Hey guys, Fallout here.

I know it's been awhile and I apologize for that. As I'm sure most of you know, life sometimes gets in the way of the things we liked to do, but we don't necessarily need to do. My life has been doing that to me a lot lately and why I would love to sit and write all day, I can't.

Again, I'm sorry for the wait.

I want to thank my beta reader for proofreading and correcting any mistakes I may have made. Thank you, Becr!

I don't own Modern Family or any of the characters from the show. Enjoy.


The 23th of July, 8:20 am. Claire's POV.

"You want anything else?"

Clayton looks up at me and shakes his head, before going back to his eggs.

Clayton has been 'off'' the past few days, quiet and withdrawn, not that he was usually a chatterbox. But, you could at least get a few words out of him. He's barely said a thing, since getting home the morning after. He spent the whole night talking to the police, answering questions and telling them about how he had found Mr. Bolton. I wasn't surprised he wasn't talking, considering what he had seen.

But it was still making me nervous, given the scars on his wrists and how they got there.

"You sure, sweetheart?" I ask again, putting one of my hands atop one of his.

He pulls his hand out of my grasp and shakes his head again.

"Okay, you just let me know, if you want anything." I say, giving him a smile, trying not to show him how hurt I am.

He just nods, not looking up from his plate. I take a step back and lean against the stove, taking a sip from my coffee. Clayton won't be going to work today, Haley and I talked him into taking the week off... Which was a fight, he didn't see why he should take the time off. He was acting like he was okay. I shoot him a look, each time I take a sip of coffee. I'm worried about him, clearly he was hurting. But he was trying to act like he was fine, when he wasn't. He believes he has to be 'strong', that it would be 'weak' to talk about or to show how hard Mr. Bolton's death is for him. More than likely do to all the hell his father put him through, the asshole. But you're suppose to talk about it, there's nothing wrong with being upset over losing someone dear to you.

I just wish Clayton understood that.

I wish he understood that we're not his father, that he's allowed to show that sensitive side, I know he has. But Clayton still feels he has to hide it, even with his father living in a different state. He's still hiding from his father, he's still afraid of him. No matter how far he goes in life, a part of him will always be that little boy getting beaten and that... breaks my heart.

"Clayton." I say, looking down at my coffee.

He looks up at me, an eyebrow raised.

"You know... it's okay to... to talk about how you feel... about Mr. Bolton... about what happened." I say, tripping over my words the whole way.

Clayton pushes the plate of half eaten eggs towards me and stands.

"Thanks for the eggs, Mrs. Dunphy." He says, turning and leaving the kitchen.

"Clayton." I call after him, taking a step towards him.

He stops in the doorway and looks over his shoulder at me, with a look somewhere between angry and sad.

"Yes, Ma'am?" He asks, his voice hard.

"It's going to be okay, sweetheart." I say, giving him a small smile.

He just nods and goes down the hall. I watch him go, wishing I had the words that would make this whole situation better. But, I don't. Clayton's spent his whole life dealing with his problems on his own and coming from the kind of home he did, it's not surprising. I'm sure showing any kind of weakness in that house only led to pain and humiliation. I wish Clayton understood, it's not like that here. Here, it's okay to ask for help. Here, it's okay to hurt, to show weakness. Here, he's safe.

The fact that Clayton still felt like he had to hide his feelings, makes me feel like I'm... we're doing something wrong. That there's something we're doing, that makes this place feel unsafe. I wan... we want Clayton to feel at home, because he is home. But not knowing what we're doing wrong means I don't know what I can do to fix it.

I sigh, staring down into the dark liquid in my mug, like the answer is hiding at the bottom.

I look up as I hear footsteps coming down the hall, hoping it's Clayton. Phil comes in and smiles at me, I force a smile. He's wearing a suit and a dark blue tie, carrying his briefcase. Phil has taken the last few days off, to be here for Clayton. Which leads me to wonder why he's dressed for work.

"You going somewhere?" I ask, shooting him a curious look.

