A/N. I haven't written anything since I finished "How to Save a Life" because I was dealing with another slight bout of depression and I had trouble writing anything that involved death or dying. I'm still struggling a little because of some things going on so "TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY" is still on hold. I'm sorry to anyone who has been waiting for it, I just haven't been in the right frame of mind to write anything about death and I want that story to be as close to perfect as possible. Anyway, this is going to be a four-shot based off of the song, "Those Nights" by Skillet. The second and fourth chapters will include the lyrics but I definitely recommend listening to the song anyway. It's one I'm sure most of us can relate to. I know I can and because of that I have a very special place in my heart for it. I think it's very encouraging and inspirational because it makes me think of the good in my life and how it outweighs the bad, and how my friends have helped me get through some really rough times. Well, I've talked for long enough. Here it is! I don't own anything.
Kendall tried to block out the voices coming from downstairs so he could concentrate on his homework. But it was no use. They were only getting louder. His mother and father were fighting again and this time it was a bad argument. The ten-year-old couldn't remember how it had first started but now he could hear his father shouting something about how his job paid for the bills and his mother was crying saying that they needed him at home more often. That's how it usually went. They started arguing about something silly and then it escalated until Kendall was sure that the whole neighborhood could hear them.
"Kendall and Katie are growing up and you're missing all of it!" Jennifer Knight interrupted her husband's rant about bills and work. "You don't have to be away from home 24/7 to pay for everything. Things aren't that bad, Jeffery!"
"How would you know?" Jefferey shot back, slamming his fist into the kitchen table. He would never hit his wife and she would never hit him, but their words were doing enough damage. "When was the last time you looked at the bills, Jennifer?"
Jefferey. Jennifer. Kendall cringed. They only called each other by their full named when they were really mad. Tears filled his eyes and he glanced over to the framed photo that sat on his desk. It was from three years ago when they had all gone to Disney World for a week. As a happy family. Somewhere in the next three years even Kendall's younger sister Katie, who was now six, could tell that the Knights' marriage was deteriorating.
What would happen if they got a divorce? Kendall knew two kids in his grade at school whose parents had divorced. All he heard about was the custody battles and visitation rights, going back and forth between houses, incomplete family gatherings and where they would stay for holidays. Kendall didn't want that to happen to his family but he knew that it was way out of his control.
At least Katie was sleeping over a friend's house. Kendall hated hearing his mom and dad fight but he hated it even more when his little sister had to hear them too. She was too young. He was too young. Nothing about this was okay.
"Now you're telling me that you're going on a business trip for a week!" Jennifer exclaimed and Kendall could just see her throwing her arms up in the air, an expression of disbelief on her face. "Jefferey, that's the same week as the boys' hockey tournament. You're the one who taught Kendall how to play hockey and now you're going to miss everything your son has ever worked for!"
So his dad wasn't going to be there. Kendall swallowed the lump in his throat, determined not to cry. It didn't matter, he tried to tell himself. It was just a hockey tournament. It was just a game. But no. It was so much more.
"Yeah well, add hockey to the list of expenses that I have to work for!" Jefferey snapped. "Do you even know how much it costs to sign him up with a team and then pay for all that equipment or do you just sign him up for whatever he wants?"
Deep down, way deep down, Kendall knew that his parents didn't really mean any of the words they were saying. They were both angry and frustrated and probably sad and scared too. It didn't make it any easier to hear his father talk that way about hockey.
"You know," Jefferey continued. "Maybe if you got at least a part-time job, then I might be able to be home more often. But right now, Jennifer, I'm the only one that's keeping this family here in this house."
"We agreed when we got married that I would stay home once we had kids," Jennifer was quick to remind her husband. "If you really want me to work, then I could start looking around. But there are other things we have to consider. First, I don't want to leave the kids home alone. Kendall's ten, but I think that's still too young, especially with Katie. They can stay with their friends every once in a while but we can't take advantage of that. So what then? Are we going to pay for babysitter? I thought that the idea was to save money."
He couldn't listen anymore. They were already talking about what they were going to do with him and Katie. One thing would lead to another and then- Frustrated, Kendall shook his head and slammed his history book shut, letting it fall to the ground. A quick glance outside showed him that a light rain was falling and he reached for his jacket before leaving his room.
