Yep, I'm starting something new. :) The summary basically explains it- I come up with a word for every letter of the alphabet and write a one-shot/drabble/short story/ficlet on it. :) Should be fun!
Disclaimer: FOR ALL CHAPTERS: I don't own Big Time Rush.
Warnings: Very disturbing and unsettling images, implied violence, war-like scenario, and major angst. This is pretty dark, guys. It isn't rated T for nothing.
NOTE: The boys are eighteen in this one, so they live on their own in the Palm Woods.
Also, I'm really scared to post this. :/ I apologize that it makes no sense and that it's really unrealistic. Hopefully the writing will make up for lack of research. And proper explanation. :)
(Alternately titled "Aftermath")
Kendall Knight woke, soreness feeling leaden in every inch of his body. An acrid, foul gas burned his eyes as he opened them. Warning bells immediately went off, triggering every instinct that he had, and he slowly, painfully, sat up.
Kendall stared at the devastation in shock. Destruction surrounded him and he felt horror and disgust rise in his chest as he realized the extent of the wreckage, that the blackened, burning cars on the highway and the ones scattered around it had once held living, breathing people. Kendall tried desperately to remember what had happened. Images slowly filtered into his head: siren warnings, bomb threats. Murmurs of terrorism, terror rising. Evacuation. Fleeing the city. Traffic. Climbing out of the car to run. Panic. Screams. Explosion. Blackness.
Kendall groaned and touched his swimming head as he stood. He winced at the pain in his head and the grimace revealed how stiff and stretched his face felt. Kendall gently fingered his temple, touching a sticky substance there. He didn't need to see his now red-stained fingertips to know what it was.
Smoke blurred his vision and created a hazy shadow over the Los Angeles highway. Kendall could squint to see an immense black crater where he could just distinguish the outline of the road. He swallowed. If they had stayed in their car, they would have been caught in the eye of the blast. If Logan had not suggested they get out and walk, they would be dead.
Logan. Kendall gasped a petrified breath of sharp, pungent air and began choking, on both the fetid stench that was now in his lungs and on his sudden fear. Kendall immediately stumbled forward, in no specific direction.
His friends. They were with him. Logan, Carlos, and James. They were blown away from him. They must've been. Kendall panted hard, trying to ignore the gases he was breathing in and the strangled feeling of terror in his throat.
"L-Logan? Carlos? James?" he rasped. Kendall's heart sped up as he scanned the destruction, the annihilation. Something no one should have to do: look for his brothers among wreckage.
Kendall never thought this would happen to him. To anyone. This kind of thing didn't happen. It shouldn't happen.
Kendall stepped onto the crumbled, smoking asphalt to get a better vantage point. His head spun and he reached out for the car beside him to steady himself. A finger of wind flushed up a chilled draft, so heavy with stink that Kendall gagged and covered his nose, eyes automatically shifting in the direction the smell came from.
A body. Dead. Fried, blackened. Burned and deformed by the blast, jostled and disfigured in the aftermath. The stench was shocking, searing, charred flesh and gasoline fire, and Kendall caught a whiff, almost like steaks cooking on a grill...
He stumbled away and retched. Kendall fell to his knees, heaving, frightened and horrified sobs giving way to his nausea.
He stayed there, crouched on all fours, even after his body settled into small tremors of revulsion. Trying not to think of how he would find his friends. Trying not to imagine their bodies. Trying to think of what someone was supposed to do in a situation like this. This was something he had never prepared for, something his mother had never taught him. No one imagined...
He heard his name called faintly, and his head snapped up. Kendall stood very shakily and took in a deep breath through his mouth. Before he could run toward the voice, Logan appeared, limping, bleeding, but very much alive.
Kendall sobbed and cut it off with a whimper. He took three frantic steps, enough to put Logan in his arms. He closed his eyes and buried his nose in his brother's hair, concentrating on breathing and the warmth of the person in his embrace; focusing not on the ash in the brown hair, but on his brother's lingering scent, of fruitiness and earthy rosemary and evergreen, with which he was so familiar.
"Logan," he murmured, as he slowly became aware of the younger boy crying and trembling into his shoulder. "Logie, shh. Shh, it'll be okay, everything'll be okay."
Kendall was going through the motions. He had no idea if anything would be okay at all. He had to say something, and this was the something that came to mind, the default muttered comfort.
