A/N: I have decided to rate this fic 'K+'. Be warned, though, this story is very angst-y and deals with some dark themes. If at anytime you think the rating should be upped to 'T', let me know in a review or private message/email. This story contains NO SLASH, no foul language, or anything like that. It's just kind of depressing. This first chapter does have some violence in it.
Also, note that when Gustavo speaks, I use CAPS LOCK to indicate he is yelling, since in the TV show he hollers every other word. Thanks for reading!


Breakdown

Chapter 1:
A Bad Day

Kendall woke to a helmet-clad boy bouncing up and down on his bed.

"Wake up, wake up, wake up!" Carlos chanted to the beat of his jumps. Gasping in surprise, Kendall rolled over and flopped off the mattress, landing awkwardly on the floor. Carlos flew off the bed and attempted to help Kendall untangle himself from his twisted bed sheets.

"Carlos, what are you doing?" Kendall muttered angrily.

"We have to get up!" Carlos shrieked. He grabbed one of the blankets covering Kendall and tugged, causing the boy on the floor to spin over on his side.

"Will you stop?" Kendall grumbled, using the edge of the bed to gracelessly pull himself to his feet. He tiredly rubbed at his eyes. "What's going on?"

"It stormed last night!"

Kendall didn't catch on. "So?"

"So, the power went out! Our alarms didn't go off! It's seven thirty!"

Kendall's eyes instantly snapped open wide. "Seven thirty?" He turned his head to see flashing numbers on his alarm clock.

Carlos nodded vigorously.

With a small shout, Kendall barreled past Carlos, nearly tripping on his way to the door. "Is everyone else up?" he asked hastily.

"James is, but I haven't gotten Logan up yet," replied Carlos, his expression one of worry.

Kendall sprinted down the hall and flung open the door to Logan's bedroom, Carlos closely behind. Logan slept soundly, covers pulled up to his chin.

"Logan, wake up!" Kendall and Carlos shouted simultaneously.

When he didn't stir, both boys lunged forward and threw their bodies on top of their sleeping friend. Logan bolted upright, screaming.

"Logan, you have to wake up!" exclaimed Carlos, shaking his shoulders.

Startled and bewildered, Logan began thrashing his arms and legs, attempting to throw Kendall and Carlos off of him. The two clambered off the bed and yanked Logan's arms, forcing him to his feet.

"Woah! What?" Logan cried, eyes darting back and fourth in his confusion.

"It's seven thirty!" said Kendall. "Our alarms didn't go off! We gotta go!"

Logan cried out, suddenly wide awake. He shooed Kendall and Carlos out of his room so he could quickly change out of his pajamas and into regular clothes.

The boys knew if they were late getting to the studio, Gustavo would have their heads for sure. Kelly had even warned them yesterday that they had better be on time.

It was Friday, and so far the boys had been late to work every day since Monday. But being tardy on Monday wasn't even their fault. The limo driver blew a tire on his way to pick up the guys. They ended up walking to the studio, and were a half hour late.

On Tuesday, Carlos was helping Mrs. Knight make breakfast, and somehow managed to accidentally splatter buttermilk all over everyone, which resulted in all four having to retake showers.

Wednesday, James's hairdryer malfunctioned, and he refused to towel-dry his hair or leave the house with it dripping wet.

Thursday was the craziest morning of them all. Carlos was obviously having a nightmare; he was kicking and screaming in his sleep. Logan heard the noise and tried to wake him up. Unfortunately for him, Carlos slept with a baseball bat under his pillow. In his lack of comprehension, he whacked Logan on the side of the head so hard that he was unconscious for half the morning.

Carlos and Kendall skidded down the hall and into the main room of apartment 2J. James was in the kitchen, already dressed, stuffing a blueberry muffin in his face as breakfast.

"Here," he mumbled, crumbs spewing out of his mouth. He held up two muffins. Carlos and Kendall each grabbed one from his outstretched hand. Carlos shoved his muffin into his mouth and swallowed. It took Kendall a couple bites to wolf his down.

Meanwhile, James dove for the refrigerator and retrieved a gallon of milk. He twisted open the cap and began to chug. The moment he pulled it away from his lips, Carlos snatched it from his hands, downing nearly half the plastic jug in a few large gulps.

