A/N. This story is a Christmas present for my Rainbow Love Twin and Fellow Brain Ninja and best friend, EpicInTheLibrary. I love you and I hope you like this! I don't own anything.
Kendall Knight shut his eyes tightly and pulled his pillow over his head, trying desperately to block out the loud voices. He was just seven years old and his world was coming to an end. His mother and father were fighting again and it sounded worse than ever before. He could almost see his father, red faced with veins popping out along his neck. He could almost see his mother, tears running down her face as she screamed back at him.
He heard the sound of something crash against the wall and whimpered in fear. Things were getting really bad. He knew that they would never hurt each other or him or his little sister Katie. He knew that deep down, way deep down in their heart of hearts, his parents cared for one another and hated fighting. But they simply weren't meant to be and part of Kendall hated them for that.
What was the point of getting married in the first place if they were only going to break their promises and move on with their separate lives? They weren't just hurting themselves. They were hating their two children as well. Katie was only two but the loud voices scared her so that she often cried herself to sleep whether or not they were fighting. Kendall was seven and thoroughly confused already. They were only making things worse for him.
Kendall could still hear their voices but he didn't even know what they were arguing about. He couldn't decipher their words from under his pillow. He didn't want to. They always argued about stupid stuff like his dad's job or his mom's cooking. They couldn't agree on anything. The two of them were probably the most stubborn people on the face of the planet so their marriage really didn't even make sense. It was like an unstoppable force meeting an immoveable object. Someone was bound to get hurt.
The sheets under him were wet with tears. Kendall's shoulders shook slightly as he tried to muffle his sobs. He didn't mean to cry and be weak. But he was so scared.
He remembered how just the other day he had talked with his best friends about his parents. Ironically, it had led to one of their biggest fights ever because Logan, not meaning to make him feel worse, had informed him that about half of all marriages end in divorce. Kendall had immediately decked the smaller boy, giving him a bloody nose.
This had led to Carlos getting upset that any of his friends would hurt one of the others. He had burst into sensitive tears and told Kendall that his daddy might arrest him on charges of assault and battery. Kendall had no idea what punching somebody had to do with the stuff he liked to put on his french fries or the stuff that made his remote control car work. So he promptly yelled at Carlos and told him that he was stupid.
Meanwhile, Logan's nose was still bleeding and he had decided that the best course of action would be for him to use James' sweatshirt to stem the flow. Unfortunately, it was James' favorite sweatshirt and he didn't like anything touching his clothes anyway.
Within minutes James and Kendall were both yelling and Carlos and Logan were doing their best to yell back but they were also in tears. Finally, Kendall had stormed off but not before calling James a sissy, Carlos a stupid-head, and Logan a know-it-all. Then he locked himself in his room and felt miserable for hours. Before, he knew he could also count on his friends to make him feel better but now they were the cause of his misery.
He couldn't stay mad for long though. His anger was replaced by guilt. He had hurt Logan both physically and emotionally and he had hurt James and Carlos emotionally as well by calling all of them names. He was supposed to be protecting them. He was the leader.
Then he was scared because what if his friends hated him forever? Who would he turn to? So it was with great trepidation that Kendall called Carlos and James and Logan early the next day to see if they wanted to come over.
When Logan showed up, Kendall's mother increased his guilt when she gasped at the sight of his bruised and swollen face. "What happened to you, sweetie?"
Logan glanced at Kendall and straight-up lied. "I ran into a door." He said, giving her the classic excuse of abuse victims.
She didn't believe him and Kendall didn't want him to get in trouble so he blurted out the truth. "I hit him!"
He burst into tears yet again and threw his arms around Logan, hating the way the smaller boy flinched as if he was going to be hit again. "I'm sorry, Logie. I didn't mean to hurt you. I was just mad and-"
"It's okay, Kendall." Logan said placidly. "I'm sorry I made you upset."
And that was the end of the fight between Logan and Kendall. James and Carlos showed up soon afterward and it wasn't long before they were all friends again. All four of them, just the way it should be. James and Carlos and Logan all told Kendall that his parents would be okay and that even if they weren't, Kendall would always have his three best friends to make the hurt go away.
As more crashes and thuds made their way past the barrier over Kendall's ears, he gave up on trying not to hear. Kendall flung back his heavy comforter and crept across his cold wooden floor and out of his bedroom. The voices were louder and he shook harder but he made it to his parents' empty bedroom and quickly grabbed the cordless phone there before running back to the safety of his bed.
