“Parrish! Wake up!”
Adam opened one eye lazily at the sound of Ronan’s voice. With a groan, he rolled over on his narrow mattress and pulled the pillow over his head.
“I know you can hear me!” Ronan continued, this time accompanying his shouting with several loud knocks on Adam’s door.
“Go away,” Adam mumbled into the mattress.
Ronan could not hear him, and Ronan did not go away. He pounded on the door again. “You’ve got mail, Parrish!”
This woke Adam up. He leapt out of bed and headed for the door. “Mail from who? I swear, if you’ve woken me up for an L.L. Bean catalogue, I’m going to-”
He opened the door to see Ronan grinning hugely and holding four official looking white envelopes. Adam’s sleep blurry eyes made out the Princeton logo on the foremost letter. “No.” he said very firmly, and moved to shut the door again.
Ronan’s face fell. “Wha- wait!” he jammed his foot in the door, “I didn’t open them.”
“I can see that,” Adam said as he continued to push the door against Ronan’s foot, “and I don’t want to open them, either.”
“I bet they’re all acceptance letters,” Ronan said, his voice oddly encouraging.
Adam paused in his futile door-pushing. “I bet they’re not.”
Ronan pushed back against the door and adopted what he probably thought was a snooty-sounding falsetto as he said, “Yes, please, Mr. Parrish, please come to our school. We would be honored to have on our list of Alumni. We’ll send a stretch limo to pick you up. You can live in the Dean’s guest bedroom, free of charge. Oh please, Mr. Parrish. Please spend hundreds of thousands of dollars at our institution.”
Adam pressed his forehead against the door and fought back a smile. He felt nauseous at the idea of opening any of the envelopes. With a deep breath, he pulled away from the door and went to sit on the edge of his mattress.
“Come in, Ronan,” Ronan said mockingly, pushing the door open and letting it slam behind him. He threw himself unceremoniously onto the bed beside Adam, and set the stack of envelopes on Adam’s knees.
Adam stared at them. He made no move to pick them up, or even look to see what schools they were from. His entire future was sitting in his lap, and he couldn’t muster up the courage to open them. It was too early in the morning for this kind of bad news. It was too early in Adam’s life for this kind of bad news.
“Hey,” Ronan said, his tone even, “you don’t have to open them now. You can have a cup of coffee first. Or something.”
Adam turned his head slightly to look at Ronan out of the corner of his eye, and said quietly, “What schools are they from?”
“Princeton. Harvard. Cal-Tech. Elon. Brown. Virginia Community.”
Adam sat up straight and looked at Ronan. “I didn’t apply to Virginia Community.”
Ronan shrugged. “My point was: A lot. The ones from Yale, Columbia, and Stanford aren't back yet. Did you apply to Cornell?”
“No,” Adam admitted, “But I ended up applying to Dartmouth.”
“I’ll stop looking for a Cornell letter, then.” Ronan said, “Where’s Dartmouth?”
“New Hampshire,” Adam responded automatically, not even reacting to the fact that Ronan was apparently screening his mail.
“How many hundreds of miles away is that?”
“Good,” Ronan nodded approvingly and gave Adam a small smile. “Gansey’s got his letters back already. He got into every single college on that list, and then he wrote them all back and said he wasn’t interested until next year. Harvard actually wrote back. They said yes. Obviously.”
“Obviously,” Adam echoed. He sighed and turned his gaze back to the stack in his lap. Two of his first choice colleges, Harvard and Cal-Tech, had responded to his application already. Was that good or bad? Why hadn’t he heard back from Yale yet?
“Shit, man, I dunno,” Ronan mumbled, “You really shouldn’t be asking me.”
Adam didn’t realize he’d asked that question aloud. Heat flared up in his cheeks. He was being childish about this, really. He just needed to open the damn letters. “Alright,” he murmured, steeling himself, “Who first?”
“Brown,” Ronan said immediately.
“Fine,” Adam said, shuffling through the envelopes to find the right one. Brown was his fourth choice, not quite a safety school, but not quite a dream school, either.
“Or maybe we should start with Elon, since that’s your safety school,” Ronan suggested with a teasing note to his voice.
Adam groaned. “One of these days you will let that go.”
“You called a school with a 57% acceptance rate your ‘safety school’.”