"Save some for me!" cried Kendall, taking the container from Carlos. He finished the rest of the milk, then tossed the empty jug somewhere over his shoulder.

Logan then appeared from the hall, hopping on one foot as he desperately attempted to put on his shoe.

"Logan. Breakfast. Catch!" James whipped a muffin at his friend. Logan saw it slice through the air, but did not react quick enough. He let out a shout as the muffin came in contact with his face and sent him stumbling backwards, flailing his arms. His shoe, which still wasn't correctly on his foot, caused him to trip and fall flat on his back.

Gasping, Kendall ran forward to help him up. Logan thankfully accepted his friend's hand and was yanked to his feet. "Thanks," he murmured, rubbing his cheek. Logan's eyes widened when he noticed what Kendall was wearing. "Dude! You're still in your pajamas!"

Kendall looked down at his clothes, then wordlessly tore off to his bedroom.

"Here's another muffin!" James said from the kitchen.

"No, James, wait, don't throw -"

Smack.

Also in the kitchen, Carlos seized the bottle of dish soap next to the sink. He held the plastic container over his head and squeezed, feeling the runny liquid drop onto his hair. He ran his hands over his hair a couple times, then stuck his head under the faucet. A mass amount of soap bubbles formed due to his scrubbing, stinging his eyes and dripping into his mouth. Carlos sputtered, but pressed on. When all the soap was rinsed from his hair and swirling down the drain, he turned off the running water and blindly fumbled for a paper towel.

"Who else needs to take a quick shower?" he asked.

James gaped at him in horror. "Dish soap? Do you have any idea how unhealthy that is for your hair?" He paused and narrowed his eyes, examining Carlos closely. "Dude, and now you have paper towel chunks stuck in there, too."

Carlos shrugged.

Kendall emerged from the hall a moment later, finishing snapping together the final button on his shirt. "Ready to go?" he wondered. He noticed Logan laying on the floor again, and offered him a hand, eyebrows narrowed in confusion.

"Logan still hasn't eaten breakfast," said James, arming himself with a third muffin.

"No!" Kendall and Logan shouted in unison, the dark-haired boy ducking behind Kendall.

"We really do have to go," said Carlos, glancing at his wristwatch. "It's seven forty!"

"But I need to brush my teeth and wash my face and comb my hair," James protested, making a dash for the bathroom.

"James, no!" Kendall yelled. "Carlos, stop him!"

Carlos screamed and charged towards James. The brown-haired boy, however, reached the bathroom first. Carlos's body collided into the closed door and he collapsed to the floor, landing hard on his back.

Kendall smacked his forehead.

"Great," groaned Logan, throwing his hands up in exasperation, "now we'll never make it on time!"

Kendall ran both hands through his hair and began to pace the floor. "Wait, let's think. Okay. It's seven forty. It normally takes fifteen minutes for the limo to get to Rocque Records, so that will put us there at seven fifty five. We don't have to be at the studio until eight."

"James!" called Logan. "You had better be done in five minutes!"

"You can't rush perfection!" James called back.

The two boys let out deep exhales in an attempt to settle their nerves. "You grab some breakfast," Kendall said to Logan. "I'll see if Carlos is okay."

The Latino still laid on the floor, unmoving.

Logan frowned and grabbed a piece of fruit from the bowl on the kitchen counter. "Where's his helmet?"

"He set it by the sink when he was 'showering'," said Kendall, kneeling down next to his fallen friend. "Wanna hand it to me?"

Logan did as he was asked before peeling his banana.

"Car-los," Kendall said in a singsong voice. He gave his cheek a gentle slap. "Get up."

Carlos groaned and his eyes shot open wide. "We're gonna be late!" he suddenly screamed, jolting up and scrambling to his feet. "I'll get James -" He started for the bathroom, forgetting the door was closed. Kendall caught him before he crashed to the floor for the second time.

Logan placed Carlos's helmet on his head and gave it a slap. "Here you go, buddy."

He nodded, still slightly dazed.

"Maybe we should bring him to the limo right now," Kendall said, a hint of concern in his voice. His hands firmly on Carlos's shoulders, he began to lead him out of the kitchen.

Logan quickly devoured the rest of his banana and tossed the peel carelessly aside. "James, you have three minutes to meet us in the limo or we're leaving without you!" he shouted to his friend, following Kendall and Carlos out the front door.