"Gil Thorp called... we gotta close today." Phil says, with a sigh.

"Phil." I sigh, pinching the bridge of my nose. "I need you here." I say, looking back at him, moving towards him. "To help out with Clayton... I'm afraid he might do something stupid." I whisper, grabbing him by the arm.

"Claire, I know." He says, letting out another sigh. "You think I want to add Gil's crap to all the stuff, I'm already dealing with?" He asks, turning to make himself a cup of coffee.

I sigh again and take a step back, shaking my head no.

"I'm doing the best I can, Claire." He says, turning back to me, a mug of coffee in his hand.

"I know." I say, trying to give him a smile, but failing.

"I promise, I'll be back as soon as I can." He says, giving me a small smile.

"You better be." I say, returning the smile.

He smiles at me, as he turns and leaves the kitchen, going down the hall.

I follow him. He stops at the front door and looks into the living room, Clayton is sitting on the couch, his back to us. He's reading one of Alex's books, I've been seeing him read it off and on every couple of weeks. I look back at Phil and it's clear, he's having second thoughts about leaving. He looks over at me, looking worried.

"Keep an eye on him." He whispers, with a nod towards Clayton.

"I will."


The 23th of July, 9:37 am. Haley's POV.

"How is he?"

"Distant, not willing to connect." I say, grabbing my pendant. "He keeps saying he's fine, but..."

"He isn't." Morgan finishes, sounding worried.

"Yeah." I say, a thumb rubbing a small circle around my pendant. "I'm worried, Morgan." I say, with a shaky voice.

"Me too, hon. Me too." She mutters, her own voice as shaky as mine.

I take a deep, calming breath. Trying to swallow all the worry and fear, I need to be strong... for Clayton. I don't care what he says, I know that Mr. Bolton's death is devastating for him. I know Clayton had the utmost respect for Mr. Bolton and I know he... loved the man. So, I know he's lying when he says he's 'fine.' Because he isn't. But I'm not sure how to handle the situation. I'm scared to push him to open up, since the last thing I want is to start a fight with him right now. And that's usually what happens when I push him.

I had honestly hoped Morgan would be able to tell me what to do, since she has more experience dealing with Clay. But, like she told me, last time something like this happened, Clay disappeared and showed up a few weeks later in a hospital after trying to kill himself. So, the only word of advice she could give me was to 'keep an eye on him.'

"When are you guys getting here?" I ask, squeezing my pendant tight.

"Tomorrow." She says, sounding exhausted. "It was harder than I thought to find a place to leave the girls." She says, as I pace my room. "But we did, so, we're packing now and we will be leaving in the morning." She says.

I stop pacing and bite my lip, looking down at my fist, that is wrapped around my pendant.

"I wish, we were meeting on a happier occasion." I mutter, letting go of my pendant.

"Yeah, me too." She says, letting out a sigh. "Look, I gotta go, hon."

"Okay... thanks, you know, for the talk." I say, chewing on my lip.

"Oh, it was nothing." She says, making me smile. "You just look after yourself and... you know, keep an eye on Clay." She says, the worry back in her voice.

"I will." I say, trying to keep my voice strong. "I love you." I add, without thinking.

I blush, when I realize what I said.

"I love you too, hon." She says, with a laugh. "Bye."

"Bye." I say, smiling slightly.

I set my cell down on my sister's desk and I rub at my eyes with the heels of my hands, wanting this to be some sort of horrible nightmare. But, as I pull my hands away from my eyes and look around the room, I know this isn't a nightmare. I should go down stairs and keep an eye on Clay, instead of hiding up here.

I'm scared and I have no fucking idea what to do.

This... this whole fucking mess, god... Things were getting good, everything was starting to click. Clay was starting to get comfortable around my family and my Mom was finally starting to like him. Everything was set for the baby to come, everything had fallen into place. Against all the odds, things were looking up. Now this.

Damnit, Mr. Bolton.

