Chapter 19: Jacky

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Duuuuuuude

Jacky looked down at his phone. Cody.

where u at

He texted back a quick, At home.

duuuude r u ok? u sick?

His history essay wasn't going so well anyway. Jacky picked up his phone.

no. Ryan's mom just died and he's staying here for a while

who's Ryan?

Ryan Sullivan

??? the football player ???

yeah

Jacky was already typing in an explanation when Cody texted,

duuuuude you hittin that?

Jacky grinned.

sorta

no sorta, tell me deets

we're kinda dating... we kissed at the halloween party

duuuuuude

For a second, Jacky closed his eyes and remembered how it had felt then. The gentle press of Ryan's lips against his. How hesitant they both had been. When his phone dinged with a new text message, Jacky suddenly realized that he was holding his phone inches from his face and using the pad of his thumb to rub his lip. He cleared his throat and looked at the screen.

y u no tell me doood, jk i prob should have noticed

don't worry about it

k but like whoa n hes living at ur house???

just until the funeral

wtf thats cray

i'll be back to school tomorrow probably, i don't know my mom will let me skip 2 days

ok good, bc that girl haylee keeps doggin me and nina's def broken up w Matt

Jacky sighed, but with a little smile. So that's why Cody was texting him.

have you made your move yet?

nah imma take my time, dont wanna be a rebound

good for you

yeah so i'll catch you up tomorrow

school 3 days in a row? srsly?

ya u know it

***

"I just think," Mrs. Jennings said, measuring her words, "that it would be a good idea."

Jacky sighed and draped himself over the counter. "But Mom, he's been sleeping all day. He's tired."

"And it's nearly three o'clock. He's had plenty of time to sleep."

He sighed again, and his mom came over and draped herself on top of him, then kissed his ear. "Just go wake him up and ask him."

"Fine," he said. He twisted himself away and slumped up the stairs.

For a while he just stared at the closed door to the guest room. Finally he lifted up his fist and knocked.

"Come in." Ryan's voice sounded paper-thin and tired. Jacky eased the door open and poked his head in, before seeing that Ryan was lying on the bed in his clothes.

"Um, hi," Jacky said, stepping into the room. "How are you doing?"

Ryan answered that with the shrug of one shoulder.

"Um, so my mom thinks it would be a good idea if you went to your therapy session today. If we went to our therapy sessions. Uh, I mean, if you want to go, maybe it would be a good idea. To have someone to talk to." When Ryan didn't respond, Jacky kept going. "I mean, I don't especially want to go. I'm kinda pissed at Dr. Greene, actually, so if you don't want to go I'm perfectly okay with it."

Ryan didn't move.

Jacky's chest hurt. Ryan wasn't even crying. Just staring at the wall. What hurt the most was that Jacky knew exactly how he felt. Which was why he backed up, closed the door, and then climbed up on the bed behind Ryan and lay down, pressing his body up against Ryan's back.

Once again it was the wrong side. His arm was on the mattress side. But he could creep his hand up under Ryan's armpit, and press his cheek into Ryan's spine, and let Ryan know he was still here.

Ryan's breath hitched. Jacky hadn't even gotten his arm all the way under Ryan's hulking frame before Ryan rolled over, and then Jacky was enveloped.

It wasn't just a hug. It was more like in the hospital bathroom, when Ryan started kissing him. Only less pleasant. Jacky tolerated it for a little while, the wet mouth sucking at his neck, how tight he was being squeezed, until Ryan's grip on his shoulder really started to hurt, and then he said, "Ryan, stop it." The words were muffled by Ryan's shirt. Twisting his neck, he got a little more air. "Ryan. Ryan, stop."

Ryan stopped. Now he lay like a dead weight on Jacky's chest.

"Yeah, I think we should go to therapy," Jacky said.

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