Logan pulled away after a minute, face wet and red. "Are you oka-ay? Are you hurt?" He reached up and lightly touched the blood on Kendall's face.
"No, it's fine," Kendall said. "What about you? You're limping."
"I- it's fine. It's not that bad." Logan blinked rapidly. "Kendall, where are-"
"Carlos and James?" Logan nodded, and Kendall's heart sunk. He had been hoping desperately that Logan knew. "I guess we'd better find out. Where were you?"
"I was over there," Logan said, pointing a distance away from the road. "when I woke up. Kendall, are you sure you're alright? You look really pale."
Kendall swallowed. "I'm fine. Maybe we should start looking over there."
Logan nodded thoughtfully. "Yeah. Or along the road."
Kendall's heart jumped. "No, I think we should stay away from the road."
"It could be dangerous, you know. Still b-burning or something."
"Well- where were- where did you wake up?" Logan asked, looking concerned. Kendall pointed behind him, close to the street.
"See?" Logan said. Kendall could practically see his mind working as the genius calmed down and became his logical, calculating self. "We were thrown in different directions, and it makes some sense that the blast would form a semicircle around the target point, the highway. We were about..." Logan looked around, then turned and walked forward to a scorched mile marker. "About here when everything exploded, so we know you were thrown backward, and I was thrown to the side. Someone must have been blasted the distance of the radius forward from this point."
Logan looked up, satisfied with his reasoning. "Okay," Kendall said slowly. "But I still think we need to stay off the road. We- we were really lucky, Logan. I mean really lucky."
"I know," Logan whispered sadly. Kendall wrapped an arm around his waist to help the injured boy walk, and they started moving along the road. "It's scary to think we weren't even in the actual explosion, just the shock wave. Kendall?"
Kendall glanced sideways when Logan didn't speak right away. The brunette was breathing heavily and his eyes had filed with tears.
"How many people do you think are dead?" he whispered.
Kendall's heart thudded in his throat. "I- I don't know, Logie."
"I mean..." Logan's voice was hushed. "Do you think anyone's alive but us? Do you think- maybe I could help them."
"If they're alive... they n-need my help, Kendall, they-"
"Logan, stop," Kendall pleaded, gripping his friend tighter. "Calm down, please, we just have to find Carlos and James right now, okay? Okay?"
"N-no Kendall, please, let's just check-" He gestured to the discarded car they were passing. Kendall supposed it was Logan's doctoral instinct that made him limp closer to the car and peer inside.
Logan looked inside, and his mouth fell open. Just as Kendall had done, he reached out to the car to steady himself, but seemed to recoil in disgust or horror or both, and instead stumbled backwards.
"Shh, Logie," Kendall said as he stepped forward to catch Logan before he tripped. "Logan, there's nothing you can do, buddy. Sh, don't look, don't look..."
Logan's eyes were still trained on the sickening corpse in the wrecked car, his mouth open in an unused cry of distress. Kendall gently pushed Logan's head, turning his face into Kendall's own smoke-scented jacket, and away from the hideous, scarring sight. Logan cried quietly into his brother's chest as they sank to the ground.
Kendall glanced back at the scorched body, then closed his eyes, imagining anything but that terminated life, what it might have been like.
Please, please, don't let Carlos or James be like that, God, please...
Dazedly, Kendall lifted Logan up and pulled him away, practically carrying him farther away from the highway, where they settled back down in each other's arms.
After a while, Logan spoke hoarsely. "Guess I know why you wanted to stay off the road."
Kendall blew out a bitter, affirmative breath of air.
Logan took a shaky, long breath. "We need to find them. James and Carlos."
Kendall nodded, biting his lip and clenching his eyes closed. "What if they look like..." he whispered, and cut himself off, fighting the bile rising in his throat. "Could we even recognize them?"
Logan looked terrified to even answer, but he went on strongly. "You know we could, Kendall. We have to find them. N-no matter... no matter what."
Kendall nodded again and stood up, pulling Logan with him. He sighed and looked down at his friend. "Split up and look?" Kendall suggested.
He didn't want that. He didn't want any of this. He couldn't decide which was worse: looking for his friends with Logan, just as scared, just as petrified, by his side, or looking for them alone. But they didn't have a lot of choice. They had to find James and Carlos, as quickly as possible, and unfortunately that meant splitting up.
