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The First of Many

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Ronan was trying to sleep when his phone rang. After a night of restlessness and bad dreams, Ronan was tempted to throw his phone out of the window, but it was Gansey calling. Gansey knew full well about Ronan's aversion to phones, and so only called him if it was important. He picked up.

“What?” He asked, in lieu of a hello.

Ronan expected Gansey to lecture him about manners but instead he asked, “Is Adam with you?”

Fuck. “No, why?”

“He's not at school, and he's not called in sick, and we didn't see him yesterday because of work, and anything could have-” Gansey was babbling, the way he did when his thoughts were spiralling towards the worst possible outcomes.

Ronan was already out of bed and putting on his coat, “I'm going over to St. Agnes' right now. Parrish gave me a spare key. I'll text you.”

It would usually take half an hour to get from the Barns to St. Agnes. Ronan made it there in fifteen minutes. The BMW skidded to a halt on the icy church car park, where the Shitbox was parked, still iced over from the night before. Ronan slammed the car door shut and practically sprinted to Adam's front door. There was no reply when he knocked.

“Parrish!” Ronan yelled, banging on the door harder this time. Still no reply. “Okay, I'm coming in!”

When Ronan opened the door, he saw what the problem was immediately. Adam was huddled under his blankets, with packets of cold medicine and a bin full of used tissues beside his mattress on the floor. Slowly, the boy moved to sit up, staring blearily at Ronan.

“Ro?” Adam croaked, “What are you doing here?”

Ronan came and sat down on the edge of the mattress, “Gansey called me. You're missing second period right now.”

“Shit.” Adam said, and immediately tried to get out of bed. Ronan gently pushed him back down.

“You're not going to fucking school like this.” Ronan pressed a hand against Adam's forehead, finding it alarmingly warm, “You're burning up, and- Jesus it's fucking cold in here.”

“Heater's not working,” Adam coughed, “They're s'posed to be fixin' it after Christmas.”

“That's it.” Ronan huffed, and grabbed Adam's school bag.

He paced around the room grabbing Adam's textbooks, the cough medicine, and went into the bathroom to get Adam's toothbrush. There was no way he was letting Adam stay here while he was sick.

“What are you doing?”

“What do you fucking think, Parrish? I'm getting you're stuff and taking you to the Barns.”

Adam made a face. The same face he always made when people tried to do things for him.

“Don't look at me like that,” Ronan said, because he wasn't going to let Adam argue this one, “you're sick, your heater's broken, it's fucking colder than Satan's tits in here and you're coming over for Christmas anyway.”

Getting Adam to spend Christmas with him had been a long and annoying conversation, but Ronan had recently discovered that, as prideful as he was, Adam was more willing to accept things now that they were dating.

“Ronan, I've got homework, and I don't wanna miss class, and- Who are you texting?” Adam asked, realising that Ronan wasn't going to listen to anything he had to say.

“I'm letting Gansey know you're not dead in a ditch somewhere.” Ronan said, with an edge to it that implied Adam had made Gansey worry.

It wasn't that Adam didn't want to go to the Barns; it would be warm, and cosy, and Ronan would probably make him soup. It was just that Adam had never been taken care of before – both generally, and when he was sick – so he didn't really know how to accept that kind of affection. When he had stayed home sick as a child, the most either of his parents had ever done was give him a half-dose of cough medicine and shut him in his room for the day, only speaking to him to tell him to cough more quietly.

“Adam.” Ronan said, bringing him back to the present. “Look, you've got a week left before winter break, and your attendance has been near fucking perfect all semester, just come to the Barns with me. If you wanna hole yourself up in Declan's room and do homework, fine, but I'm not gonna let my boyfriend freeze to death in his own shitty apartment.”

And there it was. The boyfriend card. Adam knew it was stupid and arbitrary, but somehow Ronan framing things as romantic gestures seemed to override his stubbornness. It made it easier for Adam to accept that Ronan was helping because he liked him, not because he pitied him.

“Okay,” Adam said, “At least it'll give us some time together before Declan gets here and I have to pretend like I don't want to suck your face off.”

“You're not sucking my anything until you stop being all gross and snotty.” Ronan laughed, but kissed Adam's forehead anyway, “Hurry up and get dressed, I left the car unlocked out there.”