It's been five days since everything happened. Bryce has been sleeping on the pullout in Clay's living room. That night when Bryce arrived, they rushed him over to the hospital.
Luckily, it wasn't as bad as it looked. He needed some bandages, his leg wrapped, some ice on his ribs, and a cast on his arm.
When they mentioned staying the night for observation, Bryce started having a panic attack. The idea of being alone in the hospital made it hard for him to breathe. His chest tightened.
But after Clay's parent's talked to the doctors, they were able to take Bryce home instead.
Bryce hasn't spoken a single word since he asked if he could stay. Not one.
Clay's mom called the school and told them he and Bryce would be out of school for a while. They completely understood. Tony comes by every day and gives Clay and Bryce their homework.
But he mostly comes to check in on them. He usually only stays a few minutes. He says hello to Clay's parents, then to Bryce. He's the only other person that knows what happened to Bryce.
Or what they all assumed happened to him.
He hasn't told anyone what happened. Bryce does the same thing every day. He sleeps. He wakes up. He sits on the couch. For the most part, he just stares at the wall.
When the TV is turned on he will turn his head and watch. Clay's mom brings him food and he eats. Then he continues as normal. Clay has tried to talk to him, but no response. No words.
No eye movement. No acknowledgment that he can hear or understand him.
Clay's dad was going to stay home with the boys during the day while his mom would go to work, but they quickly realized Bryce was more comfortable around his mom, for obvious reasons.
She stayed home and made food for the boys, mostly Bryce. She sat with Bryce and watched TV.
She was putting on The Good Wife and talked about how consistent and not consistent the show is to being a real lawyer.
She couldn't tell if it made a difference to Bryce, but something in her told her it did.
"Hey mom." Clay comes down the stairs.
"Yeah?" She turns to him.
"Can I get my laptop back?" She took his laptop and phone away so he didn't look online.
"No. One more week."
"Mom." Clay looks over to Bryce, who is blankly staring at the TV.
"Why don't you come and watch some TV with us?"
"Um..." He looks over at Bryce and everything in him feels fear. He tried talking to Bryce the other night, but he got nothing.
He liked that he had a person that would do anything for him, that he would do anything for. Bryce was his person. But then it all went away. It went away with a loud thud.
The more he's around Bryce, the sadder he feels. The more he remembers how it was, how it could've been. "No. I'm just going to read." He went back upstairs.
2 DAYS LATER...
Nothing has changed. Clay is in his room. His father is at work. And his mom is in the living with Bryce, watching the Good Wife.
Clay's mom just finished heating up the leftover chili from two nights ago and places it in front of Bryce.
"It's a little hot, so wait a few minutes." She starts walking towards the kitchen.
"Thank you." She hears Bryce quietly mumble and turns to him. "Thank you." He looks up at her.
"No problem." She takes a seat next to him and he looks directly into her eyes. "It's perfectly fine."
"Thank you." He repeats, his eyes watering.
It gets silent for a minute. Just as Clay's mom is about to get up, Bryce begins to speak again.
"When I got home..." He takes a second to breathe. "My dad was waiting at the door. His coat was off. He had rolled his sleeves up." She can visibly see Bryce shaking.
"Rolling his sleeves up always means one thing." Tears begin to slowly roll down his face.
"It's okay Bryce." She gets closer and puts her arm around him.
"My mom stood behind him. She couldn't look me in the eyes. She never can when he's like that. She usually just grabs something to drink and sits in the kitchen. He took me to the study.
He said nothing. He never does at first. Then he starts to hit me." His lip quivers and body shakes more.
Clay's mom is holding back tears and she just wants to hug him hard and not let go. He looks up to her.
"Then he started shouting. He started shouting all sorts of things. He... he kept calling me a faggot. Then he started saying what a disappointment I am. That I'm a failure.
That I'm not a Walker. And I never will be." Bryce starts hyperventilating.
"Breath. Just breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth." She starts rubbing his back.
"You don't need to continue if you don't want to."
"Thanks. But I have to." He takes a deep breath in. "It kept going on. I asked him to stop. He didn't. I could see the anger in his eyes. It was worse than I'd ever seen it. He wouldn't stop.
He didn't stop... until I hit back. I hit back hard. Then I got to my feet, my entire body in pain. I ran to the front door. But as I looked back I could see my mom standing there.
She was crying. And then my dad shouted one last thing. He said I was no longer allowed there. That I was no longer a Walker.
That I should pray for the rest of my life that I don't ever see him again." He stops, looks at her in the eyes, crying.
"It's all going to be alright." Tears begin to fall down her face as well. "It's all over now. You have no more secrets. You'll be fully healed and back to normal in no time. And you have us.
You have Clay, me, and my husband. We are your family for as long as you'll take us."
Bryce quickly moves in and hugs her. They stay in the hug for quite some time.
"Um... do you think you could ask Clay to come down. I think I'm ready to talk to him."
"No problem." She stands up.
"One more thing." She turns to him. "Are Alicia and Will ever going to be together?" They both laugh.
"You'll have to wait and see. We'll continue tonight."
She goes upstairs and Clay comes down a minute later. He looks nervous. Everyone is silent until Clay sits down. Bryce begins to speak. He apologizes for all of this. For coming here.
For taking up his space. Clay immediately lets him know it's alright. They hug. Then they kiss. Then Bryce tells Clay everything that happened that night.
"I'm so sorry." Clay is trying to be tough for Bryce, holding back tears. "But like my mom said, it's over."
"But it's not."
"What do you mean?"
"That notebook you took."
"Again, so sorry about that."
"It's old history. But..." Bryce gets a little quieter. "While most of that notebook was filled with stuff about me. There was other stuff."
"Well, that text sent out, with that link. That link had stuff I clearly wrote in that notebook. But it didn't have the other stuff. I think they're saving it for later."
"What sort of stuff?"
"Secrets. Throughout the years I've been to many parties, with many drunk kids from school. And when they get drunk... they do things... and say things. Then I would write it down."
"How bad is it?"