He dialed the number by heart, disregarding the fact that it was nearly 11:00 at night and his friends were probably all asleep like most seven year olds.
Kendall took a deep breath. "Is Carlos there?"
"Kendall?" Carlos' mother sounded confused and worried all at the same time. "Kendall, is that you? Are you okay?"
"I want to talk to Carlos." He knew he should be more polite but he didn't know what else to say. "Is he asleep?"
Kendall expected Mrs. Garcia to tell him to call tomorrow when Carlos was actually awake. But somehow she knew. "I'll wake him up."
Then he was talking to Carlos. "It's really bad." He whispered, tears blinding him. He could still hear though. He listened to the front door open and slam shut. He heard his father's car driving away. "He's leaving again. I don't think he's coming back this time."
Carlos' reply was sleepy but full of concern even for one so young. "It's okay, Kenny." He said around a yawn. "Just stay on the phone with me until you fall asleep. Tomorrow me and Logie and James can come over and play."
So Kendall did stay on the phone. Carlos actually fell asleep before he did and Kendall simply pressed the phone to his ear and listened to his friend's steady breathing, finding comfort somehow, in the sound. It was better than listening to his mommy cry again.
Kendall did feel better that night. But then he woke up to realize that his father had left for good this time and he hadn't even said goodbye to his own son. He was gone without a goodbye and Kendall didn't know if he'd ever see him again.
At first Kendall was angry at both of his parents for not working things out. Why couldn't they be the half of married couples that did make it? Why did they have to be part of the negative fifty percent? Their family was suddenly just another statistic.
But the hardest thing for Kendall to get past was the guilt. Everyone told him that it wasn't his fault and he really wanted to believe them. But he just couldn't. Maybe if he hadn't punched Logan or maybe if he had eaten all of his green beans instead of feeding them to their cat Monty who threw them up an hour later. Maybe if he had gone to bed right when his dad told him to. Then maybe everything would have been okay. If he had tried a little harder to be a better person maybe none of this would have happened.
It did happen though and Kendall, at only seven years old, became the "man" of the house. He accepted the challenge with grave responsibility. Katie went from being his annoying little sister who cried all the time to someone he was supposed to protect because his daddy couldn't do it anymore. He couldn't do much for his mommy except hug her every once in a while when she was sad. But she said it helped.
Kendall grew up a lot that first year. He grew quieter and more serious. In the beginning everyone was worried about him because he was still so young. He should have still been laughing and playing with his friends. Instead he spent an awful lot of time playing with Katie, reading books to her and singing to her when she had trouble sleeping at night. He tried to help his mom around the house too but after he broke her second flower vase, Kendall backed off because he didn't want to mess anything else up.
It was Carlos who finally got Kendall to come out of his shell again. Carlos with his black hockey helmet that he wore constantly. Carlos and his strange obsession with kittens. Carlos and his policeman father who arrested people and carried around a real gun. Carlos who was so impossibly full of life and happiness.
James hadn't known what to do so he simply got down on his knees and begged Kendall to come out and play with them. Kendall wouldn't budge. Logan gave Kendall a small lecture about how he needed to exercise and be healthy. Kendall was unaffected. Carlos literally grabbed Kendall and pulled him outside, all the way down the street to the frozen pond where the boys had first met when they were five.
"Skating used to make you happy." The little boy pointed out while Logan and James merely looked on apprehensively. "We just want you to be happy again." Then he nodded to James who produced Kendall's hockey skates.
"I don't want to skate." Kendall replied sullenly. "I need to go take care of Katie."
"Dude, that's that your mom is for." Carlos had three little sisters himself. He crossed his arms in front of him and glared at Kendall. "C'mon." He coaxed. "Let's go. Just for a little while?"
It was hard to resist Carlos. Kendall relented saying that he would skate for ten minutes and then go back to his home and little sister. Carlos agreed knowing full well that once Kendall was back out on the ice he would stay there.
They skated for three straight hours. It was all of fifteen degrees outside but none of them noticed the cold. They flew up and down the smooth surface of the ice and Kendall forgot all about his problems and enjoyed himself. When they were forced to go back inside because it was getting dark, Carlos flung his arms around Kendall and declared that he was glad Kendall was back and he better stay with them and not leave them again. Kendall didn't want to hurt his friends the way he had been hurt by his father. So he stayed. But he owed his return to Carlos.
