The rest of their first day back at school went better than either of them expected. Bryce kept to himself, did what he needed to do, and kept moving.
Clay, on the other hand, hung out with Hannah most of the day, she had multiple classes with him. At lunch, Bryce and Clay sat with Hannah and Tony.
It was for sure awkward at first, but after a while, it all seemed to become normal, and a bit fun.
After school they went to Clay's house, his mom picked them up, then they went to a therapist. Clay went first. Bryce second. Clay kind of liked the therapist.
He thought it was nice to say everything and anything without any judgment or the thought that it could get out of other people. Bryce didn't have the same experience. He mostly stayed silent.
He mentioned he played football, basketball, and baseball. He talked about some of his happiest moments. He talked about meeting Bryce. But it was all minimalist.
He offered the least amount of information possible.
But afterward, he put a smile on and told Clay and his mom that it went great. That he suddenly feels so much better.
Then they went home, did homework, watched some TV, had dinner, and went to bed.
Now they are back at school, for their second day back. Back in the car. In the parking lot. Waiting to go in.
"You ready?" Clay looks to Bryce, who puts on a smile and looks over.
"I'll see you at lunch as usual, but Hannah and Tony wanted to go and get coffee after school. You wanna come? She really wants to get to know you."
"Actually... at lunch, I was planning on going to coach to talk about me going back to the team.
And hopefully, that means I will go to practice after school and at least watch and talk to the guys again."
"OMG that sounds amazing!" Clay is so happy to hear Bryce going back to himself. "This is going to be a great day. I can tell."
"Oh, can you?"
"Oh yeah, it's my new power."
"Oh, okay..." They both laugh. "You're too cute." Bryce kisses Clay.
"I know." They laugh as they get out of the car.
"Text me if you need me to pick you up or anything."
"I sure will. Bye." They separate and go to their classes.
"It's such a bummer Bryce couldn't come." Hannah throws a fry into her mouth.
"Yeah. But I'm really hoping he can get back on the football team and start to get back to normal."
"Maybe not completely normal." Tony jokes.
"Haha." He looks to a confused Hannah. "He was kinda that stereotypical jock guy."
"Until you two got together." Tony chimes in.
"Yeah. I could tell there was more to him than met the eye. He's more complex than anyone I've ever known."
"Awww. Watching the way you talk about him makes me so jelly."
"I'm surprised you're still single. You've been here over a week." Tony grabs one of Hannah's fries.
"Hey!" They laugh. "I don't know. A few guys have been talking to me, but most of them are gay." He looks at Clay and Tony.
"Well sorry but I'm taken." Clay can't stop smiling thinking about it.
"Speaking of which, when am I going to Brad?"
"He's got a busy week of exams, but he's coming to visit this weekend."
"We should all go out and do something!" Hannah nearly jumps out of her seat.
"Yes!!!" Clay is so excited with the idea of a triple date, or really just having a real date with Bryce.
"But then we need to find a date for you." Tony takes his phone out. "There are a few guys I know, but I don't really know if they're your type." He looks to Clay.
"I know no one." Hannah laughs at that. "But maybe Bryce does."
"Oh that's a good idea!" Tony looks at Hannah. "Bryce's friend group is so much more your type."
"What is my type?"
"Well..." Tony looks to Clay and they both begin to smile. "Tall, athletic, frat, and slightly douchey."
"Hey!" Hannah stands up. "Well yeah..." She sits back down and they all begin to laugh. "Don't forget I love a letterman's jacket."
"How could I forget?" Tony laughs.
"Hey babe." Clay walks up to Bryce.
"I was trying it out." Hannah and Tony walk up. "What do you guys think of the nickname Babe?"
"Hate it!" They say at the same time.
"Fine. I'll figure something else out." He puts his arm around Bryce. "So what the coach say?"
"He said if I show up to all practices and games to support the team and work out in any way I can then when I'm ready to play I can play."
"Yay!" Clay jumps up and hugs him.
"That's great!" Hannah chimes in, smiling as always.
"It really is man." Tony is happy to see him happy.
"Thanks. I should get going though. Don't wanna be late on my first day back."
"Totally. See you back at home." They kiss and Bryce walks off.
"Coffee?" Hannah looks at Clay and Tony.
"Let's go." They leave out the front doors.
From behind Bryce turns around watches as they all leave the school before turning around and going back down the hall.
He looks out and waits until they're gone before he goes to his car and leaves. He starts driving, not knowing exactly where he is going.
He just drives in silence, waiting for something to hit him. Then, nearly an hour later he stops driving. He stops when he realizes where he is... his house... or more like his parent's house.
For a second he thinks. His dad is most likely gone for work, he almost always is. His mom has book club this time every week.
So he drives around to the service entrance and parks there. He walks through the back and to the pool house, which is always unlocked. The poolhouse was basically his room.
He spent more time there than anywhere else. He did that because his parents never came close to it. They thought it was unseemly to sleep in a place next to the pool.
They let Bryce use it for when his friends came over, thus avoiding having to be near them.
Bryce walks in and starts looking around. He quickly begins remembering all the fun times he had in there.
From the video game championships to the movie marathon to the insane ragers he threw with his buddies. Back to a time when Bryce never really thought about much.
Back when everything was simple. When it was easy.
He walks back to the closet. Goes to the back and moves the last dresser to the right, revealing a vent. He bends down and opens it. Sitting in the vent is a small box.
He takes it out and stands up, opening it. Inside the box are a couple of tiny plastic bags with various different pills and powders in them. He sits on the floor, letting his back hit the wall.
He looks at the box and begins to think about it. Just how much those drugs used to make him feel.
How relaxed he used to be.
How happy he was.
Would it really hurt just to feel that way one more time?