Chapter 32.3: Ryan / Jacky

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Ryan had doubled back to Bath & Body Works

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Ryan had doubled back to Bath & Body Works. He didn't have much money, maybe thirty dollars, but Mrs. Jennings deserved something for everything she'd done for him. He should have told Jacky he was going to buy something for her. Maybe Jacky would have had some ideas. Instead Ryan found the scent she liked – or, he assumed she liked, since it was the scent Jacky had gotten. He had planned to buy a candle, but the candles were almost sixteen dollars. He couldn't spend more than half his money on Mrs. Jennings. He still had to buy a gift for Jacky. And Monica, and Lance.

He settled on some hand soap, that was only six dollars, and picked up a small bottle of lotion for Monica, and moved on. He didn't see Jacky anywhere. That was good. He wanted whatever it was to be a surprise.

In the sporting goods store, Ryan looked over a selection of soccer balls. Would that be weird, giving him a soccer ball like they were just pals? Also, it would be really hard to keep a secret. And maybe it would make Jacky upset. They had played soccer in the backyard after the whole gym class incident, so probably not. But Jacky also had a soccer ball already.

Okay. He needed another idea. He bought a pair of lifting gloves for Lance, who was always complaining about the calluses on his hands. Three down. Only Jacky left.

He wished he had enough money for a leather jacket or something awesome like that. He liked Jacky's leather jacket. Of course, Jacky already had one.

Maybe a CD or something? The thought of the eight dollars he had left in his pocket depressed him, like the carols blasting over the PA system and the lights twinkling everywhere and the hordes of people rushing around carrying bags upon bags of stuff. He thought about the sparse tree that they had put up at the group home. They had waited until he'd returned Sunday night to put it up. That had been sort of nice, that they had waited for him. Even though it made him think of all the years when he and his mom would decorate their own tree.

The decorations for the tree were all weird. Leigh had brought out a box and handed each of the boys a tissue-wrapped item. Every kid got their own ornament every year, apparently. Ryan's was shaped like a football. Pete got one that had been made out of an old cassette tape. "Sacrilege!" he announced, but he was laughing. Ryan spotted Pete's other ornaments on the tree: all of them were music-related. He remembered Pete saying his mom had died when he was twelve and it sunk in that Pete might have been living here for four or five years without ever having found a foster family. He felt stupid for hoping to find a foster family right away.

He knew Mrs. Jennings had requested Ryan for a visit over Christmas. Was she planning to buy him gifts? How many? Even one gift would probably cost a whole lot more than the little thing of soap he'd bought for her.

Sitting down on a bench, he had to take some deep breaths.

Sitting down on a bench, he had to take some deep breaths

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Eventually, Jacky's panic passed. He hurried on, trying to stay out of the way of the other shoppers. Geez, he'd almost run down some old man.

He found his way back to the GAP. It looked like this was where Ryan bought all his clothes, anyway, and Jacky kept thinking about that scarf and how it would look with Ryan's blue eyes. 

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Author's Note: 

Um, so Waiting Room hit #1 in LGBT this week???  I still can't even believe it!  

While I'm here, I figured I'd mention a few LGBT stories that I've enjoyed in case you can't wait for the next update:

"Project Date Levi" by @UnderMySkin - this story is so good!  Highly recommended, and it's completed so no waiting for updates :)

"Skin" by @SJLinney - this is such a soft story, I love it so much.  Hopefully the author will update soon, but it definitely deserves some love!

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren - this is a published novel and it is so, so good!  Also, anything by Adam Silvera, David Levithan, and Nina LaCour.

Happy reading!

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