I forgot to say what I changed, so if you're confused, read this. In the book(s) it never actually said Ethan was friends with Bryn or Chris, but it seemed probable. And Cap probably did not tell the press anything between Dominic going missing and then being found, er, whatever you want to call it, but I added it for a angst-y factor. I'm going to kind of lengthen the time frame they were missing as well….so enjoy!
The alarm clock beeped and Chris reached out to turn it off. He had no desire to get up and go to school, and he knew no one would expect him to go. He shut his eyes again and tried to go back to sleep, but he couldn't get his mind of Dominic. Questions that he didn't want to know the answers too filled his mind. What were Dominic's last moments like? Had he frozen to death or taken a wrong turn? Was he even dead or just wandering around, lost, until exhaustion took over? Sleep never came. He remembered Bryn's text message and felt bad about not answering. He gritted his teeth. Answering her would just keep the grief about Dominic fresh. No matter what he did, he could never get the thoughts out of his mind. Part of him wanted to talk to someone. He'd avoided his parents, trying in vain to forget by not focusing on anything that reminded him of his brother. But even being in this house reminded him of Dominic. Frustrated, he climbed out of bed when his phone blinked. It was another message from Bryn asking him to call her. He turned it off and flopped back down.
Bryn checked her phone for the millionth time. She knew Chris was ignoring her, but she didn't know why. She tried to put on a brave face and pushed the door to the school open. She'd begged her parents to let her stay home, but her mom had said going to school would "get her mind of things." As if. Everyone would be hounding her, asking if she was okay and all of that. All she really wanted to do was talk to Chris.
"Oh my god, Bryn, I watched the news last night. Are you, like, okay?" Her friend Amy asked, running up to her in the hall. Of course, Amy. Of course I'm fine after three people I knew just died! She almost spoke her thoughts out loud, but decided against it.
"Yeah, I'll be fine. Thanks for asking." She said. "See you later." She called as she exited into her first class, seeing everyone look up and start whispering. It was going to be long day.
Chris found himself running again. It was the only way to keep everything out of his head. He hated leaving the house the way he did, shrugging off his parents' concern. His mom had asked to talk to him, and he'd replied, "I'm fine, mom. If I wanted to talk to you or anyone else, I would have done it by now." He'd slammed the door behind him, already feeling guilty. Exhausted yet again, Chris flopped onto a nearby bench. He was torn up inside. He suddenly wished that Dominic hadn't had made it into SummitQuest. He wished it was him dead in the snow and ice instead of Dominic. When Dominic had summated, he'd been elated as the little guy must have been. He thought his brother would be unstoppable, that the storm racing to the summit wouldn't come. But it had. And there was nothing he could do about it. Ethan and Tilt joined the tally. They were both good men, and all three were too young to die.
Midway into class, she finally got a message from Chris. Ignoring her teacher's "no phones" rule, she read it quickly.
Thanks for the concern; you're right it doesn't seem real.
She pocketed the phone quickly. It was simply a courtesy response, not an actual response. She knew him well enough to know he was trying to avoid talking about Dominic to try and forget it. Her phone blinked again and she read another text from him.
Sorry for not getting back to you earlier. Call me soon and we'll talk.
She glanced up at her teacher, spirits plummeting when she heard what they were going to talk about.
"In 1953, the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali sherpa climber would make history. They would become the first men to summit the tallest mountain in the world, Everest." She said. Bryn glanced at her desk. Could we talk about something else today? Anything but this. She thought indignantly. "The north side of the mountain is the most dangerous and the hardest ascent. Many climbers have lost their lives on this section." Her teacher continued. Against her will, Bryn felt the tears forming in her eyes. Next to her, one of the snobby girls, Kelsey, snickered and poked one of her friends. Bryn heard her whisper. "Someone's upset she didn't make it up the mountain. Too bad her boyfriend couldn't either." Bryn whirled around, feeling her cheeks burning.
"Do you know anything, Kelsey? Do you think I'm crying because I didn't get to go? It's because three of my friends can be added to those statistics. Those guys were some of my best friends. Dominic was thirteen. The guy saved my life! I wouldn't be here without him." She pushed back her chair and ran out of the room, not even seeing the shocked look on Kelsey's face. She sagged against the lockers in the hallway, tears running down her face.