The three walked briskly down the hall and to the elevators. Once inside, Carlos shrugged off Kendall's hands, insisting he was fine. When they entered the lobby of the Palm Woods, they hurried out the doors and to the front of the building, where their limo was parked and waiting for them. They had to pile in themselves - the driver was strictly just a driver, and was instructed by Gustavo to only bring the boys to the studio and back. Sometimes Kelly was waiting in the vehicle, but today she was not.

Kendall tapped on the drivers' window. With an annoyed look on his face, the middle-aged man rolled it down. "What is it?"

"Can you please not leave until exactly seven forty five?" Kendall asked, flashing the driver a charming smile.

The man gave him a strange look, but shrugged. "Sure, whatever."

Kendall happily walked back to his friends. Logan slid in the car first, followed by Carlos, then Kendall. Logan reached over and grabbed Carlos's wrist, tilting his head to see the digital numbers on his watch. "James has one minute," he informed.

"Wanna make a bet?" said Kendall. "I bet James isn't going to make it."

"I'll bet," Carlos said. "I think he'll come."

Logan shook his head. "No way. I'm with Kendall. On a normal day it takes James thirty minutes to do all those things he said he was going to do."

"But James wouldn't risk his job," Carlos pointed out. "It's his dream to be famous, and if we're late today, Gustavo might possibly fire us."

Kendall gave a shrug at his reasoning. "Well, we'll find out in thirty seconds."

The boys stared out the window, watching for their friend. Every time the doors to the Palm Woods would open, they would perk up in excitement. When they realized it was just a random kid leaving the building, their faces would fall.

"Five seconds," said Carlos, anxiously fidgeting in his seat. They could feel the limo's engine start and the driver prepare to pull away.

Just then, a frantic-looking boy burst through the main entrance of the Palm Woods. Even though they were in the car with the doors and windows shut, Kendall, Logan and Carlos could hear James as he shouted, "Wait for me!"

He dashed down the sidewalk and flung himself at the side of the limo right as it began to move.

Thud!

Logan cringed, but Kendall and Carlos just burst out laughing. The limo stopped abruptly, causing all three boys to jolt forward in their seats.

James picked himself off the ground and brushed off his jeans. He pulled open the door and flopped inside, finding a seat across from his friends. The vehicle started forward again.

"Thanks for waiting for me, guys," he muttered sarcastically. He fished a comb out of his pocket and ran it through his hair a couple times.

"We told you we weren't going to wait," replied Logan, smirking.

"Ooh, and this means I win the bet!" said Carlos.

"Too bad we didn't actually bet anything," Kendall reminded, smirking as well.

Carlos's grin turned into a pout. "Oh yeah."

Logan noticed James rubbing his elbow and making a face. "I would have been here sooner," said James, "but as I was leaving the apartment I slipped on a banana peel. Like, literally, there was an actual banana peel on the floor. And then I bumped my elbow on the table."

Logan's eyes widened. "Hmm, that's weird," he murmured, casting his gaze out the window.

"Yeah. Good thing I'm wearing long sleeves. I was an elbow model, you know. I don't want anyone to see a bruise or something."

Kendall rolled his eyes.

There was a brief moment of silence. Kendall leaned back and relaxed in his seat. Logan continued to stare out the window, and Carlos glanced at his watch every minute or so. James was examining his elbow for any discoloration. The morning definitely had not started out well, as had every morning the whole week. Kendall tried to be an optimist, but he could not help but feel the day was going to be a bad one as well.

"Hey, check it out," said Logan, pointing to something outside. The boys leaned forward to see what he was referring to. "Looks like there was a lot of damage from that storm last night." It was true. Puddles still covered the ground. Big, thick tree branches blocked off sidewalks and laid on the curbs of the streets. The boys could see holes torn in the awnings of passing shops. Another store they passed had workers repairing a cracked window.

At seven fifty nine, the limo pulled into the parking lot of Rocque Records. "Hurry!" exclaimed Carlos, informing his friends of the time.

Everyone gasped and raced across the parking lot. They turned the corner that would lead them to the main entrance of the building, but were cut off by yellow caution tape.

"To the back door!" shouted Kendall, nearly colliding into James as he spun around. Their feet thudded loudly against the pavement. Eight o'clock came at the exact moment Kendall yanked open the door to the studio. "Take the stairs!" he cried, ignoring the strange looks he received from the people in the lobby. Logan reached the stairwell first. He held the door open for Kendall, James and Carlos, who bolted past him and barreled up.

