Chapter 18.2: Jacky / Ryan

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Outside the car, Jacky was only concerned about getting Ryan into the car. He didn't know why Ryan had hesitated so long before answering back there. Wasn't staying with his sort of boyfriend a way better option than going to some group home?

That whole long silent period had Jacky trying not to cry and trying to remind himself that Ryan's mom had just died. Ryan was probably in shock. He looked like he was in shock. Except for the way he was squeezing Jacky's hand before Jacky tugged it out – flexing his fingers to get the feeling back in them. Then Jacky had to shove him into the car, basically.

It was only when Jacky himself got into the car - "What about your bike, hon?" - that Jacky realized what he was doing and froze. He stopped breathing. Could he tell his mother that he'd meet them back at the house? One look at Ryan, and he knew he couldn't do that. Couldn't abandon Ryan.

"I'll get it tomorrow," he managed to say.

Thankfully, his mother just looked at him in the rearview mirror and nodded and didn't ask any questions. And she waited for him to put on his seatbelt before she even started up the car.

Of course he was sitting on the wrong side of Ryan to hold hands again. He did his usual death grip on the door handle and pressed himself back into the seat and tried to breathe. It was only five minutes from the hospital to home. Only five minutes.

By the time they got home he thought he was going to pass out from not being able to breathe. He pried his fingers from the door handle and stumbled out of the car. When he looked up from the wonderful solid ground beneath his feet, he said, "Where are we?"

She was gone

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She was gone. He was alone.

You're not alone, a little voice whispered. You have Jacky.

Yeah, Jacky. You've known him for a few weeks. Do you really know him? He's not even really your boyfriend. He's basically a stranger. His mother is a stranger. You're going to stay with strangers.

Back and forth, and all he kept coming back to was, I'm alone. I'm alone.

He heard some talking outside of the car, and it didn't even register that they had stopped until Jacky's mother turned around in the front seat. "Ryan? I figured you might want to get some clothes and things."

He blinked. Lifting his gaze was harder than benchpressing. The small white house, with the overgrown bushes and the unraked leaves in the yard, stood dark and empty. Empty. Alone. He didn't want to go in there. It was a tomb. All those things would just remind him of what he no longer had.

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