Kendall Knight shut his eyes tightly. He wanted to pull his pillow over his head but he wasn't in bed. He wanted to wake up but he wasn't dreaming. This was real life. He could hear muffled sobbing to his right and to his left and in front of him and in back of him. He was surrounded by people crying and he hated it. He wanted it all to stop.
The minister's voice droned on and on about how a life was cut far too short by a common and tragic mistake. Kendall's frown deepened when he heard the prayer for the broken hearted shift to the man who had caused the pain. He hoped that the guy would live until he was one hundred and ten years old and live every day with what he did. He hoped he would never find peace.
The sobbing to his left increased and Kendall opened his eyes so that he could see Katie. He forced a comforting big brother smile that didn't fool her at all. Then he wrapped an arm around her and pulled her into a hug. "It's okay." He lied.
He caught a glimpse of his two friends to his right. Both of them were shaking with hard sobs and holding onto each other as they fell apart. He reached out with his other hand and put it on James' shoulder, wanting to give them both strength. But he didn't have any strength left to give.
Suddenly he forgot everything else because from behind him, Kendall heard footsteps. He didn't bother to turn around. The steps sounded heavy and burdened. He knew what was happening. He kept his eyes straight ahead, staring at the family in front of him. The little girls are beyond comfort and so is their mother. Kendall never thought he would see their father cry and he was pretty sure that it was the worst thing he had ever seen in his entire life.
The coffin appeared in Kendall's line of vision then. He heard Logan whimper. The coffin was lowered to the ground and Kendall can see inside the glass top. It was a hot summer day but Kendall shivered suddenly.
Carlos looked like he was sleeping. Except Carlos would never ever sleep in a tuxedo. He was too stiff too. And the pale color of his skin was far from ordinary. Still, Kendall stared at him, expecting him to open his eyes, sit up and laugh at them. Then he and James and Logan would beat him up for playing such a horrible trick on them. But everything would still be okay in the end.
Kendall continued to stare at Carlos as if it would bring life back to him. As if his lungs would start inhaling oxygen and his heart would start pumping blood throughout his entire body just the way it was supposed to. That would make more sense than anything else. Because sixteen year old boys should never have to die, especially one of Kendall's friends.
Then Kendall noticed something. He didn't know why he didn't notice it before. His breath hitched in his throat and he stiffened, pulling away from James and Katie at the same time. He stared and blinked and stared some more but nothing changed.
"His helmet." He could barely hear his own voice but somehow Logan and James hear him and stop crying long enough to look at him in concern. "His helmet." He repeated, louder. Suddenly he stood up and staggered forward a few steps.
"Kendall." James hissed from behind him, grabbing onto his wrist. "What are you doing?" His voice held no anger, only grief and concern.
"His helmet!" Kendall's voice was loud enough so that everyone stopped and stared. It occurred to him that he was yelling but he didn't stop. It was all so wrong.
"Where's his helmet?" He demanded, the tears finally making their presence known, streaming down his face and blurring everything. "Carlos needs his helmet. He always wears his helmet. Put it on! Put his helmet on!"
Strong arms wrapped around his waist and Kendall was pulled away from Carlos. He couldn't resists. His entire body was now shaking with long held back sobs and he was powerless to do anything. He could no longer talk. His legs collapsed from under him and he fell to the ground next to the coffin. A quiet voice was murmuring soothing words to him and Kendall recognized Mr. Garcia's voice and cried even harder.
"Why?" He begged for the answer he couldn't have. "Why Carlos?"
It wasn't fair. Carlos had become just another statistic, killed because some moron had consumed too much alcohol and thought he could drive. Carlos hadn't done anything though. He had just gotten his driver's license, the last of the four friends, and he was so excited. Not he was gone. Dead. Just like that. Gone without goodbye. Just like Kendall's father almost ten years ago. Except this time, Kendall knew that he was never coming back.
A/N. SKJDFDR Rieley, this sucks doesn't it? I'm sorry but I wanted to get it up before Christmas and I'm busy all day tomorrow and lol I have to get up in six hours. But I love you and I hope you enjoyed your present. Like Alex told me, "Nothing says Merry Christmas like Carlos dying in a drunk driving accident!" Oh and I did it from Kendall's POV just for you! I love you!