“Shut up,” he shot back, fighting a smile. He held the letter from Brown in his hand, between two fingers, like he was afraid it would burst into flames.
“Just do it fast, Parrish,” Ronan said, “Like a band-aid.”
“I think you’re as nervous as I am,” Adam replied, turning the envelope over and pulling slowly at the flap.
“I don’t think anyone in the history of this Earth has been as nervous as you are right now.”
With a final deep breath and a whispered ‘ok’, Adam opened the envelope. Carefully, he pulled the letter out, and unfolded it slowly. Anxiety mounted in his chest, and his vision swam. He thrust the paper at Ronan and said in a choked voice, “Read it.”
Ronan took it from him and cleared his throat before reading, “Dear Mr. Parrish, we are pleased to inform you that upon review of your application-”
“Stop,” Adam gasped, “Stop.”
For a moment, the only sound in the small room was Adam’s frantic breathing.
“Hey,” Ronan said after a moment, “You got in. You got into Brown. You’re fucking Ivy League, Parrish. You’re in.”
Adam laughed, a choked, wet sounding laugh and held his head in his hands.
“Are you...crying?” Ronan asked incredulously.
Adam didn’t remove his hands from his face. He nodded.
“Shit,” Ronan said, “Adam. Adam, you’re in.”
“I know,” Adam wailed, “I know. I’m in. I got into Brown. I know.”
“Do you even care about Harvard or-”
“Yes!” Adam interrupted forcefully, sitting up. He wiped his face with the backs of his hands and repeated, “Yes, yes I absolutely still care about Harvard. Where’s the one from Harvard-”
Ronan interrupted him by handing him the letter.
Adam ripped it open, not even bothering with formality and read, “Dear Mr. Parrish, we are delighted to inform you that your application to Harvard University has been accepted-” he threw the letter towards Ronan and reached took the Princeton envelope from the diminishing stack on his lap. This envelope was dispatched similarly to the previous one. “Dear Mr. Parrish, thank you for applying to Princeton University. We are pleased to inform you that upon reviewal by our board of peers, you have been accepted to-” he threw this letter towards Ronan as well, who caught it in mid-air and handed Adam the Cal-Tech envelope.
Adam spared a glance at Ronan. He was grinning so hugely Adam almost didn’t recognize him. Tears were streaming freely down Adam’s cheeks.
“I’m fucking…” Adam searched for a word, “elated.”
Ronan nodded, still grinning. He reached out and wiped a tear off Adam’s face with the rough pad of his thumb. “Open it,” he murmured, nodding at the envelope.
Adam smiled at him, silently grateful, and ripped open the envelope. “Dear Mr. Parrish, thank you for applying to the California Institute of Technology. We are delighted to inform you that-” Adam was interrupted by Ronan leaning forward on the bed and grabbing his hand.
His lapful of letters slid to the floor as he kissed Adam fiercely. Adam, still holding his letter from Cal-Tech, brought his hands up to either side of Ronan’s face and kissed him back.
Ronan pulled back from him, cheeks red and smile huge, “Fuck, Adam,” he said quietly, “I’m so fucking proud of you.”
“Me too,” Adam whispered, his smile mirroring Ronan’s, “I’m proud of me, too.”
“There’s one left,” Ronan reminded him.
“Elon,” Adam remembered, “I don’t even need it now. I don’t need a safety school.” He took the envelope when Ronan handed it to him, and opened it calmly. “Dear Mr. Parrish,” he read, “Thank you for applying to Elon University. We regret to inform you that-” his jaw dropped. “Ronan. Ronan. I didn’t get into Elon.”
“You’re shitting me,” he grabbed the letter out of Adam’s hands as Adam stared, shocked.
Ronan scanned the first few lines of the letter, and frowned, “Well, shit.”
“That’s…” Adam found himself at a loss for words.
“Stupid of them?” Ronan supplied, “Ridiculous? Hysterical? You’re sitting here with acceptance letters to three Ivy League schools and fucking Elon had the balls to not take you.”
Suddenly, Adam burst out laughing. He laughed until tears rolled down his cheeks again, and then he cried until he couldn’t cry anymore. When he had composed himself and wiped his face with the sleeve of his sweatshirt, he leaned down to pick the letters up off the floor where they had fallen earlier.
“This is the best day of my life,” he said, finally.
Ronan smiled again and said, “I can’t wait to see the look on your face when you get into Yale.”