Unfortunately, he had to pass by his parents. Kendall stood and watched them, stand on opposite sides of the room, as if to be as far apart from each other as physically possible. The dinner table had yet to be fully cleared and maybe that was how the fight had started. Kendall didn't know and at this point he didn't care. Before he could stop himself, he reached over to a very full glass of water and gave it a hard shove.
The shattering sound stopped the fight as both adults turned to see their little boy who was being forced into growing up far too soon. "Shut up!" he screamed as his tears began to flow freely. "You're both acting like stupid little kids! You're always telling me and Katie to stop fighting, but then you go ahead and fight with each other all the time!"
"See?" Jennifer's eyes filled. "Look at what you're doing to him?"
"Oh, I see, so it's all my fault, it is?"
"No!" Kendall sent another glass to the floor, to upset to care. "It's both your faults! You're both being stupid and I hate you! I'm going to Logan's house!"
"Kendall, sweetie-" his mother and father, their fight temporarily forgotten, tried to stop their son but he shoved past them and headed straight towards the front door, letting it slam shut behind him. Kendall!"
"I'll call you when I get there!" Kendall called over his shoulder, not looking back once. His heart was pounding from what he had just said to his mom and dad. He knew that he had hurt them a lot but he couldn't make himself turn around and apologize. He just wanted to leave.
"Mom? Dad?" James ventured uncertainly.
Brooke and Robert Diamond both sighed and looked up from the table where they were each working on their own sets of paperwork. "What is it, James?" his father asked, looking weary.
Nervously, James shifted his weight from foot to foot. "Um," he began.
"James, we're really busy right now, sweetie." Brooke said with a sigh. "What do you need?"
"Well," James' eyes scanned the room, too nervous to look at his parents. "I was wondering if we could maybe do something tonight. Together. As a family. You know, like we used to. Can we play a game, maybe, or watch a movie?" He knew the answer as soon as his parents exchanged glances. Both of them had been working full-time high-powered jobs since he turned ten and after two years of it, he had lost interest in their new big house and missed spending time with them.
His mother sighed again and looked down at her paperwork as if it would answer James for her. "James, I don't think I can. Not tonight, sweetie. I have to finish this before tomorrow and dinner already set me far back enough."
Biting his lip, James nodded and tried not to look too disappointed. "Dad?" he asked even though it was pointless. "We could play a quick game if you want."
Robert had taken his glasses off and was rubbing his forehead like he did when he was about to get one of his migraines. "Buddy," he began regretfully. "I'm sorry, but I'm in the same boat as your mom right now. Maybe tomorrow, okay?"
James nodded. "Yeah," he said softly. "Sure. Maybe tomorrow." He remained standing in the kitchen, not wanting to be alone.
After a while, Robert cleared his throat and looked back up. "James?"
"Yes, sir?" James asked, looking at his father hopefully. Maybe he had finished earlier than he thought he would.
"Why don't you go turn the game on?" Robert suggested, gesturing to the living room.
James brightened. "Want to watch it with me?" he asked. "I'll keep the volume down really low so you can concentrate. Just. . . come in with me. Please?"
But his dad was shaking his dad even before he finished speaking. "I can't do that tonight, James. I'm already having enough trouble concentrating thanks to this headache. Why don't you watch it for me and you can tell me how it went when it's over?"
"I don't want to watch hockey by myself!" James exclaimed, unable to keep a whine out of his voice. "That's boring! Please, can't we just hang out like we used to?" The words were risky. His parents were either going to get mad at him for being so ungrateful or feel guilty. Either way, it wasn't how James had imagined his evening would turn out.
"James," his father began and James flinched because it was the worst of all. Disappointment. "Your mother and I work hard to provide you with all of these nice things. Look at your house. You have that nice basement with the pool table, the game system, the flat screen, and everything else you could possibly want. But those things can't just happen. Someone, like your mother and I, have to pay for those things and we also have to work to keep them. Everything comes with a price."
James' bottom lip trembled and his eyes filled. He blinked the tears back, refusing to cry. His dad always hated it when he cried. Said it was a sign of weakness. He wanted to respond by saying that the price they had paid was far too great. Had it cost them the closeness he once cherished?
