Chapter 32.2

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Thanksgiving came and went and Jacky was almost glad Ryan hadn't been there

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Thanksgiving came and went and Jacky was almost glad Ryan hadn't been there. His dad's parents – his Grammy and Poppa - had driven down from Maine to visit, and his other grandparents – Gramps and Gram - were there as well, and his aunt and uncle and their brats, so it was a full house and he did his best to help his mom. That involved a lot of cleaning, and if Ryan had been there, it wouldn't have been much fun anyway. Plus Grammy and Poppa were Republicans and did not approve of Jacky being gay. Jacky's mom had become something of an expert at avoiding all political topics.

"Go change into something nice," she told Jacky before everyone showed up. He looked down at his black hoodie and jeans. There weren't any stains on them. "Go," she repeated, and he headed up to his room to discover exactly what she meant by something nice: khakis, a white button-down shirt, and a blue sweater, laid out on his bed for him.

There was a reason he didn't wear button-down shirts. He had to button all those fucking buttons with one hand. Also, he looked like an altar boy. Ugh. Good thing Ryan wasn't here.

"Why do I have to wear this," he complained when she came to check on his progress.

She straightened his collar and tugged at the sweater and the sleeves until it hung correctly. "Grammy and Poppa don't want to see you looking like a delinquent," she said.

Jacky took the empty sleeve from her hand and tucked it into his pocket. "Like it matters," he grumbled. "I look like a nerd."

"Honey, how do you think I'm going to pay for you to go to college?" she sighed. "Your father's life insurance barely covered your hospital bills."

So that's what this was. He listened to his mom brag about his grades all day and was again thankful that Ryan wasn't here. He regretted asking his mom if they could be Ryan's foster family. If she could barely afford to send Jacky to college, she definitely couldn't send both of them. It wouldn't be fair to his mom or to Ryan, Jacky realized.

It didn't mean that Jacky didn't miss Ryan. He saw Ryan at school. And the following weekend.

But not every weekend, it turned out. Ryan had other friends who wanted time with him.

The weekends they did share together, however, had become something Jacky couldn't stop thinking about during the days in between. The nights when it was just the two of them made him realize how empty his bed was. Once, when his mom went out with a few friends from work, Ryan and Jacky turned the couch into a pillow fort, and spent the whole night under a canopy of blankets and cushions making out.

Ryan never pressed him to go further than making out. Jacky would have liked to do more, but he was hyperaware of how closeted Ryan was. Ryan never wanted to go out with Jacky, not even to a movie. The most public they'd been was a Saturday closer to Christmas, when Jacky convinced Ryan to go to the mall with him. "I need to buy some presents," he told Ryan as they left the group home.

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