“You should go check on Adam,” Noah says.
Gansey doesn’t jump, because by now he is more than used to Noah appearing in his room to pass on ominous advice.
“What’s wrong with Adam?” Gansey asks, but Noah’s already disappeared, something which seems to be happening more and more, these days. Gansey frowns, but Noah hasn’t been wrong yet, so Gansey goes to Ronan’s room and says, “We need to check on Adam.”
They pick up Blue on the way to St Agnes, and they approach Adam’s front door together. There’s no response to Gansey’s tentative knock – still authoritative, but three shades quieter than his usual. Gansey starts to look to Ronan, but before either of them can do anything, Blue slides a colourful hair grip out of her hair and starts picking Adam’s lock.
“Blue,” Gansey says, and Ronan says, with admiration, “Shit, Sargent.”
Blue flashes them both a grin as the lock clicks open. “Persephone taught me. Come on.”
“Adam?” Gansey calls, but again, there's no answer. Panic is starting to claw at his chest, but if something had happened to Adam, if he'd been urgently hurt and needed immediate assistance, Noah would definitely have been less vague in his advice. Probably. Possibly.
It doesn't take long for them to realise that Adam isn't here. It's not a big place, and there are three of them, all of them more worried than they'd like to admit. As they assemble together, Blue and Ronan looking to Gansey as they always do, as if he has all the answers, as if he can fix this, there's a sound like a muffled miaow.
“Did you hear that?” Blue asks, as Ronan starts to say, “Was that-”
“It came from under the bed,” Gansey says.
Ronan squats, lies down flat, peers under the bed. He gives a start, then says, uncertain, “Parrish?”
Gansey frowns, but before he can ask what Adam is doing hiding under the bed, a small grey tabby skitters out from underneath it.
“I did tell you to go check on Adam,” Noah says.
“You didn’t tell me he’d been turned into a cat,” Gansey says, rubbing his temple. “How did this even happen?”
In lieu of any better ideas, Gansey drove them back to Monmouth, Blue in the passenger seat and Ronan in the back, Adam curled up on his lap. Whenever Gansey checked his mirror, he’d catch a brief flash of the two of them, Ronan gingerly petting Adam’s furry head, and Gansey would quickly return his gaze to the road and try not to hyperventilate because Adam has fur, Adam has claws and whiskers and Adam is a cat.
“Magic,” Noah says, unhelpfully. Gansey tries not to sigh too heavily at him.
Ronan and Blue are playing with Adam in Ronan’s room. This is, objectively, not the strangest thing that’s happened to them all, but Gansey still thinks they’re taking it remarkably well. They have the weekend to fix this, but Monmouth is nowhere near equipped to handle housing a small feline, and how are they going to explain it to Aglionby if he hasn’t changed back by Monday, and what about Adam’s work, somebody needs to call in sick for him, Adam’s going to be so angry he missed work because he turned into a cat.
“He’s going to change back,” Noah says, sounding more sure of this than Gansey feels he has any right to be, but Gansey supposes he appreciates the reassurance.
“Of course,” Gansey says, “we’ll make it so.” Noah smiles at him, and Gansey takes a breath, and Gansey smiles back. “Until then, however, there are some things he’s going to need.”
They return from the petstore, sometime later, with a car full of assorted feline paraphernalia. Cats, it turns out, need a lot of stuff, and Gansey is very good at amassing Stuff. After he called Adam’s various workplaces to let them know that Adam wouldn’t be making it in, he arranged for the installation of a catflap, which Blue shook her head at and Ronan made a thoughtful face which was, all things considered, slightly concerning.
“You’re enjoying this,” Gansey says, when they’ve got everything set up in Noah’s room. Gansey insisted on buying a proper bed for Adam, but he’s made himself comfortable on Noah’s bed, and hasn’t given any indication of moving, which Gansey supposes is acceptable.
Blue had to go to work, but she kissed the top of Adam’s head before she left, scratched him behind the ears in a way that made him purr, and Gansey’s heart did something not entirely unusual in his chest. Since then, Ronan’s been sat on the edge of Noah’s bed, stroking over Adam’s soft new fur, and that’s doing strange but not unheard of things to Gansey’s heart, too.
