened. He told Carlos that they would see each other again soon. He'll never see him again.
Kendall swallows hard and blinks back tears, the full force of his loss still not quite hitting him. He reaches out and picks up Carlos' hand and holds it tightly. "Don't worry, Carlos," he whispers. "Logan and I are never going to leave you." It's only after he speaks that it's Carlos who has left him and Logan.
The next thing Kendall knows, he's waking up in a strange, blindingly white room. He doesn't remember losing consciousness. The last thing he does remember is telling Carlos that he and Logan will never leave him, only to realize that Carlos was the one who did the leaving. Just like James.
Dead. Grief sweeps over Kendall like a tidal wave, threatening to pull him under in the ocean of depression. Dead. James and Carlos are gone. At only sixteen, their lives are over. They had so much ahead of them and now they don't. Now Kendall doesn't have two of his best friends. He only has Logan.
Logan. He needs to get to Logan and be with him. Kendall tries to sit up, straining against the hands that are suddenly holding him down. "No!" he protests. "Let me go, please!"
"Kendall! Kendall sweetie, calm down!" It's his mother and her hands are firm but gentle and she easily overpowers Kendall's weakened body and makes him lay back down. "Kendall, listen to me. You're hurt. You have to rest, okay?"
"Mom," and that's when Kendall loses it. The sobs tearing through him make his chest feel like it's on fire and the pain makes him cry even harder. He can feel her hugging him as gently as possible and hear her whispering words, but he can't make sense of any of it. The only thing he knows is that James and Carlos are gone and they're never coming back.
There's a small prick in his arm and Kendall starts to feel like the atmosphere around him has suddenly become thick and heavy. His sobs slow as his brain starts to stop processing what's happening. The pain begins to ebb at last and the last thing he hears is his mother telling him that everything is going to be okay. What a lie.
Kendall wakes up again, calmer this time. Not really calm exactly, but numb. He opens his eyes, immediately meeting his mother's weary gaze and he stares blankly at her. "How long?" he croaks out, his throat burning a little.
"How long have you been sleeping?" she asks. When he nods, she sighs and strokes his forehead, pushing his hair gently out of his eyes. "Since early this morning." she tells him. "It's almost 8:00 at night now."
"When was the accident?" he asks next, because he's so confused by the time.
There's something about the instant change in her demeanor that clenches Kendall's heart in an icy grip of fear. "Mom," he whispers. "James and Carlos-" he breaks of, unable to finish. Tears fill his eyes so that he can hardly see her. "It's not fair."
"I know, baby, I know."
"Is Katie with Logan?" Kendall turns his head slowly, looking for his little sister. She wasn't there the first time he woke up and she's not there right now.
Mrs. Knight bites her bottom lip and tears fall from her eyes. "Daddy came from the city," she tells Kendall. "He's home with Katie right now."
But Logan. "Mom," Kendall tries to sit up again and is caught of guard by the blasts of pain that shoot up his entire left leg and throughout his rib area. His head hurts a lot too. Tears of pain sting his eyes and he feels incredibly lightheaded. "Logan can't be alone," he says through gritted teeth, trying to stay conscious. "Go be with Logan, Mom."
A choked sob escapes her and Kendall looks up, stricken. "What," he says, his mouth dry with sudden fear and dread. "Mom, Logan's fine. I saw him that night. He was fine. He was helping all of us. Where is he?" He notices that his voice is rising with every word but he doesn't try to calm himself down. "Is someone with Logan?"
"Kendall," she begins tearfully. "Logan-"
"Is fine!" Kendall insists, his heart racing dangerously in his chest. "Mom, he's fine! He has to be! He was walking and everything! He told me that he would see me later, so where is he? Who's with him, he can't be alone right now! He needs someone!"
"Sweetheart, listen to me." Mrs. Knight takes a deep breath and clasps Kendall's hands in hers. Only now does he notice her eyes are red and swollen with many tears and she looks like she's aged ten years overnight. "When your ambulance left. . . Logan collapsed. He lost consciousness.
A strange, numb feeling is starting to steal over Kendall one again. He can hardly breathe. "Collapsed," he repeats thickly. "What does that mean?"
"They took him to the hospital in the other ambulance. . . Kendall, Logan wasn't okay."
Wasn't. Kendall is aware enough to realize that she's speaking about Logan in the past tense. But maybe. Maybe that means that he's okay now. They just can't see him for some reason. But he will be okay. That's what she has to mean. "What do you mean? What was wrong with him?"
