Chapter 9: Andrew

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"Do you want to come back to my place after this?" Ryan asked. He had chosen to sit right next to Andrew in the waiting room today, so that their elbows touched. "You can stay for dinner. And maybe after that."

"Sure," Andrew said. Why did he feel so hot all of a sudden? "That sounds great."

"Yeah. You can spend the night, too, if you want."

"Really?"

"Yeah. I don't mind sharing my bed."

"Oh." Andrew felt really hot now. He put his hand between his legs, hoping to cover up what was happening down there.

"Does that sound good to you?" Ryan had turned to face him a little. Leaned closer, so his whole bicep pressed against Andrew's. "I have a twin bed. We'd have to squeeze together."

"Yeah, that's... that sounds good," Andrew said. "Is it, uh, hot in here, or is it just me...?"

"It's definitely hot in here." Standing, Ryan grabbed the hem of his t-shirt and hauled it up over his head. So many muscles. His back must've been twice as wide as Andrew's.

"Oh my god," Andrew gasped, and his eyes snapped open to the dark of his room.

 ***

It was bad enough getting through the school day after a dream like that. Andrew kept noticing Ryan out of the corner of his eye. Yesterday, he'd only noticed how Ryan was noticing him. Now Andrew felt confused and out of sorts and wished he had some fucking privacy.

Now Andrew walked into the waiting room with the worst case of déjà vu ever.

Thank god Ryan was sitting in his usual spot. Andrew slumped into his seat and willed himself to stay cool.

Yeah, okay, so he had liked Ryan's big arms around him when he gave Ryan a ride home that time. And the other day, when Ryan had just flopped onto his chest... that had been awkward, but also kind of nice? His subconscious was sending a message loud and clear that his body thought Ryan was attractive. But now Andrew couldn't even look at Ryan's face. Of course he knew what Ryan's face looked like, but he wanted to see Ryan's face in the light of this new revelation. Was Ryan attractive?

Although, did it really matter? Ryan wasn't gay. He couldn't be. He had never said anything remotely gay. Apparently Monica wasn't his girlfriend anymore, but they were together since eighth grade. Monica didn't seem the type to be anyone's beard. And if Ryan was that deep in the closet, there was no hope for a relationship between them.

Yesterday, at Subway, Andrew had seen the football players crossing the street and bolted out of there. But of course he saw Tyler Gomez, holding Billy's hand, and that just brought back all kinds of bad memories. And good ones. Remembering how it was to kiss someone, and hold their hand, and have someone who'd go to Subway with him.

"Hey, Jacky? Are you free tonight?" Ryan asked suddenly, his voice a little loud.

Andrew could only make himself look as high as Ryan's knees. "Yeah."

"I was thinking we could get together to work on that project? The comic book?"

"Sure. Like right after this or after dinner?"

"Um..." Ryan's knee bounced. "I, uh, I gotta feed my... my mom..." His voice cracked.

"Oh, that's okay. I can come over to your place after dinner then? Is that better?"

"Uh... Well, there's a night nurse, uh, who comes over at seven. Maybe it would be better to go to your house? Would that be okay?"

No chance to find out if Ryan owned a twin bed or not, then, Andrew thought. "That's fine. My mom's pretty cool." He pulled out his phone. "I'll just text her and let her know you're coming over."

"Okay, good." Ryan took a deep breath and then meditated on his hands.

Andrew sneaked a few looks over at Ryan. He looked as still as Rodin's Thinker, and this afforded Andrew the opportunity to mute his phone and angle it so he could take a picture. Then he sat back and looked at the picture. No need to stare.

God, Ryan was more than attractive. He was beautiful. How was it possible that Andrew had never noticed that before? His mind had been so clouded with his hatred of the stupid jocks that he'd never let himself see beyond that. Ryan's skin had a sun-kissed glow from football practice. His nose looked like something off an ancient Greek bust, straight and noble. He had a nice full bottom lip, flush pink lips. In the picture, Ryan was looking down, which showed off eyelashes so long girls were probably jealous.

Mostly, though, it was the way Ryan sat there, looking sad and vulnerable, yet strong and self-contained. It made him want to go over there and hug him.

Andrew sighed, looking up in alarm when he realized how loud he was. Ryan had glanced up but that was it. At the tiny little moment of eye contact they shared, Andrew suddenly wished he'd gotten a picture of Ryan with his eyes open.  

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