The boys arrived on the third floor panting and nearly out of breath.

Kelly appeared from down the hall, scribbling on a clipboard. She looked up and smiled when she noticed the boys. "Good, you're here," she said.

The guys had their hands on their knees, heads bowed, breathing hard. "I can't believe… we made it," Kendall said between gasps.

Kelly's smile faltered. "Well, actually, it's one minute past eight. So, technically, you're late."

The four let out startled cries and immediately perked up, making a mad dash for the recording booth. In their haste, they nearly knocked Kelly over.

"We're here, we're here!" shouted James upon entering the small room. Gustavo was waiting inside, frowning. "Gustavo, we -"

Gustavo cut him off. "DOGS. BOOTH. NOW."

They instantly did as they were told, not wanting to anger their boss any more. They put on their headphones and readied themselves to sing, Carlos removing his helmet and laying it by his feet. Kelly made herself present in the room. Through the soundproof glass of the recording booth, the boys could see her and Gustavo speaking to one another. Finally, Kelly pressed a button that allowed her to talk to the boys, while Gustavo turned in his chair and rubbed his temples. "Uh, guys? Just wondering… What kept you this time?"

The friends exchanged glances. Kendall was the one who ultimately answered. "Well, because of the storm last night, our alarms didn't go off. So we got up a little late."

Kelly nodded, then hit the switch again, cutting off the sound in the other room. The members of Big Time Rush watched as Kelly and Gustavo exchanged more words. Eventually, Gustavo waved his hands, obviously wanting her to leave. Kelly refused, plopping down in the chair beside him. Gustavo seemed to ignore her.

He hit the switch and spoke into the microphone. "Okay, dogs, here's the rundown. Griffin wants our next song done in one week. And because you have been late EVERY DAY this past week, you need to put your butts in gear!"

James and Logan gulped. Carlos frowned, and Kendall sighed.

From underneath his sunglasses, Gustavo narrowed his eyes. "And WHAT is in Carlos's hair?"

Carlos reached up and grabbed a fistful of his hair. When he pulled it away, several small, white clumps were in his palms. "Oh," he said. "It's part of a paper towel."

Gustavo didn't press on. "Just… sing," he said, starting the music.

The boys had been working on their latest song for the past few days. They all really liked the song, partially because all four of them had an equal amount of lyrics to sing, unlike some of their earlier works.

Their current song was pretty upbeat, as nearly all Big Time Rush songs were. Kendall started, singing the first verse. James sang the pre-chorus, then all four belted out the chorus of the song, their voices harmonizing beautifully together. Then it went to Logan, back to Kendall, the chorus which everyone sang, then Carlos, and then the chorus again.

The music halted when the boys finished singing, and they looked to Gustavo for approval. Kelly was grinning, but their boss seemed displeased. "Do it again!" he bellowed. "And this time, try not to sound terrible!"

The four all sighed, exchanging glances. It was going to be a long day.


Noon came around slowly. Gustavo was still in a relatively bad mood, so the guys were eager to get out of the booth and take their lunch break. A cart selling hotdogs and corndogs was usually stationed outside the building, so the boys figured they would grab a bite to eat there.

They used the backdoor to exit, then walked around to the front of Rocque Records. The yellow caution tape still remained. Only now could the boys see the reason: at least ten windows had cracks or chips in them, most likely due to hail or blowing debris from the storm last night. Three tall sets of scaffolding towered over the entrance. A long, orange tube dangled from one of the scaffoldings, connecting to a dumpster beneath.

Carlos's eyes instantly widened. "Look! Look!" he cried, pointing. "It's a giant swirly slide!" His mouth hung open in his amazement.

"No, it's a trash chute," informed Logan. "Construction workers throw their garbage in it. The garbage slides down and goes into the dumpster."

"I wanna try!" Carlos slapped his helmet on his head and prepared to duck under the yellow tape. Logan and Kendall each grabbed an arm, restraining him.

"Probably not a good idea," said Kendall.

"Why?" Carlos demanded to know. He turned his head to the sides, looking in all directions. "There's no workers around. They're probably on lunch break. This is the perfect time!"