I don't know how to handle it, I don't know what to say or do. The only person I've ever lost was my grandmother, on my father's side and I knew it was coming. I had time to prepare myself and say my goodbyes, Clay didn't have that. And I didn't... see her body... not like Clay did.

I take a deep breath and exhale out my nose, preparing myself. I can't hide up here any longer. I go to the door and head down the stairs, it's slow going, do to my stupid freaking belly. When I reach the bottom, I turn and head down the hall and into the kitchen. I look around and spot my Mom and Clay sitting in the den. They're watching some old movie. Clay's sitting on the couch, with his back to me. My Mom is on the loveseat next to the couch and sees me as I come in. She smiles a small, pained smile.

I slowly make my way to the couch and sit down next to Clay. He looks over at me, trying to smile. But he fails. I give him a small smile and turn to face the T.V. I see my Mom get up and leave, going down the hall and then up the stairs. I watch the black and white movie, trying to figure out what's going on. I can't help but notice how much space is between Clay and me, on the small couch. He usually closed the space between us, but this time it's me. I scoot closer to him, grabbing one of his hands with mine.

But he pulls his hand free.

I stare at him, for a few seconds, not understanding. If he notices me staring, he just ignores me. I try not to feel hurt or angry. He just needs space, I tell myself. I look back at the movie and watch, again trying to figure out what's going on.

"So, is the samurai in the black, the good guy?" I ask, just wanting him to look at me.

"You guys takin' shifts?" He asks, looking over at me.

I stare at him, completely caught off guard.

"N... No." I lie, shaking my head.

"You all must think I'm stupid, if you think I wouldn't notice." He spits, looking back at the T.V.

"You know we don't, Clay." I say, putting a hand on his shoulder.

"Sure, whatever." He says, shrugging my hand off his shoulder.

I put my hands in my lap, feeling hurt, despite myself. He's pushing me away, that much is clear. If he would just open up, I know he would feel better. But he thinks, he has to keep all that pain bottled up. He believes, he suppose to be strong or some shit. Even after all these months, Clay still has a few walls left.

I should just ask, get him to talk. I look over at him and bite my lip, but he's clearly already upset with me. I look back at the T.V, feeling slightly angry. He's mad at me, for caring.

"Clay, it's okay to talk about it." I say, looking back at him.

He looks over at me and then back at the T.V.

"Let's just drop it." He says, not looking at me.

"Clay, what happened was terrible and I think it would help you, if you talked about it." I try, not wanting him to act strong.

"You want me to talk about it?" He asks, his eyes on me again.

He looks angry, making me shift in my seat and look down at my belly.

"Yes, I do." I say, looking back at him.

"You wanna hear about how I found him nude in the shower, with half his fuckin' head blown off?" He asks, glaring at me. "You wanna hear about how he smelt like bad meat or maybe about how flies covered his goddamn face?" He spits, anger clear in his voice.

"Clay... I just..." I try, caught off guard by his angry words.

Horror and guilt well in my stomach, as I stare at Clay.

"You just what, Haley?" He spits, shaking his head. "You just want to help? Huh? Is that it?" He asks, his voice hard and harsh. "Is that what you fuckin' want, huh? You ever think that maybe, some things should just be left the fuck alone." He says, standing up and glaring down at me.

I stare up at him, fighting back tears.

"I mean, goddamnit Haley, learn to leave well enough alone." He says, turning and leaving.

I wipe at my eyes, not letting myself cry. I understand he's hurting, but that doesn't stop the anger I feel building in my chest at his words. I just want to help him, can't he see that? Couldn't he see that he's allowed to feel angry and sad, that he could talk about Mr. Bolton. But he didn't... I wonder if he ever will. Even after all these months, after everything we've been through together, after all the times we talked things through... he was pushing me away again.

"Goddamnit."


The 23th of July, 11:20 am. Phil's POV.

Why am I here?