He pulled Logan into anther hug. "We'll find them, Logie," Kendall said softly, voicing what he only wished he could believe. "Alive."
Kendall cleared his throat and said, "We meet back here, near the fifty-three mile marker after a half hour, okay?"
Logan nodded into his shoulder and then headed north, along the road again. Kendall turned left and started walking.
Kendall was becoming tired, after only ten minutes of walking. He didn't know if it was his head wound or the flavor of the air he was puffing, or simply the heavy emotional burden that was this entire ghastly situation; but he was exhausted. Kendall's hands rose to his hair and he pushed them through the dirty, blond strands. Everything about this was fifty different kinds of wrong. He was far from giving up hope, but every scenario that ran through his head, every ending to this, was worse than the last.
And then suddenly, James was there.
On his feet.
James looked up when Kendall made some noise, some gasp of sheer relief that he wasn't quite aware of producing. He saw James mouth his name, the brunette bent over, his face ashen. Kendall nearly fell onto his face as he closed the distance between them.
"James." His hushed voice somehow formed his best friend's name. He clutched James' broad shoulders in his hands. "I thought you were..."
"Kendall," James all but whimpered. He fell against Kendall, and the blonde thought it might have been because he simply couldn't stand.
"Jamie," Kendall said, gripping him tightly. "It's okay. You're okay." The words fell out of his mouth as he thought them, the joyful revelation something his mind could hold on to for dear life.
James gave a high-pitched moan as soon as the blonde pulled him close. "Ohh, ow, ow," he mewled. "Kendall..."
Kendall drew back slightly, green eyes huge with concern. "What? What's wrong?"
James winced, his skin colorless, pallid, rigid with pain. "Think..." James panted. "...Think I got some... cracked ribs..."
Kendall pulled away in alarm. "Dude..." Kendall held James at arm's length and guiltily glanced at the injured area. "Man, I'm sorry, I didn't know you were hurt."
"S'okay," James said through gritted teeth.
Kendall helped him sit down, holding him much more gently, like an ancient fractured teacup. James breathed quickly and shakily, hand cradling his ribcage. Kendall lifted his shirt and delicately examined the angry bruising and unnatural shape.
Kendall hissed. "Looks like they're more than cracked, buddy."
James nodded, eyes closed. "Kendall," he whispered. "The boys..."
"Logan's okay," Kendall responded quickly. "We split up to look for you guys."
James sighed in relief. "And Carlos?"
Kendall bit his lip.
"Kendall?" James' voice was pained.
"...I don't know."
Kendall watched as James took a deep breath and grimace. He pressed his lips together and blinked rapidly, and Kendall took his shoulders. "James," Kendall forced his voice to remain low and level. "I am gonna find him, James, I swear. And he's going to be fine. We all will."
"Yeah," James muttered, believing it. "Yeah. Okay, let's go."
Before Kendall could stop him, James stood up abruptly, crying out in pain.
"Whoa!" Kendall said. "Buddy, sit down, okay? I want you to stay here."
"What?" James panted, clearly suffering. "What're you talk-king about, I'm coming."
"We don't want to make your ribs worse."
"No, Kendall." James glared at him, even while gripping the blonde's shoulder in order to stay upright. Perspiration of pure physical torment sparkled on his brow, matching the wetness in the hazel eyes. "You are NOT leaving me here. There is no way."
Kendall met James' gaze tiredly. For once, it wasn't taking much to break Kendall's resolution. Although he wanted to put as little stress as possible on James' already injured body, he was also unsure if he could handle separating from one of his bandmates a second time. Especially since James was hurt. Even though there was no present danger, Kendall wasn't about to leave his best friend, defenseless, alone and in agony, in the middle of this horrific graveyard.
"They're my brothers too, Kendall," James said softly, as if Kendall needed further convincing.
Kendall gave a swift nod, and as gently as possible, lifted James' arm around his own shoulder.
"You alright?" he asked when James gave another miserable whimper and squeezed Kendall's arm with his free hand. Kendall could feel James' fingernails dig into him, even through the flannel shirt.
But James just jerked his head, dismissing the pain like the fighter he was. Kendall's heart ached with pride, accompanied by the unceasing worry crashing over him like waves.