"He had a pretty bad concussion but mostly. . . Kendall, he was bleeding internally. He. . . he never woke up after losing consciousness. They-" her voice is shaking so hard. "They did everything they could to save him, but-"
Kendall stops hearing her even though she continues to talk. "No," he whispers. "No. Not Logan. Not Logan. Please." This isn't happening. It can't be. James and Carlos are gone, he can't lose Logan too. Especially since he was so sure that Logan would be okay. "Mom, no. I saw Logan before they took me and- and Carlos to the hospital. He was fine. He was walking and talking and-"
"He's gone, Kendall." Mrs. Knight holds Kendall close. "I'm so sorry, sweetie. They. . . they pronounced him dead on arrival to the hospital."
Not. Logan. Logan. Is. Not. Dead. Kendall can only think of one word at a time. His breath is coming in sharp, short gasps. It feels like his lungs have been turned inside out and his heart is upside down. "Stop it," he pleads. "Stop saying that about Logan."
"No!" he shouts, pulling away and ignoring the searing pain all throughout his entire body. "James and Carlos are gone, Logan can't be gone too! I need Logan! I can't do this alone. Mom. . ." Kendall trails off and turns over on his side. His arms go around himself as he starts to shake with sobs that seem to be tearing him apart. "Not Logan too," he chokes out. "Please."
This cannot be happening. All three of his friends dead on the same night, in the same accident. And he hadn't been able to say goodbye to any of them. He hadn't even been expecting to say goodbye to James, Carlos left him too abruptly, and Logan. . . Logan wasn't even supposed to leave him. But then again, none of them were supposed to leave him.
"He t-told me," Kendall says in a strangled voice. "He told me that he would s-see me later!" And as the sobs overtake him and his mother holds him in her arms, Kendall feels a deep, dark nothingness start to pull him away from her and the rest of the world. The pain is so bad, both physical and emotional, that it's all he knows. As far as he's concerned, the world has come to an end.
"I thought we promised each other that we'd stay together," Kendall says now, still laying in the damp grass. "You all lied. You left me, but you're still together."
He wants to be with them so bad. That's all he wants anymore. James, Carlos, and Logan were what his life revolved around and now they're gone. Now his world has spun off it's axis and is careening wildly through the galaxy, completely out of control. He just wants his best friends back. Without them, Kendall isn't so sure he can live.
Since they were five, they had been best friends, so completely different, yet somehow completing each other. Four parts of one person. Now, three of those parts are gone and Kendall has been left alone to try and move on all by himself. But the body can't operate without all of its organs functioning properly.
Carlos had been the heart. He loved life and he loved everyone and everything in his life. Logan had been the brain, helping them see sense is everything that they said and did. He did the reasoning when something threatened their friendship and he had always pulled them out of it. James had been the passion, and sure passion wasn't a physical body part, but Kendall had always believed that someone needed passion to truly live. As for Kendall. . . he had really been a combination of those three things. His unconditional love for his best friends had allowed him to be whatever they needed him to be. But now he didn't have them to need him. In losing them, he had lost himself.
It has started to rain again but Kendall doesn't feel the drops falling from the sky as if the angels up in Heaven are shedding tears too. He only knows that his own tears are falling fast and heavy, soaking his t-shirt when he curls into himself. "How could you all just leave me?" he screams suddenly, shattering the stillness. "You broke your promises!"
Maybe if he lays here long enough, he'll drown in the rain and then sink into the earth and be with them again. Could he possibly be so fortunate? No. Probably not. He'll probably live a long and lonely life, all by himself.
"I don't understand," he says, whispering once again. "You all lied to me. You left me." He's shaking all over, both from grief and from the freezing cold rain that has absolutely soaked him. Tremors race up and down him until he wonders if he might be having a seizure or something. He considers this possibility with a broken sense of hope. He doesn't care how he dies, he just wants to die.
"I miss you. I miss all of you so much. Carlos, I miss your jokes and you smile and your laugh. James, I miss your dreams and your passion. Logie, I miss your brain and your common sense. I miss everything about all of you. It wasn't supposed to be this way. We were supposed to grow up together and go to college and be whatever we wanted to be because we could do anything together. We were supposed to get married and be in each other's weddings and make out kids get married to each other. We were in this for life and now you're gone. I don't know how I'm supposed to do this alone. I don't think I can. I need you. I need you here with me. I'm-" Kendall falters in his tearful rant. "I'm lost."
He falls silent then and listens, as if he's expecting to hear one of them respond. Of course they don't. They can't. All he hears is the rain falling heavily now and thunder rumbling in the distance. Just as he starts to hope to get struck by lightening, Kendall hears something else. Footsteps.
They come nearer and nearer, but Kendall doesn't lift his face to see if it's someone he knows. Even when a worried voice starts to speak his name, he can't bring himself to answer. His voice is lost now. He was right. He's losing himself piece by piece. He wonders if he'll become blind or deaf next. He flexes his numbing fingers to find that he's not paralyzed. Yet.