"Now," his mother spoke next, her tone gentle but forced to sound that way. They were running out of patience. "Why don't you find something to do before it gets too late? Do you have any homework?"
An idea came to James and it made the ache in his heart lessen just a little bit. "Yeah," he said, even though he had finished all of his assignments during study hall so his evening would be free. "In fact. . . it's with history. I might need help with it." He was giving them one last chance, taking comfort in the fact that the alternative was actually really good.
Brooke's face brightened and she smiled at her husband before turning back to James. "Well," he said, sounding happier already. "Why don't you call Logan and see if he can help you? I know he makes it easier to understand than your teachers."
Don't cry James told himself determinedly. Instead, he forced a smile. "That's exactly what I was thinking I would do," he told them. If you weren't going to help me yourselves. But he could never tell them that. "Actually, I just remembered that we already made plans to study at his house tonight. I'll go pack real quick."
"Is Mr. Mitchell okay with this plan?" Robert asked because he was perfectly fine with it himself.
"Don't worry," James smiled as he turned to leave. "I'm sure he's perfectly fine with it. I'll be staying the night since tomorrow is Saturday, okay? See you guys." He paused, waiting to see if that's all the farewell that they wanted.
It was. Both Brooke and Robert murmured distracted goodbyes and then bent over their work, already forgetting about their son. James sighed and hurried up to his room, hastily packing an overnight bag, leaving his school books on his desk. No use studying tonight.
"Mommy! Daddy! Elena won't leave me alone!"
Carlos Garcia rolled his eyes and covered his ears with his hands, looking at his younger sister, May, pointedly. "You don't need to yell, May," he said, trying to keep his voice steady. "Mom and Dad are-"
"Now Carlos won't leave me alone!" the seven-year-old shrieked. "Make them go away!"
Elena, at five years, looked up to her older sister and pouted when she was told to leave. "I wasn't doing anything!" she whined as their parents rushed in to see what the fuss was all about. "I just wanna watch her!"
"May," Carlos Garcia Sr. said gently. "Honey, your sister just wants to watch you play with your dolls. What's the harm in that?"
May shook her head obstinately. "She always says that!" Her mother placed a finger over her lips and she lowered her voice. "She always says that and then she winds up wanting to play with me! I don't want her to play with me! Remember what she did to Julia's hair?"
"It was an accident!"
Carlos sighed and stood up, wanting to be anywhere but the noisy playroom where he had been working on his model airplane. He loved his family, his mother, his father, and all five of his younger sisters. But the chaos was sometimes too much. It was constant and he couldn't help but remember the short time in his life when it had just been him and his parents. Now, he just felt jealous.
Wandering into the next room, he had to step hurriedly out of the way of Lila and Anna as the three-year old twins stampeded past him, giggling loudly. He turned and watched to make sure they had made it safely pass the sea of Legos on the floor and then continued on his way to peace. A baby's cry reached his ears as soon as May's and Elena's voices faded out and he sighed.
Baby Chloe sat in her playpen that had been set up in the kitchen while his mother cleaned up dinner. Her toys were completely forgotten as she pulled herself to her feet and wailed to be picked up. "Up!" she demanded.
Carlos made himself smile and scooped his baby sister up into his arms. "Hey, Chloe!" he said as cheerfully as he could. "All done in here?" The baby nodded and he kissed her gently on the forehead before heading back into the playroom where it sounded like World War III had just erupted.
"She always ruins my things!" May was wailing as Carlos stepped warily back into the room.
"Honey, she looks up to you because you're her big sister," Claire Garcia tried to point out, but having come from a large family herself, she knew that it would do little good. When May simply shook her head, she sighed and turned to her younger daughter. "Elena, why don't we go color?" she asked with a smile. The dishes could be finished later.
To everyone's surprise, Elena considered her mother's offer for a while and then nodded. "Okay," she said agreeably as if there had never been a problem. She took her mother's hand and tugged her over to the desk that had been set up for the purpose of arts and crafts. However, that was when the fifteen seconds of peace ended. Upon seeing her older brother's unfinished model sitting on the desk, she simply swept her hand across the surface and knocked the model to the floor where it promptly broke.