I can't help but think, leaning back in my seat, looking over at the bookstore. I should be home, helping with Clay... God, Clay. He's been through so much in his short life, more than me, and that's without finding someone close to him, dead. I mean, I can't imagine finding someone dead, seeing the body. I rub at my eyes, not wanting to even think about it. I need to be in the moment and focus on the deal, not worrying about Clay.

Once this deal is closed, I can take a few days off and help with Clay anyway I can. But til then I need to focus on the task at hand, which is closing this deal. I'm supposed to be meeting Gil here, so we can finalize the contracts. But, not surprisingly, he's late. Doesn't he realize the rest of us have lives and things we need to deal with.

Of course not, the world revolves around Gil.

"Ah!"

I jump in my seat and look over at my window, only to see Gil laughing.

"Ha, got you, Dumb-phy." He says, grinning.

"Yeah, yeah." I say, shaking my head.

"Oh, are your panties in a knot?" He asks, still grinning.

"No, they're not." I say, through clenched teeth.

"Ha, so you admit you're wearing panties!" He says, loudly, jabbing one of his beefy fingers in my face.

I just sigh, shaking my head.

"Oh, I got you good Dumb-phy." He says, chuckling to himself. "Well, come on, Dunphy. Let's take a look at the property, I ain't got all day." He says, giving me a wave and starting towards the bookstore.

I climb out of my car, biting back all the things I want to say. Just have to sign the contract and I can go home, back to my family. I catch up to him and fall into step with him.

"You should've seen your face, Dunphy." He says, chuckling to himself again. "Oh man, you were all like. Ah, don't hurt me!" He says, pitching his voice up slightly at the end.

"Yup, you got me good." I say, rolling my eyes.

"Oh come on, Dunphy." Gil says, stopping and looking over at me. "This is what we do, come on man." He says, seeming disappointed.

"Look Gil, things at home ain't great." I say, throwing my hands up. "I just want to get this done, so I can get back." I say, looking down at my feet. Knowing he's going to say something smug, about how great his life is.

"Oh... yeah, I heard about your daughter." He says, surprising me. "Everything will be fine, man." He says, rubbing the back of his head.

Wait a second is Gil Thorp trying to be... comforting?

"Yeah, I know." I say, not believing he didn't make some joke.

"Shit, I found pot in my son's room a few weeks back." He says, shaking his head.

"Really, Claire found pot in our son's room." I say, surprised.

"Really?" He asks, looking shocked.

"Yeah." I say, nodding.

"Man, it's weird, right?" He asks, shaking his head. "It feels just like yesterday, I was teaching him to ride a bike. Now, he's smoking dope." He says, letting out a sigh.

"Yeah, it feels like that with all my kids. Like all this time just slipped through my hands and they're not kids anymore, but adults." I say, shaking my head. "Luke with the pot, Haley's going to be a mother soon and god only knows what's happening with Alex." I say, running a hand through my hair and looking back at him.

"I miss being their hero, you know." He says, letting out a sigh. "Now, I'm lucky if I get more than a few words out of them." He adds, with a shrug.

I can't help but think of when I was my kids' hero, when they were little. How I was the one saving them from the monsters under their beds or how I was the one they came to after having a nightmare. But that didn't happen anymore, they're all too old. The last twenty years of my life have revolved around me being a father, but now what? Who am I, now that my kids don't need me?

"Yeah, me too." I mutter, with a nod.

He chuckles and shakes his head.

"I guess we're in the same boat, Dunphy." He says, patting me on the shoulder.

"Yeah." I say, giving him a small smile.

"Hey, ah... how about sometime we go out and get a beer?" He asks, looking slightly uncomfortable. "Ah... you know, two old dads with nothing better to do." He adds, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

"Yeah, sounds good."


The 23th of July, 5:24 pm. Gloria's POV.

"Shh... it's okay."

I slowly sway back and forth with Isabella resting her head on my shoulder. She's being a little fussy, since I wasn't letting her have her way. She wanted to play with a bottle of Jay's whiskey, but I took it from her and now she's upset with me. In truth, my mind wasn't here. I was thinking about Clay, Claire had called the morning after and told me Clay wasn't going to work... which led to her telling me about Mr. Bolton.

