Chapter 25: Jacky (2)

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"I can't believe your mother was cool about that," Ryan said as they walked to school.

"Probably she would have reacted differently if we'd been naked or something," Jacky sighed. "Then again, I think she has a soft spot for you."

"Um, can I ask you a favor?"

Jacky looked at Ryan, trying to judge what this favor might involve. "Sure," he said.

"I, um, I..." Ryan's voice cracked, and he looked off toward the football field, away from Jacky. "Can you tell my friends? About..." Ryan swallowed thickly several times. Finally the words came. "About the funeral."

"Yeah. Definitely," Jacky said right away, only a few steps later understanding what that might entail. Actually walking up to Matt Welch and talking to him. Talking to any of them. Ugh.

It wasn't until they hit the school hallways that Jacky happened upon the perfect solution: Monica.

But then Jacky didn't see Monica right away. Where was she? Why wasn't she up Ryan's ass already? Lance was there, giving Ryan a manly hug (only the upper part of the chest touching, one thump on the back), and before Jacky could slide away, Ryan was giving Jacky a helpless look.

"My parents want to come to the funeral," Lance said. "Is that okay? When is the funeral, do you know yet?"

Jacky resisted the urge to freeze when Lance looked at him like he was something small and squishable. "It's tomorrow," he said. "At two o'clock."

Lance nodded. "Okay. Okay? I'll be there, man. Do you want me to tell the rest of the team?"

Jacky nodded, even though he knew Lance was talking to Ryan and had already forgotten he existed. Ryan also nodded. Good. That took care of Matt and all those guys. But Monica... Jacky scanned the halls. No sign of her, even though he saw a clot of the other cheerleaders milling around the lockers by the girls' bathroom.

Whatever, who cared about Monica. Where was Cody?

Funny how over the course of a week Jacky had grown used to seeing Cody in school every day. Of course Cody wasn't here. He'd gotten super high last night, he was probably still sleeping it off. If he was lucky, Cody would show up in time for lunch.

Jacky edged toward his locker, feeling oddly torn about leaving Ryan alone. Ryan kept making sad eyes at him, but Jacky wasn't friends with any of the people who came up to talk to him and Lance, and the group had migrated to Ryan's locker, and Jacky really did have to get to his own locker and throw some of his books in there or he was going to be hauling around six textbooks all day.

He'd just dialed his combination and popped the metal door open when he felt a tug at the strap of his messenger bag. He sighed, expecting it to be Haylee bugging him about where Cody was, and turned to see that it was Ryan.

"You left me," Ryan whispered.

"Oh. I thought you were okay. You were with your friends?" Jacky felt like an asshole. "I'm sorry."

"We have English first period."

"Yup." Jacky started to pull his thick history book out of his bag. Ryan grabbed it and put it on the top shelf of Jacky's locker for him. He tried not to let that bother him, but when he pulled out his chemistry notebook, Ryan took that too. "I can do it myself," Jacky said.

Ryan withdrew his hand and curled in on himself. He didn't say anything.

"Sorry," Jacky muttered. He yanked out his chemistry textbook and stuck it in the top, then dropped his bag and took off his coat. The zipper stuck, a critical situation with one hand. Jacky ground his teeth together, feeling Ryan watching him. Finally he wrestled the thing off and chucked it into his locker and slammed the door shut. "Let's get to English," he said.

No Monica when they entered the classroom. As Jacky went to his regular seat in the back, he saw Ryan looking at him. And after Monica didn't show even after the bell rang, Jacky felt bad. He could have sat in her seat next to Ryan. Jacky didn't know why he was so worried about her. She was allowed to get sick, or have a dentist appointment or whatever. And what if she was just running late, and showed up halfway through class only to find Jacky sitting there at her desk?

He wished Ryan would stop looking at him like that. It wasn't like Ryan was going to hold his hand in public. Like they could even do that stuff in the middle of class.

Jacky sighed. He already wanted this day to be over. He wanted it to be tonight, Friday night, when he didn't have to think about homework or going to therapy. It was Ryan's last night at his house. He wanted to spend as much time as possible with him. 

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