"Elena!" Carlos said in dismay, holding tightly to Chloe as he rushed over to see the extent of damage that had been done. Shifting the baby to one arm, he picked up one of the pieces in his free hand and looked at it carefully.
"Elena Garcia!" his mother sounded just as upset. "That was your brother's! Why did you do that?"
Elena's answer was drowned out by Lila and Anna who had decided to have a contest to see you could shout louder. Startled by the noise, Chloe promptly opened her mouth and started to wail directly in her brother's ear. "Mama!"
"I have an idea!" Carlos said loudly, trying to be heard over the chaos. "Let's play the quiet game!" There was a brief pause in the noise while the girls thought over his suggestion. Even the baby stuck her thumb in her mouth and regarded the scene before her with solemn eyes.
"No fun!" Anna declared, and the peace was broken once again.
"Here, Carlos, let me take Chloe," Mrs. Garcia said, relieving Carlos of the screaming baby.
"But, Mommy!" Elena cried out in distress. "You were gonna color with me!"
"Elena," Claire said sternly. "What do you say to Carlos for breaking his plane?"
Elena frowned sullenly. "I'm sorry," she said, sounding anything but sorry.
"Elena, please go to your room for a while." Carlos Sr. intervened. As he watched his daughter stalk off in reluctant obedience, he placed a hand on his son's shoulder. "Carlos, why don't we see if we can fix this?"
Carlos grinned, not at the thought of having his plane fixed, but at the idea of having his dad all to himself, even if it was only for a few minutes. "Really?" he asked hopefully.
"Ow! Daddy, she's pulling my hair!"
Quickly, Mr. Garcia turned to see his twin daughters sitting on the floor, their fingers tangled in each others dark curls. "Anna! Lila!" he said, turning to settle both girls down. "Stop that, you two!"
Carlos watched as his father struggled to separate the twins and his mother tried to calm the screaming Chloe. May had apparently decided that playing by herself wasn't nearly as fun as bossing Elena around and had gone off in search of his younger sister. He glanced down at his broken plane and bent down to gather the pieces in the box.
"All right!" Carlos Sr., having calmed both girls down to the point where they were playing quietly, stood up and turned back around to his son. "Now about that airplane-"
"Daddy!" May's shriek had them all cringing. She ran back into the playroom, followed closely behind by a tearful Elena. "Our dollhouse broke! Come see it!"
Carlos followed his dad into the girls' room where the porch railing of the wooden dollhouse had indeed snapped off. "It's okay," he told his dad when Mr. Garcia started to say something about fixing his plane first. "You can fix the house."
"Carlos," Mr. Garcia sighed. "It won't take long, okay?"
Carlos smiled and nodded. "I know. Don't worry about it, Dad. I'm uh, going to go to Logan's house, okay? I bet he'll know how to help me." He didn't want to leave his family but he wanted to leave the noise. Just for a night.
His father, as usual, seemed to understand completely. "Thanks, buddy."
"Yup," Carlos had to leave soon before his cheerful attitude failed him completely. "I might end up staying the night. I'll call you and let you know, okay?"
"Dad?" Logan knocked on the door of his father's home office and pushed it open. Poking his head in uncertainly, he saw his father bent over a stack of papers, his reading glasses resting on the bridge of his nose. He was so absorbed in his work that he didn't even hear Logan come in. Logan took a step forward and cleared his throat. "Dad?"
Ryan Mitchell looked up, startled. "Logan," he said, taking his glasses off and looking at his son. "Is something wrong?"
Logan shook his head quickly. "No," he said right away even though he was questioning his answer even as he spoke. Was everything really okay? He was pretty sure that they hadn't been okay for years now, but if his father hadn't noticed by now, would he ever notice? "I uh. . ." he trailed off and rubbed the back of his neck, a gesture he did when he was nervous or embarrassed. "Do you have a lot of work tonight?"
To his dismay, but not his surprise, Ryan nodded and gestured to the papers and then at his laptop computer. "I'm afraid so," he said with a sigh. "I have a new client and his case is already a huge mess even though we've just started. His previous lawyer left all his files unorganized and all over the place. I don't even know where to begin with this mess."
