Chapter 29.3: Ryan/Jacky

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Strangely enough, Ryan kept thinking about Jacky's arm

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Strangely enough, Ryan kept thinking about Jacky's arm. Or lack thereof.

When Jacky cuddled up under Ryan's arm, Ryan realized that it was almost better. If Jacky had an arm around his back, it would have been uncomfortable. But this was nice. And Jacky still had another arm to wrap around him.

But there were always going to be people like Ricky and Sean who would look at Jacky and that would be all they saw. They would think Ryan was dating him out of pity.

And there was nothing Ryan could do to make that not be the first thing they thought. He could stand up for Jacky, and call them out on being rude, but he couldn't change their first impression.

Jacky kissed him.

A soft little kiss on his throat, and all Ryan could do was sigh and close his eyes. He didn't deserve Jacky. Sure, everyone else thought Jacky was angry and mean, and maybe Ryan deserved that Jacky. He definitely didn't deserve a Jacky who would forgive him for that whole thing with Lance. For not telling people Jacky was his friend, his boyfriend. A Jacky who gave him nice kisses and didn't pressure him to come out of the closet or do anything beyond kissing.

Ryan tried to convince himself that this was okay. That he didn't have to do anything to deserve Jacky's loyalty. He tilted his head back – no, that made him want to cry at how good it felt, those lips touching his throat so softly.

Ryan couldn't let Jacky do this and not show at all how he felt. He hadn't done nearly enough of that.

Lifting his head up, he put a hand on Jacky's cheek. Pulled his face up. Pressed their mouths together. Lingered there, inhaling him. Feeling his senses come alive in a way they hadn't in a long time. Not since Halloween. Since before.

Just like that, it fell apart.

"I'm sorry," he said after a sob escaped against Jacky's face. They were so close he could feel Jacky's eyelashes flutter open. "I'm sorry."

"We don't have to--" Jacky said.

"No." Ryan took in a deep breath and blinked his eyes clear. "I want to." And despite the snot that threatened to run from his nose, he kissed Jacky again, harder, mouth open.

Jacky made a noise in his throat. It wasn't quite a moan but it was a good sound. It made him want to press his whole body up against Jacky and taste every inch of his mouth.

How had Jacky ended up on his lap? Ryan was too wrapped up to care about anything more than pulling Jacky closer and kissing his lips, his chin, his jaw, his neck. The movie's heavy explosions covered the little sounds they made. When Jacky sucked on his neck, Ryan could only breathe hard in his ear, amazed that anything could feel this good.

He had a moment then, when he had to gasp and all his blinking couldn't keep back the tears in his eyes. How could he be enjoying himself? His mother was dead.

Jacky pulled back when he heard Ryan sniff and tasted the wet salt that had dripped down Ryan's neck

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Jacky pulled back when he heard Ryan sniff and tasted the wet salt that had dripped down Ryan's neck. "Are you okay?" he whispered.

He wanted Ryan to say yes.

Ryan sniffed again and let go of Jacky's waist to wipe at his eyes with his sleeve. "I'm fine," Ryan said.

"Okay," said Jacky. He slid from Ryan's lap.

"Wait, no." Ryan grabbed Jacky's hips and hoisted him back up.

Jacky started to get up again, only to have Ryan keep him there. "I'm going to get some tissues," Jacky laughed. When he returned, holding the tissue box, Jacky swung his leg right over Ryan's legs. He was getting to like this spot.

"Thanks," said Ryan. He honked his nose into a tissue, which made them both laugh. "Sorry. I don't know why I started crying."

"It happens. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere." Pressing their foreheads together, he added, "At first it's like everything reminds you. Everything hurts. And then it's less and less. You think you're getting better, moving on, and then some random stupid thing brings it all back. Like getting stabbed. And then you feel guilty for forgetting how much you miss them."

"I felt guilty for being happy." Ryan took Jacky's face in his hands and finally looked at him. His blue eyes swam under a mirrored layer.

Jacky's hand circled Ryan's wrist. "Your mom would want you to be happy. And I'm not saying that because I want to make out with you."

That made Ryan laugh, and Jacky would have hugged him except Ryan was still holding his face. He wanted Ryan to kiss him again and keep holding his face like this.

With another sniff, Ryan did kiss him. Jacky didn't care that it was wet and sloppy.

He wanted Ryan to be happy, too.

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