Chapter 13: Andrew/Ryan

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"So you don't even know where your dad is?" Andrew asked.

Ryan shook his head. They were working now, quiet, Ryan looking like he felt better despite his puffy eyes. "He left my mom a long time ago. Never paid child support. So even if he is out there somewhere, I'm not sure I really want him in my life."

"What other choice do you have? Grandparents?"

Another head shake. Andrew wondered briefly if his mother would be willing to take Ryan in. He immediately discarded the thought. That would be weird. Especially if he and Ryan were still dating. Worse if they weren't.

"So a foster family then."

Finally, a nod.

"At least it won't be for long, right? Just a year or two, then you'll be out of high school and in college and you can live on your own."

"If I can get enough money for college. If I can get a job and make enough to live on my own."

Andrew didn't know what to say. The future seemed so uncertain. "You're smart. You'll get a scholarship."

"Maybe."

In the nearly silent house, with only the wheezing of machines to fill the space, Andrew stopped coloring and looked at Ryan. He knew if he were Ryan, after a day filled with therapy and telling someone he liked them and a minor emergency with his mother and breaking down crying in front of a guy he liked, Andrew would have been ready to talk about something else. Anything else. He would have been putting on a stupid movie and maybe calling Cody over (hoping he'd have something to smoke) and they'd talk about stupid shit that didn't matter for hours. Or they'd play video games and eat Cheetos and they only words they would speak would be through a headset to everyone else in the game.

"Halloween's this weekend," Andrew said. "What's your costume?"

Ryan sighed. This was never Andrew's reaction to Halloween. "Monica wants me to go to a party at Alex's with her. Bonnie and Clyde."

"Ew," Andrew said.

With a shrug, Ryan added, "She's got the whole thing planned. I didn't even have to do anything."

Andrew wasn't sure what to say. Ryan had told him that he liked him, but he was still going to a Halloween party as half of a couples costume.

"Well, I'm planning to go as the one-armed man from The Fugitive. It was a huge hit last year with the trick-or-treaters." Immediately Andrew felt bad for saying that, and he added hesitantly, "If you wanted an excuse not to go to the party, you could come over to my house and watch horror movies and pass out candy."

"Monica already told everyone."

"So? She's not your girlfriend."

Ryan didn't say anything to that. He had stopped drawing and stared at the page.

"And I guess I'm not, like, your boyfriend, either."

"Jacky..."

"I mean, you said you liked me. What does that mean, exactly? Are we dating? Or am I just your secret special friend?"

After staring at his papers for a long minute, Ryan stood up and pushed his chair away from the table. "I can't deal with this right now."

Andrew watched him walk down the hall and into a room that wasn't his mother's. So Ryan was just going to avoid the whole thing? Leave his guest here while he hid in his room?

He should give Ryan some space. He supposed, as he stood to put his markers away and gather up the finished pages, that he shouldn't have expected so much. Ryan was still in the closet. His pushy ex-girlfriend had a whole thing planned, and to get out of that Ryan would have to tell her, and all his friends, why he wouldn't be at the party. Ryan hadn't even told them about his mom.

When he finished picking up the stuff on the table, he went to get his bag to leave.

When he finished picking up the stuff on the table, he went to get his bag to leave

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On autopilot, Ryan entered his room and sat on his bed and sat there. He felt numb. It was all too much and it was looming over him like a tsunami, waiting to crash down around it, and all he could do was sit here.

It was funny, though, when he thought about it. If any of his friends had come out as gay, he would be the first to support them, and to confront anyone who tried to make fun of them. If he had overheard Monica making fun of someone for being gay, he would stand up to her. So why couldn't he do that for himself?

It would be nice if there was someone to stand up for him. He'd always had his mom to do that. And now...

When he heard the front door open, he knew he had to act.

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