Chewing on his lip, Logan took another step forward. "Can. . . can I help?" he asked, casting his eyes downwards because he was too nervous to look at his dad and see his reaction. "I'm really good at organizing things. The teachers at school say that-"
"Logan, I'm sorry. I'm sure that the teachers are right and that you're very organized." Ryan started to rub his temple, a sign of an oncoming migraine. "But I know where everything belongs and you don't. All I really have to do is find everything and put it in the right place. It's just going to take all night, that's all."
"You could teach me," Logan suggested hopefully. "I'm a fast learner, really I am! The teachers-"
"Logan," Ryan said with another sigh. "Maybe I can teach you one of these days. But for now, I'm sure it would be easier if I could just. . . work alone tonight. Thanks anyway."
This time, Logan took a step backwards. "Oh," he said, trying with all of his strength to hide the disappointment in his voice. "Right. Yeah, that makes sense. Sorry to bother you. I'll let you get some work done then. Do you need anything?"
Ryan had already gone back to looking at his papers and glanced up at Logan, an expression of confusion on his face. "Did you say something?" he asked, sounding distracted.
Logan's cheeks flushed with color and he rubbed the back of his neck again. "I was wondering if you needed or wanted anything. You're getting a headache, right? Want me to bring you Tylenol and a drink of water?"
"No. No thank you, Logan. I have some right here." Mr. Mitchell held up a bottle of water and a small bottle of Tylenol. "I'll be fine. Thanks again, Logan. I just need to get back to work."
"Right," Logan smiled and nodded. "Okay, well then, let me know if I can get you anything. I'll be downstairs watching the hockey game." He paused halfway through the door, waiting to see if his dad would ask him about homework. Nothing. "See you, Dad." As he turned once again to leave, he listened hard, but he didn't hear his father respond at all.
Once down in the basement, Logan flopped down on the worn out couch and turned on the TV. The Minnesota Wild game was just getting under way and he tried to watch it with interest. But all he could think about was how completely lonely he felt. It was times like these when he missed his mother the most. He wished that she hadn't died and that he could have a happy, complete family. Him, his mother, his father, and the little brother or sister that he hadn't never met.
Logan had never told anyone, not even his friends, what his mother had told him the day of the accident. She had told him that he was going to be a big brother. He was supposed to have a baby brother or sister that only would have been a year younger than Kendall's sister, Katie. No one knew that except for Ryan and Logan.
No, Logan corrected himself as he remembered. One other person knew. Carlos' father, Mr. Garcia. The chief of the Minnesota state police had been there the day of the accident. Logan stopped paying attention to the game as the memories came rushing back to him. He had been alone and scared in the back of the ambulance and Carlos' dad had ridden to the hospital with him. During the short ride, Logan had told him the news. He hadn't know that his mother was already dead and with her, his sibling. He had been so excited and proud. Now he had none of that.
He often imagined what it would have been like if that accident hadn't happened. His mother had told him that if he had a sister, they would name her Chloe. If it was another boy, they would have named him Scott and called him Scotty. Sometimes, when he had trouble sleeping, Logan liked to imagine going somewhere, just his family. He imagined teaching Scotty how to play hockey and protecting Chloe the way Kendall protected Katie. He would never know what that was like though.
Sometimes he got extremely lonely. The kind of loneliness that emptied out his heart and made what was left ache. He missed his mother and baby sister or brother that he would never know. He missed his father even though he was in the very same house. At times like this, only one thing would make Logan feel better.
As he was reaching for his cell phone, the doorbell rang and Logan stood up. He took the stairs two at a time, grateful for the interruption. Brushing away the tears that had surprised him, he took a deep breath to make sure that he was composed enough for a visitor. Then he opened the door.
A/N. This was going to be two-shots instead of four but. . . it's already long enough. Anyway, if you liked this, please take a minute to review. It would mean a lot to me. If not and if you are looking forward to "TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY", then I'll try my best to get myself together. I start school on Wednesday and this is an extremely important semester for me, so I won't be updating as much. Hopefully I can update at a somewhat regular basis though. So, thank you for reading! I hope you liked it! Oh, and my fellow East Coast friends, I hope you were safe and sound during Irene's visit! I love you all!