Ronan looks up and smiles. It’s not his dangerous smile, or his sweet, carefree smile, but it’s beautiful all the same. “Fuck yeah. Parrish makes a way better cat than a person.” Adam makes a sort of growling noise, and Ronan clicks his teeth, moves his hands to rub Adam’s belly. “It’s still him in there, though.”
“Of course,” Gansey says, but he’s still hovering by the litter tray, entirely unsure of what to do with his hands. Adam’s fur looks so soft. “Are you not-”
“Worried?” Ronan’s smile twists. “Sure. But you’re worrying enough for all of us, man. And it’s kinda nice to see Parrish relaxed for once.” He considers for a second, then he says, “You haven’t been near him since we found him.”
“It doesn’t feel right,” Gansey begins, because he hasn’t been able to think about how much Adam must be hating this, robbed of his human body, his basic autonomy.
Gently, Ronan picks Adam up and holds him to his chest, sort of like one might hold a baby. Adam leans back into it, rubbing his head over Ronan’s arm, and Gansey’s hands itch. Ronan smirks at him like he knows, because of course he knows.
“Fine,” Gansey mutters, and moves to sit next to Ronan on the bed. Ronan puts Adam down, just as gently as he had picked him up, and Adam crosses the space between Ronan and Gansey to settle next to Gansey’s knee. Gansey holds out a hand, then retracts it, then, when Adam hasn’t moved, strokes carefully over Adam’s back.
Adam’s fur is soft. Gansey successfully holds in a mild keening noise.
“This doesn’t mean I don’t respect you as an autonomous individual,” Gansey tells him, and Ronan puts his head down and laughs.
Blue comes over the next morning shortly after the catflap has been installed and says, “So I told Persephone, and she said a lot of vague and unhelpful things, naturally, but I think she was trying to say that Adam’s gonna change back on his own, which is good.” She frowns. “Where is Adam?”
Ronan points at the catflap. Gansey does his best not to yank out his own hair.
“He’ll be back,” Noah says, with that same certainty that Gansey can’t help but envy.
“Cats like being outside,” Ronan says, shrugging, “and it’s Adam.”
“Ronan and Noah,” Gansey says calmly, “have been playing with Adam’s toys.”
Noah has the grace to look sheepish. Ronan just smiles wickedly.
“You’re just mad you didn’t think of doing it first,” he says. “We’re gonna keep all this stuff when Adam changes back, right?”
Adam returns in the late afternoon, which is just enough time for Gansey to have considered, at length, the various ways he could have been injured or maimed or worse, and to have been needed to be talked out of getting all of Henrietta out looking for him at least three times. Adam comes in through the catflap, fur not so much as ruffled, and makes straight for the bowl of food they put out for him, seemingly undisturbed by the way Noah has contorted himself into the cat tower.
It’s still, objectively, not the weirdest scene the five of them have been a part of over the course of their acquaintance, and Gansey forces himself to take a breath, and then another, and then another.
Gansey can’t sleep.
This is not an unusual occurrence, or even an unexpected one, but it is somewhat irritating, given the excitement of the past couple of days. Gansey needs a plan. Gansey needs something concrete to do, but he can’t think when his head is thick with tiredness.
He’s lying on his bed, hands clasped on his chest, wishing vaguely for the abyss, when his door, already slightly ajar, opens. Gansey opens his eyes, expecting Ronan, in a similar position, seeking companionship, but there’s no one there. He frowns, then lowers his gaze. It’s Adam. He pads towards Gansey’s bed, then leaps up onto it, settling next to Gansey’s head. Smiling despite himself, Gansey turns to face him, puts out a hand to rub Adam’s belly.
“It is good to see you relaxed,” Gansey tells him, “but I miss the real you.”
Adam miaows in a way that Gansey chooses to interpret as agreement. Gansey smiles again.
He must fall asleep at some point, because the next thing he’s aware of is light streaming in from where he forgot to close the curtains, pins and needles from where he was lying on his arm. Wincing, Gansey fumbles for his glasses, stretching out his dead arm.
“Ow,” Adam says, and Gansey sits up abruptly.
Adam is lying next to Gansey on Gansey’s bed, rubbing his side where Gansey’s arm collided with him, very naked and very, very human.
“Adam,” Gansey says, and throws his arms around Adam’s neck. He’s probably squeezing too tightly, but Adam was a cat, and Gansey missed him, and Adam doesn’t protest.