I hadn't met the man, but from what I was told, Clay was very close to him. I know losing someone close is never easy, having lost more than a few people myself. The whole family was worried for Clay, not being sure how he might take it. Twice, I have had to talk Cam out of going over there. Cam's always had a big heart, it's what I love about him. But he didn't understand that some people just need space.

The last thing a guy like Clay would want is a whole bunch of people fussing over him.

Isabella is quiet, so I look down. She's sleeping, I smile at her. My beautiful little angel. I slowly go over to the couch and set her down, pulling a cover over her and placing a few pillows around her, so she doesn't roll off.

"I'm home!"

I look up and see Jay set his keys down. He looks over at me and smiles, I put a finger to my lips, than point at the couch. He nods and makes his way to the kitchen. I look back down at our daughter, she's still sleeping. I smile at her and make my own way to the kitchen. Jay's sitting at the counter, checking his phone. I go over to the stove and check on dinner.

"Smells good, how long?" He asks, setting his phone down.

"A few minutes." I say, smiling at him and leaning on the island.

He nods and looks down at the counter. He's worried sick about Clay since I told him, he cares more for Clay than he was willing to admit, even to himself. Jay sees a lot of himself in Clay, which worries him. Given Jay's own history and all the times he's been close to the edge. Jay once told me, he flirted with the idea of suicide for the better part of a decade.

I know he's fighting with himself.

He knows Clay wants space and that he wouldn't want to talk about finding Mr. Bolton. But Jay thinks Clay should talk about it, that he shouldn't just bottle it up. Jay wasn't sure what to do and he's afraid to screw up. Since this is such a delicate situation. Personally, I think if Clay is going to talk to anyone about what happened, it should be Haley. If they are going to work, Clay needs to know he can tell her anything and everything.

The good, the bad and even the really, really horrible stuff.

"Have you... ah, heard anything today about Clayton?" Jay asks, looking back up at me.

"Yes." I answer, with a nod. "He's still... well, distant and umm... something happened between him and Haley." I say, running a hand through my hair.

"Damnit..." He mutters, shaking his head. "I told 'em to leave him be, I told 'em." He says, slamming a fist down on the counter.

"Jay..." I try, knowing he's more angry with himself, than anyone.

"No, I told 'em." He continues, jabbing a meaty finger at me. "None of you get it, you all think that everything can be fixed by some talking and a hug. But..."

"Jay." I cut him off, finally getting him to stop.

He sighs and shakes his head, looking away from me.

"I'm sorry." He mutters, not looking at me.

He falls quiet again, shaking his head.

"I should go talk to him." He mutters, nodding to himself. "Yeah, I'm gonna go talk to him." He says, standing.

"Jay. No." I say, going to him.

"Why not, I get the kid." He says, looking confused.

"Because you can't sweep in and fix everything everytime." I say, putting a hand on his shoulder. "If Haley and Clay are going to work, they need to learn to be open with each other about everything, especially Clay." I say, grabbing one of his meaty hands with my free one. "So, you can't fix this. They need to, on their own." I say, pulling him into a hug.

Jay didn't show it a lot, but he was truly a sweet man.

"It's 'swoop in.'" He mutters, hugging me back.

"What?" I ask, pulling back from the hug and looking up at him.

"It's 'swoop in', you said 'sweep in.'" He says, looking down at me.

"I said sweep in." I say, shooting him a look.

"Swoop in." He says, with a chuckle.

"That's what I said."


The 24th of July, 3:20 am. Claire's POV.

I'm not sure how long I've laid here, with my eyes shut, trying to get to sleep. It had to be at least a few hours. I listen to Phil sleeping beside me and can't help but feel jealous, wanting desperately to get some sleep too. But, I just keep thinking about Clayton. It wasn't fair, it simply wasn't. Clayton's only a handful of times talked to me about his past, but I've heard all about it from Haley. Losing his mother at four, being put through all that horribleness with his father, losing his best friend at sixteen. Hadn't he been through enough? Hasn't he lost enough?