"Kendall, come here." Strong arms wrap around him and lift Kendall up. "Let's get you home."
Kendall doesn't have a home to go to. He wants to stay in the cemetery in the pouring rain and catch pneumonia and die. But since he has no voice anymore, he can't really protest. So he lets Carlos' father carry him away from his three best friends and out of the cemetery where his car is waiting with the heat blasting.
"You're practically frozen,"
He can hear tears in the man's voice and the obvious pain and suffering are like more knives being driven into the scraps of his heart. Mr. Garcia should never have a reason to hurt so much. A part of Kendall wants to reach out to him and comfort him. But paralysis has started to spread over his body so he simply sits slumped over in the front passenger seat with a warm fleece blanket wrapped tightly around him.
"Kendall, can you hear me?"
So much worry and fear for him. It gives Kendall just enough strength to give a small nod in reply. Then he goes back to staring blankly out the window. He hears the voice talking gently to him, but he can't even open his mouth or turn to him. He's fading.
"We're worried about you, Kendall."
He can barely hear Mr. Garcia talking to him so he must be going deaf too. Or maybe it's just the fact that it's Carlos' dad. He's found it extremely difficult to see any of the Garcias or the Diamonds these days. As for the Mitchells. . . well, Logan was the only one that was left and now he's gone too. Kendall's mom had adopted Logan when they were fourteen. So that's why Kendall has trouble looking at his own mother.
He's discovered that the worst thing to see in the world is a parent who has lost a child. To see full grown adults go around looking like lost and confused children is just terrifying. Kendall has already seen more than he wants of the Diamonds and Garcias, but his own mother is another story.
It's difficult to pinpoint when exactly he woke up from his comatose state just enough to notice the others. Maybe it was when 8:00 rolled around one night and his mom opened the cabinets to find them empty of food except for a box of stale crackers. Maybe it was when they all went to the grocery store together and Katie had a meltdown when she saw sour gummy worms because they had been Logan's favorite candy. At some point, Kendall realized he wasn't the only one wasting away.
Yet, try as he might, he could not reach out to them. Kendall had always been the one to fix things, ever since his parents divorced when he was eleven. But he couldn't fix things this time and he still can't. Right now, he cannot find it anywhere in his power to open his mouth and respond to the words of concern that are being directed at him.
They pull up to his house, but again, Kendall doesn't move. He can't. The paralysis is spreading. He lets himself be carried, like a little boy, into the house where he sees his mother and sister both waiting anxiously.
"Kendall, sweetie." his mother says, the worry all too clear in her voice. She waits until Mr. Garcia has laid him down on the couch and then she quickly spreads a blanket over him. "You're soaked and freezing."
Out of nowhere, a new rush of emotions rushes into Kendall and crashes into him. He starts to sob hard, shaking so hard that he nearly falls off the couch. The pain is so horrible that he almost blacks out, but of course, he isn't that lucky.
"Kendall?" Katie sounds small and scared as she approaches him.
Kendall can't answer her or anyone else for that matter. He's drowning in a sea of heart ache that no amount of time could ever ease. He starts to talk in an incoherent babble that even he can't understand. Finally, after several failed attempts at communicating, Kendall becomes more clear. "It's m-my f-fault!"
"Kendall! Kendall, no. It's not your fault." Alarm is in his mother's voice as he desperately tries to persuade him otherwise.
But Kendall is adamant. He feels sick to his stomach. It was his fault. He was the one who was driving. It doesn't matter that the other driver was drunk, they hadn't been hit by that car. He had swerved and they had gone off the road and-
"Kendall, listen to me." Mr. Garcia is still there for some reason and his voice is urgent, somehow gaining some of Kendall's attention. He waits until the boy looks up at him, his heart breaking even more when he sees the pain and devastation in the green eyes that were once so filled with life. "Listen," he says again, just to be sure. "The accident was not your fault. It was an accident. Kendall, if you hadn't avoided that car, you probably all would have been dead by now."
"I wish I was though!" Kendall exclaims, sitting up so that the blanket falls away. "Can't you see that? Why am I the only one who didn't die that night? It's not fair! They left me all alone and now all I want to do is die too!"
"Please," Kendall says, jerking away from his mother's grasp and avoiding eye contact with all of them. "Just leave me alone. I need to be alone." And with that, he trudges slowly up to his bedroom. Collapsing down on his bed, he lets the numbness spread over his body, sighing in relief. When he's asleep, he feels nothing, and he likes it best that way.