"You'll land in the dumpster with all the broken glass and boards and stuff," Logan said. "Not to mention you'd be trespassing on a construction site, so if you got caught you'd probably be charged with a misdemeanor."

Carlos frowned, giving the chute a last, longing look.

"Can we eat now?" James moaned. "I'm starving."

Kendall glanced around. "Hey, where is the cart, anyway?"

Logan pointed across the street. "The vendor had to move it because of the construction," he said.

The three boys began to cross the road. Kendall stopped when he realized Carlos wasn't following. "Come on," he muttered, rolling his eyes. He grabbed his friend by the sleeve of his shirt, tearing him away from the sight that captivated his attention.

James was already ordering his hotdog and drink by the time Kendall and Carlos rejoined the group. The vendor handed James his food, then took Logan's order.

James wandered over to a bench that was placed along side of the closest building. He took a seat on the far edge, leaving space for his friends to join him. He took a big bite of his ketchup-and-relish covered hotdog. Having only eaten a muffin for breakfast (that he hardly tasted, due to how quickly he devoured it), James was very hungry.

Logan soon took a seat next to him, hotdog and bottle of water in-hand. "Ugh," he said, "I'm glad to be out of the studio. Gustavo was starting to scare me."

"Yeah," James mumbled, his mouth full. "I didn't think he'd be that mad. We were only one minute late."

Kendall joined the two on the bench a moment later. "Look at the bright side. We only have to be there for seven more hours."

Logan and James groaned.

"Maybe," said Carlos, jumping in the conversation and settling himself on the bench, "we'll sing so good after we eat, that Gustavo will let us go early." A corndog was in each hand. He brought one up to his mouth and took a bite, then did the same to the other, chewing noisily.

Kendall chuckled. "Yeah, I'm sure that'll happen."

"I guess we kind of deserve to be yelled at, though," said Logan, wiping his mouth with a paper napkin. "We weren't that late today, but we were the rest of the week."

"Come on, being late wasn't even our fault," said James.

Kendall gave him a strange look. "What are you talking about? Wednesday we were late because you wouldn't leave until your hair was dried."

"Yeah," said Logan, turning to his helmet-wearing friend, "and yesterday I was whacked with a baseball bat."

"Hey!" Carlos protested, pointing at Logan with a corndog. "That was your fault, not mine. You shouldn't have woken me up."

"How was I supposed to know you sleep with a bat?"

"You could have asked."

"Right, because that's a question I normally ask people."

Kendall narrowed his eyes at Carlos. "Why do you sleep with a bat under your pillow?" he wondered.

Carlos shrank back in his seat, innocently sipping his pop. He shrugged. "No reason."

Kendall frowned. It was incredibly easy to tell when Carlos was lying. "Carlos…"

"I'm afraid of the dark, okay?" he blurted out. He bit off another large hunk of corndog.

James started to laugh, but Logan punched his shoulder.

The guys finished eating about fifteen minutes later. James went back to get a second hotdog, so the boys stood around and talked while he continued eating. Together they stood and dropped their wrappers and empty cups in the trash.

Kendall removed his cell phone from his pocket and checked the screen. "Well, we have about twenty minutes before we have to go back to the studio. What do you guys want to do?"

"I know what I want to do!" Carlos said. He excitedly bounced in the air, his eyes trained once again at the orange 'slide'.

"Dude, you're not going down a garbage chute," Logan reiterated.

"Aw, but why not? There's no one around to see me."

Logan held his hands out to the sides. "What do you mean? There's people every where."

"I mean construction workers," Carlos said like it was obvious. He stuck out his bottom lip and clasped his hands together, looking to his blonde friend. "Kendall?"

"Well, you do have a point. No one's around…"

"You guys," said Logan. "Those chutes are made of polyethylene, not plastic composites like a slide. So if you go down, it's probably going to hurt."

The three stared at him.

"Dude, how do you even know this stuff?" asked James.

Logan shrugged his shoulders. "My uncle's a contractor."

"It's not gonna break," Carlos insisted. "Besides, it's not even that far of a ride down."

"It's like, two stories. That's not far to you?"

"Nope. Not really."

Kendall clapped a hand on Carlos's back. "Oh, come on, Logan. Let's let him have his fun. When is another opportunity like this going to come around?"

Carlos grinned, happy for Kendall's support.