And things were just starting to get good around here. I had finally pulled my head out of my ass and saw Clayton for the good guy that he is. He was getting comfortable around the family, starting to open up to us. Now, this happens. He loses another person he cares about. It just wasn't fair.

I should check on him and make sure he's okay.

That's silly, isn't it? Of course, he's not okay. He just lost someone very close to him, someone he cared dearly for. And he might not like me checking on him, he has a lot of pride. He believes he has to be strong, no doubt from all the years of abuse from that piece of shit father of his. But he's my child, I'm allowed to be worried for him... my child...

I carefully get out of bed, so I don't wake Phil. I grab my robe and pull it on, as I go to the door. I tie my robe tight and slowly creep down the stairs. If Clayton's sleeping I don't want to wake him. I get to the foot of the stairs and carefully make my way into the living room. He isn't there. Panic washes over me, as I start thinking the worst. I mean, he has a history of... no, he would never.

I go to the window and check for his truck, it's still there. I breathe a sigh of relieve and turn, looking around the darkened living room. All his boots and shoes are still in a neat line, so he can't be far. I leave the living room and make my way down the hall and into the kitchen, that's where I see the back door ajar. I quickly go to it and out onto the back porch, my eyes darting right and left.

I see a dark figure sitting in a chair, with it's back to me. It can only be Clayton.

"Clayton?" I ask softly, taking a step towards him.

I wring my hands together, worry filling me. He had been quiet all day and I know this Mr. Bolton and him were close. Clayton was quiet most of the time, but today... today was different. Staring into space, barely saying a word, even when he was being talk to. Given Clayton's history, I'm worried he might do something stupid. I get to the chair and come around it, looking down at him.

In his hand was a pistol.

Even in the dark, I know that's what it is. A whole other wave of fear and panic washes over me, so strong I feel as if I'm drowning. I quickly get control of myself and slowly sit down in the chair next to his. I noticed an empty bottle of wine at his feet, my emergency wine. He doesn't acknowledge me, keeping his head down. Every part of me is screaming to get the gun from him, but I know I won't be able to wrestle it from Clayton. So, I take a deep breath, trying to get my hands to stop shaking.

"Clayton." I say softly, my voice slightly choked.

"Hey... Mrs. Dunphy." He says, clearly drunk.

"What are you doing out here, sweetheart?" I ask, my voice steady now.

"Noth.. nothing." He mutters, shifting slightly in his seat.

"Well, it's the middle of the night and you're sorta just sitting in the dark." I say, my eyes shooting to the pistol, then back to him.

"I'll be... be in... a few minutes." He mutters, looking at me.

"Well, I'll sit with you." I say, leaning back in my seat, my chest pounding.

We both sit quietly, for a few moments. My breaths are coming out in short, reget waves. Clayton's are slow, steady. He doesn't even try to conceal the weapon from me, it just sits out in the open on his lap, with one of his large hands resting on it. My mind races to come up with something to say, but I just draw a blink. What do say to someone in this situation, don't do it?

"I'm fuckin' poison." He says, barely above a whisper.

I look over at him, his head is still bowed.

"You're not, Clayton." I say, tears stinging at my eyes.

He looks up at me, I can't make out his face in the dark, but I know his eyes are on mine.

"My parents wer... were married for sixteen years.." He says, with a bitter chuckle. "Than I come along and my M... my Mom decides she wants out and..a... and fuckin'... fuckin' kills herself." He says, wiping at his face with the back of his forearm.

"How is that your fault?" I ask, tears slipping from my eyes. "You were just a child, Clayton." I add, wiping at my own eyes.

"Than Derrick, Jesus..." He mutters, seeming to ignore me. "And now... Mr. Bolton." He says, covering his eyes with a hand.

"Clayton, what Mr... Mr. Bolton did, was in no way your fault." I say, leaning in close and putting a hand on his shoulder.