Kendall looked around as they walked at an awkward, agonizingly slow pace. By the time they reached the mile marker that he and Logan had started from, Kendall was beginning to panic. Because Logan was nowhere in sight. He was almost positive that it had been a half hour by now. Kendall wished his thinking wasn't so clouded, but the head injury he had forgotten about in his race to find his friends was returning with a vengeance.
Kendall dropped James gingerly next to the little green "53" and massaged his forehead.
"Ken?" James said after a moment.
"This is where Logie and I were going to meet if we found you guys," Kendall said quietly without looking at him.
"Maybe he hasn't found-"
"No, he'd come back, he wouldn't be late, Logan's never late," Kendall said shortly, stepping away and nearly crying out in worry. He was still breathing heavily from the effort of half-carrying James, though not as roughly as James, who looked completely exhausted.
They stayed silent, Kendall pacing nervously, James looking broken on the ground. Kendall felt completely helpless and defeated.
"Do you hear that?"
Kendall glanced up at his friend, who was rising to his feet with a groan. He quickly reached out to help.
"James, don't stand, man-"
"No, shush- nngh," James gasped in pain. Tears sparked in his eyes, but he still spoke in a tortured voice that broke Kendall's heart. "Kendall, listen."
Kendall obeyed, straining his ears over the hurt boy's fast breaths and muffled whines. A slow up and down in pitch, a sustained, incessant wail, could be someone's cry for help, or-
"Sirens," James breathed. The unbridled terror in the brunette's eyes scared Kendall more than the ominous sound itself. "Kendall, Kendall..."
Kendall knew. He remembered. The same whining noise, the air-raid sirens, the ones before the explosion, the signal that put any rational person into a mindless panic. The same panic that drove him to sweep his best friends out of the stopped car, off of the highway. The same panic that elicited horrified squeaks from Logan, frightened shouts from James, and hysterical cries of terror from Carlos. And there was nothing Kendall Knight could do to protect them, for he too was petrified by fright, unable to move, unable to think, and all the while the throbbing in his head and the beating of his heart and the unremitting blare of the sirens got louder and faster and louder and faster...
"-dall! KENDALL!" James' voice finally broke through, and Kendall looked at him blankly. "What can we do?" James sobbed. "What- what can-"
Kendall did the only thing he could think of doing. He wrapped two arms around James and lifted him over his shoulder, trying to ignore the howl of pain that action induced. And Kendall started running.
Maybe it was the adrenaline rush everyone hears about. Kendall couldn't have guessed. He thought that he would've felt strong, maybe a burst of energy, if it was the adrenaline. Kendall didn't feel anything. He only felt the numbness, the sounds pounding in his ears that were now mute and subdued. But nothing registered with him. Not the dead weight over his shoulder that had alarmingly stopped screaming, not the crunch of burned and smoldering wreckage beneath his feet. He just ran.
And the only sound that would've slowed him, that could've broken through his senseless senses, did.
He jerked to a stop so fast he wondered how he stayed standing. James' weight came crashing onto him and he staggered. "Logie?" Kendall screeched desperately. "Logan? Logie?"
His own voice was a deafening rumble in his ears. He didn't hear it.
"Kendall!" Logan cried out. Kendall swiveled in the direction of the voice.
Kendall crumpled to his knees. He hadn't realized he had been running again until he saw Logan a foot in front of him. He vaguely perceived Logan helping to ease James off of his shoulder. Kendall's hands clumsily held onto James' unconscious form, unable to let it go. He was dimly aware of Logan frantically trying to wake James, discovering his injury. Logan was kneeling as well. Next to...
It took several moments to recognize the voice of the prostrate figure in front of Logan.
It took another two to acknowledge that voice as belonging to said figure.
It took less than a second for every sense he had to come rushing back.
Every emotion he had ever felt poured through him, like a buildup of water gushing from a spigot: relief and joy and gratitude and worry and desperation and fear and outrage, and absolute terror and horror, and most of all sheer relief, because Big Time Rush was here, every member, every beautiful member. And Kendall tasted the bitter air on his tongue, his nostrils seared, and he felt James shaking under his palms, and the crusted blood on his temple. The sun was bright, blaring into his retinas, glinting loudly off of Carlos' helmet. And his friends' voices consumed his world:
"K-Kendy? Oh, my head. Kendall..."