Logan crossed his arms over his chest. "So where are you gonna land, hmm?"

Carlos's grin faded. Logan smirked smugly, assuming he had won the argument. But Carlos wasn't giving up that easily. "I'll go check the dumpster," he decided, stalking away.

"Hey, wait!" Logan called. The sound of his voice only made Carlos break out into a jog across the street. Logan, Kendall and James trotted after him.

Logan didn't feel right about letting Carlos try out the chute. To him, it was just another reckless stunt that would result in Carlos harming himself. Sure, he had his helmet, but sometimes that was not enough to protect him. But, Logan thought, if Kendall figured it was alright, then maybe it was.

James, on the other hand, thought it would be funny for Carlos to slide down the trash chute. Carlos was always doing some sort of crazy antic, and this was no different. Besides, what was another mild concussion?

Carlos raced ahead of his friends, pausing to look over his shoulders for any sign of construction workers. When he saw no one, he lifted the yellow tape and ducked under, officially entering the construction zone. He heard Logan call out to him again, but ignored him, instead making his way to the dumpster. The orange tube that was the trash chute seemed to beckon him to get closer.

Carlos stood on his tip-toes in order to see the contents of the brown, metal bin. His eyes lit up with delight. "Hey, guys!" he shouted. His friends stood behind the caution tape. Kendall and James were smirking, obviously amused, whereas Logan looked a little nervous. "There's not any broken glass in here at all! The dumpster is filled with this cushiony stuff!"

Sure enough, thick chunks of foam and insulation occupied the bin.

"Go for it," James said, laughing.

Carlos grinned and eagerly ran for the scaffolding. He scaled the ladder quickly - too quickly, in Logan's opinion - and was two stories high in a matter of seconds.

"Be careful," Logan cautioned, feeling his heartbeat quicken. A million warning bells were sounding in his brain. This wasn't safe. This wasn't smart. He shouldn't be allowing this to happen.

He felt a hand on his shoulder. Kendall's eyes met his when he turned his head. "You okay? You look a little pale."

Logan gulped. "Tell him to come down. He is going to get really hurt."

The idea didn't seem so bad in Kendall's head, but when he realized the height at which Carlos was currently stationed, he felt slightly worried. He sneaked a short glance at James, who was waving at Carlos, urging him to toss his body down the chute.

"Hey, Carlos," Kendall called up. "I think Logan's right. Maybe you should come down."

"Oh, I'll come down alright," Carlos responded slyly. He was beaming with excitement. With a broad smile still plastered to his face, he treaded carefully to the other end of the scaffolding. He stood at the edge where the opening to the chute welcomed him. His smile faded a bit when he reached out to touch the edge of the tube. The polyethylene material Logan mentioned didn't seem as though it would carry a comfortable ride down.

He looked away from the chute and down at his friends. From his height, they looked minuscule. Maybe Logan was right. Maybe he shouldn't be doing this.

Carlos pushed his negative thoughts away as quickly as they came. He couldn't back out now. He had already climbed up the scaffolding and was two feet away from the most amazing swirly slide in the world.

"Ready?" Carlos asked. He anxiously jumped in the air.

His breathing abruptly hitched and his goofy smile vanished in an instant. The scaffolding jerked violently, sending him flying to the left. He cried out as his body smashed into the rails. The platform he was standing on began to tilt to the side. Suddenly beginning to panic, he fumbled for a hold on the metal rails which his body was pressed against. As the structure began to tip and Carlos's stomach began to drop to his feet, he tightly gripped the bars and attempted to steady himself.

"Carlos!" came a hoarse cry from below. He didn't know who said his name. He could only focus on the ear-splitting screech of snapping metal.

He closed his eyes, heart hammering madly in his chest. A moment later, there was nothing beneath his feet. His hand still clutched the rail, but he was no longer standing. He was airborne.

From below, Kendall, James and Logan watched in pure horror as the scaffolding collapsed and their friend tumbled to the ground. A deep, deafening roar radiated through the air in the moments before Carlos's body hit the pavement. His legs touched first, and through the squeaking metal and snapping boards, a sickening crack followed by a scream pierced through the loudness.

The remainder of the scaffolding proceeded to give way. Large, jagged chunks of wood rained down like spears. Heavy, skinny cylinders of metal clashed and banged against each other as they tumbled downward and struck the ground, bounced back up and rolled left and right.