"He told me, he loved me." He mutters, keeping his hand over his eyes.

"I'm sure he did, Clayton." I say, not understanding.

"Last time I saw him, he told... told me he loved me and he hadn't ev... ever... done that before." He says, removing his hand from his eyes and looking at me. "I should've known... something was up... He was tryin' to tell me something was up and I just told him I had to go." He says, looking down at his hands, shaking his head.

A few moments of silence pass and I feel like the tension in the air is choking me, as I try to keep my breathing steady. Everything had been going so good, Clayton was finally starting to open up and feel comfortable around us. Now this, him thinking about ending it all. Part of me doesn't want to believe he would. But, given his history and what his sister-in-law said, I know that's just wishful thinking. Why else would he be out here, in the middle of the night, with a pistol.

"I should've been able to save him, Mrs. Dunphy." He whispers, his eyes not leaving the pistol. "But, I didn't... I'm poison and as long as I'm around, things will go to shit, people will get hurt or... killed." He says, crying. "But if I just en..."

"Clayton." I say, cutting him off. "You've been nothing but a blessing, you brought my daughter home. You've kept her safe, you've been so good to her... us." I say, putting a hand on his face. "You're the first guy she's dated, that I've honestly liked." I say, rubbing his cheek with a thumb. "You're so sweet and kind... I couldn't have asked for a better person for Haley to spent her life with." I say, tears finally slipping down my cheeks. "Because I know, you would do anything and everything to make her happy and keep her safe." I say, wiping at my face, with my free hand. "So, Clayton. Listen to me when I say, you are not poison." I say, my voice choked.

Clayton stares at me, for a few seconds. The knot in my chest is so tight, I think for a second it might explode. But than he does something, that catches me completely off guard. He puts his large arms around me and pulls me into a tight hug, putting his head on my shoulder, crying. I run a hand up and down his back, not even realizing the pistol had fallen into my lap.

"It's okay, Clayton. Shh, it's okay." I say, keeping my hand going up and down his back.

I grab the pistol with my free hand and carefully put it under my chair, wanting to get the weapon out of sight.

"Everything is going to be okay, Clayton."


I would like to thank SideshowJazz1 for reviewing again. Yeah, I've known pretty much from the start what I wanted to do with Mr. Bolton. So, his death has been in the works since the first chapter he shows up. Good. I know for most of this story Claire has been seen as the villain, but she isn't, she just wants to protect her family. Which you will be seeing more of in the coming chapters.

Sorry, I took so long to update.

Thanks again, Jazz.

I would like to thank A.K.A Producer Sam for reviewing. I actually saw that episode a day or two after I posted that chapter and laughed, I had honestly forgotten about that episode and didn't have it in mind while writing. Funny how things turn out sometimes, huh? Yes, I am a guy. I'm always happy to hear people are surprised that a guy is writing this, since most of this story is told from a female perspective. So I'm always worried they won't sound like they should, so the fact that you're surprised means I'm doing alright.

Well, in my mind the reason Claire lied to Haley was she simply didn't want Haley to think the whole neighborhood was talking about her behind her back. Thank you, that's great to hear. A lot of people on this site dislike OCs, but not as many as I thought. Since a lot of you like Clayton, which is awesome. Yeah, Clayton, even if he doesn't think so, is apart of the family now. Claire took awhile to come around, but she sees him like her own child now. Most people see Clayton as this strong young man, while Claire sees him for what he is, just a scared kid.

Yeah, I like to take the time to thank everyone who reviews. Because, taking the time to review is something you don't have to do, if you don't want to. So, I want to show my thanks to those who do.

Anyway, long-winded end note aside.

Thank you, Sam.

I would like to thank KXR for reviewing again. Thanks, man. I will definitely try to keep it up, and sorry for the wait, KXR.

Thanks again.

I would like to thank Atfab27 for reviewing again. Yeah, I'm a bad person. Anytime anyone says my story has made or gotten them close to crying, I smile. Well, she couldn't keep her voice strong, that's how she failed. I probably should've made that clearer. Also sorry for the long wait, Atfab.

