Chapter 15.3: Ryan

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Ryan wasn't sure what he had just walked in on

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Ryan wasn't sure what he had just walked in on. He had been standing around in the hallway for a while, not wanting to go back down to the party. To Jacky. Then he thought he had heard Jacky's voice, real low, and he had moved toward it, then heard Monica's voice and decided it couldn't have been Jacky's voice.

He had never expected to see the two of them having some kind of heart-to-heart there on the bed. At first, looking at Monica's mascara-streaked face, he had thought maybe Jacky had said something mean to her and made her cry. But she didn't seem to be upset at Jacky.

After Monica went out, and was out of sight, Ryan closed the door. Turned the little knob to lock it. Then he turned back to Jacky, swaying slightly on his feet. "Hi," he said.

Jacky smiled. "Hi."

"I'm sorry," Ryan said. "About not recognizing your voice on the phone."

"Oh." Jacky stuck a finger under his collar. "It's okay—"

"Do you not like it when I call you Jacky?" Ryan asked, stepping closer.

"Huh?"

"I just remembered, that first time in the waiting room, I called you Jacky and you told me your name was Andrew, but after that I called you Jacky and you didn't say anything."

"It's fine. I don't care."

"Really?"

Jacky shifted, the leather creaking. "I just... I don't know if you remember what everyone used to call me."

"No... I thought Jacky was short for Jackson. Your name used to be hyphenated or something, right? Andrew Jackson-Jennings?"

"Oh. Okay." Jacky's pale face looked perplexed. He still had that finger in his collar.

Ryan licked his lips. "That looks tight, you need help?"

"O-oh." Jacky dropped his hand, and Ryan took the opportunity to step in close, to put his hand there near Jacky's throat. "I... um, yeah, it's a little tight. It's hot in here. Oh, watch the scissors."

Glancing down, Ryan saw the claw full of scissors hovering near his belt buckle. He took the prosthesis by the wrist and moved it around his waist. "Dangerous costume."

"Yeah." Jacky's laugh sounded faint.

"So what did everyone used to call you?" His thumb moved over Jacky's Adam's apple, which bobbed as he swallowed nervously.

"Uh... well, after I came out... everyone called me Jack-off Jennings. Like only gay people masturbate or something."

Ryan watched Jacky's lips as he spoke.

"I don't know, after Billy broke up with me I just wanted to be someone different. I started calling myself Andrew. No one else really calls me that." Jacky licked his lower lip, seeming to be unaware of how hot that was. "Not even Cody, and he's my best friend." His dark blue eyes searched Ryan's face, like he suddenly realized how intensely Ryan was looking at him.

Slowly, Ryan brought his other hand up and started to work at the buckle. It was old, a little rusted, and this little bit of leather wasn't worn with use. Jacky lifted his chin a bit to give Ryan some space. There was a little squeak of leather, and a cautious touch at his hip.

"You look really good in a suit." Jacky's voice was a hoarse whisper. "I know you're supposed to be Clyde or whatever, but you look like Eliot Ness."

Finally Ryan got the buckle undone, and the collar flopped open. Jacky sighed, and that was before Ryan lowered his head just a few inches and pressed his lips against the hot, newly freed skin.

Jacky sighed again, and sagged against him, that hand at his hip fisting up a wad of his dress shirt. Ryan's hands held the back of Jacky's neck, and his thumbs caressed Jacky's face. For a long time they just looked at each other, inches apart. "I want to kiss you," Ryan said softly.

"Then kiss me."

"I don't want to ruin your makeup." They were so close that the tip of Ryan's nose grazed Jacky's.

"I don't care."

Still Ryan hesitated. This wasn't his first kiss, but this particular kiss was a promise, a promise that one day he would tell people Jacky was his boyfriend. A promise that one day he would come out and deal with all the fallout that involved. A promise that he would make it clear to Monica that he was not interested. This one kiss meant so much more than any other kiss that came before it.

His hands tightened around Jacky's face. Jacky's fist pulled their hips closer, until they bumped together.

He was scared, he realized. It felt like he was about to jump off a cliff, not knowing if there were rocks beneath the surface of the water below. Jacky's eyes searched his, and Ryan realized Jacky was scared too. Crazy, since Ryan didn't think Jacky had nearly as much to lose as he did. Then he understood: with Ryan, Jacky had kindled a little hope where there hadn't been any before. That last bit of hope was what Jacky had to lose, and for him that would be everything.

Ryan closed that tiny distance between them.

Jacky's lips were soft as any girl's. He hadn't been expecting that: somehow he'd built up kissing a boy as being hugely different. The smell was different, but then Jacky smelled of facepaint and sweat and not the usual smoke. He had a little stubble on his chin that scratched at Ryan's face and Ryan found himself still pressing forward, wanting more of that, more of Jacky, more of everything.

There was noise out in the hallway, a small noise in the scheme of things, but the two of them pulled back at the same time. Jacky's startled face immediately broke into a grin. "You got a little something there." Jacky released Ryan's waist lifted his hand. Brushed at Ryan's nose. "Lucky it's just powder."

"Want to, uh..." Ryan gestured at the bed.

Jacky glanced at it, then flicked his gaze back up at Ryan. His smile grew more tentative. He nodded.

Just then, a voice from the hallway. Loud. "They tell me you come up here!"

Jacky froze. "That's Nina."

"I had to use the bathroom."

"You think I am stupid," Nina continued. "I can see that you lie."

"Come on, Nina, nothing happened. Calm down."

"She's pissed," Jacky whispered. "Maybe we should go..."

"But then..." Ryan's voice trailed off. Then Matt and Nina would know. He rubbed at his face.

"I will not to calm down!"

In three long steps, Jacky was at the door and heading out into the hallway. 

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Wow, I forgot how long this party was! There are still a couple more to be posted today, I hope you enjoy binge-reading!

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