Chapter 37.1: Ryan/Jacky

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"Matt, I'm gay

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"Matt, I'm gay."

Even in his empty room, the words were hard to get out. Ryan sighed. He had a limited window. Pete would be back soon. He had to do it now.

Ryan ignored the queasy feeling in his stomach and dialed Matt's number.

Matt picked up on the first ring. "What's up?"

"Hi," said Ryan. He hadn't been prepared for what's up. What's up? I'm gay. "Um, do you have a minute?"

"Sure. Just doing homework."

Taking a deep breath, Ryan started with, "Remember how I said I have a date to the dance?"

Silence. Then, "Yeah?" a sharp edge to Matt's voice.

"Um... I didn't want to say who it was because—"

"You asked Nina, didn't you?" Matt exploded.

"No!" In the seconds it took Ryan's brain to even process that leap, Matt was on a roll.

"You fucking dickbag, are you fucking kidding me?"

The fact that Matt believed Ryan capable of something like that made Ryan's own anger rise up. "I'm fucking gay, Matt! Jesus Christ! I'm taking Jacky Jennings to the dance! I called to tell you I'm gay, okay?"

Matt let out a few more swears, but they were more to express his surprise than anything directed at Ryan.

"You're gay?" Matt said.


"Gay. Like, butt sex gay?"

"I'm still a virgin, but yeah."

"You're a virgin?" Matt exclaimed. Then, "You're dating Jacky Jennings, for real? I always thought he was a dick, but if you like him..."

"Sometimes you're a dick," Ryan pointed out.

"Yeah. Sorry." On the other end of the line, Matt was probably blushing and hanging his head. Ryan wished Jacky could get to know that side of Matt. "I get why you didn't want to say that in front of Brayden. But when you go to the dance, like, everyone's gonna know, though. That you're gay."

"My mom wouldn't have wanted me to keep it a secret," Ryan said. "I wanted tell you before the dance, but yeah. I want everyone to know. I think... it would have made my mom happy."

Jacky hung back in the hallway and tried not to look suspicious

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Jacky hung back in the hallway and tried not to look suspicious.

"What are you waiting for?" Cody hissed. "Go now. I don't see Haylee or Nina."

"Monica's working the table," Jacky hissed back. "She knows Ryan asked me to the dance. She's going to wonder why I'm buying another ticket."

"Say it's for a friend."

"I'll buy it another day," Jacky said. "When someone else is at the table."

"Grow a set, dude."

Cody shoved him, and Jacky shoved him back.

"Keep shoving me and I'll shove this money up your ass," Jacky warned, but dragged himself over to the table.

Monica looked up. "Hi, Jacky."

"Hi, um, I need to buy a ticket?" He held up the wad of money Cody had given him.

"Oh." She looked flustered, but quickly covered it up and peeled a ticket from the stack. "A single ticket?"


"That's thirty-five dollars."

Monica counted out the crumpled ones and fives slowly, biting her lip.

"It's not for me," he blurted.

"What?" Monica looked up from the money.

"It's for someone else. You know I'm going to the dance with Ry—" Jacky stopped and glanced around. "You know."

"Oh, okay! I thought maybe he hadn't actually asked you yet or something--"

"He did. Yeah. This is for someone else who needed a ticket. That's all."

Monica laughed. "Okay, no worries. I need their name for the list?"

Jacky glanced down the hall. Cody had disappeared. Fuck. "I... can't give you their name. Do you really need their name? As long as they have a ticket?"

"The school has a policy, students can bring guests who don't go here, but we need to have their name."

"This is for a student," Jacky said.

"I guess if it's a student," she said quietly. "But it's kinda shady you won't tell me their name."

"Sorry," said Jacky.

"Is there a reason why I shouldn't tell Ryan about this?" Monica held out the ticket, narrowing her eyes.

"No! I'll tell him about it. I just... can't tell you. But I'll tell him." Jacky reached for the ticket, only Monica wouldn't let go.

"You have until tomorrow," she threatened. "Then I'm going to tell him."

"I will. I swear!" Was he actually afraid of her?

She released the ticket and he backed away slowly before hurrying off. 

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