When he wakes up later, Kendall realizes right away that he isn't alone. The peace he feels surprises him and he opens his eyes to find Katie snuggled close against him. She's sleeping, but only very lightly, so Kendall is careful not to wake her. She looks exhausted. Her face is small and pale from lack of sleep and even though her eyes are closed, Kendall can see how swollen they are from recent tears.
He wonders at his sudden ability to be so sensitive. He can't remember the last time he felt like this. Before the accident, yes, but he's not sure of the exact time. He does know that it has been too long though. Way too long. Before he can stop himself, Kendall sighs heavily and drapes an arm around Katie, waking her in the process.
"Kendall?" she asks, sounding like a small, scared child once again. "Did you mean it?"
It takes him a little while before he can grasp what she means. He stares at her and sees his pain reflected back at him through her eyes. "Katie," he says quietly, searching for the words to say. "I don't know, baby sis."
She gives him a weak but angry slap in the face and then buries her head in the pillow as she starts to cry all over again. "But we can't lose you too, Kendall, we just can't!"
How can he possibly explain it to her? The way he feels like every day is more and more of a struggle? The way it hurts to breathe? But then Kendall opens his eyes, really opens his eyes this time, and he sees something. She feels the same way. Maybe not to the degree that he does, but his little sister lost her loved ones that night too.
"I don't want you to die, Kendall." she says pleadingly, looking up at him with tear filled eyes. "I need you so much. Now more than ever."
Now more than ever. The words are simple, so simple. Kendall still finds himself struggling to understand them. "How could you?" he asks in a broken whisper. "How could anyone need me the way I am now?"
"Because it's you." she tells him softly. "And we need you. No one cares how broken you are, Kendall. You're still here and that's what's important. What if. . . what if it had been the other way around? What if it was Logan who was the only one who survived? Or Carlos? Or James? What would you want them to do?"
Kendall would give anything to have the rules reversed, but that makes him feel a little guilty for wishing such pain on one of his best friends. He thinks carefully about Katie's questions though. Would he want them to lay around, dying a slow death of nothingness? That answer at least, is easy. No, of course not. He would want them to go on with their lives eventually. "I don't know how I can," he tells her pathetically.
"I don't know either," Katie answers him honestly as she reaches for his hand. "But I promise you that you won't do it alone. Please, Kendall. Don't leave. Stay with us."
Maybe Kendall isn't as alone as he originally thought. He lost his best friends, yes, and there will never be a day that he doesn't miss them. But he's not the only one, and he feels bad for not realizing this before. "Okay, Katie." he says, unsure of where the strength to speak those two words came from.
She smiles then, very tentatively, but with the smallest amount of hope in her eyes. "Kendall?" she asks quietly.
Katie props herself up with one arm and looks at him intently. "You know what I think? I think. . . that they're not really gone. Not completely. They wouldn't do that to us. To you. They loved you too much. They still do."
"I think maybe you're right. And I think that maybe one day, I'll know that for sure." Kendall tells her. "I just wish it didn't have to hurt so much. Or happen at all. I'd give anything to have that night back and stay at home."
"Me too," Tears are in Katie's eyes again. "I miss them so much, Kendall." she says. "I want them back."
He knows exactly how she feels. A least one more day with his best friends to tell them all that they meant to him and all that they still mean to him. To thank them for everything. And to tell them that he'll always always love them. He won't ever get that chance.
"I love you, Kendall." Katie interrupts his thoughts. "You're the best big brother in the world and you always will be."
She's read his mind, Kendall realizes. Thanking him. Telling him that she loves him. They've all had a nightmarish wake-up call that life is far too short to take anything or anyone for granted. They don't know when their lives will ends. Tomorrow could be too late.
Kendall sits up enough so that he can wrap Katie in both of his arms and they cry together. "I love you too, Katie. Thanks for everything."
His bedroom door opens quietly and then his mother joins their embrace. At first, Kendall only cries harder because he thinks of how they're missing Logan in their family hug. And then he remembers that they're also missing Carlos and James and the sorrow almost drowns him all over again.
He's not alone anymore. Even his friends are still with him, though he can't see them or talk to them they way he used to. They live on in his heart and they always will. Kendall's never alone.
A/N. Okay, so now you know where my emotions have been. That being said, I have also been having a lot of trouble writing lately, and I'm not really sure why. A lot of things going on, I guess. Anyway, I have tentative plans involving fan fiction. I am going to finish "13 Reasons" and the "Love Thyself" series. Then, in December I will be writing a Christmas story. But after that, I might retire from fan fiction. I'm still not completely sure, so that's all I'll say for now. I need a quiet week to think this through. But, for the time being, you're stuck with me until at least December! Thank you all!