Chapter 16: Jacky

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Jacky wore the leather jacket to school on Monday.

Mostly he wore it for Ryan, just for that split second of reaction he might get. Or maybe to watch Ryan shift uncomfortably in his seat all day, unable to do anything about it. You could do something if you'd just come out, already. Of course, Jacky hadn't gotten around to calling Ryan last night. Not after the whole driving debacle with his mother. She made it sound so reasonable. And then he'd had another panic attack.

Partially though, he knew he was wearing it so people would recognize him like they had at the party. He hoped that he wouldn't be ignored again, that the people who spoke to him at Alex's house had been sincere.

Especially Darius.

He had this plan in his head that he would ask Darius to help him practice over the winter. Then he'd get to be friends with Darius and all the other soccer guys again, and maybe they could convince Cody to get back into it and maybe not smoke as much.

Nina was right on that point, she was always right.

To his surprise, Cody was at school bright and early. Jacky saw him before he saw Ryan, so he stopped while Cody was at his locker. "What are you even doing here? I thought you didn't believe in Mondays."

Cody nodded at the large coffee cup sitting on his locker shelf. "I don't."

"So..."

"Dude, it's too early," he moaned.

Jacky leaned against the locker, careful to round his left shoulder so the sensitive part wasn't the part taking his weight. "Let me guess... this has something to do with Nina."

"Duuude!" Cody looked around. "Keep it on the down low." A beat later, he asked, "You heard anything?"

"Nope."

"God. She's gotta break up with him. He's a grade-A douche."

Jacky shrugged. He wondered why he felt reluctant to say anything. This was Matt. Then again, he'd witnessed Matt not being a douche at the party. "She's been with him for two years. You gotta give her some time. If they broke up. You don't wanna be just her rebound guy, do you?"

Now it was Cody's turn to shrug. He gulped down some coffee and sagged against the lockers.

"Hi, Cody," said Haylee's now-familiar voice.

Today she had on a pleated black skirt with purple leggings and a matching cowl-neck sweater. Her glossy hair had been pulled back with a barrette.

"And hello to you, too, Andrew." That threw Jacky a little. There was someone who called him Andrew.

"Hi," Jacky said.

A moment passed where Cody found the inside of his locker very interesting and Jacky nudged him with his foot trying to get him to say something. Anything. And Haylee stood there.

"You're very color coordinated today," Jacky said finally.

"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked.

"I just mean... your clothes match."

She tossed her hair. "My clothes always match." Then she looked at Jacky. "You have a new jacket, I see."

"Yeah. It was my dad's," Jacky said without thinking. He steeled himself for the inevitable question about why his dad would be giving away his clothes, but the question never came.

"You like coffee?" Haylee asked Cody.

"Yeah."

"Me too." Haylee let that hang there for a minute. "I think it's very telling of a person, how they take their coffee."

Cody turned and squinted at her. "I drink mine black, what does that say about me?"

The corner of Haylee's mouth lifted in a smile. "It says you're straightforward. You don't play games."

"Oh." Clearly Cody had not been expecting that. "How do you take your coffee?"

Now Haylee smiled fully. "Black." With a little flounce, she walked away and didn't look back to see the way Cody stared after her pleated skirt.

"Dude," Jacky had to say, finally. "Dude."

"What?" Cody's head swung back around.

Jacky smirked. "Nothing."

"What?"

"Nothing, I said." Jacky had to look away, or he was going to laugh. Good thing he did, too, because he caught his first glimpse of Ryan in the crowded hallway.

Ryan wasn't looking at him. He was talking to Matt, who didn't look happy. God, maybe Matt and Nina had broken up.

"How do you think Nina takes her coffee?" Cody asked.

Jacky rolled his eyes.

----

So.... how do you all take your coffee?

Mine's cream and sugar, or just flavored creamer, which apparently means that I'm a comfort seeker, people pleaser, and generous with my time.

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