"Shh, Carlos, don't move, it'll only make it worse."
"James! Jamie, look at m-me, shh."
Finally his own broken voice rasped out, somehow level, even with the paroxysm of emotion inside of him: "I know it hurts, Jamie, I know."
Kendall crawled between Carlos and James. "'Litos..." He set a brotherly hand against the Latino's face.
"He sustained second degree burns to his arms, hands, and neck, and a cracked shoulder where he landed," Logan said without waiting for a question. His brown eyes were cast upward, directed toward the sirens, getting ever louder. "That's a third degree burn on his forehead. He-he could have internal bleeding. I can't be sure. His concussion is bad, but he's had worse. His helmet probably saved his life."
Kendall stared down at his littlest brother. The broiled flesh on his young face and the brokenness of his body made Kendall sick to his stomach. Carlos' unfailingly cheerful brown eyes were agonized as they met Kendall's.
"Hey, buddy," Kendall murmured brokenly.
"Kendall?" His eyes drifted in and out of focus.
"Yeah, little bro, right here." He stroked Carlos' cheek tenderly with his knuckles. It was the only place Kendall wasn't afraid to touch for fear of hurting him.
Kendall's and Logan's heads snapped up when a particularly loud siren broke the delicate stillness. Logan looked at the blonde.
"Kendall," he whispered. "What are we... going to..." Logan wrapped his arms around himself. "Oh my gosh, we're gonna die, Kendall, we're all gonna die..."
Logan's hopelessness was contagious. Despair seeped through his veins as he looked helplessly between his three best friends. He could feel James' and Carlos' gazes, waiting for his move; Logan was crying, his head bowed to his knees.
"Ken," a different voice rasped. James was suddenly gripping his arm. "Go. You guys, you have to run." Kendall looked at him in shock. "Kendall! Go, you and Loge, you carry Carlos! W-what are you waiting for?"
Kendall wondered if they could actually make it to anywhere safe. Sprinting at full speed, they might be able to get out of range. But...
There was no way. No way. After feeling the heartache of separation, Kendall was wary to look away from them, much less leave any one of them for a second. He refused to part from them. They would not separate, not his brothers.
Not his boys.
Kendall felt the stress of three pairs of eyes on him. Three pairs of familiar, trusting, beautiful eyes. His eyes.
He took a deep breath. They would not be alone in this.
"No, James," Kendall said, gently moving James closer, astonishing himself with a steady voice. "No, we are not leaving anyone behind now. Never."
"Kendall, please," James implored. Kendall met his eyes, feeling a pang. James knew. There was no chance.
"N-no." Kendall cleared his throat. "No. We aren't parting now. Do you understand? We are never leaving you."
James was bawling. Logan was rocking back and forth, absolutely disconsolate.
"Logie, come here." Kendall held out his arms. As gingerly as he could, he lifted James to his side and pulled Carlos' head into his lap. Both made cries of distress.
"Shh, shh, I'm sorry, shh." Kendall dragged Logan into his embrace. "It's alright, it's okay, shh. We're okay now, we're okay."
He loathed himself for lying to them. But this would be the last time.
He would never lie to them again.
Kendall held his brothers. He hated their pain.
"It's okay, it's okay. Sh, Carlos, shh, it'll be over soon, guys, I swear, it'll be over soo-" His voice cut off with a sob.
"Almost there," he breathed, rocked their bodies, protectively hunched over them as much as he could be. "I promise you, you're so close. I am so proud of you guys. Hold on a bit longer. Then you can rest. No more pain. Sh-shhh..."
"It's okay. Almost over." Kendall kissed the tops of each of their heads, closed his eyes, and bowed his head. He waited.
A/N: Wow. I'm sorry. You guys deserved a happy ending after all that, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. And this had a billion commas. Oh my word, the comma police will get me for abuse. XP And the whole course of this plot changed so so many times. And how did it become 4000 words? And yes, I love whumping Carlos. If you couldn't tell. I was sad that he wasn't included more, but it didn't fit. And yes, I love making things ultra dramatic. And I cannot believe I used the word "mewled" in this story. o_o And again, I know it didn't really make sense, like the whole physics of it all. Hopefully you guys aren't too science-y. ;] And my author's notes are basically everlasting. So I will stop now. :)
Next up: B for Bedside Manner :D