Chapter 17: Jacky

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Jacky locked his bike outside the hospital entrance with a shaking hand, and hurried through the maze of hallways inside. He'd spent enough time at the hospital to know it pretty well, but he hadn't been to the ICU since right after the accident. He only knew Ryan's mom was in the ICU because he'd grabbed Monica after English and asked her for Ryan's number. He had texted Ryan and felt only the tiniest bit of relief to find out that Ryan's mother wasn't gone. Not yet.

Turning past the nurse's station, he saw Ryan sitting there, elbows on his knees, head hanging, and he picked up the pace, only to discover two steps later that there was someone sitting beside Ryan, on the other side of him, half hidden.

Monica had her arm looped through one of Ryan's and her head on his shoulder. Well, that was to be expected. Monica must have her own car; that was how she'd gotten there faster. She might have offered him a ride, but he told himself that maybe she didn't realize the situation between Jacky and Ryan. And Jacky wouldn't have been able to get in her car anyway.

Slowing, Jacky approached, and set his bag down near Ryan's feet. Ryan lifted his head a little, then shifted and stood up. "I, uh, have to go to the bathroom," Ryan said to Monica, and looked at Jacky with an expression so destroyed, so emotionally exhausted, that it stabbed Jacky right through the chest.

"I'll go with you," Jacky said quickly. He gave Monica a quick smile, so she would know Jacky was going to take care of Ryan.

When they entered the bathroom, however, Ryan stood in front of the sink for a minute, gripping the porcelain.

Jacky stood there, not knowing what to say. What did you say to someone whose parent was about to die?

Ryan took a deep breath, then spun around, and pushed Jacky back into the far stall.

The door wasn't even closed, but Ryan pushed his mouth up against Jacky's anyway. Ryan's arms crushed around Jacky's shoulders, his body weight pressing Jacky up against the wall. These were frantic kisses, that quickly moved from Jacky's lips down along his neck.

Jacky knew Ryan wasn't kissing him because he was horny, or anything like that. Jacky could only tilt his head back and gasp for air. Fuck, it felt so good, and then Ryan was sobbing into his shoulder.

His arm was sort of trapped, wrapped around Ryan's waist on the opposite side from Ryan's head, so he couldn't exactly comfort Ryan in the way he wanted to. All he could do was flail his arm a little and try to rub his back.

Jacky didn't say anything. He still remembered all those times people tried to tell him things to make him feel better: "You're lucky you're still alive."

"You're going to get through this."

And the worst, "It's going to be okay."

Back when he'd been taking a lot of pain medication and it still hadn't seemed like enough, nothing felt like it would be okay ever again. He remembered how much he had needed a hug just like this one, and how painful it would have been to get one.

"I'm here," he whispered.

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