Thanks again, Atfab27.

I would like to thank Skye for reviewing again. Thanks. Yeah, I want to have some lighter moments in the heavier chapters like this one and the last one. Claire and Clayton bonding and getting along, and the cute little moment between Alex and Sophie. Like you said, it helps balance out the much heavier moments, like Clayton finding Mr. Bolton.

Thanks again, Skye.

I would like to thank Korkman2 for reviewing again. Well, I think at that age it's hard to truly understand your feelings. Alex is going through a lot and she's willing to try something new and kinda scary. I think with the way Mr. Bolton was acting in chapter thirty-one, his state of mind was relatively clear. Claire and her issues have been a major part of this story and since this story is about people overcoming their issues, it seems fitting that Claire overcome a few of her own.

Well, I thank you for your honesty. After rereading it, I see what you mean. But, I feel like that about most of the stuff I write. So, I'm not a great judge of my own work.

Thank you again, Kork.

P.S. I promise I'm not. ;)

I would like to thank ODA for reviewing again. Thanks, man. I'm glad you enjoyed the Alex and Sophie moment, I'm thinking about doing another little moment, before this story ends. Yeah, Clay continues to be put through the ringer. If it's not one thing, it's another for him. Soon, I promise. Haley will be pushing a baby out soon!

I will.

Thanks again, man.

I would like to thank Taylor for reviewing again. Thanks, man. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Haley and Clayton are my favorite to write for, they just play off each other so well. They both make up for the other's shortcomings, which in my mind, is why they work so well together.

Thank you again, Taylor, for all the kind words.

I would like to thank Penguinbob for reviewing again. Thanks, Bob. The baby will be here soon, I know I keep saying that, but it's true. I still have a few things up my sleeve, but you will have to wait and see what they are.

Thanks again, Bob.

I would like to thank TigerBB161 for reviewing again. Mr. Bolton is gone and his passing will be effecting the next few chapters, Clayton and the family as a whole. Which you will see in the coming chapters, Tiger. I think Alex is an interesting character and I wanted to write about her, not just the smart little sister. So, I wanted to show the less perfect side of her. The side that makes mistakes and doesn't know what to do. Because, I don't care how smart you are. Life is scary and fucking confusing as hell, especially at sixteen. So, hopefully that came across well.

Anyway.

Thanks again, Tiger.

I would like to thank I Like Scissors for reviewing and following. I plan to and thank you for taking the time to review and follow my silly little story.

Thanks again, Scissors.

I would like to thank Whovian2525 for reviewing. Thanks, man. Those early chapters are rough, I think I've gotten a lot better since then.

Thanks again, Who.

I would like to thank Bayand68 for reviewing. I promise, I will finish this story. You don't have to worry about that.

Thank you, Bayand.

I would like to thank TheDramaticAMC-B for reivewing again. I'm glad you're still reading and are still enjoying it. Yes, I never meant to take over two months to update. I know how much that can suck. But like I said before, life gets in the way.

Yeah, Alex's battle with her sexuality was fun to write. As a straight guy, I never had that battle with my own sexuality and was afraid it might come off cheesy or just bad. But all you guys seem to have enjoyed it.

Sorry for the wait.

Thanks again for taking the time to review, AMC.

And finally to the guest or guests who reviewed from May tenth to May twenty-sixth. Thank you for taking the time to review and sorry guys for the wait. I know it sucks to wait, I hope you're still reading. Again sorry for the wait and thanks again for reviewing.

I would also like to thank Principelives51, IAmObsessed, Arrow2103, Idk-im-an-idiot, Jessie-Gaslight, HeliosGravity33, Bethbebs, In-My-Head-749, TinaConolli, Cooopercrisp, Nintendo106, Lady Isabelle Black, Dreamchild333 and Sydnief97 for following. Thanks guys.

I would like to thank you all for reading and finally don't forget all reviews are appreciated