After Ryan explained to Jacky that Mrs. Jennings would have to call Allison and get put on an approved visit list, it was no problem for Ryan to spend the night at Jacky's house. Thanksgiving, however, was another story.
"Allison told my mom that you already have a visit scheduled for Thanksgiving," said Jacky on Thursday, during the five minutes they had to talk before therapy. Today they sat next to each other and Ryan felt a knot of tension uncoiling.
"Yeah. I guess Monica's mom beat you to the punch."
"But you can choose, right?"
Ryan shrugged. It was easier not to have to call Mrs. Johnston and tell her he wanted to spend Thanksgiving with his boyfriend.
After that, Jacky didn't say anything. Only a few moments later, Dr. Greene called Jacky in.
Early Saturday afternoon Ryan packed a change of clothes in his backpack. He wanted things to be good between him and Jacky. He wanted to relax. That was the thing about living at the group home: he was always being watched, monitored by the staff and side-eyed by the other boys. Like they were waiting for him to explode. He'd heard the staff more than once call the first few days at the group home his "honeymoon period." They wondered when his "true colors" would show.
"Someone's here!" called Ricky. He had spent most of the day on the couch, playing Minecraft on a tablet he'd gotten from somewhere. But now that Mrs. Jennings's car had pulled into the driveway, Ricky pressed his face against the window. "You got a visit?" he asked, seeing Ryan with his backpack.
"Shit, that kid only has one arm," Ricky said.
Sean jostled to the window. "Let me see!"
Something rose up in Ryan, and he approached Sean and Ricky. "Don't even think about saying anything to him about it," Ryan growled.
"Is that a threat?" Sean asked, sounding bewildered.
"It's a promise." Ryan used his height and build to its fullest and towered over Sean sitting on the couch.
"Shee-it," Ricky whispered when Ryan finally walked away.
Jacky sprang up the steps and knocked on the door. Ryan was already there to open it. "Hi!" His face felt strange. It took him a minute to figure out why.
It was because he was smiling.
While Mrs. Jennings was in the staff office signing him out, Jacky asked questions. "Can I see your room?" (Leigh leaned out of the office to say, "No visitors upstairs.") "Is this where you watch TV? Does someone cook dinner for you, or do you have to cook for yourself?"
Sean and Ricky had gone back to playing Minecraft. Ryan gave them a hard look when he caught them peeking at Jacky, and they quickly returned to the game. Jacky's hair clung damply to his forehead, which made Ryan feel even more protective. Jacky had ridden in a car to come see him, probably had a panic attack.
Suddenly he couldn't wait to get in the car and give Jacky a big hug.
By night's end, Jacky had practically forgotten about the rocky week they'd both had. They devoured a large pizza between them while his mother fixed herself a salad and chatted on the phone with a friend from work. Then, with a glass of wine, she headed upstairs. "Be good," she said, giving Jacky a knowing wink.
He rolled his eyes and snuggled back into the couch. His mom might as well have said, "Be safe!" Like the Post-It note on the box of condoms he had found on his bed after school yesterday. "Mo-om!" he had whined to the empty house. "Oh, my god." Then he had hidden the box in his underwear drawer. Ryan had no reason to go in his underwear drawer, right?
He had been ready to never speak of it again, but of course when they sat down for dinner last night, she had said, "Did you get what I left on your bed?"
"Yes," he had snapped. "God, Mom."
"I know your father had this talk with you a long time ago." Her voice had wavered on the last half of that sentence, and Jacky had swallowed hard and stared down at his plate, appetite gone. "But I thought you might need a reminder. Since he's not..."
He didn't want to feel guilty. Of course he felt guilty.
"Thanks," he had muttered. "But Ryan and I aren't doing... that. Yet."
But Ryan was sleeping over. And even though he had put his backpack and stuff in the guest room, Jacky was pretty sure Ryan would end up in Jacky's bed. He hooked his left shoulder under Ryan's armpit and wrapped his right arm around Ryan's waist.
The movie wasn't anything special, the newest Terminator movie. "I want a movie where I don't have to think," Ryan had said. "And nothing sad."
Jacky had already lost track of the plot. He was listening to Ryan's breathing. And looking at Ryan's neck. Ryan had such a nice, close shave. Ryan must have to shave every day. Jacky did. He always seemed to have a five o'clock shadow. But Ryan had such fair hair that it was possible he didn't need to. His neck was probably really soft.
Also, he smelled good.
Finally, a more upbeat chapter! I hope everyone is hanging in there, and thanks for reading :)
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Waiting RoomTeen Fiction
Everyone at school knows Andrew Jackson Jennings. Lost an arm in a car accident. Openly gay. Future school shooter. Everyone at school knows Ryan Sullivan. Football captain. Nice guy. Future valedictorian. When Andrew ends up in therapy after writin...