The boys stared as the boards and poles fell through the air, covering Carlos's body in debris, erasing him from sight.

In his terror, Logan's knees buckled and he collapsed to the sidewalk, though his wide eyes never peeled away from the petrifying scene in front of him.

"Carlos!" Kendall shrieked. "Carlos!" He sprinted faster than he ever had in his entire life. Broken slabs of wood and bent metal rails littered the ground, making Kendall unable to step around them. Instead, he charged right through, tripping and falling. His shoe caught on a protruding nail and he instantly dropped where he stood, gasping loudly in alarm. He picked himself up, ignoring his stinging elbows and knees, screaming Carlos's name until he reached the spot where his friend had landed.

"Carlos! Carlos, can you hear me? Carlos, please, say something! Come on! Carlos!" Frightened tears burned in his eyes as he dropped to his knees and yanked on a board. He hissed in pain as a nail cut deep into the flesh of his palm. "Logan! James! Get over here and help me! Call nine-one-one! Help!" His screams were so loud that his throat ached. "Carlos! Carlos, can you hear me? Please, man, please, say something!" Bright, red blood gushed from his hand and smeared onto the boards he pried away. Tiny pricks stung his fingers, most likely from splinters.

Behind him, James stayed frozen in place, eyes locked to the location Carlos's body was buried. His mind spun, desperately trying to comprehend what had just happened. It didn't seem real. Nothing seemed real. It was all a dream…

James shook his head. His breathing turned into panicked gasps as he reached with trembling hands into his pocket and groped for his cell phone. He moved his fingers over the buttons as fast as he could manage, but the movement felt as if it were in slow motion. He put the phone to his ear, watching worriedly as Kendall continued to frantically scream and pull at boards.

Should he go help him?

James didn't have much time to decide. He was connected to an operator, and began to rapidly speak into the phone, telling the dispatcher everything she needed to know.

The sound of James's voice snapped Logan back to reality. He scrambled to his feet and stumbled over the caution tape. Like Kendall, he plowed through the wreckage like a bulldozer, ceasing to hesitate even when he nearly lost his balance and tripped to sharp rubble below him.

Logan finally reached Kendall, panting hard, as Kendall struggled to lift a large, heavy board. Though his muscles felt weak and useless, Logan maneuvered to the side and grabbed the other end, grunting as he did so. With great effort, the two boys heaved the board up and tossed it to the side.

Logan gasped and felt his body freeze when he saw what was underneath. "Carlos…"

Carlos laid on his back, his eyes open only a slit, unmoving. His nose was pink and swollen, and two small red trails dripped off to the sides of his face. A cut about his eyebrow leaked blood into one of his bruised eyes. His helmet was nowhere in sight; Logan assumed it had been knocked off his head. Carlos's right leg was twisted into an impossible angle - a sight that made Logan's stomach lurch.

"Carlos!" cried Kendall. He fell back to his knees and placed his uninjured hand on Carlos's cheek. "Wake up," he breathed, voice cracking. "Wake up, Carlos, please. Come on, man, please." He gave his cheek a mild slap.

"Wait," stammered Logan, "try n-not to touch him. He could be h-hurt."

The Latino's eyelids slowly fluttered open. His mouth formed a small o, but no sound came out. Instead, his body convulsed. He spluttered, blood spraying out of his mouth.

Kendall's heart nearly stopped. He wavered in his fear, almost toppling over. He didn't need Logan's medical knowledge to know that coughing up blood was a bad sign.

"Carlos, hang in there," Kendall pleaded. He ignored Logan's warnings and gingerly cupped Carlos's face in his hands. "Look at me. Carlos. Please. Look at me. You'll be okay. Just… Just hang in there. Please. Carlos, please…"

Carlos's breathing came in short, labored gasps. With each breath, his face twisted into an expression of agony. Despite Kendall's orders, his eyes squeezed shut. A strangled, wet cough emitted from his mouth and more blood seeped out, dribbling down his chin and onto the front of his shirt. He gritted his red-stained teeth.

"Somebody help!" Kendall shrieked, unaware James was on the phone. "Carlos! Please! Stay with me! Please!"

Logan could only stare in horror and in shock as his friend's pained expression quickly began to soften. A tear rolled down his cheek as Carlos's head slumped to the side, and his body went limp.